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by Fred Ray on August 21, 2011 · 0 comments

First we had Vance the governor, now it’s Vance the play.

For a man who’s been dead 117 years, Zebulon Vance continues to cast a long shadow on Western North Carolina.

The Civil War hero and lawmaker’s name is all over the place, on a big monument in downtown Asheville, at his old home place near Weaverville, on two North Carolina towns and one county, and was even branded a World War II liberty ship.

Now, Vance has returned in a new drama premiering at Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre. “Vance!,” by Asheville playwright David Hopes, looks at this complex figure. JJ McCarson stars as Vance, with support from Michael Mattison, Rebecca Phippard, Jennifer O’Rear, Chandler Smith, Brittany Hazeldinei and Brentley Spokes.

And, what a load of bunk! Or as Henry Ford once observed, “History is Bunk.” I confess it was a surprise to me to learn that the word comes from right where I live—good ol’ Buncombe Country, NC. And it predates the Civil War, coming from an unusually windy floor speech by one of our representatives:

Congressman Felix Walker, after a month of debate on the Missouri Compromise, tried to wedge in a speech on the House floor and managed to make a series of tactical errors:

1) Everyone was tired and didn’t want to hear any more speeches;

2) Walker’s speech didn’t have anything to do with anything – he just wanted to speak in order to get his name in the papers so it would show his constituents he was working;

3) He wouldn’t shut up.

On the latter point, Walker said he was making a speech “for Buncombe.” The content of the speech itself (nothing) was itself declared Buncombe.

Over the years the word stuck in the national lexicon as bunkum or simply bunk.

Such is the way history is made.

And finally, Dixie’s Revenge. In a recent list of states where no one wants to buy a house, all share one characteristic—they were all on the wrong side in the Late Unpleasantness.


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