On July 11, 1791, 200 acres of land was conveyed to Scotsman William Neilson, Sr., from Dutch settler Gaser Dagy, which included the warm springs. Oral tradition holds that Neilson once owned all the land to Paint Rock, and built a well-frequented tavern at the springs on the west bank of the river.
The Early Dwellings and Barns of the Southern Highlands, 1851-1870
Madison County: A Microcosm of the Southern Highlands
Carved from Buncombe County in 1851, Madison County, North Carolina lay at the very center of the Southern Highlands. Its history and culture represent a microcosm that exemplifies the evolution of the dwelling and barn traditions found throughout the region. Madison County's economy continued to prosper from the stage coach lines and drovers' traffic along the Buncombe Turnpike throughout the 1850s.
In the French Broad valley as well as the uplands of the county, a few houses – but very few barns – have survived from the mid-19th century. Hewn log construction continued to be the standard method of construction for dwellings, barns, and outbuildings on the farms and in the towns of the Southern Highlands. The earliest corner notching used in the Southern Highlands was the half-dovetail notch, which held tightly and shed rain water efficiently to prevent rotting. Other types of notching, like the V-notch, saddle notch, and lap notch were developed later, and used more often for crudely-constructed buildings.
The John Allen log dwelling is a classic hewn log cabin of the period, with half-dovetail notching, an exterior rock chimney, and a common footprint of 18 by 20 feet.
The Appalachian bank barn is likely a variant of the Pennsylvania barn tradition, as was much of the regional log building tradition. A bank barn was built into a hill so that the bank provided access to the upper loft level. On flat ground, some bank barns had an embankment ramp built up to the loft level. The bank was known as the barnhill in some regions.