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Diary of Rev. James Harvey Weaver

Rev. James Harvey Weaver was the 5th child of Hiram Weaver and Zilpha Asley. He was born on May 24, 1849 and died on February 17, 1917. He married Jennie Burkett on Christmas Eve 1873. She was born in 1851 and died in 1914.

From Arthur Fletcher’s book ASHE COUNTY, A HISTORY: “Daniel Burkett, leading citizen and devout Methodist who was born on November 26, 1818 in the old Burkett home which stood where the town of West Jefferson now is and who lived to be l00 yers, 7 months and 21 days old, said that the first Methodist ‘class’ in the area was organized at the home of George Paddy Bowers near his own home in the 1820’s. He was there as a small boy and remembered the details of the meeting. It was held outdoors, under an oak tree, and the officiating minister was James Hurley. Daniel Burkett was destined to play a large part in the establishment of Methodism in Ashe. One of his daughters (Jennie Burkett) married James H. Weaver, young Methodist minister, who became one of the foremost ministers of his church in North Carolina. His son, Dr. Charles Clinton Weaver, became even more famous as a preacher than his father. He was also a successful educator.”

Colonel Fletcher continued to write of James Harvey Weaver: “James Harvey Weaver, Helton; son of Hiram Weaver a local preacher. He was mainly self-educated and entered the teaching profession. While teaching at Jefferson Academy he entered the ministry (See diary). He served the church at Jefferson for four years and later held pastorates in several districts. In 1893 he was made presiding elder of the Greensboro District. The following year he was appointed pastor of the West Market Street Church and completed its building. Many important assignments followed including the First Methodist in Salisbury, Central Church in Asheville, Central in Monroe, presiding elder in Shelby, Statesville, Hickory and Greensboro Districts. Seven times he was named delegate of the Western Conference to the General Conference.”

Of Charles C. Weaver: “Dr. Charles Clinton Weaver, son of Rev. James H. Weaver, was born on little Helton Creek (in Ashe County, NC). Mr. Stafford in his METHODISM IN ASHE expresses the opinion that he was ‘one of the most eminent sons of Ashe’ (county) and certainly the most eminent Methodist minister born here.”

“There are those who remember him and his father and who might argue the point. Dr. Weaver was graduated from Trinity College (now Duke University) where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and from Johns Hopkins University with a Ph.D. degree. He entered immediately the field of education and served three years as president of Rutherford College, followed by the presidency of Davenport College for seven years and of Emory and Henry College, Emory, Virginia for ten years. He left the education field for the ministry and served pastorates at Central Methodist in Monroe, Central in Asheville, First Methodist in Charlotte, and Centenary in Winston Salem. In the last named church he served nine years and brought together two large downtown Methodist Churches and led in building the cathedral Centenary Church on West Fifth Street in Winston Salem. He was long a member of the General Board of Missions of the Methodist Church, a trustee of the Annual conference, member of the North Carolina Council of Churches, and member of the Board of mangers of the Pastors School. He was an influential member of several General Conferences and of the Uniting Conference. He was a trustee of the Hugh Chatam Memorial Hospital at Elkin and when he retired from the ministry he accepted employment as superintendent of the hospital. He died there on February 19, 1946.”

“Other Weavers to serve as Methodist preachers were Granville Weaver of Helton, Hiram Weaver of Bina, J.S. Weaver of Jefferson, R. Green Weaver of Helton, and Tevis E. Weaver of Helton.”

James Harvey Weaver, Methodist minister, b. 24 May 1849 d. 17 Feb 1917, was the fifth child of Hiram and Zilpha Ashley Weaver. The following is a transcript from portions originally discovered by Robert Bower Weaver of Lexington, Virginia:

Independence, Virginia
May 24, 1882

I was born the 24th day of May 1849, in Ashe County, N.C. about eight miles northwest of Jefferson. My father’s name was Hiram Weaver. He was born in Lee County, Virginia August 6th 1814. My grandfather, Joshua Weaver, soon after the birth of my father, moved to Grayson County, VA., where he spent the remainder of his life. He was a member of the Primitive Baptist Church and lived consistent according to the rules of that church. He lived to a good old age and died in peace. [Note: This Joshua Weaver was the son of William Weaver Sr.] My grandmother’s maiden name was Sallie Ashley. She was an exceedingly pious woman. She died while her children were yet small and before my grandfather, throwing them on the world without a mother to guide them. Soon after her death my grandfather broke up housekeeping and scattered his children anywhere he could find homes for them. Thus my father’s youth was spent hiring from place to place without instruction and education. But doubtless he was restrained by the prayers and seemed to be religiously inclined. In February 20, 1840, he married Zilpha Ashley of Ashe County, N.C. My mother was also of humble parentage, but had Christian parents, her father being one of the first Methodist preachers of the county. She was brought up without much education, but inherited a good character which is great riches. My parents entered upon their married life without anything to call their own, but their health and energy. But his was sufficient capital for them. They began the battle at once and a rapidly growing family to support, they soon had a home of their own and enough to make it comfortable. Early in life they professed religion and joined the Methodist Church, my father being the first of the name to become a Methodist in the county. His conversion was genuine and deep and his life a model of consistency and purity. He was licensed to preach by G. W. Alexander on the 6th of September 1853, and ordained a Deacon by Bishop Early 25th of October 1857. He was a good preacher for his opportunities, was devoted to the church, quite familiar with its doctrines and endorsed them fully. He died in great peace Nov. 6th 1873.

My mother is still living, but is looking for a reunion with the companion in life with whom she lived so pleasantly here. My parents brought up eleven children, six sons and five daughters. All yet live except the two oldest. John K. Weaver, the second son, died in prison at Ft. Delaware August 2, 1864. He was very collected (and what is better, very religious). He went from Prison to Heaven. Rev. W.H. Weaver died September 29, 1881. He was a member of the North Georgia Conference and had been a member of the Holston Conference for several years. He was a good man and a good preacher. He went from the pulpit to Heaven. The father and two of the children are safe. The mother and the remaining nine children all get to the same happy home at last.

As stated at the outset, I was born May 24, 1849, being this day 33 years old. In early life I had but few opportunities for getting an education or having any intercourse with society. I was brought up on a farm and was thoroughly educated in the use of all agricultural implements which I now regard as one of the most essential features of a good education. In my case if it did not develop mind it did develop muscle. I only had an opportunity to attend a two or three months school in the winter when I could not labor on the farm, and that under circumstances the most unfavorable for improvement. Teachers were generally very incompetent, teaching almost as many things wrong as right. The houses were without exception very cold and with pupils often standing in crowds around a large fire and not infrequently burning their dresses, pantaloons and shoes, and sometimes their flesh. The seats were logs split open with holes bored in them in which legs were placed. These were often so tall that the small children could not touch the floor with their feet. Thus hour after hour they had to sit without any support for their feet or backs. This was indeed a system of great cruelty. In schools under these circumstances I learned to read and write and cipher a little, making more improvements in leisure hours than I ever did at school. At home I studied mathematics, English grammar, history and philosophy. I was often greatly troubled for lack of an instructor. But I watched my opportunities to get help when any came to my fathers that I thought could help me, I was sure to ask for assistance. One class of men were of special service to me, the Methodist Circuit Riders. My father’s house was always their home and they were always willing and generally able to give me the help, and many a hard problem they solved for me. My father also assisted me very much in my studies as far as he was able.

When I was twenty-one years of age, having never been 50 miles from home, the place of my birth, I set out for myself. I taught a school, received $20 per month for four months which was the first money I had ever had. I then entered the Academy at Jefferson under the control of J.P. Marlin, a very excellent man. He at once gave me the position of assistant teacher. I continued with him for three years, with the exception of a few months that I spent in teaching to procure means. At the end of that time Professor Marlin retired from the school, leaving me in charge. I continued the school nearly a year when I was compelled to retire on account of the sickness of my father and family. Previous to this, however, I had married Miss Jennie L. Burkett on the 24th of December 1873, a woman that I thought then and now think was in every way worthy of a better man than I could regard myself. (May we yet be able to help each other fight the battle of life.)

During the sickness referred to my father died. All the family were at one time confined to bed except myself and one sister. After the family had nearly recovered and on the very day my father was buried, I was attacked with fever. I returned to my father-in-laws, where with good medical care and a nurse, I soon recovered, but being anxious to repair the losses caused by sickness, I exposed myself to cold which resulted in a relapse and the “last state of the man was worse than the first”, so much so that life was dispared of for a time, and I expected to die, and thought I was dying and I rejoice in the fact that I felt and knew that I was ready. If I can only feel so when death does come, all will be well. It was a year or more before I fully recovered from this attack. I then moved to Helton where I taught school for about four years. In the meantime I bought a farm with a view of settling. But Divine Providence interposed and soon all of my plans were changed.

I sold my farm and again moved to Jefferson to teach school until the next meeting of the Holston Conference, when I expected to apply for work. But during the early part of the summer circumstances made it necessary for me to take charge of the Jefferson Circuit. So after teaching four months, I gave up my school to take charge of the circuit to which I was appointed by Bishop D.S. Dagget, in which capacity I served the church the remainder of the year. At the following conference in Knoxville, Tennessee I was received on trial and appointed to the Jefferson Circuit. During this year under Divine Blessing I had a good measure of success and spent a pleasant and profitable year to myself and it is hoped, it was so to the people. At the close of this Conference year I attended Church at Abingdon, Virginia where I was again appointed to the Jefferson Circuit and the following conference at Morristown I was received in full connection and again appointed to the Jefferson Circuit which was the full limit of the law. This term of service amongst the people with whom I had been brought up was entirely satisfactory to me and seemed to be to the people. I left them with much regret, amongst them I had many friends and I shall never forget them and their kindness to me and my family. I could have spent a lifetime pleasantly there.

At Conference in Wytheville, Virginia I was appointed to the Independence Circuit in Grayson County, Virginia where I am at this writing. So far I am well pleased with the work. I find a good and kind people, who love and provide for their preacher. I have now made seven rounds in my circuit and have received into the church about 90 persons.

Sevierville, Tennessee
November 1882

At the Conference in Asheville, N.C. in 1882 I was very unexpectedly appointed to Washington Circuit in Rhea County, Tennessee where I am at this time, Everisville, Tennessee, November 1882. I had expected and hoped to remain at Independence at least another year. I never spent a more pleasant year than the one spent at Independence. The people were so good and kind to us that I shall never forget them. I thought that when I began to write I would mention the names of some of them, but they are too many. I did not know that I was so attached to them, until I was torn away. I wanted to stay there, not because of the work being easy, for it was very hard, but because I thought I could do more good there than anywhere else in the Conference. But it does not become a Methodist Preacher to complain at the hardships, for above all men they may expect them. And when I joined the Conference, I promised to go anywhere, and I feel solemnly bound to keep that promise, and I shall do it by the help of the Lord. We had moved nearly 100 miles, which caused us to have to make some sacrifices and be at considerable expense, but what is all that if I may be instrumental in doing good.

Souls are not weighed against dollars and cents. I have now made three rounds on my circuit, have been kindly received by the people and find good friends. I have 16 appointments including 5 towns with the railroad through it from end to end.

Evansville, Tennessee
July 17, 1884

At Conference held at Chattanooga in the fall of 1883 according to my expectations and desires I was returned to the Washington Circuit, where I am now. So far there has been a good number of conversions and accessions to the church. I am comfortably situated and well provided for. I think the church is still making progress. I hope and pray that we may have a great outpouring of God’s spirit on the preacher and the entire charge yet before the year shall close.

Evansville, Tennessee
July 18, 1884

I finished my first year on the Washington Circuit very pleasantly and in the main satisfactorily. Have some reason to believe that some good was done. Though there were not many revivals, and many conversions (which I greatly desired to see), I think the church made considerable progress in many respects. This is a good charge and very responsible one and must be well attended in order for its proper development. I received here more liberal support than I have ever received anywhere. The circuit paid me $600 and all of the other assessments. I think this was due largely to the efforts of the Presiding Elder, Rev. W.W. Pyatt. He helped me very much.

Franklin, North Carolina
March 11, 1887

More than two years and a half have passed since a note was made in this book. At Conference held in Bristol in the fall of 1884, I was moved from the Washington Circuit and given in charge of the Franklin District, where I am at this time, it being my third year in the field.

I entered on this work with fear and trembling. Feeling that the demand was greater and the work was more responsible. So far I have gone the rounds of duty and while I feel the work I have done has been done imperfectly I still feel the hope that my ministry has been useful to some extent and may the Lord overlook all mistakes and take all for good and give grace for the future. I have found a kind and appreciative people in this mountain country and also a people in the main thrifty and intelligent.

The District embraces the seven western counties of North Carolina and a small portion of Tennessee, being nearly 150 miles in length and about 75 miles in width at its widest point. It embraces 13 pastoral charges and a membership of over 4,000. In the main, the church in this territory is doing well. Advances are being made on every line and if carefully cultivated this field is capable of great development and strength. (I had thought I would destroy the foregoing pages, but find they contain some facts in my early life not in the later record.) I have decided to preserve it also.

J. H. Weaver
Hickory, North Carolina
October 10, 1910

Some Family History….

My great grandfather, William Weaver came to this country from England as I have been informed. And this is all I know of him. My grandfather was Joshua Weaver. He married Sallie Ashley, and they lived first in Lee County, Virginia and afterward removed to Grayson County, Virginia. I remember well my grandfather Weaver. In his old age he spent his time around amongst his children. We were always glad when he came to our house to spend a month or two. He was paralyzed in his lower limbs and could only walk with crutches in the latter part of his life. He was a man of fine native intellect and of kind and loving spirit. He was most patient in all of his afflictions. He once represented his county in the legislature, and it is said of him that he went on foot to Richmond and carried his gun. He died in peace in a good old age. I never knew my grandmother, but I have been told that she was a good woman, of great piety, and I am prepared to believe this because I did know one of her sisters (Aunt Patty King) who was one of the most saintly women I ever knew. I also knew one of her brothers, Uncle William Ashley, who was a most consistent Christian man. It was Aunt Patty King that had much to do in forming the character of my father as his mother died when he was small. My grandfather’s children were as follows: though I do not know that this is the order of their ages: Hiram Weaver, Elihu Weaver, Lottie Pugh, Evaline Phipps, Caroline Waddell, Pheobe Poe; and by his second wife: Wade Hampton Weaver and Nancy Weaver, now Price. My father, Hiram Weaver, was born in Lee County, Virginia, August 6, 1814. A Christian mother, though taken from him in his early years, left a deep impression on him of her Christian character. He was married Feb. 20th 1840 to Zilpha Ashley of Ashe County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of one of the first Methodist preachers of the county. (Note: Aunt Patty King was Martha Ashley, b. 22 Jul 1788 d. 4 Mar 1868, m. Edward King. Her father, William Ashley, d. 31 Jan 1852 married Nancy Maxwell.) My mothers brothers and sisters were as follows: Spencer Ashley, Carrie Ashley, Cary Ashley, Porter Ashley (died a young man), Polly Latham, Cintha Faircloth, Frances Ashley and Nancy Ashley. My mother’s father was Reverend William Ashley and her mother was Elizabeth Calhoun. I never knew them.

I will now take up my father’s family as follows: William Harrison, John Kesterson, Elihu, Martha Ann, James Harvey, Elizabeth, Eveline, Joshua Lee, Mary N., Nancy C., and Joseph Early. My father died in great peace Nov. 6, 1873. My mother died several years afterwards. I am not now in possession of the exact date. William Harrison Weaver was married to Miss Charity Rogers Dec. 15, 1870 and to them were born the following children: Elbert Rogers, Hugh Irby, William Davidson, Charles Anderson, and John who died in infancy.

William H. Weaver was for some years a member of the Holston Conference. He transferred to the North Georgia Conference. He took a medical course in Atlanta, Georgia and for years practiced medicine and preached. He was an excellent preacher and a successful physician. He died in Clay County, North Carolina September 27, 1881. He had just preached a sermon of great power at the Camp Meeting at Old Hiwassa Camp Ground, and got in his buggy to drive home when the Master’s call came and his earthly labors were at an end. His body sleeps in the Old Fort Henry burying ground. He was a good boy, as a young man without blot on his character or life. As a man he was consecrated to his Lord’s work and a blessing to the bodies and souls of many. He rests from his labors and his works follow him. His wife still lives. Left with the care of four sons, all small, to be reared and educated and with limited means, except her own faith and courage she faced the battle of life. And no braver or successful fight has any woman ever made. She succeeded in bringing all of her sons to manhood with good characters and a college education.

The second son, William Davidson fell victim to the dread disease, just as he entered a successful law practice and after a long and brave fight surrendered to the enemy, but without fear, a noble young Christian soldier was he. He has joined his father and is safe.

Dr. Elbert Rogers Weaver married Hattie L. Williamson of Sardis, Mississippi. They have one child, Mary. Dr. Weaver has for a number of years been greatly afflicted and a number of times his life has been dispared of. He hangs from day to day on the verge of the grave, but is not afraid. He lives in Florida.

Hugh Irby Weaver first married Nellie of Rosell, Georgia. They had one child, Marrion Weaver. His wife died while Marrion was small. He married a second time to Mrs. Marnie Crawly. They have the following children: Hugh Irby, Susan, Mary, Will and James Sherman. They live in Roswell, Georgia.

Charles Anderson Weaver married on June 25, 1907 to Miss Margaret Umbarger. They have one child, Margaret. He is now professor of English at Rutherford College, N.C. and is a good Christian man and a successful teacher.

John Kesterson Wever was born about 1842. He was a young man of fine talents and blameless character. When twenty one he volunteered in the service of his country and was taken prisoner and was at first taken to Chase, Ohio and afterwards to Fort Delaware. When the hardships and sufferings of prison life undermined his health and death set him free. His letters from the Army and prison breathed the spirit of the family altar at which he had been reared. He fought the last battle against disease and death far away from home and loved ones, but under the eye of the Captain of his salvation and entered into rest.

Elihu Weaver was married to Nancy Jones. They have the following children: Callie, John, Dixon, Edward, Ross, Etta, Florence, Lockie and Ida.

Callie Weaver married Wilson Caudill. Their children are: Minnie, Arthur, Lucy, Ina, Garley, Russ, Joshua, Howard and Beatrice.

Ida Weaver married Monroe Ashley. Their children are: Amanda, Bessie, Flossie, Pearl, John, James and Virginia.

Dixon Weaver married Ida Ashley. Their children are: Harrison, Emmaline, Howard and a baby.

Etta Weaver married James Cockerham. They have no children.

John Weaver married Ellen Johnson. Their children are Frank, Nannie [Nancy Elizabeth], Elihu, David, Alice, Hiram, Ned and George.

Ross married Ella Weaver. They have one child.

Edward Weaver married Molly Weaver. They have one child. This completes as far as I know Elihu Weaver’s posterity. His wife is still living. No better man lives in Ashe County than Elihu Weaver.

Martha Ann Weaver married John E. Jones. Their children are William H. Jones, Peter, Lee, Wade, Minnie and one other daughter.

I think William H. Jones married Emma George. Children: Claudia, Mildred B., Paul and Howard.

Peter G. Jones married Annie Eastridge. Children: Viola, Hattie, Florence, Matilda and Eva who married James King. Their children: Martha, Glenn, Joseph, Charles, Mary, Inez. Lee Jones married Tennie Ashley. They have one child, Bernice.

James H. Weaver [the writer] married Jennie Burkett. They have one child, Charles C. Weaver. He married Florence Stacy. Their children are James H., Lucius Stacy, Charles Clinton and Janey Davenport.

Elizabeth Weaver married Samuel Duval. They had one child. It is dead. Elizabeth lived only a year or two after their marriage. She was a woman of strong mind and a most devoted and faithful Christian.

Eveline Weaver married Marion Jackson. Their children are: Zilpha, Mamie, Callie, Ambrose, Joseph, and Winnie. Eveline had a hard life, but was faithful in all conditions “even unto death”.

Mary Weaver married Young York. Their children are Maggie, Ruth and Young. After Young’s death, she married Mark Bryson. Their children are: Alice, Lucy and Willie. She lives in Jackson County, North Carolina. (Penn) [?] Maggie York married Sterling Bryson. They have a large family. Ruth York married Henry T. Simpson of Salisbury, N.C. where they now live.? They have no children. Young married… Alice married…

Joshua Weaver married Mary Campbell. They live a happy and contented life, loved by all their neighbors and their neighbor’s children. They have no children of their own.

Joseph Early Weaver married Cora Goss. Their children are James, Lee, Walter, Lester, Ruth, Wade, Cicero, Gwyn, Frances and Alice.

My father’s posterity now living is as follows: children..7, grandchildren..54, and great grandchildren..75 (total 135).

END, James Harvey Weaver Diary extract