History of Vesuvius Furnace

The home known as Vesuvius is the oldest standing home in Lincoln County located between Denver and Iron Station. At one time, the plantation was a majority of what is now Lincoln County. Built in 1792 by General Joseph Graham, Vesuvius has seen over 200 years of American history. Located on the property are the remnants of the iron furnace built by Graham in 1790. This was one of the first of many furnaces built in Lincoln County that helped to produce many different types of iron works well into the 1800s. Joseph Graham and his family played a big role in North Carolina politics and industry. Most notably, his son William Graham served as governor of North Carolina, Secretary of the Navy, and was a vice president candidate. The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 as the home place of General Joseph Graham and still maintains most of its original structure and architecture.

Furnace Remains
   Furnace Remains
Photo Courtesy Beverly Robinson

The house was built in two sections: the older dated to about 1792, with the western section added about 1810-1820. It is a two-story, five bays wide and two deep, frame structure with a one-story shed porch. The furnace was built in 1790, and is constructed of large stone blocks of random sizes, but about half of the square pyramidal structure has fallen down. The furnace remains are about 20 feet high and filled with dirt, debris, and vegetation.

The Grahams along with the Davidsons and the Brevards bought an ore interest from Peter Forney and established the iron furnace. Isabella Davidson was the wife of General Graham. Mary Brevard was the wife of General Davidson who was killed at the Battle of Cowan’s Ford. Peter Forney was the brother of Jacob Forney for whom the Jacob Forney Chapter NSDAR is named.

The name “Vesuvius” was allegedly given to it since the iron furnace smoked like Mount Vesuvius, which experienced relatively severe eruptions almost continuously from 1631 to 1944. In addition to wood from what was likely hundreds of acres of nearby trees every year, Graham’s blast furnace may have also been fueled by limestone and iron ore from the kiln and mine at the farmstead of Casper Kühner. Jacob, son of Abraham Kühner and grandson of Casper Kühner, granted the historic Keener Farmstead to Lawson Keener in 1853. In addition to documenting Abraham’s actions at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill, Joseph Graham also served on a committee to settle his estate in 1799.

In 2009, the home was privately restored and opened as Vesuvius Vineyards, a wine vineyard and wedding venue. Much of the original architecture is still intact including the outside kitchen and separate kitchen building behind the home.


 

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