north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Joseph and Margaret O’Neil McDowell moved from Winchester, Virginia, to the North Carolina backcountry about 1765, settling on land that that had long been called Quaker Meadows. West of modern Morganton, Quaker Meadows was in Rowan County (Burke after 1777). The name “Quaker Meadows” appears in the writings of Moravian Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg in 1752 and is believed to be an allusion to the camp of a Quaker fur trader.

     Charles (1743-1815) and Joseph (1756-1801) McDowell, sons of Joseph and Margaret, grew up at Quaker Meadows, although Joseph was educated in Virginia. At the outset of the American Revolution, Charles was selected to be a captain in the militia and shortly was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Joseph was in his brother’s militia regiment and eventually attained the rank of colonel. The McDowells served under Griffith Rutherford in his campaign against the Cherokee in 1776. They are also credited with formulating the plan for the Overmountain Men and the North Carolina militia to pursue British Col. Patrick Ferguson when the frontiersmen gathered at Quaker Meadows on September 30, 1780. At the resulting Battle of Kings Mountain, Charles consigned his troops to his brother, who played a decisive role. Joseph McDowell also took part in the Battle of Cowpens in January 1781. Both brothers went on to serve their state in the political arena—both serving in the state legislature and the Constitutional Conventions, and Joseph serving two terms in Congress as well.

     Charles McDowell’s son, also named Charles, built the present house in 1812. The younger Charles McDowell married his cousin Ann McDowell (of Pleasant Gardens) the following year. At Quaker Meadows the couple raised their six children and three orphaned relatives, one of whom, Harriet Espy, married future Governor Zebulon Vance at the plantation home in 1853. The house was restored to its 1812 appearance by the Historic Burke Foundation in 1998 and is now open to the public.

Edward W. Phifer Jr., Burke: The History of a North Carolina County (1977)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 148, 152—sketches by William S. Powell and John Inscoe
J. Randall Cotton and others, Historic Burke: An Architectural Sites Inventory of Burke County (1987)
Charlotte Observer, September 6, 1998
Historic Burke website:
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

Quaker Meadows

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources