By Jan Lawrence
Beginning with this article, families who have settled the area known by the Indian name “Dry Ridge” will be the topic of these history articles. There is an accumulation of information about the first families in this area. Oral tradition mentions Shadrack Hyatt who was reported to have acquired 2000 acres in the headwaters of Reems Creek from Indians for two flintlock rifles.
Oral tradition also refers to a Mr. Rims who got crosswise with the Indians and was dispatched by them on the end of the Creek near the location of the Weaverville Milling Company Restaurant (2019). Also reported was a burial by John Weaver and his helpers. David Vance who was the earliest clerk of courts after Buncombe County was formed from Burke County in 1792 wrote “Rims” as the name of the Creek. That is why we pronounce “Reems” as “Rims” to this day. The assumption is the Creek was named in memory of Mr. Rims.
The Weaver Family appeared in the Reems Creek Valley in the late fall of 1786 or early spring of 1787. John Weaver who was born in Virginia in 1763, his wife Elizabeth Biffle Weaver who was born in 1773, and their infant son Jacob Weaver who was born in 1786 arrived as a family.
There are various stories about John Weaver. One account is his father was from the Palatinate which is now a part of Germany. The story relates that these Weavers were Lutheran and left their native land in search of religious freedom. Some have traced their migration down the Rhine River to Rotterdam and onward by ship (possibly “The Mortonhouse”) about 1729 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
From there they might have gone to Berks County, PA. It is recorded that many thousands came from Germany to PA per month during this time. From PA they might have gone to Virginia and onward to North Carolina. Much of this is speculation.
It is possible that John Weaver met brothers named Biffle at the Battle of Kings Mountain although the John Weaver listed in the official records is not the one who married Elizabeth Biffle. It seems reasonable that John Weaver had seen the beautiful Reems Creek Valley before bringing his young wife and infant son, possibly when he traveled to the site of the battle. He did visit the Biffle family in Happy Valley (now Tennessee) and there met and married his beautiful wife.
John Weaver, according to “The Tribe of Jacob” written by Pearl Weaver, was friendly with the Indians. He received a large land grant and became a farmer. John was skilled in several jobs including as a surveyor, carpenter, blacksmith, cabinet maker and mason. The Weavers became the parents of eleven children, and they could read and write, so they also educated their children. Their home contained many books and slates. The log cabin part is no longer there. The rest of the building which was added after John’s death remains on the Old Weaver Farm located south of Reems Creek.
In the book “Cabins and Castles” the house is described: “The 1834 section of this house, a two-story frame structure with a large single-room plan was built by Jacob Weaver, as an addition to his original two-story (20’ x 26’) hall-and-parlor plan log house. The new section was built with the help of Jacob’s son Jesse, who was learning masonry, hence the inscription of “1834 Jesse Richardson Weaver on the single American Bond chimney.”
John Weaver along with David Vance was one of the founders of the Reems Creek Presbyterian Church, begun in 1791 on land that is now Parker Cove. Reems Creek Presbyterian Church moved to three other locations before it merged in the Beech Community with the Beech Presbyterian Church.
Reems Creek was the second oldest Presbyterian Church in Buncombe County. In 1800 Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury was sent from Europe to the “North Carolina Alps,” the Blue Ridge Mountains. After John Weaver, his son Jacob and some neighbors heard the Bishop a few times, and they decided to build a meeting place in the lower end of the Reems Creek neighborhood. John Weaver gave land on the south end of the Ridge, and his neighbors helped cut and split logs, gather rocks and build the first Methodist church in Buncombe County, The Reems Creek Methodist Church built about 1805.
Camp meetings were popular at this time, and The Reems Creek Methodist Church organized a Camp Meeting. It built shacks in which to camp, a platform for speakers, log benches for listeners, brought some slat-backed, handmade chairs for special guests and invited people from other settlements to attend. John and Elizabeth’s sons Jacob and Michael Montraville were converted in the church and later ordained as local preachers. The next Article will discuss “The Children.”