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.