The last names fill the pages of local phone books, grace street signs, the names of Christmas tree farms, law firms and other businesses.
Folks with last names like Bare, Eller, Sturgill and Weaver, to name a few, are in all likelihood descended from the original West Jefferson land purchasers, and now, the West Jefferson Centennial Commission is working to locate them for purposes of a celebration planned for later this year.
“To honor these early founders of West Jefferson, there will be a recognition ceremony and community picnic for the descendants of these original purchasers,” Lynn Rees-Jones, coordinator for the West Jefferson Centennial Celebration, said.
The celebration is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the lower shelter of Bowie Seagraves Park in West Jefferson. It will coincide with the Antiques Fair.
“During the celebration, descendants are encouraged to bring stories, photos and other items of interest to share with the group,” Rees-Jones said. “A cookout will be held and participants will be asked to bring a covered dish, preferably a family recipe that has been passed down through the years.”
Rees-Jones also said descendants would receive a certificate that recognizes their connection to the town’s history.
The original 58
The West Jefferson Land Company was formed by local businessmen Thomas Contee “Tam” Bowie, E.A. McNeil and Harrison C. Tucker, in 1914.
On Sept. 7, 1914, 58 purchasers bought parcels of land from the land company, and the town of West Jefferson was officially incorporated by the North Carolina legislature five months later, on Feb. 9, 1915.
“These were the people who bought property on the first day of sales for the property,” Rees-Jones said. “We aren’t sure yet exactly where the original parcels are because we haven’t been able to locate a map, but it’s basically the core of West Jefferson.”
Locating the descendants of these individuals is not as easy as one might think, given the technological access to historical and ancestral information available these days. For instance, the majority of buyers didn’t list their full names on the property deeds.
“As you can imagine, trying to find these people (descendants) has been tough,” Rees-Jones said. “You look at the names and you know the names, but how do you figure out who they are?”
The following is a list of the original 58 purchasers:
R.L. Austin, C.C. Bare, F.C. Bare, George F. Bare, John Bare, T.C. Bare, A.F. Barker, R.F. Blevins, W.E. Bower, J.A. Calloway, Matt Carson, C.E. Dancy, J.C. Dancy, T.E. Dickson, S.S. Dent, J.F. Dillard, K.F. Edwards, E.C. Eller, W.F. Eller, B.C Faw, Cicero Faw, L.S. Faw, William Farrington, J.E. Gamble, J.B Gentry, J.C. Gamble, George W. Hawkins, A.J. Houck, N.J. Johnson, J.C. Jones, G.C. Koontz, J.E. Koontz, P.G. McNeill, W.E. McNeill, A.L. Miller, Ben Miller, G.A. Miller, J.B. Miller, Thomas K. Miller, R.B. Osborne, M.C. Parsons, John Perry, R.E.L. Plummer, R.A. and Effie Price, J.A. Richardson, W.A. Severt, “Severt and Bare,” E.D. Stamper, C.M. Stanley, J.D. Sturgill, W.P Sturgill, J.M. Tucker, E.H. Tulley, E.F. Warden, F.G.Weaver, John A. Weaver, G.S. Yates.
Anyone related to any of the aforementioned purchasers, or those with information on who their descendants may be, is encouraged to contact Rees-Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on the Centennial Celebration’s Facebook page.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.