Sections of the following are from an article written in May 2006 by Jennie Jones Giles and published in the Hendersonville Times-News. To read the article, visit http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20060515/NEWS/605150325/0/search
Methodist preachers rode into the wilderness of Western North Carolina in the 1790s and early 1800s on horseback, carrying their message to the pioneer settlers. The early settlers gathered their families into wagons, laden with enough supplies to last several days and sometimes bringing along the family cow, and headed out to a central gathering point, usually a large field.
These special weekends and a week in the summer were spent praying, singing and listening to the traveling minister’s messages.
There were at least three places in today’s Henderson County where these early settlers gathered in the late 1790s and early 1800s to hear the circuit-riding Methodist preachers: Shaw’s Creek Methodist Campground, in a field near the Mills River where the Mills River United Methodist Church stands today, and at the home of Samuel Edney in Edneyville.
Near where this cemetery is located today was the site of one of these gatherings.
The land for the cemetery and the campground meetings was given by the Johnson family. The Johnson brothers first purchased land in what is today Henderson County in 1798.
James Johnson (1761-1852) and Noble Johnson (1758-1800) both fought in the Revolutionary War. James Johnson served under Gen. Nathaniel Green, was wounded at the Battle of Camden and taken prisoner by the British at Eutaw Springs. He was kept 13 months on a prison ship in Charleston harbor.
Both brothers and many of their descendants are buried at the old campground cemetery. The marker for Noble Johnson is at this cemetery, but the name is listed as Noble Johnston instead of Johnson. It is a marked grave, located behind his brother’s plot. The grave is listed in the file base “U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006:” Noble Johnston, Continental Line, Revolutionary War, with birth date listed as 1758, death date 1800. But, an incorrect cemetery was listed in this file. The cemetery listed is the black AME Zion Church Cemetery instead of the correct cemetery which is Shaw’s Creek Campground Cemetery. The U.S. Headstone Application for Military Veterans for a marker was ordered in 1958, but apparently disappeared. A new marker was erected about 2008. It reads Henry Company, Virginia militia.
One of James’ sons, Hugh, owned one of the largest homes in the area when Henderson County was formed. Several meetings organizing the new county were held in his home. He also was one of the leaders of the River Party, who wanted the county seat established near the French Broad River
At the back of the cemetery in a wooded area is where legend says slaves were buried. One headstone, set apart from others at the back, may indicate the stories are true.
It is a special headstone, different from those of others who fought in the Civil War. On it are inscribed the words: Butler Trayman, Co. K 40th USCT. No one knows anything about Butler Trayman or why he was buried here. It is known that the 40th USCT was a regiment of “colored troops” who were part of the Union army: United States Colored Troops.
“We’d always heard that some black people were buried up in here,” said Ann Johnson. “Then we found that marker. We haven’t found any others.”
James H. “Jack” Duncan’s grave can be found here. Duncan was lost over Korea on Sept. 9, 1950. He was a pilot in World War II and a gunner in the Korean War.
“In between, he did crop spraying around here,” Johnson said. “His family went to Washington a couple of times to see what they could find out.”
The headstone of James Spann, who helped lay out the site for the county seat, is found in a family plot. Many of the family plots are separated by iron fencing, concrete pillars or gravel: Broyles, Brannon, Davenport, Egerton, Greer and others.
An old, white church, built in 1905, still stands at the site of the campground.
The 1905 church of white siding stands at the same site where the first log church stood.
A state historical marker on U.S. 64 West at Campground Road designates the site of this Methodist campground in Henderson County.
Generations later, the descendants of James Johnson are still caring for the campground and the church.
In the summer, before there were lawnmowers, descendants would bring hoes and other tools and strip the weeds and brush. During World War II, German prisoners of war came to the yearly gathering and cleaned the old cemetery.
Descendants now pay someone to maintain the cemetery, but the yearly tradition continues.
“Every year in August we have a big dinner up under the shed,” Johnson said. “We take up a collection. That’s how we keep it maintained.”
The oldest grave within the cemetery is that of Noble Johnson (see above).
The most common surnames with graves within the cemetery are Allen, Allison, Brannon, Broyles, Cannon, Case, Clayton, Collins, Crawford, Davenport, Duncan, Gash, Greer, Hawkins, Israel, Johnson, Kilpatrick, Ledbetter, Leverette (Leverett, Liverette), Long, McClain, Moffitt, Morgan, Nichols, Nicholson, Owens, Pressley, Sitton, Smith, Spann and Underwood.
For more information on James Harold Duncan, visithttp://hendersonheritage.com/deaths-in-korean-war/
One man who died in World War II has a grave site in the cemetery, Grady Edward Long. For more information, visit http://hendersonheritage.com/world-war-ii-heroes/
The grave site of Leander “Lee” Sams Gash, one of Henderson County’s state senators, is also at this cemetery. Gash was born in 1813 in the Horse Shoe or Etowah communities of Henderson County, the son of John Gash and Nancy Gudger Gash. At the time of his birth this location was within Buncombe County. He was the husband of Margaret A. McClain. He was a teacher in a log one-room school near Blythe Street in Hendersonville and was also a dry goods merchant. He owned extensive acreage in what is today Transylvania and Henderson counties. He was one of three landowners who donated land for the town of Brevard, where he had a store. He also served as a postmaster in Claytonville (Etowah). He was a Confederate leader in the county and was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. He was elected to the state senate, serving from 1866 to 1868 during “Presidential Reconstruction.” His Confederate pardon was revoked under Radical Reconstruction. He died in 1872 in Raleigh.
There is one person who joined the Union in the closing weeks of the Civil War with a grave site in this cemetery. Rufus T. McClain enlisted in the 3rd N.C. Mounted Infantry, Co. I, on 3-1-1865. He was a Confederate deserter from the 65th Regiment N.C. Troops (6th Regiment N.C. Cavalry), Co A, present through 9-20-1864, deserting on an unspecified date.
There are 16 graves of men who fought in the Confederate Army at this cemetery.
The grave of David J. Allen is most likely a memorial marker. He enlisted in the 25th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. H, Cane Creek Rifles, on 7-15-1861. He was wounded 7-1-1862 at the Battle of Malvern Hill in the Seven Days Battles in Virginia and died of his wounds within one to two weeks.
Turner H. Allen enlisted in the 35th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. G, Henderson Rifles, on 10-5-1861. He served through the war.
Richard M. Brannon enlisted in the 16th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. I, Henderson Guards, on 5-5-1861. He was wounded 4-29-1862 at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), captured and paroled 9-29-1862 during the Maryland Campaign (after the Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg), captured 7-10-1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg, a prisoner at Point Lookout, Md., and transferred 11-15-1864 to Savannah, Ga., and exchanged.
Branson Broyles enlisted in the 60th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. D, Henderson Rangers, on 7-10-1862. He was discharged 1-1-1863 after providing a substitute.
Charles Manson Greer enlisted in the 7th Battalion N.C. Cavalry on 4-13-1863. On 8-3-1863, this battalion was consolidated into the 65th Regiment N.C. Troops (6th Regiment N.C. Cavalry). He was wounded 6-21-1864 at Jackson’s Mill near Kinston, N.C., and on wounded furlough through October 1864.
William Leander Hefner was a blacksmith during the war. He enlisted in the 7th Battalion N.C. Cavalry on 7-15-1862. On 8-3-1863, this battalion was consolidated into the 65th Regiment N.C. Troops (6th Regiment N.C. Cavalry). He served through the war.
Richard Howard enlisted in the 64th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. B, on 7-12-1862. He was appointed second lieutenant 5-15-1863. He was captured 9-9-1863 at Cumberland Gap, a prisoner at Johnson’s Island, Ohio, and released 6-11-1865.
George Wesley Johnson enlisted in the Co. B, 5th Regiment S.C. State Troops, Co. B, according to his gravestone. No documentation in the military record could be found regarding this soldier. There are many men named Johnson with matching initials; therefore, his record could not be located.
Joseph Pinkney Johnson enlisted in the 16th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. I, Henderson Guards, on 7-1-1861. He was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines (Battle of Fair Oaks) during the Peninsula Campaign, wounded 9-19-1862 or 9-20-1862 at the Battle of Shepherdstown (Battle of Boteler’s Ford) during the Maryland Campaign, transferred to the regimental band as a musician in November 1864, and surrendered 4-9-1865 at Appomattox Court House.
Milton S. Johnson enlisted in the 56th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. G, Henderson Blues, on 4-12-1862. He was captured 4-1-1865 at the Battle of Five Forks during the Appomattox Campaign, a prisoner at Hart’s Island, New York harbor, and released 6-17-1865.
William G. Lawrence enlisted in the 65th Regiment N.C. Troops (6th Regiment N.C. Cavalry), Co. D, on 1-15-1864. He was captured 3-17-1865 near Kinston, N.C., a prisoner at Point Lookout, Md., and released 6-28-1865.
Thomas L. Lytle enlisted in the 60th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. K, on 5-15-1862. He transferred to Co. I on 9-13-1862. He was wounded in the head 5-15-1864 at the Battle of Resaca during the Atlanta campaign and absent wounded through 8-31-1864. He died in 1869.
Leroy or Lee Roy Smith enlisted in the 56th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. G, Henderson Blues, on 2-24-1864. He was wounded in the thigh between 4-18-1864 and 4-20-1864 at the Battle of Plymouth in Washington County, N.C. He was captured 4-6-1865 at the Battle of Sayler’s Creek during the Appomattox Campaign, a prisoner at Newport News, Va., and released 6-17-1865.
Robert Pinkney Smith enlisted in the 56th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. G, Henderson Blues, on 4-12-1862. He was wounded in the left hand 5-16-1864 at the Battle of Proctor’s Creek during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign and surrendered 4-9-1865 at Appomattox Court House.
Thomas Jefferson Underwood enlisted in the 7th Battalion N.C. Cavalry on 7-15-1862. On 8-3-1863, this battalion was consolidated into the 65th Regiment N.C. Troops (6th Regiment N.C. Cavalry). He served through the war.
Louis A. Ward enlisted in the 16th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. I, Henderson Guards, on 5-5-1861. He was appointed second lieutenant 4-26-1862. He was wounded 5-31-1862 at the Battle of Seven Pines (Battle of Fair Oaks) during the Peninsula Campaign. He was killed in action 12-13-1862 at the Battle of Fredericksburg. This is possibly a memorial marker.