Monday, March 22, 2010

Asheville Water Rates May Increase

A recent edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times reported the likelihood of a water rate increase. What was the state of affairs in 1883?

City Water-Works — This great enterprise, which is destined to be of such inestimable benefit to the people of Asheville, was inaugurated in 1882, and is to be completed the present year, at a cost of $20,000. The reservoir, having a capacity of nearly 1,000,000 gallons, is situated on the mountain-side (Beaucatcher Mountain], near the eastern limits of the city, with an elevation of 150 feet above the Court-House Square. The water, gathered from numerous springs, is conducted through terra-cotta pipes a distance of two miles, with a gradual fall along the mountain-slope, to the reservoir, whence ten-inch iron mains carry it to the Public Square; from here six-inch pipes branch in all directions over the city, carrying the precious fluid to its remotest parts. The city is the owner of the system, and only a sum sufficient to guarantee a small interest on the outlay will be charged householders for the use of the water.

Source: The Asheville City Directory and Gazetteer of Buncombe County for 1883-'84, J. P. Davison, Compiler (1883) at 128.
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According to the City of Asheville Water Resources Department, in 2010: "The water system consists of three water treatment plants, more than 1,625 miles of water lines, 35 pumping stations and 33 storage reservoirs."
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View of Asheville from reservoir c.1883.
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Later view of Asheville from reservoir.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fess Parker and Davy Crockett

Fess Elisha Parker, Jr. died this week (18 March 2010). He was born 16 August 1924 and is best known for his fictional portrayal of David Crockett on the Walt Disney "Davy Crockett" television program during the 1950s. While no connection is known between Fess Parker and Buncombe County, we do have a David Crockett connection.

The second wife of legendary David Crockett (1786-1836) was Elizabeth Patton (1788-1860). They were married 22 May 1816, both entering second marriages after the death of a spouse. Elizabeth Patton was born in Buncombe County's Swannanoa Community to Robert and Elizabeth Patton.

Elizabeth Patton, born in Swannanoa on May 22, 1788, married, first, her first cousin James Patton, son of Elijah, her father's brother, and they moved to Tennessee. He was mortally wounded in the Creek War and died in 1814. She married (2), David Crockett, and they also settled in Gibson County, Tennessee, and they had three children.

Source: The Heritage of Old Buncombe County, North Carolina, Volume II, Doris Cline Ward, Editor (1987) at 289-290 (Article #442, "Robert Patton" by Bruce Whitaker).
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The Swannanoa Valley was the home of Robert Patton, father of Elizabeth Patton, the second wife of David Crockett (portrait left). Patton was a large landowner in the highlands above the Catawba River in what was at the time Burke County. Crockett visited this home on several occasions and was well known in Swannanoa and the surrounding area. By his own account, Crockett did well in his second marriage, which came in 1816. Elizabeth was "a good industrious women," wrote Crockett, "and owned a snug little farm [in Tennessee] and lived quite comfortable." She had Patton as both her maiden name and her married name from her first marriage. She had married her first cousin James, the son of Elijah Patton, a brother to Robert. Crockett visited the Patton home in Swannanoa Valley on several occasions during their marriage. One story tells that a large oak called "the Target Tree" stood in front of the home. Robert Patton and Crockett, his marksman son-in-law, reportedly held shooting matches there. Most historians concur that David and Elizabeth married in Bean's Creek, Tennessee, where he pursued her as a suitor.

In 1853, the state of Texas issued a land warrant to Elizabeth Patton Crockett for her martyred husband's service in the war for Texas independence. She was awarded 1,280 acres in north Texas, where Indian attacks were still common. She arranged for a surveyor, who bargained for half the land, given the risk involved. That left her with 640 acres on Rucker's Creek. Some accounts say she received a parcel of 640 acres, which was cut in half in the bargain. However, the enticement to freedom fighters in the Texas Revolution was "a league and a labor" of land. A league was two square miles -- that is 1,280 acres. A labor, or labrado, was a small garden plot.

Elizabeth Crockett moved to Texas with her son Robert and daughter Matilda. She lived there for seven years in a log cabin, always wearing black, as she had since learning of Crockett's death in 1836. On January 31, 1860, at the age of 72, she left the cabin for a walk and collapsed dead. She was buried in the Acton Cemetery. Elizabeth Patton Crockett Acton State Historic Site is the smallest state park in Texas, at 12 feet by 21 feet. The 28-foot marble monument of a bonneted pioneer woman shading her eyes to scan the horizon for her husband's return, was unveiled in 1913.

Source: In the Footsteps of Davy Crockett, Randell Jones (2006) at 136-139 and 201-202.
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She arrived in North Central Texas early enough (1853) to be among the first of the white settlers, early enough to suffer all the hardships and grief that the frontier had to offer. Hood County was yet to be chartered; land surveyors were busily shuttling back and forth from Comanche and Kiowa country to Austin with maps and hopes of striking it rich with new land speculations. We do not know exactly how the widow Elizabeth and her group of west Tennessee farmers got to Texas. Probably they followed the same route that her dead husband David had followed 17 years earlier - down the Mississippi to the Arkansas river and somehow overland to St. Augustine or Nacodoches in east Texas then up the Trinity.

The Texas national government had awarded 640 acres of land to all men who had fought in the war for independence from Mexico, so David Crockett's widow Elizabeth , her sons George and Robert, her daughter, Rebecca Halford and their respective families came to find and claim David's grant. We know that the group had to spend nearly a year near Waxahatchie before finding a land surveyor to take their claim and convert it to real land somehow. When this was finally done in Austin, they found that the 640 acres was shrunk to 320 - the cost of the survey. Since land was selling for a dollar or two per acre in the area, the survey cost was probably reasonable considering the dangers of Indian intervention. The grant they moved to was about 4 miles north of a growing trading post now called Acton, east of the Brazos river on Rucker's creek. The land was more suited for rangeland than for cultivation; nevertheless Elizabeth set about making a new home.

Robert built a two-room log cabin for his mother and the family. Within two years, another cabin had been built for Elizabeth. She was then 65 years old and continued to do her share of the farm work. By the time the Civil War had begun, Robert and his wife Matilda Porter had nine children; some stayed in what is now Hood County, and some migrated north and south. One of Elizabeth's grandchildren was killed during a robbery when he was returning from the War. Rebecca Halford, Elizabeth's daughter was widowed in 1863. Another daughter, Matilda, stayed in Tennessee and never again saw her mother

By all accounts, Elizabeth was an intelligent lady who knew about business and farming matters. It was through her industry that her husband David was able to establish a mill and distillery in Tennessee. They were relatively prosperous until a flood destroyed the works. There are no known letters in Elizabeth's artifacts, although it has been said that she could read and write well, unusual for a frontier woman of the times.

Elizabeth Crockett died after an early morning walk from her cabin, at age 72. She was buried in the Acton cemetery. Her remains and that of several family members are in what constitutes the Acton State Park and Monument, the smallest Park in Texas. Her statue above the grave shows her looking to the west, eyes shaded, waiting for her husband to come home from the War.

Source: Hood County Texas Genealogical Society, Biographical Notes Concerning Hood County Communities, Families and Noteworthy Citizens (NE Hood County), Elizabeth Crockett, Compiled by Kenneth Hendricks.
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Buncombe County Seal

Woodfin Elementary School 6th grader Roy Fox designed the Buncombe County Seal in 1920. The County did not have an official seal and ran a contest asking for students to submit their suggestions. Roy designed the seal and won the contest. His seal design is still used today...with one modification. In 1989, the County Commissioners changed the County Motto from "Men" to Match our Mountains as designed by Roy Fox to "People" to Match our Mountain.

In 1791, David Vance and William Davidson presented to the North Carolina House of Commons a "petition of the inhabitants of that part of Burke County lying west of the Appalachian Mountains praying that a part of said county, and part of Rutherford County, be made into a separate and distinct county." The original bill to create the county gave as its name "Union." The name was changed, however, to Buncombe in honor of Col. Edward Buncombe, a Revolutionary War hero from Tyrell County.

The Buncombe bill was ratified on January 14, 1792. The new county included most of Western North Carolina and was so large it was commonly referred to it as the "State of Buncombe." Approximately 1,000 people lived in the county.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

1809 Fourth of July Celebration (Asheville)

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The Union Hill Academy referenced in the above article was established formally in 1805 by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly. However, a school was in operation on the site sometime before 1793. This was Robert Henry's "first school west of the Blue Ridge." On land donated by William Forster in 1793, the school initially occupied a log house, which was replaced in 1809 by a brick structure. That same year the name was changed to Newton Academy in honor of its second master, Reverend George Newton (a Presbyterian minister). The building apparently also was used for religious services, and a cemetery was established on the grounds (believed to be the oldest cemetery in Asheville). Around 1858, the 1809 brick structure was removed, and a new brick academy building constructed.

From 1797 to 1814 Reverend George Newton taught a classical school at the school, which purportedly was famous throughout several states. Reverend Newton lived in the Asheville area until 1814, when he moved to Bedford County, Tennessee, where he was principal of Dickson Academy and pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Shelbyville. He died around 1841.

Several well-known Buncombe County men attended Newton Academy, including David Lowry Swain and Zebulon Baird Vance.
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References

A History of Buncombe County, North Carolina, F. A. Sondley (1930).
Asheville and Buncombe County, F. A. Sondley (1922)
Cabins & Castles: The History & Architecture of Buncombe County, North Carolina, Douglas Swaim (1981).
Newton Academy (Asheville, North Carolina).
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Asheville on eHow


Asheville, North Carolina is now listed on eHow. While the author's choice of "highlights" may appear a bit limited, hopefully the article will be expanded to cover more of Asheville's historical offerings.
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Asheville Speedway 1961

Asphalt Issues, Early Flag Sparked Fan Riot in 1961

Imagine winner Jamie McMurray, runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr., Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and their crews being held hostage for ransom by fans, angered over the pothole pratfall taken by NASCAR last weekend during the Daytona 500.

Unthinkable?

Certainly so nowadays. But just such a thing happened many years ago, and I was there as a young reporter to see it. The date: Aug. 13, 1961. The site: Asheville-Weaverville Speedway, a half-mile track in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The event: The Western North Carolina 500. Trouble developed almost immediately after the green flag as the speedway’s asphalt began tearing apart. Flying pieces of pavement soon were pummeling the race cars and even some fans among an estimated 10,000 on hand. Rather than going to the press box, I sat in a concrete grandstand along the frontstretch with my new bride. I vividly recall an acquaintance from high school in nearby Burnsville, Louetta Randolph, being hit in the temple by a baseball-sized bit of asphalt that had flown over the fence. Louetta, dazed, was taken to an Asheville hospital as a precaution. She wasn’t seriously hurt. The race rolled on with Junior Johnson dominating in a Pontiac. Junior seemed able to avoid the potholes better than his rivals, perhaps traceable to experience from his years of hauling moonshine on rutted, backwoods roads. Johnson started on the front row with fellow Pontiac driver Joe Weatherly, the pole winner at 65.704 mph. Junior grabbed the lead on the first lap and didn’t relinquish it. He eventually charged three laps ahead despite having a large chunk of asphalt puncture a hole in the windshield right in front of his face.

Relatively feeble efforts were made to repair the pavement, all to no avail. With the race under a red flag on the 208th of the scheduled 500 laps, NASCAR official Pat Purcell told the drivers and their crews the race would end after 50 more laps. The drivers were to get a final red flag and the checkered flag simultaneously. Best I recall, no announcement of the decision was made on the track’s loudspeakers. So it was a surprise to many fans when Johnson was flagged the winner on Lap 258. And it riled about half those in the crowd at the speedway, destined to shut down in 1969. Some started screaming and yelling in protest. “I’ve seen half a race, I want half my money back!” one obviously inebriated guy kept hollering. Not surprisingly, promoter Gene Sluder had left the premises much earlier with the gate receipts. The protest grew in intensity. It quickly became a riot when a large logging truck was pushed onto the cross-over point leading to the infield and pit road. The track had no tunnel, so the competitors were trapped inside. A would-be mediator appeared from the midst of the irate throng. He was picked up and thrown into a pond. Additional law enforcement officers – from the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office and the N.C. Highway Patrol – were summoned. But they were outnumbered and could do little.

As dusk neared, a few crewmen went to the spot where the route out was blocked, hoping to reason with the fuming fans. It didn’t work. Some people had come to the speedway atop a long, low-lying ridge hoping to see controversy. At the time, NASCAR founder Big Bill France was battling a group of drivers – led by pioneers Curtis Turner and Tim Flock – who wanted to affiliate with the Teamsters Union. It had appeared a showdown would take place at the WNC 500. But Turner and Flock weren't at the track that day. Rowdies decided to create their own controversy. Finally, one of them made a big mistake.

“I remember it vividly,” says Johnson. “We’d lost patience, and one of the crew fellers, Pop Ergle, went to the gate to tell 'em we were coming out. “A riot ringleader had a two-by-four, and he poked Pop in the belly with it. Well, Pop, who worked for the team owned by Bud Moore, was a giant of a guy at about 6-6 and 285. "Pop took the board away from the guy and started swinging it. Before long, the place cleared out and we left.” Not a single refund – and no ransom – was paid.

Source: News Observer, which retains all rights.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Robert Urey Garrett, Sr.





Smith-McDowell House Boasts Complex Third Owner

Based exclusively upon the information contained in the above-referenced article, the following ancestral outline was developed:


Garrett Family Ancestral Outline (numbers indicate generations)

1. Alexander Garrett (died 1895) [wife not stated]
2. Robert Urey Garrett, Sr. (died 1915) married first Mary Francis Tarr (died 1884), and married second Adeline Gash.

Robert Urey Garrett, Sr. had at least one child with each of these wives:

3. With first wife Mary Francis Tarr Garrett, Robert Urey Garrett, Sr. had a daughter: Alexandra Garrett, who married Lt. Robert Johnston in 1898 (and they had two children):

4. Frances Johnston, who married Unknown Ogden
4. Robert Johnston, Jr.

3. With second wife Adeline Gash Garrett, Robert Urey Garrett, Sr. had a son: Robert Urey Garrett, Jr.
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For more information on the Smith-McDowell House go to the Smith-McDowell House Museum website. The first owner, James McConnell Smith, built the house. His son-in-law, William W. McDowell, was the second owner.
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For dozens of Smith-McDowell House photographs see the Smith-McDowell House Photograph Collection.
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See also:

North Lodge on Oakland

The Gilded Age
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Swannanoa Gap

Swannanoa Gap sits on the Buncombe-McDowell County line near the head of the Catawba River. In the Blue Ridge Mountains, Swannanoa Gap and Hickory Nut Gap were the primary passes through which early settlers and Indians traveled to reach the Asheville Plateau. With an elevation of 2,657 feet, the plateau is the dividing line between the waters that flow to the Atlantic and those that flow to the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Swannanoa Gap played a role in conflicts of the Revolutionary and Civil wars. The expedition led by General Griffith Rutherford against the Cherokee passed through the gap in September of 1776. The Cherokee had allied themselves with the British and had attacked white settlers in the western parts of North and South Carolina. To put an end to this Rutherford led a militia of 2,500 men in “scorched earth” warfare. By the end of the expedition, Rutherford and his men had destroyed thirty Indian towns. The Cherokee never fully recovered from the devastation.

One of the Civil War’s last cavalry raids occurred in April of 1865 at Swannanoa Gap. To protect Asheville from encroaching Federal troops led by Brigadier General Alvan Gillem, Confederate troops were placed in the gap. The confederate blockade of 500 men and four pieces of heavy artillery proved effective. However, Gillem moved his cavalry forty miles south and breached Confederate lines at Howard’s Gap. Confederate General James G. Martin surrendered soon after, but Federal troops still sacked Asheville. The Civil War slowed efforts to connect western North Carolina with the rest of the state. Finally, in 1880, the Western North Carolina Railroad passed through the Swannanoa Gap then up and over Old Fort Mountain, completing the railway.

References:

F. A. Sondley, A History of Buncombe County, North Carolina (1930)
Old Fort History Website
William S. Powell, North Carolina Gazetteer (1968)
YMI Cultural Center Website

Source: North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Buncombe County Courthouse

Asheville Citizen-Times, 18 March 2010 — Buncombe County commissioners on Tuesday backed building a new courts building as soon as possible after District Attorney Ron Moore complained the county is not moving quickly enough to deal with courthouse overcrowding. County plans have called for construction of the structure, which would not replace the current courthouse, to begin in 2014. Commissioners said they do not want to wait and asked for a new plan that would include proceeding with construction of an addition on the courthouse itself and the new building during roughly the same time frame. The courts building would be located on College Street a few yards to the east of the county courthouse, roughly in the area where the courthouse annex and a parking lot are now. Tentative plans call for it to have four stories of finished space with two floors of underground parking. The beginning of work on the courts building had been planned to coincide with the retirement of county debt used to build a new jail and refurbish McCormick Field, said Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton. It is not clear what the financial impact would be of building the structure sooner. Commissioners voted last September to authorize design work on a courthouse addition, sometimes called a life safety tower, that would contain stairwells, elevators and restrooms in a structure that would be attached to the east side of the courthouse. There are not enough elevators in the courthouse to handle traffic, and stairways don't meet building codes, creating a potential fire hazard, Creighton said. On Tuesday, Moore told commissioners that he and other members of a task force that worked to come up with solutions to courthouse problems were disappointed that commissioners were moving ahead with the life safety tower before building space for new courtrooms.

“The only thing that will help the court system is to give us some adequately sized courtrooms as soon as possible,” he said. The line to enter the courthouse through a security checkpoint typically spills out the door in the morning, Moore said, and courtrooms are often so full that bailiffs have to ask defendants' relatives to leave the room so that there is enough space for defendants to sit down. Creighton said plans call for construction of the safety tower first because workers will need the use of space around the intersection of Davidson and College streets to locate cranes and materials. Reversing the order would have made the job more difficult and expensive, he said. Construction on the life safety tower is scheduled to begin this fall at a cost that has been estimated at $21.8 million. Commissioners voted Tuesday to authorize County Manager Wanda Greene to negotiate a contract with two firms to head up the work. Commissioners said they recognize that courts do not have enough space but want to be sure to take steps to keep the county courthouse usable. “That is the symbol of Buncombe County. We owe it to the citizens of Buncombe County to keep that symbol,” said Commissioner Carol Peterson. “We need to make sure that that courthouse is maintained.”
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Asheville [13 March 2010] — A city board on Friday unanimously approved Buncombe County's plans to add onto its courthouse, but members expressed concern about the future of another county building to be torn down as part of the project. Members of the city Downtown Commission said they were generally pleased with plans to add a tower containing elevators, restrooms and stairwells that would reach up to the eighth floor of the courthouse on its east side. But the commission also voted 6-2 to ask that the county refrain as long as possible from tearing down the courthouse annex building at 189 College St. The two-story brick building houses the county elections board and was completed in 1922, originally for use as a funeral home. The county plans to demolish the building to create more space for construction staging for the courthouse addition. Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton said it will have to be removed in any case in 2014. That's when the county plans to begin construction of a second building to hold courtrooms and related facilities. It would be centered roughly on the northern end of Davidson Street, just south of where the street intersects College Street, and would use land the annex sits on now. Plans call for that building to contain four stories of finished space plus two levels of underground parking. Commission members said plans sometimes change, and it would be unfortunate if the county tore down the annex then later decided not to proceed with the courts building that would use that space.

“In a lot of instances, phase two never happens,” said commission member Bruce Hazzard. During construction of the addition, the annex building could house construction offices that would otherwise be located in trailers on the same ground, he suggested. Creighton said the county has little choice but to provide more space for courts, and that he is reasonably sure that the courts building project will move ahead. “It's a need we've got to address,” he said. The commission does not have the ability to block demolition of the annex, but Creighton said county officials' “objective is not to take the annex down any earlier than we have to.” The courthouse addition would include a new courthouse entrance and, because it would meet requirements for safe fire exit routes, would allow the county to reuse former jail space on the building's top floors that now sits empty. Architect Keith Hargrove said earlier this week that he hopes to add onto the courthouse “quietly,” in a way that will minimize the visual impact of the project. Board members seemed to think he will succeed. “The restraint there I appreciate. You're not trying to show up the existing building,” said member Matt Sprouse. The commission's approval is not required for the addition to be built, but the project will need approval by City Council to move forward. Construction is projected to begin in late fall at an estimated cost of $21.8 million and take 18 months to two years.
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Asheville (12 March 2010) — A city board approved this morning Buncombe County’s plans to add onto its courthouse, but expressed concern about the future of another county building to be torn down as part of the project. Members of the city Downtown Commission said they are generally pleased with plans to add a tower containing elevators, restrooms and stairwells that would reach up to the eighth floor of the courthouse on its east side. But they also voted to ask that the county refrain as long as possible from tearing down the courthouse annex building at 189 College St. The two-story brick building houses the county board of elections.

The county plans to demolish the building so as to create more space for construction staging for the courthouse addition project. And, Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton said it will have to be removed in any case in 2014. That’s when the county plans to begin construction of a second building to hold courts that would be centered roughly on the northern end of Davidson Street, just south of where the street intersects College Street. Commission members said plans sometimes change and it would be unfortunate if the county tore down the annex then later decided not to proceed with the courts building that would use that space. Creighton said the county has little choice but to provide more space for courts and that he is reasonably sure that the building project will move ahead. The commission’s approval is not required for the addition or the demolition of the annex. The addition will eventually need approval by City Council.
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March 11, 2010: The Asheville Downtown Commission is scheduled to vote on the $20 million design of a planned addition to the Buncombe County courthouse on Friday. The addition would be located on the rear, or east, side of the courthouse and contain elevators, stairwells and bathrooms. That would bring the building in compliance with building codes and allow use of top stories that once held the county jail. The commission meets at 8:30 a.m. Friday on the first floor of City Hall. It is also scheduled to discuss use of Pack Square Park and food vendor carts downtown. The addition will eventually require approval from City Council.
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The Asheville Downtown Commission was created by City Council "...for the sustainability and continued development of downtown, a vital urban center of western North Carolina's economic, cultural and visitor activity." The Commission meets on the second Friday of each month at 8:30 a.m. in the First Floor North Conference Room in City Hall, Asheville, N.C. The normal length of the meeting is 1-2 hours. In addition to providing City Council with recommendations on all things Downtown, the Downtown Commission carries out Downtown Design Review on major development projects within the Central Business District.
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Asheville's courthouse, completed in 1928, is one of the most extravagant courthouses in North Carolina. In 1792, after its founding, Buncombe County built its first courthouse in what was then known as Morristown, renamed Asheville in 1797. Several log and brick courthouses were constructed during the 19th century including substantial buildings of 1877 and 1903. By 1923, with the rapid growth of the county and Asheville, county court officials proclaimed that a new courthouse was "imperative and essential." City planning authority John Nolen recommended the development of a "civic center" as an extension of Pack Square in his 1922 plan for Asheville. City and county officials endorsed the idea of a uniform civic center with paired buildings, but when the city began advancing a scheme designed by architect Douglas Ellington, a rift arose between the two commissions. Whether because of stylistic conservatism or Ellington's lack of experience, the County Commissioners, led by chairman Edgar M. Lyda, selected the Washington, D.C. firm of Milburn, Heister & Company to design the new courthouse in December 1926. The firm enjoyed a national reputation for quality work in public buildings across the southeast. Although founder Frank Pierce Milburn died in September 1926, his son, Thomas Y. Milburn, succeeded him as president with little effect on the firm's operations.

The Courthouse is Milburn's most opulently finished public building. The building's complex setbacks, window groupings and overlay of Neo-Classical Revival ornamentation result in a distinctive building from this period, when courthouses were characterized by simple massing and conservative classical elements. The interior lobby contains a sweeping marble staircase, bronze and glass screens, a coffered ceiling with ornate plasterwork and a mosaic tile floor that echoes the ceiling's tones. The lobby is one of the best-preserved and most elegant Neo-Classical interiors in the state. Initially estimated at $1,000,000, the final cost ran closer to $1,750,000, and the removal of the old courthouse required another $65,000. The Angle-Blackford Company of Greensboro, North Carolina, served as the general contractors. Upon completion in 1928, the 17-story building was the tallest local government building in North Carolina.
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Few people who come to the mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina, can miss the open area at the cross-roads of the city, called "Pack Square." The square throbs with life as pedestrians, cars and commerce crisscross the slight hill that marks a mid-point of the city. Pack Square has always been the center of activity in this scenic North Carolina urban area. First called Market Square, then Public Square and later, Court Square for the Court House that faced the public area, the name "Pack Square" entered the city vocabulary in 1903. The name change followed the complex transfer of land from the County Commissioners to Pack and from Pack to the "people" in a DEED FOR A PACK SQUARE PARK signed by George W. Pack and his wife Frances. The deed details the provisions of the land exchange. A new Court House was to be constructed and the old 1876 court house was to be removed. In the space made available by the removal of the old court house, an open park was to be maintained for the people of Asheville. By public referendum the city honored George Willis for his generous philanthropy by naming the new space created by the removal of the old court house, "Pack Square," and George Willis Pack honored the city he had called home by creating a "park for the people."

Part of Pack's generous motivation was prompted by his desire to provide a fitting landscape for the newly erected monument to his friend Zebulon B. Vance (d. 1894), state senator, three term governor of North Carolina, humanist, secessionist, and champion of the common man. The shabby and inefficient Court House that faced the monument dominated the Court Square and in 1895 Pack began thinking about a new court house and what role he might play in building one. In the complicated land purchase and later donation of land, Pack managed to enable the taking down of the old and poorly functioning Court House, to gain consensus on the construction of a new Court House and to put forward his vision of a newly transformed city. Pack, appears to have always been a man of clear vision and action. In Asheville, he had the opportunity to use his accumulated wealth to put some of his visions into tangible form and in the last decade of the 1800's he set about doing just that.

The story goes that following the creation of the Vance obelisk and installation on Court Square in 1898, for which Pack reportedly paid most of the cost, there was a swap of land for a new court house between Pack, his wife Frances, and the Board of Commissioners of Buncombe County. The complex seven-page DEED dated July 24, 1901, involved a land shuffle of property Pack had recently purchased and the exchange of the land on which the County Court House stood to Pack for one dollar and the trust that Pack established between his land and the people of Asheville and Buncombe County. While the negotiations were and are difficult to follow, the resulting legacy for Pack and his family is as he must have intended it. It is a legacy that endures. The Deed reads in part

"I offer to give to the County to be used for a site for a Court house and County offices the land on College Street in Asheville which I purchased of Col. A.T. Davidson provided that the County will dedicate to the public forever to be used for the purposes of a public square so called, in Asheville, the present Court House, to be removed, there from prior to such date as you may agree upon with Judge Merrimon and Mr. Gwyn acting for me --
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Davidson's Fort


History Events

No, it is not in Asheville. No, it is not in Buncombe County. However, the Davidson Fort in Old Fort was instrumental in the settlement of the area. Some would argue: no Davidson's Fort, no Asheville! They may be correct.
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The French Broad

We have added another book to our library, The French Broad, Wilma Dykeman (1955). See the Bibliography on the home page (to the left, scroll down). We have two copies, one signed by the author.

Publisher's Comments:

Miss Dykeman refers to the French Broad as the classic example of an Appalachian river -- a study in contrasts, both of scenery and way of life. Here is an independent mountain river, flowing north between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina and cutting through to East Tennessee. The people who live in its valleys have always been fighters -- for independence against the British, for land against the Cherokees, against each other in the Civil War, and occasionally against the revenuers. Unusual occupations -- herb gathers, hog "droving," and fine handcrafts -- have always set this valley apart and it has now become the seat of vast industries as well.

Miss Dykeman, who is a native of Asheville, North Carolina, and now resides in Newport, Tennessee, has interwoven delightful folk material with solid information to produce an entertaining and informative book on a valley of matchless beauty and interest. The French Broad won for the author the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Trophy of 1955.
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Dykeman, Wilma.
The French Broad. Knoxville, Tennessee: The University of Tennessee Press, 1955. Illustrated by Douglas Gorsline.
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Wilma Dykeman Stokely (1920-2006) grew up in the Beaverdam Community of Buncombe County, North Carolina, the only child of Willard Dykeman and Bonnie Cole Dykeman. Her father had relocated to the Asheville area from New York as a widower with two grown children, and had met and married her mother in Asheville. He was 60 years old when Wilma was born and died when Wilma was 14 years old. In later life, she credited both of her parents for giving her a love of reading and her father for giving her a love of nature and a curiosity about the world around her.

She attended Biltmore Junior College (now the University of North Carolina at Asheville), graduating in 1938, and Northwestern University, where she was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1940 with a major in speech. In August 1940, shortly after her graduation from Northwestern, she was introduced to her future husband, James R. Stokely, Jr., by Mabel Wolfe, the sister of Asheville writer Thomas Wolfe. Stokely, of Newport, Tennessee, was a son of the president of Stokely Canning Company (which in 1933 bought Van Camp to become Stokely-Van Camp Inc. The Stokely brand of canned food is now a brand of Seneca Foods and Van Camps a brand of Conagra Inc.)

The couple married just two months after they met. They had two sons, Dykeman Stokely and James R. "Rory" Stokely III. The couple maintained homes in Asheville and Newport, and Dykeman continued to divide her time in both homes after Stokely died in 1977. Dykeman and Stokely wrote several books together. After Dykeman died in 2006, Appalachian writer Jeff Daniel Marion called the couple's marriage a "partnership in every sense of the word," describing Dykeman and Stokely as "partners in writing, partners in marriage and partners in having similar points of view." Dykeman died December 22, 2006 after suffering complications from a fractured hip and subsequent hip replacement surgery. She is buried in the Beaverdam Baptist Church Cemetery in Asheville, near her childhood home.

Source: Wilma Dykeman Biography in Wikipedia
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See Also:

Appalachian Voices
Books by Wilma Dykeman
Center for Global Environmental Education
Images of Wilma Dykeman

Obituary
RiverLink
The Fellowship of Southern Writers
University of North Carolina at Asheville Resources
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Milton Ready


Oral History Register for Milton Ready

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

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

The Tar Heel State: A History of North Carolina
, Milton Ready (2005).
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A Popular History of Western North Carolina



A Popular History of Western North Carolina: Mountains, Heroes & Hootnoggers
, Rob Neufeld (2007).
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Asheville: Land of the Sky

We have added another book to the Asheville and Buncombe County library: Asheville: Land of the Sky, Milton Ready (1986). See the bibliography on the left of the home page (scroll down). Here is the publisher's description:

Author Milton Ready adds his voice to the praise in Asheville: Land of the Sky. This beautifully illustrated volume is a vibrant chronicle of the growth of Asheville. The pages are peopled with Civil War heroes, cantankerous mountaineers, visionary "castle-builders," and the men and women who lived and worked in Asheville throughout the years. Though their eyes we watch Asheville grow from a rude, marshy frontier village into a bustling county seat, finally becoming the gracious, elegant resort town of Thomas Wolfe's Asheville. The boom times, the bust times, war, and peace unfold on these pages, told in lively, colorful prose and documented by over 100 rare historical photographs. Sixteen pages of original color photography portray the vivid beauty of Asheville then and now. A special "Partners in Progress" section details the growth and contribution of some of the businesses long prominent in the city. Asheville: Land of the Sky offers Ashevillians a bit of their past in worlds and pictures. For visitors, this book offers the chance to enjoy this uncommon city more fully. For all readers, the book is a compelling look into the fabled past of America's Eden.

Milton Ready: As chairman of the history department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville for over a decade, Dr. Milton Ready has kept local history alive for many students. His contributions to the field have earned him the E. Merton Coulter award for the writing of Southern history. Dr. Ready received his Ph.D. in US history from the University of Georgia. Asheville: Land of the Sky is the most recent of his chronicles of the South.

William G. Moore: Business historian William G. "Bill" Moore is senior editor of The Asheville Citizen Times. He is a thirty-year veteran of the newspaper business in Ohio and North Carolina. As a columnist, Mr. Moore won an award in the annual North Carolina Press Association news-writing contest. His first book, Two on the Square, was recently published by a North Carolina press. Mr. Moore is soon to open a public relations agency in Nashville.


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The book was published in cooperation with the Western North Carolina Historical Association. While out-of-print, the book is available in many large public libraries and occasionally is found for sale in online book stores.
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Edwin Wiley Grove (1850-1927)


Edwin Wiley Grove (27 December 1850 - 27 January 1927), proprietary drug manufacturer and Asheville developer, was born in Whiteville, Harrdeman County, Tennessee, the son of James Henry and Mary Jane Harris Grove. Both of his parents were natives of Virginia; as a Confederate soldier, his father served with General Nathan B. Forrest. After attending local schools, young Grove went to Memphis, just two counties west, to study pharmacy. In 1880 he established his own pharmacy in Paris, Tennessee, where he had worked earlier as a clerk in a drugstore. At Paris he developed the formula for two products that were to make him a fortune. Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic was sold widely, particularly in the South where quinine had long been used as an antimalarial drug. Grove's formula improved the unpleasant taste of the quinine. He also developed a product that he marked as Grove's Bromo-Quinine tablets. Shortly, it was reported, his products were bringing him a million dollars a year. Grove expanded his manufacturing facilities from those originally established at Paris to St. Louis, Missouri, and to England, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. He also planned an extensive and pioneer advertising program.

Beginning in 1897 when he built a summer home there, Grove spent a great deal of time in Asheville, North Carolina, as he found the climate good for his health. In 1905 he took the first step of what became a large scale development of hotel, business, and residential property on the northern edge of the town. He began with the development of Grove Park, a residential area, and in 1912-1913 constructed Grove Park Inn as a resort hotel on the west slope of Sunset Mountain. Built of massive stones, with a frontage of almost 500 feet, and rising in a series of terraces, it has long been regarded as one of the finest resort hotels in the world. Grove next purchased the old Battery Park Hotel, razed it, cut down the hill on which it had stood, and erected a new Battery Park Hotel. Opposite the entrance to the new hotel he constructed a mall of shops topped by offices [Grove Arcade]. Earth from the hiss was used to fill a large ravine, which formed a new commercial area for the growing city [Coxe Avenue]. East of Asheville he developed Grovemont residential area. In and around Asheville he also established and developed other areas and businesses. His interests were not centered in just this site, however, for he owned extensive property in St. Louis, Missouri, St. Petersburg, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, and elsewhere.

Grove was generous and as nearly as possible kept his benefactions secret. Contributing to charitable, educational, and religious causes, he built and endowed a high school in Paris, Tennessee, and endowed a number of Presbyterian churches, of which denomination he was an active member. His first wife, whom he married in 1875, was Mary Louisa Moore of Milan, Tennessee. They were the parents of two daughters, Irma and Evelyn. The latter married Fred Loring Seely who was involved in the building of the Grove Park Inn. After the death of his wife, in 1883, Grove was married to Alice Gertrude Matthewson of Murray, Kentucky. Their children were Hallett Hardin, Edwin Wiley, and Helen. Grove died in Asheville [Battery Park Hotel] and after funeral services in the city's First Presbyterian Church, of which he was a member, he was buried in the family cemetery near his place of birth.

See: Asheville Citizen, 28, 29 January 1927, 8 May 1949; National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 21 (1931).

Source: Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, William S. Powell, Editor, Volume 2 D-G (1986) at 381.
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In 1921 E. W. Grove bought the Battery Park Hotel and by 1924 had not only demolished the famous inn which had been the social center of the town in the 1890s, but had actually carted away, load by load, the very hill on which it had stood. Many Ashevillians of the older generation sorrowfully watched the town's western fortification during the Civil War disappear to fill a ravine and thus give the city another street, Coxe Avenue. All that was left was the name Battery applied to the new hotel and to the street. Later Grove constructed the Arcade building, designed for and used as a shopping center until the Second World War, when the Federal Government took it over and later purchased it from the Grove heirs.

Source: A Spire in the Mountains, Ora Blackmun (1970) a6 144-145. [It appears that Miss Blackmun was none too pleased with some of the "improvements" Grove made to Asheville.]
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Online References

Asheville Bliss
Biltmore Industries Archive
Edwin Wiley Grove and Grove School History
Grove Arcade Building Tour
Roanoke Beacon Blog
The Grove Park Inn
The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Old Buncombe County Genealogical Society Meeting

The Old Buncombe County Genealogical Society will meet on Sunday, March 20, at 2 p.m. in the society library at 128 Bingham Road, Suite 700, in Asheville. The program will be presented by Kenneth Richards, Partnership Specialist for the United States Census. The presentation will provide vital information about the upcoming 2010 Census and explain how the data is handled and the purpose of collecting each piece of information, as well as stressing the importance of obtaining accurate information for our area.

Mr. Richards was a founding director of the Big Ivy Historical Society and is executive director emeritus of the BIHS. His most recently co-authored book is, "A Family Named Dillingham: 365 Years in America". He is also co-author of "Insiders guide: North Carolina Mountains including Asheville, Biltmore Estate, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Cherokee Nation". He and his co-author, his daughter, Constance Elizabeth Richards, are currently preparing the 10th edition. He served as director of education at Biltmore Estate.

As always, there is no charge and light refreshments will be served. The public will invited and encouraged to attend. For more information, contact OBCGS at 828-253-1894 or e-mail obcgs@bellsouth.net.
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Friday, March 5, 2010

A Spire in the Mountains: Ora Blackmun

Note the Buncombe County Bibliography to the left of this site's home page. Scroll down a bit. This is a list of Bunconbe County-related books in the library of Asheville and Buncombe County. Today, a new (actually old) book is being added:

A Spire in the Mountains by Ora Blackmun (1970).

Here is the publisher's description: "Familiar with both the church background and the history of Asheville, Miss Blackmun has been able to take her readers through the changing times in the lives of both and to make clear the constant interplay between them in their 176 years of existence. It is an unusual treatment, but one that makes vivid and fresh the developing patterns of life in the village that became a town and then grew into a city, and it points up the influence of the church upon those life patterns, the influence of a church with a heavenward pointing spire. For all those interested in Asheville or in the First Presbyterian Church or in both, A Spire in the Mountains makes fascinating reading."

[Webmaster's Note: A Spire in the Mountains won the Francis Mckemie Award (Presbyterian Church, U.S.) for the best serious work on the heritage of the Presbyterian church in the South.]
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Our list of books also includes another authored by Ora Blackmun:

Western North Carolina: Its Mountains and Its People to 1880, Ora Blackmun (1977).
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Ora Blackmun was born 13 September 1892 in Minnesota, the fourth child of Frank Wilbur Blackmun and Alice Luther Blackmun. She died 14 December 1984 in Asheville, North Carolina, at the age of ninety-two. Her grandfather (Silas Blackmun) and his two brothers were pioneers in Minnesota and acquired substantial acreage in the southern prairie portion of the state. When a young girl, her parents moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where her father owned a fruit farm (near Fayetteville). She graduated cum laude from the University of Arkansas, later being awarded a master's degree. After further graduate work at the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California, she was for some years an associate professor on English at Arkansas State College. Later she became head of the English Department at Flora Macdonald College in Red Springs, North Carolina.

Ora Blackmun moved to North Carolina in 1944. After relocating to Asheville, she served for two years as Director of Christian Education at the First Presbyterian Church. Over the years she contributed numerous articles to newspapers and magazines, and co-authored a college textbook on the history of the English language (The Language We Speak). One of her short stories, "Prairie Grass," won an award bestowed by the North Carolina Federation of Women's clubs. And, two of her Christmas stories were published as booklets with wide distribution. See the list below.

Ora Blackmun became intensely interested in the history of Western North Carolina, and spoke, lectured, and wrote extensively about her adopted region.
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Here is a partial list of her publications:

A Brief History of the English Language, Leslie Platt Bigelow, Ora Blackmun (194_), Arkansas State Teachers College, 130 pages.

A Spire in the Mountains by Ora Blackmun (1970).

"Even Forever: A Story of the Christ," Ora Blackmun (1955).

Life in the Stage Coach Days at Historic Sherrill's Inn, Elizabeth Cramer McClure and Ora Blackmun (Appalachian Consortium Press, 19__). [eight pages]

The Sources of Washington Irving's England, Ora Blackmun (1925) [University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (43 pages)].

"The Star Without a Name: A Christmas Fantasy," Ora Blackmun (1958).

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










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Reference: The Heritage of Old Buncombe County, Volume I - 1981, Doris Cline Ward, Editor (1981) at 153 (Article #237, "Ora Blackmun" by Ora Blackmun).
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

George Willis Pack (1831-1906)

George Willis Pack was generous indeed to his adopted city of Asheville. From the Zebulon Vance Monument to Pack Memorial Library, he contributed to the preservation of Asheville's heritage. Pack Square has been transformed into Pack Square Park in the center of Asheville. Actually, Pack Square Park includes Pack Square!

For comprehensive information on this benefactor go to: George Willis Pack.

For a video on the development of Pack Square Park go to: Pack Square Park.


Reference: Pack Square Conservancy.
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RiverLink Bus Tours

The history of Asheville and the region is inextricably linked to its waterways, with the French Broad and the Swannanoa being the best known examples. RiverLink is a regional non-profit organization that is spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a place to live, work, and play. Since 1987 RiverLink has engaged in 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 riverfront district.

Want to see what is going on? Take a bus tour:

RiverLink Bus Tours

Third Thursdays, 12:00-2:00pm

Winter/Spring 2010 dates:
March 18
April 15
May 20

For more information go to RiverLink Bus Tours.
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ella Swain Married a Union General


North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh)
History à la Carte: Undaunted Heart
Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2010
12:10–1 p.m.
Bring your lunch; beverages provided.

Suzy Barile, Author: When former governor David Swain’s daughter Ella married Union general Smith Atkins, not everyone in the state rejoiced. Suzy Barile, the couple’s great-great-granddaughter, shares excerpts from Ella’s letters that reveal a loving marriage that transcended differences and scandal.

Undaunted Heart: The True Story of a Southern Belle & a Yankee General, Suzy Barile (2009).
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During the last days of the Civil War, Union troops under the command of General Smith D. Atkins occupied Chapel Hill. When the general called on President David S. Swain, the president introduced him to his daughter, Eleanor, then twenty-one years old. Atkins was so taken with Eleanor that he ordered his regimental band to serenade her every evening and presented Swain with a gift of two horses, one for him and one for his daughter. As Atkins departed Chapel Hill, Eleanor announced their engagement, and the couple married in August 1865. Confederate supporters disapproved of their romance and accused the Swains of betraying the South.

In a letter dated 12 May 1865, Ella stated: "I had nothing to hide when the Yankees came among us except my self, this I had no fear of being stolen, but see the result!"

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Smith Dykins Atkins (1835-1913) was born in Horseheads, NY, and educated at Rock River Seminary in Mount Morris, IL. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1854 and enlisted as a private in the Eleventh Illinois Infantry in April 1861. He attained the rank of captain in 1861, major in March 1862, and breveted brigadier general in January 1865. After his marriage to Eleanor Swain the couple moved to Freeport, IL, where Atkins became postmaster and editor of the Freeport Journal. They became the parents of a daughter Eleanor Hope.
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David Lowry Swain (1801-1868) was the youngest son of Caroline Lane and George Swain, a farmer. He was born in Buncombe County, NC, and educated at Newton Academy in Asheville, NC. He was admitted to the junior class at the University in 1821 but remained only one week. Reluctant to spend his parents' scarce resources, he went to Raleigh to read law under Chief Justice John Louis Taylor, then returned to Asheville in 1823 to begin his law practice. He married Eleanor White in 1826; they became the parents of three sons, two of whom died in infancy, and two daughters. Buncombe County voters sent Swain to the NC House of Commons four times between 1824 and 1829, when the legislature appointed him judge of the superior court. In 1832 Swain became governor, a role that allowed him to represent western North Carolina interests; promote internal improvements such as roads, railroads, and schools; and reform the state's constitution by bringing together in 1835 a coalition of the state's Whigs and Democrats. Despite his political success, the predominantly Democratic General Assembly of 1835, the last to elect North Carolina's governor, denied Swain a fourth one-year term. He became president of the University in 1835, a position he held until his death in 1868 (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 5:483-86). Students referred to Swain as "the Governor" or as "Old Bunk."
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A Brief History of Macon County, North Carolina

Canaro Drayton Smith (1813-1894) was the eighth son of a pioneer Macon County, North Carolina family. In 1891, Smith authored A Brief History of Macon County, North Carolina, which can be viewed online at: Macon County History.

Here is an excerpt concerning early houses and the first hotel around 1820. Some of the earlier settlers had Buncombe County roots:

There were several log cabins built about that time, but the order in which it was done and the claims to priority I have been unable to ascertain. Lindsey Fortune built a cabin on the lot where the Franklin House, or Jarrett Hotel, now stands. Samuel Robinson built on the lot now occupied by Mrs. Robinson. Silas McDowell first built on the lot where stands the residence of D.C. Cunningham. Dillard Love built the first house on Mr. Trotter's lot. N. S. Jarrett built on the lot owned and occupied by Sam L. Rogers. John F. Dobson first improved the corner lot now owned by C. C. Smith. James K. Gray built the second house made of hewn logs on the lot owned by Mrs. Dr. A. W. Bell. Jesse R. Siler, one of the first settlers, built the house at the foot of the town hill where Mr. Geo. A. Jones now resides. He also built the second house on the Gov. Robinson lot and the brick store and dwelling owned at present by Capt. A. P. Munday. James W. Guinn or Mr. Whittaker built the house owned and occupied by Mr. Jackson Johnston.

I am indebted for much of this information about the early settlement of Franklin to the late James K. Gray and Silas McDowell. There is one other fact worthy of notice. John R. Allman operated the first hotel in Franklin. Shortly after this, Jesse R. Siler opened his house at the "foot of the hill" and these two houses furnished the hotel accommodations here for many years. These are facts of history about Franklin so far as they go. Though meager and unsatisfactory, they may be interesting to future generations.

Note the reference to Nimrod Simpson Jarrett. See the earlier article on him posted to this website.
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The People of Macon. Macon was organized into a county in 1828 "and was singularly fortunate in the character of the people who first settled it." . . . . Wm. and Jacob Siler having married sisters of D. L. Swain, and Jesse R. Siler having married a daughter of John Patton of Buncombe, sister of the late lamented Mont. Patton, it is not difficult to account for the great moral worth of the county that now exists and has from its first settlement.

Source: Arthur, John Preston. Western North Carolina: A History from 1730 to 1913 (1914) at 173.
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Nimrod and Nancy Avaline Jarrett

Nancy Avaline Jarrett (1808-1880), the daughter of Hannah Brandon McKee (later Lowry) and James L. McKee, grew up in western North Carolina. She married Colonel Nimrod Simpson Jarrett (1799-1871) of Buncombe County, N.C., on 14 December 1826, and they had thirteen children. Nimrod Simpson Jarrett purchased a farm in Haywood County, N.C., in 1830, and later purchased land in Franklin, Swain, and Macon counties. He became one of the largest landowners in western North Carolina, owning thousands of acres over the course of his lifetime. In addition to speculating in land, Jarrett farmed, traded ginseng, and owned mica and talc mines. He owned between six and twelve slaves. He also served in the Macon County militia, rising to the rank of colonel. Jarrett and his family resided in Aquone, Macon County, until their house caught fire in 1855; the youngest daughter perished in the flames. The family then moved to Appletree Farm in the Nantahala Valley. Nimrod Simpson Jarrett was murdered on 15 September 1871 while on his way from Apple Tree Farm to Franklin to conduct business. Balias Henderson was apprehended and found guilty of the crime.

For the full story of the murder of Nimrod Simpson Jarrett (1799-1871) see "A Bullett for Nimrod" in Dead & Gone: The stories Behind Ten Famous Murders, Manly Wade Wellman (1954) at 122-136.

Captain Nimrod S. Jarrett was born in Buncombe county in 1800, married a Miss McKee, and moved to Haywood county in 1830, engaging in the "sang" business, till he moved to Macon, where he resided at Aquone in 1835, afterwards at the Apple Tree place six miles down the river, and still later at Jarretts station on the Murphy railroad. He owned large tracts of mountain lands, and the talc mine now operated at Hewitts. He was murdered in September, 1873, by Bayless Henderson, a tramp from Tennessee. Henderson was executed for the crime, at Webster, in 1874.

Source: Arthur, John Preston. Western North Carolina: A History from 1730 to 1913. Published 1914 by the Edward Buncombe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Asheville.
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Hannah Brandon Lowry (b. 1788) was the daughter of Colonel John Patton (1765-1834) and Ann Mallory Patton (1760-1855). On 23 August 1804, she married James L. McKee (1780-1849), the son of William McKee and Mary McHenry McKee. Hannah and James McKee resided in western North Carolina and reared ten children, including Nancy Avaline McKee and James L. McKee. Following her husband's death in 1849, Hannah married James Lowry and resided in Sandy Mush in Buncombe County, N.C.

James L. McKee (b. 1822) was the younger brother of Nancy Avaline Jarrett. He married a woman named Fannie. They resided in Yanceyville, N.C., and reared several children. McKee worked as a farmer and then as a businessman, and he owned at least one slave. He did not fight in the Civil War, but remained at home to tend his business, which was adversely affected by the war. In 1878, McKee and his family moved to Swannanoa in Buncombe County, following the ruin of his business in Yanceyville.

Source:

The Southern Historical Collection
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Collection Number: 05050
Collection Title: Nancy Avaline Jarrett Papers, 1852-1878, 1966-1997
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Civil War: Western North Carolina

In November 1863, North Carolina governor Zebulon B. Vance reported to a correspondent that there was "an astonishing amount of disloyalty" to the Confederacy in the mountain counties of western North Carolina. Problems related to conscription and desertion led Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and other Confederate leaders to reach the same conclusion. Two months later, Vance, a native of western North Carolina, wrote to former North Carolina governor David L. Swain, another western North Carolinian, offering a brief comparison between the patriots of the War for Independence and Southerners during the present conflict. He concluded:

"Liberty and independence can only be gathered of blood and misery sustained and fostered by devoted patriotism and heroic manhood. This requires a deep hold on the popular heart, and our people will not pay this price." After Hood's defeats around Atlanta in the summer of 1864, Vance wrote to Swain again and observed that "the great popular heart is not now and never has been in the war. It was a revolution of the politicians; not the people."

Source: McKinney, Gordon B., "Layers of Loyalty: Confederate Nationalism and Amnesty Letters from Western North Carolina." Civil War History, Volume 51, Number 1, March 2005, pp. 5-22.
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Nicholas Washington Woodfin (1810-1876)

(click on photograph for larger image)

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.

Source:

The Southern Historical Collection
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Collection Number: 01689
Collection Title: Nicholas Washington Woodfin Papers, 1795-1919, 1950
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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).
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“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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Reed Family of Buncombe County

The Reed family settled in Buncombe County, N.C., before 1789. Notable Reed family members include Joseph Reed (1827-1884), a captain in the Confederate States of America Army during the Civil War, who married Catherine Harrison Miller Reed. Joseph's son, Marcus Lafayette Reed (1851-1938), also known as Mark L. Reed and M. L. Reed, was a member of the North Carolina State Legislature, and was chair of the Board of County Commissioners for Buncombe County. His son, Mark L. Reed (1902-1944), was a prominent businessman and aviator in Asheville, N.C. His son, Mark L. Reed (1935- ), was a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1963-2000, and a prominent William Wordsworth scholar.
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The Reed family's history can be traced back to 16th century Britain. The first Reed to reside in the United States was George Reed (1612-1671) who emigrated to Virginia in 1637. William Reed (b. 1738) was the first Reed to settle in what is now Buncombe County, N.C., before 1789. His great-grandson, Joseph Reed (1827-1884), was a captain in the Confederate States of America Army during the Civil War, and was one of the largest landowners in North Carolina. On 1848, Joseph married Catherine Harrison Miller Reed, a descendant of the Harrison family of Virginia, which produced two United States Presidents: William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. Joseph and Catherine's children include Samuel Harrison Reed (1851-1905), Marcus Lafayette Reed (1853-1938), Thomas Jefferson Reed (1860-1903), and Harriet Katherine Reed Whitaker (1869-1967).

Marcus Lafayette Reed (1853-1938) was a representative for Buncombe County in the North Carolina State Legislature from 1901 to 1904, and was chair of the Board of County Commissioners for Buncombe County, N.C., from 1900 to 1908. He married Fannie Stevens Reed in 1872. After Fannie died in 1881, Marcus married Bethany Barbara Sales Reed in 1882. His children included Ella Osmonia Reed Latham Mathews (1873-1959), Hesta Lena Reed Kitchin (1879-1918), Jessie Reed Burnett (1885-1951), Joseph Lucius Reed (1893-?) and Mark L. Reed (1902-1944).

Mark L. Reed (1902-1944) was a prominent Asheville businessman, serving as president of Reed and Abee, Inc., a contracting firm, and as vice president of White Transportation Company. He was also manager of the Asheville-Hendersonville airport, and was himself an accomplished aviator, serving as wing commander of the Civil Air Patrol in North Carolina. He married Edith Alicia Murphy Reed in 1925, and had one son, Mark L. Reed (1935- ), before his death in 1944 from injuries suffered in a plane crash.

Mark L. Reed (1935- ) was educated at Yale University, where he received his B.A. in 1957, and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1962. He was a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1963 to 2000, and was a prominent William Wordsworth scholar. He married Martha Balch Sibley Reed in 1958.

Source:

The Southern Historical Collection
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Collection Number: 05179
Collection Title: Reed Family of Buncombe County, N.C., Papers, 1816-1996
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Buncombe County Map

(click on map for larger image)

For additional Asheville and Buncombe County maps go to North Carolina Maps.
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Davidson and Hightower Land Grant 1786

Buncombe County, North Carolina
Register of Deeds

Index: DEE
Date Filed: 2 January 1786
Grantor: State of North Carolina (960 acres)
Grantees: William Davidson and Richard Hightower
Description: 960 Acres French Broad River
Book/Page: 1-A/28

State of North Carolina No 960 Acres

To all to whom these presents shall come greeting know you that for and in consideration of Starling money paid by Richard Hightower & William Davidson into the Treasury for the use of this State we have granted and by these presents do grant unto the said Richard Hightower & William Davidson, their heirs and assigns as Tenant in Common and not as joint Tenants a plantation or tract of land containing nine hundred and sixty acres situate in the District of Ninety Six on both sides of French Broad River abord the Cherry Tree bottom including the upper fork. Having such shape from and marks as are represented by a plat hereunto annexed together with all woods, trees, waters, water courses, crops, commodities, appurtenances, and hereditaments whatsoever hereunto belonging. To have and to hold the said tract of nine hundred and sixty acres of land and all and singularly other _____ premises hereby granted just _____ said/paid Richard Hightowers, William Davidson, their heirs and assigns forever free and _____ given under the great seals of the state. Witness his excellency William Moulrie Esquire, Our Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the said State at Charlston this second day of January Anno Domini One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Six and in the tenth year of the Independence of the United States of America.

William Moultrie

John Davidson, Registrar
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Note that, William Moultrie, governor of South Carolina, granted to Richard Hightower and William Davidson 960 acres of land located in North Carolina. However, the "Starling money" paid apparently went into the treasury of the State of North Carolina. One possible explanation is that General William Moultrie had as a result of the Revolutionary War some authority to bestow land grants that extended into North Carolina. This has not, however, been confirmed. In 1786, Richard Caswell was governor of North Carolina.
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William Moultrie was born in Charleston, South Carolina on November 23, 1730. His father, a prominent physician, had come from England in 1728. He lived on a plantation in St. John's Berkeley County. In 1749, he married Elizabeth Demaris de St. Julien. After her death, he would marry Hannah Motte Lynch. Moultrie rose to prominence after serving as a militia Captain in the Cherokee expedition under Lt. Colonel James Grant in 1761. Even though William Moultrie was a political moderate, when the Revolution came, he joined the rebellion. He was elected to the 1st Continental Congress in 1774, but did not serve. On June 17, 1775, he was given the commission of Colonel in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment. On September 16, 1777, Moultrie was commissioned a Brigadier General in the Continental Army. However, he did not participate in any significant field operations until after the British capture of Savannah, Georgia on December 29, 1778.

Under Southern Commander Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln, Brig. General Moultrie was given a measure of independence of command. He commanded at Beaufort (Port Royal Island), South Carolina on February 3, 1779 where he defeated 200 British troops. This defeat discouraged Colonel (later Maj. General) Augustine Prevost from pursuing operations north into South Carolina until May 1779. Moultrie helped organize Charleston's defenses when General Prevost threatened the city on May 11-12, 1779. Moultrie was involved in the American defeat at Stono Ferry, South Carolina on June 20, 1779. He was again elected to the Continental Congress, but declined to serve. In 1780, Moultrie was captured following the Siege of Charleston on May 12, 1780 and remained imprisoned for the next two years. He was exchanged for Maj. General John Burgoyne in February 1782. On October 15, he was promoted to Major General, the last such appointment of the war to that grade.

Following the war, William Moultrie was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1783. In 1784, he served as Lieutenant Governor. He was then elected governor for a two-year term in 1785. While governor, he created the county court system and the capital was moved from Charleston to Columbia in 1786. He was elected to the State Senate in 1787. He was elected to his second two-year term as governor in 1792. He retired from public office 1794. In 1802, his Memoirs of the American Revolution were published in two volumes. Moultrie died in Charleston on September 27, 1805. He was interred at Windsor Hill Plantation. Fort Sullivan was renamed Fort Moultrie in his honor.
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