At the Carson House, between Marion and Old Fort, you can visit the “birthplace” of a county. In the dining room of what was once a simple log home, citizens gathered in 1843 to help bring McDowell County into being. The historic home subsequently served as the seat of county government until a courthouse was built in Marion, on land donated by the Carson family.
From Charlotte, the Carson House is a 90-minute drive, one way.
To see and do
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Scots-Irish immigrant John Carson built a single-room log cabin along the banks of Buck Creek about 1793. To this, a second and nearly identical one was added later and connected to the original by an open breezeway, or “dogtrot.” The homestead was greatly expanded during the 1840s, at which time the structure assumed the current Greek Revival architectural style seen today.
The Carson family was active both politically and socially. John Carson earned the rank of colonel in the local militia during the Revolutionary War; was a delegate to the Fayetteville Convention in 1789, voting in favor of ratifying the United States Constitution; and served in the North Carolina House of Commons.
His son Samuel Price Carson also lived a life of public service, serving three terms as state senator and four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. A heated congressional campaign in 1827, however, led to a duel between Carson and Dr. Robert Vance. Vance was mortally wounded, and Carson was persuaded by friends Davey Crockett and Sam Houston to move to Texas. There Carson signed the Texas declaration of independence and served as the new republic’s first Secretary of State.
Another son, Jonathan Logan Carson, inherited the McDowell County plantation and was responsible for its vast expansion and improvements. The log walls of the original buildings were covered with clapboard, interior walls were finished, and many fine accents such as handsome carved mantels and fluted door and window facings were added. First and second floor front porches were also added.
After the expansion, it served as a stagecoach inn and a gathering spot for locals. Andrew Jackson was among the inn’s many guests, and he reportedly gambled on horses that raced at the Carson plantation.
Guided tours (approximately 45 minutes) include the dining room, front parlor and first floor bedroom, the second-floor master bedchamber, the daughters’ room and family sitting room. The upstairs also features an African-American Exhibit Room and a room displaying items associated with the spinning and weaving of flax, cotton and wool. On the third floor are the Boarders’ Room (which accommodated stagecoach passengers and other guests) and the McDowell Room, which displays items related to McDowell County history. Artifacts about the house include family portraits, personal family items and many original furnishings.