North Carolina People, Places, and Things-January 16
I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.
In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.
The history of each North Carolina County I have researched has proven to be interesting. Ashe County’s history includes belonging to many other counties continues that streak. For starters it borders two other states Virginia and Tennessee.
Map below shows Ashe County location in red.
Encompassing approximately 427 square miles, Ashe’s boundaries have been a topic of continuing dispute throughout the years. The area was part of Anson County during the early English colonization period; became part of Rowan County in 1753, Surry County in 1771, Wilkes County in 1777 and was briefly part of the State of Franklin from 1784-89. Incorporated as a separate entity by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1799, Ashe County came into its own.
The State of Franklin by itself is interesting part of our history and in a nutshell here is what occurred.
In April 1783, the state of North Carolina had ceded its western land claims between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River to the United States Congress. The settlers in this area, known as the Cumberland River Valley, had formed their own independent government from 1772 to 1777 and were concerned that Congress would sell the territory to Spain or France as a means of paying off some of the government’s war debt. As a result, in 1784 North Carolina retracted its cession and began to organize an administration for the territory.
That retraction caused four counties Washington, Sullivan, Spencer (modern-day Hawkins) and Greene counties declared their independence from North Carolina. At the time lands currently in Ashe, Alleghany, and Watauga made up Washington County.
The following May, the counties petitioned for statehood as “Frankland” to the United States Congress.
A simple majority of states favored acceptance of the petition, but it fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass, even after the counties’ changed their proposed name to “Franklin” in an attempt to curry Benjamin Franklin’s and others’ favor.
In defiance of Congress, Franklin survived as an independent nation for four years with its own constitution, Indian treaties and legislated system of barter in lieu of currency, though after only two years, North Carolina set up its own parallel government in the region. Finally, Franklin’s weak economy forced its governor, John Sevier, to approach the Spanish for aid. North Carolina, terrified of having a Spanish client state on its border, arrested Sevier. When Cherokee, Chickamauga and Chickasaw began to attack settlements within Franklin’s borders in 1788, it quickly rejoined North Carolina to gain its militia’s protection from attack.
In 1796 the land of all these counties (except Alleghany/Ashe/Watauga) became part of the new State of Tennessee.
Today Ashe County is known for its production of Christmas Trees.
The Fraser Fir is highly prized all around the country because of its aroma, shape, dark green color, excellent needle retention and strong branches capable of carrying heavy ornaments.