The Abbeville Connection, Cashiers NC History

Abbeville Clock

From the time construction began on the Zachary-Tolbert House in the 1840s until the time Thomas and Wendy Dowden purchased the house in the 1990s in order to give it to the Cashiers Historical Society, only four families owned the house.

Mordecai Zachary was the builder and first owner of the house; Armistead Burt of South Carolina was the second owner; the Parkers of South Carolina were the third owners; and the Tolberts of South Carolina were the fourth owners. The three last families were “summer people” and they all had ties to Abbeville, South Carolina. 

In the fall of 2007, the Cashiers Historical Society sponsored an overnight “Ramble” to Abbeville with a group of about 30 people attending the event. We stayed at the historic Belmont Inn in the center of downtown and conveniently, just next door, was the old Opera House where, after dinner at the hotel, we saw a play.

Earlier that afternoon we were guided by a member of the Abbeville Chamber of Commerce on a walking tour around town, visiting such spots as the Welcome Center where we saw five paintings done in 1922 by Wilbur Kurtz, which give a capsule history of the town from the 1750s through Reconstruction. Kurtz was the historical consultant for “Gone With the Wind,” personally chosen by Margaret Mitchell. Of special interest to our group was Kurtz’s painting of the May 2, 1865 Confederate last War Council meeting held by President Jefferson Davis at the Abbeville home of Armistead Burt. Davis was a personal friend of Burt after serving with him in the U. S. Congress in the 1840s. Davis chose to stay overnight at Burt’s home as he fled south from Richmond.

Our second day in Abbeville was spent touring the Trinity Episcopal Church where  Burt was one of the original parishioners and who is buried in its cemetery. Inside that church is a plaque in honor of William Henry Parker, the third owner of the Zachary-Tolbert House. Several lovely old homes were toured, including the Burt-Stark Mansion where Burt entertained Davis and where the last meeting of the Confederate War Council was held and the decision to end the war was made.

Dr. Robert Lathan is currently writing a book about Armistead Burt which will be published this year. You’ll want to read it.