Location: Weaverville, North Carolina
Webpage: North Carolina Historic Site
General Description: Zebulon Baird Vance was known as the “War Governor of the South” due to actions as North Carolina’s Governor during the Civil War. He won the governorship in 1862 running on individual rights and local self-government. His work on the morale and supplies of his state during the war won the hearts of the citizens. He was arrested by the Union in 1865, but was paroled 2 months later. In 1876 he was again elected Governor focusing on education and in 1879 was elected to be the US Senate where he served until his death. The small historic site surrounding his birthplace in western North Carolina includes the 5 room log cabin, a few outbuildings, and a small visitor center about Governor Vance’s life and career.
1) Zebulon Vance was not the only member of his family in public office. His uncle and brother both served in the US Congress. It is a good example of how modest surroundings in rural America of the 19th century led to great leadership. It was clear from the small museum how much Governor Vance was admired by the citizens and political leaders of North Carolina. His efforts for the citizens in his state during and following the Civil War are the primary reason that North Carolina did not suffer as much as other southern states from the aftermath of the war.
2) The Vance’s family were land rich but cash poor. They owned and farmed much of the valley surrounding his birthplace and the family owned a relatively large number of slaves. The modest two story home and few outbuildings that remain are not a good indication of the importance, wealth, and influence of the Vance family. For instance, I noticed there was no barn included in the outbuildings. Upon inquiring, they are not sure where the barn(s) were located, but were probably positioned across the highway nearer to the farmland.
3) While it only takes an hour or two to visit the site, it is worth the time.