John Edwards was the first Edwards to come to Yancey County. He was born in September, 1750 in Baltimore County, MD. After moving to McAllister Town, PA, he later moved to Bedford Co., VA where he resided until the Revolutionary War. His pension records show that he volunteered and served many different hitches in the army before coming to Jonesboro, TN. His sister, Mary, married Christopher “Kit” Taylor and they ran a boarding house. One of their boarders was Andrew Jackson. Because of his stay with the Taylor’s, the cabin has been preserved and is located downtown in Jonesboro, TN.In 1776 John Edwards married Ruth Crabtree in Bedford Co., VA. She had a brother residing in Yancey County. It is thought that because of this, John and Ruth came to Yancey County, eventually. It is also believed that the area called “Crabtree” was named for her brother.
John and Ruth came to present day Yancey County in 1790, bringing eight of their twelve children with them. Two years after their arrival here, they applied for a divorce. It so happens this is the first divorce recorded in Buncombe County, a portion which was later to become Yancey County. The land deeds record that John got all the land they owned jointly, consisting of several hundred acres. Ruth received a roan mare and a feather bed.
Of the eight recorded children there were:
John Edwards, Jr.
John, James and Edmond fought in the War of 1812. It is said that Edmond had one of his ears bitten off in a fight. Cropping was prevalent in those days for someone who had been convicted of a crime, so in order to prove that he had not been cropped, he went to court to set the record straight.
While we have records of the children of John and Ruth Edwards, this article follows the lineage through James Edwards, son of John and Ruth. He was known back then as “sheep eatin’ Jim”. It seems that James went to town one day to buy a pair of shoes for his wife. After he bought the shoes and on his way home, he met two men with two sheep that they wished to exchange for the pair of shoes. Jim, being a man who thought more of his stomach than his wife’s feet, agreed to exchange the shoes for the sheep if he could remain and eat the sheep provided the men and their wives prepared them. Thus he did until all the sheep were devoured and someone else wore his wife’s shoes. James had married Clarisa Mashburn. She died three days after Jim in 1897.
Jim was a colorful character, as you might well imagine. He fought in the Civil War and was discharged because of chronic diarrhea. He settled in the Piney Hill section of the county and later moved to Ramseytown, where he lived until his death.
His children were:
Zanie Edwards, (b. 1840; d. 1915) Married (1) Sam Shehan (2) Alney
Saphronia Edwards, who married Tom Huston
Jasper Edwards, who married Mary Lewis
Mary Edwards, who married Hicks Sparks
Shelton Edwards, who never married
Eliza Edwards, who married John Clark Johnson
Samantha Edwards, who married William FenderJasper and Mary (Lewis) Edwards who had:Chedo Lemuel Edwards
Nelson Vance Edwards
Sally Lodusky Edwards
James Robert “Bob” EdwardsBascombe Edwards married Rebecca Hensley and had:Monroe Edwards
The material for this article was abstracted from an article “Edwards Generation in Yancey” which appeared in the Yancey Journal, date unknown, and is available at OBCGS Library. The article is based on the research of Terry Edwards.