Approximately 85 of Col John Hazzard Carson's many descendants met in Marion, NC on the third weekend in June 2012, for the first weekend reunion. John was born in 1752 in the Kingdom of Ireland and emigrated to America in 1773. In 1775, he moved to Burke County, North Carolina in an area that became McDowell County in 1842, a year after his death. His home, Historic Carson House, was built in 1793 and is a cherish family treasure. On Friday, June 22nd, his descendants gathered at St. John's Episcopal Parish Hall to meet and reacquaint. Cousins came from as far as Texas and Maryland. Music was provided by the Friendship Dulcimer Club and a light meal was prepared by Bruce's Fabulous Foods. The guest speaker, Anne Swann, provided new information on John's oldest son, Joseph McDowell Carson and a special guest, Margaret Adams, enlightened many while recalling stories of their parents. A special moment occurred when Cathy Hawkins Evans reunited with cousins that she had not seen in nearly 50 years.
Saturday morning was filled with several options. Cousins could participate in a guided driving tour, a self guided tour of several cemeteries or a guided tour of Historic Carson House. Bill Jarrett lead the guided driving tour of historic sites with special significance to the Carson family. At the First Presbyterian Church, guest speaker Sara Bryant, shared the history of the church including the deed donating the land for the church, signed by three of the sons -- William M., George M. and Jonathan Logan Carson. This beautiful church is noted for its stained glass windows dedicated to ruling elders and numerous members, including Jonathan Logan and his wife Mary. Anne Swann again shared historical information at the Joseph McDowell House stop. This landmark sits on land originally owned by "Hunting John" McDowell, a close friend, neighbor and father-in-law of Col.John Hazzard Carson. At the Captain John Carson House, Mrs. Sandi Rabb, explained the restoration progress and commitment to preserving the land surrounding the home built in the 1860s. The driving tour concluded with a stop at the William Moffett Carson House where the current owner and her son met the group. Bill Jarrett shared his vast knowledge of the home's history include the origin of the gigantic Osage orange trees from Texas and the boxwoods found here, as well as, at Captain John Carson's and the Historic Carson House. The self guided tour included the Oak Grove Cemetery, the final resting place for many Carson descendants; the Joseph McDowell Greenway along the Catawba River leading to Round Hill, final resting place of John Hazzard Carson and "Hunting John" McDowell; and the Carson's Chapel Cemetery located near the William Moffett Carson Home. A morning guided tour of Historic Carson House was lead by Mrs. Linda Cloherty, the new executive director.
Saturday afternoon and early evening was spent at Historic Carson House enjoying family time at the ancestral home and grounds, located beside Buck Creek. Many family members brought photos to share and exchanged family information. Additional guided tours of the house and recently renovated barn were conducted by Mrs. Cloherty and dedicated docents. A step back in time included stories from famed chair maker, Max Woody, who recalled stories of the area's history and peoples. A brief business meeting formed a family association with a steering committee and set the next reunion for June 2014. Countryside catered a traditional barbeque dinner followed by a group photo on the front porch. The evening was topped off by a toast to Col. John Carson lead by cousin Bobby Ray Smith, a descendant of Sarah Carson and William Davidson Smith. An additional toast was lead by Doug Swaim, sampling some very smooth Peach Brandy.
The official reunion came to a close after a Sunday morning breakfast, prepared by Bruce's Fabulous Foods, and a nondenominational service lead by cousin, Mary Faith Carson, both held on the front lawn at Historic Carson House. Those present Sunday morning enjoyed a special treat when cousin Marianne Harbison Odom sang "How Great Thou Art." Later, a small group of 10 cousins, took an optional tour Sunday afternoon to the Green River Plantation, the ancestral home of Joseph McDowell Carson and his wife Rebekah Wilson located in Polk County, southwest of Rutherfordton.
Family members descending from 4 of Col. John's 12 children registered to attend this year's gathering. A dedicated committee spent nearly a year locating descendants, organizing and planning this reunion. Twice as many family members attended the weekend events, compared to the previous two year's daily events. Will the 2014 gathering attendees top 150 descendants? (Prepared by Connie Bradshaw)
Connie, what a report of the reunion. I'm sure that many cousins learned things and participated in sites they had never known before. It's an interesting area and it appears that your people were very prominent through various generations. Great Job.