Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Nicholas Washington Woodfin (1810-1876)

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Nicholas Washington Woodfin was born in Buncombe County, N.C., in 1810. In February 1831, he was admitted to practice law in the county courts, and soon after settled in Asheville, N.C. In 1840, Woodfin married Eliza Grace McDowell; the couple had three daughters. For ten years starting in 1844, Woodfin represented Buncombe and Henderson counties in the state senate. He was active on the Asheville school board and in the Episcopal church, and acted as the Buncombe County delegate to the North Carolina Secession Convention. During the Civil War, he was superintendent of the North Carolina Salt Works. Afterwards, he returned to the practice of law and died on 23 May 1876. The town of Woodfin, N.C., in Bumcombe County, is named for him.


The Southern Historical Collection
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Collection Number: 01689
Collection Title: Nicholas Washington Woodfin Papers, 1795-1919, 1950

On January 11, 1841, the Legislature passed another amendatory statute whereby "James M. Smith, James W. Patton, N. W, Woodfin, Isaac T. Poor and James F. E. Hardy" were "incorporated into a body politic and corporate by the name of the 'Board of Commissioners for the town of Asheville,'" with certain powers therein defined. Still later by an act ratified March 8, 1883, and entitled "An act to amend the charter of the town of Asheville," the town of Asheville ceased to exist as such, and thenceforth became "The City of Asheville."

Source: Asheville and Buncombe County, F. A. Sondley (1922).

“The Town of Woodfin is named in honor of Nicholas Woodfin, a major force in Western North Carolina’s early history. Born on January 29th, 1810 he was the fourth of twelve children of John and Mary Grady Woodfin who lived in the Mills River area of what is now Henderson County. Nicholas Woodfin, a lawyer by trade, became one of the major political figures in the history of the western part of the state. A long serving state Senator, humanitarian reformer, Confederate Army officer, businessman, and farmer Nicholas Woodfin made a lasting impression on the state of North Carolina and his memory is still honored today by the people of Woodfin.

The area that is now known as Woodfin was first settled by the Cherokee Nation prior to the arrival of Europeans. After the founding of Asheville in 1797 the general area of Woodfin was part of various land grants and was largely agricultural in nature. In the mid 19th century, however, the French Broad River presented an important power source for manufacturing and mills began to become established to take advantage of the natural power source. Over time, the mills expanded and created villages for the workers and managers which led to the gradual suburbanization of the area. As manufacturing waxed and waned during the 20th century so too did the fortunes of the Town of Woodfin. In 1971 the Town of Woodfin incorporated as a municipality and has remained true to the vision of its founding fathers and mothers, who sought to maintain a distinct community where tradition and family are still valued.

Although manufacturing remains an important part of Woodfin’s economy, during the 1990s the Town began a transition into a bedroom community of people who appreciate the small town experience, but still want all the amenities offered by a larger city. Today Woodfin is a town of approximately 4,000 citizens and is home to business ranging from multi-million dollar giants to mom and pop operations. Woodfin, NC is believed to be the only town bearing the name of Woodfin in the United States.”


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