Meet the Ones Who Watch Over You at Hill House

Sarah’s family, after sailing six weeks from Edinburgh, getting organized during six months in Philadelphia, and then traveling three months by wagon, arrived in the French Broad Valley in May 1772, homesteading near Reems Creek. The first winter was tough, as crops got in late, but some friendly Cherokee lent some hands.

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As spring began to push through the cold earth, one young brave, Austenaco (a name meaning chief), continued to stay and help out Sarah’s family. And he stayed more through the early summer and more and more through the late summer. That fall, 17-year-old Sarah and 18-year-old Austenaco married, and built a small cabin on the family homestead.

The winter of 1774, however, was even harder than the previous one. The French Broad froze solid, and Austenaco, Sarah, and her family were stranded alone by the deep snows. Neither Austenaco nor Sarah saw the new spring arrive.

The early western Carolina settlers were a social bunch, and many people had come to Austenaco’s and Sarah’s wedding. They said if their love had survived, that the Cherokee wars might have been avoided and that the two peoples could have lived harmoniously as one in the area’s mountains and valleys.

But Sarah and Austenaco really never left the French Broad valley and surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Some nights, especially when it’s cold up in the mountains, they alight down in Asheville, and we think Hill House Bed & Breakfast may be their favorite place.

You won’t see them, but sometimes, perhaps on the front porch, or while in bed by one of our fireplaces, or underneath the crystal chandelier in the foyer, you might feel them. It is possible to mistake the sense of two-and-a-half centuries of love for the calm and the tranquility people find at Hill House Bed & Breakfast even when Austenaco and Sarah are elsewhere. It’s just one of those things that you never know.