Captain Edmund Sams, Part 2

Captain Edmund Sams settled on North Hominy Creek when he first moved to what is now Buncombe County. He lived near his brother-in-law John Webb (1765–1825). John Webb had married Stacy Young (1748–1844) a sister to Sams wife, Ann “Nancy” Young. Sams only lived on North Hominy Creek a short time. Foster A. Sondley stated that Edmund Sams supervised the construction of North Hominy Baptist Church while living in the area now called Candler. Edmund and Nancy Sams then moved on the west side of the French Broad River across from Asheville. Their house was just south of the Smokey Park Bridge. Sams operated a ferry across the French Broad River where the current Smith Bridge is located. Later, Edmund Sams sold the ferry to John Jarrett and moved several miles up the French Broad River to a farm that later became known as the Gaston Place.

James Mitchell Alexander (1793–1858)

Captain Sams was leading a group of men that were pursuing a Cherokee raiding party west from Asheville. He caught up with them in what is now north Haywood County. A short battle took place that resulted in the death of one of Sams’ men named Vincent Fine. It was winter and cold. Crystal Creek was frozen over. Sams broke the ice and placed Fines body under the ice to preserve it until he returned. Captain Sams and his men then trailed the Indians to what is now Jackson County; where they were able to kill several of the Cherokee. On their way back Sams recovered Fine’s body from under the ice and brought it back home. This caused Crystal Creeks name to be changed to Fines Creek. A group of Cherokee, led by a renegade white man named Bates, were raiding area farms of cattle and other goods. Some say this took place during the Revolutionary War, others say it was after Sams moved to Buncombe County — I don’t know which was true. Captain Edmund Sams led a party that consisted of himself and eight men in pursuit of Bates and his Indian bandits. They traced the raiders to Indian Creek by late afternoon. Sams and his men went four miles up Indian Creek. It was night by then and they spotted the Indians’ camp fire. The men crept up on their camp which consisted of Bates and eight Cherokee. Sams pointed out a specific Indian for each of his men to shoot at and saved Bates for himself. When Sams gave the signal everyone fired their gun. All eight Indians fell over dead. Sams told his brother-in-law, William Young, “And my little son, my bullet pierced old Bates jacket.” My little son was a favorite expression of Sams that he used to address both the old and the young.

Edmund Sams was brought up on charges by the church for patting for some young boys to dance. Sams said “Yes I did. I will show you how I did it.” He then began to pat his knee for the jury of the church. The jury dismissed the charges against the old man.

Sams had a great-granddaughter that was a particular favorite of his. She spent a great deal of time with him. Edmund Sams was very fond of music, especially military music. When listening to a specially inspired tune he would tell his little great-granddaughter: “I tell you, my little daughter, it just puts me on top of Buncombe !” Church music was seldom very good in the early days. There were no choir directors and everyone sang on their own — which was usually not very good. Once a singing teacher came through the area and organized a church choir. Sams and his great-granddaughter attended church the first Sunday the singing teacher led the choir. The old man was astonished. He said to his little great-granddaughter in a loud voice: “Well upon my soul, my little daughter, that was a merry little jig!”

Nancy Foster Alexander (1797–1862), grand daughter of Captain Edmund Sams.

When Edmund Sams and his wife Anne “Nancy” Young Sams got too old to live by themselves, they moved to live on the farm of their daughter, Ora Sams Foster (1778–1857). Ora’s husband Captain Thomas Foster was a well to do man for that period of time. He owned almost all of what is now Biltmore, as well as other lands all over the area. Capt.Thomas “Tommy” Foster had built a small house on his farm for his wife’s parents to live. Edmund Sams was in his nineties and his mind had gotten a little bad. He became fond of petting the animals on Thomas Foster’s farm. He came to feed and water them so much that it was dangerous to the animals’ health.

Capt. Foster told the old man that he was going to kill the farm animals if he did not stop feeding them so much; especially the cow that was Sams’ favorite. Edmund Sams started going out to the barn very early in the morning to feed the animals before his son-in-law had gotten out of bed. One morning Thomas Foster got up earlier than usual and went to the barn. He found Sams giving the cow an especially large breakfast. Foster heard the old man tell the cow: “Hurry up, old lady. Tommy is coming.”

Captain Edmund Sams died at the Foster farm in July 1845. His wife Anne “Nancy” Young Sams died in November 1845. Both were buried in Newton Academy Cemetery. Edmund and Anne “Nancy” Sams had at least seven children:

1. Burdett Sams was born in Virginia around 1772. He married first Eula Culbertson and Elizabeth… was his second wife. He had no children Burdett Sams died in 1846 in St. Clair County, Missouri.

2. Benoni Sams was born in Virginia around 1774. His wife’s name is not known. He had at least 5 children. Benoni Sams died in Henderson in 1846.

3. Greenlee Sams was born around 1776 in Virginia. He married Rachel Gash. He died in Marion County, Missouri before 1846.

4. Orra Sams was born in Wythe County, Virginia in November 1778. She married Captain Thomas Foster (October 14,1774 – December 24, 1858) son of William Forster and Elizabeth Heath (Thomas Foster dropped r in name). Orra Sams Foster died August 27, 1857. Both are buried at Newton Academy Cemetery in the Biltmore section of Asheville.

5. Rebecca Sams was born around 1779 in Virginia or Tennessee. She married John Roberts, Jr. He died in 1845 in Buncombe. Rebecca was not mentioned in her husband’s will but is listed as alive in her brother Burdett Sams’ estate papers in Missouri in 1846. Her date of death is uncertain.

6. Nancy Sams was born in Tennessee, around 1785. She married Samuel Culbertson. He died in Marion County Missouri in 1832. Nancy died by 1846.

7. Edmund Sams, Jr was born in Buncombe County, NC in 1792. He first married Sarah Roberts and then married his second wife, Martha…. She died January 1, 1881. Edmund Sams, Jr died February 9, 1871. Both are buried in County Home Cemetery, Buncombe County. (The cemetery was previously called Riverside and River Hill Cemetery.)