Zebulon Vance Brevard

by Bruce Whitaker

Zebulon Vance Brevard was born in Swannanoa, Buncombe County on August 8, 1858. He was the youngest child of Thomas Ashworth Brevard (1824-1859 or 1861) and Susan Selina Harris (1830-1902). Zebulon’s father Thomas was born in Fairview and was constable there, and was later elected sheriff of Buncombe County.

Thomas Brevard moved to Swannanoa in the late 1850s and lived next door to his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Abel and Elizabeth Mashburn Harris. Zeb’s father died when he was one or three years old (Thomas Brevard’s tombstone said he died in 1859, but other records say 1861). Thomas Brevard died leaving four children, the oldest of whom was born in 1850. Susan Brevard apparently did not remarry.

Zebulon Vance Brevard married Celia L. Ashworth in Fairview on September 4, 1879. Celia was born in Fairview on April 25, 1856. She was the daughter of Johnson Ashworth (1818-1895) and Mary Merrill (1821-1904) She was also the first cousin of Zebulon’s father Thomas Ashworth Brevard, even though she was only two years older than he. Zebulon and Celia Brevard lived in Buncombe County until 1887.

Zebulon Vance Brevard was a Democrat (he had to be, with the name Zebulon Vance). He was appointed Postmaster of Fruitland in Henderson County on February 23, 1887 by President Grover Cleveland, the first Democrat elected president after the Civil War. Brevard claimed to be a distant cousin of Adlai E. Stevenson, Cleveland’s Vice President from 1893-1897. Zeb and Celia Brevard moved to Fruitland that year, and Brevard ran a store in Fruitland as well as the post office.

Celia Ashworth Brevard died on September 5, 1891. Zeb brought Celia’s body back to Fairview and buried her in Cane Creek Cemetery near her parents. Zebulon wasted little time before remarrying; he came back to Swannanoa and looked up the daughter of a family who lived nearby when he grew up. Zebulon Vance Brevard married Julia Hepzibah “Hepsie” Reed on January 6, 1892, four months and one day after his first wife died. Hepsie was born in Swannanoa on November 24, 1871. She was the daughter of John A. Reed (1834-1898), formerly of Fairview, and Malissa L. Gregg (1840-1911).

Brevard became a relatively well-to-do and prominent person in the Fruitland community. He was a member of the Baptist Church, and donated the original land for the Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute. A monument on the school’s property honors Brevard.

Zebulon Brevard died at Fruitland in Henderson County on February 15, 1901. His body was brought back to Fairview and buried next to his first wife, Celia. Zeb’s father and grandparents were also buried in Cane Creek Cemetery. Brevard’s widow Julia Hepzibah Reed Brevard later married John Pitt Freezer (1867-1959). They lived in Asheville for a number of years and then moved to Bryson City in Swain County. Hepsie died in Bryson City on June 20, 1955. She and her second husband John Freezer are buried at Berea Baptist Cemetery in Swannanoa, near her parents.

Zebulon Brevard and  his first wife Celia Ashworth had four children.

Mary Elizabeth Brevard was born in Buncombe County on September 8, 1880. She married Julius Preston Garren (December 23, 1882–March 28, 1967). Mary died in Henderson County on December 16, 1961. Both are buried in Fruitland Cemetery in Henderson County.

Merta Sue Brevard was born in Buncombe County on October 23, 1883. She married a man named Wildman. Merta died January 23, 1915 and is buried in Cane Creek Cemetery.

Thomas Johnson Brevard was born in Swannanoa, Buncombe County, in November 1887. He moved to Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, married Maude Lee Elliot (1895-1929) and died in Flint, Michigan in 1952.

Bertha Naomi Brevard was born in Henderson County on January 16, 1888. She was a missionary in China for many years and never married. She died in Morganton, Burke County on March 17, 1960. Bertha is buried in Cane Creek Cemetery.

Zebulon and Hepsie Reed Brevard had two children.

Juanita Katherine Brevard was born in Henderson County on September 21, 1895. She married Dr. Burnice Earl Morgan, M.D. Juanita died on September 1, 1940. Burnice died on August 14, 1956.

Jenny Gaynell “Nell” Brevard was born in Henderson County on March 9, 1898. She married Reverend William Herbert Brown (1901-1992). Nell died on January 11, 2000, just short of her 102nd birthday, in Clemmons, Forsyth County, NC.

Local historian Bruce Whitaker documents genealogy in the Fairview area. You can reach him at 628-1089 or email him at
[email protected]

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