Photo above of sitting room in the old house, with a photograph of John Wesley McElroy on the mantel.



Rush Wray Museum

You will step back in time as you enter the McElroy House. The Georgian style home built in the 1840’s by local businessman John Wesley McElroy has seven fireplaces and an
L wing to the back of the home. Much of the house appears as it would have in the mid-1800. Our goals of portraying are met through our artifacts from the frontier era until the 1950’s and a bit later.

The first floor houses our pre-history exhibit of: American Indian artifacts (one of the best exhibits found in Western North Carolina aside from the Cherokee Museum) featuring artifacts of the Paleo, Archaic and Woodland periods as found in the valleys from Cane River in the West through to Brush Creek in the Northeastern part of the county and all points between.

Annex Building

The lower level houses the association office, genealogy library, Ce-Nan Museum Gift Shop, Medical Display, Veteran’s Hall of Honor, Mineral Display and other changing and permanent exhibits. The second level houses our archival storage and conference room.

About the people of the McElroy House.

Throughout the house there are old paintings and photographs of the people who have lived there. John Wesley McElroy was a local businessman in Burnsville, who had the house built for his family. He was very active in local politics while serving the community as the owner of a general mercantile store.

Both his father and grandfather had served the country in the Revolutionary War and thus, his family became large landowners in the area.

During the later part of the Civil War, John W. McElroy was called to serve his Confederate States as the Brigadier General in charge of the Western North Carolina Home Guard.

The Home Guard was made up of the younger and older men who were not of the right age to serve in the regular army. Their duties were to seek out deserters, help to protect the local communities and towns from Union soldiers, and from a renegade group known as the infamous Kirk’s Raiders, a band of dissenters and deserters that ravaged the area. McElroy served under Governor Zebulon B. Vance during that time.

One of his daughters married the governor’s son so this made a close relationship between the two men. John Wesley McElroy had four sons who served in the Confederate States Army.

Many others have called this place home over the years, from Dr. Lewis in the late 1850’s, Thomas and Virginia Dellinger Young, to the last, Troy and Winnie Lou Ray.




The smokehouse originally stood on Gilder’s Creek, off Jacks Creek Rd and dates to the 1860’s featuring a smoldering unvented style fire pit for smoking meat.



The 1920’s Gas Station that once operated on West Main Street, now serves as the Visitor’s Center for the Yancey Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber displays our Transportation exhibit, a 1927 Dodge Roadster, which can be seen in the front showroom window.



The 1860’s era cabin originally stood on Elk Shoal Creek, where the last residents were the family of Noah Edwards. In the deed of Dave Proffitt one of the early owner s mentions the old grist mill which stood to the east of the cabin. Proffitt a Confederate soldier along with his family owned thousands of acres between Elk Shoal and Cane River to Prices Creek. Owner Clark Cousin also a Confederate soldier was a relative of Proffitt’s and is buried just above the original house site in the King Cemetery.



The New Smithy will be fitted out with all the equipment used by a Blacksmith. This is an ongoing project.


The garden named in honor of the late Jim Ray, an agriculture agent who devoted his life to the crop production of our county. Our gardener has a well stocked garden from tobacco which at the time was grown for chewing to beans, corn, squash and herbs of the era.


The flower garden named in honor of Winnie Lou Ray (the last private owners of the house and grounds), consists of more than 2,000 daffodils in the spring, to some 50 types of wildflowers. A perfect spot for various outdoor events.



© Yancey History Association, 3 Academy Street, Burnsville, North Carolina 28714. All rights reserved. Designed by John Elsegood 2012