One woman’s recollection of her journey from Weaverville to the West

By Jan Lawrence

John Biffle Weaver was born on Reems Creek in 1802. He married Lucinda Barnard in 1825. Their first child was Susan Manerva Weaver, born in 1831. When Susan was 93 years, four months and twenty-six days old, she dictated a few facts concerning her family, early life here and the crossing of the Plains in 1852. She wrote down the recollection at the request of her granddaughter.

Here’s her story:

“I was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina, in 1831, on March 2nd to John Biffle Weaver and Lucinda Barnard Weaver. My mother’s father was Col. Barnard of the Revolutionary Army. My people are of Dutch descent. My grandfather and grandmother Weaver (John and Elizabeth Biffle Weaver) came from the Old Country with their respective parents when they were children. My great-grandfather Weaver settled perhaps in North Carolina, at first, but I am not sure.

“All names and the family history were in the family Bible, and I left it at home when I started across the Plains, fearing it might, in some way, be lost. My sister Jane brought it in her trunk when she came through the Isthmus after the Civil War in 1865. Her trunk was lost when the ship wrecked in the Caribbean Sea. She and her four children, with other passengers, were put on a raft and floated to an island where they endured great hardship for ten days until rescued by a ship sent from the mainland. Many things were rescued from the ship as it had not sunk from sight when the rescue ship arrived. My sister, however, traveling alone, her husband having died during the war, had no one to send for her belongings.

“I had six sisters: Eliza, Jane, Margaret, Polly Jane, and two that died in infancy unnamed. I had one brother, James Biffle Weaver, and one half-brother, William Barnard Weaver, whose father was John Elkins. Polly Jane was scalded so badly at two and one-half years that death resulted. One of the little ones died at two months and the other at two weeks. The rest grew to maturity but have long since passed on.

“My early childhood was a very happy one spent in the lovely southland. Father owned slaves but always treated them kindly. I remember how fond I was of my mammy who had complete charge of me. When I was five years old, we moved to (Cherokee County), Alabama. Father died of fever when we had been there but two years. Mother went back to North Carolina and later married John Elkins, who was my half brother William’s father. William was killed in Tuscarora, Nevada in 1880, leaving a wife and two children. (More about this later.) We lived in North Carolina [for] three years and then moved to Henry County, Missouri, on the Tebo River. Tebo, I think, meant ‘Little River.’ Here Mother made her home until we were grown.

“My sister Margaret came across the Plains in 1861 with Bill Owens’ wagon train. This train brought cattle. Bill Owens made a previous trip in 1858. He married Laura Allen, a daughter of Mother’s youngest sister. James Biffle Weaver crossed the Plains in 1849 in the Santa Fe Train. At Santa Fe, he came through lower California, by water, and prospected until 1854. He came to Sonoma County, where I first located upon reaching California and stayed in my home until 1856.

He came with my family to Mendocino County when doctors advised a different climate on account of my husband’s health. From Mendocino County, he went to Humboldt County in 1867. He located permanently and died an old man there. He never married.

“I married John Wesley McAbee on August 19th, 1852, when I was twenty-one, and we started the next spring across the Plains by ox team and wagon to California to build our home in the new country. (More to follow)
Submitted by Jan Lawrence, Chair of Dry Ridge Historical Museum. For access to Family Histories housed at the Satellite location of the museum, call 828-658-3934

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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