County Records Guide

The North Carolina State Archives is an overwhelming, treasure trove of information for the genealogy researcher. My visit to the archives was too short! I was there about 4-5 hours. The problem – I didn’t knwo what to expect or how to plan for the visit. I hope the information below will help you make the most of your visit.

To simplify and make the most of  your first visit, follow these guidelines:

  1. Find out what records are in the NC State Archives (see link below);
  2. Decide what information about your ancestor you want to research;
  3. Plan to be there when the door opens and leave when it closes;
  4. When you get there ask for a brief tour or map of the layout of the Archives, specifically finding out about the area for your plan of research (#2 above);
  5. Take quarters (.25¢, change for the copy machine)


Take a look at the list of  research materials for McDowell County at the NC State Archives in Raleigh, NC. Use this list to help plan your visit.

Horrible Affray

A Horrible Affray

Contributed by: Elaine Kahler

According to the Asheville News, NC, October 2, 1862:
“A horrible affray took place in this town on last night, between J.C.
Neal and John Isbell, which resulted in slightly wounding J.C. Neal in
the head with a pistol ball, and in killing John Isbell dead on the spot,
by shooting him through the heart.  We forbear comment till further
particulars are given. – from the Marion Enterprise newspaper”



McDowells, Carsons and Pleasant Gardens

Excerpt about McDowells, Carsons and Pleasant Gardens

Submitted by Rick Frederick

Pleasant Gardens is a small McDowell County community located on US 70 west of Marion and east of Old Fort. It is also the name of two noted local homes, one formerly belonging to the Joseph McDowell family and the other to the Carson family. The Historic Carson House sits along US 70 some 1.5 miles west of NC 226 and along Buck Creek just above its confluence with the Catawba River.

The Historic Carson House proudly boasts, “Davy Crockett Slept Here,” which comes as a surprise to visitors who are unfamiliar with Crockett’s North Carolina connections. David Crockett occasionally stopped at the home of Samuel Carson and the Carson family while he was in North Carolina visiting is wife’s family, the Pattons, in Swannanoa. This was his probable destination when he created David Crockett’s Bridle Trail. It was also the home to which he rode in haste in 1827 to report to the family the outcome of the Vance-Carson duel.

Construction of the original home was begun in 1793 by Colonel John Carson. He built a single-pen (or single-room), two-story log cabin over a full cellar. Around 1800, he added a second single-pen, two-story cabin. They were joined by a dogtrot, or open hall. The entrance hall is now that passageway. The dining room occupies one cabin; the living room occupies the other. Additional living space was added over the years. Improvements have masked the underlying structure.

About two miles east of the Carson House sat the home of Joseph McDowell. It was named Pleasant Gardens. John Carson married McDowell’s widow in 1797. Mary Moffitt McDowell moved into the Carson House and brought with her the name of her former residence, Pleasant Gardens. In her second home of that name, she gave birth in 1798 to a son, Samuel Price Carson. Beside serving as a North Carolina legislator, Samuel Carson was elected to the United States Congress in 1825 at age 26. He was reelected in 1827 in a bitter campaign that resulted in his duel with Dr. Robert Vance. Carson was a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson. He served in Congress alongside Sam Houston and Crockett, though Carson’s friendship with Crockett was strained for a time by Crockett’s antagonism toward President Jackson.

Source: In the Footsteps of Davy Crockett, Randell Jones (2006) at 134-136.





African-American Research

The NCGenWeb is dedicated to free genealogy research. They are currently collecting resources on African-American genealogy.

Check out the following sites that are filled with rich information:

NCGenWeb site on African-American Special Projects.

Tom Blake’s Slave Data is one of the largest list of slave holders in 1860 and census for 1870

If you have African American research specific to McDowell County, please consider sharing with others.

Email and I will help you get your desired information online.

Historical Markers in McDowell County

According to the “Guide to North Carolina Highway Historical Markers” there are 6 historical markers located along the highways in McDowell County, NC.

They are as follows:

  1. Frontier Fort (N-31) that is located on Main Street (US 70) in Old Fort. Approved in 1956.
  2. Andrew’s Geyser (N-37) located on state road 1400 (Old US 70 west of Old Fort. Approved in 1976.
  3. Pleasant Gardens (N-4) is located on US 70 west of Marion at Pleasant Gardens. Approved in 1937.
  4. Cathey’s Fort (N-26) is located on US 221/NC 226 North of Woodlawn/Marion. Approved in 1950.
  5. Carson House (N-35) is located on US 70 west of Marion. Approved in 1965.
  6. Cane Creek (N-41) is located southeast of Dysartsville on US 64. Approved in 1991.

One of the longest running programs in the States is the NC Highway Historical Marker Program. Check out their website for more information.

Massacre in Marion, NC

Ever heard about the massacre that happened in Marion, NC in the late 1920s. Now you can read about it and hopefully in the near future, you will be able to view an exhibit about the tragic event that occurred in the tiny mill town in Marion.

To read the article go to Shame. A slideshow of images and articles from the scrapbook may be viewed, as well as an audio documentary “Strike” by Kim Clark.

Check back often for more information about the upcoming exhibit.