Spying on the Buncombe County Frontier in the Summer of 1795

Spying on the Buncombe County Frontier in the Summer of 1795
Kenneth D. Israel

Buncombe County was created on 14 Jan 1792. The early settlers who had come over the mountains were roamers. They wanted to see what was beyond. They also thought that they could better themselves by securing and owning more land and having land for their large families. Each generation after the first European settlement of North America had pushed farther westward. At the eve of the (American) Revolution there was a settlement at the foot of the Blue Ridge at Old Fort. A trickle of settlers had moved into present Buncombe County.Native Americans retaliated. They considered the land theirs. To stop this retaliation, the Cherokee Nation was invaded by General rutherford with focus from the piedmont of the Carolinas. Many of the soldiers in this invasion saw what they considered the promised land. As soon as the guns of the Revolution were silenced, these farmer-soldiers quickly settled Buncombe County east of the French Broad.

. …There were many Native Americans in the area. Some of this section was used as their hunting grounds. And there had been some permanent villages where the Indians had built houses and were farmers.

Treaties were made…treaties were broken. Soon all of what is present Haywood County was ceded to the United States.

One document in the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh, NC, reveals the condition of events on the frontier at that time.

The following is a true statement of services performed by the spies on the frontier of Buncombe County from and after the 27th day of June 1795. Most of the people named appear to have lived in the western part of Buncombe County. Some of this area is in present Haywood County. The document here is edited, showing only the name of the person, and the number of days in service. They all entered service on 27 Jun 1795.


1-Nathan Dever – 26 days
2-William Stringfield – 26
3-John Welch – 26
4-Gabriel Keith – 26
5-Ebenezer Fain – 25
6-Jonathan McPeeters – 25 days
7-John McClure – 25
8-Samuel Neill – 25
9-George Cathy -25
10-James Glass – 24
11-John Morrow – 24 days
12-John Robinson – 22
13-Handley Vaughan – 19 days
14-John Nelson – 18
15-John Stringfield – 19
16-Austin Chote – 19
17-Joseph McPeeters – 19 days 18-John Davidson – 19 days
19-James Rutherford – 19
20-John Bradley – 19
21-David McPeeters – 19 days.

The report was then sworn to: State of North Carolina, Buncombe County. The foregoing persons (excepting Austin Chote, Joseph McPeeters, John Davidson, James Rutherford, John Bradley, and David McPeeters) personally appeared before me and made oath in due form of law that they were in active on the frontiers the number of days charged opposite their respective names. Sworn to the 27th of July 1795 before William Davidson, JP.

Attached to the list and sworn affidavit, was a sworn affidavit of D. Vance, Lt. Col.

State of No. Carolina, Buncombe County. I hereby certify that on the 27th of June (1795) that I engaged the forementioned [sic] spies and placed them out on the frontiers with orders to watch the motions of the Indians and give the necessary information– I have good reason to believe, were faithful to the discharge of their duty and attended the number of days charged in their payroll. Austin Close, Joseph McPeeters, John Davidson, James Rutherford, John Bradley, and david [sic] McPeeters were not present at the time the others were qualified and neglected proving their attendance, but I believe and know that some of them were attentive to their duty. Given under my hand Novr. 20th 1795.

D Vance, Lt. Col.

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