On July 25, 2015 the Allison-Deaver House, known as the
oldest standing frame house in Western North Carolina, celebrated its 200th
anniversary. Many years before its construction
a white oak across from where Benjamin Allison would build his home, began its
journey toward becoming a local landmark.
In the late 1700s vast tracts of land in Western North
Carolina were purchased by land speculators for small sums. If the land owners were later unable to pay
their property taxes the land would be sold at auction by the county sheriff.
On September 19, 1798 Buncombe County Sheriff, James Hughey
sold property, known as the James Hughey Land Grant, for back taxes. The beginning corner in the property
description is marked by a white oak.
|DAR Witness Tree Marker|
When George W. Young was establishing his property lines in
the 1880s several of the oldest men in the county identified a particular white
oak as the beginning corner of the James Hughey Land Grant. These men had lived here their entire lives,
since the time when the property belonged to Buncombe County, through 24 years
as Henderson County and finally as Transylvania County beginning in 1861.
This same tree served as a meeting place through its lifetime
in Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties and would become known as the
On September 29, 1958 the DAR placed a plaque at its base
reading, “Marker of Hughey Land Grant, 1798. Three county marker and meeting
|Jim Morrow inside a cross-section of the tree
shortly after it was removed.
When Highway 280, known as the Boyleston or Asheville Highway,
was being expanded in the 1980s there was a public effort to save the over 200
year old landmark. On March 13, 1984 the
North Carolina Board of Transportation decided to shift the highway alignment
and preserve the tree.
Unfortunately a short time later, an expert examination of
the 110 foot tall tree showed that it had decayed through much of its
core. Sixteen feet in circumference at it
base, much of shell further up the trunk had only 3-4” of solid wood. On January 29, 1985 the old Witness Tree came
A cross section of the Witness Tree can be seen at the Transylvania
Heritage Museum on W. Main St.
Photographs and information for this column are provided
by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information,
comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or 828-884-3151 X242.