Old Family Farmhouse Still Holds Fond Memories for Descendants

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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 him 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.

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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 and Castles of Buncombe by Douglas Swaim

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  1. Your stories always make me wish I could have been there and met the people who lived them. Thank You for this..

  2. I love history from this era. Especially imagining the homes in their heyday and the families. I throughly enjoyed looking at everthing!!! Ancestry is the bomb!

  3. I just love old houses! My sisters and I use to rummage around old places that we’d find on our many rides around the countryside. It’s fun to go inside and imagine the lives and happenings of the families who use to live there! This site will prove to be a source of much pleasure for me! Thank you! Gloria Reynolds

  4. I really appreciate the stories of the old families. Thank you for doing the research and sharing.

  5. Thank you for your work. This history is disappearing so rapidly, at least the physical manifestations of it. I find myself wishing for a large parcel of land and the funds to grab these lovely old structures, relocate and save them. There is just such a place in Vermont, the Shelburne (?) museum where a wealthy woman was able to bring the remnants of our earlier America, those elements which struck her fancy. There I was able to learn about fur trapping, ice sledding, commuter ferries, round barns and album quilts. We are losing so much as our society advances rapidly. Thankfully, there is photography.

    1. Looked this place up and it turns out my friend’s mom lives up the road! Going to try to check it out if I am able to visit in the future. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I live near the Mears House and as a watercolor painter, have painted it several times, trying to preserve it in paintings. It’s hard to watch it deteriorate as I drive by it many times. I really like what you are doing to preserve the memories of these historic places . Thanks

  7. I really enjoy these old pictures and homes. I love the story behind it. Did you notice in the last picture he was working on the porch roof that fell later on in years. Jodi from NC

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