Skilled Labor and Natural Resources

Skilled Labor

Men Smoothing Wood

Three men smoothing a log. The man to the left is using a double bitted axe and the man in the center is using a broad axe

When David Vance Sr., Zebulon's grandfather, arrived in the Reems Creek Valley in the 1790s, he began planning a shelter for his family. As an enslaver, Vance utilized the labor of three enslaved people to construct his cabin. Building was typically secondary to survival needs, as one could not stop farming for weeks at a time to focus solely on construction. Due to the size, the cabin Vance had constructed likely took many months, even a year, to finish. 

In comparison, the reconstruction of the Vance house involved paid local professionals familiar with old cabin-building techniques who could spend long periods of time devoted to this project, including the men in the image above. 

Natural Resources

Preparing Logs for Transport

Workers preparing the Canton pine for transport

Due to the relative isolation of the Reems Creek Valley, David Vance Sr. had limited resources at his disposal. He likely used local timber, such as pine or chestnut; stone from Reems Creek or from plowed fields; and clay from a recently discovered pit located across the street from the site today.

The site planners faced considerable difficultly locating timber for the reconstruction. They wanted to repurpose old logs, but could not find any long and wide enough for the size of the structure. After a lengthy search, they settled on new pine trees growing at Enka Corporation in nearby Canton, NC. 

Skilled Labor and Natural Resources