Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Smith Family Gravestones (Newton Academy Cemetery)

Asheville Citizen- Times
Sunday, October 9, 1960

In the old Newton Academy Cemetery adjoining Newton Elementary School there stands a new tombstone marking the grave of the first child of white parentage born in North Carolina west of the Alleghanies [sic]. The marker was erected last week at the grave of James McConnell Smith, born June 24, 1787, within the present boundaries of the City of Asheville. The new marker, and the new markers at the site of other graves, were [sic] placed in the old cemetery by former U.S. Senator Robert R. Reynolds of Biltmore Forest, a great grandson of James M. Smith. James M. Smith was the son of Col. Daniel Smith, a native of New Jersey, who, after serving in the Indian wars and as an American soldier in the Revolutionary War, settled in Buncombe County. James Smith, whose mother was Mary Davidson Smith, married Polly Patton (1794-1853), daughter of Colonel John Patton, and settled in Asheville. He built and kept the Buck Hotel, where the Langren Hotel now is, operated a store on the opposite side of the street, maintained a tanyard at the present junction of Southside and Coxe Avenues, ran several farms, and built and for several years managed Smith’s Bridge, the first bridge in Buncombe County across the French Broad River. Smith later sold the bridge to the county. As the years went on, Smith became a large land owner in Asheville, other parts of the county, and even in Georgia. He died May 18, 1856, a wealthy man, and was buried on an estate called Fernihurst (now Viewmont) on Victoria Road. About 1875, his grave was removed to the Newton Academy Cemetery. The inscription on the old tombstone was becoming illegible, but can be read as follows: “He was the first child of white parentage born west of the Alleghany, in the present state of North Carolina and his course of life exhibited many qualities worthy of imitation by all those who come after him. He was a pattern of industry, frugality, energy and enterprise, a useful citizen, a warm friend and an honest man.” The inscription has been transferred to the new marker. The other new markers are for the nearby graves of Col. Smith, his wife, and the wife of James M. Smith. Miss Margaret Ligon, librarian in the Asheville libraries, is a great-great granddaughter of James M. Smith. The old markers at each of the four Smith graves have been preserved in a layer of asphalt poured over the graves. [Editor's Note: This layer of asphalt apparently was never applied.]


1 comment:

  1. I've lived on Smith Graveyard Rd next to the graveyard and only now decided to search for the history of the cemetery. My interest perked by my mother's questions about the cemetery.