One of the things we enjoy as we travel, is seeking out little known points of interest. Although Kings Mountain is a National Military Park (like Gettysburg), we had never heard of it before this trip to the area.
About a half hour drive from Gaffney where we were parked for service, up I-85 on the border of North and South Carolina lies Kings Mountain National Military Park. We learned that a decisive battle in the Revolutionary War took place here in 1780.
The visitors center presents an educational film on the battle and a museum and was a good place to start our exploration of the park. There’s a nicely paved, but steep trail with audio stations that winds back through the battleground.
You could really get a sense of the terrain that faced the soldiers here in the Carolina Wilderness.
The History Lesson…
At the time of the battle, the northern fighting was stalemated. The British thought they could garner support of loyalists in the Carolinas so they sent Maj Patrick Ferguson to recruit and train sympathizers for the British cause. He did have success in recruiting over a thousand men to fight for the British. This force, they thought, could then turn north and join up with Cornwallis and his troops and put the rebellion to rest. What they didn’t count on was the tenacity of the patriots and the frontiersmen and their rifles.
Seems Ferguson riled up the country patriots when he sent a threat to – in his words the “backwater men” – to kill them all and burn their houses if they did not submit to the rule of the king. These men of Scots-Irish decent from Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina became known as the ‘over mountain men’ and gathered together to join patriot troops and defeated the Red Coats soundly on October 7, 1780 in about an hour.
Ferguson was killed in the battle and the British lost a great leader and gave up hope of southern domination.
Along the trail there are numerous markers and plaques that outline the battle and give the history of the park.
Just by luck, the day we visited the park, they had the Howser Stone House open to the public. This only happens twice a year. The house is located on National Park Service property and is maintained by the park.
We love when these serendipitous events happen. So we set out to find it.
The house was built by Henry Howser, a German stonemason and Revolutionary war veteran from Pennsylvania. Stone was quarried from about a mile away and the house was completed in 1803. Henry, his wife Jane and their four sons and four daughters as well as three slaves lived on this property.
Lintel of the house inscribed with names and date
On the two days a year the house is open, the Brigade of Friends of Kings Mountain dress in period clothing and conduct tours.
Roni was particularly interested in the house since her grandpa and great-grandpa were German Stonemasons (in Cincinnati).