Blackstock, Nehemiah

August 30, 1794 – August 6, 1880
submitted by Grace Duckett Greene
Born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Nehemiah came to Buncombe County on July 6, 1814, as a surveyor. It is unclear just when he met and married Hammoleketh Ball who was born in Irdell County, North Carolina. “Leeky” (April 2, 1794 – July 15, 1874) was the daughter of Daniel Ball whose grave (marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution) is in the family cemetery in Dillingham, North Carolina.

Nehemiah and Hammoleketh had five children: Priscilla Adeline (July 6, 1819 – April 19, 1846) who married John W. Wells; Clarissa (December 27, 1820 – March 29, 1853) who married a man whose surname was Israel; Harriet J. (no dates available) who married the Reverend J.D. Baldwin of the Holston Conference on September 16, 1856; Robert Vance (February 4, 1824 – August 26, 1906) who married Mary Weaver; and Emily E. (April 13, 1826 – June 30, 1860) who married Captain William T. Dickenson (February 6, 1825 – March 7, 1889). Miss Kitty Sue McElroy, a great-granddaughter of Nehemiah’s tells that Priscilla and Clarissa played under a cedar tree in the family yard when little. When they both died at a young age, Nehemiah insisted they be buried where they played so often as children. This location is where all but Harriet are buried. The Blackstock Cemetery is all that remains of the original property (near Flat Creek). The rest of the “home place” was claimed by the state for an interstate highway.

It is unclear just how the Blackstocks came to know Zebulon Vance’s family, but it is believed the acquaintance came about because Vance’s grandfather was a sur- veyor as was Nehemiah. Several references are made to the family in the book “A Man To Match The Mountains” by Ruth O. Szittya. Zeb Vance was sent to live with the Blackstocks when he was old enough to attend school because the Vance family home was too far from the school at Flat Creek.

Miss McElroy says that Nehemiah was a “staunch Presbyterian” and a strict dis- ciplinarian. He kept a black book where he recorded the misbehavior of his children. After a number of offenses he then set their punishments. She also tells that Ne- hemiah took an interest in a young man by the name of Buckner who wanted to be a minister. The young man came around wearing a beard one time and Nehemiah, himself clean-shaven, told him, “Look here, you can’t preach the gospel through that beard!”

In addition to being a surveyor, Nehemiah was also a justice of the peace. It is reported that he presided over a murder trial held in his front yard. Once he was to go to court in Burnsville and his housekeeper, “Aunt Louizy” was to get his wardrobe ready for the trip. She forgot to iron his linen pants and proceeded to do so, un- fortunately it was on a Sunday that she remembered. Nehemiah caught her in the process. When questioned, she explained what she was doing, but to no avail. He refused to wear the pants because she had broken the Sabbath.

Miss Kitty Sue McElroy and her sister Mary lived in Nehemiah’s home until the state forced them to move. The original logs in the structure were purchased by a builder in Wolf Laurel and used to construct a new log home near there. As Nehemiah’s property was parceled out, it was resurveyed and one of the surveyors told the McElroy sisters that the original survey by Nehemiah was “perfect” which pleased the ladies very much.

–Old Buncombe County Heritatage I, North Carolina, Article #238, p. 153

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