Jeremiah West: Farmer, Carpenter, and Landowner

by Bruce Whitaker

Jeremiah West was born probably in Buncombe County on March 5, 1795. Some say he may have been born in England but that seems highly unlikely. Jeremiah’s father, John West, was born in England around 1765. He is said to have arrived in Norfolk, Virginia, on a Dutch ship and then moved to Rowan County, NC. John West bought four 50-acre tracts of land from the state on July 7, 1794. Two tracts were listed as being on Sweeten Creek. The other two were listed as being on the Swannanoa River. These tracts would have been located near the present-day I-40 exit for Sweeten Creek Road. They would have bordered the land of my third great-grandfather, Capt. Thomas Foster. Jeremiah West was born around eight months after this land purchase, probably on this property.

Jeremiah West married Mary Whitaker around 1816. Mary was born in Rowan (now Davidson) County on March 5, 1797. She was the daughter of John Whitaker Sr. (1765-1841) and his second wife Milly Brookshire. Mary was raised in Fairview.

Jeremiah West did well, judging by all the land he owned: 795 acres on Sweeten Creek; 1,240 acres on Busbee Mountain; 87 acres on the Swannanoa River; 17 acres on Gashes Creek; 100 acres on Parker Branch; and six acres on Newfound Creek in Leicester. This amounted to 2,245 acres in Buncombe County. He deeded land on October 20 and 23, 1840 to John Long, Foster W. Wilson, and Henry Stevens for a church and school on Sweeten Creek.

West was a farmer and carpenter. He built a large structure near his home that stood until around 1970. The logs, notched and well-hewn, were 30 feet long and 18 inches wide. It’s believed that he and his family lived in it until a wood-framed house was built nearby.

A story has been passed down that Jeremiah and Mary moved to Texas for a brief time. They did not like the area and soon moved back to Buncombe. Several of Mary Whitaker West’s cousins in Fairview moved to Texas from the 1830s–1850s. Mary and Jeremiah might very well have gone with her relatives to Texas, looked it over, and moved back to Buncombe County.

Mary was listed as being blind on the 1850 census of Buncombe County. Jeremiah West died at his Sweeten Creek Farm on April 25, 1881. Mary died on November 29, 1872. Both are buried at West Chapel Cemetery. They had at least 12 children, all born in Buncombe County.

John Preston West was born September 6, 1817. He married Sarah Jane Vaughn (March 31, 1822–February 4, 1897). He died in the Civil War on May 5, 1864 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

Rosella Malinda West was born on March 3, 1820. She married William C. Rice (July 12, 1795–Aug 17, 1871). She died on September 3, 1890.

Jasper Newton West born on March 2, 1821. He married Esther Emily Cordell (December 9, 1828–May 20, 1904). He died March 3, 1904. Both died in Syracuse, Otoe County, Nebraska.

William Riley West was born on July 25, 1823. He married Salina E. Webb (April 11, 1838-April 21, 1922). She died in Sylva Jackson County, NC). William died in Haw Creek on January 16, 1905.

Salina West was born in 1826. She married Gabriel P. Miller (1826-May 13, 1865). She died on Oct 27, 1883 in Haw Creek.

James T. West was born on August 9, 1827. He married Margaret Ann Wilson (April 25, 1834–Sept 5, 1895). James died on November 14, 1917. Both died in Commerce, Hunt County, Texas.

Mitchell West was born in 1828 and died in 1861 in Springfield, Greene County, Missouri.

Alexander “Alex” West was born on April 16, 1830. He was a carpenter. He married Rachel Eleanor Penland (March 31, 1840-June 11, 1920). Alex died on June 2, 1910.

Noah West was born on October 1, 1831 and died on October 2, 1861. He was a rifleman in the Civil War.

Rachel Matilda West was born on September 5, 1834. She married Frank M. Ballew (1830-1897) on October 16, 1856. Her second husband was Robert Williams (March 15, 1823-Dec 12, 1914). Rachel died on June 12, 1923. She and Robert are buried in Sharon Cemetery in Fairview.

Martha Harriett West was born on June 22, 1836 and died on December 30, 1862.

Nancy Caroline West was born on May 1, 1838. She married Joseph Thomas Carter (March 27, 1932- Feb 21, 1911). Nancy died on August 19, 1931.

Local historian Bruce Whitaker documents genealogy in the Fairview area. He can be reached at 628-1089 or [email protected].

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