History

John and Elizabeth Biffle Weaver’s Family

Editor’s note: This is article 2 in the series of three. Lawrence is the chairperson of the Dry Ridge Museum.

By Jan Lawrence

John Weaver and his wife, Elizabeth Biffle Weaver, had eleven children. The oldest, Jacob, was born at Happy Valley, NC (now part of the state of Tennessee). The rest of the Weaver children were born on Reems Creek. The second of the Weaver children was Susannah, born in 1787. Christiana followed in 1789. James was born in 1794. Mary was born in 1795, eight months after her brother. Catherine was born 15 months later in 1796. Elizabeth followed in 1798. John Biffle “Jack” was born in 1802, Matilda in 1803, Christopher George in 1805 and the last child Michael Montraville in 1808.

Jacob married Elizabeth Siler on December 12, 1811. She was the daughter of Weimar and Margaret O’Rafferty Siler of Turkey Creek in Buncombe County. Her parents were born and married in Ireland and came to Philadelphia in 1767 then moved to Virginia (where Margaret was born October 12, 1767).
At the age of 15, Weimar, who was of German descent and born in Philadelphia enlisted in the Indian War as a drummer boy.

He was promoted for courage and during the American Revolution fought under “The Swamp Fox” Francis Marion and John Sevier at Sumter, King’s Mountain, and Cowpens. In 1783 he returned to Virginia where he married Margaret O’Rafferty on March 12, 1786. They moved to Buncombe County in the spring of 1805. In 1827 their final move was to Macon County where their three sons lived.
Jacob built a home in the Reems Creek Valley with big timbers cut from the virgin forest. The house was two-story, twenty feet wide and twenty-six feet long. The logs were fourteen to eighteen inches wide, trimmed to six inches thick. The rock chimney was six feet wide and four feet deep. In the hills, the fire never went out. If it did a neighbor might let you borrow some coals, but care was taken “to bank the coals.”
The andirons and other tools were made in the blacksmith shop on the farm. The furniture for the house was hand-made, one piece at a time as needed. The original desk made by and belonging to Jacob Weaver is in the Dry Ridge Museum as are some of the tools and an original compass.

In addition to the enormous log house and blacksmith shop, there also were a corn crib and spring house. On his farm, Jacob grew wheat, corn, buckwheat, cane for molasses, flax and in a big garden all kinds of vegetables known at the time, especially beans, turnips, cabbage, pumpkins, and beets. Many of the farm activities were cooperative ventures with neighbors coming over and sharing in the work and the results. Jacob Weaver had one slave, a gift from his father, but tradition tells he was more of a sharecropper or renter than a slave.

In 1835 the oldest son of Jacob and Elizabeth, John Siler Weaver was accepted on trial as a Methodist minister of the Houston Conference and was sent as a circuit preacher to Tennessee. This was the beginning of the family spreading out.
For New Year’s Day in 1858, Jacob and Elizabeth invited all the children to come home for dinner and a day of strengthening ties of courage, faith and love. This was the beginning of “The Annual Festivities of the Jacob Weaver Family.”

In present days it is an annual reunion known as “The Tribe of Jacob,” generally held at 11 am on the second Saturday in August. It has been held continuously since 1859 with the exception of war years and epidemics. More information will follow in part three.

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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