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The Ripley family enjoyed early prominence in Hendersonville, especially the colonel himself. According to Lila Ripley Barnwell (the daughter of Col. Valentine Ripley) in an article that appeared in the Times News on August 29, 1938, "Colonel Valentine Ripley, a native of Rockbridge County, Virginia, came to this section in the (eighteen) thirties, settling first in Asheville, where he married Miss Ruth Smith, daughter of James Smith, who was the first white child born west of the Blue Ridge in North Carolina. Shortly afterward Henderson County was cut off from Buncombe, and because of interest in the mail route, Colonel Ripley came here to live. He had large land interests, owning thousands of acres in the county.
No citizen was ever more interested in the progress and development of this section. After the War Between the States, Colonel Ripley formed a partnership with Captain M. C. Toms in the mercantile business. He was too much a lover of the out of doors and fine horses to like the confinement of that life, and while he carefully attended to the business the practical management was left largely in the capable hands of Captain Toms. One of the greatest ambitions of his life was a railroad for Hendersonville and for years he spent time and money for this accomplishment, living to see his dream realized about four months before his death in 1879."
Source: Hendersonville Historic Preservation Commission.