AHGP Transcription Project

A History of Haywood County

In the legislature of 1808, General Thomas Love, whose home was near where the "Brown" house now stands back of the McAfee cottage in Waynesville, and who was that year representative from Buncombe county in the General Assembly, introduced a bill having for its purpose to organize a county out of that portion of Buncombe west of its present western and southwestern boundary and extending to the Tennessee line, including all the territory in the present counties of Haywood, Macon, Jackson, Swain, Graham, Clay, and Cherokee. The bill met with favor, was passed, ratified and became a law December 23, 1808.

On Richland creek, about the year 1800, the nucleus of a village had been formed on the beautiful ridge between its limpid waters and those of Raccoon creek. The ridge is less than a mile wide and attracted settlers on account of the picturesque mountains on either side and the delightfulness of the climate. At that early time a considerable population was already there. Several men, who were well known in the State and who afterwards became prominent in public affairs, had built homes upon that nature favored spot and were living there. Such men as General Thomas Love, Colonel Robert Love, Colonel William Allen, John Welch, and others of Revolutionary fame were leaders in that community. Without changing his residence General Thomas Love was a member of the State Legislature, with two or three years intermission, from 1797 to 1828, for nine years as a member from Buncombe County and the remainder of the time from Haywood. Most of the time he was in the House of Commons but for six years he was also in the Senate. Colonel Robert Love served three years in the senate from Buncombe County, from 1793 to 1795. William Allen and John Welch were veterans of the Revolution and men of considerable influence in that community.

As already stated that law was ratified on December 23, 1808, but it did not become operative until early in the year 1809. On the fourth Monday in March of that year the justices of the peace in the territory defined by the act erecting the county met at Mount Prospect in the first court of pleas and quarter sessions ever held in the limits of Haywood County. The following justices were present at that meeting: Thomas Love, John Fergus, John Dobson, Robert Phillips, Abraham Eaton, Hugh Davidson, Holliman Battle, John McFarland, Phillip T. Burfoot, William Deaver, Archibald McHenry, and Benjamin Odell.

One of the first things the court thus constituted did was to elect officers for the new county. There were several candidates for the different positions, but after several ballots were taken the following were declared duly elected:
Clerk of the Court, Robert Love
Sheriff, William Allen
Register of deeds, Phillip T. Burfoot
Constable of the county, Samuel Hollingsworth
Entry taker, Thomas St. Clair
Treasurer, Robert Phillips
Stray master, Adam Killian
Comptroller, Abraham Eaton
Coroner, Nathan Thompson
Solicitor, Archibald Ruffin
Standard keeper, David McFarland

Thus officered the county of Haywood began its career. The officers entered at once upon their respective duties, and the county became a reality. The first entry in the register's book bears date of March 29th, 1809, signed by Philip T. Burfoot, and the first in the clerk's book is the same date by Robert Love.

Until the court house and jail could be built the county officials met at private residences at Mount Prospect and prisoners were carried to jail in Asheville. Such proceedings were inconvenient and the commissioners appointed by the legislature, therefore, made haste to locate and erect the public buildings. It was expected that they would be ready to make their report to the court of pleas and quarter sessions as to the location of the county seat at the March session. Instead, however, they asked at that session to be indulged until the June term, and that request was granted.

On Monday, June 26, 1809, the court met at the home of John Howell. The old record names the following justices as being present: Thomas Love, Philip Burfoot, Hugh Davidson, John McFarland, Abraham Eaton, John Dobson, William Deaver, Archibald McHenry, and John Fergus. At this meeting the commissioners named in the act of the legislature erecting the county made their report, in which they declared that it was unanimously agreed to locate the public buildings somewhere on the ridge between Richland and Raccoon creeks at or near the point then called Mount Prospect. As the commissioners were clothed with full power to act, it required no vote of the justices, but it is more than probable that the report was cheerfully endorsed by a majority of the justices present.

At this June term of the court, the first for the trial of causes, the following composed the grand jury:
John Welch, foreman
William Welch
John Fullbright
John Robinson
Edward Sharteer
Isaac Wilkins
Elijah Deaver
David McFarland
William Burns
Joseph Chambers
Thomas St. Clair
John Shook
William Cathey
Jacob Shock
John St. Clair.

The following were grand jurors for the next term of the Superior court that was to be held in Asheville in September:
Holliman Battle
Hugh Davidson
Abraham Eaton
Thomas Lenoir
William Deaver
John McFarland
John McClure
Felix Walker
Jacob McFarland
Robert Love
Edward Hyatt
Daniel Fleming.
This was done because of the fact that no Superior court was held in Haywood for several years after the formation of the county; but all cases that were appealed from the court of pleas and quarter sessions came up by law in the Superior court of Buncombe County at Asheville. For this court Haywood County was bound by law to send to Asheville six grand jurors and as many more as desired.

At the June term inspectors of election, that was to take place in August, were also selected. There were then two voting precincts, and this election was the first ever held in the county. For the precinct of Mount Prospect the following inspectors were appointed:
George Cathey
William Deaver
John Fergus
Hugh Davidson.

For the precinct of Soco:
Benjamin Parks
Robert Reed
Robert Turner were appointed.

In the location of the public buildings at Mount Prospect, there was laid the foundation of the present little city of Waynesville. Tradition says and truthfully, no doubt, that the name was suggested by Colonel Robert Love in honor of General Anthony Wayne, under whom Colonel Love served in the Revolutionary War. The name suited the community and people, and the village soon came to be known by it. In the record of the court of pleas and quarter sessions the name of Waynesville occurs first in 1811.

Some unexpected condition prevented the immediate erection of the public buildings. The plans were all laid in 1809, but sufficient money from taxation as provided for in the act establishing the county had not been secured by the end of that year. It was, therefore, late in the year 1811 before sufficient funds were in hand to begin the erection of the courthouse. During the year 1812 the work began and was completed by the end of the year. Mark Colman is said to have been the first man to dig up a stump in laying the foundation for that building. On December 21, 1812, the first court was held in this first court house.

Haywood's Six Daughters
Formerly belonging to Haywood were Macon, Cherokee, Jackson, Swain, Clay and Graham counties. Of many of the pioneer residents of these counties when they were a part of Haywood Col. Allen T. Davidson speaks in The Lyceum for January, 1891. "Among them were David Nelson and Jonathan McPeters, Jonathans creek having been named for the latter. David Nelson was the uncle of Col. Wm. H. Thomas, and died at 87 highly respected and greatly lamented. "He was of fine physical form, honest, brave and hospitable." "Then there were Joshua Allison, George Owens, John and Reuben Moody, brothers, all sturdy, hardy, well-to-do men and good citizens, who, with Samuel Leatherwood constituted my father's near neighbors.'' ''Joseph Chambers of this neighborhood moved to Georgia about the opening of the Carroll County gold mine, say, about 1831-32. He was a man of more than ordinary character, led in public affairs and reared an elegant family. His daughters were splendid ladies and married well. His wife was a sister of John and Reuben Moody." John Leatherwood was well known for his "thrift and industry, fine hounds, fine cattle and good old-time apple brandy; a good citizen who lived to a good old age. James McKee, father of James L. McKee of Asheville, lived on this creek, was sheriff of Haywood for many years, and died at an advanced age at Asheville. Near him lived Felix Walker. He was a man of great suavity of manner, a fine electioneer, insomuch that he was called "Old Oil Jug." He went, after his defeat for Congress in 1824 by Dr. Robert Vance, to Mississippi, where he died about 1835. The manufacture and sale of gensing was begun on Jonathans creek by Dr. Hailen of Philadelphia, who employed Nimron S. Jarrett and Bacchus J. Smith, late of Buncombe County, to conduct the business. It was abundant then and very profitable, the green root being worth about seven cents a pound. A branch of this business was established on Caney River in Yancey County. I well remember seeing great companies of mountaineers coming along the mountain passes (there were no roads then only as we blazed them) with packed horses and oxen going to the "factory," as we called it; and it was a great rendezvous for the people, where all the then sports of the day were engaged in such games as pitching quoits, running foot-races, shooting matches, wrestling, and, sometimes a good fist and skull fight. But the curse and indignation of the neighborhood rested on the man who attempted, as we called it, "to interfere in the fight, or double-team," or use a weapon. The most noted men were John Welch, John McFarland, Hodge Reyburn, Thomas Tatham, Gen. Thomas Love and Ninian Edmundson. The leading families of Haywood were the Howells, being two brothers, John and Henry, who came from Cabarrus about 1818; the Osborns; the Plotts, Col. Thomas Lenoir; the Catheys, Deavers, McCrackens, Penlands, Bryers; David Russell of Fines creek, Peter Nolan, Robert Penland, Henry Brown, James Green, who was born in 1790, and was living in January, 1891, and many others."

Joseph Cathey
He was born March 12, 1803, and died June 1, 1874, was a son of William Cathey, one of the first settlers on Pigeon River; was a delegate to the State convention of 1835, and in the senate and declined further political honors.

Ninian Edmundson
He was born in Burke, October 21, 1789, of Maryland ancestry, and came with his father to Pigeon Valley prior to 1808, where the family remained. He was in the War of 1812; was four years sheriff of Haywood. He served several terms in the State senate and many in the house. He was a most successful farmer and useful citizen. He died in March, 1868, highly esteemed.

James Robert Love
He was born in November, 1798, and died November 22, 1863. He represented Haywood County many times in the legislature. He married Miss Maria Williamson Coman, daughter of Col. James Coman of Raleigh, who died January 9, 1842, aged 75 years. This marriage occurred November 26, 1822. Charles Loehr, a German professor of music, taught his children music for years, and Loehr's son afterwards became professor of music at the Asheville Female College. Love was so anxious to encourage the building of a railroad that he set aside a lot for the depot long before he died. He bought large boundaries of vacant and un-surveyed lands, and died wealthy.

Dr. Samuel L. Love
He was born August 5, 1828, and died July 7, 1887. He received his diploma as a physician from the University of Pennsylvania; but was soon elected to the legislature, where he served many terms. He was a surgeon in 1861 on the staff of Gov. Ellis, and a delegate to the Constitutional convention of 1875. In 1876 he was elected State auditor.

Thomas Isaac Lenoir
Was born on Pigeon River August 26, 1817, a son of Thomas Lenoir of Wilkes. He went to the State University, and did not return to Haywood till 1847. He was a farmer and stock raiser and a progressive citizen. On June 13, 1861, he married Miss Mary E. Garrett. He died January 5, 1881. His brother, Walter Lenoir, was a captain in the Confederate army, and spent much of his life at Joseph Shull's in Watauga County, where he died July 26, 1890, aged sixty-seven years. He was graduated with high honor at the State University. He studied law and was admitted in 1845. He married Miss Cornelia Christian of Staunton, Va., in 1856, but she died soon afterward. He lost a leg in the Civil War at the battle of Ox Hill, September, 1862.

William Johnston
William Johnston was the fourth son of Robert Johnston, Sr., and was born two miles from Druhmore, the county town of Down County, Ireland, July 26, 1807, his ancestors having emigrated from Scotland to Ireland in 1641. He came with his father's family to Charleston, South Carolina, in December, 1818, and settled in Pickens District, South Carolina. About 1828 he moved to Buncombe County and married Lucinda, the only daughter of James Gudger and his wife Annie Love, daughter of Col. Robert Love of Waynesville, March 18, 1830, and settled in Waynesville, where he accumulated a large fortune. About 1857 he moved with his family to Asheville. After the Civil War, he, with the late Col. L. D. Childs of Columbia, South Carolina, became the owner of the Saluda factory, three miles from that city. It was burned, however, and Mr. Johnston returned to Asheville, where he died. He was admittedly the most successful business man in this entire section of the State; and some think that the same business ability, if it had been exerted in almost any other field, would have produced results that would have rivaled the fortunes of some of our merchant princes.

Jerry Vickers
Jerry Vickers was a tinner who worked for Wm. Johnston, and also made gravestones out of locust, paradoxical as that may appear; but his head-boards in Waynesville cemetery, with names and dates neatly carved in this almost indestructible wood, are still sound and legible today.

Wm. Pinckney Welch
Wm. Pinckney Welch was born in Waynesville November 14, 1838, and died at Athens, Ga., March 18, 1896. His mother's father was Robert Love, and his father was William the son of John Welch, one of the pioneers. The Welches came from Philadelphia soon after the Revolutionary War. He attended school at Col. Stephen Lee's school in Chunn's cove, after which he went to Emory and Henry College, leaving there in May, 1861, to join the Confederate army. He was a lieutenant in the 25th N. C. regiment, and took part in the battles of from Gaines Mills to Malvern Hill, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg and in the campaign near Kinston and Plymouth, Petersburg, Bermuda Hundreds, and surrendered as a captain with Lee at Appomattox. The survivors of that war have named their camp after him. He practiced law after the war, was in the legislature in 1868 and 1870 and helped to impeach Gov. Holden. He was married first to Miss Sarah Cathey, a daughter of Col. Joseph Cathey of Pigeon River, soon after the war, and on the 26th of January, 1875, he married Miss Margaretta Richards White of Athens, Ga., his first wife having died soon after marriage. No braver man ever lived than Pink Welch.

Source: Western North Carolina A History From 1730 to 1913, By John Preston Arthur, Published by Edward Haywood Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, of Haywoodville, N. C., 1914

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