The Brevard Family
Mt. Tirza - Home of Robert Alfred Brevard and later his son Alexander Franklin
Brevard as it stood in 1968.
Home was unoccupied for many years prior to time of photo and shortly thereafter was burned by vandals.
The Brevards were French Hugenots who
moved to Ulster County in Ireland with the belief that
there, religious freedom could be found. When it was
realized that, in fact, the Church of England was in
power, the Brevards along with many of the Scots-Irish
left Ireland for America.
It was John Brevard's father who moved his
family from France to Ireland. Among the friends of
the Brevards in Ireland was a family by the name of McKnitt who invited young John in their emigration to
In America the McKnitts and John Brevard
settled in Cecil County, Maryland. John Brevard soon
married the daughter of the McKnitts. Their first child,
also named John, grew up in Maryland. Upon maturity
he married Jane McWhorter.
John and Jane Brevard came down the Great
Wagon Road to North Carolina, first living in the areas
that would later become Rowan County and later still
Iredell. John Brevard became one of Rowan County's
most prominent citizens and at the time the county was
formed in 1753 he was appointed sheriff.
On 23 May 1913 an article in the Statesville
Landmark told of a field near Mooresville which was
in old Iredell County that was cleared by John Brevard.
At that location the home of John Brevard and Jane
McWhorter and their children was built. The paper
continues the story that because the Brevards had eight
sons participating in the Revolutionary War, their family home was burned to the ground by the British and
the old mother, Jane, who was then alone was not allowed to save any of their belongings.
During the Revolutionary War, Alexander
Brevard fought first with the Northern army under
General George Washington until he was ordered
home because of failing health. After a period of recooperation he then joined the Southern army and fought
until the end of the war.
In 1784 Alexander Brevard married Rebecca
Davidson, who was born 20 March 1762 and was
the daughter of General John Davidson of Mecklenburg County, one of the signers of the Mecklenburg
Declaration of Independence.
In 1791 Alexander Brevard purchased from
Peter Forney an interest in the iron industry. Alexander and Rebecca then moved to Lincoln County to
engage in the iron business. Along with them came
Alexander's brother in law and partner in the iron industry, General Joseph Graham who had married Isabella
Davidson, sister of Rebecca. Together they erected
Vesuvius and Mt. Tirza forges. Later Alexander Brevard built Rehoboth forge. Because of their interest in
the iron mines they purchased large quantities of land
in Lincoln County.
In the interest of increasing the production of
iron in the country in the late 1700's, the government
awarded thousands of acres of land to persons who had
established furnaces which were producing iron. By
this means the Brevard land acreage increased immensely.
According to Rudolph Young, a Stanley historian, as reported in the Gaston Gazette on 26 February
1996, "When these furnaces were founded in the
1790's, skilled German iron masters were recruited
from Pennsylvania. Soon the Brevards as well as
other furnace owners began to buy slaves from Africa
who already were skilled in the iron industry, this being a means of obtaining cheaper skilled labor."
"A plantation of as many as 60 slaves, including clothes weavers and wooden shoemakers was
required to work an iron furnace."
"A slave named Hannibal Smith worked as a
forger at Alexander Brevard's Vesuvius Furnace. His
skills were so valued that at the time Vesuvius Furnace
was sold, Hannibal Smith was included in the transaction.
He was 80 years of age at the time, and lived to
be nearly 100 years of age."
Alexander and Rebecca Brevard built their
home near Mt. Tirza Forge and her sister, Isabella and
Joseph Graham built their home five miles away near
As the years went by a family cemetery was
created on the land between the two families. On that
land near the cemetery they were instrumental in establishing the Macpelah Presbyterian
Church and the
burial ground became known as Macpelah Cemetery. There they, also, were buried.
Rebecca Davidson Brevard died on 24 November, 1824. Captain
Alexander Brevard lived five more years dying on 1
While the home stood, Mount Tirza was the largest
plantation house in the Catawba River region. Built some time
prior to the Civil War, probably around 1800, it was said to be
of typical Scots-Irish design with a Georgian hip roof, though
it did have some French Huguenot influence with an elaborate
interior and multiple doors. It measured sixty six feet across
the front. Just inside the front door and to the left was a ballroom
with benches for seating along the walls, and a large expanse in the center for dancing.
Robert Alfred Brevard, son of Alexander and Rebecca Brevard, acquired a large
quantity of land during his lifetime in addition to the Mount Tirza Forge lands
that had been inherited from his father. Robert Alfred Brevard was born 30
December 1799 and lived until age 80.
Sometime in the early 1820's Robert A. Brevard married Sarah Harriet
Davidson. The couple had three children, Jane McWhorter Brevard who died in
infancy, Alexander Franklin Brevard and Ephraim Joseph Brevard.
On 4 November 1829 Sarah Harriet Brevard died. Robert Alfred Brevard
never remarried, living out his years with his son, Alexander Franklin, at the
homeplace, Mount Tirza. Ephraim Joseph lived in Charlotte at died 8 June
1885 and is buried in the family cemetery at Macpelah.
Alexander Franklin Brevard was a
lawyer by profession and never married.
Alec, as he was called, owned property in and
around the town of Stanley for many years.
He died on 22 October 1909, and he, too,
is buried at the family cemetery at Macpelah.
After the death of Alexander, Mount
Tirza became primarily a tenant dwelling and
farm and later sat empty for many years until
being burned to the ground by vandals in 1968.
[ The Museum ] [ Contact Us ] [ Stanley History ] [ Photo Galleries ] [ Citizens ] [ Recollections ] [ Schools ] [ Churches ] [ Community ] [ Recent History ] [ Order the Books ] [ Topic Index ] [ Site Index ] [ Search ] [ Acknowledgments ] [ Related Links ] [ Guestbook ]