Saturday, April 25, 2015

Asheville Town in the Year 1842

Asheville Town in the Year 1842

Justice Summey Gives Many Interesting Facts.

"Asheville Should Be Proud of the Progress Made Since the Old Days"

Photograph: At the time the street was South Main Street, now named Biltmore Avenue. Note the sign to the left: Patton & Summey. This is believed to be the business owned by Montraville Patton (1806-1896) and Albert T. Summey (1823-1906). Montraville Patton was a brother of Mary (Polly) Patton (1794-1853) who married James McConnell Smith (1787-1856).

Editor The Citizen: -- When I was a young fellow of 18 I accepted a position as clerk in the store of Patton & Osborn. At that time there were seven stores in Asheville: Patton & Osborn, M. Patton, A. B. Chunn, Williams & Roberts, Joseph Dunlap, James M. Smith and N. S. Jarrett. There were two hotels, the Eagle hotel, kept by J. W. Patton, and the Buck hotel kept by James M. Smith. The population was estimated at 600 souls. We had only one street, properly so called, Main street. On it and around the square all the business was transacted. The Asheville merchants did quite a large business, there being at that time only two country stores, J. M. Alexander's, 10 miles north of Asheville, and J. R. Shuford's, 10 miles south of the town, both located on the old Buncombe township road.

We had only three lawyers in town, N. W. Woodfin, John W. Woodfin and Joshua Roberts, and one in the county, Geo. W. Candler. The Highland Messenger, edited by Joshua Roberts and Rev. D. R. McAnally, was the only paper published in the state west of the Blue Ridge. It was a well conducted paper, the editors being both gentlemen of high standing. Of all the white people then living here there are now living only three males, J. L. McKee, Thos. W. Patton, who was about two years old, and myself; and of females, Mrs. Harriett Kerr, Mrs. Sarah L. McDowell, Mrs. Jane Spears and Mrs. Lizzie Smith, and one, or perhaps two, daughters, I am not certain, of N. W. Woodfin.

The court house then stood right in front of the Vance monument and the court room, which was an upper story, was reached by a long flight of stone steps outside of the building. The basement was used for county offices. The old jail occupied the ground on which the Asheville library building stands.

The only building on North Main street was the old Buck hotel building and a house built of brick in the rear of Dr. Burroughs' handsome residence and owned and occupied by N. W. Woodfin. On the west side of the street the Stradleys had a blacksmith shop and down below the junction of Merrimon avenue and North Main there was an old tannery owned by Samuel Chunn. From the court house going east there was a road (not a street) which led by Mrs. Morrison's home on the south side of the road to Wm. Coleman's farm, out on or near the end of the Charlotte street car lines. From the court house going west after leaving the square there was but one house, known as the boarding house of the Asheville Female seminary. This ground is not covered by the Drhumor block except a part of the old brick kitchen, which stands on Patton avenue and used as an office. Besides this was not a house until you reached the river at "Smith's bridge" (replaced in later years by an elegant iron bridge) except one old log Baptist church on the ground covered by that elegant residence known as the Melke house.

The lot on northwest Court Square, on which noe stands the Asheville National bank building, Redwood's store, M. V. Moore's store, the Battery Park bank, Blomberg's store, Hotel Berkeley, Penniman Bros. & Co.'s store, W. L. Moore and others, and containing one acre was sold by J. W. Patton to Hugh Johnston after I came here for $1100. It was then a clover lot and enclosed with an old fashioned rail fence.

There were only two churches -- the Methodist, a wooden building occupying the same place as is now covered by the present brick building, and the Presbyterian, occupying the same place as the present church, and of brick. This church faced east and was approached by a foot bridge over the hollow leading from South Main street.

There were in town only three carriages and two buggies and perhaps four or five pianos. Organs were then unknown in these parts.

The ground occupied by Patton avenue and the Battery Park hotel and the present square north of Patton avenue and south of Haywood street, was a heavily timbered forest, and I have killed many a squirrel in those woods.

Now after living in this town from 1842 to 1900, when I look around and see the vast changes I am led to ask what will the next 58 years do for this place? Truly we ought to feel proud of what we have done in the way of progress and be encouraged still to push on. In 1842 the towns of Rutherfordton, Morganton, Lincolnton, Salisbury and Charlotte were wont to make fun of and point the finger of scorn at us. But leaving out Charlotte please tell me where are all these other places "at."

Should you think these notes would amuse of interest your readers you can publish them, otherwise commit them to your waste basket.

A. T. Summey
Asheville, Sept. 24

Source: The Asheville Citizen (Asheville, North Carolina), Tuesday, 25 September 1900.