Thomas Amis House – Edge of the Frontier
Circa 1780, Capt Thomas Amis began construction on the stone home, still standing today, over 230 years later. He also constructed the gristmill and dam on Big Creek, where the mill ruins also remain. Thomas Amis Inn, as it was known then, was at the end of the Old Stage Road. Wagon wheel ruts are still visible today along the property’s boundary.
This frontier home was built when America was a fledgling nation, 4 years after gaining her independence from the British. The State of North Carolina awarded land to their Revolutionary War soldiers, as was the case with Captain Thomas Amis. The land was situated in the remote western section of the State of North Carolina in hostile native territory, an area where the state could not offer protection for the settlers. In 1789, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to cede the western land to the Federal government. In 1790 U.S. Congress accepted, at the same time, establishing a territorial government named “Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio.” William Blount was appointed as the new territorial governor, and a frequent guest of Thomas Amis.
As you can see from the depiction of the home below, it was fortified by a palisade to protect the occupants from Indian attacks. It was constructed with gun slots instead of windows in the upper level for added protection during skirmishes with the Indians. The 18 inch thick stones were interior/exterior walls of the home and provided a barrier against the elements and outside forces. The Indian hostilities peaked in 1782 as white settlers continued arriving over the Appalachians, squatting on their lands without first acquiring it outright.
Below is a depiction of the Thomas Amis House in 1782…
Thomas Amis House today…
Amis Dam and ruins of the gristmill still stand today and are open to the public. The painting below is of the mill house when it was still in operation.
This old photo shows the water wheel at the gristmill covered in ice.
With special thanks to photographer, Randy Seals, we have a breathtaking view of the Big Creek Falls at Amis Dam.
Thomas Amis had a very successful “Trading Post” here in the 1780’s and was one of the earliest settlers in the area. Famous people such as Bishop Asbury, Andre Micheaux and Andrew Jackson stayed in the Amis Home.
Here’s an old picture of the mill house where the Amis Mill Eatery now stands.
Amis Mill Eatery sits atop a hill overlooking the Amis Dam and Big Creek Falls alongside the remnants of the old mill.