YADKINVILLE — A recent fire not only destroyed the home of Yadkin County native Richard Miller, it also destroyed a part of the county’s history. The fire broke out in the early morning hours of Feb. 17 and reduced the 129-year-old home at 2624 U.S. 601 to rubble.
According to local historian Andrew Mackie, the home was one of seven built by T.C. Hauser, a prominent businessman, land and slave owner in Yadkin County prior to the Civil War. Now only five of those homes remain.
Miller’s home, known to historians as the John H. Hauser farm, was built by T.C. Hauser for his son John following the Civil War. The home was a center of the community at the time, as was the nearby Hauser Mill. Miller said he remembered the home from his childhood and it was the house he always wanted.
“It was an escape for me,” he said. “I went up in the afternoons almost every day to talk with my great-aunt.”
He also remembered his grandfather leading him by the hand to the home on a path through the woods from his grandfather’s home. In his grandfather’s later years, Miller would lead him by the hand on the path through the woods.
The home was built, Miller said, in a prime location atop a hill where it had not only a wonderful view of the surrounding landscape, but also captured the evening breeze. He compared the seven homes built by Hauser to seven sisters and said of the John H. Hauser home, “she was a great lady, one of the seven sisters.”
Lewis Brumfield, editor of the “Historical Architecture of Yadkin County” reference book, was greatly distraught over the loss of this historic landmark. Upon seeing the charred ruins, he said he “nearly burst into tears.”
Brumfield said it reminded him of photographs of old plantation homes that were burned during the Civil War.
“It was the saddest looking thing,” he said softly.
He also said the home had always been one of his favorites though it wasn’t the oldest or the biggest.
The home had a “composure” and a very “classical” style that was representative of many homes in North Carolina at the time, Brumfield said. “It was just something about it. It was plain, but it was beautiful. It was classically beautiful.”
Heart pine timber with mortise and tenon joints, rather than nails, comprised the frame of the home, and historians speculated that the bricks used to construct the two end chimneys were probably made on site. Upon examining the ruins of the home, Mackie also discovered what appeared to be a basement area though Miller or other living descendents of the family were not aware it had been there. Mackie said it was a mystery he would like to see solved.
The Hauser family was very important to the history of the area, Brumfield explained. T.C. Hauser came to the area, which was then known as Dowell Town, from Bethania in Forsyth County. He built a store that was at a major crossroads at the time between Huntsville, Jonesville, Statesville and Rockford.
The Hauser family was large, “gregarious” and “everybody knew them,” Brumfield said. T.C. Hauser also fathered several children by one of his slaves, a woman named Bethania. The Hauser descendants, both Caucasian and African American gather for a reunion each year.
Miller recalled the reunions from the 1950s which were held on the grounds of the John H. Hauser home. He reminisced about the old cars, lemonade and covered dishes that were shared together by the black and white descendants of T.C. Hauser.
Donna Pinckney, one of Bethania Hauser’s descendents, said she was “very sorry to hear about the historic loss of family history.”
According to Pinckney, the family will be celebrating its 99th reunion in Yadkinville this summer.
“We are expecting family from all over the country to attend,” she said. Pinckney also announced the birth of her first grandchild, Jaela Mckenzie Davis, “the eighth generation to spring from the slave matriarch, Bethania, who served as the head cook and companion to T.C. Hauser.”
Though the John H. Hauser home is gone now, the remaining five homes, known as the T.C. Hauser home, Wildwood, Ralph Long home, Hauser-Hoots home and Dobbins house, still stand as testaments to the legacy of the Hauser family and its importance to the early development of Yadkin County. An even greater legacy is displayed by the yearly gathering of the descendants of T.C. Hauser, who came from opposite sides of one of the greatest tragedies in American history, slavery, but have overcome that adversity to celebrate the love of family.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.