Saturday, February 27, 2010

RiverLink

RiverLink

The following is from RiverLink's website:

RiverLink is a regional non~profit spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a place to live, work and play. Since 1987 we have engaged in simultaneous efforts to address water quality concerns throughout the French Broad River basin, expand public opportunities for access and recreation, and spearhead the economic revitalization of Asheville's dilapidated riverfront district. We hope you find our website informative and enjoyable.
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Asheville's River Arts District


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For an excellent book on the area see: Asheville's River Arts District [authors Rob Neufeld and Henry Neufeld, published 2008]

See also:

River Arts District

Jonas Gerard Fine Art Gallery

Jonas Gerard Live Painting


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Friday, February 26, 2010

"Asheville" by Cotten Downing

[The following poem is the last written by the able pen of our deceased friend and former countryman, Mr. W. Cotten Downing. It was first published in the Asheville Evening Journal Feb., 28 [1890], and finding, as all his writings did, such a warm reception from the people, it was called back and appeared again the next day in the same paper. We do not produce it as an average specimen of the poetical talent of this true Southern gentleman who loved the Sunny South, but who now lies cold in death, covered by the northern sod, but through the respect and love which we ever had for him in life, and to show that his last work and days were spent in praising and upon the soil he loved so well. -- Ed. Roanoke Beacon 14 March 1890.]

Asheville

Oh! mountain-girt city of Asheville,
The gem of "The Land of the Sky,"
The rose of the beautiful valley,
With the French Broad flowing by,
How grand is the sweep of the mountains
Encircling the hill and the vale,
How pure are the musical fountains,
And soft the caress of the gale.

'Tis here that the zephyrs are fondest,
For they heal with a touch of their wings.
Tis here that the flowers are fairest,
And here the mountain hill sings.
'Tis here that the trill of the bluebird
Sweetly blends with the oriole's song,
As they flit over meadow and hillside,
In the sunlight, all the day long.

'Tis here that the cheeks of the maiden
Ripen out with the roses of health,
And the invalid lover of Mammon
Feels a joy that is better than wealth;
For the skies that are bright as Italian,
With the green wooded mountain and glen,
Bring back the full vigor of manhood,
And life is worth living again.

Oh! beautiful City of Asheville,
Romancer nor poet can write
The beauties that cluster around thee
Like glittering stars of the night;
But the eye of enraptured beholder
Alone, to the soul, of them speaks,
From the scenes on the swift-rolling river
All around to the tall mountain peak.

W. Cotten Downing
February 27, 1890
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Fernihurst


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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sondley Award


The Sondley Award is given by the Historic Resources Commission of Asheville and Buncombe County to an individual or individuals in the community who by word or deed has kindled among the citizenry of Asheville and Buncombe County an appreciation for the history or historic resources of the area.

The Sondley Award takes its name from Forester Alexander Sondley, author of Buncombe County's most complete history. Dr. Sondley was born in South Carolina in 1857 but spent his later childhood and his adult life in his mother's native Buncombe County. He was educated at Col. Stephen Lee's academy in Chunns Cove and later at Wofford College. Dr. Sondley was a prominent local attorney, bibliophile, and a scholar of state-wide reputation. He was awarded two honorary doctorates during his lifetime and in 1927 was elected official Historian of Buncombe County by the Buncombe County Board of Education. Dr. Sondley wrote a two-volume history of Buncombe County, which was published in 1930 and which remains the definitive treatise on the history of the area. Upon his death in 1931 Dr. Sondley willed his extensive library to the City of Asheville and it became the nucleus of Pack Library's North Carolina collection.
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Webmaster's Note: Dr. Sondley usually signed his name "F. A. Sondley," and that was the name he used as author of his books and other writings. His first given name has been seen variously as Foster, Forster, and Forester. His maternal grandmother was Nancy Foster (1797-1862), and many believe that the Foster name was passed down. However, go back two additional generations, and the family surname was Forster, thus giving rise to the possibility that this earlier spelling could have been applied to F. A. Sondley. However, we believe Foster is correct, and that is the spelling used on his gravestone at the Alexander Baptist Church in Leicester, Buncombe County, North Carolina.

Note: Burial location seen as (1) Alexander United Methodist Church (Weaverville, Buncombe County, North Carolina); and (2)  Alexander Baptist Church (Leicester, Buncombe County, North Carolina).
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Asheville and Buncombe County, F. A. Sondley (1922)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

History @ Hand (Riverside Cemetery)

History @ Hand provides the following on its website:

A people’s memory is history. History@Hand has been collecting oral histories and researching local history for over five years. Our mission is to preserve the past so we can all learn from and apply its lessons to the present in order to shape the future.

Among its offerings is a self-guided tour of Riverside Cemetery in Asheville.
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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.]
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Black Mountain College



Black Mountain College

Black Mountain College was a phenomenal circumstance. The fact that so many artists of that level in their respective fields could organize and develop such an institution is unparalleled. Who would've thought that a small mountain town of western North Carolina would be their home, albeit for a short while.

20 April 2008
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Buncombe Life 16 November 2009



Pack Square Park
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Mapping Changes in Buncombe County, North Carolina


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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Davidson's Fort

Davidson's Fort (Aug 1776-1796), Old Fort, NC 28762

A state militia fort used against the Cherokee and Tories. Also known as Fort Rutherford, Upper Fort or Fort Royal: For 20 years from 1756 to 1776, the settlement was the westernmost outpost of Colonial Civilization. The State of North Carolina then extended to the Mississippi River. When war was declared between the Colonials and the British, the Cherokee sided with the latter forcing the Colonials to fight enemies on two fronts. By the mid 1700’s, more settlers came up the Catawba Valley. In 1763, the British and the Cherokee nation made a treaty agreeing that the British would settle no farther west than the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains (today it would be online with the continental divide). Around 1770 Samuel Davidson purchased a boundary of land, which included the present site of Old Fort, consisting of 640 acres or one square mile. A stockade was raised upon a portion of this land (Aug 1776), A portion of General Rutherford’s men were left behind to constructed it “to guard and range the country while General Rutherford left with an expedition against the Cherokee. Samuel Davidson as the owner of hundreds of acres surrounding the area known today as Old Fort including a grist mill on Davidson’s Mill Creek, today it is simply Mill Creek.

In the April 1933 edition of the N.C. Historical and Genealogical Record, Vol. 2, Number 2, an article by Mary M. Greenlee titled, appeared with the following information: During the Revolutionary War, the Davidson family lived in Old Fort on property owned by Samuel Davidson including a grist mill. John Davidson (John Davidson (1757-1832). In a Declaration of Military Service dated 8 Aug 1832 he stated that he was born in Augusta (now Rockbridge) County on October 20th 1757; was living in Botetourt (County south of present Rockbridge County)when called into service(Lyman Chalkey,Vol II, p. 481) lived on the property for many years. There is a question as to which John Davidson this might be, stay tuned for future revisions. The article is shown on page 17 under the heading of Wheeler’s Historical Sketches of North Carolina. This reference provides an important explanation of the fort’s location. In the University of North Carolina Magazine, Volume 1, Number 4 an article appears by David L. Swain dated 1852 speaking to the stockade at the old fort built by General Griffith Rutherford in August 1776 during his Cherokee expedition. Pension applications from members of Rutherford’s militia describe their duties including construction of a fort on property owned by Samuel Davidson. Samuel Davidson was born in Ireland and traveled as an infant to America with his family. He and his brother Major William Davidson were twins. In the spring of 1784, Samuel Davidson had decided to move across the Blue Ridge and build a cabin near what is now Azalea, Indians took a bell from his grazing horse and used it to lure him to his death. His wife, baby, and servant girl fled back across the Continental Divide, down the mountain to Davidson’s Fort and safety.

In 1776, General Griffin Rutherford led a band of 2,500 militiamen in a campaign against the Cherokee, bivouacking at Davidson’s tiny Fort before crossing the Blue Ridge and into what is now Swain County. Thirty Indian towns, along with crops and stored food was attacked and destroyed by Rutherford and his men. The Cherokee never fully recovered from the devastation. Most of the tribal members fled prior to the attack, so few lives were lost on either side. In his western drive against the Cherokee Nation, Rutherford is credited with the first “scorched earth” warfare in the Americas, so tellingly employed later by General Sherman in the Civil War. He and his men burned a great number of villages and crops as they drove the Indians farther west.

In 1796 Inferior Court Minutes of Burke County refers to the fort as Samuel Davidson's Fort.

In 1871 the 2,200-acre plantation of George Samuel Franklin Davidson (son of Gen Ephraim Davidson, who was son of Col George Davidson, who was brother to Samuel Davidson) was sold for thirty thousand dollars to the Catawba Vale Land Association, two years after the Western North Carolina railroad had reached Old Fort. On Jan 25 1872 the town of Catawba Vale was chartered “The Town of Catawba Vale was quite large on paper, but small on the ground,” wrote one of the speculators in the letter to a friend up north. The legislature named the town Old Fort Feb 21, 1873, a fitting tribute to Samuel Davidson.

The Western Carolina Railway had reached Old Fort in 1869. The circuitous route of the track through the western hills to the top of the mountains at Ridgecrest was made necessary because of the lack of earthmoving machinery and by the need to keep the grade easy enough for a steam engine to pull a train of heavy cars. In March 1879, the Swannanoa Tunnel was completed and the road reached Asheville in 1880. Seven hand-dug tunnels, nine miles of track, and eleven years later, the new railroad reached Asheville. Three hundred lives were lost building the Western Carolina Railroad; nonetheless, the coming of the railroad meant economic, intellectual, and industrial opportunity from the mountain people.

Source: Mountain Gateway Museum (McDowell County, North Carolina).

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Early Settlement of Buncombe County and the Drovers' Road

THE EARLY SETTLEMENT OF BUNCOMBE COUNTY & the Drovers' Road

The Early Settlement of Western North Carolina

In the Proclamation of 1763, King George set-aside the land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina to the Cherokee and prohibited the entry of white settlers. However, tensions between Britain and the colonies rendered the Proclamation useless, and settlers began to move westward, encroaching on Cherokee lands. Seeing an opportunity to rid themselves of these American settlers, the Cherokee sided with the British in the Revolutionary War. After several Cherokee raids against the settlers, Brigade General Griffith Rutherford and 25,000 members of the North Carolina State Militia were sent to punish the Cherokee in 1776. As he traveled into Western North Carolina, Rutherford burned and destroyed Cherokee towns and fields along a route known as the Rutherford Trace. Rutherford's brutal tactics quickly resulted in surrender; the Cherokee dropped out of the war and ceded territory to North Carolina for an unspecified “amount of goods.” After the British signed the Treaty of Paris with the United States in 1783, North Carolina was free to open its new mountain territory, but owed a huge war debt to the Continental Congress. To pay these debts, North Carolina offered land grants as payment to soldiers of good standing.

Colonel Samuel Davidson, born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1736, was the first to bring his family to settle west of the mountains in North Carolina. Davidson built a log cabin at the foot of Jones Mountain along Christian Creek in the Swannanoa Valley in 1784. Samuel's father was General John Davidson who had fought with George Washington during the French and Indian War and had commanded the supply train for General Rutherford's expedition against the Cherokee. Perhaps his family's history and the nearby ruins of a Cherokee village known as “Swannano Old Town” gave Samuel confidence; in any event, he underestimated the Cherokee. A band of Cherokee hunters removed the bell from Samuel's horse and lured him into the woods where they killed him. Upon hearing a gunshot, Samuel's wife fled on foot with her baby and female slave to Davidson's Fort (now Old Fort). Her 16-mile journey in the dark through the mountain wilderness to the nearest white-settlement documents the determination of these early settlers.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Early History of Western North Carolina

Before the Revolutionary War the population in North Carolina was expanding. Expansion was not limited to the Cape Fear region. Migration from three directions increased the population of the back country, and other precincts--henceforth designated counties--were formed by mid-century (by 1750): Onslow, Edgecombe, Northampton, Granville, Johnston, Anson, and Duplin. For an animated map that shows the development of North Carolina's counties go to: County Development Map. By the early 1730s land along some of the western streams had also been granted to speculators.

The most dramatic influx of people was from the north, particularly from Pennsylvania via the Great Wagon Road, the name given to a series of heavily used trails through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the Carolina Piedmont. As early as the 1730s Ulster Scots--that is, Scots who had lived for a time in northern Ireland--began making their way southward from Pennsylvania, and their numbers increased in the following decades. Descendants of German families used the same route to locate good lands in the Piedmont, particularly along the Yadkin River. By the end of Colonial Governor Arthur Dobbs's term (1764), North Carolina's estimated population of 130,000 was scattered as far as the Blue Ridge.

For early North Carolina settlers pushing west, Indians were a problem. In the western Piedmont, the Catawbas numbered about three hundred fighting men in 1761, but they were forced into a reservation just over the boundary in South Carolina. The Cherokees in the mountains posed a more formidable problem. Noting in 1758 that the Cherokees had allied themselves with the French against the British, Governor Dobbs chastened the colonists for "their visible Neglect of the original native Inhabitants, by neither attempting to civilize, nor convert them to our holy Religion," and proclaimed a day of fasting and prayer for victory in the war with the French and Indians.

Two years later, Colonel James Grant led British and South Carolina forces to victory over the Cherokees near present-day Franklin, and the parties signed a peace treaty in 1761. The king issued a proclamation prohibiting white settlement of lands beyond the crest of the mountains (Blue Ridge), but it was not until 1767 that Governor Tryon himself participated in a survey of the Indian boundary and proclaimed that whites who crossed the line would "not only expose their Families and Effects to the Depredations of the Indians, but also deprive themselves of the Protection of this Government." In the turmoil of the next few years [decades], whites conveniently ignored the proclamation. "Manifest destiny" was already a part of the European settlement of North Carolina.

The young state of North Carolina faced a problem on its frontier created by white encroachment on Indian land. This was further compounded by the presence of traders, Indian agents, and missionaries. After suffering a crippling defeat by American forces in the Revolutionary War, the Cherokee Indians were confined by treaties to a small area in the southern Appalachians. With reduced hunting grounds, the Indians began to change their life-style by living a more settled life on small farms. Traders and Indian agents helped to introduce them to many of the comforts enjoyed by whites. The legislature abandoned the directive of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 prohibiting settlement beyond the crest of the Blue Ridge--leading to bloodshed on both sides. In 1776 John ("One Eye") Davidson was killed west of the Cherokee boundary determined by Governor Tryon in 1767; and when, in the fall of the next year, pioneer settler Samuel Davidson constructed a cabin at the foot of Jones Mountain near the Swannanoa River, the Cherokees promptly murdered him.

Source: North Carolina Through Four Centuries, William S. Powell (1989) at 239.

However, it was not until after the Revolutionary War that whites became serious about establishing settlements west of the Blue Ridge. For the sad tale of one attempt in 1784 see Death of Samuel Davidson.

Recall that during the years leading up to the Revolutionary War (1760s and early 1770s), Hillsborough in Orange County was considered part of the "backcountry." The region further west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains was the "frontier." The colonial governors of North Carolina during this period were Tryon and Martin.

Near the close of the summer of 1776, he raised and commanded an army of two thousand four hundred men against the Cherokee Indians. After being reinforced by the Guilford Regiment, under Colonel James Martin, and by the Surry Regiment under Colonel Martin Armstrong, at Fort McGahey, General Rutherford crossed the" Blue Ridge," or Alleghany mountains, at Swannanoa Gap, near the western base of which the beautiful Swannanoa river (" nymph of beauty") takes its rise. After reaching the French Broad he passed down and over that stream at a crossing-place which to this day bears the name of the " War Ford." He then passed up the valley of "Hominy Creek," leaving Pisgah Mountain on the left, and crossed Pigeon River a little below the mouth of East Fork. He then passed through the mountains to Richland Creek, above the present town of Waynesville; ascended the creek and crossed the Tuckaseegee River at Indian town. Pursuing his course, he crossed the Cowee Mountain, where he had a small engagement with the enemy, in which one of his men was wounded. As the Indians carried off their dead and wounded, their losses could not be ascertained. Thence he marched to the " Middle Towns," on the Tennessee river, where, on the 14th of September, he met General Williamson with troops from South Carolina on the same mission of subduing the Indians.

In skirmishes at Valley town, Ellajay, and near Franklin, General Rutherford lost three men, but he completely subdued the Indians. He then returned home by the same route, since known as" Rutherford's Trace." The Rev. James Hall, of Iredell county, accompanied this expedition as chaplain.

The uniforms of the officers and men was a hunting shirt of domestic, trimmed with cotton: their arms were rifles. and none knew better how to use them. Many of the hardy sons of the west there experienced their first essay in arms, and their bravery was nobly maintained afterward at King's Mountain, the Cowpens, and elsewhere in the South.

Griffith Rutherford was a resident of Lunenburg County, Virginia in 1748 and 1749. He lived as a close neighbor to his cousin James Rutherford and James' son William. In 1751 his name appears on a deed transfer of one acre of land for a cemetery. At this time, he was associated with William Weakley of Lunenburg County, VA., having witnessed his will on September 23, 1752. Griffith later came to North Carolina influenced by the good climate, soil and relative peacefulness of the Catawba Indians. Another factor which encouraged his migration to North Carolina was the laxity of North Carolina laws in comparison with those of Virginia on the subject of religion. In this way, Griffith and other Scots-Irish passed through the vacant lands in Virginia and made homes for themselves in western North Carolina. As early as 1740, a few families were already located on the Hico, Eno, and Haw rivers in the territory just east of Rowan.

By the year 1745, the Scots-Irish had established themselves in the fertile and well-watered area between the Yadkin and the Catawba. Previous to 1750 their settlements were scattered throughout the region from Virginia to Georgia. The Scots-Irish settled mainly in the country west of the Yadkin. Among these emigrants were Griffith's near kin and friends; the Nesbits, Davidsons, Moores and Rutherfords all originally from the Roxburghshire area of Scotland. Griffith Rutherford married Mary Elizabeth Graham in 1754 in Rowan Co., North Carolina. One of Griffiths daughters, Jane, married Capt. James Cathey, the son of John Cathey and Elizabeth Pickney. His daughter Blanche married Francis Locke of Rowan Co NC. The Grahams and Catheys were kinsman long before they made it to Rowan Co. Another close relative was Capt. William Moore, the "first white man to settle west of the Blue Ridge". Capt. Moore was with his brother-in-law, Griffith Rutherford, when that officer came through Buncombe in 1776 on his way to punish the Cherokees. He was a captain in one of Rutherford's companies. He, along with Griffith, had to leave his new home in North Carolina for the Revolutionary War, in which both served gallantly.

The following is from Sketches of Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical, C. L. Hunter (1877) at 328:

"At the commencement of the Revolutionary war the territory now lying on and near the eastern base of the Blue Ridge chain of mountains, constituted the borders of civilization, and suffered frequently from marauding bands of Cherokee Indians, the great scourge of Western North Carolina. The whole country west of Tryon county (afterward Lincoln) was sparsely settled with the families of adventurous individuals, who, confronting all dangers, had carved out homes in the mountains and raised up hardy sons, deeply imbued with the spirit of liberty, prepared to go forth, at a moment's warning, to fight the battles of their country."

Sources

North Carolina Illustrated, 1524-1984, H. G. Jones (1983).

General Griffith Rutherford, Gary Rutherford Harding (2004).

Sketches of Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical, C. L. Hunter (1877).



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Saturday, February 6, 2010

James McConnell Smith Will Litigation

Litigation and Legislation. James McConnell Smith was the first white child born west of the Blue Ridge, in Buncombe county, but he will be remembered longer than many because of his will. He died December 11, 1853 [18 May 1856], leaving a will by which he devised to his daughter, Elizabeth A., wife of J. H. Gudger certain real estate in Asheville, "to her sole and separate use and benefit for and during her natural life, with remainder to such children as she may leave surviving her, and those representing the interest of any that may die leaving children."[1] A petition was filed in the Superior court asking for an order to sell this property, and such an order was made and several lots were sold with partial payments made of the purchase money, when a question was raised as to the power of the court to order the sale of the property so devised. In Miller, ex parte (90 N. C. Reports, p.625), the Supreme court held that land so devised could "not be sold for partition during the continuance of the estate of the life tenant; for, until the death of the life tenant, those in remainder cannot be ascertained." The sales so made, were, therefore, void.

But years passed and some of the property became quite valuable, while another part of it, being unimproved, was nonproductive, and a charge upon the productive portion. But there seemed to be no remedy till the city of Asheville condemned a portion of the productive part for the widening of College Street. The question then arose as to how the money paid by the city for the land so appropriated to public use should be applied. On this question the Supreme court decided in Miller V. Asheville (112 N. C. Reports, 759), that the money so paid by way of damages should be substituted for the realty, and upon the happening of the contingency (death of the life tenant) be divided among the parties entitled in the same manner as the realty would have been if left intact.

Buncombe County Courthouse

The following recollections of incidents and members of the bar are taken from Dr. J. S. T. Baird's sparkling "Reminiscences" [about 1840] published in the Asheville Saturday Register in 1905.

Court House

"The court house was a brick building two stories high and about thirty- six by twenty-four feet in dimensions. The upper room was used for court purposes and was reached by a flight of stone steps about eight feet wide, and on the front outside of the building, commencing at the corners at the ground and rising gradually till they formed a wide landing in front of and on a level with the door of the court room. The judge's bench or pulpit, as some called it, was a sort of box open at the top and one side, with plank in front for the judge to lay his "specks" on. He entered it from the open space in the rear and sat on an old stool-bottom chair, which raised his head barely above the board.' There was room enough in this little box for such slim men as Judge J. L. Bailey, David Caldwell, David Settle and others of their build, but when such men as Judge Romulus M. Saunders came along he filled it plumb 'up.' Most of the lower story was without floors or door shutters and furnished comfortable quarters for Mr. James M. Smith's hogs and occasionally a few straggling cattle that could not find shelter elsewhere.


Western North Carolina: A History from 1730-1913, John Preston Arthur (1914) at 389.
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Newton Academy (Asheville, North Carolina)

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina

Newton Academy Cemetery
History of the Newton Academy School and Cemetery by Viola S. Stevens for Local History Class at AB Tech (Dr. Harley Jolley) 1974 (12 pages)

A History of the Newton Academy School and Cemetery

In 1737 the State of North Carolina granted to James and William Davidson a tract of land comprised of 640 acres lying along each side of the Swannanoa River, including areas now known as Biltmore, Biltmore Forest, and Kenilworth. This grant was recorded as the Savannah River Grant. William Forster, the second of the name had come into Buncombe (then known as Burke or Rutherford Counties), in 1786 from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia having served as a patriot soldier from Virginia during the Revolution. ln 1790 this same William Forster, II, purchased from the Davidson's that tract of land consisting of 640 acres -- the Savannah [Swannanoa] River Grant. For this land, William Forster, II, paid the Davidson's a sum of 200 pounds. This deed is recorded in Book 1, page 75 in the Buncombe County Deed Book. This William Forster had been born in Ireland in 1748 of Scotch ancestry. His parents were William Forster, Sr. (sometimes written Forrester] and his wife, Mary. William Forster, II, had married a Scotswoman, Elizabeth Heath about 1770. She accompanied him to North Carolina in 1786 along with two sons and four daughters. [These sons] Thomas Forster born in 1774 and William Forster, III, born in 1776, were to play an important role in the early development of Buncombe County end Asheville. "William Forster, II, built his home on the north side of the Swannanoa River on what is now the northern end of the Swannanoa Viaduct at the foot of the hill. His land adjoined that of Col. Daniel Smith and these two men were the first white men to live in what is now the City of Asheville.

Swannanoa Valley was wide and fertile and yielded plentifully of grains and vegetables. William Forster had extensive orchards and grazing lands - according to Dr. Foster A, Sondley, "he lived in frontier luxury and benevolence. In 1790 his household consisted of himself, his wife, two sons, Thomas and William, III. Aforementioned, six daughters, and three Negro slaves. At one time, when he was ill, William Forster, II, dreamed that he was buried under a particular tree on the hill where is now The Newton Academy Cemetery. He died in 1830 and is buried near the spot that he chose. His wife Elizabeth had died three years before in 1827 and his son, William, III, died in 1826. He is buried near his mother and father, as is his wife, Fannie Lucinda Ballew of near Bridgewater, Burke County, North Carolina. Markers have been erected in recent years to honor both William Forster, II, and William Forster, III, Public Benefactor.

In 1793, on land owned by William Forster, II, a school to be known as Union Hill was organized by Robert Henry, a versatile and well-educated man who had recently come into the Buncombe area along with many other pioneers and Veterans of the Revolution. People in the area yearned for spiritual and educational opportunities, and in 1793 on a knoll covered with magnificent oaks and pines, Robert Henry and his patrons erected a log school building, the first one in the State west of the Blue Ridge mountains. Both boys and girls attended the school coming on horseback from the various farming communities to take advantage of "book learning" offered by Mr. Henry at Union Hill. In 1797, Robert Henry resigned as head of Union Hill to begin the practice of law. It was then that George Newton, age 32, and recently arrived from Rutherford County to become educational leader of the newly formed village of Asheville, and was appointed teacher of Union Hill to succeed Mr. Henry. Almost at once Mr. Newton received a call from three congregations -Bee Tree, Swannanoa (Asheville) and Reems Creek to serve them as minister. Thus, George Newton began a residence of seventeen years in the Asheville area as its teacher and minister. His service seemed to please these predominantly Presbyterian people who demanded educated ministers and a church-centered education for their children. Under George Newton's leadership this two-fold service was reflected in every phase of community life. He was an outstanding teacher with a rich background of information with the ability to impart his knowledge and to inspire his pupils. Under his leadership, Union Hill became a Boys' School and in 1805, by an act of Legislature, it became Union Hill Academy. Four years later, in 1809, this name was changed to Newton Academy honoring the highly-esteemed teacher-minister, George Newton. The influence of George Newton reached far beyond the confines of Newton Academy. Many of his pupils became leaders in shaping the development of the town, county, State, and Nation. Among these men are the names of David Lowry Swain, President of the University at Chapel Hill and later Governor of the State, B. F. Perry, ,who became Governor of South Carolina, Gen. Robert B. Vance - many native Ashevillians recall stories told by the parents or an ancestor who attended Newton Academy School.

Sometime about 1800 William Forster, II, conveyed to his sons Thomas and William, III, (sometimes called Jr.) about equal portions of his 640 acre tract (originally the Davidson's Savannah [Swannanoa] River Grant). Thomas received his land south of the Swannanoa River and William, III's tract was north of the Swannanoa. This parcel of 320 acres included the land on which is located the Newton Academy School and Graveyard (see Deed Book H, p. 138, Buncombe County Courthouse). In 1803, William Forster, III, (sometimes called Jr.) made a conveyance of eight acres of land lying east of what is now Biltmore Avenue, south of the entrance to the present Forest Hill Drive, to a group of Trustees as a gift "For the further maintenance and support of the Gospel and teaching, a Latin and English School, or either as may be thought most proper from time to time by the said Trustees or a majority of them or their successors in office." The Trustees were the following:

Andrew Erwin, Daniel Smith, John Patton, Edmund Sams, James Blakely, William Forster, Sr. (II), Thomas Foster, Jr., William Whitson, William Gudger, Samuel Murray, Joseph Henry, David Vance, William Brittain, George Davidson, John Davidson, and the Rev. George Newton. William Forster, III, reserved to himself an equal interest and privilege with the above-named Trustees and to be considered as one of them in all proceedings as long as he continues to act as a Trustee, with a provision for substitution of a Trustee when one died or refused or was unable to act and a provision that there shall be at all times eleven Trustees in the neighborhood of said school (institution) who live convenient enough to send their children there. This deed is recorded in Deed Book 4, pages 669-671 of the Buncombe County Deed Books.

In 1809, while George Newton was still in charge of the school, the same William Forster, III, conveyed an additional three and one-fourth acres adjoining the original eight acres on the south, "including the brick house now building" to named persons, Trustees of the Union Hill Academy, established by an Act of Assembly a seminary of learning in Chapter 43, year 1805. This additional land was to be used for the same purpose as stipulated in the deed of 1803. This 1809 deed is recorded in Book 25, page 111, in the Buncombe County Courthouse. At this time, 1809, there were five changes made in the body of Trustees for Newton Academy, viz., George Swain, Benjamin Hawkins, John McLane, William Moore, and Samuel Davidson. The names of five original Trustees no longer appeared, viz., Andrew Erwin, William Whitson, Daniel Smith, James Blakely, and Joseph Henry. Thus the original number of seventeen Trustees was continued.

In this same year of 1809, the original log house was removed and a brick house was built. Thus far I have found no record of who built it or how it was financed. Since the school seemed to be prospering, perhaps the fees of students paid for the building. In this year, 1809, the North Carolina General Assembly by an official Act changed the name to Newton Academy. There for many years people living nearby sent their children to school, attended preaching and buried their dead. The school became famous in this area and it was for the benefit of the institution that the Newton Academy Lottery was authorized by an Act of the General Assembly in 1910 for the purpose of enabling the Trustees of Newton Academy near the town of Asheville to complete the necessary buildings belonging to the same and also to establish a Female Academy in the town of Asheville. Listed as managers are: David Vance; George Swain; John Patton; George Newton; and Andrew Erwin.

These men were all members of the original Board of Trustees of Newton Academy (Union Hill), The Lottery did not succeed owing to the extreme scarcity of cash The Raleigh Star of July 29, 1809, reported a July 4 Celebration in Asheville, Buncombe County, in which students from Union Hill Academy took part: "About eleven o'clock in the forenoon the students of Union Hill Academy under the tuition of the Rev. George Newton marched into town in handsome order, followed by their teacher and the Trustees of the Seminary, and had an exhibition at the home of Maj. Andrew Erwin where a stage had been set up. The scene was beautiful; about 40 of the students neatly clad in homespun garb, exhibited various characters on the stage, while the expressive countenances of several hundred of spectators bore testimony that their performances were such as did honor to themselves and their worthy Preceptor." - Copied from Charles L. Coon, North Carolina Schools and Academies, 1790-1840, 1915. As a minister George Newton was respected for his dedicated service, but his warm and understanding personality caused him to be revered and loved by his pupils and the community. He preached not only to his Newton Academy Congregation, but to congregations at Patton's Meeting House (the original place of the Swannanoa Presbyterian Church), Reems Creek, and Cane Creek churches. Bishop Francis Asbury of the Methodist Church, making his annual tours through Western North Carolina, sometimes spent the night at the Newton home. Bishop Asbury paid the minister a high compliment by saying that he was "almost a Methodist" possessing placidness and solemnity. Said Bishop Asbury, "Newton is a man after my own mind." In 1814, after seventeen years of service, George Newton resigned his post in this area and moved to Shelbyville, Tennessee to become Principal of the Dickinson Academy and minister of the Presbyterian Church. He is buried in Shelbyville, Tennessee and his epitaph reads: "He preached this glorious Gospel...He testified to all repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ...His memorial is written on many hearts."

In August of 1817, a Mr. Francis Porter answered a call from Asheville and Reems (Rims) Creek for his ministerial labors. He also assumed the position as Principal of Newton Academy, and the family lived in the house on the campus, which in 1803 had been provided by William Forester, III, as a residence for the Preacher of the Gospel. In 1823 the Rev. Mr. Porter at his own request to the Concord Presbytery was relieved of his duties including that of Principal of Newton Academy. "Mr. Porter was followed by the late William Smith of Georgia familiarly known as 'Long Billy." This Academy was justly famous in that region, and educated in whole or in part many of the prominent citizens of that country beyond the Blue Ridge and elsewhere." Newton Academy continued to serve as a meeting house for the Asheville Presbyterian Church until 1841, at which time the new church building was opened. The Newton Academy continued to function, though later principals seemed not to have received the acclaim that was afforded the earlier ones.

Dr. Foster Sondley in his History of Buncombe County says that Col. Stephens Lee, a South Carolinian and a West Point Graduate, came to the Asheville area in 1846 and established a private school. Col. Lee served as an officer in the Confederate Army.

After the war he returned to this area and in 1867, for one session he conducted the school at Newton Academy. He was assisted by a Presbyterian minister, Rev. Mr. Sturgeon. In 1858, a new two-story brick building was erected by Ephraim Clayton, a prominent local builder and businessman. There was a civil action pertaining to this building in the June, 1886, term of Buncombe Superior Court, viz., Ephriam Clayton v. The Trustees of Newton Academy. The action was to recover the value of the labor done for the Defendants in building the academy, known as Newton Academy, in the County of Buncombe, about the year 1858. The Plaintiff then introduced Mr. W.W. McDowell, a banker and prominent citizen of Asheville, who stated that he went out on the streets of Asheville, and without the solicitation of anyone, and because he felt an interest in the Newton Academy School (his father having been educated there and he was desirous of sending his sons there), he procured a subscription from the citizens to build the present building, and that shortly afterwards there was a public meeting in the Courthouse in Asheville to consider the necessary steps to put up the building. At that meeting many persons were present, including Mr. M. Patton, one of the original incorporators. W. W. McDowell, M. Patton, and W. J. Alexander were appointed to make contracts for the erection of the building. They were instructed to offer the citizens subscription list to the Contractors for the building, and they did so. The subscriptions were all good, about $3,600.00 in amount, and since it only required approximately $2,800,00 to complete the building, the remainder of the subscription after paying for the work done by Clayton and his firm, was spent in putting up a teacher's house on the grounds.

Superior Court ruled that the building was done by a movement on the part of the citizens. The Trustees of Newton Academy had nothing to do with it. They never received the work. There was no meeting of the Trustees of Newton Academy from 1847 to 1874. Many were dead. In 1874 or some time afterward, the Legislature appointed new Trustees, at which time there was a meeting and new organization. The Plaintiff submitted to a Judgment of non-suit and appealed to the Supreme Court. Mr. George A. Shuford, attorney for the Plaintiff, and Mr. Charles A. Moore, attorney for the Defendant. The Supreme Court ruled that there was no error and that the Judgement of the Superior Court was affirmed. A report of the opinion in this case may be found in North Carolina Records, Book 95, page 298 - "Clayton vs. trustees.

An unusual transaction took place in 1867 on July 3rd. The Superior Court approved a Judgment brought by Ephraim Clayton, builder, against Nancy Forster Stevens, she being the daughter of William Forster, III, donor of the property and also named as Defendants were: M. Patton, W. J. Alexander, and W. W, McDowell, members of the same Building Committee that had authorized the erection of the new Newton Academy School in 1858. This present suit of Ephraim Clayton, builder, was to satisfy a claim for $20.00 for repairs made on the roof of the building. Sheriff J. M. Young ordered the sale of the entire Newton School property, including the buildings and this v/as dorm on July 3, 1867. Mr. George W. Young bid in this property for the sum of $20.00 and assigned his bid to the party of the second part, viz., Nancy Forster Stevens. This transaction is on record in Deed Book 150 at page 536, Buncombe County Courthouse. This deed was kept in the possession of Nancy Forster Stevens until her death in 1884. She gave the deed to her son, Jesse Stevens, who had it registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds for Buncombe County, N. C. on September 7, 1907, in Book 252, page 228. By this act, Nancy Forster Stevens carried out her father's (Williarn Forster,III) desire with regard to this property which he had donated in 1S03. The deed for retaining the name of Newton Academy School is registered in Deed Book 247, page 272.

In 1907, the Trustees leased the school to Margaretta A. Campbell, wife of J. M.. Campbell for a term of 20 years beginning January 15, 1907. The agreement was that a school be established and taught on the property eight months each year and should this school not be established and maintained, the property would revert to the Trustees.

This arrangement ended in a litigation of J. M. Campbell against the school committee, composed of G. A. Mears, J. M. Brookshire, M. L. Reed, H. C. Davidson, H. A. Penland, T. M. Porter, and D. M. Stevens. Apparently the school was closed about this time because in 1921, the Trustees of the Newton Academy entered into an agreement with the City of Asheville, whereby the city would lease the property from the Trustees for a period of 75 years with an option of renewal at the end of that period. The Trustees at that time included, Mark L. Reed, N. A. Penland, James M. Brookshire, Henry 0. Davidson, J. E. Stevens, C. M. Stevens, and W. L. Gash. They stated that they held title to the land described in trust and for a period of 20 years have been unable to operate the school for lack of funds. That the City desires to erect a new school building for teaching English Grammar and other subjects and so leases to the City of Asheville for a period of 75 years from December 1, 1921, the aforesaid property for the consideration of $5.00 and other considerations as follows.

The City agrees to begin the erection within six months of a graded school building, also to erect around the burial grounds known as Newton Academy Cemetery, a substantial fence, and will keep, during the period of the lease, the fence in good and substantial repair at all times and the City shall clean off the burying ground each year of all unsightly underbrush and needs,

The City was granted an option of renewal at the end of the 75 year period in 1996. The school was built and a bronze plaque in the building contains the following inscription:

Public Graded School - Erected 1922

Gallatin Roberts Mayor
R. L. Fitzpatrick Commissioner of Public Safety
R. J. Sherrill Commissioner of Public Works
W. L. Brooker Superintendent of Schools

Advisory Board:

Mrs. Curtis Bynum
W. Vance Brown
C. C. Worley
R. H. McDuffie
W. M. Smathers

The action taken pertaining to the leasing of the Newton Academy School property to the City of Asheville was taken by a quorum of Trustees present at a special called meeting of the Board of Trustees of Newton Academy. N. A Penland, Chairman, and M. L. Reed, Secretary. The Resolution was approved by John H. Cathey, Clerk of Superior Court. It also bears the signature of Gallatin Roberts, Major, Commissioner of Public Accounts and Finance and by F. L. Condor, Secretary-Treasurer.

In 1941, J. Edgar Stevens became the sole surviving Trustee of the old Newton Academy Trust, and believing that a full board of Trustees should be designated and appointed to carry out the terms and conditions of the said Trust, appointed the following Trustees: Roy Alexander, Dr; Harold Stevens Clark, Mrs. Donald I. Gross, Vernon F. Hemphill, Mrs. Ella Reed Matthews, Miss Mary C. McDowell, Frank H. Sherrill, J. Edgar Stevens, Samuel Merritt Stevens, William H. Stevens, and Charles T. Wilson.

In 1957, the Trustees were Albert S, McLean, Chairman; Dr. J. B. Anderson, Mrs. Donald I. Gross, Mr. Samuel M. Stevens, Mr. Carl Stevens, Mrs. Ella Reed Matthews, Mr. Roy Alexander, and Mr. Charles T. Wilson.

According to Dr. Sondley, Vol. II, History of Buncombe County, page 246: "In neither of the deeds of 1803 or 1809 is any express reference made to a a graveyard. But at that time a church was invariably attended by a burying ground next to the Newton Academy School, also used as a church. Such was plainly the contemporary understanding."

In North Carolina Room of Pack Memorial Library there are some records of the Newton Academy Cemetery and two or more lists of names of people buried there with dates. The lists vary and no list seems to be complete. The most nearly complete one was compiled by Historical Records Survey made in 1939. Dr. Sondley reports in History of Buncombe County that. William Forster, II, of the name had expressed a desire to be buried on the hill where the graveyard now stands under a certain tree. He died in 1830 and he and his wife, Elizabeth Heath, who had died in 1827 are buried on the south end of the cemetery. William Forster, III, son of William Forster, II had died in 1826 and he too is buried near the same place. In this same area is the grave of William Patton who died, in 1818, the father of Col. John Patton. This appears to be the earliest grave. Col. John Patton died in 1831 and he and his wife, Ann Mallory are buried east of William Patton the elder's grave. Col. Daniel Smith, a noted hunter and an American soldier in the Revolution died on May 17, 1824, but he was first buried where Fernihurst now is and moved to Newton Academy Cemetery in 1875. His wife, Mary Davidson is buried beside him as are his son, James McConnell Smith and his wife, Polly Patton, daughter of Col. John Patton. This James McConnell Smith is said to be the first white child born in North Carolina west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The graves of Nancy Forster Stevens and of her husband, Henry Stevens, Jr. are on the hill near the monuments of William Forster, II, and William Forster, III., Public Benefactor. There are a number, of other graves of members of the Stevens family including two of the eight Stevens brothers who fought for the Confederacy. These two are Thomas and Merritt Stevens. There are 28 graves of Confederate soldiers, unmarked except for C. S. A. on the stones marking the graves. On the west slope of the Cemetery are the graves of five Union soldiers who died or were killed perhaps during the Battle of Asheville. On the hill near these Confederate graves stands a tall monument erected in 1903 to the memory of Confederate Soldiers by the Asheville Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy.

George Swain, father of William Lowry Swain is on the hill alone. There is another grave with the name, George N. Popoff, a Hungarian, who died in 1895. He probably was a stone mason or craftsman who came- here to work on the Biltmore House. Near the fence on the southwest stands an appealing angel marking the grave of Charles Neal Goodlake. Mrs. W. D. Roberts of Biltmore says that this is a brother of hers who died very young and that her grandmother and sister are also buried nearby, but that their markers have been removed. Mrs. Roberts also says that she has deeds to these lots.The latest date of a burial in the Newton Academy was Mary Munsey in 1919, according to Historical Records Survey of 1939. Stephen Rice, a Union soldier, presumably, since his epitaph states that he was discharged from the service of the U. S. A. on August 16, 1865 at Knoxville, Tenn. He is listed as having died in 1916. For a hundred years---1818 to 1919---this cemetery was in active use.

There have been many acts of vandalism over the years, stones toppled and many removed. The gate is in need of repair and an entire section of the fence at least five feet wide has been torn apart near the entrance to the school grounds and a used path made across the cemetery. The City indeed has a legal responsibility designated in the formal lease of 1921 with the Trustees to "erect and maintain a substantial fence to prevent trespassing upon said burial grounds by children attending the school, and trespassing and vandalism on the part of the general public, and will keep during the period of this lease, the fence aforementioned in good and substantial repair at all times."

During her lifetime, Mrs. Ella Reed Matthews, whose great-grandfather, William Forster, III, donated this land for school and religious purposes, kept a vigilant eye on the institution. In the 1960's one of the Garden Clubs did extensive planting of bulbs and dogwood trees on the grounds. Mrs. Matthews encouraged and led the movement of her descendants to erect a handsome marker to William Forster, III, Public Benefactor. When the City was lax in carrying out its obligation to take proper care of the cemetery, she went to the city fathers and reminded them of their responsibility, usually obtaining results. Mrs. Matthews died in the early 1960's, having served on the Board of Trustees of Newton Academy since 1941. Her interest and watchful eyes have been missed. Another of her desires was that a marker or plaque be placed somewhere near or on the Newton Academy Building in honor of George Newton for whom the school was named.

Again Newton Academy seems to be on the threshold of a crisis. The number of pupils in attendance is much less than the number that the school can accommodate and there is talk of closing the school. What would the city do with the property? The present lease does not expire until 1996---leaving 22 more years to fulfill the terms of the lease.

The remaining three Trustees, Albert McLean, Chairman, Carl Stevens, and Mrs. Donald I. Gross, having served since 1941, met recently to discuss the situation and to name and approve new Trustees to bring the number to that stipulated in the deeds of 1803 and 1809.

On April 13, 1974, at 2:00 P.M., the Trustees met in the cafeteria of Newton Academy and formally approved the following to the Board of Trustees: John S. Stevens, Chairman, Hugh Stevens, Mrs. Sue Gudger Cable, Same E. Stevens, Mrs. Edward McDowell, Frank Forster Davidson, William B. Johnson, Mrs. Mary Wilson Walker, Richard B. Stevens, Greensboro, N. C,, and Thomas Stevens, Attorney, Durham, North Carolina.

Miss Viola S. Stevens agreed to serve as Secretary for the meeting. The choosing of these Trustees was done in. accordance with the stipulations of the original deed in 1803 of William Forster, III, to the Board of Trustees of Newton Academy.

In the words of Edmund Burke, "People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors,"
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Newton Academy — This school, at which Governor Swain, General R. B. Vance, and other distinguished men received their early education, was founded during the closing years of the last century. B. Smith was the first principal, followed by Rev. F. Porter, who was in turn succeeded by Rev. Geo. Newton, (the founder of the Asheville Presbyterian church,) who gave his name to the institution. After a long and successful career, Newton Academy was suffered to fall into decay. The school was suspended in consequence of the dilapidation of the building and lack of patronage, but was afterwards revived, and the present commodious brick structure erected. It is situated within 100 yards of the old log school-house, and l 1/2 miles south of Asheville court-house. G. W. Snelson is now the principal.

Source: The Asheville City Directory and Gazetteer of Buncombe County for 1883-'84, J. P. Davison, Compiler (1883) at 132.
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History of Buncombe County, North Carolina

The following is from Asheville and Buncombe County, F. A. Sondley; Genesis of Buncombe County, Theodore F. Davidson (1922):

Shortly after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, in 1784, or 1785, settlers from the headwaters of the Catawba and the adjacent country, whose frontier establishment was the blockhouse at Old Fort, began to cross the mountains into the Swannanoa valley. Among the first of these was Samuel Davidson, who came in with his wife and infant child and one female negro slave and settled upon Christian Creek of the Swannanoa, a short distance east of Gudger's Ford near the present railroad station called Azalea. He had been here but a short while when one morning he went out to find his horse. Soon his wife heard the report of guns, and, knowing too well what had happened, she took her child and the servant and made her way along the mountains to the Old Fort. An expedition from there at once set out to avenge the death of Davidson. They found him on the mountain near his cabin, killed and scalped, and buried his body on the spot where it was found and where his grave may still be seen. It is further said that they met and conquered the Indians in a battle fought near the Swannanoa River in that neighborhood or about Biltmore.

Probably it is to this pursuing party that the tradition handed down by John S. Rice as received by him from John Rice, David Nelson and William Rhodes, three hunters and Revolutionary soldiers, relates. It is that, at a time prior to white settlement of the lower Swannanoa Valley, some Cherokees were returning from depredations on the whites and being pursued by the latter, were overtaken at about the Cheesborough Place, a mile above Biltmore, where a fight occurred between the two parties which continued at the canebrakes there at intervals for eleven days, in which many Indians were killed, principally near the ford of Swannanoa River in the neighborhood of the old John Patton House, later known as the Haunted House, where the old Buncombe Turnpike crossed that stream, until the Indians retreated across the French Broad and the fight ended. They crossed the last-named river at a shoal just below the mouth of Swannanoa. During most of this fight the whites encamped at a noted spring just north of Swannanoa River about one hundred yards above the Biltmore Concrete Bridge where there is now a garage. It was an old Indian camping place. The early white hunters in this region went chiefly to the North Fork of Swannanoa.

Soon several white settlements were made on the Swannanoa, the earliest of them being the "Swannanoa Settlement," made in 1784- 1785 by the Alexanders, Davidson and others about the mouth of Bee Tree Creek. A little above that place is the old Edmuns or Jordall Field, the first land cleared by a white man in Buncombe County. Soon another company passed over the Bull Mountain and settled upper Reems Creek, while yet another came in by way of what is now Yancey County, and settled on the lower Reems Creek and Flat Creek. At about the same time, or not long afterward, some of the Watauga people who had been with Sevier on some one of his expeditions against the Indians, settled on the French Broad above and below the mouth of the Swannanoa, and on Hominy Creek; while still other settlements appear to have been effected from upper South Carolina, yet higher up on the French Broad.

At the treaty of Long Island of Holston, the North Carolina commissioners entered into certain agreements with the Overhill Cherokees, but in their report recommended to the State a treaty with the Cherokees of the Middle Towns and Valley Towns by which might be secured the intervening territory now constituting the Asheville Plateau. For such a treaty the State began to make arrangements and, in anticipation of it, provided in 1783 for the granting of land as far west as Pigeon River. It was under this statute of 1783 that the settlements just mentioned were formed.
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At this time the Swannanoa River was recognized as the dividing line between Burke County on the north and Rutherford County on the south. In 1785 Joseph McDowell, Jr., ran this dividing line, "Beginning at the west point of the line that formerly divided the above said counties, thence west to the Indian boundary as in the Act of Assembly of the seventeenth of May one thousand seven hundred and eighty three," that is, to Pigeon River. It crossed Swannanoa River about half a mile above Biltmore. In 1788 this survey was adopted by the Legislature.
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In 1792, while David Vance from the upper Reems Creek settlement was a member of the Legislature from Burke County, and Col. William Davidson, who lived on the south side of the Swannanoa, about two miles from Asheville, represented Rutherford County in the same body, the County of Buncombe was formed of the western portions of Burke and Rutherford counties, with its western borders fixed by the line of the territory which two or three years before North Carolina bad ceded to the United States, and which was afterward created into the State of Tennessee.

In April, 1792, there was organized at the residence of Col. William Davidson, which stood on the south bank of the Swannanoa, about one-half mile above its mouth, at a place subsequently called the Gum Spring, the County of Buncombe, in accordance with the provisions of the act creating that county. At this place was transacted for one year the business of the County of Buncombe, until in April, 1793, the county seat was fixed where it has ever since remained.
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The county court, which, at its first session in April, 1792, and at all its subsequent sessions up to and including that of April, 1793, had met at the house of Colonel William Davidson on the southern side of Swannanoa River at the Gum Spring above mentioned, but which, according to tradition, was so numerously attended at its first session as to render it necessary, after organization, to adjourn to Davidson's barn and complete that meeting there, began its meeting on the third Monday of July, 1793, to sit "at the court house in Morristown." At their last preceding meeting on Tuesday of that session, which began "on third Monday in April, A Domini, 1793," the following entry appears upon their minutes:

Ordered by the court that William Davidson be allowed 25 pounds for the use of house to hold court in cite for Court house settled and fixed upon.

State of North Carolina, Buncombe County, s s.

We the commissioners appointed by Act of 1792 to settle and place the court house, prison and stocks, do certify that WE have agreed and hereby do agree that the court house shall stand as near to the big branch between the Indian graves, and Swannanoa, not exceeding .or extending more North than the Indian graves and nearest and best
situation to the ford of said Branch, where the present wagon road crosses the same-the stocks and prison to be convenient to the court house.

John Dillard
George Baker
Austin Crote
William Morrison

Witness,

Philip Hoodenpile.
Named, Morristown.


Ordered by the court that the place fixed upon by the commissioners, for erecting the court house prison and Stocks be named Morristown.

Court adjourned till the third Monday in July, to meet at Morristown.
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The second county officer elected on the first day of the first session of Buncombe County Court was "John Davidson (son of James)," register of deeds, or, as it was called in the minutes, "register." On the same day Thomas Davidson was elected entrytaker,
or, as it was called in the minutes, "entry officer of claims for lands." Next day John Dillard was elected "Stray master or Ranger." It was on this last-mentioned day that Reuben Wood was elected county solicitor, or, as the minutes called it, "attorney for the State in Buncombe County."

At this time the Superior courts did not meet in Buncombe County, but were held for what was then called the District of Morgan at Morganton in Burke County, and were known as• Morgan Superior Court. To constitute part of the jury at that court five Buncombe men were required by law to be chosen regularly by the County Court of
Buncombe County. The first of these jurors from Buncombe so chosen were selected at the July term 1792, of the last mentioned court and ordered to "serve at Morgan Supr. Court, Septr. Term as the Venire from Buncombe." They consisted of Matthew Patton, William Davidson, David Vance, Lambert Clayton and James Brittain.
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A list of thse sales made by John Burton, interesting as showing the order in which the town grew and who were its first inhabitants, is here given:

. . . .

Col. William Davidson, lot 21, for - pounds, April 24, 1795, record book 2, page 169.

Colonel William Davidson was the man at whose house the county was organized as above stated. He was a relative of Gen. William Davidson, who succeeded Griffith Rutherford in the generalship when the latter was captured at Camden and who was killed on February 1, 1781, at Cowan's Ford of the Catawba River in attempting to prevent Lord Cornwallis from crossing with his army. Colonel William Davidson was also a relative of the Samuel Davidson who was killed by the Indians as above stated, and of Major William Davidson, a brother of Samuel and who with his brother-in-law, John Alexander, and his nephew, James Alexander, son of his sister Rachel, and with Daniel Smith, a son-in-law, became among the first settlers in Buncombe County. The portion of it where Major Davidson settled was then in Burke County at the mouth of Bee Tree.

Major William Davidson is sometimes confounded with Colonel William Davidson, who was the first representative of Buncombe. County in the State Senate to which he was sent in 1792, and removed to Tennessee where he was prominent in public affairs and where he died. It was at the house of Colonel William Davidson that Buncombe County was organized. Colonel William Davidson was born in Virginia and served in the American cause through the Revolutionary War.

Major William Davidson took a prominent part in the preparations made by the North Carolinians for the battle of Kings Mountain. These thwarted Ferguson in his raid which ended in that battle. During the Revolutionary War Major William Davidson lived in what became Burke County on Catawba River near the town now called Greenlee. His place was named The Glades. Colonel Ferguson visited his home there on the raid into North Carolina by Ferguson, which resulted in the Battle of Kings Mountain and in the defeat and death of that distinguished British officer. After that war, Major William Davidson removed with some relatives and friends to the mouth of Bee Tree Creek of Swannanoa River, then in Burke County, but now in Buncombe County, where, in 1784-1785, they formed the famous "Swannanoa Settlement" and where he resided for the remainder of his life and died and is buried.

Johhn Patton, lots 16, 2, and 10, for 20 pounds, October 15, 1795, record book 2, page 84.

Colonel John Patton was born April 4, 1765, and was one of Buncombe's first settlers. He removed to that county while it was yet Burke and Rutherford and settled first where Fernihurst now stands. From here he removed to the Whitson place, on Swannanoa above the old water works. After residing here for some while he returned to the vicinity of his former home, and bought and fixed his residence upon the Colonel William Davidson place, where the first County Court was held. At this place he continued to reside until his death on March 17. 183l. He it was who formally opened on April 16, 1792, the first
County Court. On the minutes of that court, immediately after the justices were sworn and took their seats, appears this entry:

"Silence being commanded and proclamation being made the court was opened in due and solemn form of law by John Patton specialy appointed for that purpose."

At that term, on the same day, he was duly elected to the then very important office of county surveyor. Near his new residence he built, many years ago, a bridge across the Swannanoa River, which remained until about the beginning of the war against the Southern States. His house was for many years famous as a stopping place, being upon the Buncombe Turnpike road, and he raised here a large family of children, many of whose descendants are yet living in Asheville. One of his sons, the late Montraville Patton, represented Buncombe County in the House of Commons in 1836, 1838 and 1840, and subsequently in 1874-1875, and after being for many years a citizen and prominent merchant of Asheville, and in later life the clerk of the Inferior Court of Buncombe County, died in 1896, highly respected by every one who knew him as a kind hearted but determined man of unswerving integrity and unpretentious usefulness. The late residence of Colonel John Patton stood on the southern side of the Swannanoa, at the ford about half a mile above its mouth. until within the last thirty years, when, after bearing for some time the name of the Haunted House, it was removed as being no longer tenantable. His wife, who was, before her marriage. Miss Ann Mallory, a Virginian, was born February 12, 1768, and died on August 31, 1855. She, with her husband, are buried at Newton Academy graveyard.

James Davidson, lot 26, for 6 pounds, April 21, 1796, record book 2, page 381.
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Colonel David Vance was born at or near Winchester, Virginia, about 1745. He was the oldest son of Samuel Vance and was descended on the paternal side from the DeVaux family of Normandy, the name DeVaux being corrupted into Vance. About 1774 David
Vance came to North Carolina and settled in what was then Rowan County, on Catawba River, later Burke County, where he married Priscilla Brank.. In the progress of the Revolutionary War, David Vance served in the American army in the north and rose to the rank of ensign and was at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown and
at Valley Forge. Later, in the South, he saw service in the same cause at the battles of Musgrove Mill and Kings Mountain and became a captain. After t'hat war ended he removed to what is now Buncombe County, but was then Burke County, and settled at what was later Vanceville on upper Reems Creek. In 1786 and 1791 he was a member of the North Carolina House of Commons from Burke County and in 1791 introduced in that body a bill to create the County of Buncombe. In 1792 he became and for years continued to be the clerk of the County Court of that new county, on whose records his most beautiful penmanship appears.

He and General Joseph McDowell and Mussendine Matthews as commissioners for North Carolina, superintended in 1799 the running of the line between North Carolina and Tennessee from the southern border of Virginia southward across Pigeon River. It was in consequence of some conversations while engaged in that work that he wrote recollections of the Battle of Kings Mountain, published many years after his death. He became a colonel of militia. He died in 1813 and was buried on his farm in Reems Creek. Doctor Robert B. Vance, once a representative in Congress from Western North Carolina, who was killed in a duel with Hon. Samuel P. Carson, was a son of Colonel David Vance, and the late Zebulon B. Vance, governor of North Carolina and United States senator, the late General Robert B. Vance, Congressman from Western North Carolina, and the late Colonel Allen T. Davidson, member from Western North Carolina in the Congress of the Confederate States, were grandsons of Colonel David Vance.
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When John Jarrett bought the Sams ferry he kept it for many years as a toll ferry, and it became known as Jarrett's Ferry. Subsequently he sold it with the adjoining land to the late James M. Smith, who built a bridge at the place, which was known for many years, and up till a very late period, as Smith's Bridge. This he continued to keep up as a toll bridge until the latter part of his life, when he sold the bridge to the county, by which it was made a public or county bridge. The eastern end of the bridge was somewhat higher up the river than the eastern end of the iron bridge which succeeded it, but the western ends of the two were at the same place. In 1881 this bridge was removed to make room for an iron structure, which was destroyed by a flood in 1916, but its old foundations were yet plainly to be seen for many years.
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On the second day of its first session the County Court ordered a jury to layoff a road from Colonel William Davidson's on Swannanoa to Benjamin Davidson's Creek (Davidson's River), which crossed French Broad a little below the mouth of Avery's Creek, passed Mills River, and went up Boydsteens (now incorrectly called Boilston) Creek;
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When Thomas Foster built his bridge across the Swannanoa early in the last century, he constructed a road from a point on the hill about opposite to the Newton Academy near the entrance to the Perry place to his bridge, and thence by his house and up to the southwest so as to join the old road that ran from the Gum Spring at or near the Steam Saw Mill place above mentioned. By this time large numbers of hogs, cattle and horses had begun to be driven from Kentucky and Tennessee by way of Asheville into South Carolina and Georgia, and there was great profit in buying up the large quantities of com, then raised in this county, and feeding it to this stock. Col. John Patton soon after opened a road from the southern limits of Asheville through the grounds of the Normal and Collegiate Institute, to the west of that building, and immediately in front of the Oakland Heights building, and on by way of the entrance of Fernihurst to his place beyond the Swannanoa, and thence to the old road which ran by the Gum Spring, at a point about a mile further on. The rivalry between him and Thomas Foster in the business of feeding stock upon their two several roads now became fierce, though not unfriendly. When the Buncombe Turnpike road was built, the route adopted was the road by Col. John Patton's, but when afterward the Plank Road took its place it was constructed so as to pass Swannanoa between these two roads at the site of the present Biltmore concrete bridge two miles beyond Asheville. At this point a wooden bridge was built which was removed, in 1883, to give way to an iron structure, and later a concrete bridge was built there.

From the time of the building of the Buncombe Turnpike road, Asheville began to be a health resort and summering place for the South Carolinians, who have ever since patronized it as such.
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Joshua Roberts was of Welsh extraction and was the son of John and Sarah Roberts. He was born February 5, 1795, near Shelby in Cleveland County. North Carolina. He was for a time a clerk in a store and while so acting studied law. On November 18. 1822. having commenced to practise law at" Asheville, North Carolina, he married Lucinda Patton, daughter of Colonel John Patton, and, soon after, settled at Franklin in Macon County of that State where for some years he practised law. In 1830 he returned to Asheville and built a home near the Indian graves on Buchanan Hill. Later he took up his residence on a farm where is now the passenger station of the Southern Railway Company. His house there is still standing. There he died on November 21, 1865. He was for three terms clerk of the Superior Court of Buncombe County and for one term that county's register of deeds. In company with John Christy he established the Highland Messenger, the first newspaper in Western North Carolina and the ancestor of The Asheville Citizen. For some of these facts of his life I am indebted to his grandson, Mr. William R Whitson of Asheville. Joshua Roberts caused to be built as his residence the first house erected in the town of Franklin Macon County North Carolina.
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Allen Turner Davidson, another grandson of Colonel David Vance, and a grandson of Major William Davidson, who was one of the first settlers in Buncombe County and lived at the mouth of Bee Tree Creek, was the son of William Mitchell Dlividson and was born on Jonathan's Creek in Haywood County, North Carolina, May 9, 1819. Clerking for a time at the store of his father in Waynesville, in 1843 he became Clerk and Master in Equity of Haywood County and began the practice of law on January 1, 1845. He removed to Murphy in Cherokee County of the same State where for about twelve years he engaged in an extensive practice as a lawyer and was particularly distinguished as an advocate in criminal law. He was solicitor of that county and in April, 1860, was made president of the Miners and Planters Bank of Murphy.' In 1861 he was a member of the North Carolina Secession Convention and a delegate therefrom to the Confederate Provisional Government. And in 1862 he became a member of the House of Representatives of the Confederate States. He removed to Franklin, Macon County, in 1865, and to Asheville in 1869, where he died. Before he was twenty-one years old he was a colonel in the militia of Haywood County. His death was on January 24, 1905.
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We have noted above that one of the last of his town lots sold by J oIm Burton was to Patton and Erwin, after the town had become Asheville. Patton and Erwin was a firm of merchants composed of James Patton and his brother-in-law Andrew Erwin. James Patton was born in Ireland on February 13, 1756, and emigrated to America in 1783. He was a weaver by trade, but soon became a prosperous merchant. After his arrival in America he labored for several years at mining, well-digging, working on 'the canals, grubbing, etc. After this he set out from Philadelphia where he had landed, and with a small pack of goods went south as a peddler. He made his way into North Carolina and for several years traded in Wilkes, Burke and Buncombe counties, getting his supplies from the north. In 1791 he met Andrew Erwin, who afterwards married his sister, and went into business with him. This partnership continued for twenty years, and was settled up in one day, James Patton taking the North Carolina lands belonging to the firm and Andrew Erwin taking those in Tennessee. In 1807 these gentlemen moved to Swannanoa, and settled on the farm where Mr. Frank Reed now lives. There they lived until 1814, when they removed to Asheville. Mr. Patton opened a store and hotel and engaged at the same time in tanning leather and farming. His hotel was the Eagle Hotel on South Main Street, about midway between Sycamore and Eagle streets. In 1831 he bought out and improved the Warm Springs. After a long and prosperous life he died at Asheville on September 9, 1846. His tanyard stood on the west side of where Valley Street now runs at a big poplar near where that street enters South Main Street. An autobiography of him is yet in existence. The partnership between him and Andrew Erwin was dissolved on March 11,1814.
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Asheville/Buncombe County Bibliography

Western North Carolina – Bibliography


In Library

A History of Buncombe County, North Carolina, F. A. Sondley (1930).

A Spire in the Mountains: The Story of 176 Years of a Church and a Town Growing Together, 1794-1969, Ora Blackmun (1970).

A Pictorial History of Buncombe County, Asheville Citizen Times (1993).

Abstracted Wills of Buncombe County, North Carolina 1831-1872, Frances Terry Ingmire, Compiler (1984).

Around Biltmore Village, Bill Alexander (2008).

Asheville: A History, Nan K. Chase (2007).

Asheville: A Postcard History, Volume I, Sue Greenberg and Jan Kahn (1997) (Arcadia Images of America Series).

Asheville: A Postcard History, Volume II, Sue Greenberg and Jan Kahn (1997).

Asheville: Land of the Sky, Milton Ready (1986).

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

Biographical History of North Carolina: From Colonial times to the Present, Samuel A. Ashe, Stephen B. Weeks, Charles L. Van Noppen, Editors, Volume VII (1908).

Black Mountain and the Swannanoa Valley, Swannanoa Valley Museum (2004).

Buncombe Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Rice Reynolds, Julian M. Pleasants (2000).

Cabins & Castles: The History & Architecture of Buncombe County, North Carolina, Douglas Swaim (1981).

Chronology of North Carolina, D. K. Bennett (1858) [containing sketches of Buncombe County men].

Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the Nineteenth Century, Volume II, Edward McCrady, Samuel A’Court Ashe (1892).

Early Tourism in Western North Carolina, Stephen C. Compton (2004).

Family and Descendents of William Wallace McDowell & Sarah Lucinda Smith McDowell, Frances Arthur McDowell, Compiler and Editor (undated but after 1997).

Family History of Western North Carolina, Joyce Justus Parris (1998, Second Edition).

Fashionable Asheville, Volumes I and II, David Coleman Bailey (2004).

Historic Asheville, Bob Terrell (1997).

In Buncombe County, Maria Louise Pool (1986).

Look Homeward Asheville, Peter Olevnik (2008).

Marriage and Death Notices from Extant Asheville, N.C. Newspapers 1840-1870, An Index, Robert M. Topkins, Compiler and Editor (1977) (1983 Reprint Edition).

“Reminiscences of Western North Carolina,” Colonel Allen T. Davidson. Published in The Lycemu, a monthly Asheville newspaper that had a short life (May 1890 until some time in 1892).

Sketches of North Carolina, Reverend William Henry Foote (1846).

The French Broad, Wilma Dykeman (1955). Two copies: paperback is the 1974 edition signed by the author; hardback is1966 fifth printing.

The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War, John C. Inscoe and Gordon B. McKinney (2000).

The History of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, North Carolina, Joyce Justus Parris (1996).

The Smith-McDowell House: A History, Dr. Richard W. Iobst (undated, but after 1998).

The Standard Guide to Asheville and Western North Carolina, Published by Fred L. Jacobs, Asheville, N.C. (1887).

Thomas Wolfe of North Carolina, H. G. Jones, Editor (1982).

Western North Carolina: A History from 1730-1913, John Preston Arthur (1914).

Western North Carolina: A Visual Journey Through Stereo Views and Photographs, Stephen E. Massengill (1999).

Western North Carolina: Its Mountains and Its People to 1880, Ora Blackmun (1977).

Not in Library

A History of Fernihurst, Frances McDowell (1989).

Asheville, A Pictorial History, Mitzi Schaden Tessier (1982).

Asheville and Thomas Wolfe, George W. McCoy (1996).

Asheville – In Land of Sky, Martha Norburn Mead (1942).

Asheville: Places of Discovery, Lou Harshaw (1981).

Family Connections Along the Blue Ridge-The Ancestry and Close Descendants of Margaret Erwin McDowell and James Thomas Walton, Margaret Bickel Adams (1995). This book apparently discusses the Davidson and Smith families.

Hometown Memories, Asheville Tales: A Treasury of 20th Century Memories, Bob Lasley and Sallie Holt, Compilers and Editors (2002).

"Mountain Living Magazine: Historic Smith-McDowell House to Preserve WNC Heritage," Mildred Beedle Fossett (Spring 1976).

Reminiscences and Traditions of Western North Carolina, Theodore F. Davidson (1928). [Paper read before the Pen and Plate Club of Asheville, N.C. at its November, 1928, meeting and reprinted from the Asheville Citizen.]

Remembering Asheville: An Illustrated History, Milton Ready (2005).

Robert W. Ramsey, Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 (1964)

Those members of the Davison/Davidson family who descended from William and Elizabeth Davison of County Armagh, Ireland, and settled in North Carolina and Tennessee, and later in Mississippi, Texas, and elsewhere, Robert Stephens Hand (1990).

We Will Move Mountains: The Story of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Kimberly Fox DeMeza (2007).

With Pen and Camera Thro’ the “Land of the Sky”: Western North Carolina and the Asheville Plateau, Holman Waldron (1900).

Yesterday’s Asheville, Joan and Wright Langley (1975).
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Oil painting of Asheville by F. S. Duncanson taken from Beaucatcher: “The painting itself, now owned by Mrs. Martha B. Patton, . . . The other buildings were white wooden structures, and included the central portion of the old Eagle hotel and the old Buck hotel. Mr. Ernest Israel has a similar picture.”

Source: Western North Carolina: A History from 1730-1913, John Preston Arthur (1914) at 146.

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