Jonathan Logan Carson

When Col. John Carson died in 1841, his son Jonathan Logan (usually known by his initials or simply as "Logan") was the chief beneficiary of his fathers will. This youngest child of John Carson and his second wife, Mary Moffitt McDowell, would become the only member of the family who lived his full life in the house (born there in 1807 - died there in 1866).

At the time of Col. Carson's death, the house had been used regularly as a polling place for almost twenty years. It was also frequently used as a political and social center of western Burke County. It was not surprising, therefore, that in 1842, following an act of the legislature creating a new county called "McDowell", the law also specified that sessions of court for the county "shall be held at the house of Jonathan L. Carson". McDowell County was named for Major Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens, and was formed from Burke and a small part of Rutherford County.

The first session of county court was held at the Carson House on March 13, 1843. Twenty-eight magistrates, including J. L. Carson, were appointed for the new county. The magistrates were given the right to purchase a tract of land "upon which a town shall be laid off and called 'Marion', where the court house and jail shall be erected." Jonathan Logan Carson offered to donate fifty acres east of Pleasant Gardens, and the town commissioners agreed to purchase an additional thirteen acres from him at ten dollars per acre. Thus the town of Marion, named for Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox" of Revolutionary War renown, was created.

J.L. Carson continued to add to and remodel his father's house, adding Greek Revival features. The old gable roof was removed from the double-pen log house and new roof added to cover the new full-length veranda in front and shed rooms in back. The original log walls were covered for the first time with siding on the outside and tongue-in-groove sheeting inside. The middle hall, or "dog-trot" was left open. Following this major renovation, it was no longer possible to see the one-foot square walnut logs from which Col. John Carson had constructed the original part of the home.

J.L. Carson married Mary Sturdivant Presnell. They were the parents of two children, Harriett and Margaret. Carson operated mills for grinding grain and sawing lumber. Much of the production of his farm was in the form of cattle. He had hired laborers and slaves to perform farm chores.

Boarders stayed in the house throughout the years it was owned by J. L. Carson. John Carson had kept boarders while his son was growing up, and may have operated an inn there as early as 1808. During J.L. Carson's ownership, and ell was added to the rear of the house to accommodate boarders. This portion of the structure did not survive.

The Civil War dramatically affected the Carson plantation. A raid by Union soldiers in 1865, was recorded in detail by eyewitness, Emma Rankin, a school teacher who boarded with the Carsons. In this account she tells of watching some 300 Yankee soldiers pouring through every window and door, of the sound of spurs and sabers clanging upon the long halls of the house, and of the fear and uncertainty of those days.

Jonathan Logan Carson died in 1866. His widow, Mary Carson, continued to live at the house for a time, then moved to her daughter's home in Marion. The antebellum glory days of the Carson plantation had come to an end.