Old Family Farmhouse Still Holds Fond Memories for Descendants

Mears House | Buncombe County, NC | c. 1880s

James Henry Mears was born in the hills of Western North Carolina, not far from the border with Tennessee, in 1846. Like most of his neighbors, he was a farmer who would raise a large family here who helped to keep the farm running.

With his first wife, Laura Sluder Mears, James would father 4 children but upon her death in the late 1870s, James married her sister Catherine Sluder, as was common in those days.

James Henry Mears
Catherine Sluder Mears at home on this property

Catherine and James set out to have children of their own and with that, were going to need a bigger home. So they chose a prime spot upon a picturesque hill on their 200 acre property and began to build from materials harvested and created locally.

The building was constructed in the I-house style: 2-stories tall, one room deep, and symmetrically organized around a central hallway on either floor with interior chimneys flanking either side.

Right to Left: James Henry Mears, his second wife, Catherine Sluder Mears, their sons Samuel Marion and Clifford Mears and daughters Annie Francis Brown and Sue Mears c. 1915 (Photo courtesy of A pictorial history of Buncombe County, Asheville Citizen Times)
Clifford H. Mears
Samuel Marion Mears

Also on the property they built various farming structures including an impressive double pen log barn, a smokehouse, and a spring house.

Sadly, after many years in the same family, the property was sold and the home has continued to fall into a state of disrepair.

But while researching this place, I was able to chat with descendants who still held some fond memories of the property.

"I remember Aunt Annie, Aunt Susie, and Uncle Clifford and going to visit them at that house when I was a little girl. The house was always painted white and had flowers on the porch. There was a smokehouse and springhouse behind it. My brothers and I would go to the springhouse to get a drink of water from the dipper and it was always so cold."

Linda A.

"I visited the house when I was a little girl with my mother. Two of her aunts and their two brothers lived there then. You walked in the front door and the stairs were a little to the right. Straight on the back to the left was a parlor, what they called it, then straight into a big dining room and the kitchen. That's about all I remember about the house, except I was afraid to go upstairs because one of my older cousins told me it was haunted."

Tina L.
Photo from Cabins & Castles: The History & Architecture of Buncombe County, North Carolina

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