Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study - by Bill Jehan
   Introduction      Property      Blannahassett Island N. Carolina
 
"Blannahassett Island"
 
(formerly named Blennerhassett Island)
 
in the French Broad River at Marshall, North Carolina, USA
 
 
 
 
residents, Blannahassett Island
Less well known than Harman Blennerhassett's romantic home "Blennerhassett Island" in the Ohio River, West Virginia, is another American river island of similar name.
 
This "other" Blennerhassett Island is a small sandy island approximately one quarter mile long, situated in the French Broad River as it passes through a ravine, adjacent to the town of Marshall, Madison Co., North Carolina.
 
The island lies parallel to the main street of Marshall and in earlier years houses stood on the island, making it a part of the town, but the island sometimes flooded at high water.
Free Will Baptist Church, presently located at the north end of Main Street in Madison, was moved there from Blannahassett Island in the 1920s. 
 
Uninhabited apart from ducks and other wildlife, in 1926 a High School for Marshall was opened on what was then still named Blennerhassett Island, replacing an earlier High School of 1895 that had burned in 1918. The new school served the community  as Marshall High School until 1974, afterwards as an elementary school until about 2002.
 
After the school closed the building was used by the county as offices for several years. It was then scheduled to be demolished, but a local petition of 3000 signatures, with investment of money provided by Rob Pulleyn and others, saved the building. Since 2007 the refurbished Marshall High Studios has provided studio and exhibit space for the region’s artist community.
 
In 1998 the first “River Fair” was held on the island, this now an annual island event.
 
The Town of Marshall, with assistance from enthusiastic local volunteers, is preparing a development plan to ensure the future of Blanahassett Island as a public park. Related websites are:
 
 
 
cover of Ripley's "Believe it or Not!" omnibus edition c1930s
Marshall High School is said to have appeared in one of Robert Ripley's
famous Ripley's Believe it or Not! newspaper cartoon strips <when?> as
"the only school in the United States to be located on an uninhabited island".
 
Warning does anyone reading this have a copy of Ripley's "Believe It or Not!”
newspaper cartoon featuring the island?     if so, please contact us  
 
 
 
 

 
 
BLANNAHASSETT or BLENNERHASSETT ?
 
The name of this North Carolina island was spelt Blennerhassett Island, identically with the West Virginia island, until at least 1926.
 
At some date after this the name began to change - by 1939 it had become Blannerhassett Island and by 1980 the mailing address of the Elementary School was “Blannahassett Island”, the spelling used today. In the town of Marshall is “Blannahassett Island Road” and, on the island itself, a sign describing natural history of the river vegetation also uses "Blannahassett". Such name changes, on appearing in print, can quickly become accepted, the historical continuity being lost because so few people remember the original name.
 
 
The reason behind the naming of this island is uncertain...
 
NAMING THEORY 1  
“North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State” (published by University of North Carolina Press, 1939) on p.463 tells us: “...Since there was no other suitable place, the high school was built on Blannerhasset Island, which is sometimes flooded by high water. The island is believed to have been named for Blennerhasset Island (sic - single "t") in the Ohio river, opposite Marietta, which figured in the ill-fated ambitions of Aaron Burr...”
 
NAMING THEORY 2
The island may perhaps take its name from Thomas Spotswood Blennerhassett (b.1813 Co.Kerry, Ireland) a well known American itinerant furniture maker who worked for lengthy periods of time making good quality furniture in New York, North Carolina, New Orleans, Missouri, Ohio and Texas. While no direct evidence linking Thomas Spotswood Blennerhassett with the island has yet been found, he is the only man of that name known to have been resident in North Carolina during the mid-19th century.
 
Warning It would be an interesting and worthwhile exercise to look for the name Blennerhassett or similar occuring in local newspapers and maps of c1900 and earlier; also in the 19th century census returns for Marshall (census dates 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880).
 
If you know more about the naming of the island, please contact us
 
 
 

 
 
 
photo: courtesy of The Victorian Gallery
 
 
Blannahassett Island 2011 - viewed from the town of Marshall
  
 
 
 
 
 
photo: courtesy of The Victorian Gallery
 
 
Marshall Elementary School (formerly Marshall High School)
at Blannahasett Island 2011 - viewed from the bridge
  
 
 
 
 
 
photo: courtesy of The Victorian Gallery
 
 
The town of Marshall and it's bridge 2011 - viewed from Blannahassett Island
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo: courtesy of The Victorian Gallery
 
 

 
 
 
ESTABLISHED 1852   TOWN OF MARSHALL     NORTH CAROLINA     ESTABLISHED 1852
 
French Broad River - Riparian Vegitation
 
"RIPARIAN VEGITATION" SIMPLY MEANS PLANTS LIVING NEAR A RIVER BANK.
 
A HEALTHY RIVERBANK HAS PLANTS THAT LIVE TOGETHER NATURALLY AS A COMMUNITY. THIS GROUP OF PLANTS IS CALLED A NATIVE PLANT COMMUNITY. THE NATIVE PLANTS THAT LIVE NEAR THE RIVERBANK HELP TO HOLD THE SOIL TOGETHER, PREVENT EROSION, AND PROVIDE HABITAT AND FOOD FOR ANIMALS AND INSECTS.
 
SOMETIMES RIVERBANKS LOSE IMPORTANT NATIVE PLANTS BY EROSION, ANIMAL GRAZING OR OVERDEVELOPMENT. PEOPLE CAN HELP BY RESTORING THE NATIVE RAPARIAN VEGITATION THAT SHOULD OCCUR THERE. PLANTING THE RIGHT TREES, SHRUBS, GRASSES AND HERBACEOUS PLANTS CAN BRING BACK THE NATURAL ECOSYSTEM AND BEAUTY OF THE RIVER'S EDGE
 
Black-eyed Susan
Joe-Pye Weed
Soft rush
Deer-tongue Grass
Rudbeckia hirta 
Eupatorda fistulosum
Juncus elfusus
Dichanthelium clandestinum
Wild Bergamot
River Birch
Arrowroot Viburnum
Big Blue Stem
Monarda fistulosa
Betula nigra
Virburnum dentalum
Andropogon generaldii
 
Funding for enhanced riparian vegitation planting on Blannahassett Island was provided by the Pigeon River Fund
 
PIGEON RIVER FUND
 
 
 
Blannahassett Island, natural history information sign 2011
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo: courtesy of The Victorian Gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Island Trail
 
This Greenway was made possible through the PIGEON RIVER FUND
and over 1200 hours of Volunteer labor from the Marshall community.
 
We hope you enjoy using the trail. If you need to report a problem or
would like to get involved on projects like this one, please call Town Hall 649-3031
 
For your own safety and the continued pleasure of other trail users, please observe
the following:
            Clean up after your dogs (This is a school yard)
            No Motor vehicles on Trail
            No Horses on Trail
            No Parking on Trail
            Leave only Footprints, Take only Pictures 
 
 
 
 
 
Blannahassett Island - "Island Trail" walking information sign 2011
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo: courtesy of The Victorian Gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BUNCOMBE TURNPIKE
 
"COMPLETED IN 1827 FROM SALUDA GAP TO BUNCOMBE COUNTY COURT HOUSE AND ALONG THE FRENCH BROAD RIVER BY WAY OF BARNARDS AND WARM SPRINGS TO TENNESSEE LINE.
 
SERVED AS THE MAJOR TRADE ROUTE THROUGH MOUNTAINS OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA UNTIL 1882."
 
 
 
 
 
DAVID VANCE
 
STOCK STAND OWNED BY VANCE, FATHER OF GOVERNOR ZEBULON B. VANCE, STOOD A FEW YARDS TO THE EAST.
 
THE STAND OR INN WAS ALSO THE HOME OF THE VANCE FAMILY FOR A FEW YEARS.
 
IN 1853 ZEBULON VANCE GAVE LAND AS A SITE FOR MARSHALL AS THE COUNTY SEAT.
 
 
 
 
 
Historic site markers outside Madison County Courthouse, on North Main Street, Marshall
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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