Saturday, October 16, 2010

Asheville Farm School

In 1894, the Asheville Farm School officially opened with twenty-five boys attending and a professional staff of three people. It was not until 1923 that the school had its first graduating class. In 1936, the first post high school programs in vocational training were begun. It was hoped that this type of training would give the students more prospects in the job market. In 1942, the junior college division was established. The Asheville Farm School continued as a boys unit in high school studies. The Dorland-Bell School of Hot Springs was joined with the Farm School, which brought high school age girls to campus. The Warren Wilson Vocational Junior College was joined with them under our one administration.

This slide is from a set of slides put out by the Presbyterian mission society around 1915 to 1920 and the subject was mission work within the United States and its territories. The set was meant to be rented by a church for a nominal fee to show to their congregation to raise money for the missionary endeavor. Lantern slides are one of the best untapped resources of photographs there are. Many of these slides are one-of-a-kind because they were often not mass produced or the ones that were have been destroyed or discarded by now. Slide is 3 1/4" x 4"



  1. My mother, Agnes Elizabeth Brooks, attended Dorland Bell School at Hot Springs. I don't know what years she was there, but she was born in 1911. I thought she was there in the early grades, but your comments on the slide say that they brought High School girls to the Asheville Farm School. My problem is that I've never been able to find my Mother in ANY census-and I mean any census, even after she and my Dad were married in 1933. Question: Did the census takers take a seperate census of boarding school, and would my Mother be in the one of 1920, as she would be 9 years old. Then in 1930 she would have been either in Washington College Academy or East Tennessee State Teachers College in Johnson City, TN. This is a great site and I hope you keep it up. Is there any way to view all of the slides?
    Jane Ford-Taylor

  2. Dear Jane:

    Thank you for the interesting comments and the kind words.

    My understanding is that the Dorland-Bell School merger was not until 1942. The consolidation resulted in the Warren H. Wilson Vocational Junior College. Presumably this would have been well after your mother completed her schooling.

    As to the census issues, your mother should appear in two US censuses that have been made available to the public: 1920 and 1930. Institutions were indeed included in a census (prisons, hotels, hospitals, schools, etc.). We have even seen some individuals enumerated twice - at the institution and at home.

    Was your mother born in Wilkes County, North Carolina? Were her parents John and Julia (possibly May) Johnson Brooks? Is your father Kermit Johnson.

    1930 United States Federal Census
    Name: Agnes Brooks
    Home in 1930: Lovelace, Wilkes, North Carolina
    Age: 18
    Estimated birth year: abt 1912
    Relation to Head of House: Daughter
    Father's Name: John Brooks
    Mother's Name: May Brooks
    Race: White
    Household Members: Name Age
    John Brooks 42
    May Brooks 28
    Agnes Brooks 18
    Leaner Brooks 12
    Theona Brooks 8
    Lora Brooks 7
    Rlaph Brooks 4
    Maud Brooks 2
    William Brooks 3/12

    Unfortunately, this is the only one of these Presbyterian Church slides ever brought to my attention.

    Best regards,

    Rick Frederick

  3. My grandfather, (Henry) Alonzo McHone, was a student at Dorland-Bell. We have the same picture as the one on p 118 of Mrs. Painter's book. He was born 1866 and attended ~1880. Can anyone help me find some records of the school from this time that would give name, date of attendance, and anecdotes of the school at that time? Thanks.

  4. Thank you for providing such a wonderful site providing much of the historical data for Western North Carolina. My father, John Brown Dillard, was a student at the Asheville School for Boys in the late 1930s. I believe that he worked in the dairy while there. And I remember him talking about he and other boys skating on the Swannanoa River. Could you perhaps direct me to where I might find the actual dates of his attendance?