The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        Buncombe worthily preserves to all time the name of Edward Buncombe, a patriot and a soldier, who served his country faithfully, and who gave up his life in her defence, a more minute account of whom is presented in the sketch of the men of Tyrrell County, of which he was a resident.

        There is perhaps no section of the State more familiar by name, and less known abroad. "Talking for Buncombe" has become as familiar as a household word, not only in our own native, but has pervaded other countries.*

        * Attache in England, by Judge Halliburton.

This slang phrase had this origin. Some years ago the member in Congress from this district*

        * General Felix Walker was member in the House of Representatives from the Buncombe District from 1817 to 1823.

arose to address the House on a question of local importance; some of the members left the Hall, which he observing, very naively said to those remaining, that they might go too; as he should speak for some time and was only "talking for Buncombe."

        Ample materials for description of the lovely scenery and the genial climate, the fertile soil, and its gold giving ore, exist, but these are not germane to our object; it is of the men of Buncombe only we propose to write.

        Many of the earlier inhabitants and pioneers of this lovely region of the State we are compelled to pass over. It were a pleasing duty to dwell upon the character and services of the Alexanders; the Barnetts, (the first men that ever piloted a wagon over the mountains;) The Beards, Readon and Zebulon; Thomas Case, (who died in 1849, aged 82, "who lived longer, easier and heartier, and left more descendants than any man of his day;") the Davidsons; the Edneys; the Lowries; the Irwins; the Pattons, (especially James, who died 1845, aged 90, the founder of the Warm Springs;) Rev. Humphrey Posey; James McSmith, the first white child born in the State west of Blue Ridge; and many others.

        We leave these for some son of Buncombe as indicated by Hon. George Davis, "who shall gird up his loins to the task, with unwearied industry and unflinching devotion to the honor of his dear old mother."

        David Lowry Swain, born 4th of January, 1801; died 27th of August, 1868.

        Few men have lived in North Carolina who have made a deeper or more lasting impression on her history than the subject of our present sketch.

        Without fortune or thorough education, or any personal advantages, but by his own intrinsic merits, his unspotted character and sterling virtues, he was called on to fill the highest offices in the State.

        If his education was, from his limited circumstances, not complete, he was blessed with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, habits of unremitting labor that was never satisfied until it exhausted a question, and a powerful memory. He remained a short time (1821) at the University, "but he did not need, (as Johnson says of Shakespeare,) the spectacles of books to study the great works of nature or the character of men." He was a student all his life. Truly--

                         --He sought rich jewels
                         From the dark caves of knowledge,
                         To win his ransom from from those twin jailors of the daring heart,
                         Low birth and iron fortune--
and so successfully did he labor, that at the time of his death he had no superior in the
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