North Carolina Civil War Governor Zebulan - Vance Birthplace State Historic
Tours, Facts, Information, History: Mountain Life in Colonial Times, Log Cabin Construction, Rope Beds, Slave Quarters
Vance’s birthplace is a must see. The homestead is located in Weaverville and is accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville area. The tour guides from the Museum are most helpful and very knowledgeable. The tour of the homestead is essential to understanding the life and culture of mountains of Western North Carolina. It takes about an hour to leisurely visit the museum, watch the movie and take the tour. The cost is free yet the experience is rewarding. Enjoy!
Vance’s birthplace is the homestead of the American Civil War governor of North Carolina, Zebulon Vance. The homestead was built after the Revolutionary War by David Vance who was a revolutionary war veteran and Zebulon Vance’s grandfather. The Vance's were of Irish Scotch ancestry and financially well off. The homestead consisted of over 800 acres, a large 2 story house, springhouse, smokehouse, corncrib, a small cabin for making cloth and slave quarters. (indicating their wealth as few residents of Western North Carolina could afford to own slaves.)
The Log Cabin was constructed of pinewood and was chilly inside due to the lack of insulation. The tour guide said the house is chilly even on warm summer days. There was a guest bedroom, a living room that doubled as a master bedroom, and a kitchen on the first floor. There were two bedrooms upstairs where the older children slept.
The guest room was essential because guests would come and spend a month or more. This room remained chilly too because the heat from the fire did not circulate well in the house.
The living room was paneled with pine and this being a luxury in this time period was an indication of the Vance’s wealth. There was an old Thomas Seth clock on the wall complete with pendulum. The tour guide explained that clocks were not accurate in this time period because of the nature of their mechanism and therefore clocks were another luxury showpiece.
The beds in the house were rope beds. There was one rope that held up the mattress and this rope was tightened when the rope was slack. Thus the old saying “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite”. Mattresses were stuffed with any type of material available which was often straw complete with creepy crawlers.
The kitchen had its own fireplace, which shared the same chimney of the living room fireplace. The roof shingles were visible in the kitchen. These shingles were made of pine with spaces in between where the sky is visible. When it snowed, it would snow inside as well. However, when it rained the shingles would swell shut and no rain would come in. This is typical of the houses of this time era.
The slave quarter was a log cabin consisting of two rooms with a fireplace in the front room. These quarters were smaller than the main house but were comparable in size to a typical pioneer cabin. They were furnished as nicely as the main home. This cabin housed five to seven slaves. Slaves were unusual for Western North Carolina so this is not a typical example of slave accommodations in the South.