Skip to main content

Full text of "Asheville and Buncombe County"

See other formats



Collection of American ILiteratur^ 

Ikqucatfjeb to 

Cfje ilibrarp of ttje Hnibersitp of 
i^ortf) Carolina 

"He gave back as rain that which he 
^>^ receiveei as mist" 

D97/. !/-S 7,9 



w^ r I . \ 


IN November of last year The Asheville Citizen moved into its new 
and permanent home at No. 25 Haywood Street. 
In celebration of that event The Citizen published a special 
edition, in which appeared two most interesting and highly instructive 
articles on the history of Western North Carolina and of Buncombe 
County, one prepared by Dr. F. A. Sondley, and the other by General 
Theodore F. Davidson, 

These two articles attracted widespread attention as they both 
narrated incidents and facts, many of which had never before been 
printed, and many of The Citizen's readers urged tliat these two articles 
be reprinted in pamphlet form, so as to be more easily read and pre- 
served for the future. 

At our request Dr. Sondley and General Davidson have both 
revised those two articles and have brought them up to date, and, in 
response to this request. The Citizen has had them printed and bound 
in this little volume. 

The Citizen believes that the public will be deeply interested in 
the facts set forth in this little volume, and is glad to have the oppor- 
tunity^ of performing what it believes is a great public service in hand- 
ing them down for future generations. 

The expense of securing the illustrations and the printing of this 
volume is considerably more than the . management anticipated, and, 
in order to help defray the cost of the sam.e, we are making a nominal 
charge for each book to help defray this expense. 

The Citizen is under deep obligations to Dr. Sondley and General 
Davidson for their arduous labors in compiling the facts set forth 
herein. They have striven earnestly and faithfully to get together, in 
an interesting and succinct manner, without remuneration, the facts 
compiled, and are entitled to the thanks and appreciation of a grateful 

The Citizen Company. 
February 27, 1922. 




Hon. Theodore F. Davidson 




Copyright. 1922, by 

F. A. Sondley, LL.D. 



This little work is dedicated to 
Honorable Theodore F. Davidson 

who has ever exerted himself for the preservation of 

Bunco77ibe's history, and in so doing has 

made that county his lasting debtor. 

— Author. 



'T^HIS is intended to be a sketch of the 
A history of Asheville and Buncombe 
County. It is difficult to tell in writing a local 
history where to stop. There is always more 
to be said. All facts are material; but all 
facts are not equally interesting and all 
facts are not equally well known. Public 
records have been followed where available. 
When they have failed, recourse has been had 
to tradition; but no tradition has been fol- 
lowed unless, after careful scrutiny, it seems 
to be true and even thqn is well attested. Too 
great generality renders whatever is written 
worthless. On the other hand, too much 
detail is tedious. All history is incomplete. 
This sketch makes no claim to even approxi- 
mate completeness. Its aim is to give the most 
important events in the story of Asheville and 
adjoining regions with enough explanation 
and illustration to enable a reader to under- 
stand, in some measure at least, the people 
who have made that story a reality. 


Finis Viae, 

December 31, 1921. 


Chapter I 

Early Discoveries of America — Norwegians and Vinland — Irish and Land of the 
White ]Men or Great Ireland or Huitramannaland — Ari ]Marsson — North Caro- 
lina's first Lost Colony— North Carolina second Lost Colony— Welsh and 
Madoc — Tuscaroras — Morgan Jones — North Carolina's third Lost Colony — 
Columbus— Hernando De Soto— Hickorynut Gap— Pedro Menendez de Aviles 
—Saint Helena and San Felipe— Juan Pardo— Xualla or Juada or Joara or 
Sara or Suala— Otapales and Olagatanos— Yupaha, Aixacan, Chiquola, Chisca, 
Apalatci, Onagatano— La Grand Copal, Florida— New France, Louisiane, 
Apalche, Apalache— Virginia, Western North Carolina— Huguenots— Rene G. 
Landonniere— French in Florida— "jMountaines of Apalatcy"— Silver and Gold 
and "Redde Copper" — Francis Yardly — Spaniards — Haynokes or Enos — John 
Lederer— Sir William Berkley — Ancient IMining in Western North Carolina- 
Lincoln County— Cherokee County— Reed :Mine— North Carolina Gold— John 
and Sebastian Cabot— Sir Walter Raleigh— Virginia— Amidas anr Barlow- 
Ralph Lane— Raleigh's Lost Colony— Old North State— Indian Corn, Sassa- 
fras, Irish Potatoes, Tobacco — First English Settlement in America, first Eng- 
lish Gold :Mine in America, Virginia Dare, first Battle for Independence at 
Alamance — Stamp Act in North Carolina — Tryon — John Ashe — W'addell — 
Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence — Halifax Provincial Congress — 
Secession in North Carolina— Henry Wyatt— Battle of Big Bethel— William 
Henry Foote's tribute to Scotch-Irish of North Carolina— George Bancroft's 
tribute to North Carolina— Battle of Kings Mountain— White Occupation 
to Revolution— Cherokees— Indian Relics— Site of Asheville old Battle- 
ground P^g^ 25 

Chapter II 

French Broad River— Indian Names for French Broad- Tocheste, Pse-lico, 
Agiqua, Tocheesstee, Zillicoah, Un-takiyastiyi— "French"— Origin of Name 
of French Broad— Swannanoa River— Origin of Name of Swannanoa— Shaw- 
anoes — Savannah, Swanee, Suanee — Cumberland River — "Chouanou'' — 
Sewanee— Shawanoes on Swannanoa— Davidson's River— Mills River— Little 
River— Muddy Creek— Clear Creek— Cane Creek— Catawba Grape— William 
Camp— Hominy Creek— Newfound Creek— Turkey Creek— Sandymush Creek 
—Cripple Creek, Big Branch, Town Branch, Gash's Creek— Nathan Smith's 
Creek Glenn's Creek— Asheville Gold— Beaverdam Creek— John Davis s 
Branch— Reems Creek— Flat Creek— Ivy River— Laurel River— Spring Creek 
—Warm Springs, Hot Springs, Discovery— Ross's Creek, Chunn's Cove- 
Haw Creek, Whitson's Creek, "T. T. Patton's ^liU Creek"— Grassy Branch- 
Bull Creek— Bee Tree Creek— South Fork of Swannanoa River, Flat Creek— 
Asheville Plateau— Blue Ridge— Appalachian or Alleghany Mountains- 
Origins of Names Appalachian and Alleghany— Pisgah— Busby— Bearwajiow 
—Bald Top— Sugar Loaf— Pilot— Point Lookout— Craggy— iBlack Mountain- 
Lane's Pinnacle-Mine Hole Gap-Forges on Hominy Creek and Reems 
Creek-Beaucatcher- Judge Avery-Elks, last killed in North Carolina-Elk 
Mountain— Last Panthers in North Carolina— Deer— Bears— Lynxes— Gooctis 
Peak-Tryon's Line-Tryon ^lountain-City of Tryon-French Broad, 
Pse-li-co, Tocheste, Agiqua, Tocheeosstee, Zillicoah, Untakiyastiki, Zeehleeka, 
Esseewah— Pisgah, Warwasseeta, Elseetoss— Balk Mountain, Sokassa— bugar- 

1 2 Contents 

loaf Mountain. Salola — Broad River, Esseedaw, Craggy Mountain, Sunnalee — 
Black Mountain, Seencyahs — Cold Mountain, Osteenoah — Balsam Mountains, 
Judykullas — Smoky Mountains, Chesseetoahs — Newfound ^Mountains. 
Chewassee — Cisco page 37 

Chapter III 

Lake — Mountain Island — Former course of French Broad River — Ushery — 
Lederer — De Soto — De Soto in North Carolina — Cofachiqui — Xuala or 
Chouala — Suali, Suara, Suala, Cheraw, Sara — Guatule or Gauchule — Dis- 
coverj- of the ^Mississippi River — Rickohocans page 47 

Chapter IV 

John Lederer — Sara or Suala — James Needham and Gabriel Arthur — Abraham 
Wood — Tomahitan Indians, Cherokees — Sitteree — Death of Needham — First 
Visit of English to Cherokees — John Stuart and Alexander Cameron — Georgia 
Expedition against Cherokees — Colonel William Christian Expediton against 
Cherokees — General Griffith Rutherford Expedition against Cherokees — 
Rutherford's Route — Swannanoa Gap — War Ford of French Broad — Hominy 
Creek — Pigeon River — Richland Creek — Tuckaseigee River — Cowee ]Moun- 
tain — Skirmish with Indians — Tennessee River — Fight with Indians — Valley 
Towns — Middle Towns — Indian towns of Watauga, Estotoa and Ellojay 
Destroyed — U'illiamson's Expedition against Cherokees — Colonel William- 
son's Route — Catawbas — Colonel Williamson's fight with Indians — William- 
son joins Rutherford — Result of Rutherford Expedition — Rutherford's Return 
— "Rutherford's Trace" — James Hall — Captain Charles Polk's Diar>' — 
Nuckessey Town — Nowee — Hall's Sermon — Rutherford's Life — General 
William Davidson — Captains WilHam Moore and Harden's Expedition 
against the Cherokees — ^loore's Route — Moore and Harden destroy Indian 
town on Tuckaseigee — Tracking, killing and scalping Indians — Captures — 
Earthquake — '"Vandue" of prisoners and plunder — Moore's Report — Balsam 
Mountains — Indian poisoned at Sulphur Spring on Hominy Creek — Colonel 
John Sevier's Expedition against Cherokees in 1781, up Cane Creek and 
across Ivy and Swannanoa to Tuckasejah and headwaters of Little Tennessee 
— Expedition of Tennesseeans against Cherokees to Coosa watee in 1789 — 
Indians at Warm Springs in 1793 — Blockhouses on French Broad at Hough's, 
Burnt Canebrake, Painted Rock and Warm Springs — Buncombe Scout to Big 
Laurel — Sevier's Expedition against Cherokees up French Broad River and 
up Newfound Creek and back down Hominy — Settlers before Revolution on 
Catawba River — Swannanoa valley — Samuel Davidson settles on Christian 
Creek and is killed by Cherokees— Escape of wife and child— Expedition from 
Old Fort to avenge his death— Fight with Cherokees from Cheesborough Place 
on Swannanoa River to mouth of that river in Canebrake — White camp — 
Hunters on North Fork of Swannanoa— John S. Rice, John Rice, David 
Nelson, William Rhodes — "Swannanoa Settlement" on Swannanoa at mouth 
of Bee Tree Creek— Alexanders, Davidsons— First Field cleared in Bun- 
combe—Bull Mountain— Settlements on Reems and Flat Creeks, and on 
French Broad, and on Hominy Creek— Treaty of Long Island of Holston— 
Arrangements for treaty with Cherokees of Middle Towns and Valley Towns 
—North Carolina Act of 1783 P^^e 51 

I Contents 13 


Chapter V 
Swannanoa River dividing line between Burke and Rutherford Counties-Joseph 
McDowell s Line-Grant to Captain William Moore who put negroes on land 
-Buncombe County formed from Burke and Rutherford Countie^Named 
or Colone hd^^^rd Buncombe-Genealogy of Buncombe County-Clarendon 
Coun y-New Hanover County-Bladen County-Anson County-Rowan 
rZr'"^''^^' f County-Mecklenburg County-Tryon County-Lincoln 
County— Rutherford County— David Vance and Colonel William Davidson- 
Creation of Buncombe County— Organization of Buncombe County— First 
place of Sittmg of County Court-'-Talking for Buncombe"-Felix Walker- 
iJr. K. B. Vance- James Graham— S. P. Carson— Vance- Carson duel— David 
Crockett— Indian Empire— Christian Briber page 62 

Chapter VI 

Town of Asheville— John Burton— Grants for Asheville— Town laid out- 
Named Morristown— Plan of Town— Formation of Buncombe County— Loca- 
tion of county town— Called Morristown— Places considered for site of town— 
bteam-saw-mill Place— William Morrison— Origin of Name of Morristown— 
Indian Graves— Big Branch— Asheville Public Square— Grants of Charles II 
to Lords Proprietors— Conveyances to George II.— John Carteret, Earl of 
Granville— Granville Land— Granville Suit— John Carteret, Earl of Granville 
—Act establishing Buncombe County— Commissioners to locate County town 
—Election of first County officers— John Davidson— Thomas Davidson- 
John Dillard— Reuben Wood— Superior Court of District of Morgan— Jurors 
first from Buncombe— Sale of town lots— Thomas Foster— Thomas Foster 
Sr.— Zebulon and Be^lent Baird— Zebulon Baird— First wagon in Buncombe-^ 
Stage-coach— Baird 'Suit— John Street— Joseph Hughey— James Hughey— 
John Gray Blount Tax Sale— John Craig— Henry West— First Sheriff— First 
Treasurer— William Forster, Sr.— Ephraim Drake Harris— Samuel Lusk— 
James Brittain— Colonel William Davidson— Buncombe's first State Senator- 
General William Davidson— Samuel Davidson— Major William Davidson- 
Daniel Smith— Swannanoa Settlement— Gabriel Ragsdale and William 
Brittain, first members of House of Commons from Buncombe— Colonel John 
Patton— Opened firsS^^nty Court— First County Surveyor— Patton's Bridge 
—Samuel Ashe — Ashe^i3*e named for him — Change of Morristown to Ashe- 
ville — Bayard v. Singleton— Colonel David Vance— Buncombe County Court's 
first _ clerk— Governor Z. B. Vance— General R. B. Vance— Colonel A. T. 
Davidson— Cherokees pl^n attack in 1793 on Swannanoa settlements^ 
Colonel Doherty and Colonel McFarland's invasion of Cherokee country from 

Tennessee in 1793 — Asheville saved from Cherokees page 69 

Chapter VII 

Asheville incorporated — Act of incorporation — John Jarrett — Samuel Chunn — 
William Welch- George Swain— Zebulon Baird— Plan of Asheville and addi- 
tions — N. Blackstock — R. B. Johnston — John Jarrett — Edmund Sams — First 
Ferry over French Broad, Sams's Ferry, later Jarrett's Ferry— Smith's 
Bridge — Concrete Bridge — Edmund Sams — Buncombe's first Coroner — Benoni 
Sams — William Gudger, Sr. — James Gudger — James M. Smith — First white 
child born west of Blue Ridge in North Carolina — Iron Bridge — Samuel 
Chunn— Chunn's Tanyard— Chunn's Cove— A. B. Chunn— William Welsh — 
George Swain — Joel Lane, founder ot Raleigh — General Joseph Lane — 
David L. Swain — First wagon in Buncombe — Post-road through Buncombe — 

14 Contents 

*Asheville distributing point for mails for Georgia, Carolinas, and Tennessee — 
George Swain postmaster — Hatter-shop — William Coleman — Baccus J. Sn-.ith 
— Grove Park — Early Roads — Indian Annoyances — Road to Benjamin David- 
son's Creek — Road over Reems Creek — Road "from Buncombe Courthouse to 
the Bull ^Mountain Road near Robt. Love's" — Road to Jonathan McPetei-s's 
on Hominy — Road from Asheville north — Beaverdam Road — Old Warm 
Springs Road-^Hopewell Turnpike — Jewel Hill Road — Philip Hoodenpile — 
Road from Buncombe Courthouse to Tennessee — Warm Springs Discovered — 
Colonel J. Barnett — Saluda Gap and first wagon — Saluda Gap Road — Colonel 

. Earle — Old State Road, Buncombe Road-\"Road from Augusta in Georgia to 
Knoxville" — First wagon from North Carolina to Tennessee page 92 

Chapter VHI 

Bishop .Anbury's Visits to Buncombe and Asheville in 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803, 
1805, 1806, 1807, 1808, 1809, 1810, 1812, 1813— Killian's— Side-fords— 
Captain Thomas Foster — Francis Asbury — Asbury's Journals — States owTiing 
back-countr>' at close of Revolution — South Carolina's cession to United 
States — Georgia's cession — United States cession to Georgia — Georgia's 
Walton County — Location of North Carolina's southern boundary next to 
Georgia — 35° Parallel of Latitude — Controversy between North Carolina and 
Georgia — '"Georgia War"' page 106 

Chapter IX 

'Buncombe Turnpike — Travel — Asheville and Greenville Plank Road — Thomas 
Foster's Bridge and Road — Hogs, cattle, horses, droves from Tennessee and 
Kentucky — John Patton's Road — Biltmore Concrete Bridge— f Asheville as a 
resort for seekers of health and pleasure from South Carolina — Court at 
Colonel William Davidson's home — Buncombe's first Courthouse, second 
Courthouse — Buncombe's Jail in 1802 — Asheville's Public Square — Commis- 
sioners to buy laiid for Public Square — Deeds for Public Square — Commis- 
sioners, Samuel ^Murray, senr., Thomas Foster, Jacob Byler, Thomas Love, 
and James Brittain — Buncombe's third Courthouse, 1825-1833 — N. W. Wood- 
lin — Buncombe's fourth Courthouse, destroyed in 1865 — Buncombe's fifth 
Courthouse — Buncombe's sixth Courthouse — G. W. Pack — Buncombe's 
seventh Courthouse — Buncombe's third Jail — Buncombe's fourth Jail — Bun- 
combe's fifth Jail — Buncombe's first Jail — Sale by County of part of Public 
Square — Lawyers — Reuben Wood, Buncombe's first Solicitor — Waighstill 
Avery, North Carolina's first Attorney General — First motion in court — 
Wallace Alexander — Joseph McDowell — James Holland — Joseph Spencer — 
Bennett Smith — Robert Williamson — Robert Henry — Sulphur Springs — Last 
of the Heroes of Kings Mountain — Deaver's Springs — John P. Arthur, History 
of Western North Carolina, History of Watauga County — Thomas Barren — 
Israel Pickens — Joseph Wilson — Joseph Carson — Robert H. Burton — Henry 
Harrison — Saunders Donoho — John C. Elliott — Henry Y. Webb — Tench 
Cox, Jr.— A. R. Ruffin— John Paxton— Abe Collins— Counterfeiters— D. L. 
Swain — George Newton — Mr. Porter — Newton Academy — B. F. Perry — 
Waddy Thompson— M. Patton— R. B. Vance— James W. Patton— University 
of North Carolina — Z. B. Vance's Life and Character of Hon. D. L. Swain — 
Judge Seawell— Old Warping Bars, Old Bunk— James R. Dodge— Samuel 
Hillman — Thomas Dewes — Mrs Silvers hung — State Capitol — Joshua Roberts 
— John H. Christy — Highland Messenger — Asheville Citizen — Thomas Lanier 

Contents 1 5 

Clingman—Clingman- Yancey Duel— Black IMountain— :Mitchell's Peak- 
Highest Land in United States east of Rocky [Mountains- Elisha Mitchell— 
Clingman's Dome— Zebulon B. Vance— Robert Brank Vance— Allen Turner 
Davidson— Augustus S. [Merrimon— John L. Bailey— Aston Park— David Cole- 
man—Nicholas W. Woodfin— Orchard Grass in Buncombe— Sorghum in Bun- 
combe — Woodfin Street— Marcus Erwin— North Carolina Secession_page- 117 

Chapter X 

First Buncombe County Court— James Davidson— David Vance— William 
Whitson— William Davidson— James Alexander— James Brittain— Philip 
Hoodenpile— First Action of Court— John Patton— Lambert Clayton- 
William Brittain— Election of County officers— First Trials— State v. Richard 
Yardly— W. Avery v. W. Fletcher— Susannah Baker first pauper— First Pro- 
cessioning—William Whitson, processioner— Lineing Branch— First Will 
probated that of Jonas Gooch— First Will on Record that of Colonel John 
Patton— First Dower to Denry Gash— "Rev. George Newton" and his "Pres- 
bytery" and "Circular" and action of Court thereon— Newton Academy 
Lottery — Edward Williams sentenced to be whipped — Whipping-post — 
Capital offences in North Carolina— Cropping— Thomas Hopper's fight with 
Philip Williams and loss therein of right ear— Certificate of Court about the 
fight— "Jail, Stocks, and Pillery" — Imprisonment for Debt never in Bun- 
conibe — North Carolina Homestead Exemption— Old Debtor laws— Emanci- 
pation of Thomas Foster's negro Jerry Smith— Buncombe's first Fairs— Caty 
Troxell's Deposition— First Suit tried in Morristown (Asheville)— W. Avery 
V. W. Fletcher, Caveat— North Carolina's first Attorney General — Elections 
of sheriff, clerk, register of deeds, coroner, entry-taker, surveyor, treasurer, 
treasurer of public buildings, standard-keeper, made by County Court — First 
Buncombe Superior Court— Buncombe in Sixth Circuit— Sixth Circuit com- 
posed of Surry, Wilkes, Ashe, Buncombe, Rutherford, Burke, Lincoln, Iredell, 
Cabarrus, Mecklenburg— Buncombe Superior Courts first Mondav after fourth 
Monday in March and September— First Capital Trial that of Randal Delk 
for Murder — Delk first man hung was executed south of Patton Avenue op- 
posite post-office — Negro named Christopher next executed — Execution of 
Sneed and Henry — Gallows Field — Negroes shot under sentence of court- 

. martial by Yankees— East and Chestnut Streets— Early service by publica- 
tion—Early Asheville Ordinances— Zebulon Baird, Daniel Jarrett, William 
Brittain, Samuel Chunn, William Welshe, George Swain, John Patton — 
Newton Academy Lottery — Processioning, its origin and history — Mason hung 
—College Street page 133 

Chapter XI 

Early manufactures in Buncombe — Wool cloth, Flax, Felt hats, Sfraw hats, 
Furniture, Ropes, Flour, Lumber, Leather, Shoes, Harness, Saddles, Cow bells, 
Guns, Pottery and Delftware, IMills-Game— Thomas Foster— Fish— Fish- 
traps— Gigging— Brandy and Whiskey— Barrooms— Powder— Jacob Byler— 
Bounty — Iron and Forges — Charles Lane — Forges on Hominy, Reems Creek, 
and Mills River — Boilston Gold Mine — Forge ISIountain — Grist Mills — 
William Davidson's ]\Iill — John Burton's Mill — James Gudger — Indians hang 
boys on Battery Park hill— Captain J. M. Gudger— Going to Mill— Handlen 
killed by Indians— Handlen ISIountain— Going to Mill to Old Fort— John 
Burton — Gap Creek — Patton and Erwin — James Patton — Andrew Erwin — 

16 Contents 

Warm Springs — Valley Street — James W. Patton — Albert T. Summey — Hay- 
wood County created — Act of creation — Eastern jealousy of West — Columbus 
County — Part of Buncombe to make Yancey County — Parts of Buncombe to 
make Henderson County — First Settlers of Buncombe — Presbyterians, Metho- 
dists, and Baptists — Preachers — Churches — Piney Grove, Reems Creek, Ashe- 
ville, and Cane Creek, first Presbyterian Churches — Beaverdam, Salem, Ashe- 
ville, and Turkey Creek, first Methodist Churches — Asheville, Green River, 
and Ivy, first Baptist Churches — Newton Academy — William Foster, Jr. — 
First Church in Asheville — Andrew Erwin, Daniel Smith, John Patton, Ed- 
mond Sams, James Blakely, William Foster, Senr., Thomas Foster, Jr., 
William Whitson, William Gudger, Samuel Murray, Joseph Henry, David 
Vance, William Brittain, George Davidson, John Davidson of Hominy, George 
Newton — "Cain Creek" — "Robert Patton's Meetinghouse" — Benjamin 
Hawkins, James Patton, William Gudger, Sr., Samuel Murray, Sr^ John 
McLane, William jNIcLane, William Moore, Sr., Samuel Davidson — Union 
Hill Academy — First house at Newton Academy, second, third — George 
Newton — Dickson Academy — First Church in Asheville, Baptist — Second 
Baptist Church — Jewish Synagogue — Third Baptist Church in Asheville — 
David Garren, C. C. :Matthews, G. M. Alexander, J. F Sullivan, G. W. 
Shackelford — First Methodist Church in Asheville — James M. Alexander — 
William Coleman, Israel Baird, Wilie Jones, J. F. E. Hardy, N. W. Woodfin, 
James M. Alexander, George W. Jones, James M. Smith, Joshua Roberts — 
Second Methodist Church— Third jMethodist Church— First Presbyterian 
Church after Newton Academy — Tames Patton and Samuel Chunn— Charles 
Moore, James W. Patton, Samuel Chunn, John Hawkins, John B. Whiteside — 
Next Presbyterian Church — First Episcopal Church in Asheville — James W. 
Patton — Nicholas W. Woodfin, Lester Chapman, Hatfield Ogden — Second 
Episcopal Church — Third Episcopal Church — John Alexander — James 
Alexander — James :Mitchell Alexander — Kings Mountain— Musgrove's Mill — 
Swannanoa Gap— Swannanoa Tunnel— Buncombe Turnpike— "French Broad" 
— Alexander's Chapel — ^Nlontrealla — James M. Smith — Daniel Smith — Femi- 
hurst— First Catholic Church in Asheville — W. D. Rankin— James Gibbonsr— 
Second Catholic Church in Asheville— Third Catholic Church— First Female 
School in .\sheville— John Dickson— Elizabeth Blackwell— First Woman 
Physician in United States— Asheville College for Young Women— Stephen 
Lee — Colonel Lee's School— Buncombe Illiteracy— Asheville's first newspaper. 
Highand Messenger— D. R. Mc Anally— Joshua Roberts— John H. Christy— 
W. H. Deaver and The Journal, semi-weekly newspaper— Asheville Citizen 
first daily newspaper in Asheville P^ge 141 


John C. Calhoun— Prediction about highest land east of Rocky Mountain and 
ground of prediction— Elisha Mitchell— T. L. Clingman— Controversy about 
first measurement of Mitchell's Peak— "Big Tom Wilson"— Mitchell's Falls 
on Cat Tail Creek of Cane River— Mitchell's Peak, Mitchell's High Peak, 
Mount Mitchell, Clingman's Peak, Black Dome— Mountain House— Measure- 
ments of Mitchell's Peak; Guyot's 6,701, Turner's 6,711, Clingman's 6,941, 
Mitchell's 6,708 and 6,772— Mitchell's reason for thinking Black Mountain 
had highest peak east of Rocky Mountains— United States signal station- 
Charles Glass— Robert Y. Hayne— Asheville a military centre— Camp Patton, 
Camp Clingman, Camp Jeter, Battery Porter, Beaucatcher, Opposite former 

Contents 17 

S^A^^^n^' ¥,o^tford Avenue, Riverside Drive, and Battle Ground-Battle 

^f ^7^^\7 fl^f'^^'l ^^^ ^^}^-^- ^- Shelton-Warehouses, comer 
of North Main and Walnut Streets, South part of Swannanoa Hotel, Valley 
3treet Lexmgton Avenue and Walnut Street, Patton Avenue and Bailey 
Street— Confederate Post-office in Asheville— Confederate Commissary— Con- 
federate Hospital— Confederate armories— Confederate Armory at Asheville 
on Valley and Eagle Streets— Charter of Asheville Amended in 1840— Philip 
Brittain, Thomas Foster, and James Gudger— Amendment in 1841— Tames M 
Smith, James W. Patton, N. W. Woodfin, Isaac T. Poor, and James F E* 
Hardy— City of Asheville in 1883— Amendments in 1901, and 1905— Ramoth 
and Woo scy—Montford—Kenilworth— Victoria— West Asheville— Consolida- 
tion of Asheville and West Asheville— Asheville first town of Buncombe— 
Salem— Ueaversvi lie, Weaverville— Leicester, Lick Skillet, The Skillet- 
Western Tsorth Carolina Railroad sold to W. J. Best and others-Best- 
G. W. Vanderbilt— Biltmore Estate— Biltmore— South Biltmore— Black 
Mountain, Gray Eagle, S. Dougherty— Montreal, Mountain Retreat Associa- 
*'?'^~%*^^"T^^^^''^^^^^~Swannanoa, Coopers, A. D. Cooper— Hazel— Buena 
Vista— Fairview—Ridgecrest— Acton— Turnpike— Skyland—Busbee— Candler 
—Barnardsville— Early Roads to Buncombe— Caesar's Head Road— Saluda 
Gap Road— Howards Gap Road— Mills Gap Road— Cooper's Gap Road— 
Hickorynut Gap Road— Swannanoa Gap Road— Road down Pigeon River— 
Rabun's Gap Road— Little Tennessee Road— Old Warm Springs Road- 
Murphy Road— Watauga Road— Bumsville Road— C. S. Featherstone— Paint 
Rock to Saluda Gap— Colonel Enoch H. Cunningham— Carriages— Stock- 
drivers— Turkey Droves— Droves of Hogs— Com and Taverns page 157 

Chapter XIII 

No-Fence Law— Farms— Western Turnpike— Asheville Paving— Cmshed Rock- 
Stone blocks— Bricks— Paving South Main Street— General P. M. B. Young- 
Road Improvement— Caney Brown— J. E. Rankin— M. L. Reed— Western 
North Carolina Railroad first to reach Asheville— First Depot— Second Depot 
—Passenger Station— Asheville and Spartanburg Railroad— Captain C. M. 
McLoud— First Telegraph— Henry Station— First Street -Cars in Asheville— 
Mr. Davidson— SoutLside Avenue— Electric Street Lights— Tower on Public 
Square— Gas Lamps— Telephones— Sidewalks in Asheville— Cobble-stones, 
pknks, flagstones, bricks, concrete— Tournaments and Baseball Ground and 
Picknics and Public Speaking— Tournaments— Gander-pulling— Baseball— 
Town-ball— Public-gatherings place— Merchants of Asheville and Buncombe- 
Goods hauled from Charleston and Augusta— Teams and wagons— Visits to 
markets— Morganton, Greenville, and Greeneville— Raihoad from Morris- 
town to Wolf Creek— Marion, Old Fort, Henry Station— First Money in 
Buncombe— Pounds, Shilli;igs, Spanish Milled Dollars or Mexican Dollars- 
United States Currency— Bechtler Gold Coins— Testing Bechtler Coins— Bun- 
combe Treasurer in Confederate days issued State Paper Money for one 
Dollar and less, and during same time Asheville issued paper money for less 
than dollar— Exchange of Country Produce for Goods, barter, "taking out in 
trade"— Asheville Market House— Asheville Stores, General Stores — City 
Hall— Asheville's First Bur>'ing-ground at corner of Eagle and Market Street's 
—Next between Aston Street and Church Street Presbyterian Church— Next 
South of Central Methodist Church— Riverside Cemetery— John Lyon's tomb- 
stone oldest in Asheville and in Riverside Cemetery — John Lyon — Shawano 

18 Contents 

Indians burying-ground oldest in Buncombe — Robert Patton burying-ground 
oldest for whites — Newton Academy burying-ground — Indian Graves on 
Patton Avenue — Tradition about location of County-town of Buncombe 
County — Bar-room Story page 169 

Chapter XIV 
First Preachers — George Newton — Swanino Circuit, Samuel Edney, Samuel Lowe 
— J. S. Burnett, first Station Methodist preacher — Jarvis Buxton, first Epis- 
copalian preacher — Thomas Stradley, first regular Baptist preacher — Mrs. 
William Coleman, first member of Episcopal Church — Jar\is Buxton — R. B. 
Vance, first physician — P. C. Lester conducted first drug-store in Asheville — 
First Photograph Gallery in Asheville — James M. Alexander, first hotel- 
keeper — First Asheville Hitching-lot — Second Hitching-lot — Later Hitching- 
lots — Second hotel, Eagle Hotel — James Patton — Buck Hotel, James M. 
Smith — Israel Baird's Hotel — Carolina House, John Reynolds — Battery Park 
Hotel — Frank Coxe — Asheville all-the-year Resort — Langren Hotel — Grove 
Park Inn — Invalids — Gatchells — Gleitzman's Sanatorium — Confederate 
Hospital — Mission Hospital — Attempt to prevent last — State v. Tenant — 
Waterworks — Public Wells — Private Wells and Springs — Changes in Physical 
features — Famous Asheville Springs — Bogs in Lexington Avenue and Central 
Avenue — Old Chestnut Tree near Beaucatcher Gap — E. H. Cunningham — 
Waterworks before the War — Hosea Lindsey — Captain Thomas W. Patton — 
First Waterworks — Pumping-Station — Montraville Patton's Mill — "Old 
Reservoir" — Standpipe — North Fork of Swannanoa — Filter Station — '"New 
Reservoir" — Bee Tree Line — Fire Department — Hook and Ladder Companies 
— Sewers — Asheville's Altitude — Public Square — City on hills— Freshets of 
1791, 1845, 1852, 1876, 1916— Freshet of 1852 carried away on French Broad 
bridges at Captain Wiley Jones, Smith's Bridge, Garmon's Bridge, Alexander's 
Bridge, Chunn's Bridge, Warm Springs ; and on Swannanoa Colonel Patton's 
Bridge — Freshet of 1810 or 1811— Freshet on July 16, 1916, flooded lower 
streets in Asheville and Biltmore and drowned men in both places, destroyed 
property, and injured bridges — Patton Avenue — Patton Street — E. Clayton — 
First Planing-Mill — Wofford College — Newton Academy — John Dickson 
School-house — Lowndes or Everett or Ward houses — Confederate guns — 
R. W. PuUiam — G. W. Whitson — Buncombe County's Centennial page 177 

Chapter XV 
Names of Asheville Streets — P. Rollins, and F. M. Miller, Aldermen, and 
Colonel R. W. Pulliam, Captain Thomas W. Patton, and Captain William :M. 
Cocke, Jr., Committee, name streets — Changes in street names. Academy 
Street and Montford Avenue, Mulberry Street and Cumberland Avenue. Starnes 
Street and and Hiawassee Street , North Main Street and Broadway, Beaver- 
dam Street and Merrimon Avenue, Libbey Stret;t and Liberty Street, Bridge 
Street and Central Avenue, White Oak Street and Oak Street, Pine Street 
and Furman Avenue, South Main Street and Biltmore Avenue, Bailey Street 
and Asheland Avenue, Maria Avenue and French Broad Avenue, Roberts 
Street and Bartlett Street, Buxton Street and Park Avenue, Public Square 
and Pack Square — Asheville Public Library — Principal books on early 
Western North Carolina — Francis Asbury's Journals, Charles Lanman's 
Letters from the Alleghany Mountains, Bennett's Chronology of North Caro- 
lina, Colton's Mountain Scenery, Land of the Sky by Christian Reid, Cling- 

Contents 19 

man's Writings and Speeches, Zeigler and Grosscup's Heart of the Alleghanies, 
Standard Guide to Asheville and Western North Carolina, Arthur's Western 
North Carolina— Eoneguski— Myths of the Cherokee— M. A. Curtis's Trees 
and Shrubs of North Carolina— G. F. Kunz's History of Gems Found m 
North Carolina— "Land of the Sky" page 187 


Mount INIitchell above the clouds Frontispiece 


Asheville, 1856 — Boarding-House of Holston Conference Female College 
(later Asheville Female College) — Later site of Oaks Hotel, then 
Cherokee Inn, now Y.W.C.A. Building— Right, School Building of 
H. C. F. College, site now of Asheville Public School Building — Upper 

right corner, Beaucatcher Summerhouse, which gave peak its name 44 

Grave of Samuel Davidson 60 

Autograph Signature of Colonel Edward Buncombe for whom Buncombe 

County was named 63 

A Plan of the Town of Asheville 70 

A Plan of Asheville as first incorporated 94 

Asheville, 1883— Iron Bridge looking west— Railroad Bridge higher in 
picture — Site of Sams's Ferry over French Broad, later Jarrett's Ferry, 

later Smith's Bridge, now Concrete Bridge .' 95 

Asheville, 1854— Drawn by C H. G. F. Loehr, published as lithograph 
by James M. Edney and later as steel engraving in H. Colton's Moun- 
tain Scenery— Court House, 1850-1865— First Methodist Church— First 

Presbyterian Church— First Episcopal Church on Church Street 121 

Asheville— Court House, 1876-1903— Public Square— Vance Monument 123 

Asheville— Central (Church Street) M. E. Church, South, 1857-1903 149 

Grave of James Alexander— Piney Grove— Dark Slab with white piece 

inserted -,^2 

IMitchell's Falls— Yancey County— Cat-tail Branch of Caney River— Scene 

of Death of Dr. Elisha Mitchell in 1857 I53 

Mitchell's Peak j^q 

Bechtler Coins -in-, 

Asheville Confederate Currency _ _ __ 174 

Grave of John Lyon— Riverside Cemetery— Asheville I75 

Bank Hotel looking north, site of T. C. Smith Drug-store 17S 

North Public Square— Buck Hotel, left background— 1888 17S 

Asheville, 1883— Eastern side of French Broad River near (earlier) site of 

Smith's Bridge jgO 

Asheville— Patton Avenue— Public Square looking west— about 1885 182 

Gun for Confederate use made on Spruce Street in Asheville by E. Clayton, 

R. W. Pullium, and G. W. Whitson _..! 184 

Asheville, 1866— Right centre, Roberts House— Stable above, site of 
Elks Buildmg on Haywood Street— Walnut Street between— House 
above Stable site of Haywood Building— Lower left comer. Stable on 
Lexmgton Avenue— Penland Street now crosses centre from left to right 186 

Asheville— Eastern side of South :Main Street— Upper Floor marked 
"R^eading" first room occupied by Asheville Public Library— About 
1878— Site of Old George Swain House where John Lyon died in 
portion just south of cut '__ _ _ jgg 


Asheville and Buncombe County 

Chapter I 

THE early history of every country is wrapt in obscurity. Per- 
haps this was to be expected in ancient days. But modern 
lands form no exception to this observation. 
It has been remarked that there are few nations in Europe or 
Asia which have not put forward claims to a discovery of America long 
prior to that made by Columbus. One of the earliest of these claims 
made by white men is that in which the Norwegian Sagas assert that in 
986 A.D. some of the Norwegians found North America. But these 
same Sagas relate a discovery of still earlier date made by the Irish. 
They say that while the Norwegians were on the American shores at a 
place which they called Vinland, the natives told them of a country 
farther south and beyond what is now the Chesapeake Bay, where there 
lived "white men, who clothed themselves in long white garments, 
carried before them poles to which cloths were attached, and called 
with a loud voice." By this the Norwegian visitors understood that 
these unknown white men marched in processions and carried banners 
and sang songs. In the oldest of these Sagas the present Carolinas are 
called "Land of the White Men" and "Great Ireland" and "Huitra- 
mannaland." These Sagas further related that, before the Norwegians 
saw America, and probably in 982, Ari Marsson, of the Icelandic race 
of Ulf the Squint-eyed, in a voyage from Iceland, was driven to the 
Land of the White Men and was there recognized by men who had 
come from the Orkney Islands and Iceland, and it has even been said 
that Iceland was first settled by white men who had come from this 
colony of Irishmen in the Carolinas. 

If this story of the Land of the White Men and its Irish inhabi- 
tants be true, this was North Carolina's first "Lost Colony." 

Humboldt believed in this story of the discovery of North America 
by the Norwegians, but thought that their Vinland was "the central 

26 Asheville and Buncombe County 

and southern portions of the United States of America." If he was 
correct in this, North Carolina in the Norwegians had a second "Lost 

According to a Welsh statement, Madoc, a prince of Wales, sailed 
westward from his country in 1170 and found an unkno\Mi land where, 
on a second voyage, he planted a colony of his people. This settlement 
has been supposed to be in the Carolinas; and it is said that among the 
Tuscaroras of Eastern North Carolina once lived Indians who spoke 
the Welsh language. 

"In 1660, Rev. Morgan Jones, a Welsh clergyman, seeking to go 
by land from South Carolina to Roanoke, was captured by the Tus- 
carora Indians,'' then in North Carolina. "He declares that his life 
was spared because he spoke Welsh, which some of the Indians under- 
stood; that he was able to converse with them in Welsh, though with 
some difficulty; and that he remained with them for months, some- 
times preaching to them in Welsh. John Williams, LL.D., who repro- 
duced the statement of Mr. Jones in his work on the story of Prince 
Madog's Emigration, published in 1791, explaining it by assuming 
that Prince Madog settled in North Carolina, and that the Welsh 
colony, after being weakened, was incorporated with these Indians. 
If we may believe the story of Mr. Jones (and I cannot find that his 
veracity was questioned at the time), it will seem necessary to accept 
this explanation. It will be recollected that, in the early colony times, 
the Tuscaroras were sometimes called 'White Indians.' " (J. D. 
Baldwin's Pre-historic Nations, 1869, 402-403.) Was this North 
Carolina's third "Lost Colony" ? 

Whether these stories, or any of them, be accepted, the American 
Indians were the first discoverers of America. At last, then, all the 
controversies on the subject merely relate to the question. Who was the 
second or later discoverer of America? 

When Columbus set out in 1492 on his first voyage, which resulted 
in the discovery of the West India Islands, he but acted in obedience 
to the impulses of a spirit that was then common among the maritime 
peoples of Europe. It was an age of adventure and discovery, the 
border line between the two great periods of modern development, 

Asheville and Buncombe County 27 

between the age of war and war-like adventure which had just passed 
its meridian and the age of commerce and commercial adventure which 
had just begun. Although by reason of his wonderful discovery and 
remarkable career, he was the most eminent, he was, by no means, the 
first of the venturesome and restless spirits of his century who risked 
the unknown perils of the sea in search of new lands and the wild 
pursuits of fabulous wealth ; nor was he the last of these. 

His success inflamed the more the spirit of reckless daring which 
already burned so brightly. Hundreds rushed forward to retrace his 
course and transcend the utmost limits which even he had reached. 
And when these had found new lands, others of kindred spirit stood 
ready to explore and settle them. Discovery and occupation went hand 
in hand. Probably at no other period in the world's history would 
new-found territory have been visited at so early a day after its dis- 
covery by such numbers of people seeking homes upon its shores. 

In 1539 Hernando De Soto, one of the Spanish conquerors of 
Peru, undertook to explore the eastern part of the present United States 
in search of another Peru. Starting from Tampa Bay in Florida, he 
marched northward through Florida, Georgia and South Carolina and 
into North Carolina. Then he turned west into the mountains, probably 
through Hickorynut Gap to French Broad River, and pursued, in 
1540, his journey toward the southwest until he came to the Mississippi 
River; and, after some further explorations, he died on that stream in 
1542. The chief object of his search was gold. If he found little gold 
he probably found where there were gold mines. In 1566 Pedro 
Menendez de Aviles, the celebrated Spanish commander who drove the 
French from their settlement in Florida, built a fort in South Carolina 
at Port Royal, or as the Spaniards called the region Saint Helena, and 
named the fort San Felipe and garrisoned it with one hundred and ten 
soldiers under Stephen de las Alas. In November of that year Captain 
Juan Pardo was sent from that fort with a company to explore the 
interior. Marching northwestwardly and northeastwardly, Pardo 
came, at the end of about 300 or 350 miles, to the country of the Sara 
or Suala Indians. He built a fort there and placed in it a garrison of 

28 Asheville and Buncombe County 

thirty soldiers under a sergeant. This was at Xualla where twenty- 
six years before De Soto turned west into the mountains. 

The chief of the Juada or Joara (Sara or Suala) Indians had 
renewed at San Felipe the acquaintance which he had formed at 
Xualla with the Spaniards under De Soto in 1540, and now accom- 
panied Pardo from San Felipe. Pardo returned to San Felipe; and 
in 1567, under his order the sergeant entered the mountains and 
pursued the way which De Soto had taken from Xualla. Four hundred 
and twenty miles of this journey brought the sergeant to Coosa whither 
Pardo, by appointment, had marched to meet him. While the 
Spaniards were at San Felipe they obtained gold and silver from a 
country in latitude north 35>^ degrees, 180 miles to the north, where 
were "the townes of Otapales and Olagatanos." These towns were in a 
country called by the Indians Yupaha, Aixacan, Chiquola, Chisca, 
Apalatci, and Onagatano; by the Spaniards La Grand Copal or 
Florida; by the French New France, Louisiane Apalche, or Apalache; 
by the English Virginia, and now known as Western North Carolina. 
It had mines of gold, copper and silver. 

In 1564 some Huguenots, sent from France through the efforts of 
Admiral Coligni and commanded by Rene G. Laudonniere, formed a 
settlement and built a fort in Florida on Saint John's River near its 
mouth, and remained there a little more than a year, when the fort was 
taken and destroyed and their settlement broken up by the Spaniards 
under Pedro Menendez de Aviles. While in Florida Laudonniere 
collected much silver and some gold from the Indians who claimed to 
have brought these metals from "the mountaines of Apalatcy." These 
"mountaines" were in Western North Carolina. From the same 
Indians he learned that in those mountains was to be found also "redde 

In 1653 an expedition from Virginia into North Carolina under 
Francis Yardly's patronage learned from the Tuscarora Indians of a 
wealthy Spaniard living with his family of thirty members and eight 
negro slaves in the principal town of those Indians where he had 

Asheville and Buncombe County 29 

resided for seven years, and that the Haynokes or Eno Indians * 
"'vaHantly resisted the Spaniard's further northern attempts" in North 

In 1670 a Virginia explorer into North Carolina, named John 
Lederer, ascertained from the Usheries (Catawbas) and some visiting 
Sara Indians "that two days' journey and a half from hence to the 
southwest, a powerful nation of bearded men were seated, which I 
suppose to be Spaniards, because the Indians never have any." In 
1669 Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia, expected to find 
silver mines in North Carolina, "for certaine it is that the Spaniard in 
the same degrees of latitude has found many." In 1690 James Moore, 
secretary of the colony settled at Charlestown in South Carolina, made 
an exploring tour up the country to the mountains until he reached a 
place where his Indian guides said that twenty miles away Spaniards 
vvere mining and smelting with furnaces and bellows. Numerous 
traces of mining operations in Western North Carolina before the 
English came but in w^hich iron implements (unknown to Indians) 
were used have been found, some in the country of the Sara Indians 
near Lincolnton, some at Kings Mountain, and some in Cherokee 
County which the Cherokees said had been made by Spaniards from 
Florida throughout three summers until the Cherokees killed them. J^ 
Thus the Spaniards lived and mined in Western North Carolina more | Q\ 
than 125 years from 1540 till 1690 and later. J) ^ 

The first gold mine opened in the United States by English- 
speaking people was the Reed mine near Charlotte. From 1793 North 
Carolina gold was minted by the United States and from 1804 to 1827 \ 
all the gold produced in the United States came from North Carolina. | 

In 1497, John Cabot discovered the continent of North America, 
and in 1498, his son, Sebastian Cabot, explored the coast of his father's 
discovery from Nova Scotia to Cape Hatteras. Almost immediately 
England began to claim this land and English adventurers began to 
plan its exploration and colonization. The most able, as well as the 
most enterprising and eminent, of these was the famous Sir Walter 
Raleigh. He early conceived. the scheme of colonizing this new world, 
and at once entered upon the undertaking with that vigor and daring 

30 Asheville and Buncombe County 

which characterized all his enterprises. In 1584, he sent out an ex- 
pedition under Philip Amidas and Arthur Barlow. These men con- 
ducted a most prosperous trade with the Indians of the North Carolina 
coast; and upon their return to England with numerous proofs of the 
wonderful land which they had visited and the wonderful people whom 
they had seen, Queen Elizabeth caught the enthusiasm of the voyagers 
and allowed the land to be named in honor of herself, Virginia. 
Strange it is, but true, that the original Virginia should, at a later date, 
have lost its name to its more Northern sister and taken from another 
British monarch the new name of Carolina. The next year another 
expedition, sent out by Sir W^alter Raleigh under Ralph Lane, founded 
a colony on Roanoke Island on the coast of North Carolina. This 
attempt at an English settlement in a new w^orld was a failure; but it 
was, by no means, fruitless in results, as we shall see hereafter. 

Two years later another attempt was made by the indefatigable 
Raleigh to effect a settlement at Roanoke Island, an attempt which 
resulted in that historical mystery, "the lost colony." But again the 
unfortunate Raleigh was doomed to disappointment. This man opened 
a way, and his fellow countrymen soon found means to accomplish 
what he had endeavored, at such loss and sacrifice, to achieve. He 
was, beyond question, the greatest of the founders of the American 
States; and the honor which North Carolina has paid to his memory 
in bestowing his name upon her capital city is a well-deserved tribute 
to her greatest benefactor. 

After several more efforts, a settlement was made in North Caro- 
lina which proved to be permanent. From such beginnings arose the 
Old North State. She has been charged with being always behind; 
yet few States can justly claim to have kept pace with her. 

Of the voyage of Amidas and Barlow to her shores Wheeler 
declares that, "it was then and there 'the meteor flag' of England was 
first displayed in the United States and on the sandy banks of North 
Carolina rested the first Anglo-Saxon anchor." 

Through Lane's expedition in 1585, she first introduced to the 
civilized world Indian corn, sassafras, Irish potatoes and tobacco; or 
t is so claimed. 

Asheville and Buncombe County 31 

Upon her borders was founded the first English settlement in 

In the far-famed "lost colony" was born and disappeared Virginia 
Dare, the first child of English parentage born upon American soil. 

The first gold mines worked by Americans were the Reed mines in 
Cabarrus County, North Carolina. 

The first battle for American independence was fought by North 
Carolinians on North Carolina soil at Alamance, in resistance to the 
tyrannical British Governor, Tryon, on May 16, 1771, and here was 
spilled the first blood ever shed in the cause of American freedom. 

In 1765, the British Parliament passed the famed Stamp Act 
taxing paper and certain other articles used by the American colonies. 
This was a distinct violation of a fundamental principle of the British 
Constitution, forbidding taxation without representation, submission 
to which on the part of these colonies would have been an unequivocal 
concession that they were not entitled to the rights of English freemen. 
Of the reception of the attempt to enforce this act in North Carolina 
her historian Wheeler says : 

"This act produced a violent excitement throughout the whole 
country, and in none more than in North Carolina. The Legislature 
was then in session, and such was the excitement this odious measure 
of Parliament created among the members, that apprehending some 
violent expression of popular indignation, Governor Tryon on the 18th 
of May, prorogued that body after a session of fifteen days. The 
speaker of the House, John Ashe, Esq., informed Governor Tryon that 
this law would be resisted to blood and death. Governor Tryon knew 
that the storm raged ; courageous as he was, he dreaded its fury. He 
did not allow the Legislature to meet during the existence of this act, 
but faithful to the government, he condescended to use the arts of the 
demagogue, to avoid the odium of its measures. He mingled freely 
with the people, displaying profuse hospitality, and prepared dinners 
and feasts. But unawed by power, the people were not to be seduced 
by blanishments. Early in the year 1765, the Dilligence, a sloop of 
war, arrived in the Cape Fear river with stamp paper for the use of the 
colony. Colonel John Ashe, of the County of New Hanover, and 

32 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Colonel Waddell of the County of Brunswick, marched at the head of 
the brave sons of these counties, to Brunswick, before which town the 
Dilligence was anchored, terrified the captain, so that no attempt was 
made to land the paper; seized the sloop-of -war's boat, hoisted it on 
a cart, fixed a mast in her, mounted a flag and marched in triumph to 
Wilmington, The whole town joined in a splendid illumination at 
night, and the next day these patriotic citizens went to the Governor's 
house, and 'bearded the Douglas in his castle.' They demanded of 
Governor Tryon to desist from all attempts to execute the stamp act, 
and produce to them James Houston, who was a member of the council, 
an inmate of the Governor's house, and who had been appointed by 
Tryon Stamp Master for North Carolina. The governor at first 
refused a demand so tumultuously made, but the haughty spirit of the 
representative of even kingly power, yielding before the power of a 
virtuous and incensed people; for the people prepared to bum up the 
palace, and with it the Governor, the Stamp Master, and the menials 
of royal power. The Governor tiien reluctantly produced Houston; 
who was seized by the people, carried to the public market house, and 
forced to take a solemn oath not to attempt to execute his office as 
Stamp Master. After this he w^as released. He returned to the palace, 
to comfort his dejected and discomfited master. The people gave three 
cheers and quietly dispersed. Here is an act of North Carolinians 
Worthy of all Grecian or Roman fame.' The famous Tea Party of 
Boston, when a number of citizens, disguised as Indians, went on 
board of a ship in the harbor, and threw overboard the tea imported 
in her, has been celebrated by every writer of our National Histor>' and 

Tealed and chimed on every tongue of fame.' 

"Our children are taught to read it in their early lessons; it 
adorns the picture books of our nurseries, and is known in the remotest 
borders of the republic. Here is an act of the sons of the 'Old North 
State,' not committed on the harmless carriers of the freight, or crew 
of a vessel; not done under any disguise or mask; but on the repre- 
sentative of royalty itself, occupying a palace, and in open day, by 
men of well known person and reputation; much more decided in its 

Asheville and Buncombe County 2>Z 

character, more daring in its action, more important in its results; and 
vet not one-half of her own sons ever read of this exploit; it is not 
even recorded anywhere in the pages of \A^illiamson, who is one of her 
historians and who was one of the delegates from North Carolina to 
the Convention which formed the Constitution of the United States; 
and its story is confined to the limits of 'our own pent up Utica.' " 
(Wheeler's History of North Carolina, page 50.) 

On ]\[ay 20, 17 75, the people of Mecklenburg County, in North 
Carolina, made, at Charlotte, in that county, the first declaration of 
independence, as well established as the '"Unanimous Declaration of 
the Thirteen United States of America," at Philadelphia, on July 
4, 1776. 

The first open and public declaration for independence by any 
one colony was that made on April 12, 1776, by the Provincial Con- 
gress of North Carolina assembled at Halifax, when that memorable 
body, on motion of Cornelius Harnett, resolved: 

"That the delegates for this colony in the Continental 
Congress be impowered to concur with the Delegates of the 
other Colonies in declaring Independence and forming 
foreign alliances, reserving to this colony the sole and exclu- 
sive right of forming a constitution and laws for this colony." 

In the late war for Southern rights North Carolina entered the 
struggle with great deliberation, but having espoused the cause of the 
South, she played a most important and honorable part in that tragic 
event. It was the North Carolinian Henry Wyatt who fell, the first 
soldier to die in defence of the Southern cause. To that cause North 
Carolina furnished more troops than any other State, and to her 
belongs the honor of having sent to its battle-fields fully one-fifth of 
the whole Confederate army. Her troops were the first to repel the 
invasion of Southern soil when, on June 10, 1861, they fought and won 
the initial battle, which has passed into history as the battle of Big 

A Virginia writer, the Rev. Wm. Henry Foote, enthusiastically 
declared that: "Men will not be fullv able to understand Carolina till 

34 Asheville and Buncombe County 

they have opened the treasures of history and drawn forth some few- 
particulars respecting the origin and religious habits of the Scotch- 
]rish, and become familiar with their doings previous to the Revolu- 
tion — during that painful struggle — and the succeeding years of pros- 
perity; and Carolina will be respected as she is known/' (Foote's 
Sketches of North Carolina, page ^3.) 

The historian, George Bancroft, exclaims: "Are there any who 
doubt man's capacity for self-government ? Let them study the history- 
of North Carolina. Its inhabitants were restless and turbulent in 
their imperfect submission to a government imposed from abroad; the 
administration of the colony was firm, humane and tranquil when they 
were left to take care of themselves. Any government but one of their 
own institution was oppressive. North Carolina was settled by the 
freest of the free." 

When the immortal contest for American freedom which North 
Carolina had first inaugurated in her public meetings, legislative 
assemblies and her battle-field of Alamance, had waged for years with 
varying fortune, it seemed at last that the cause of her choice was about 
to be crushed beneath the superior power and resources of her enemies. 
Cornwallis had defeated Gates at Camden on August 16, 1780, and 
well-nigh destroyed and thoroughly demoralized his army, and two 
days later Tarleton had routed Sumter at Fishing Creek, and Georgia 
and South Carolina were entirely overrun by the troops of the enemy, 
and the American cause seemed about to expire. The British general 
had begun his march northward to complete the subjugation of North 
Carolina and Virginia, and end the Revolution. This seemed, under 
the existing circumstances, an easy task. 

At this dark crisis the Western North Carolinians conceived and 
organized and, with the aid which they sought and obtained from 
Virginia and the Watauga settlement, now in Tennessee, carried to 
glorious success at Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780, an expedition 
which thwarted all the plans of the British commander, and restored 
the almost lost cause of the Americans and rendered possible its final 
triumph at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. This expedition wa^ 
without reward or hope of reward, undertaken and executed by private 


Asheville and Buncombe County 35 

individuals, at their own instance, who furnished their own arms, con- 
veyances and supplies, bore their own expenses, achieved the victory, 
and. then quietly retired to their homes, leaving the benefit of their 
work to all Americans, and the United States, their debtors for 

From the men who, while others wavered and sought reconciliation 
with the mother country, declared independence at Charlotte, and, 
when all others despaired, retrieved at Kings Mountain the waning 
fortune of the war, came the first settlers of Buncombe County. Some 
of her first inhabitants were men who had actually taken part in these 
famous acts of patriotic daring and sacrifice. 

When the war of the Revolution began, the white occupation of 
North Carolina had extended up to the Blue Ridge. Here for a time 
it had stopped; and until the close of that great struggle no effort 
appears to have been made for a further extension. Elsewhere the war 
was raging and across the mountains much of the country was in the 
possession of the Cherokee Indians, who, always hostile, were now in 
alliance with the British. 

"According to Adair, one of the earliest settlers of South Carolina, 
and who wrote of the four principal tribes (Cherokees, Shawnees, 
Chicasaws and Choctaws) in 1775," says Dr. Hunter in his Sketches 
of Western North Carolina, "the Cherokees derive their name from 
Cheera, or fire, which is their reputed lower heaven, and hence they 
call their magi, Cheera-tah-gee, men possessed of the divine fire." 


These Cherokees, when they first became known to the whites, 
inhabited the western part of North Carolina, the eastern part of 
Tennessee, the northwestern part of South Carolina, and the northern 
part of Georgia. While none of their towns appear to have been in 
the valleys of the Swannanoa and the North Carolina part of the 
French Broad, or among the neighboring hills, parties of Cherokees 
constantly roamed over that country, and at times encamped there for 
no inconsiderable while. This is evident from the great number of 
stone arrow heads, many of them defective and unfinished, found at 



36 Asheville and Buncombe County 

certain spots in these valleys and among these hills. Among the places 
of encampment of which these relics bear evidence may be mentioned 
the hill on which stands the residence of the late Col. Stephen Lee in 
Chunn's Cove, and the little valley at the northeastern corner of the 
Riverside Cemetery grounds in Asheville. Nothing but a residence at 
such places for some time of a considerable number of Indians would 
seem sufficient to account for the great number of these arrow heads at 
one place, and the fact that many of these are unfinished and defective 
would tend to show that they were made here, since no conceivable 
reason could possibly exist for carrying unfinished or broken arrow 
heads in quantities about the country. 

There have also been found great numbers of Indian relics, con- 
sisting of stone hatchets and other articles of stone, in the bottoms near 
the mouth of the Swannanoa. Here, too, on the southern bank of the 
river, just below the last branch above its mouth, once stood an Indian 
mound built apparently to correspond with a natural mound at the 
base of the hill to the south about two hundred yards distant. This 
artificial mound was opened years ago but contained nothing except 
some Indian relics of the common t}^e. 

There is an old tradition that Asheville stands upon the site 
where, years before the white man came, was fought a great battle 
between two tribes of the aborigines, probably the Cherokees on one 
side and the Shawnees or the Catawbas who were inveterate enemies 
and often at war with the Cherokees on the other side. There is also 
a tradition that these lands w^ere for a long w'hile neutral hunting 
grounds of these two tribes of Cherokees and Catawbas. Probably, in 
the absence of something to verify them, not much weight should be 
attached to such traditions. Conjecture is always busy in accounting 
for physical appearances of a country, and what to one age is surmise 
to the next age becomes tradition. 

The most that we can know of Buncombe County before its settle- 
ment by the Caucasians is only what can be derived from an occasional 
glimpse here and there into the dark and mysterious past. Here for 
many years had roamed these Cherokees, a most savage and powerful 
body of Indians. 

Chapter II 

THE Indian names for the French Broad probably differed 
among the different tribes and possibly even in a single tribe for 
different portions of the stream. Indians did not reside on that 
river after it became known to white men. One writer, H. E. Colton, 
says that it was called by the Indians, Tocheste, or Racer. Another 
writer, Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey, says that they called it Agiqua through- 
out its length. Another writer, C. Lanman, says they called it Pse-li-co. 
Two other writers, W. G. Zeigler and B. S. Grosscup, say that the 
Erati, or "Over-the-mountain" Cherokees, called it Agiqua, and the 
other Cherokees, known as Ottari, called it Tocheeostee below Ashe- 
ville and Zillicoah above Asheville. The best authority on the subject, 
J. Mooney, says: "The Cherokees have no name for the river as a 
whole, but the district through which it flows about Asheville is called 
by them Un-takiyastiyi, 'Where they race.' " 

It has been stated that its English name of French Broad is 
derived from a hunter named French. This is not true. To the white 
men who traded with the Cherokees and passed through the Holston 
Valley in what is now East Tennessee, the French Broad River was at 
tirst known as Broad River. There was, however, a river running from 
the Blue Ridge to the Atlantic Ocean which rose on the eastern side of 
that mountain range nearly opposite the head of the French Broad on 
the western side of that range, while the French Broad, through other 
streams, ultimately ran into the Mississippi River. The English 
o^^^led the land on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge and the French 
claimed all the land to the west thereof lying on tributary waters of 
the Mississippi. Hence, in order to distinguish from the Broad River 
belonging to the English on the east this Broad River claimed by the 
French on the west, the latter came soon to be called, French Broad. 
In some of the early maps it is named Frank River, referring to the 
French. The name of French Broad was given to it before 1763, when 
the French formally relinquished all claim to the country through 
which it runs. Plainly this name was bestowed by hunters who came 
from the east of the mountains where they were acquainted with the 

3S Asheville and Buncombe County 

Broad River, up which they most probably travelled through the 
Hickorynut Gap; and it was about 1760 to 1762 when they made this 
addition to the geographical nomenclature of the mountain region. 

The Indians had no name for the Swannanoa River. That b} 
which it is known is due to white men. Numeorus origins have been 
given as those of the word, Swannanoa. Sometimes it is said to be a 
Cherokee word meaning "beautiful"; sometimes a Cherokee word 
meaning "nymph of beauty"; sometimes a Cherokee attempt to imitate 
the sound made by the wings of ravens or vultures flying down the 
valley; sometimes a Cherokee attempt to imitate the call of the owls 
seated upon trees on the banks of the stream; and .one writer, 
J. Mooney, says that the word Swannanoa is derived, by contraction, 
from two Cherokee words, Suwali Nun-nahi, meaning "Suwali Trail," 
that, is trail to the country of the Suwali, Suala, or Sara Indians, who 
lived in North Carolina at the eastern foot of the Blue Ridge, and that 
this trail ran through the Swannanoa Gap. None of these is correct. 
"Swannanoa" does not mean "beautiful" or "nymph of beauty" and 
does not resemble the sound made by a raven or vulture in flying or 
any call of any North Carolina owl, and is not a Cherokee word and 
could not be produced by any contraction of "Suwali' Nun-nahi." It 
is merely a form of the word "Shawano," itself a common form of 
"Shawnee," the name of a well-known tribe of Indians. These 
Shawanoes were great wanderers and their villages were scattered 
from Florida to Pennsylvania and Ohio, each village usually standing 
alone in the country of some other Indian tribe. They had a village 
in Florida or Southern Georgia on the Swanee or Suanee River, which 
gets its name from them. Another of their towns was in South Caro- 
lina, a few miles below Augusta, on the Savannah River which 
separates South Carolina from Georgia. This was "Savaimah Town," 
or, as it was afterwards called, "Savanna Old Town." The name of 
"Savannah," given to that river and town, is a form of the word 
"Shawano," and those Indians were known to the early white settlers 
of South Carolina as "Savannas." The Shawanoes had a settlement 
on Cumberland River near the site of the present city of Nashville, 
Tennessee, when the French first visited that region. From those 

Asheville and Buncombe County 39 

Indians these French, who were the first white men who went there, 
called the Cumberland River the "Chouanon," their form of Shawano. 
Sewanee in the sam.e State has the same origin. 

These Shawano Indians had a towTi on the Swannanoa River 
about one-half mile above its mouth and on its southern bank, when 
the white hunters began to make excursions into those mountain lands. 

Between 1700 and 1750 all the Shawanoes in the South removed 
to new homes north of the Ohio River where they soon became very- 
troublesome to the white people and were answerable for most of the 
massacres in that region perpetrated in that day by Indians, especially 
in Kentucky, it being their boast that they had killed more white men 
than had any other tribe of Indians. Their towTi at the mouth of the 
Swannanoa River had been abandoned before 1776, but its site was 
then well known as "Swannano." At that time the river seems not to 
have been named; but very soon afterwards it was called, for the town 
and its former inhabitants, Swannano, or later Swannanoa River. One 
of the earliest grants for land on its banks and covering both sides 
and including the site of the present Biltmore, calls the stream the 
"Savanna River." 

Other tributaries of the French Broad or streams entering it 
through other water courses derived their names in different ways and 
at different times. 

Davidson's River got its name from Benjamin Davidson, the first 
settler on its waters, and was originally called "Ben Davidson's Creek." 

Mills River was so named for William Mills, whose residence 
was on Green River in Rutherford County, who was born on James 
River in Virginia, November 10, 1746, and died at his home in Ruther- 
ford County, North Carolina, November 10, 1834. 

Little River, of course, was named for its size, as was Green River 
for the appearance of its waters in the gorges. Muddy Creek got its 
name because its current was sluggish and waters often in contrast to 
one of its tributaries, Clear Creek. Muddy Creek at one time was 
known as "Little River." Cane Creek was famous for the great 
quantity of reeds or canes growing on its borders, but became more 
famous because on its waters was discovered, at what is now "The 

40 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Meadows" or "Blake Place," then owned by William Murray, in 1802, 
the celebrated Catawba grape, the only native American wine grape, 
a variety of Fox grape (Vitis lahrusca). 

The very peculiar names of some of the streams which run into 
the French Broad from the west and southwest in part of its course 
must have caused man}' persons to inquire as to the origin of those 
names. For many years before the Revolutionary War and for some 
years thereafter the dividing line between the western parrs of North 
Carolina and South Carolina had not been run or even settled, and the 
disputed territory extended from some miles south of Greenville, South 
Carolina, northward about to Swannanoa River. South Carolina 
people in the northern part of that State hunted much over this dis- 
puted country, in which no white men then lived. About 1885, 
W^illiam Camp, a very old and intelligent surveyor of northern 
Spartanburg County in South Carolina, told me the following story: 

Before the Revolutionary War a party of hunters from northern 
South Carolina visited the French Broad on a hunting trip and crossed 
to the western side not far above the mouth of Swannanoa River. Pro- 
ceeding on their hunt, they camped the first night on an unnamed 
stream that ran into the French Broad, and there they had hominy for 
supper. They called this stream "Hominy." Next night they camped 
on the banks of a stream of which none of them had ever heard and 
named it "Newfound." Next night they killed some wild turkeys and 
had them for supper at their camp on the banks of another stream, 
which, for that reason, they named "Turkey Creek." Still further on 
they encamped on another stream and cooked mush for supper, but in 
dipping water to use in making the mush they unknowingly dipped in 
the water some sand which thus got into the mush. They called this 
stream "Sand>TOUsh." 

On the other side of French Broad River going from Swannanoa 
River in the direction of Asheville the first stream of considerable size 
is that now crossed three times by Southside Avenue and called some- 
times "Cripple Creek." It was known as the Big Branch at the time 
when Asheville's site was chosen for that of the county town of Bun- 
combe in 1792. Later a man named Gash owned land on that branch, 

Asheville a7id Buncombe County 41 

living on that land near the entrance of ]\IcDowell Street into South 
Main Street, where was for many years later the Gash burying-ground. 
For a long while the branch was called Gash's Creek. Later it 
acquired the name of "Town Branch" and finally the senseless appel- 
lation of "Cripple Creek." 

^ Through the northern portion of Asheville runs a branch once 
known as "Nathan Smith's Creek." About 1902 Mr. H. A. Lindsey 
knocked off a piece from an outcropping rock of gneiss on this branch 
just below Magnolia Street, and found inside several small nuggets of 
coarse gold. I have one of these mounted as a stickpin. Before reach- 
ing the river this branch unites with another which runs through 
Grove Park and was then called "Glenn's Creek," and, under the latter 
name, enters the French Broad River just above the "Casket Plant." 

Next is "Beaverdam Creek," although no one seems to know 
where was the beavers' dam from which it got its name. Then, after 
passing "Davis's Branch/' named for John Davis who lived on it v 
opposite Montrealla, is Reems's Creek, so called for a man named 
Reams whom the Indians killed on that stream just above the iron ) 
bridge across it south of Weaverville. Then comes "Flat Creek," 
whose name is no doubt derived from the character of the land on its 
upper waters. "Ivy River" enters French Broad River about a mile 
above Marshall and gets its name undoubtedly from the large quantity 
of ivy (Kalmia) which grew on it, as further on "Laurel River" is 
named for its laurel (Rhododendron). 

Spring Creek was so named from the fact that it enters French 
Broad River from the southwest at the Warm Springs. Those cele- 
brated springs were discovered in 1778 by Henry Reynolds and 
Thomas Morgan, sentries on the outposts of Tennessee settlements, 
who were in pursuit of stolen horses; and, for a long time after North 
Carolina had ceded to the United States the territory which now forms 
Tennessee, the people of the ceded lands claimed that these springs 
were included in the ceded country. In fact, the first grant for the 
land where these springs are was made by the State of Tennessee. 
Until 1886 they were known as the "Warm Springs"; but in that year 
the Southern Improvement Company bought them and changed the 
name to "Hot Springs." 

42 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Several streams flow into Swannanoa River on its northern 
side, eastward from Asheville. These are : first, Ross's Creek, 
named for a man called Ross who Hved probably near the mouth 
of the creek, which was afterwards more generally known as 
"Chunn's Cove Creek,'' because a place on its upper waters, later the 
residence of Colonel Stephen Lee and now of Messrs. Armstrong, but 
then belonging to Colonel Samuel Chunn, had come prominently into 
public notice as the scene of a famous political debate in 1840 between 
John M. jMorehead and Romulus M. Saunders, then candidates for 
Governor of North Carolina; second, "Haw Creek," called originally 
"Whitson's Creek" from William Whitson who settled the place at its 
mouth, now the home of Mr. Frank Reed, and next called T. T. 
Patton's Mill Creek when Mr. T. T. Patton occupied that farm and 
built a mill on the stream, and still later known as "Haw Creek," be- 
cause of the large number of black haw {Viburnum) bushes which 
grew on its banks; third, "Grassy Branch," which enters Swannanoa 
River at Azalea; fourth, "Bull Creek," named from the fact that on 
that creek John Rice, its first settler, killed a buffalo bull, the last wild 
buffalo seen in Buncombe County; and last "Bee Tree Creek," at the 
mouth of which was made the first permanent settlement of white 
people in that part of North Carolina which was afterwards Buncombe 
County, although probably no one knows exactly on what spot those 
settlers found the bee-tree. The South Fork of Swannanoa River, on 
which are now the towns of Black Mountain, Montreat, and Ridgecrest, 
is often called Flat Creek. 


To one who approaches it from the east the Blue Ridge can be 
seen for a great distance and consequently looks blue. Hence its name 
must have been given by persons coming to it from that direction. 

" 'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view, 
And robes the mountain in its azure hue." 

The Asheville plateau lies in that range of mountains called the 
Appalachian Mountains or Alleghany Mountains, of which the Blue 

Asheville and Buncombe County 43 

Ridge is the eastern portion. This system extends from northern 
New York to parts of Alabama, and is sometimes sixty to seventy-five 
miles broad. It is a singular fact that in North Carolina, where the 
greater part of this table-land lies, the streams which find their ways 
into the Mississippi rise in the lower Blue Ridge on the eastern side, 
and, after traversing this plateau from east to west, break through the 
mountains on the western side, thus making their exit through a range 
higher than that in which they have their origin. 

The name of Appalachian Mountains or Appalaches is said to 
have been given to them by the French in Florida under Laudonniere, 
''who first became acquainted with them at the southern extremity, 
from the Indian name of a river that flows into the Gulf of Mexico, 
in Appalache Bay; but the English, who visited them principally in 
their more northern parts, preserved the Indian name there given of 
Allaghanies, which is supposed to mean Endless ^ The Appalachian 
Indians lived in Florida, far south of these mountains, and, no doubt, 
it was from their account that the French first learned of this mountain 
range. The Alleghanies were a geographical group of Indians, com- 
posed of Delawares and Shawnees, living on Alleghany River in 
Pennsylvania and New York. 

The name of Pisgah for the most prominent mountain in Western 
North Carolina seems to have been given about 1776, but by whom is 
not known. No doubt the name was taken from the mountain of that 
name east of the Dead Sea from which Moses is said to have viewed 
"the Promised Land," and was given to the North Carolina peak 
because of its extensive outlook. There was a celebrated South Caro- 
lina hunter of early days who lived in the northwestern part of that 
State whose name was Busby. Probably from him was called the 
mountain of that name south of Asheville. 

The Bearwallow, Bald Top, Sugar Loaf, Pilot, and Point Look- 
out, mountains in the Hickorynut Gap region, are said to have been 
so named by William Mills. 

Its rugged top may account for the name of Craggy and the dark 
colors of fir and spruce may account for the name of the Black Moun- 
tain; but who gave these names is unknown. 


Asheville and Buncombe Comity 

Asheville and Buncombe County 45 

Lane's Pinnacle got its name from its owner, Charles Lane, who 
conducted "forges" on Hominy Creek near Luthers and on Reems Creek 
near Weaverville, digging much of his iron ore from Aline Hole Gap, 
which got its name from the excavation so made by him there. He 
was a near relative of General Joseph Lane, candidate for vice- 
president of the United States in 1860. 

Mr. James W. Patton owned Beaucatcher Mountain, east of 
Asheville, and, about 1850, he erected on it a summer-house as a place 
of resort. Several young couples did their courting in visiting this 
summer-house; and that fact is said to have given rise to its name of 
Beaucatcher. During the war on the South it was fortified. After 
that war Mr. William Hazard built a residence there and changed the 
name to Beaumont. The late A. C. Avery, for many years a Justice of 
the Supreme Court of North Carolina, once remarked to me that his 
engagement to his first wife had been made on a visit to this summer- 
house on Beaucatcher. This lady w^as a Miss Morrison, a sister of the 
wife of Stonewall Jackson and of the wife of the Confederate General 
D. H. Hill. 

Before elks were driven from these mountains they had a wallow 
on a Beaverdam mountain, which, on that account, w^as known as the 
"Elk Wallow" and then as "Elk Mountain." A cheese factory on the 
mountain prospered for several years in the seventies of the nineteenth 
century, but ceased operations some time later than 1875. The last 
elk seen in North Carolina was killed in what is now Mitchell County 
by William Davenport, except one killed by William Mills at about the 
same time six miles south of Asheville on Six-mile Branch. 

Panthers (Puma or Cougar) disappeared entirely about 1835; 
Virginia deer about 1855; buffalo about 1786; and black bears and 
bay-lynxes (wild cats), like wolves, have become so scarce that it is 
now uncertain whether or not any wolves are in the mountains and 
certain that a black bear or a bay-lynx cannot be found elsewhere. 

Gooch's Peak, commonly called Gouge Mountain, another Beaver- 
dam peak, was named for a man called Gooch. 

In 1767 Colonel William Tryon, royal governor of North Caro- 
lina, caused to be run and marked a line between the lands of the 

46 Asheville and Buncombe County 

white settlers and the lands of the Cherokee Indians, extending from 
Reedy River at a point some miles south of the present City of Green- 
ville in South Carolina, northward fifty-three miles to a Spanish oak 
on what is now Tryon Mountain. This line now, for most of its length, 
divides Greenville and Spartanburg counties, and passes less than a 
mile east of the modern City of Try-on. Colonel Tryon himself 
attended and directed the early portion of this survey and the mountain 
on which it terminated, in the "White Oak Mountains,'' was called for 
him "Tryon" and yet bears his name, and, after the lapse of more than 
a century, gave its name to the City of Tryon. 

Several Indian names are said to have been used for French 
Broad River. Among these may be mentioned Pse-li-co, Tocheste, 
Agiqua, Tocheeostee, Zillicoah, Untakiyastiki, Zeehleeka (pronounced 
Tsay-lee-katy) and Esseewah; but an Indian name often applied to 
only part of a river and this was the case with French Broad River, its 
Asheville region being Untakiyastiki, "where they race." Other Indian 
names for western North Carolina localities were: Warwasseeta for 
Pisgah Ridge or Range, Elseetoss for Pisgah Mountain, Sokassa for 
Shaking Bald Mountain, Salola for Sugar-loaf Mountain, Esseedaw 
for Broad River, Sunnalee for Craggy Mountain, Seencyahs for Black 
Mountain, Osteenoah for Cold Mountain, Judykullas for Balsam 
Mountains, Chesseetoahs for Smoky ]Mountains, and Chewassee for 
Newfound Mountains. 

On the headwaters of a branch which enters Haw Creek on the 
north in the farm of Mr. A. M. Dillingham is a cove known as "Cisco." 
When the country about Asheville was first settled a hunter named 
Cisco made frequent hunting tours into these mountains, a favorite 
hunting-ground with him being this part of the mountain which now 
bears the name of Piney Knob, east of Ross's Creek. On one occasion, 
after Cisco had been away from home on a hunting trip for more than 
a week, his friends became uneasy and went in search of him to the 
region of this cove where they found his body. He had died, appar- 
ently, from some natural cause. The cove received, in consequence of 
this, the name of "Cisco,'' which it yet bears. 

Chapter III 

WHETHER or not the valley of the French Broad near Ashe- 
ville was ever, as has been supposed, the head of a mountain 
lake, whose lowest or deepest part was above Mountain Island 
and Hot Springs, is an unsettled question for the geologists Certain 
It IS that the French Broad has cut its way through the mountains at 
Mountam Island as is apparent to the most casual observer of the 
mountams at that place, not only in the obvious signs that still remain 
to mdicate the exact spot where it cut through, but also in the unques- 
tionable beds of that river in the days gone by now on the tops of the 
mountams which lie along its western banks probably 200 feet higher 
than Its present bed, and only a short distance above the Mountain 
Island. These old beds cross the channel of the present stream below 
the Palisades at Stackhouse's and above the Mountain Island. They 
contain many stones worn smooth and rounded by the abrasions to 
which their position in the river bed subjected them. The stones so 
common and peculiar which lie near the surface on the Battery Park 
hill and appear to be of water formation are also worthy of notice in 
this connection. 

Why may not this be the famous lake mentioned by Lederer in his 
account of his exploration into North Carolina westward in 1669-70 
which historians have found it so hard to account for. It certainly 
fills the description and lies near the place which he describes when he 
says in regard to his visit to the Sara:. 

"This nation is subject to a neighbor king residing upon the bank 
of a great lake called Ushery, environed on all sides with mountains 
and Wisacky marsh. 

''The sixth and twentieth of June, having crossed a fresh river 
which runs into the lake of Ushery, I came to the town, which was 
more populous than any I had seen before in my march. The king 
dwells some three miles from it, and therefore I had no opportunity of 
seeing him the two nights which I stayed there. This prince, though 
his dominions are large and populous, is in continual fear of the 
Oustack Indians, seated on the opposite side of the lake, a people so 

48 AsheviUe and Biincomhe County 

addicted to arms that even their women come into the field and shoot 
arrows off their husbands" shoulders, who shield them with leathern 

"The water of Ushery Lake seemed to my taste a little brackish, 
which I rather impute to some mineral waters which flow into it, than 
to any saltness it can take from the sea, which we may reasonably sup- 
pose is a great way from it. Many pleasant rivulets fall into it, and it 
is stored with great plenty of excellent fish. I judged it to be about 
ten leagues broad, for were not the other shore very high it could not 
be discerned from Ushery, How far this lake tends westwardly, or 
where it ends, I could neither learn nor guess." (2 Hawks History of 
Nortli Carolina, page 49.) 

It is impossible to reconcile this description, as has been attempted 
to be done, with a flood in the Catawba River. Moreover, Lederer had 
already informed us that, *T have heard several Indians testify that 
the nation of Rickohockans, who dwelt not far to the westward of the 
Apalataean Mountains, are seated upon a land, as they term it, of great 
waves — by which I suppose they mean the seashore.'' 

Now the Rickohockans were the Cherokees. (]Mooney Siouan 
Tribes of the East, page 54.) 

It is most probable that De Soto, on the great expedition in which 
he discovered the Mississippi River, passed through Western North 
Carolina in 1540. This famous general and discoverer after he had 
commanded a squadron of horse under Pizarro in the conquest of Peru 
with which he captured the Inca Atahualpa and put his army to flight, 
and after he had acquired large wealth in Peru, was made governor of 
Cuba. Having the permission of the great emperor Charles V., he set 
out from Havana on May 12 1539, with an army of nearly fifteen 
hundred men, on an expedition of conquest and discovery upon the 
continent of North America. In fifteen days he landed on the western 
coast of Florida at Espiritu Santo Bay. From this place he marched 
northward until he came to Cofachiqui, identified as Silver Bluff on 
the Savannah River in Barnwell County, South Carolina. From this 
place he resumed his march on May 3, 1540, and continuing north- 
ward for about one hundred and fifty miles, he reached the Indian 

AsheviUe and Buncombe County 49 

province of Xual. or Choualla. This Xuala of the Spaniards is the 
Suala of Lederer, Suali of the Cherokees, and Suara and Cheraw of 
later writers. "From the narrative of Garcilaso the Sara must then 
have lived m the piedmont region about the present line between South 
Carolina and North Carolina, southeast of AsheviUe. On the De I'IsIe 
map aiouala is marked west of the upper Santee (Catawba). 
Garcilaso in 1 540 describes the village of Xuala as situated 
on the slope of a ridge in a pleasant hilly region, rich in corn and all 
the oAer vegetables of the country. In front of the village ran a stream 
which formed the boundary between the Xuala tribe and that of 
Cofachiqui. This may have been either the Broad River or the 
1 acolet. (Mooney's Siouan Tribes of the East, page 57 ) Xuala 
v.-as situated upon the skirts of a mountain and the stream which 
passed It was a small one. At this place De Soto turned westward 
aiming for the province of Guaxule or Guachule. "The first day's 
journey was through a country covered with fields of maize of 
luxuriant growth. * * * During the next five days they trav- 
ersed a Cham of easy mountains, covered with oak and mulberry trees 
«.th intervening valleys, rich in pasturage and irrigated by clear and 
rapid streams These mountains were twenty leagues across and quite 
uninhabited^ "The Portuguese Gentleman says the mountains were 
very bad. Herrera says that though they were not disagreeable, the 
mountains were twenty leagues across and the army was five da;s in 

Soto entered the province of Guaxule or Guachule. He was received 

^IrtrTT^ *°" ""' *^ ^^"'l"^ ^'"'^ ~"'i"^'^d to his 
in^ • i '! ""''^ ''°"'''- ^"^'^ ^=^^ °" ^^^-^-1 ^-^-ll streams 
nsing m the adjacent mountains that "soon mingled their waters and 
formed a grand and powerful river, along which the army resumed 
Aeir journey 'until they came to a village at the end of a long island 
where the Indians showed them "how they obtained pearls from the 
oysters taken m the river." This was unquestionably the Tennessee 
River which IS formed largely by streams taking their rise in these 

Zji T,^ "t' ''"'' °' merchantable character in considerable 
quantities. The subsequent history of De Soto is well known ; that he 

50 Asheville and Buncombe County 

proceeded on his journey, discovered the Mississippi River above its 
mouth, crossed it, found the Hot Springs in Arkansas, returned south- 
ward, reached again the Mississippi, died in 1542 on its banks and 
was buried in its bed. 

Now it would be impossible for an army on the Broad or Pacolet 
River within one day's march of the mountains to march westward for 
six days, five of which was through mountains, and reach the sources 
of the Tennessee or any other river, without passing through Western 
North Carolina. 

Chapter IV 

IN 1670, John Lederer, a German, under the patronage of Sir 
William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, made his famous 
journey into Carolina. He arrived among the Sara or Suala 
Indians, and from that place took a southwest course. This probably 
carried him into northern South Carolina, but might have carried him 
up the Hickorynut Gorge. 

In 1673, James Needham and Gabriel Arthur were sent out with*! 
eight Indians and four horses by Colonel Abraham Wood from the / 
place of the last-named gentleman, a little below the Falls of Appo- n 
mattox River in Virginia, where now stands the City of PetersburgJ I 
The purpose of the expedition was to explore the country of the \ 
Tomahitan Indians, now identified with the Cherokees. Needham and I 
his party proceeded west and southwest on a nine days' journey to an ] 
Indian town called Sitteree. From that place they entered the moun- ( 
tains, and, after passing five rivers running toward the west and travel- 
ling fifteen days from Sitteree, they reached the Tomahitan town, 
situated on the sixth river, which ran more to the west and was almost 
certainly the Little Tennessee. From this town it was eight days' 
journey to the Spanish settlement in Florida. The expedition started 
on May 17, 1673, and James Needham on his return reached Wood's 
place September 10, 1673, having left Gabriel Arthur among the 
Tomahitans until he could get back, in order to learn the Indian lan- 
guage. On September 20, 1673, James Needham set out on his return 
to the Tomahitan town, but was murdered on the way by an 
Occoneechee Indian named John. Gabriel Arthur did not get back to 
Wood's place until June 18, 1674. 

This seems to have been the first trip of an Englishman to the 
Cherokee country. Its ultimate purpose was to establish a trade with 
the Indians of that land. Such was its result. It is very probable that 
in this expedition James Needham and Gabriel Arthur passed from 
the country at the foot of the Blue Ridge into the region of the moun- 
tains where the rivers ran to the west and crossed through the Hickory- 

52 Asheville and Buncombe County 

nut Gorge or the Swannanoa Gap; and, since no mention is made of 
passing westwardly down a stream as soon as they had passed the crest 
of the first high ridge, it is more likely than not that the road lay 
through the Hickorynut Gorge, and that Sitteree and Sara were the 
same place. 


The mouth of the Swannanoa and the country surrounding it ap- 
pears to have been a well-known spot even before its settlement by the 

The Cherokees, as has been stated, were always inimical to the 
whites, and during their occupation of this country frequently de- 
scended from their mountain homes upon the settlers in Georgia, South 
Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and what is now the State of 
Tennessee. At the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, the British, 
through their agents, the principals of whom were John Stuart and 
Alexander Cammeron, succeeded in inducing these Indians to enter 
into an alliance with themselves. Emboldened by this alliance and the 
unsettled state of affairs among the colonists, the Cherokees became 
peculiarly troublesome to the white settlers and their raids were further 
and in greater number and more disastrous than ever before. It became 
necessary to strike a blow against them which would deter them from 
the repetition of these outrages. 

In the execution of a plot formed betw^een them and their foreign 
allies, the Cherokees, on the very day the British fleet attacked Charles- 
ton, made a daring incursion upon the frontier settlements of South 
Carolina. This gave rise to a concerted attempt, though not executed 
entirely in co-operation, on the part of the surrounding States to sub- 
jugate these troublesome savages. Georgia sent an expedition north- 
ward against them, which seems to have effected something but not 
much. The Virginia expedition under Col. William Christian, which 
passed through East Tennessee, was somewhat more successful; but 
the principal of these expeditions was led by General Griffith Ruther- 
ford, of North Carolina, who in September, 1776 (Colonial Records of 
North Carolina, vol. 10, p. 788), with an army of 2,400 men, marched 
across the Blue Ridge at Swannanoa Gap, leaving the head of the 

Asheville and Buncombe County 53 

Catawba on the first day of September, passed down the Swannanoa 
River to within a short distance of its mouth, and thence up the French 
Broad River which he crossed at a ford about two miles above the 
Swannanoa, still called in commemoration of that event, the War Ford; 
then passed up the valley of the Hominy, crossing that stream twice, 
and crossed Pigeon River a little below the mouth of East Fork. 
Thence passing through the mountains to Richland Creek a little above 
the present town of Waynesville, he ascended that creek and marched 
on to the Tuckaseigee River. Here he crossed at an Indian town. Still 
proceeding, he crossed the Cowee Mountain, where he had a slight 
skirmish with the Indians, and passed on to within thirty miles of the 
middle settlements of the Cherokees on the Tennessee River. 

Thence he sent out a detachment of one thousand men to proceed 
by forced marches so as to surprise the enemy. On their way this 
detachment was attacked by about thirty Indians who fired and imme- 
diately fled, having wounded one man in the foot. This body then 
passed on to the To\vns, which had been evacuated before their arrival, 
and destroyed them. From here General Rutherford went with nine 
hundred men, leaving the main body and taking ten days' provisions, 
against the Valley Settlements, or Middle Towns, or Valley Towns. 
He was, however, without an intelligent guide and was so much em- 
barrassed by passing the mountains at an unaccustomed place that he 
failed to find five hundred Indians w^ho had been lying in ambush at 
the common crossing place for several days. He destroyed the greater 
part of the Valley Towns, killed twelve Indians, took nine of them 
and made prisoners seven w^hite men from whom he got four negroes, 
a considerable quantity of leather, one hundred pounds of gunpowder 
and two thousand pounds of lead, estimated to be worth two thousand 
five hundred pounds, which they were conveying to Mobile. 

In the valley of the Little Tennessee River he burned the Indian 
towns of Watauga, Estotoa and Ellojay. Here in the 14th of Septem- 
ber Colonel Williamson who, in command of the South Carolina ex- 
pedition, aided by the Catawba Indians, had crossed the mountains 
near the sources of the Tennessee at the common crossing place two 
days after Rutherford and, falling into the ambuscade above mentioned. 

54 Asheville and Buncombe County 

had been attacked in a narrow pass near the present town of Franklin 
by the Indians in ambush who killed twelve of his men and wounded 
twenty more, but had put the Indians to flight, joined General Ruther- 
ford on September 14, 1776, after the latter had partly destroyed the 
Valley Towns. 

Another expedition penetrated into the present State of Tennessee, 
burning Indian villages, destroying their crops and driving them from 
their homes, until so effectual a blow had been stricken, and so com- 
pletely had the Indians been subdued that never afterwards did they 
in any considerable numbers or as an organized body venture to give 
trouble to the white settlers. This expedition destroyed thirty or forty 
Indian towns and in his skirmishes at Valleytown, Ellojay and near 
Franklin, General Rutherford lost only three men. (See Colonial 
Records of North Carolina, vol. 10, p. 860.) 

He then returned by the same route, which for many years after 
bore the name of "Rutherford's Trace." 

The chaplain of this expedition was Rev. James Hall, D.D., a 
Presbyterian preacher in charge of the churches of Statesville (then 
called Fourth Creek), Concord and Bethany, and whose work extended 
from the South Yadkin to the Catawba. Upon Rutherford's call for 
troops this gentleman volunteered his services, and acted throughout 
the campaign. Capt. Chas. Polk, who commanded a company in this 
expedition, says in his diary that: 

"On Thursday the 12th September we marched down the river 
three miles to Cow^ee town and encamped. On this day there was a 
party of men sent down this river (Nuckessey) ten miles to cut down 
the corn; the Indians fired on them as they were cutting the corn, and 
killed Hancock Polk, of Col. Beekman's regiment''; and again on 
Saturday the 14th, "we marched to Nuckessey town, six miles higher 
up the river and encamped. On Sunday the 15th, one of Capt. Irwin's 
men was buried in Nuckessey Town. On Monday the 16th, we 
marched five miles, this day with a detachment of twelve hundred 
men, for the Valley Town, and encamped on the waters of Tennessee 
River. Mr. Hall preached a sermon last Sunday; in time of sermon 
the Express we sent to the South army returned home. On Tuesday 

Asheville and Buncombe County 55 

the 17th, we marched six miles, and arrived at a town called Nowee, 
about twelve o'clock; three guns were fired and Robert Harris, of 
Mecklenburg was killed by the Indians, said Harris being in the rear 
of the army. We marched one mile from Nowee, and encamped on 
side of a steep mountain without any fire." 

Probably this funeral discourse of the Rev. Mr. Hall was the first 
sermon ever preached in the mountains of Western North Carolina. 
For an extended biographical notice of this gentleman see Foote's 
Sketches of North Carolina, page 315. 

Of General Griffith Rutherford, the commander of this expedi- 
tion, a few words would not be out of place here. But little is known 
of his early history. He was an Irishman by birth, brave and patriotic, 
but "uncultivated in mind or manners." At the beginning of the war 
he resided in the Locke settlement, west of Salisbury. In 1775 he 
represented Rowan County at Newbern, and in 1776 was a member 
from that county of the Provincial Congress which met at Halifax 
on the 4th of April, 1776. At this Congress on the 22d day of April, 
1776, he was created Brigadier General for the Salisbury District. 
After this expedition he commanded a brigade of the American army 
in the ill-fated battle of Camden, fought in August, 1780, at which he 
was taken prisoner. After his capture his place was taken by General 
William Davidson, who soon after was killed at Cowan's Ford. When 
exchanged General Rutherford again took the field, and commanded 
at Wilmington when that to\^^l was evacuated by the British. In 1786 
he represented Rowan County in the Senate of North Carolina, but 
soon afterwards removed to Tennessee. Here, on September 6, 1794, 
he was appointed president of the Legislative Council. He died in 
Tennessee near the beginning of the last century. Both that State and 
North Carolina have commemorated his services by each giving his 
name to one of their counties. The following letter from the distin- 
guished general would seem to verify one of the statements just made 
in regard to him : 

"North Carolina, Rowan County. 

' "Whereas, a certan John Auston, Late of Tryon County, 
is charged of being an Enomy To Ammerican Liberty & also 

56 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Refuses to take the oath Proscribed by the Counsel of Safety 
of this Provance, 

"These are therefore to Command You to Take the sd. 
Auston Into youre Possession & him safely keep in youre 
Gole Till furder Orders. 

"Given Under my hand this 13 Day of July, 1776. 

"Griffith Rutherford. 
"To the Color of the Gole of Salisbury District." 

Apparently the brave soldier must have been as great a terror to 
the school teachers as he was to the Indians, whom in another letter 
he characterizes as a "barbarious Nation of Savages," and was no 
mean rival of the late Josh Billings. So it was, however, with many 
of these heroes of American Independence. They were more skilled in 
doing great deeds than in telling of them, in execution than narration. 

From a report of William Aloore, one of the captains of this ex- 
pedition, to General Rutherford, dated on November 17, 1776, we learn 
that his company, which seems to have acted independently and in a 
second expedition, started out on October 19, 1776, and marched over 
the mountains to Swannanoa, which they passed near the French 
Broad River, and then after crossing the latter marched up Hominy 
Creek and passed on to Richland Creek, thence to the Tuckaseigee 
River, "through a Very Mountainous bad way." This river they 
crossed, and coming to "a Very plain path, Very much used by Indians, 
Driving in from the Middle Settlement to the Aforesaid Town" (the 
TowTi of Too Cowee), they continued their march along this path about 
two miles, when they came to an Indian town which they attacked. 
This town is said to have occupied the site of the residence of the late 
Colonel William H. Thomas on the western bank of the Tuckaseigee. 
The Indians fled. After plundering the town Capt. Moore and his 
party set fire to its 25 houses, and marched on further down the river 
for a short distance. 

On this expedition "between Swannanoa and French Broad 
River," they came upon signs of five or six Indians. Thirteen men 
set out by moonlight in pursuit of these, and followed them for eight 
miles, but were unable to overtake them that night, "Untill Day-light 

Asheville and Buncombe County 57 

appeared when they Discovered upon the frost that One Indian had 
gone Along the Road! they pursued Very Briskly about five miles 1 
further and came up with the sd. Indian, Killed and Scalped him." ' 

At the Indian town which they burned it was discovered that all 
but two of the inhabitants had fled. These two endeavored to make 
their escape, but, according to Capt. Moore, "we pursued to the Bank 
& as they were Rising on the Bank on the Other Side we fired upon 
them and Shot one of them Down & the Other getting out of reach of 
our shot & making over to the Mountain. Some of our men Crossed 
the river on foot & pursued & some went to the ford & Crossed on 
horse & headed him. Killed & Scalped him with other." 1 

At the end of their expedition they took three prisoners and recov- 
ered some horses belonging to the whites. These horses they returned 
to their owners. Here they were forced by lack of provisions to begin 
their return, and the captain informs us: "That night w^e lay upon a i 
prodigious Mountain where we had a Severe Shock of an Earthquake / 
which surprised our men very much. Then we steered our course about 
East & So. E. two days thru Prodigious Mountains which were almost 
Impassable, and struck the road in Richland Creek Mountain. From 
thence we marched to Pidgeon river. Where we Vandued off all Our 
Plunder. Then there arose a Dispute Between me & the whole Body, 
Officers & all, concerning selling off the Prisoners for Slaves. I 
allowed that it was our Duty to guard them to prison or some place of 
Safe Custody till we got the approbation of the Congress Whether they 
should be sold Slaves or not, and the Greater part swore Bloodily that 
if they were not sold for Slaves upon the spot they would Kill & Scalp 
them Immediately, upon which I was obliged to give way. Then the 
3 prisoners was sold for 242 pounds. The Whole plunder we got 
mcluding the Prisoners Amounted Above 1,100 pounds." 

The captain concludes his somewhat remarkable report to his 
superiors in the following original manner: 

''Dear Sir, I have one thing to remark, which is this, 

that where there is separate Companys United into one Body 

. without a head Commander of the whole I shall never Em- 

58 Asheville and Buncombe County 

bark in such an Expedition Hereafter; for where every 
Officer is a Commander there is no commander. No more 
at present, but Wishing you, sir, with all true friends too 
Liberty all Happiness, I am, sir, Yours, &c. 

"William Moore. 
"On the service of the United Colonies." 

The prodigious mountain here mentioned was the Balsam 

It was while Captain William Moore's company was encamped on 
this expedition in a bend of Hominy Creek near the Sulphur Spring 
and not far from the southwestern corner of the present City of Ashe- 
ville and there awaiting the arrival of Captain Harden's troops from 
Tryon County, who came through Hickorynut Gap, that, as is said, 
some of ^Moore's men, ignorant of the presence in the neighborhood of 
any human being not connected with the expedition, put some poison 
into a near-by rivulet tributary to Caney Branch in order to destroy 
wolves known to be prowling about the camp, and thus unintentionally 
killed a young Cherokee who was lurking there as a spy on the move- 
ments of the white men and who chanced to drink from the rivulet 
where the poison was and who thereafter, in the agonies of death, 
pronounced a curse upon the place. Many misfortunes have attended 
the owners of that land where the Indian was poisoned and buried in a 
grave yet to be seen; and it is a common belief in that vicinity that 
these misfortunes are to be attributed to this curse of the young 

Ramsey in his Annals of Tennessee, in speaking of an expedition 
from the Watauga settlement under Col. John Sevier in 1781 against 
the Indians of the town of Tuckasejah on the headwaters of the Little 
Tennessee and the adjacent towns, tells us that in this expedition fifty 
warriors were slain, fifty women and children taken prisoners, and 
fifteen or twenty Indian towns with their granaries of corn were burned, 
with a loss to the whites of one man killed and one wounded. "The 
command," he says, "went up Cane Creek and Crossed Ivy and Swan- 
nanoa"; and that "This campaign lasted twenty-nine days and was 

Asheville and Buncombe County 59 

carried on over a mountainous section of country never before traveled 
by any of the settlers and scarcely ever passed through even by traders 
and hunters." 

Of an expedition of a later date carried on by Tennesseeans 
against the Indians of Western North Carolina, this writer quotes the 
pilot of the expedition as saying that: "The next morning we started 
and in a few days were at Coosawatee, where an exchange of prisoners 
was made instead of at Swannanoa, as at first proposed. This was 
about the 20th of April, 1789." 

This same writer speaking of an expedition under the command of 
General Sevier which set out against the Indians under an order from 
Governor Blount of Tennessee (then a territory not so named), made 
on September 27, 1793, says: "Indians were seen at the Warm 
Springs and at the plantation of Charles Robertson on Meadow Creek, 
probably watching the motions of the guard who were stationed for the 
protection of the frontier on French Broad. These guards were sta- 
tined in four blockhouses— at Hough's, at the Burnt Canebrake, at the 
Painted Rock and at the Warm Springs, and scouted regularly between 
these blockhouses, and up to Big Laurel, where they met the Buncombe 

There is a tradition of yet another expedition under the conduct 
of Sevier which passed up the French Broad River to the mouth of 
New Found Creek, and thence up that creek and on west and returned 
dowTi the valley of the Hominy. Probably it was one of the same. 


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 


Asheville and Bimcomhe County 





U ' ^ 

wife heard the report of guns, and, knowing too well what had hap- 
pened, 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 pursu- 
ing 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 Revo- 
lutionary soldiers, relates. It is 
that, at a time prior to white 
settlement of the lower Swan- 
nanoa Valley, some Cherokees 
were returning from depredations 
on the whites and being pursued 
Grave of Samuel Davidson by t^g latter, wcre Overtaken at 

about the Cheesborough Place, a mile above Biltmore, where a fight oc- 
curred between the two parties which continued at the canebrakes there 
at intervals for elevent days, in which many Indians were killed, prin- 
cipally 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 

Asheville and Buncombe County 61 

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, tl: 
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 Jordan 
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 settle- 
ments 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 settle- 
ments just mentioned were formed. 


Chapter V 


A T 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 w^as adopted by the 

On October 5, 1784, Captain William Moore above mentioned 
caused to be surveyed a tract of land containing 450 acres on Hominy 
Creek three miles west of French Broad River, later known as the 
Captain Charles Moore Place, and recently owned by Dr. David M. 
Gudger. On August 7, 1787, he procured a grant for this land lying 
on both sides of Hominy Creek. This w'as probably the first grant for 
land now in Buncombe County. The original grant is now owned by 
Mr. Owen Gudger, formerly postmaster of Asheville. When Captain 
Moore got his grant, as I learn from IMr. Gudger, he put on the land a 
negro named Jim and Jim's wafe Sue on the southern side of the creek 
in a cabin; and there these negroes for many years sold food to 
travellers until Captain Moore himself removed to this land, where he 
resided and died and was buried. 

From portions of Burke and Rutherford counties was subse- 
quently formed the County of Buncombe, named for Col. Edward 
Buncombe, a North Carolina soldier of the Revolution. 

In 1729 this territory would have been embraced in the County of 
Clarendon. At this time the County of New Hanover, with indefinite 
western boundaries which seem to have extended to the Pacific Ocean, 
then called the South Seas, was formed, and the name of Clarendon 
as a county disappears. From New Hanover County in 1738 was cut 

Asheville and Buncombe County 


off and erected the County of Bladen, whose western limits were left 
undefined. Again from the County of Bladen was formed in 1749 
the County of Anson, still with undefined western limits. Here Bun- 
combe's genealogy divides into two branches, to be united again in her 
own creation. 



Autograph signature of Colonel Edward Buncombe for whom Buncombe 
County was named 

That portion of her territory which was taken from Burke may 
be traced from this point as follows: In 1758 Rowan County was 
formed from a part of Anson County, and up to the beginning of the 
Revolutionary War continued in its entirety. In 1777 was formed 
from its western portion a new county called Burke. 

That portion of Buncombe County which was taken from Ruther- 
ford may be traced as follows: In 1762 was formed from the western 
part of the County of Anson a new county called in honor of the new- 
queen of England, Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg, by the name 
of Mecklenburg County. In 1768 the western part of Mecklenburg 
County was erected into a new county, and named in honor of North 
Carolina's notorious colonial governor, Tryon County, but during the 
struggle for independence the North Carolinians were but little dis- 
posed to honor the name of their former oppressor, and when in 1779 
this county had become inconveniently large, it was formed into two 
new counties, and the name of Tryon dropped, and the eastern part 
called Lincoln, while the western portion received the name of Ruther- 
ford County, in honor of Gen. Griffith Rutherford. 

In 1792, while David Vance from the upper Reems Creek settle-j 
ment was a member of the Legislature from Burke County, and Col J 

64 Asheville and Buncombe County 

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 
1 of Burke and Rutherford counties, with its western borders fixed by 
the line of the territory which two or three years before North Carolina 
had ceded to the United States, and which was afterward created into 
pe 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. 

Famous as Buncombe County deservedly is, she has acquired some 
notoriety that no place less merits. Her name has become synonymous 
with empty talk, a lucus a non lucendo. In the Sixteenth Congress of 
the United States the district of North Carolina which embraced 
Buncombe County was represented in the lower house by Felix Walker. 
The Missouri question was under discussion and the house, tired by 
speeches, wanted to come to a vote. At this time Mr. Walker secured 
the floor and was proceeding with his address, at best not very forceful 
or entertaining, when some impatient member whispered to him to sit 
down and let the vote be taken. This he refused to do, saying that he 
must ''make a speech for Buncombe," that is, for his constituents; or, 
as others say, certain members rose and left the hall while he was 
speaking and when he saw them going, he turned to those who 
remained and told them that they might go too, if they wished, as he 
was "only speaking for Buncombe." The phrase was at once caught 
up and the vocabulary of the English language was enriched by the 
addition of a new term. 

Felix Walker was born in Hampshire County, Virginia, on July 
19, 1775, and began life as a merchant. His grandfather, John 
Walker, emigrated in 1720 from Derry, Ireland, to Delaw^are, where 
his father, also named John, was born. The younger Walker after 

Asheville and Buncombe County 65 

reaching manhood went to Virginia where he married and afterwards 
moved to North Carolina. In the last State he settled in Tryon, 
afterward Lincoln, County, on Seipe's Creek, but subsequently removed 
to Crowder's Creek, about four miles from Kings Mountain. He 
was a member of the first convention at Hillsboro in July, 1775, and 
also of the Provincial Congress which met there on August 21, 1775. 
After serving with the Americans throughout the Revolutionary War, 
he died in 1796. Felix Walker, his oldest son, went with Richard 
Henderson to Kentucky (then called Louisa), in 1775, on an expedition 
of which Daniel Boone was pilot. Here he was badly wounded by 
Indians, and owed his life to the attention of Colonel Boone. After his 
return he remained for a while at home and then went to the Watauga 
settlement, now in East Tennessee, where he became clerk of the first 
court in the new County of Washington. While holding this office 
he came to Mecklenburg County in North Carolina and joined the 
State troops and was made captain of a company placed at Nolli- 
chucky to guard the frontier against Indians. After this he returned 
to his duties as clerk. This office he filled for four years in all. Then 
he removed to Rutherford County, North Carolina, and was appointed 
clerk of the court in that county. He resided on Cane Creek. After 
this he was a member of the General Assembly of the State from that 
county in 1792, 1793, 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802 and 1806. In 1817 
he was elected a member of the Fifteenth Congress of the United States, 
and was thereafter re-elcted to the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Con- 
gresses. He was succeeded in Congress in 1823 by Dr. Robert B. 
Vance, an uncle of the late Governor Z. B. Vance. Again in 1827 he 
was a candidate for Congress, but withdrew in favor of Samuel P. 
Carson, who defeated Vance and James Graham. Soon after leaving 
Congress Mr. Walker removed to Mississippi where he died in 1828. 
For a more extended but somewhat incorrect sketch of him see 
Wheeler's Reminiscences, page 408. This was a period of important 
events. In 1827 Vance and Carson again opposed each other for Con- 
gress. While speaking at Asheville, Vance referred to Carson's father 
in disparaging terms. For this Carson challenged him. They fought 
on the South Carolina line at Saluda Gap. Vance fell and died in a 

66 Asheville and Buncombe County 

few hours. Among the friends who accompanied Carson on this occa- 
sion was the celebrated Colonel David Crockett, who married a Miss 
Patton on Swannanoa, and was killed at the Alamo, fighting for Texas 
and her independence. After four terms in Congress, Carson went to 
Texas in 1835 and there became Secretary of State. He died at Little 
Rock, Arkansas, in November, 1840. 

The site of Asheville was once within the borders of a vast and 
mighty Indian empire. In 1736 a German Jesuit named Christian 
Priber who had been an officer in the French army came to the Cher- 
okee countr}^ and took up his abode among the Cherokees on Big Tellico 
River, now in Tennessee but then in North Carolina and still not more 
than a dozen miles beyond the North Carolina border. He was a man 
of profound and extensive learning, highly polished manners, consum- 
mate address, and profound sagacity. Although "adorned with every 
qualification that constitutes the gentleman," he exchanged his clothes 
with the head warriors of Tellico River and ate, drank, slept, danced, 
and painted himself with them and took one of their women for a wife. 
Already he was master of the Greek, Latin, German, French, Spanish, 
and English languages, and he soon became thoroughly acquainted 
with the language of the Cherokees. He set to work to persuade the 
Indians to form an empire which would be sufficiently pow^erful to 
drive the white men from America. The old Indian archi-magus was 
crowned emperor with much ceremony and the other chief men of that 
neighborhood were elevated to offices with high-sounding titles in the 
new empire, while Priber himself became principal secretary of state 
to his majesty the new emperor. The plan was to engage all the 
Southern tribes of Indians to become subjects of the empire. He en- 
couraged the aboriginal vanity of the Cherokees by pointing out their 
superior numbers in having about six thousand warriors and their 
bravery and fame in war, and represented the English as a people, 
fraudulent, avaricious, encroaching, and inferior in numbers as well as 
in warlike spirit to the mighty Cherokees. Soon the British authorities 
at Charlestown, South Carolina, heard of what was going on upon 
Tellico and sent Colonel Fox to arrest Priber and bring him to Charles- 
town. Fox seized his man and made a speech to the Indians in ex- 
plantation of his action. Before he had concluded, one of the warriors 

Asheville and Buncombe County 67 

interrupted the speaker and told him that the man whom he wished to 
make prisoner was npw a Cherokee and a great friend to their nation 
who had come a great way to benefit them and preserve their liberties 
and must not be interferred with, while Colonel Fox must leave the 
country. Fox departed under a passport of safe conduct from Priber 
himself, who also furnished to the British agent a bodyguard to con- 
duct him in safety a considerable distance on the way to Charlestown. 
Meanwhile Priber proceeded in the execution of his plans of founding 
a vast red empire. He invited criminals of all classes to seek an asylum 
in his new government, and urged debtors, felons, servants, and negro 
slaves to escape and join him, promising them exemption from punish- 
ment for any crime or licentiousness, except murder and idleness, which 
they might commit. This went on for eight years until in 1744, when 
he started to Mobile and proceeded to within two days' journey of that 
place. Having passed by land to the navigable part of Tallapoosa 
River he was spending the night at Tookabatcha, when some traders 
recognized him and forcibly carried him a prisoner to Frederica in 
Georgia. General Oglethorpe, then governor of Georgia, was amazed 
to find that this man dressed in deer-skins and moccasins was a man of 
much erudition, polish, and accomplishment. With Priber had been 
seized a bunch of his manuscripts, including a Cherokee dictionary 
which he had prepared for publication in Paris and his plan of the 
government for the new empire. He explained his plans freely, ex- 
hibited evidence that he might expect aid from France and another un- 
named European country, and took his imprisonment with great cool- 
ness. When the difficulties of his enterprise were mentioned, he 
answered that by ''proceeding properly, many of these evils might be 
avoided ;^ and as to length of time, we have a succession of agents to 
take up the work as fast as others leave it. We never lose sight of a 
favorite point, nor are we bound by the strict rules of morality in the 
means, when the end we pursue is laudable. If we err, our general is 
to blame; and we have a merciful God to pardon us. Before the cen- 
tury is passed the Europeans will have a very small footing on this 
continent." A magazine, containng powder and shells, took fire near 
his prison and he was warned to escape. Instead, he lay flat on the 
floor. When the sentinels returned after the explosion, expecting to 

68 Asheville and Buncombe County 

find that he was dead, they observed him quietly seated reading a Greek, 
book. When they reproached him for his rashness, he said that his 
experience had shown him that his was the best method to avoid 
danger. While thus a prisoner he became sick and soon died. Thus 
ended the great empire of the Cherokees in North Carolina and lands 
adjoining on the south. 

Chapter VI 

THE town of Asheville was founded by John Burton. 
What street in Asheville bears his name ? What has ever 
been done by the town to honor her founder? In fact, how 
many of Asheville's people ever heard of John Burton ? Is it not high 
time that this shameful negligence should cease? 

On the 7th day of July, 1794, John Burton obtained from the »| 
State of N orth Carolina a grant fo r 200 acre s of lan d in Buncombe__ 
CountypTavnig its northern boundary formed by a line extending from 
a pomt in Charlotte Street near the mouth of Clayton Street, west- 
wardly along Orange Street, and further on to a point in the late 
Captain M. J. Fagg's lot east of North Main Street; its southern 
boundary formed by a line running from the entrance of the Martin 
property at the eastern end of Atkin Street, westwardly along Atkin 
Street and further on to a point in the rear of the Ravenscrof t property ; 
while its eastern boundary extended northwardly along the northern 
part of Valley Street through the grounds of the College Street public 
school, formerly the Asheville College for Young Women, and along 
the southern part of Charlotte Street; and its western boundary ex- 
tended through the lot now occupied by the Asheville postof&ce build- 
ing. This tract was thenceforth known as the Town Tract. 

At about the same time John Burton obtained from the State of 
North Carolina a grant to another tract of land of the same size and 
dimensions, immediately north of the Town Tract. This other tract 
became knowTi as the Gillihan Tract. 

Before these grants were issued and while his only claim to them 
was that acquired by entry, John Burton had planned and marked 
out a to^\Tl upon that part of the Town Tract which lies along Main 
Street southwardly from the present College Street to the bend in 
South Mai n Street where are now the Hilliard residence and the old 
car shed. / This land was "by private contract laid out for a town 
called Morristown, the county town of Buncombe County," into 42 lots 


Asheville and Buncombe County 
















^^ . 













1 5 ? 

t; ,.o>*^^*' 

^ %</ i 

• 1 

^^^ '^ 

•0 ^ 


^ 1 -^ 

~ 1 ° 

5 s 


* ^ 

1 ^ 

^ ^ ^ 

iO^ :; 

, ^^ 

<3 <3%'^^^^ S 

1 1 












Z '- O G 

^^ b «:> 

c thir 


"^ rt H.23 



;s o t£ tfl 


rt u 


o-^i ^ 

— tfl cfl u 

- «^ ,> =^ 


is .-5 

-- o o 

^ x3 1 

iJ C 1^ rt 

^ «^a 

i o'^'^ 


.„ c c « 


cj aj TJ trt 

f acr 
e pol 
n an 

re fiv 
nty d 

° 1S2 ^ 

v> ii -^ 

B^ >>^ 

i2 o = :3 

le a 
s so 




-^ V Ji '^ 


^r^^ ^ 





Asheville and Buncombe County 7 1 

containing, with the exception of the two at the southern end, one-half 
of an acre each, lying on both sides of a street thirty-three feet wide, 
which runs where the southern part of North Main Street and the 
northern part of South Main Street now are. Each lot had a frontage 
on this street of five poles, except the two small ones above mentioned, 
and they all extended back from the street sixteen poles. 

The town was named by the County Court in April, 1793, Morris- 
town, although sometimes it was called Morriston, Morris, and once^ 
even, the Town of Morris, and still more generally Buncombe Court- 
house. It had but one other street, which was of the same width as 
Main Street and was planned to extend along the eastern end of Patton 
Avenue and straight on across the public square for an equal distance 
beyond the square. An alley of fifteen feet in width crossed the 
Main Street at the junction of Sycamore and South Main Streets. A 
reduced copy of this plan of the town as laid out is here given. 

It will be observed that two of these lots were not numbered, and 
it is probable that they were intended to be reserved for public build- 
ings. It will be further observed that the land now constituting the 
Public Square was then laid off into private lots except that part of it 
included in Main Street. Nobody seems to know why the name of 
Morristown was bestowed upon the place, and any conjecture as to the 
person or place in whose honor the name was given could amount to 
nothing more than a mere guess. 

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 Morris- 
town." At their last preceding meeting on Tuesday of that session, 
which began "on third Monday in April, A Domini, 1793," the fol- 
lowing entry appears upon their minutes : 

72 Asheville and Buncombe County 

"Ordered by the court that William Davidson be 
allowed 25 pounds for the use of house to hold court in. 

"Scite 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 Chote, 
"William Morrison. 

"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 Morristo\\Ti." 

"Court adjourned till the third Monday in July, to meet 
at Morristown." 

The legislature which created the county appointed a committee 
to determine the location of the county to\\Ti. There were two places 
thought of for the site. One of these was where until of late years 
stood the old brick residence of Dr. J. F. E. Hardy and later of 
Mr. R. P. Walker about two miles south of Swannanoa River on the 
road from Asheville to Hendersonville and for many years called the 
Steam Saw-mill Place, because the first saw mill operated by steam 
ever in Western North Carolina had been located on that place and 
there sawed the thick planks which were used to build the plank road 
between Asheville and Hendersonville. The other place at which it 

Asheville and Buncombe County 73 

had been suggested to put the county town was on or near the site of 
the present city of Asheville and about on its principal or Main Street. 
The people from the northern part of the new county favored the 
locality on which part of Asheville stands and half of the committee 
appointed to decide the matters was of their view. The people from 
the southern part of the new county favored the locality south of 
Swannanoa River and the other half of the committee was of these 
people. The committee could not agree on the site for the town. The 
next legislature appointed a new committee, composed equally of men 
from the southern end of the county and men from the northern end 
of the county. But this time it took the precaution to add to the new 
committee William IMorrison from Burke County as an impartial odd 
member. Again the committee-men from the north end of the county 
and the committee-men from the south end of the county failed to agree. 
Then the matter was determined by vote of William Morrison, the man 
from Burke County. The three members of the new committee who 
were from the northern end of the county joined with William Morrison 
in the report, which the three members of the committee from the south 
end of the county did not sign. 

It is probable that the name of Morristown was given to the town 
thus located in honor of William Morrison, whose vote on the com- 
mittee decided the dispute, his name being abbreviated as too long for 
convenience when the word "town" was added and as it was not un- 
common in those days when speaking of men with rather long names 
to abbreviate the names by exciding the latter parts. This suggestion 
gains weight from the fact that the town's name was soon changed to 
Asheville, probably because the giving of the name of the man who 
decided the controversy against the southern portion of the county td 
the county town was disagreeable to the losers. This suggestion as tol 
the origin of the name of Morristown given to the new county tow^n is 
offered as a conjecture in the total absence of any record or tradition or 
other reasonable theory which would tend to explain the name. 

The Indian graves here spoken of appear to have been rather un- 
fortunate as a place for the determination of a controverted matter, as 
this was. There was a place known at that time as "the Indian 
graves," about a half mile further south. It was on the hill on which 

74 Asheville and Buncombe County 

stands the residence of the late Dr. J. F. E. Hardy, lately owned by 
Mrs. S. E. Buchanan. This place is so called in more than one of the 
old deeds. (See Register's Book B, page 40.) There is, however, a 
well-supported tradition, handed down by the late E. H. Cunningham 
and the late Montraville Patton, that somewhere in the space between 
the Public Square and the Battery Park hill, called in the old deeds 
invariably by the name of the Stony Hill, were some Indian graves at 
the gap between points where an old Indian trail ran across from 
.south to north at the lowest spot, now in Patton Avenue (once much 
lower than at present) and marked on the south by the building once 
occupied in part by the Young Men's Christian Association and op- 
posite Raysor's Drug Store and on the north by the Raysor's Drug 
Store; and that these graves were known as the "Indian Graves," and 
this gap as the "Indian Grave Gap." This tradition has been pre- 
served by the late Mr. R. B. Justice, and was derived by him from the 
old men above mentioned, who had spent their lives in the vicinity of 
Asheville. The Big Branch mentioned in this report is that which a 
short while after became known as Gash's Creek, and in later years 
was called Town Branch, and is now commonly know^n by the mean- 
ingless name of Cripple Creek. It is the stream which runs by the 
passenger station at Asheville. Here it should be remarked that the 
place where the Public Square now is has been from time to time very 
much lowered by grading and that at one time there was here the very 
sharp top of a hill, so sharp, in fact, that old men have told me they 
remembered distinctly that, at one time, a man standing at the south- 
western corner of the Public Square could not see the top of a high 
covered wagon standing on Main Street where College Street crosses it. 
This last mentioned site of Indian graves is certainly so situated as 
to make it most probable in view of the report of the commissioners 
locating the town that this tradition is correct. The Indian graves on 
the Hardy hill could not have been those referred to in the report since 
there is no big branch between that place and Swannanoa, and since 
the town was actually placed "exceeding or extending more north than" 
that place. 

Charles II., King of Great Britain and Ireland, granted, in 1663, 
a large quantity of land stretching across the continent of North 

Asheville and Buncombe County 75 

America to eight men under the name of Carolina. On June 30, 1665, 
he confirmed this with boundaries enlarged on the northern and 
southern sides. This included North Carolina. The grantees were 
called Lords Proprietors. After sixty-four and sixty-six years the 
successors of these Lords Proprietors, except John, Lord Carteret 
afterwards Earl of Granville, who owned one-eighth, conveyed the 
land to George IL, King of Great Britain and Ireland. Lord 
Carteret's share was laid off to him in severalty on September 7, 1744^, 
in the northern part of North Carolina and its southern border was 
run part of the w^ay from the Atlantic Ocean west, but the line was not 
surveyed across the mountains. If extended it w^ould run through 
Buncombe County, passing near Buena Vista, and leaving Asheville 
and all the northern part of that county within the Granville Land. 
When the treaty at Paris of 1783 between the King of Great Britain 
and Ireland, of the one part, and the thirteen American States, of the 
other part, ended the Revolutionary War, North Carolina claimed this 
Granville Land as having passed to her from the heirs of the Earl of 
Granville, who were alien enemies, and granted it to various persons. 
These heirs claimed that under the provisions of that treaty their title 
was not divested, and brought suit in the United States Court at 
Raleigh to test the matter. This suit caused great anxiety in North 
Carolina. The Governor, in a message to the legislature, urged prompt 
and active attention to it. On a trial at Raleigh in 1806 the decision 
was against the Granville heirs who carried the case to the Supreme 
Court of the United States, where it was dismissed for want of proper 
prosecution. Had the Granville heirs won, every title to land in 
Asheville and in northern Buncombe County would have been invalid, 
except in cases w^here a title had matured by adverse holding, 

John Carteret was the grandson of George Carteret, one of the 
eight original Lords Proprietors of Carolina. He was the son of 
George Carteret, first baron Carteret, and was born April 22, 1690. 
When, on September 22, 1695, his father died, John Carteret, as oldest 
surviving son, became, at five years of age, Baron Carteret. He was 
educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, and made 
D.C.L., July 12, 1756. Dean Swift said of him that "with a singu- 
larity scarce to be justified, he carried away more Greek, Latin, and 

76 Asheville and Buncombe County 

philosophy than properly became a person of his rank; indeed, much 
more of each than most of those who are forced to live by their learning 
will be at the unnecessary pains to load their heads with." On May 
25, 1711, Lord John Carteret took his seat in the House of Lords. 
During the reign of George I., Lord Carteret held various public ap- 
pointments, and was particularly successful in two or three diplomatic 
missions in which he brought about peace between Sweden, Prussia, 
Denmark and Hanover, and became Lord-lieutenant of Ireland in 
1724. When George II. came to the throne in 1727 Lord Carteret 
received, from time to time, numerous appointments to important posi- 
tions; and in 1743 he was present at the battle of Dettingen. He 
became president of the council in 1751, having by the death of his 
mother. Countess of Granville, on October 18, 1744, become Earl of 
Granville. After a life spent principally in the public service, he died 
at Bath on January 2, 1763, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. 
He was a man of great learning, being eminent as a classical scholar 
and "master of all the modem languages." "Lord Granville," said 
Lord Chesterfield, "had great parts, and a most uncommon share of 
learning for a man of quality. He was one of the best speakers in the 
House of Lords, both in the declamatory and the argumentative way. 
He had a wonderful quickness and precision in seizing the stress of a 
question, which no art, no sophistry, could disguise to him. In busi- 
ness he was bold, enterprising, and overbearing. * * * He was 
neither ill-natured nor vindictive, and had a great contempt for money; 
his ideas were all above it. In social life he was an agreeable, good- 
humored, and instructive companion, a great but entertaining talker. 
* * * His political knowledge of the interest of princes and of 
commerce was extensive, and his notions were just and great. His 
character may be summed up in nice precision, quick decision, and un- 
bounded presumption." Horace Walpole said that of the five great 
men who had lived in his time, "Lord Granville was most a genius of 
the five; he conceived, knew% expressed what he pleased." William 
Pitt, Earl of Chatham, said of Lord Granville that "in the upper de- 
partment of government he had not his equal, and I feel a pride in 
declaring that to his patronage, to his friendship, and instruction, I 
owe whatever I am." 

Asheville and Buncombe County 77 

This was the man who once owned the territory on which Ashe- 
ville stands and of which, except a small strip on the south, Buncombe 
County is composed, John Carteret, Earl of Granville. 

The act establishing the County of Buncombe was ratified on the^ 
14th day of January, 1792, and, by the terms of that act, certain com- 
missioners therein named were directed to determine the place where 
the county town and the county's public buildings should be. 

This act creating Buncombe County reads, in its early portions, 
as follows: 

"An act forming the western parts of Burke and Rutherford 
counties into a separate and distinct county. 

"Whereas the western parts of Burke and Rutherford counties are 
very inconvenient to the court-houses in the said counties, which 
renders the attendance of jurors and witnesses very burthensome and 
expensive, and almost impossible in the winter season; and in order 
to remedy the same, 

"1. Be it enacted, &c. That all that part of the counties of 
Burke and Rutherford, circumscribed by the following lines, viz.: 
Beginning on the extreme height of the Apalachian mountain, where 
the southern boundary of this state crosses the same, thence along the 
extreme height of said mountain to where the road from the head of 
Catawba river to Swannanoe crosses, then along the main ridge divid- 
ing the waters of South-Toe from those of Swannanoe unto the Great 
Black mountain, then along said mountain to the northeast end, then 
along the main ridge between South-Toe and Little-Crabtree to the 
mouth of said Crabtree Creek, then down Toe river aforesaid to where 
the same empties into Nollichucky river, then dowii the said river to 
the extreme height of the Iron mountain and cession line, then along 
said cession line to the southern boundary, then along the said 
boundary to the beginning, is hereby erected into a separate and distinct 
county by the name of Buncombe." 

Although this act was passed at the session of the legislature for 
1791, commencing in that year on December 5th, it was not ratified 
until January 14, 1792, the session for 1792 not beginning until 
November 15, 1792. 

78 Asheville and Buncombe County 

On December 1, 1792, another act amendatory of that above men- 
tioned was passed, and in this it was recited that "the commissioners 
appointed to fix the center and agree where the public buildings in the 
County of Buncombe should be erected have failed to comply with the 
above recited Act, and the inhabitants of said county much injured 
thereby," and it was accordingly enacted "for remedy" thereof "that 
Joshua Inglish, Archibald Neill, James Wilson, Augustin Shote, 
George Baker and John Dillard in the county aforesaid and William 
Morrison of Burke County be appointed commissioners in the room 
and stead of Philip Hoodenpile, William Britain, William Whetson, 
James Brittain and Lemuel Clayton, and they are hereby vested with 
the same powers and authorities as the former commissioners were 
vested with, and they or a majority of them shall agree on some con- 
venient spot as nearly central as may be for convenience to the in- 
habitants of said county, whereon the public buildings shall be erected, 
any Law, usage or custom to the contrary notwithstanding." 

Probably this change of commissioners, made because of the 
failure of those first appointed to agree on some spot for the county seat, 
should not be attributed to an unwillingness on the part of those first 
appointed to act, but rather to their inability to agree as to where this 
county seat should be. It is certain that much controversy arose at 
that time in regard to the site of the court house between the advocates 
of the place where it was at last fixed and certain persons who strenu- 
ously contended that its location should be at the old Steam Saw Mill 
Place, on the road afterwards known as the Buncombe Turnpike Road, 
about three miles south of Asheville, where Dr. J. F. E. Hardy above 
mentioned resided at the time of his death, and Mr. R. P. Walker later 
lived. The man from Burke was probably chosen as being disinter- 
ested and able to decide in case of a difference between the Buncombe 
men who, of course, were interested. It is a noteworthy fact that only 
half of the Buncombe commissioners signed the report and all of them 
were from the northern end of the county, as noted above. 

This would seem to justify the precaution of adding to the com- 
mission a man from Burke County to decide in case of a disagreement 
among the others of the commissioners, all of whom were from Bun- 

Asheville and Buncombe County 79 

combe. One of these, Archibald Neill, had died since his appointment. 

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 entry- 
taker, 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 IMorgan Supr. Court, Septr. Term as the Venire 
from Buncombe." They consisted of Matthew Patton, William 
Davidson, David Vance, Lambert Clayton and James Brittain. 

Immediately upon obtaining his grant John Burton began to sell 
off his town lots as they had been laid out. His first sale was of lot 
No. 4 to Thomas Burton for "twenty shillings" on July 28, 1794, 
This sale was made in the same month in which the grant was issued, 
and was for the land now occupied by the southern portion of the 
Swannanoa-Berkeley hotel building. Town lots do not appear to have 
been much in demand at this time, for it was not until the 15th day 
of October following that another sale was made. Then John Burton 
sold to Ann Gash for five pounds lot No. 2, describing it as the lot that 
"Joins John Patons, Nomber First on the west side of the street" and 
"the lot whereon Ann Gash's house now stands." This lot was very 
near what was then the most improved part of the town. The first 
court house, if we may credit tradition, was a log structure one story 
high, and containing a single room, and was covered with boards held 
to their places by the weight of large pieces of timber laid horizontally 
across them. It is said to have stood one hundred feet south of 

80 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Sycamore Street and on the eastern side of South Main Street, as this 
lot seems to have been left vacant for the purpose; but more probably 
it stood on the Public Square in the centre of Main Street. Apparently 
the lot opposite the vacant lot just mentioned was intended for "the 
Stocks and prison to be convenient to the court house." This court 
house appears to have been used as such for many years. 

The next lot sold was lot No. 7. This was bought on October 21, 
1794, by Thomas Foster for "twenty shillings" and is the land on 
which stands the old brick building on the western side of South Main 
Street long known as the old Rankin & Pulliam store. Five dollars 
was not a high price for a half-acre lot near the centre of the town and 
fronting 82j^ feet on the main street, although we are so often assured 
that real estate has always been ridiculously high in Asheville. 

John Burton continued to sell town lots until he had disposed of 
or contracted to dispose of thirty-one or thirty-two of them. Then, 
seemingly, he grew tired of the business of building a town, and on 
April 20, 1795, sold to Zebulon and Bedent Baird for two hundred 
pounds all his tracts of land "including the Town all except what lots 
is sold and maid over." Many of the deeds made by him for lots 
which he had theretofore contracted to sell were not, however, executed 
until after this conveyance to the Bairds. 

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: 

Thomas Burton, lot 4, for 20 shillings, July 28, 1794, record book 
2, page .53. 

Ann Gash, half of lot 2, for 5 pounds, October 15, 1794, record 
book 2, page 82. 

Thomas Foster, lot 7, for 20 shillings, October 21, 1794, record 
book 2, page 56. 

Thomas Foster, lot 11, for 4 pounds, October 21, 1794, record 
book 2, page 107. 

Sarah Hamilton, lot 5, for "10 silver dollars," October 22, 1794, 
record book 2, page 59. 

Asheville and Buncombe County 81 

William Wilson, lots 24 and 25, for 10 pounds, October 22, 1794, 
record book 2, page 58. 

Thomas Foster, lot 3, for 25 pounds, October 24, 1794, record 
book 2, page 56. 

Zebulon & Bendent Baird, lot — , for 4 pounds, October 24, 1794, 
record book 2, page 99. 

John Hawkins, lot 20, for 4 pounds, January 19, 1795, record 
book 2, page 55. 

Harris Hutchison, lot 9, for 4 pounds, January 21, 1795, record 
book 2, page 100. 

John Street, lot 6, for 5 pounds, January 22, 1795, record book 2, 
page 51. 

John Street, back lots, for 4 pounds, April 20, 1795, record book 
2, page 230. 

James Hughey, lot 18, for 4 pounds, April 22, 1795, record book 

2, page 236. 

John Craig, lot 20, for 4 pounds, April 22, 1795, record book 3, 
page 11. 

Joseph Hughey, lot 5, two for 4 pounds, April 22, 1795, record 
book 4, page 176. 

Joseph Hughey, lots 29 and 30, for 4 pounds, April 22, 1795, 
record book 3, page 17. 

William Forster, lot 12, for 4 pounds, April 22, 1795, record 
book 3, page 45. 

Ephriam D. Harris, lot 17, for 4 pounds, April 23, 1795, record 
book 2, page 174. 

Samuel Lusk, lot 13, for 2 pounds, April 23, 1795, record book 2, 
page 231. 

Edward McFarling, half of lot 27, for 2 pounds, April 23, 1795, 
record book 2, page 237. 

William Wilson, lot south of town for 10 pounds, April 23, 1795, 
record book 3, page 27. 

Robert Branks, lot 39, for 4 pounds, April 23, 1795, record book 

3, page 67. 

William Lax, ^Vi acres, for 40 pounds, April 23, 1795, record 
book 3, page 92. 

82 Asheville and Buncombe County 

James Brittain, lot 14, for 100 pounds, April 23, 1795, record 
book 3, page 144. 

Col. William Davidson, lot 21, for — pounds, April 24, ^795, 
record book 2, page 169. 

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

James Davidson, lot 26, for 6 pounds, April 21, 1796, record book 

2, page 381. 

Benjamin Hall, lot 23, for 4 pounds, April 24, 1796, record book 

3, page 142. 

James Chambers, lot 19, for $100, July 20, 1797, record book 2. 
page 480. 

Hugh Tate, half of lote 13, for $50, July 18, 1798, record book 4, 
page 160. 

Patton & Erwin, lot 4, for $40, March 15, 1805, record book 10, 
page 239. 

The lots are described as being, sometimes in Morriston, some- 
times in Alorristown, sometimes in ^lorris Towti and once in the Town 
of Morris, except the last two, which are stated to be in the town of 

mp:n of those days 

Many of these men whose names are given in this list as pur- 
chasers of lots were men of prominence in the affairs of the county, or 
afterwards became such. 

Thomas Foster did not live in the town, but on the southern side 
of the Swannanoa River, and on the old Rutherfordton road, about 2>^ 
miles south of Asheville, on the farm on which in later years was made 
the junction of the Western North Carolina Railroad with the Asheville 
& Spartanburg Railroad and where is Biltmore. He was born in Vir- 
ginia, on October 14, 1774. In 1786 his father, William Forster, came 
with his family to North Carolina, and settled at the foot of the hill on 
the northern side of the Swannanoa River, about midway between the 
Hendersonville road and the road leading to the Swannanoa by way 
of Fernihurst at a place where a small branch comes through a hollow 
and crosses the vallev into the Swannan©a River. Here Thomas lived 

Asheville and Buncombe County 83 

until he grew to manhood. Then he married Orra Sams, whose father, 
Edmund Sams, was one of the settlers from Watauga, and lived on 
the western side of the French Broad River, later the site of Smith's 
Bridge, until he removed higher up that river on the same side to a 
place about a mile above the mouth of the Swannanoa at the old 
Gaston place, near the place which has since been called the race track- 
After his marriage Thomas Foster settled upon the farm where he 
spent the remainder of his life on the banks of Sweeten's Creek, after- 
wards called Foster's Mill Creek, the first which enters Swannanoa 
from the southern side above the concrete bridge on the Hendersonville 
road. Here he built the first bridge across the Swannanoa. Its loca- 
tion was about one hundred yards above the present bridge. He was a 
member of the House of Commons in the General Assembly of North 
Carolina from Buncombe County in 1809, 1812, 1813 and 1814, and 
represented that county in the Senate of the State in 1817 and 181Q. 
After a long and prosperous life he died on December 24 (incorrectly 
on tombstone Dec. 14), 1858, and is buried at the Newton Academy 
graveyard. He was a farmer, and accumulated a considerable 
property. A large family of children survived him. Two of these were 
living in 1898, but have died, Thomas Foster of Weakley County, 
Tennesse, and ]Mrs. Rachel R. Garner, of Winchester, Ky. ]Many of 
his descendants reside in Buncombe County. His wife died before him 
on August 27, 1853, and he was buried by her side. Frequent men- 
tion of him will be found in Wheeler's History of North Carolina, 
Bennett's Chronology of North Carolina, and Bishop Asbury's Journal. 
He was known as Captain Thomas Foster. But as his uncle of the 
same name was then living in Buncombe County it may be that the 
latter was the purchaser of that name to whom some of the lots men- 
tioned above were conveyed. This Thomas Forster was usually desig- 
nated as Thomas Foster, Sr., and, after a short while, removed to 
Abbeville, South Carolina, but later returned to Buncombe and died 
here in the earlv fall of 1839. 

Zebulon and Bedent Baird were brothers who came from New 
Jersey to North Carolina in the latter part of the eighteenth centur}'. 
They were Scotchmen by birth. After their removal to North Carolina 
they were the first merchants in Buncombe County. Both settled on 

84 Asheville and Buncombe County 

farms between Asheville and Reems Creek. Here they died, and 
numerous descendants of both yet live in this county. Zebulon Baird 
represented Buncombe County in the House of Commons in 1800, 
1801, 1802 and 1803, and in the Senate of the State in 1806, 1809. 
1818, 1821 and 1822. He was efficient in procuring the enactment 
of the law under which the Buncombe Turnpike was constructed, and 
is said to have found difficulty in reconciling his friends to his action 
in this matter; but declared that he hoped to live long enough to see 
the day when a stage coach and four horses would gallop through the 
country driven by a man armed with a whip and a tin bugle. . This 
vision was destined to a gorgeous realization but he never lived to see it. 
Nor was such an argument to be despised. Such a sight would indicate 
a highway of commerce while it gratified the highest local pride then 
conceivable. Xo more exhilarating scene w^as ever witnessed than a 
handsome newly-painted stage coach drawn by four fine horses as it 
bursts upon us around some bend in the mountain dashing at full 
gallop along a road winding its way through the mountain defiles. 
No more inspiring sound ever greeted human ears than that of the 
horn of the stage coach rushing up to some mountain station while its 
reverberations penetrate the deep recesses and are tossed from hill to 
hill in wild and wuerd musical cadences. The late Zebulon Baird 
Vance was Zebulon Baird's namesake and one of his grandsons. In 
1793 Zebulon and Bedent Baird carried up the first four-wheel wagon 
ever seen in Buncombe County, all transportation theretofore having 
been by horseback or on sleds or trucks. This wagon they brought 
across the South Carolina or Saluda Gap. Zebulon Baird died in 
March, 1827. Before his death the Town and Gillihan tracts above 
mentioned, together with the Baird 400 acres, a tract adjoining these on 
the west and granted by the State to both in 1799, were sold under 
execution issued from Morganton on a judgment obtained against 
them by a third brother, Andrew Baird, and were bought at this sale 
by Zachariah Candler, who undoubtedly purchased in behalf of 
Zebulon Baird, to whom he conveyed the land by deed made eight days 
later than that to him from the sheriff. After the death of Zebulon 
Baird, his brother Bedent," or Beadon, or Beden, as it is sometimes 
spelled, conceived that in this transaction there had been something 

Asheville and Buncombe County 85 

unfair to himself, and sued the widow and children and administrator 
of his deceased brother for an equal share in the land. This famous 
suit, at first decideH in favor of Bedent, was carried by his opponents 
to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, where at June term, 1837, 
nearly 10 years after its beginning, it was decided in favor of the heirs 
of Zebulon. A possession at the northwest corner of the Town Tract 
in a field on the premises of the late M. J. Fagg was an important 
element in turning the decision for Zebulon's children. The late 
Governor D. L. Swain was the administrator of Zebulon Baird and 
took great interest in this case. He is said to have openly announced 
to the judge who tried the case below that he would, procure a reversal 
in the court above and to have added, "I will make Mr. Badger tear 
your opinion to pieces." 

Zebulon Baird was attacked by his fatal sickness while riding 
along the road between Reems Creek and his home and fell from his 
horse. His residence was the old house (now gone) on the eastern 
side of the old Buncombe Turnpike road, about two and one-half 
miles north of Asheville and one-fourth of a mile south of the entrance 
of the Burnsville Road and later owned by Capt. J. E. Ray, and near 
the Casket Plant. This house was partly a log structure and is said 
to have been constructed with loop holes in order to be used as a block- 
house in case of need against Indians. 

John Street was afterwards the sheriff of Buncombe County, but 
mysteriously disappeared after the expiration of his terms of office. 
He was believed to have gone to Tennessee. (Record book 11, page 
521.) ^ ^ 

Joseph Hughey was the first sheriff of Buncombe County, having 
been elected to that office on April 16, 1792. He was re-elected to it' 
for several following terms successively, and was a large land owner 
in the vicinity of Asheville. 

At a later date James Hughey, whose name is above mentioned, 
was also a sheriff of Buncombe County. He it was who as such 
sheriff made in 1798 the celebrated sale for taxes of the John Gray 
Blount lands, themselves embracing whole counties and amounting to 
one million seventy-four thousand acres. (Record book 4, page 230, 
and Love v. Wilbourn, 5 Ired. N. C, Rep. 344.) 

86 Asheville and Buncombe County 

John Craig was Buncombe County's first treasurer, an office then 
known as County Trustee. He was the grantee from the State in 1798 
of a body of land in the northern part of the tovdi of Asheville later 
traversed by Sunset Drive. In the latter part of his life he resided in 
the eastern part of the county, where he was shot from ambush and 
killed. Henry West was convicted of the murder but was pardoned, 
the pardon arriving while he stood on the scaffold with the sheriff 
ready to execute him. He was a most eccentric character of much 
intelligence and considerable property and was said to have been a 
sailor and served under Paul Jones in the Revolutionar>' War; but 
prided himself upon being discourteous in manner and brutal in 

William Forster, the father of Captain Thomas Foster, above 
mentioned, was the son of William Forster and Mary Forster, his wife. 
He belonged to that large class of people called Scotch-Irish, who have 
played so prominent and honorable a part in the history of the United 
States. Born in Ireland on ^>Iarch 31, 1748, he emigrated to Virginia 
while yet a young man. After the close of the Revolutionary War he 
removed with his family to Western North Carolina, and settled on the 
Swannanoa, at the place described as his residence in the above sketch 
of Captain Thomas Foster. Here he lived for many years, and here 
he died on April 2, 1830. In early life he married a Scotch woman by 
the name of Elizabeth Heath. She died October 8, 1827. 

Both William Forster and his wife were buried at the Newton 
Academy graveyard, the first persons buried there. 

Ephraim Drake Harris was another of the early purchasers of 
lots in Morristown. He soon removed, however, and probably returned 
to Cabarrus County, North Carolina. To him was granted by the 
State, on February 19, 1794, a body of land which now constitutes the 
most eastern part of Asheville, extending eastward from Valley Street. 

Samuel Lusk was for some while coroner of Buncombe County. 
In April, 1799, he resigned that office and was elected sheriff. To this 
last place he was annually re-elected until April, 1803. 

James Brittain was the representative of Buncombe County in the 
State Senate in 1796, 1797, 1802, 1804, 1805 and 1807. 

Asheville and Buncombe County 87 

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 Bun- 
combe 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 w^here 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 Vir- 
ginia and served in the American cause through the Revolutionary 

Major William Davidson took a prominent part in the prepara- 
tions made by the North Carolinians for the battle of Kings Mountain. 
These thwarted Ferguson in his raid w^hich ended in that battle. Dur- 
ing the Revolutionary War Major William Davidson lived in what 
became Burke County on Catawba River near the towTi 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, w^here, in 1784-1785, they formed the 
famous "Swannanoa Settlement" and where he resided for the re- 
mainder of his life and died and is buried. 

S8 Asheville and Bu7icombe County 

In 1792 Gabriel Ragsdale and Wm. Brittain were Buncombe's 
first representatives in the North Carolina House of Commons and 
they continued to hold those places in 1793, 1794, and 1795, by 

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 Femihurst now stands. 
From here he removed to the Whitson place, on Swannanoa above the 
eld 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, 
1831. 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 

Asheville and Buncombe County 89 

her marria.G;e, 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. 

Probably others of these first settlers of Morristown attained 
prominence in the affairs of that town and of the County of Buncombe, 
and some of them, as we know, soon removed to distant places. 

Here begins a new chapter in the history of Asheville. In 1795, 
Samuel Ashe of New Hanover County, a brother of the John Ashe 
who played so important a part in resisting the Stamp xAct, was elected 
governor of North Carolina. In his honor the name of Morristown 
was changed to Asheville. This new name became common some time 
before any legal action upon the subject was had. In fact, it had 
become so common by October, 1795, that the clerk of the County 
Court, forgetting for the moment that in law the town was still Morris- 
town, began in the opening statement of his minutes of that term, when 
giving the place where that session was held, to write the word 
Asheville, but before completing it he recollected himself and finished 
it out as Morristown. Subsequently, in beginning his minutes of the 
April term, 1796, he wrote as the place of the court's session, the full 
name of Asheville, but then again recollecting his error, and before 
he had written another word, he passed his pen through the word 
Asheville, and wrote the word Morristown. Finally, in July, 1796, 
or October, 1796, or in January, April or July, 1797, the name of the 
town was duly changed from Morristown to Asheville. This latter 
name it has ever since borne. 

Samuel Ashe, for whom Asheville was named, was born in North 
Carolina in 1725; educated at Harvard; became a lawyer; was one 
of thirteen members of the council which governed North Carolina 
after the commencement of the Revolution and prior to the adoption 
of her first Constitution, and part of that time president of that 
Council of Thirteen; was a member of the convention which adopted 
that Constitution; was speaker of the Senate in the first legislature 
which assembled under that Constitution; was by that legislature 
elected presiding judge of the Supreme Court of the State, which court 
was composed of three judges; and continued in that office until 1795 
when he became and was, for three years, governor of the State. He 

90 Asheville and Buncombe County 

was a member of that court when it decided, in the celebrated case of 
Bayard v. Singleton, that an act of the legislature was void because 
contrary to the Constitution; and he was governor when the land 
frauds of John Glasgow, Secretary of State, were discovered and 
created such a great excitement in North Carolina. At his plantation 
on Rocky Point he died in 1813. 

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 that 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 mem- 
ber of the North Carolina House of Commons from Burke County and 
in 1791 introduced in that body a bill to create the County of Bun- 
combe. 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 

Asheville and Buncombe County 91 

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. 

A small party of Cherokees set out from the more western parts of 
North Carolina, in the summer of 1793, to attack the white settlements 
on Swannanoa River. It seems that the settlers had received some 
warning of this and were on the lookout. At any rate, the attack was 
not made. Simultaneously, but without concert with the North Caro- 
linians, Colonel Doherty and Colonel McFarland had led an invasion 
from East Tennessee of a part of the Cherokee country which had 
escaped incursions from the whites. With one hundred and eighty 
mounted riflemen they entered the mountains at Unaka Pass and 
turned eastwardly, destroying six Cherokee towns, and killing fifteen 
Indians and taking captive sixteen Indian women and children. They 
were gone four weeks; and, by returning in another w^ay from that by 
which they had entered the country, escaped an ambuscade of three 
hundred Cherokees which was awaiting their return at Unaka Pass, 
expected to be by that same way of entrance into the mountains. The 
expedition had one man mortally wounded and three others less seri- 
ously hurt in the two or three night attacks made upon it by the 
Indians. It was contrary to the orders of the Tennessee territorial gov- 
ernment, but probably prevented the contemplated attack on the Swan- 
nanoa settlements and saved from destruction the village of Morristown. 
now the City of Asheville. 


Chapter VII 

X November, 1797, the village of Asheville was incorporated by 
the legislature of the State of North Carolina as "a town by the 
name of Ashville," in an act of which the following is a copy: 

"Session of November, 1797, Ch. 54. 

"An Act establishing a town at the court house in the county of 

"Whereas, It is represented to this General Assembly that the 
establishing a town at the court house in Buncomb county would be of 
great utility and accord with the desire of the inhabitants of said 
county, and there being a number of lots already laid off at the said 
court house, and Zebulon Baird, Esq., the proprietor of lands adjoin- 
ing the same, having signified his consent to lay off as much more land 
as will amount to sixty-three acres, including said lots for the purpose 

"1. Be it enacted by the General x\ssembly of the State of North 
Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that 
the aforesaid sixty-three acres of land be and the same is hereby con- 
stituted and established, a town by the name of Ashville, and that 
John Jarrett, Samuel Chunn, William Welch, George Swain and 
Zebulon Baird, Esq., be and they are hereby appointed, commissioners 
for the purpose of carrying into effect the plan of said town and dis- 
posing of the lots in such a manner as they or a majority of them shall 
think advisable; Provided, nevertheless, that nothing in this act shall 
be construed so as to prevent Zebulon Baird from having the power 
and right of executing titles of such lots as are yet not disposed of. 

"2. And be it further enacted that, in all matters and things 
relative to said town a majority of the commissioners shall constitute a 
quorum, and in case of death, refusal to act, incapacity or removal of 
any of them, the remaining commissioners shall fill up such vacancies; 
and that their first meeting shall be held on the fourth Saturday in 
January, next, when they shall proceed to appoint a treasurer, who 
shall be of their own bodv, and when chosen shall be considered as 

Asheville and Buncombe County 93 

chairman, and into whose hands all monies collected for the use of said 
town shall be paid; and he shall give bond with sufficient security, 
payable to the remaining commissioners for the due application and 
accounting for all monies by him received; and it shall be considered 
his duty to cause all the laws, rules and regulations made for the .order 
and government of the said town to be carried into effect. 

''3. And be it further enacted that the said commissioners or a 
majority of them shall have full power and authority to make such 
bye-laws and regulations as they may think necessary for the good 
government of said town and shall have and possess the same powers 
and authorities usually given to like commissioners, and such rules and 
regulations as they may make shall be carried into effect by. such 
penalties as they may deem necessary. 

"4. And be it further enacted that the commissioners aforesaid 
shall be empowered to lay a tax annually not exceeding the demands 
necessary for said town, either on the poll or the value of town 
property, or both if necessary, which tax shall be levied and collected 
in such manner as the said commissioners may direct." 

The lots added by Zebulon Baird, and referred to in this statute, 
are represented by a plat then prepared, a copy of which, preserved 
by the late Nehemiah Blackstock of Buncombe County, and by him 
given to the late Capt. R. B. Johnston, is here shown. 

Plainly, it was not the purpose of Zebulon Baird to give to the 
public that additional land mentioned in this act, which he "signified 
his consent to lay off," nor does it seem to have been so understood at 
the time. In fact, at that time, this land was not entirely his own. 
It belonged equally to him and his brother Bedent Baird. However, 
the lots were laid off as contemplated, and were subsequently sold by 
the heirs of^bulon Baird as town lots. 

Thus/on Januar}' 27, 1798, the village of Asheville became the 
town of ''Ashville," and as such began its existence as a municipal 
corporation. It was still, however, a mountain settlement, without 
roads, unless the rude trails constructed and maintained by the 
inhabitants of the adjacent territory under the public road law, could 
be termed such, and well-nigh inaccessible to the outside world/Of 
the character of these roads we shall say something further on. 


Asheville and Buncombe County 


/3 7 /'Ol.S'i. 



<^ T 


f § 





s ea- 3o£ 



c ^^ 


S 86- zoB 












>^ ^ 




1£i> fiATTOf^ /So A. 

i? s 








&.89-»o£ /&oPOJ,£S 

V T 
i? § 

SS l> 




t .' 




■5 3S-30£ 











■• •. w— irLV-aT ^\ 

I 1 

^^ . 






S '\"\t^^^ 


s »a 3oe ,9c^o^£s. 


lU 1 

B^z/fo fOO A 












• • J/tMe% j^Arroiv 



' . 


li. - 




£y^Si- V. 


/^r fioi.e$^ 



< < 

',', o 

ir-4ir » 

Asheville and Buncombe County 95 

Before passing to the consideration of other matters a few words 
in relation to the commissioners appointed to launch this new munici- 
pality may be not inappropriate. 

John Jarrett was for many years a resident of Buncombe County. 
In later life he lived on the western bank of the French Broad River, 
at the place where once the old Smith Bridge and now a concrete bridge 
at Asheville crosses. There had never been a bridge across that river 
near Asheville at that time, however. Alany years before a ferry had 
been established at that point by Edmund Sams. 

Edmund Sams was one of the settlers who came from Watauga. 
He lived first at the Smith Bridge place just mentioned and later, on 
the western side of the French Broad River, on that place later known 
as the Gaston place, about one mile, or maybe not so far, above the 
mouth of Swannanoa. He had been, in early life, an Indian fighter. 
On one occasion, when, in search of some Indian depredators, he w^as 
passing through the woods with a single companion, his friend and 
fellow soldier, he heard a gun fire very near, and turning saw that his 
friend had received a death wound. Supposing this to have been done 
by some Indian behind a tree, he quickly placed his gun to his shoulder 
and called out to his dying companion, "Where is he?" The friend 
replied, "Why, Edmund, it was your gun." This proved to be correct. 
His gun carried on his shoulder had been discharged by accident, and 
had killed his friend behind him. This event saddened the entire after 
life of ^Ir. Sams. 

Later he was engaged as a soldier' on the American side in the 
Revolutionary War and was a captain. \A'hen the County of Bun- 
combe was organized he was elected its first coroner. Afterwards he 
served as a member of the County Court. He was for many years a 
trustee of Newton Academy. During the latter part of his life he 
resided upon the farm of his son-in-law, Thomas Foster, about a fourth 
of a mile above the latter's residence. He was an eccentric and highly 
excitable old man. Exceedingly fond of music, especially of a martial 
character, he used to explain to one of his little granddaughters the 
emotions which he betrayed when listening to some lively tune by say- 
ing, 'T tell you what, my little daughter, it just puts me on top of Bun- 


Asheville and Buncombe County 

Asheville and Buncombe County 97 

combe." As he grew older he became very fond of feeding his son-in- 
law's cattle, and would indulge this propensity to such an extent that 
many times the cattle were in danger of being foundered. Captain 
Foster gently remonstrated with the old gentleman on this subject, but 
without effect. Some mornings when out a little earlier than usual in 
the vicinity of his father-in-law's house, the son-in-law would hear the 
old gentleman talking in reference to this to a pet cow while giving her 
an unreasonable quantity of food, and saying: ''Hurry up, old lady, 
Tommie's coming." In 1824 his son Benoni Sams was one of Bun- 
combe's representatives in the House of Commons, having for his 
colleague D. L. Swain. 

Edmund Sams married Nancy Young near W}1:heville, Virginia. 
Her sister, Martha Young, married William Gudger, Senior, who also 
removed to what became Buncombe County and settled on Swannanoa 
River just below^ the Old Water Works on land now belonging to Mr. 
M. L. Reed. These Gudgers became progenitors of the large family of 
Gudgers and their descendants now living in Western North Carolina. 
Although James M. Smith was the first white child born in what after- 
wards became Buncombe County, having been born June 14, 1787, 
yet James Gudger, son of William and Martha Gudger, was a little 
older than Mr. Smith, and was the first white citizen of that same 
territory who w^as born as such. On account of danger from maraud- 
ing Cherokee Indians, Mrs. Martha Gudger at the time of the birth of 
her oldest son James Gudger, was on a visit to her parents in Virginia. 
This Mr. James Gudger married a daughter of Colonel Robert Love, 
of Haywood County, and lived in the northwestern part of the County 
of Buncombe, which he represented in the State Senate of North Caro- 
lina in 1830 and 1836. 

As has been remarked above, Edmund Sams was remarkably fond 
of military music. He was also fond of church music, which, in his 
day, was usually sung in a drawling time "in linked sweetness long 
drawn out." Once a singing master visited his neighborhood and 
taught a singing school. The choir of young people trained at this 
school sang a "voluntary" at a church service which Captain Sams 
attended accompanied by a little great-granddaughter. The singing 
master led in singing this "voluntary" and sang in better time than 

98 Asheville and Buncombe County 

was common in the church gatherings, but not without consternation 
on the part of most of the congregation. Captain Sams listened in 
amazement. When the song had been finished he turned to his little 
girl companion and exclaimed: ''Well, upon my soul, my little 
daughter, that was a merry little jig!'' 

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 

Samuel Chunn was for many years a resident of Asheville. Here 
he kept a hotel at the southwestern corner of the public square, where 
afterwards stood the building occupied for many years by Asheville's 
first bank, the Asheville Branch of the Bank of Cape Fear, and still 
later by the Bank of Asheville, and afterward by the Western Hotel, 
and yet more recently by the First National Bank of Asheville. This 
building was removed by its owner. Captain Thos. D. Johnston, in 
1885, in order to give place to his corner brick store and office building 
now standing there. Samuel Chunn also engaged for many years at 
Asheville in the business of tanning leather. His tanyard was on 
Glenn's Creek at the place where Merrimon Avenue, for many years 
called Beaverdam Road and until lately Beaverdam Street, crosses it, 
about one hundred yards from the junction of that street with North 
Main Street. In October, 1806, he was made the chairman of Bun- 
combe County Court, and in January, 1807, was appointed jailer at 
Asheville. He was the original grantee from the State of the greater 
part of what is now called Sunset or Town ^Mountain, and owned 
land on i)oth side of that mountain. From him as the owner of the 

Asheville and Buncombe County 99 

upper part of the valley of Ross's Creek next beyond the mountain 
east of Asheville, Chunn's Cove took its name. In later life, Samuel 
Chunn lived on the bank of the French Broad River at the Chunn 
place in Madison County. His wife was Mrs. Hannah Chunn. He 
accumulated a large estate, which he left to his children at his death 
in November, 1855. His descendants now reside in Buncombe County, 
in the State of Georgia, and at other places in the United States. In 
1846 one of his sons, the late A. B. Chunn, was a member of the House 
of Commons from Buncombe County. 

William Welch, or William Welsh as he wrote it, was at one time 
a member of Buncombe County Court, and in January, 1805, was 
elected and qualified as coroner of that county. He was at one time 
interested in lands lying in Asheville, and on what are now known as 
Haywood and Depot Streets. 

George Swain was born at Roxborough, Massachusetts, on June 
17, 1763. He was a hatter. On September 1, 1784, he invested what 
property he had been able to accumulate in provisions and set out with 
his merchandise from Providence, Rhode Island, for Charleston, South 
Carolina. On the voyage a storm arose, and it became necessary to 
throw overboard most of the cargo. He landed at Charleston with 
nothing, and walked from there to Augusta, Georgia. Here he lived 
for a year. Then he moved to Wilkes, after Oglethorpe, County, in 
that State, where he engaged in his business of hat making. He served 
as a member of the Legislature of that State for five years, and was a 
member of the Constitutional Convention held at Louisville about 
1795. In the latter year he removed to Buncombe County, and settled 
in or near Asheville. Soon afterwards he married Caroline Lowrie, a 
widow whose husband had been killed by the Indians, and who was a 
sister of Joel Lane, the founder of the city of Raleigh, and of Jesse 
Lane, the father of Gen. Joe Lane, late United States Senator from 
Oregon and governor thereof, and Democratic candidate for vice- 
president on the ticket with General John C. Breckenridge in 1860. 
General Joseph Lane himself was born in Buncombe County near 
Ashe\alle, on December 14, 1801. 

In the early part of his residence in Buncombe, George Swain lived 
at the head of Beaverdam, on the place where the late Thomas Stradley 

100 Asheville and Buncombe County 

resided and died. Here was born, on January 4, 1801, his second son, 
David Lowrie Swain, afterwards famous as judge, governor and Uni- 
versity president in North Carolina. Here the future governor saw the 
first wagon which he had ever beheld, being the first ever in Buncombe 
County. It was brought to the house of his father, up the washed out 
channel of the creek, for there w^as then no road in Buncombe County 
large enough for a wagon to travel. Of this event the late Governor 
Vance says: "The future governor of North Carolina stood in the 
orchard waiting its approach with wonder and awe, and finally, as its 
thunder reverberated in his ears as it rolled over the rocky channel of 
the creek, he incontinently took to his heels, and only rallied when 
safely entrenched behind his father's house. He enjoyed the relation 
of this to me exquisitely." 

The residence of George Swain at this place was a log double 
cabin. About 1805 a post route was established on the recently con- 
structed road through Buncombe County, which soon became the thor- 
oughfare for travel from the Carolinas and Georgia to the western 
States. In 1806, the postoffice at Asheville was made the distributing 
office for Georgia, Tennessee and the two Carolinas. George Swain 
became in 1806, the postmaster at Asheville, although his commission 
did not issue until January, 1807. This office he continued to hold for 
twenty years or more. In all that time he was never absent at the 
arrival of a mail, and always distributed the letters with his own hands. 
He was a large man with no claim to good looks, but possessed a most 
remarkable memory. It is said that, "he could repeat the entire book 
of Genesis, and was so familiar with the sacred volume that on the 
first verse of any chapter being read he was ordinarily able to repeat 
the second, and if he failed to do so would turn to it in a minute." For 
many years he was a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church. Gov- 
ernor Swain said that his father was a Presbyterian and an Arminian 
and his mother was a Methodist and a Calvinist. 

George Swain was a trustee of the Newton Academy. While post- 
master he resided at Asheville. After his removal to that place he was 
engaged for a while in his old business of making hats, which he 
conducted at a place just beyond the corporate limits of the city, on 
the eastern side of Charlotte Street, known for many years by reason 

Asheville and Buncombe County 101 

of the business there carried on b}' him and afterwards by his son-in- 
law, the late William Coleman, as the Hatter-shop, and which was 
occupied for many years by the late Baccus J. Smith, and now in Grove 
Park. Mr. Swain owned miich land adjoining this place, and also 
several town lots. During his residence in Asheville he lived on the 
eastern side of South Main Street, where now stand the business build- 
ings from that once occupied as Grant's Pharmacy southward to the 
former Racket Store, inclusive. The old brick store house, years ago 
removed from the site of what was once Stoner's Racket Store, belonged 
to him, and is said to have been the oldest brick building in Asheville. 
In its construction were used, besides the bricks of ordinary size, 
many bricks twice as large. George Swain lived long enough to witness 
the beginning of his famous son's career, but died before it reached 
its zenith, on December 24, 1829, at Asheville, and is buried in the 
Newton Academy graveyard. For some time before his death he was 

Of Zebulon Baird we have already spoken. 


Most of the work done at the earlier sessions of the County Court 
of Buncombe related to laying out and working roads. These roads or 
trails, rude and rough, narrow and steep as they were, constituted the 
only means of communication between the scattered settlers of this 
new county, and were matters of first importance to its people ^Th^ 
were located by unlettered hunters and farmers, who knew not^in. of 

lon for their labor and could ill afford to spare time from the support 
and protection of their families. Roving bands of Indians constantly 
gave annoyance to the white settlers, and frequently when they found 

children into taking refuge in the woods, and then burn the furniture 
and destroy the bedding which they found in the house. Many we 

ea ly seCr T'^^^ '' ' '''' ^^ ^ ^^^^ --^^>^ -^-ed b/thes 

the hands of these predatory savages. We can scarcely wonder that 

102 Asheville and Buncombe County 

they saw in the red man none of the romantic features of character 
which their descendants are so fond of attributing to him. This state 
of affairs continued even up into the last century. 

On the second day of its first session the County Court 
ordered a jur}' to lay off a road from Colonel William David- 
son'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 in- 
correctly called Boilston) Creek; and another jurs- "to lay off a road 
from the wagon ford of Rims Creek to Join the road from the Turkey 
Cove, Catawba, to Robert Henton's on Lindsey's Creek Cane River," 
and appointed an "overseer of the road from the mouth of Swannanoa 
to Rims Creek." This last mentioned road passed through Asheville. 
It ran from the Gum Spring place across Swannanoa northwardly by 
way of William Forster's and in rear of the Middleton place, now 
St. Dunstan's Road and once owned by James M. Campbell, passed 
through the front yard of the Perry residence, and joined the present 
road at the top of the hill east of the Normal and Collegiate Institute. 
Thence it followed the line of South ^lain Street, with slight diver- 
gencies to the left at places, until it reached the Public Square. Here, 
turning in the direction of Battery Park, it passed down Patton Avenue 
until near the Temple Court building, then through the site of this 
building directly to the top of the hill at the southern end of Battery 
Park hotel. From this point it turned north again, and, crossing 
Montford Avenue at the public school building, ran west of it until it 
came to Pearson's Drive, which it followed with one divergence to the 
west, until it reached the place where now stands the residence of 
Mr. Theodore S. Morrison. Passing through his yard to the east of 
his house it went on down the ridge which lies to the west and across 
the ridge from the residence of Mr. J. E. Rumbough until it reached the 
present road at the northern end of Riverside Drive at Glenn's Creek. 
This road it followed for a short distance, when it turned to the east 
and joined the Burn.sville Road about halfway up the Burnsville Hill. 
Thence it kept with the Burnsville Road, with some deviations to the 
east at the old Reynolds place, until near Reem's Creek it left this 

Asheville and Buncombe County 103 

road and crossed the creek at the ford spoken of above, about midway 

between the iron bridge and Coleman's Mill. 

Thus from time to time roads were established in early days. In 

July, 1793, the Court directed a road to be laid off "from Buncombe 

Courthouse to the Bull Mountain Road near Robt. Love's." This road 
left the road which we have just described at the top of the hill near 
the Normal and Collegiate Institute, and followed for some distance 
the road which now turns off at that point to go to Kenilworth. It 
passed around the southern side of the mountain, and crossed the road 
through Beaucatcher Gap to the Swannanoa, near the entrance of the 
Haw Creek Road. Thence following this last road to the creek, it 
passed up the creek and partly in it and across "Bull's Gap." In 
April, 1795, a road was ordered by the Court "from the courthouse to 
Jonathan McPeter's on Hominy Creek." This road left the road first 
described on top of Battery Park hill, and passing southward through 
the Thomas property, now Grove Street lying immediately west of 
Bailey Street, now Ashland Avenue, it crossed Grove Street and French 
Broad x\ venue to the old Judge Bailey place, now Aston Park, thence 
to the Melke house, above French Broad River, and down the hill to 
the present bridge. 

At a later period the road from Asheville northward was changed 
so as to run down North :Main Street nearly and through the property 
of the late Captain M. J. Fagg crossing Chestnut Street about 200 
yards east of North Main Street, until it ran into East Street a little 
south of the crossing of Seney Street. Thence it went with East Street 
to Hillside Street, passed through the Witchwood house site, and down 
the ridge within a few feet west of Vivian Avenue, till it crossed Glenn's 
Creek, where its sign is still to be seen. Thence it passed up the hill 
beyond, and turning a little to the left ran down a hollow east of the 
fortified hill, where the battle was fought in the late war, until it 
joined the present road down the French Broad at the first hollow 
below the mouth of Glenn's Creek, now at the Casket Plant. 

The Beaverdam Road ran along Charlotte Street, or very near it, 
until it reached the northern end of the Kimberly place, whence turn- 
ing westward it passed north of the Kimberly Mountain and so on by 
Grace to Beaverdam Creek. 

104 Asheville and Buncombe County 

From a place near Grace a branch road from this Beaverdam 
Road passed down Beaverdam Creek to the old Wilson place on the 
northern side of the cre*ek, just above the old Wilson, or more lately 
Howell, mill pond, and passed possibly across the hills to the old 
Warm Springs Road at or near the old Daniel Re\Tiolds house, by 
which the last mentioned road then ran, although that road has 
been since changed so as to pass down Beaverdam Creek to the mouth 
of Park's Branch and thus leave this old house to the east. This road 
which so branches off from the Beaverdam Road was at one time called 
the Warm Springs Road, and may have been travelled in going to the 
Warm Springs before the older road over Battery Park hill was 
travelled in going to that place. This is, however, not probable. Both 
ways united near the present ford of Beaverdam Creek in the vicinity 
of the old house just mentioned, and passed by it and joined the 
present Weaverville Road about a half mile beyond. Then the old 
Warm Springs Road ran with this last road to the top of the hill at 
the residence of Zebulon Baird. At this place it passed to the west of 
his residence, crossed Reems Creek at the old Wagoner Ford, ran by 
the house of the late John Weaver and through the rear of the old 
Alexander Farm, crossed Flat Creek and ran to the farm of Bedent 
Smith near the Madison County line. Here it again turned to the 
west and ran to the mouth of Ivy. From this place it ran on to 
Marshall and about one-half mile below^ that town turned to the east 
and ran with the old Hopewell Turnpike built by Philip Hoodenpile. 
later knowTi as the Jewel Hill Road, to Warm Springs, now Hot 
Springs. At the place where it left the Weaverville road at Zebulon 
Baird's was the residence of Bedent Baird before mentioned. At this 
old house, just behind the present or recent residence of Zebulon Baird, 
Bedent Baird lived and there his brother Zebulon Baird fell from his 
horse and died. 

On July 8, 1795, Governor Blount of the Territory south of the 
River Ohio, now called Tennessee, submitted to the Council of that 
territory "several papers respecting the opening of a wagon road from 
Buncombe Courthouse in North Carolina to this Territory." The 
Council appointed Messrs. Sevier and Taylor, with whom the House 
associated Messrs. Wear, Cocke, Doherty and Taylor, to consider and 

Asheville and Buncombe County 105 

report upon this question. The committee reported recommending the 
appointment of three Commissioners "to meet three Commissioners 
from the State of South Carolina to deliberate and consult on measures 
for the purpose of cutting and opening a road through the eastern 
mountains, and report unto our next General Assembly the result of 
their conference; and also the practicability and probable expense of 
cutting and opening the said road the nearest and best route through 
the mountains.-' The Warm Springs on the French Broad had been 
discovered in 1778 by Henry Reynolds and Thomas Morgan, two men 
kept out in advance of the settlement to watch the movements of the 
Indians. They had followed some stolen horses to the point opposite, 
and leaving their own horses on the north bank, waded across the river. 
On the southern shore in passing through a little branch they were 
surprised to find the water warm. "The next year," says Ramsey, "the 
Warm Springs were resorted to by invalids." 

James M. Edney, in his Sketches of Buncombe Men in Bennett's 
Chronology of North Carolina, written in 1855, says: "Col. J. Barnett 
settled on the French Broad seventy years ago and was the first man to 
pilot or navigate wagons through Buncombe by putting the two big 
wheels on the lower side, sometimes pulling, sometimes pushing, and 
sometimes carrying the wagon at a charge of five dollars for work and 
labor done." 

The Bairds had carried up their four-wheel wagon across the 
Saluda Gap in 1793. This Saluda Gap Road was opened by Colonel 
Earle for the State of South Carolina, at the sum of four thousand 
dollars. This is in all probability the old road from Columbia, South 
Carolina, which passed through Newberry and Greenville districts, 
crossing the Air Line at Greer's Station, as the place is now called, and 
extending across the Saluda Gap by Asheville, down the French Broad 
River into the State of Tennessee, and is yet known in northern South 
Carolina as the old State Road or more commonly the old Buncombe 
Road. There was already a road or trail coming from the direction of 
South Carolina to Asheville, which passed the Swannanoa at the Gum 
Spring heretofore mentioned, and was known as the "road from 
Augusta in Georgia to Knoxville." (Record Book 62, page 361.) 

Wheeler says that "the first wagon passed from North Carolina 
to Tennesse by the Warm Springs in 1795." 

Chapter VIII 


HIS was the situation of the town of Asheville when it became 
a municipality in its relation to the outside world, and such 
were its means of communication with other parts inhabited by 
civilized man. In the year 1800, Bishop Francis Asbury began to 
include the French Broad Valley in his annual visits throughout the 
eastern part of the United States, which extended as far west as Ken- 
tucky and Tennessee. The following extracts from his "Journal" will 
not be out of place just here : 

On Thursday, November 6, 1800, and the following days, we find 
this entry: "Thursday 6. Crossed Nolachucky at Querton's Ferry, 
and came to Major Craggs, 18 miles. I next day pursued my journey 
and arrived at the Warm Springs, not however without an ugly 
accident. After we had crossed the Small and Great Paint mountain, 
and had passed about thirty yards beyond the Paint Rock, my roan 
horse, lead by Mr. O'Haven, reeled and fell over, taking the chaise 
with him; I was called back, when I beheld the poor beast and the 
carriage bottom up, lodged and wedged against a sapling, which alone 
prevented them both being precipitated into the river. After a pretty 
heavy lift all was righted again, and we were pleased to find there 
was little damage done. Our feelings were excited more for others 
than ourselves. Not far off we saw clothing spread out, part of the 
loading of household furniture of a wagon which had overset and was 
thrown into the stream, and bed clothes, bedding, &c., were so wet that 
the poor people found it necessary to dry them on the spot. We 
passed the side fords of French-Broad, and came to Mr. Nelson's; 
our mountain march of twelve miles calmed us down for this day. My 
company was not agreeable here — there were too many subjects of the 
two great potentates of this western world — whisky, brandy. My mind 
was greatly distressed. 

"North Carolina.— Saturday 8, 1800. We started away. The 
cold was severe upon the fingers. We crossed the ferry, curiously 

Asheville and Buncombe County 107 

contrived with a rope and poles, for half a mile along the banks of the 
river, to guide the boat by. And O the rocks ! the rocks ! Coming to 
Laurel-River, we followed the wagon ahead of us — the wagon stuck 
fast. Brother O'H. mounted old grey — the horse fell about midway, 
I'Ut recovered, rose, and went safely through with his burden. We 
pursued our way rapidly to Ivey Creek, suffering much from heat and 
the roughness of the roads, and stopped at William Hunter's. 

"Sabbath day, 9. We came to Thomas Foster's and held a small 
meeting at his house. We must bid farewell to the chaise; this mode 
of conveyance by no means suits the roads of this wilderness ; we were 
obliged to keep one behind the carriage with a strap to hold by, and 
prevent accidents almost continually. I have health and hard labor, 
and a constant sense of the favor of God. 

"Tobias Gibson had given notice to some of my being at Bun- 
comb courthouse, and the society at Killyon's, in consequence of this, 
made an appointment for me on Tuesday, 11. We were strongly 
importuned to stay, which Brother Whatcoat felt inclined to do. In 
the meantime we had our horses shod by Philip Smith ; this man, as is 
not infrequently the case in this country, makes wagons and works at 
carpentry, makes shoes for men and for horses; to which he adds, occa- 
sionally, the manufacture of saddles and hats. 

"Monday, 10. Visited Squire Swains's agreeable family. On 
Tuesday we attended our appointment. My foundation for a sermon 
was Hebr. ii, 1. We had about eighty hearers; among them was Mr. 
Newton, a Presbyterian minister, who made the concluding prayer. 
We took up our journey and came to Foster's upon Swansico 
f Swannanoa] — company enough, and horses in a drove of thirty-three. 
Here we met Francis Poythress — sick of Carolina, and in the clouds. 
I, too, was sick. Next morning we rode to Fletcher's, on Mud Creek. 
The people being unexpectedly gathered together, w^e gave them a 
sermon and an exhortation. W'e lodged at Fletcher's. 

"Thursday, 13. We crossed French Broad at Kim's Ferry, forded 
Mills River, and made upwards through the barrens of Broad to David- 
son's, whose name names the stream. The aged mother and daughter 
insisted upon giving notice for a meeting; in consequence thereof 
Mr. Davis, the Presbvterian minister, and several others, came together. 

108 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Brother Whatcoat was taken with a bleeding at the nose, so that neces- 
sity was laid upon me to lecture: my subject was Luke xi, 13. 

"Friday, 14. We took our leave of French Broad — the lands flat 
and good, but rather cold. I have had an opportunity of making a 
tolerably correct survey of this river. It rises in the southwest, and 
winds along in many meanders, fifty miles notheast, receiving a 
number of tributary streams in its course; it then inclines westward, 
passing through Buncomb in North Carolina, and Green and 
Dandridge counties in Termessee, in which last it is augmented by the 
waters of Nolachucky. Four miles above Knoxville it forms a junction 
with the Holston, and their united waters flow along under the name 
of Tennessee, giving a name to the State. We had no small labor in 
getting dowTi Saleuda mountain." 

In October, 1801, we find this entry: 

"Monday, October 5. We parted in great love; our company 
made twelve miles to Isaiah Harrison's, and next day reached the 
Warm Springs upon French Broad-River. 

"Wednesday, 7. We made a push from Buncomb courthouse; 
man and beast felt the mighty hills. I shall calculate from Baker's to 
this place one hundred and twenty miles; from Philadelphia, eight 
hundred and twenty miles. 

"Friday, 9. Yesterday and today we rest at George Swain's. 

"Sabbath day, 11. Yesterday and today held quarterly meeting 
at Daniel Killions's, near Buncomb courthouse. I spoke from Isai. 
vii, 6, 7 and I Cor. \di, 1. We had some quickenings. 

"Monday, 12. We came to Murroughs, upon Mud Creek; here 
we had a sermon from N. Snethen on Acts xiv, 15. Myself and James 
Douthat gave an exhortation. We had very warm weather and a long 
ride. At Major Britain's, near the mouth of Mills River, we found a 

"Tuesday, 13. We came in haste up to elder Davidson's, re- 
freshed man and beast, commended the family to God, and then struck 
into the mountain. The want of sleep, and other inconveniences, made 
me unwell. We came down Seleuda River, near Selcuda Mountain; 
it tried my lame feet and old feeble joints, French Broad, in its 

Asheville and Buncombe County 109 

meanderings, is nearly two hundred miles long; the line of its course 
is semi-circular; its waters are pure, rapid, and its bed generally rocky; 
except the Blue Ridge; it passes through all the western mountains." 

Again in November, 1802, we find this entyy: 

"Wednesday, 3. We labored over the Ridge and the Paint Moun- 
tain; I held on awhile, but grew afraid and dismounted, and with the 
help of a pine sapling, worked my way down the steepest and roughest 
part. I could bless God for life and limbs. Eighteen miles this day 
contented us; and we stopped at William Nelson's, Warm Springs. 
About thirty travellers having dropped in I expounded the Scriptures 
to them, as found in the third chapter of Romans, as equally applicable 
to nominal Christians, Indians, Jews and Gentiles. 

''Thursday, 4. We came off about the rising of the sun — cold 
enough. There were six or seven heights to pass over, at the rate of 
five, two or one mile an hour — as this ascent or descent would permit ; 
four hours brought us to the end of twelve miles to dinner, at Barnett's 
station; whence w^e pushed on to John [Thomas] Foster's, and after 
making twenty miles more, came in about the going do\\Ti of the sun. 
On Friday and Saturday we visited from house to house. 

"Sunday, 7. We had preaching at Killon's. William and 
M'Kendree went forward upon 'As many as are lead by the Spirit of 
God, they are the sons of God'; my subject was Hebr. iii, 12, 13. On 
Monday I parted from dear William M'Kendree. I made for Mr. 
Fletcher's, upon Mud Creek; he received me with great attention, and 
the kind offer of everything in the house necessary for the comfort of 
man and beast. W^e could not be prevailed on to tarry for the night, 
so we set off after dinner and he accompanied us several miles We 
housed for the night at the widow Johnson's. I was happy to find that 
in the space of two years, God had manifested his goodness and his 
power in the hearts of many upon the solitary banks and isolated 
glades of French Broad; some subjects of grace there were before, 
amongst Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists. On Tuesday I dined 
at Benjamin Davidson's, a house I had lodged and preached at two 
years ago. We labored along eighteen mountain miles; eight ascent, 
on the west side, and as many on the east side of the mountain. The 

no Asheville and Buncombe County 

descent of Seleuda exceeds all I know, from the Province of Maine to 
Kentucky and Cumberland; I had dreaded it, fearing I should not 
be able to walk or ride such steeps; nevertheless, with time, patience, 
labor, two sticks and, above all, a good Providence, I came in about 
five o'clock to ancient father John Douthat's, Greenville County, South 
Carolina." vJ 

On October, 1803, we meet with this entry: 

"North Carolina. On Monday, we came off in earnest; refreshed 
at Isaiah Harrison's, and continued on to the Paint mountain, passing 
the gap newly made, which makes the road down to Paint Creek much 
better. I lodged with ^Ir. Nelson, who treated me like a minister, a 
Christian, and a gentleman. 

"Tuesday, 25. We reached Buncombe. The road is greatly 
mended by changing the direction, and throwing a bridge over Iv>\ 

"Wednesday, 26. We called a meeting at Killion's, and a 
gracious season it was: my subject was I Cor. xv, 38. Sister Killion 
and Sister Smith, sisters in the flesh, and kindred spirits in holiness 
and humble obedience, are both gone to their reward in glory. On 
Thursday we came away in haste, crossing Swamoat [Swannanoa] at 
T. Foster's, the French Broad at the High [Long] Shoals, and after- 
ward again at Beard's Bridge, and put up for the night at Andrew 
Mitchell's; in our route we passed two large encamping places of the 
Methodists and Presbyterians : it made the country look like the Holy 

"Friday, 28. We came up Little River, a sister stream of French 
Broad: it offered some beautiful flats of land. We found a new road, 
lately cut, which brought us in at the head of Little River at the old 
fording place, and within hearing of the falls, a few miles off of the 
head of IMatthews Creek, a branch of the Seleuda The waters forming 
down the rocks with a descent of half a mile, make themselves heard 
at a great distance. I walked down the mountain after riding sixteen 
or eighteen miles, before breakfast, and came in al)out twelve o'clock to 
father John Douthat's; once more I have escaped from filth, fleas, 
rattlesnakes, hills, mountains, rocks, and rivers; farewell, western 
world — for a while!" 


Asheville and Buncombe County 111 

Again in October, 1805, we find the following entry: 

"North Carolina. We came into North Carolina, and lodged with 
William Nelson, at the Hot Springs. Next day we stopped with 
Wilson in Buncombe. On Wednesday I breakfasted with Mr. Newton, 
Presbyterian minister, a man after my own mind: we took sweet 
counsel together. We lodged this evening at Mr. Fletcher's, Mud 
Creek. At Colonel Thomas's, on Thursday, we were kindly received 
and hospitably entertained." 

Again in September, 1806, we find the following entry: 

"Wednesday, 23 (24). We came to Buncombe; we were lost 
within a mile of M'Killon's [Killians] , and were happy to get a school 
house to shelter us for the night. I had no fire, but a bed wherever 
I could find a bench; my aid, Moses Lawrence, had a bear skin, and 
a dirt floor to spread it on. 

"Friday, 25 (26). My affliction returned: — considering the food, 
the labor, the lodging, the hardships I meet with and endure, it is not 
wonderful. Thanks be to God! we had a generous rain — may it be 
general through the continent! 

"Saturday, 27. I rode twelve miles to Turkey Creek, to a kind 
of camp meeting. On the Sabbath I preached to about five hundred 
souls; it was an open season, and a few souls professed converting 

"Monday, 27 (29). Raining. We had dry weather during the 
meeting. There were eleven sermons, and many exhortations. At noon 
it cleared up, and gave us an opportunity of riding home: my mind 
enjoyed peace, but my body felt the effect of riding. On Tuesday I 
went to a school house to preach : I rode through Swanino River, and 
Cane and Hoppers [Hooper's] Creeks. 

"North Carolina, Wednesday, Oct. 1. I preached at Samuel 
Edney's. Next day we had to cope with Little and Great Hunger 
mountain. Now I know what Mills Gap is, between Buncombe and 
Rutherford : one of the descents is like the roof of a house, for nearly 
a mile: I rode, I walked, I sweat, I trembled, and my old knees 

112 Asheville and Buncombe County 

failed; here are gullies and rocks, and precipices; nevertheless the 
way is as good as the path over the Table Mountain — bad is the best. 
We came upon Green River." 

Again on October, 1807, we find the following entry: 

"Friday, 15 (16). We reached Wampings [Warm Springs]. I 
suffered much today; but an hour's warm bath for my feet relieved me 
considerably. On Saturday we rode to Killon's. 

"North Carolina — Sabbath, 18. At Buncombe courthouse I spoke 
from 2 Kings vii, 13, 14, 15. The people were all attention. I spent 
a night under the roof of my very dear brother in Christ, George 
Newton, a Presbyterian minister, an Israelite indeed. On Monday 
we made Fletcher's; next day dined at Terry's, and lodged at 
Edwards's. Saluda ferry brought us up on Wednesday evening." 

Again on October, 1808, we find the following entry: 

"On Tuesday we rode twenty miles to the Warm Springs; and 
next day reached Buncombe, thirty-two miles. The right way to im- 
prove a short day is to stop only to feed the horses, and let the riders 
meanwhile take a bite of what they have been provident enough to put 
into their pocket. It has been a serious October to me. I have labored 
and suffered ; but I have lived near to God. 

"North Carolina — Saturday, 29. We rested for three days past. 
We fell in with Jesse Richardson: he could not bear to see the fields 
of Buncombe deserted by militia men, who fire a shot and fly, and 
wheel and fire, and run again; he is a veteran who has learned to 
'endure hardness like a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ.' On 
the Sunday I preached in Buncombe courthouse upon I Thess. i, 7-10, 
I lodged with a chief man, a Mr. Irwin. Henry Boehm went to 
Pigeon-Creek to preach to the Dutch." 

In October, 1809, we find: 

"We crossed the French Broad and fed our horses at the gate of 
Mr. Wootenpile [Hoodenpile] ; he would accept no pay but prayer; 
as I had never called before he may have thought me too proud to 
stop. Our way now lay over dreadful roads. I found old Mr. Barnett 
sick: the case was a desperate one, and I gave him a grain of tartar 

Asheville and Buncoynhe County 1 1 3 

and a few composing drops, which procured him a sound sleep. The 
patient was very thankful, and would charge us nothing. Here are 
martyrs to whiskey. I delivered my own soul. Saturday brought us to 
Killion's. Eight times within nine years I have crossed these Alps. If 
my journal is transcribed it will be as well to give the subject as the 
chapter and verse 6f the text I preached from. Nothing like a sermon 
can I record. Here now am I, and have been for twenty nights, 
crowded by people; and the whole family striving to get round me. 

''Sabbath, 20 (29). At Buncombe I spoke on Luke xiv, 10. It 
was a season of attention and feeling. We dined with Mr. Erwine and 
lodged with James Patton; how rich, how plain, how humble, and how 
kind! There was a sudden change in the weather on Monday; we 
went as far as D. Jay's. Tuesday, we moved in haste to Mud Creek, 
Green River Cove, on the other side of Saluda." 

Again in December, ISIO, we find the following entry: 

"At Catahouche [Catalouche], I walked over a log. But O, the 
mountain— height after height, and five miles over! After crossing 
other streams, and losing ourselves in the woods, we came in, abou^t 
nme o'clock at night, to Vater Shuck's. What an awful day! Satur- 
day, December 1. Last night I was strongly afflicted with pain. We 
rode twenty-five miles to Buncombe. 

"North Carolina— Sabbath, 2. Bishop M'Kendree and John 
M'Gee rose at five o'clock and left us to fill an appointment about 
twenty-five miles off. Myself and Henry Boehm went to Newton's 
Academy, where I preached. Brother Boehm spoke after me; and 
Mr. Newton, in exhortation confirmed what was said. Had I known 
and studied my congregation for a year, I could not have spoken more 
appropriately to their particular cases; this I learned from those who 
knew them well. We dined with Mr. Newton: he is almost a Metho- 
dist, and reminds me of dear Whatcoat— the same placidness and 
solemnity. We visited James Patton; this is, perhaps, the last visit to 

"Monday. It was my province today to speak faithfully to a cer- 
tam person. May she feel the force of, and profit by the truth." 

114 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Again in December, 1812, we meet with the following entry: 

"Monday, December 1 (November 30). We stopped at Michael 
Bollen's on our route, where I gave them a discourse on Luke xi, 11, 
12, 13. Why should we climb over the desperate Spring and Paint 
Mountains when there is such a fine new road ? We came on Tuesday 
a straight course to Barret's [Barnett's], dining in the woods on our 
way. * 

"North Carolina — Wednesday, December 3 (2). We went over 
the mountain, 22 miles, to Killon's. 

"Thursday, 4 (3). Came on through Buncombe to Samuel 
Edney's: I preached in the evening. We have had plenty of rain 
lately. Friday, I rest. Occupied in reading and writing. I have 
great communion wdth God. I preached at Father Mills's." 

Again in October, 1813, we meet with this entry: 

"Sabbath, 24. I preached in great weakness. I am at Killion's 
once more. Our ride of ninety miles to Staunton bridge on Saluda 
river was severely felt, and the necessity of lodging at taverns made it 
no better. 

Friday, 29. On the peaceful banks of the Saluda I write my 
valedictory address to the presiding elders." 

Killian's, so often mentioned with different spellings in the fore- 
going extracts, was the residence of late Capt. I. V. Baird on 

The side-fords of the river, talked of above, were places where in 
the construction of the road down the river bank the builders en- 
countered places at which the stream washes the foot of large 
precipices, usually the ends of mountain spurs. In order to pass such 
places th^ road was made to pass in the bed of the river until the 
precipice no longer obstructed the way. Rarely were such places of the 
road running in the water longer than an eighth of a mile. They were 
called side-fords and the road was, of course, impassable when there 
was a flood in the stream. Afterwards, when the recourses of the road 
builders were greater, a stone wall was extended in the river distant the 
width of the road from the precipice and the space between the wall 
and the precipice filled with stone and covered with earth. Later still 

Asheville and Buncombe County 115 

a Way was dug and blasted through the precipice. Side-fords were 
very poor expedients for passing bluffs, but better than none and in 
some regions have been used until within the last quarter of a century. 

The Thomas Foster mentioned several times by Bishop Asbury 
was the Captain Thomas Foster spoken of above. He was not a 
Methodist but a Universalist. 

Francis Asbury, just quoted, was the son of some of the earliest 
followers of John Wesley and was born in Handsworth, Staffordshire, 
England, August 20, 1745. He became a Methodist at thirteen, a local 
preacher at sixteen, and a regular preacher at twenty-two in 1767. 
In 1771 John Wesley sent him to America. On October 27, 1771, he 
landed at Philadelphia. Next year he was made "general assistant 
in America" and in 1784 bishop. He began then his annual journevs 
of about 6000 miles each from Maine to South Carolina. He died in 
Spottsylvania, Virginia, March 21, 1816. His Journals were pub- 
lished in 1821 and again in 1852. 

At the close of the Revolutionary War some of the States owned 
large portions of unoccupied territory extending westward to the 
Mississippi River. Those States who owTied no such territory were 
exceedingly insistent that this wild territory should be given to the 
general government and sold to defray unpaid expenses incurred by 
that government during the war. Most of the States owning such 
territory made such gifts. The gift of South Carolina was of the land 
to the westward of her present borders unto the Mississippi River and 
lying between Georgia and the thirty-fifth parallel of northern latitude 
which was, by common recognition, the southern boundary in that 
region of North Carolina; and the gift was made in 1787. Georgia 
refused to donate her western lands, which now constitute the States 
of Alabama and Mississippi. A controversy arose out of this, which 
was finally adjusted in 1802 when Georgia ceded these lands on certain 
terms, one of which was that the United States convey to her so much 
of this South Carolina cession as lay between her northern border 
and this thirty-fifth parallel of latitude. After this conveyance from 
the United States, Georgia established on this newly acquired territory 
a county called Walton and began a settlement there. She had sent an 
engineer to locate there the parallel of latitude mentioned and he had 

1 1 6 Asheville and Buncombe County 

reported that it would cross the French Broad River north of !Mills's 
River somewhere. On much of this land North Carolina had issued 
grants to people who had settled there. As it was known that North 
Carolina claimed that the thirty-fifth parallel lay further south. 
Georgia, in her act creating Walton County, appointed three commis- 
sioners to meet a like number from North Carolina and determine the 
position of the parallel. North Carolina, having received official 
notice of Georgia's action, appointed a like number of commissioners. 
The two sets of commissioners, each accompanied by a mathematician, 
met at Asheville on or about June 20, 1807, and entered upon a pre- 
liminary agreement in writing. Then they proceeded up French Broad 
River on their task. Observations where the Georgia engineer had 
located the parallel showed him to have been too far north. Another 
observation fifteen miles further south, where South Carolina had sup- 
posed the line to cross, between the mouths of Little River and David- 
son's River, proved to be still too far north. Then the commissioners 
went to Caesar's Head and made further observations. They were 
still too far north. Further work was unnecessar}^ South Carolina 
had never owned one inch of the territory which she had ceded to the 
United States and Georgia had no land for her County of Walton. 
The commissioners agreed in writng on their reports. North Carolina 
adopted the report and it was spread upon the minutes of Buncombe 
County Court. Georgia rejected the report and boldly demanded of 
North Carolina the appointment of a new set of commissioners. To 
this the answer of the latter was that the matter was settled and if 
Georgia violated her faith in regard to one commission she might do so 
equally in regard to another. Then Georgia carried the matter to the 
Congress of the United States where, after three years, it died. Finally 
Georgia, having ascertained that the report of the commissioners was 
correct, repealed her act creating the County of Walton, and amnesty 
was extended for all offences committed in this dispute by settlers, of 
which there had been riots and some bloodshed, especially on the 
French Broad River, a mile or two below the present Brevard, where 
a Georgia settlement had been made and the North Carolina militia 
had arrested the settlers and carried them to Morganton. The 
"Georgia War" was over. 

Chapter IX 

IN 1824 Asheville received her greatest impetus. In that year the 
Legislature of North Carolina incorporated the now famous but 
abandoned Buncombe Turnpike road, directing James Patton, 
Samuel Chunn and George Swain to receive subscriptions "for the 
purpose of laying out and making a turnpike road from the Saluda 
Gap, in the County of Buncombe, by way of Smith's, Murrayville, 
Asheville and the Warm Springs, to the Tennessee line." (2 Rev. Stat, 
of N. C, page 418.) This great thoroughfare was completed in 1828, 
and brought a stream of travel through Western North Carolina. All 
the attacks upon the legality of the act establishing it were overruled by 
the Supreme Court of the State, and Western North Carolina entered 
through it upon a career of marvellous prosperity, which continued for 
many years. 

In 1851, January 15th, the Legislature of the State of North 
Carolina incorporated the "Asheville & Greenville Plank Road Com- 
pany" with authority to that company to occupy and use this turnpike 
road south of Asheville upon certain prescribed terms. A plank road 
was constructed over the southern portion of it, or the greater part of it 
south of Asheville, and contributed yet more to Asheville's prosperity. 
By the conclusion of the late war, however, this plank road had gone 
down, and in 1866 the charter of the plank road company was 
repealed, while the old Buncombe turnpike was suffered to fall into 

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 

118 Asheville and Buncombe County 

great profit in buying up the large quantities of corn, 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 

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. 


When the court ceased to meet at Colonel William Davidson's, it 
adjourned to meet at :Morristown at its next session. Here, accord- 
ingly, on the third Monday of July, 1793, it met "at the court house." 
Where this court house stood cannot now be positively determined. 
It is almost certain, however, that it was in the centre of IMain Street 
upon he Public Square, at the head of Patton Avenue. On the old plat 
first hereinbefore shown, which was also preserved by the late 
Nehemiah Blackstock and by him given to the late Capt. R. B. 
Johnston, and which shows upon its face that it was made before the 
sale of the additional lots by Zebulon Baird, contemplated in the first 
act of the incorporation of the town, the court house is so placed, and 
there is no record of it ever having been elsewhere, and we know it 
stood there in 1802. As the adjoining lots were then unimproved, the 

Asheville and Buncombe County 119 

position of this court house in the middle of the street was in no way 
inconvenient to travel, since one might ride or drive around it at 

In January, 1796, it was 

"Ordered by the court that Lambert Clayton, John Hawkins and 
Richard Williamson be appointed commissioners to lay off the plan of 
the public buildings." 

This, however, most probably had reference to the jail and build- 
ings other than the court house. 

In April, 1802, the following action was taken by the court: 

"Ordered by Court that all the lot holders near or adjoining the 
Court house, be requested to meet the court on Wednesday of July 
session next, in pursuance of the following presentment of the grand 
jury, to-wit: 

"The grand Jury for the County of Buncombe at April Session, 
1802, present as a public grievance the situation of the public build- 
ings, to-wit, the Court house and Jail, the former of which being 35 feet 
long, stands partly on the Town street, and partly on the lot of Samuel 
Chunn and Zebulon Baird, and the latter on the lots of James Brittain 
and Andrew Erwin, so that the County, after expending a very con- 
siderable sum of money in executing said Buildings, have not the 
slightest title to the ground on which they stand. 

"The jury therefore recommend that the Court take measures to 
secure the aforesaid titles, and procure as (a) square of land around 
those buildings sufficient to preserve .them from the fire of adjacent 
Buildings or remove them to some more eligible spot. 

"(Signed) William Whitson, Foreman." 

The land of Samuel Chunn and Zebulon Baird here referred to 
was that part of the Public Square immediately in front of the Thomas 
building on the western side of the Public Square and southern side of 
Patton Avenue at the corner, and the land of James Brittain and 
Andrew Erwin spoken of was that part of the Public Square in front 
of the First National Bank, now Asheville Library, building, and a 
little to the north. 

120 Asheville and Buncombe County 

In April, 1805, the county court took further action on this subject 
as follows: 

"Ordered by court John Strother, John Stephenson, Samuel 
Murray, senr., Joseph Henry & Thomas Foster, senr. be appointed 
commissioners for the purpose of procuring a public square, from the 
lot, or land holders, in the town of Asheville, most convenient and 
interesting to the public, and least injurious to individuals, that the 
nature of the Case will admit of. 

"Who are to meet the 2d Saturday of July." 

On January 23, 1807, deeds were made to "the Commissioners 
Samuel ^Murray, senr., Thomas Foster, Jacob Byler, Thomas Love and 
James Brittain appointed by the General Assembly of the State afore- 
said, to purchase or receive by donation lands sufficient for a Public 
Square in the Town of Asheville, in the County and State aforesaid,'' 
as follows: 

By D. Vance, for $10, part of lot 30, Rec. Book A, page 231. 

By John Patton, for ?20, part of lot 13, Rec. Book A, page 233. 

By Zebulon and Bedent Baird, for $60, parts of lots 13 & 40, 
Rec. Book A, page 234. 

By Samuel Chunn, for $35, part of lots 13 & 39, Rec. Book A, 
page 237. 

By Andrew Erwin (Assignee of Jeremiah Cleveland), for 1 cent, 
part of lot 12, Rec. Book A, page 239. 

By J. Patton, Jr., for Patton and Erwin part of lot 14, 15 & 29, 
Rec. Book A, page 523. 

This last deed is made "for the good \yill and respect we bear 
towards the county of Buncombe, the town of Asheville aforesaid and 
the public in general." 

The situations of these lots can readily be determined by reference 
to the map of the towTi heretofore given. 

In April, 1807, it was 

"Ordered by Court that the County Trustee pay Robt. Love the 
sum of one pound for Registering five deeds made by individuals for 
the use of the public square in Asheville." 

What is here said about the court house renders it exceedingly 
probable that it was not the original log structure but a more com- 

Asheville and Buncombe County 


o p 


ri O 

^ t; 3 

Ph' .S "^ 

c § 5^ 
. o 5. 

122 Asheville and Buncombe County 

modious building. Later it 'was itself supplanted by a bdck house 
built between 1825 and 1833 and situated a little further east 3n the 
Public Square. On the erection of this John Woodfin, once chairman 
of the County Court at a later day, had control, and his son, the late 
N. W. Woodfin, then a boy, carried bricks and mortar for "c. This 
court house gave way to a handsome building which was trected in 
1850 by E. Cla}1;on and destroyed by fire on the 26th day of January, 
1865. Some years later a small one-story brick structure was erected 
as a court house upon the rear portion of the site of*the presp-it Public 
Square. The contractor for this work was the late B. K. Merrimon. 
In 1876 this temporary structure gave way to aOjOther court house 
which stood for years on that Square. The architect of this building 
was J. A. Tennent and the contractor H. W. Scott, and the bricks were 
made at the eastern end of the present Clayton Street. Then Mr. 
George W. Pack gave the county upon certain conditions a site for a 
court house not on the Public Square but on the south side of College 
Street, and on this site the county, about 1903, placed the present brick 
court house. 

The jail mentioned above was succeeded by a brick building 
which now constitutes a part of the Asheville Library and the First 
National Bank building. Afterward a new jail was erected upon the 
site of the present City Hall, but when the present jail on Eagle Street 
was built, this old jail became the property of the city of Asheville. 

The first jail was a very poor structure. From 1799 to 1811, 
inclusive, every sheriff of the county annually entered his protest to the 
court against its insufficiency. 

In 1867 the county began to sell off portions of its Public Square 
on the north and south sides, and reduced the Public Square to its 
present dimensions. 


At its first session in April, 1792, the County Court elected Reuben 
Wood, Esq. "attorney for the State." He is the first la\\7er whose 
name appears as practising in Buncombe County. Waighstill Avery, 
the first Attorney General of North Carolina, attended the next session 
of the court and made therein his first motion, which "was overruled 

Asheville and Buncombe County 


124 Asheville and Buncombe County 

by the court." At this term Wallace Alexander also became a member 
of the Buncombe bar. Joseph McDowell appeared at October t^rm, 
1793, presented his license, took "the oath of an attorney, and was 
admitted to the bar in said county." On the next day James Holland 
''came into court, made it appear (by) Mr. Avery and Mr. Wood, that 
he has a license to practise as an attorney — but had forgot them." He, 
too, was admitted as an attorney of the court. At January court, 1794, 
Joseph Spencer proved to the court that he had license to practise, 
and was likewise admitted as an attorney of the court, and at April, 
1795, upon the resignation of Reuben Wood, he was elected solicitor 
of the county. The next attorney admitted was Bennett Smith. Upon 
motion of Wallace Alexander in April, 1802, Robert Williamson was 
admitted to the practice. Then in July, 1802, on motion of Joseph 
Spencer, and the production of his county court license, Robert Henry, 
Esq., became an attorney of the court. This singular, versatile and 
able man has left his impress upon Buncombe County and Western 
North Carolina. Born in Tryon (afterward Lincoln) County, North 
Carolina, on February 10, 1765, in a rail pen, he was the son of 
Thomas Henry, an emigrant from the north of Ireland. When Robert 
was a school boy he fought on the American side at Kings Mountain, 
and was badly wounded in the hand by a bayonet thrust. Later he 
was in the heat of the fight at Cowan's Ford, and was very near 
General William Davidson when the latter was killed. After the war 
he removed to Buncombe County and on the Swannanoa taught the 
first school ever held in that county. He then became a surveyor, and 
after a long and extensive experience, in which he surveyed many of 
the large grants in all the counties of Western North Carolina, and 
even in Middle Tennesse, and participated in 1799, as such, in locating 
and marking the line between the State of North Carolina and the State 
of Tennessee, he turned his attention to the study of law. In January, 
1806, he was made solicitor of Buncombe County. He it was who 
opened up and for years conducted as a public resort the Sulphur 
Springs, near Asheville, later known as Deaver's Spring and still more 
recently as Carriers' Springs. On January 6, 1863, he died in Clay 
County, North Carolina, at the age of 98 years, and was "undoubtedly 
the last of the heroes of King's Mountain." To him we are indebt:"d 

Asheville and Buncombe County 125 

for the preservation and, in part, authorship of the most graphic and 
detailed accounts of the fights at Kings Mountain and Cowan's Ford 
which now exist. He was the first resident lawyer of Buncombe 

The late John P. Arthur, author of the History of Western North 
Carolina and the History of Watauga County, was a grandson of 
Robert Henry. 

The next lawyers admitted in that county were, in the order 
in which their names are given, Thomas Barren, Israel Pickens, 
Joseph Wilson, Joseph Carson, Robert H. Burton, Henry Harrison. 
Saunders Donoho, John C. Elliott, Henry Y. Webb, Tench Cox, Jr., 
A. R. Ruffin and John Paxton. These were admitted between January, 
1804, and October, 1812, from time to time. Probably the most dis- 
tinguished of them were Israel Pickens, representative of the Buncombe 
District in the lower house of the Congress of the United States from 
1811 to 1817, inclusive, and afterwards governor of Alabama and 
United States Senator from that State; Joseph Wilson, afterward 
famous as a solicitor in convicting Abe Collins, Sr., and other counter- 
feiters who carried on in Rutherford County in the first quarter of the 
last century extensive operations in the manufacture and circulation of 
counterfeit money; and Robert H. Burton and John Paxton, who 
became judges of the Superior Court of North Carolina in 1818. 

The first lawyer of Buncombe County w^ho was a native thereof 
was the late Governor D. L. Swain. Born, as has been already stated 
at the head of Beaverdam, on January 4, 1801, he was educated unde' 
George Newton and Mr. Porter at Newton Academy, where he had for 
classmates B. F. Perry, afterward governor of South Carolina; Waddy 
Thompson, of South Carolina, distinguished as congressman and 
minister to jMexico; and :M. Patton, R. B. Vance and James W. Patton 
of Buncombe County. In 1821 he was for a short while at the Uni- 
versity of North Carolina. In December, 1823, he was licensed to 
practise law and was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons 
in 1824, 1825 and 1826, and in 1827 was made solicitor of the 
Edenton Circuit, but resigned this latter office after going around one 
circuit. In 1828 and 1829 he was again in the House of Commons 


126 AsheviUe and Buncombe County 

from Buncombe County; in 1830 he became a judge of the Superior 
Court of North Carolina; and resigned that office in 1832 on being 
elected governor of that State. 

After the expiration of three successive terms as governor, he 
became president ^gfJhgJLIaiver^r of North Xarolina in 1835. and con - 
tinued in that placeur^jL-AttgnFt-S^^J^^^^Jh^^ of his death. He 

was largely mstrumental in securing the passage ot the a^ incor- 
porating the Buncombe Turnpik e company, and to him more than any 
other man Xortli Carolina is indebted for the preservation of parts of 
her history and the defence of her fame. His early practice as a lawyer 
was begun in Asheville. For further details than are given here in 
regard to the life of this truly great man, the reader is referred to 
Wheeler's History of North Carolina, and his Reminiscences, and to 
the more accurate lecture of the late Governor Z. B. Vance on the 
Life and Character of Hon. David L. Swain. 

Governor Swain was tall and ungainly in figure and awkward in 
manner. When he was elected judge the candidate of the opposing 
party was Judge Seaw^ell, a very popular man, whom up to that time 
his opponents, after repeated efforts with different aspirants, had 
found it impossible to defeat. "Then," said a maember of the Legis- 
lature from Iredell County, ''we took up old warping bars from 
Buncombe and warped him out." From this remark Mr. Swain ac- 
quired the nickname of "Old Warping Bars," a not inapt appellation, 
which stuck to him until he became president of the University when 
the students bestowed upon him the name of "Old Bunk." He con- 
tinued to be "Old Bunk" all the rest of his life. While he was prac- 
tising at the bar the lawyers rode the circuits. Beginning at the first 
term of the court in which they practised, they followed the courts 
through all the counties of that circuit. Among Swain's fellow lawyers 
on the Western Circuit were James R. Dodge, afterwards clerk of the 
Supreme Court of the State and a nephew of Washington Irving, 
Samuel Hillman and Thomas Dewes. On one occasion these were all 
present at the court in one of the western counties and Dodge was 
making a speech to the jury. Swain had somewhere seen a punning 
epitaph on a man whose name was Dodge. This he wrote off on a 

Asheville and Buncombe County 127 

piece of paper and it passed around among the lawyers, creating much 
merriment at Dodge's expense. After the latter took his seat some one 
handed it to him. It read: 

"Epitaph on James R. Dodge, Attorney at Law 
Here lies a Dodge who dodged all good, 

And dodged a deal of evil ; 
But after dodging all he could, 

He could not dodge the devil.'' 

Mr. Dodge perceived immediately that it was Swain's writing, 
and supposed that Hillman and Dewes had had something to do with 
it. He at once wrote on the back of the piece of paper this impromptu 
reply : 

"Another Epitaph on Three Attorneys 
Here lie a Hillman and a Swain, 

Their lot no man choose; 
They lived in sin and died in pain, 
And the devil got his Dewes." 

While Mr. Swain was Governor, Mrs. Silvers of Burke County, 
a white woman, was hanged for the murder of her husband. She was 
the only white woman, and, with the exception of one negro, the only 
woman ever hanged in North Carolina after it became a State. 

David L. Swain, as Governor of the State, laid, in 1833, the 
corner stone of the State capitol. 

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 

128 Asheville and Buncombe County 

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. 

Thomas Lanier Clingman was partly of Indian descent. He was 
born at Huntsville, North Carolina, July 27, 1812. Graduating at 
the University of North Carolina in 1832, he began to practise law in 
Surry County of this State which in 1835 he represented in the House 
of Commons. In 1836 he removed to Asheville and there practised 
law, serving several times in the legislature from Buncombe County 
and becoming in 1843 and, except in the 29th congress, continuing 
until June 4, 1858, the member from that district of the United States 
House of Representatives. In 1858 he became a United States Senator 
from North Carolina and held that place until January 21, 1861, when 
he resigned on the secession of his State. He joined the Confederate 
army and became a colonel and, on May 17, 1862, a brigadier-general, 
being wounded at the second battle of Cold Harbor and more seriously 
near Petersburg, Virginia. While a member of the United States House 
of Representatives he fought in Maryland near Washington City, in 
1845, a duel with Hon. William L. Yancey of Alabama but neither 
was injured. In 1855 he measured the altitude of a peak of the Black 
Mountains in Yancey County which is now known as Mitchell's Peak, 
the highest land in the United States east, of the Rocky Mountains. 
Dr. Elisha Mitchell claimed to have measured that peak in 1844. A 
controversy between them on the subject caused Dr. Mitchell's attempt 
to prove the measurement which he claimed and in attempting to secure 
the proof of his claim he lost his life by falling into a stream on the 
Black Mountain, June 27, 1857. Clingman measured, in 1858, the 
highest peak of the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, which is 
called in honor of him, Clingman's Dome. 

I Zebulon B. Vance was the son of David Vance and Mira (Baird) 

IVance and was born at Vanccville on Reems Creek in Buncombe 



Asheville and Buncombe County 129 

County, North Carolina, May 13, 1830/He attended school at Newton 
Academy and at the University of North Carolina and, in May, 185^, 
began the practice of law in Asheville. He was in 1854 a member 
the North Carolina House of Commons and in 1856 and 1860 h 
became the representative of Western North Carolina in the Unite 
States House of Representatives. He joined the Confederate army 
In 1862 he became Governor of North Carolina and continued to be 
such until the end of the war. In 1876 he again was made Governor 
of that State and in 1879 became United States Senator from North 
Carolina. This position he held until his death on April 14, 1894 
He was buried in Asheville. Two monuments in North Carolina have 
been erected to his memory, a granite shaft on the Public Square 
Asheville and a bronze statue on the Capitol Square in Raleigh. 

Robert Brank Vance, a brother of Zebulon B. Vance and son' of 
David Vance and Mira M. (Baird) Vance, was born at Vanceville, 
Reems Creek, Buncombe County, April 24, 1828, and attended school 
at Newton Academy. He joined the Confederate army and became 
a captain, then a colonel and finally a brigadier-general. In 1872 he 
became a member from the Western North Carolina district of the 
United States House of Representatives and continued to hold that 
place until in 1884. Later he was a member from Buncombe County 
of the North Carolina House of Representatives. He died at 
Alexander in Buncombe County, on November 28, 1899. 

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 INIitchell Davidson 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 la\v}Tr and was par- 
ticularly 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 

130 Asheville -and Buncombe County 

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, JNIacon 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 w^as on January 
24, 1905. 

Augustus S. Merrimon was bom in Transylvania County, North 
Carolina, September 15, 1830, the son of B. H. Merrimon. In 1855 
he began to practise law at Asheville and later was elected a member 
of the North Carolina House of Commons. And in 1865 he became 
a judge of the Superior Court. He was made, in 1873, United States 
Senator from North Carolina, serving as such for one term, and, on 
September 29, 1883, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of 
North Carolina, and, on November 14, 1889, chief justice of that court. 
The last position he continued to hold until his death on November 
14, 1892. 

John L. Bailey was born in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, 
August 13, 1795. Having been licensed to practise law, he began that 
work in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. In 1824 he represented 
Pasquotank County in the House of Commons and in 1827 and 1828 
and 1832 in the State Senate, and in 1835 in the North Carolina Con- 
stitutional Convention. Becoming a judge of the Superior Court in 
1837 he continued to hold that position until his resignation in 1863. 
He taught a law school in Elizabeth City and when later he removed 
to Hillsboro, North Carolina, he was associated in a law school as 
teacher with Judge F. N. Nash of the North Carolina Supreme Court. 
When Judge Nash died Judge Bailey removed to Buncombe County 
and took up his residence on the North Fork of Swannanoa River at 
the foot of Black Mountain and continued there his law school until 
1861 when it was interrupted by the war on the South. Then in 1865 
he removed, house and all, to Asheville and erected a home where is 
now Aston Park. Then he entered on the practice of law and con- 
tinued his school until 1877. On June 30, 1877, he died in Asheville. 

David Coleman was born in Buncombe County, February 5, 
1824. His mother was a sister of Governor David L. Swain. After 

Asheville and Buncombe County 131 

attending school at the Newton Academy and at the University of 
North Carolina he went to the United States Naval Academy at 
Annapolis, Maryland. In 1850 he resigned from the navy and began 
to practise law at Asheville. In 1854 and again in 1856 he repre- 
sented Buncombe County in the State Senate. He joined the army of 
the Confederacy and became a colonel. After the war he resumed the 
practice of law in Asheville and in 1875 was a member from Buncombe 
County of the North Carolina Constitutional Convention. He died in 
Asheville, ]March 5, 1883. His eccentricity was a matter of common 
notice. Often he would walk for hours about the country with his 
hands crossed behind him and not unfrequently with his hat in his 
hands. Such was the ardor of his devotion to the cause of the South 
that never after the war would he wear other suits of clothes than those 
manufactured from home-made cloth and always of a gray color. 

Soon after Governor Swain began the practice, Nicholas W. 
Woodfin became a lawyer, and served as the connecting link between 
the old times and the modern bar for many years. He was born in 
Buncombe County on the upper French Broad River, and began life 
under most unfavorable circumstances, and for a while labored under 
the greatest disadvantages. He became, however, one of North Caro- 
lina's most famous and astute lawyers. But few men have ever met 
with such distinguished success at the bar as he. He was Buncombe's 
representative in the State Senate in 1844, 1846, 1848 and 1850. In 
the course of his career he acquired a large fortune, and owned great 
quantities of land in Asheville and. its neighborhood. With the 
practice of law he carried on an extensive business as a farmer, and in 
the last business was famous for the introduction of many useful im- 
provements in agriculture. He it was who first introduced orchard 
grass in Buncombe County, and turned the attention of her farmers to 
the raising of cattle on a large scale and the cultivation of sorghum. 

Soon after the conclusion of the late war Mr. Woodfin organized 
a company, and established on Elk Mountain a cheese factory. This 
was followed by a factory established by the late William R. Baird, 
on the waters of Beaverdam. These factories, however, proved un- 
successful, and the business was not kept up in the county. Mr. 
Woodfin died on ^Vlay 23, 1876, at the handsome residence which he 

132 Asheville and Buncombe County 

erected and for many years occupied on North Main Street in Ashe- 
ville where Dr. J. A. Burroughs once lived. It is now occupied by the 
Young Men's Christian Association. Woodfin Street was named for 

Mr. N. VV. Woodfin was born January 29, 1810, and the part of 
Buncombe in which he was born is now in Henderson County. He 
began to practise law in 1831. And in 1861 he represented Buncombe 
County in the convention at which North Carolina seceded from the 
United States. 

Marcus Erwin, son of Leander A. Erwin, was born in Burke 
County, North Carolina, June 28, 1826. Soon after, his father 
removed to New Orleans, Louisiana. Marcus was sent to Transylvania 
University, where he graduated with high honors. He studied law in 
New Orleans. When the Mexican War commenced, he joined the 
Texas Mounted Rifles and was in the military service for six months, 
in w'hich time he participated in several fights in ^Mexico. Returning 
to North Carolina, he was, in 1848-1849, licensed to practise law and 
settled at Asheville, where, for a time, he also edited the Asheville 
News. He was elected solicitor of the Seventh Circuit of North Caro- 
lina, extending from Cherokee to Cleveland County, both inclusive, and 
acquired much additional reputation in the discharge of the duties of 
that office. A member of the State legislature, in the House of Com- 
mons in 1850 and 1856 and in the Senate in 1860, from Buncombe 
County, he made still greater reputation, and especially in the latter, 
in a discussion on secession with John M. Morehead, who had been 
governor of the State. ^Ir. Erwin was an early and ardent secession' 
ist; and when war on the South commenced he enlisted in the Southern 
army and fought as long as it continued except while a prisoner. He 
became a major in the service; and was engaged in North Carolina 
and Virginia. After the close of that war he became United States 
Assistant District Attorney^ As a lawyer, writer, and speaker Major 
Erwin attained great fame and he was known throughout tlie State and 
adjoining States for his ability and brilliancy. He died at ^lorganton, 
North Carolina, July 9, 1881. To his son. Honorable Marcus Erwin, 
present State Senator from Buncombe County I am indebted for some 
of the facts of Major Erwin's life. 

Chapter X 

THE first County Court of Buncombe County, which organized 
the County of Buncombe, was composed of seven justices of the 
peace appointed by the legislature which created the county 
and by that legislature directed to organize that county. They were 
"James Davidson, David Vance, William Whitson, William Davidson, 
James Alexander, James Brittain, Philip Hoodenpile." The first 
action was to swear in these justices of the peace. Then, "Silence being 
commanded and proclamation being made the court was opened in due 
and solemn form of law by John Patton specially appointed for that 
purpose." All this was on April 16, 1792. Then on the same day 
"Lambert Claytor & William Brittain being duly commissioned as 
Justices of said County appeared and were qualified as such, by takina 
the oaths for the qualification of public officers and the oath of Office 
as Justices of the peace for said county and took their seats." The 
court now having nine justices of the peace, next proceeded to the 
election of other county officers. Later on they came at the next term 
in July, 1792, to the trial of the first cases tried in the new county. 

The first case tried in Buncombe County was that of the State 
against Richard Yardly, in July, 1792. He was indicted for petit 
larceny, was convicted, and appealed to Morgan Superior Court The 
first civil suit was that of W. Avery against William Fletcher, which 
was tried by order of the court on the premises on the third Monday 
m April, 1795, by a jury summoned for that purpose. The first 
pauper provided for by the court was Susannah Baker with her child. 
The first processioning proceeding was in April, 1796, when William 
Whitson, the processioner thereof, returned into the court "the pro- 
cessioning of a tract of two hundred acres of land, on the East side of 
French Broad River about one mile and a quarter from Morristown, 
the place where James Henderson now lives," dated April 20, 1796* 
This embraces the property lying on Park Avenue and in that vicinity. 
Its eastern boundary line is formed in part of the Lineing Branch, the 
small branch immediately eastward thereof, and for some distlnce 

134 Asheville and Buncombe County 

parallel with Depot Street. The first will admitted to probate therein 
was that of Jonas Gooch in July, 1792, but the first now on record is 
that of Colonel John Patton in 1831. The first dower assigned was to 
Demey Gash, widow of Joseph Gash, April, 1805, At the October 
Term of 1800 we meet with the following entry on the country' court 
minutes : 

"The following petition was presented and read* in court by the 
Rev. George Xewton, and ordered to be recorded at length on the 
Minute docket of said Court, to-wit: 


^'To the worshipful Court of Buncombe, the petition of the Pres- 
bytry of Concord humbly showeth that whereas many gross im- 
moralities, daily abound among the citizens of our state, of which 
intemperance in the use of ardent spirits, profane swearing, breach of 
the holy sabbath are none of the least, as those crimes with many 
others strike against our political happiness, as w^U as incurs the 
displeasure of God. 

"And as our legislature have been careful to enact a sufficient 
number of wholesome and salutary laws for the suppression of such 
crimes & have appointed you the executors of those and other Laws 
which are necessary for political existence as a ci\il government. We 
offer this our earnest and humble petition that those with other useful 
and necessary Laws be carried into vigorous execution: We are the 
more encouraged to offer this request, as we are well assured many 
within our bounds who hold commissions in the peace would be happy 
to see an effectual check given to the above enormities, and we flatter 
ourselves that many of our private members will be cordial in 
strengthening the hands of the civil magistracy in supporting that good 
order, which is essential to the happiness both of civil and religious 

"On a due attention to the above, your humble petitioners as in 

duty bound, shall ever pray. 

"Geo. Newton, Modr. 

i.TT -i. oi- 1. o . o^ ^ar^r^ "Wm. C. Davis, pro. Clk. 

'•Unity Church, Sept. 30, 1800. ^ 

"And signed by a number of church members." 

Asheville and Buncombe County 135 

At January Term, ISOl: 

"On motion of the Rev. George Newton, the Court took up the 
consideration of a petition from the Presbytry of Comcord & present 
and read last Court by said Newton, praying the executive officers to 
exert their lawful authority in suppressing vice and immorality, by 
carrying the law into vigorous execution. 

"The court upon full consideration are fully persuaded that the 
suppression of drunkenness, profane swearing, sabbath breaking and 
vice of every kind will have great tendency to promote the happiness 
both of civil and religious society: 

"Therefore unanimous resolved, that each of us in our public 
Capacity, as well as in private life, agreeably to the power and 
authority vested in us by the Laws of our Country, will exert ourselves 
in suppressing such enormous practices, and carrying the laws into 
vigorous execution, against every offender." 

Per contra take the following entry in January, 1810: 

"The managers of the Newton Academy lottery come into open 
court and enter into Bond for the discharge of office & took the oath of 

At January Court, 1799, occurs the following entry: 

"The jury find the defendant Edward Williams, guilty of the petit 
larceny, in manner and form as charged in bill of indictment. 

"The Court adjudge that the prisoner receive 25 lashes on his bare 
back, well laid on, at the public whipping post and that the sheriff of 
the county carry the judgment into execution. Appeal prayed." 

This is the first infliction of this barbarous punishment adjudged 
in the county. The last occurred in 1865. 

The punishments of public whipping, branding, the stocks, and 
the pillory continued to be inflicted in North Carolina until 1868. Up 
to that time eighteen separate offences were punishable in that State 
with death, except as some of them relating to slavery had necessarily 
been done away with in the recent abolition of that institution. Under 
the new Constitution then adopted there are only five capital felonies 
in the State. That "cropping" once was a punishment known in Bun- 
combe County is shown by the allowance of a certificate made to 

136 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Thomas Hopper by the County Court at its October Term, 1793, show- 
ing that Hopper had lost his right ear in a fight with Philip Williams, 
although it seems not a little strange for a court to be issuing certifi- 
cates about what occurred in an unlawful breach of the peace. In 
July, 1838, Buncombe County Court provided for repairs to be made 
on its "jail, stocks and pillery." 

Imprisonment for debt where there was no fraud had been 
abolished by North Carolina in her first Constitution adopted Decem- 
ber 18, 1776; so that Buncombe never had a debtor's prison. But, in 
her early history a debtor was required to surrender all his property, 
except a few articles as the tools used in his trade and similar things, 
and was not permitted to enjoy exemptions from his debt in large 
amounts of land and personal property as now he can do under the 
Constitution of 1868, exemptions which, as to the land the Supreme 
Court of the United States once intimated, in a case from this State, 
were void as being excessive. 

Per contra again: 

"On motion of Joseph Spencer on the petition of Thomas Foster, 
to this court, to have his negro man slave Jerry Smith emancipated and 
set free, for his meritorious services : The Court proceeded to take the 
petition under consideration and do adjudge and decree, that the said 
Jerry Smith, is a fit person to be set free, and emancipated: There- 
fore ordered by the court, that the said Jerry Smith be emancipated and 
set free, for his meritorious services, with all the advantages and 
emoluments which it is in the power of this Court to grant, during his 
the said Jerry's natural life; and that the Clerk of this Court do issue 
y license or Certificate to the said Jerry Smith for his freedom 

At July Term, 1799, it was 

"Ordered by court that two fairs be established in the county of 
Buncombe in Asheville, to-wit, to commence the first Thursday & 
Friday in June following, and to continue on said days annually, 
without said court should find it more convenient to make other 

At lulv Term, 1802, it was 

Asheville and Buncombe County 137 

"Ordered by Court that the following instrument of writing be 
recorded at length as follows to-wit : 

"The deposition of Caty Troxell, being of lawful age and first 
sworn on the Holy Evangelists, deposeth and saith that on the nine- 
teenth and twentieth day of May one thousand seven hundred and 
ninety six, a certain John Morrice legally intermarried with her 
daughter Judith Troxell, & continued to live with said wife for the 
space of two years in all possible connuptial Love and friendship, that 
without any cause assigned or any application for a divorce, said John 
Morrice, has absconded and has never been heard of by said wdfe or 
and other person to the said deponent's knowledge: — and for a descrip- 
tion of the said John ^lorrice this deponant saith as follow to-wit. 
He appeared to be upwards of twenty large odd years of age, appeared 
to be about five feet eight inches high, wdth dark Brown hair, with blue 
eyes his speech rather on the shrill key. And further this deponant 
saith not. 

"Caty Troxell. 

"Subscribed and sworn to by the said deponant this 23d day of 
July, 1800, in the County of Pulaski, and State of Kentucky. 

"Sworn to before us Samuel Gilmore and Robert Modrell, Justices 
of the peace for said county. 

"As witness our hands and seals the above date said. 

"Samuel Gilmore (seal). 
"Robt. Modrell (seal)." 

The first suit tried in Asheville (then Morristown) was at July 
Court, 179.3, before Esquires "Will Willson, Lambert Clayton, Wm. 
Brittain" and a jury, and was a "Caveat" in regard to an entry of land. 
It was the case of "Waightstill Avery vs. William Fletcher." Fletcher 
won; Avery gave notice "that he will move for a Certiorari to bring the 
proceedings of this court Supr. Court, September Term, on the first 
five days of the Term." 

This Waightstill Avery w^as the gentleman who was North Caro- 
lina's first Attorney General. 

All the elections to county offices at this time from sheriff to 
clerk, register of deeds, coroner, entry taker, surveyor and treasurer. 

138 Asheville and Buncombe County 

down to treasurer of public buildings and standard keeper, were made 
by the County Court. 

It will be remembered, too, that at the beginning the Superior 
Courts were held at Morganton. In 1806, the legislature of the State, 
after reciting that "the delays and expenses inseparable from the 
present constitution of the courts of this State do often amount to a 
denial of justice, the ruin of suitors, and render a change in the same 
indespensibly necessary," enacted "that a Superior Court shall be held 
at the court house in each county in the State twice every year," and 
divided the State into six circuits, of which the last comprised the 
counties of Surry, Wilkes, Ashe, Buncombe, Rutherford, Burke, 
Lincoln, Iredell, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg, and directed the courts 
to be held in Buncombe the first Monday after the fourth Monday in 
March and September. 

Thus in 1807 was held Buncombe's first Superior court, in the 
spring of that year. The first trial for a capital offence in Buncombe 
County was that of Randal Delk. This trial occurred in 1807 or 1808. 
Delk had fled after the commission of the offence to the Indian Nation, 
but he was followed, brought back, tried, condemned and hung. This 
was the first execution in Buncombe County, and took place just south 
of Patton Avenue opposite to the postoffice. It is said that soon after 
a negro named Christopher was for barn burning executed in the 
county, but the third capital execution in Buncombe is the most cele- 
brated in her annals. Subsequent to the execution of Delk and between 
the years 1832 and 1835, inclusive, Sneed and Henry, two Tennes- 
seeans, were charged with highway robbery committed upon one 

The alleged robbery is said to have taken place on the old Bun- 
combe Turnpike Road about a mile south of Swannanoa River and 
between the Old Patton Ford and the present road from Asheville to 
Hendersonville. Highway robbery was then a capital offence. They 
strenuously insisted that they had won from Holcombe, in gambling, 
the horse and other articles of which he claimed that they had robbed 
him. They were convicted, however, and hanged in the immediate 
vicinity of the crossing of East and Seney streets. The field here was 
until recentlv known as the Gallows Field. The trial created intense 

Asheville and Buncombe County 139 

public excitement, and it has always been the popular opinion that it 
was a judicial murder. It is said that after their conviction they sent 
for Holcombe, who shrank from facing them, and that the subsequent 
life of this man was one of continued misfortune and suffering. 

A Yankee negro garrison was placed in Asheville in 1865 and 
kept there for a short while. Within this time and in that year some 
of the members of that garrison committed a most serious outrage in 
the northern part of the count}', for which they were tried by a court 
martial and eight or ten of them condemned to be shot. This sentence 
was promptly executed in the same year at the place on North Main 
Street where East Street joins that street and Chestnut Street. The 
negroes were buried where they were shot. Thirty- five or more years 
later when East Street work was in progress the workmen dug into the 
graves of these negroes. 

One of the entries at April Term, 1796, of the County Court is as 
follows: "On motion of Reuben Wood, Esq., Ordered by Court that 
wherever the parties lived out of the State, a notice on the adverse 
parties council shall be considered sufficient notice." From this it 
would seem that the County Court in its early career some times 
assumed legislative functions. 

Another attempt of the same sort of more immediate interest to the 
people of Asheville is the following order made at July court, 1799, by 
that body, namely: 

"The Court further appoint the following commissioners to make 
such laws and regulations as will be found necessary for the advantage 
and order of said Tovm (Asheville), to-wit: Zebulon Baird, Daniel 
Jarrett, William Brittain, Sam'l Chunn, William Welshe, George 
Swain and John Patton." 

It would be a matter of no small interest if we were allowed to 
examine a copy of these ordinances. 

The lottery mentioned above as "the Newton Academy lottery" 
was advertised but enough tickets were not sold to warrant the drawing 
and the money already collected was returned to those who had sub- 
scribed and paid. 

140 Asheville and Buncombe County 

The "processioning" spoken of was a simple method of deciding 
disputes as to the dividing line between adjoining tracts of land. It 
grew out of a custom in England of walking annually around the 
bounds of the parish in procession so that the young people might learn 
from the older ones where the bounds were. This "processioning," 
based on such a custom, became a law under certain regulations at an 
early day in the English settlements of eastern North Carolina. Long 
ago the law fell into disuse. It had some grave disadvantages. 

The next capital execution after that of Sneed and Henry was of 
a man named Mason, who was charged with having murdered his wife, 
and was convicted and hung where now College Street turns to the 
southeast and begins to ascend the mountain to Beaucatcher Gap. 

Chapter XI 

FROM necessity the early settlers of Buncombe County manu- 
factured almost everything which they used. This prevailed tu 
even a greater extent than at first we would be led to suppose. 
They not only raised sheep and from the wool manufactured the cloth 
for their garments, but also cultivated flax and from it produced a good 
quality of linen. They made felt hats, straw hats, and every other 
article of domestic consumption; manufactured their own furniture 
and ropes, ground their own grain, and sawed their own lumber. They 
made their own. leather and with it their own shoes, harness and 
saddles. They even made their own cow bells and, by boring steel 
bars, made their own guns. They burned their own pottery and delft 
ware. They built their own mills and manufactured and prepared 
everything used in erecting their houses. Their meats were easily ob- 
tained. Game was abundant. Old Captain Thomas Foster used to 
say that when he began housekeeping he would at night turn out his 
horse to graze about the canebrakes at the mouth of Swannanoa and 
when morning came would start to bring him home before breakfast, 
carrying his gun with him. On the way he would kill a deer, leave it 
until he caught his horse and return with his horse and deer in time for 
breakfast. Fish thronged the Swannanoa and French Broad rivers. 
A good site for a fish trap was the greatest recommendation which a 
piece of land could have. These places were always the first entered 
and granted. In them lish by the barrel full would sometimes be 
caught in a single night where the trap was well situated and strongly 
built. Fishing at night in canoes by torchlight with a gig was a 
favorite sport as well as profitable practice and it was much 
indulged in. 

Ardent spirits were then in almost universal use and nearly every 
prosperous man had his whiskey or brandy still. Even preachers in 
some instances have made and sold liquor. A barroom was a place 
shunned by none. The court records show license to retail issued to 

142 Asheville and Buncombe County 

men who stood high as exemplary members of churches. On Novem- 
ber 2, 1800, Bishop Asbury chronicles that "Francis Alexander 
Ramsey pursued us to the ferry, franked us over and took us to his 
excellent mansion, a stone house; it may not be amiss to mention that 
our host has built his house, and takes in his harvest without the aid 
of whiskey." This was in Tennessee near the North Carolina line. 

In 1796 Governor Ashe issued a proclamation announcing "that 
in pursuance of an Act to provide for the public safety by granting 
encouragement to certain manufacturers, that Jacob Byler, of the 
county of Buncombe, has exhibited to him a sample of gunpowder 
manufactured by him in the year 1795, and also a certificate proving 
that he had made six hundred and sixty-three pounds of good, mer- 
chantable rifle gunpowder ; and therefore, he was entitled to the bounty 
under that Act." (2 Wheeler's History of North Carolina, page 52.) 
This Jacob Byler, or rather Boyler, was afterward a member of Bun- 
combe County Court, and in the inventory of his property returned by 
his administrator after his death in October, 1804, is mentioned 
"Powder mill Irons." 

Naturally these people needed iron, and the State of North Caro- 
lina at an early day encouraged its manufacture by granting bounties 
therefor. Three forges where it was made grew up in Buncombe 
County, one on Hominy Creek upon the old Solomon Luther place 
which belonged to Charles Lane; another on Reems Creek at the 
Coleman Mill place, which belonged to the same man, but was sold 
by him in 1803 to Andrew Baird; the third was on Mills River, now 
in Henderson County, on what has ever since been called the Forge 
Mountain. On this mountain are the Boilston Gold Mines. The iron 
ore for this purpose was procured at different places in Buncombe 

The first consideration, however, to these primitive inhabitants 
was tlie matter of grist mills. Hence at the first session of the county 
court we find it "Ordered that William Davidson have liberty to build 
a Grist mill on Swannanoa, near his saw Mill, Provided he builds 
said mill on his own land." This was in April, 1792. In January, 
1793, it was "Ordered that John Burton have liberty to build a Grist 
mill, on his own land, on a branch of French Broad River, near 


Asheville and Buncombe County 143 

Nathan Smith's, below the mouth of Swannanoa." Apparently David- 
son's mill was not built, but John Burton's was on Glenn's Creek a 
short distance above its mouth. The late James Gudger, who was 
brought in his early infancy to his father's residence on Swannanoa, 
just settled, and who, in 1830 and 1835, represented Buncombe 
County in the North Carolina Senate, told his grandson. Captain J. M. 
Gudger, that when he was a very small boy it was the custom to send 
a number of boys with bags of grain to this mill to be ground, and 
leave it there until a month later, when the boys would return with 
other grain and carry back the meal ground from the first. He further 
said that usually a man accompanied the party to put on the sacks 
when they fell from the horses, but that on one occasion as he, then 
a very small boy, was returning from the mill, with his companions 
of about the same age, the man for some reason was not along, and one 
of the sacks fell off on the Battery Park hill over which they had to 
pass; that while here endeavoring in vain to replace the sack a party 
of Indians came upon them and from pure mischief threatened and 
actually began to hang them; that the boys were badly frightened, but 
finally the Indians left them unharmed, and they went on their way, 
and that the hill was afterwards known through the country as the hill 
where the boys were hung. He still further said that the miller in 
charge of this mill, whose name w^as Handlen, undertook to cultivate 
a crop on the mountain on the western side of the French Broad, but 
as he did not return to the settlement for a long while his friends 
became frightened, and in a party went to his clearing, where they 
found him killed and scalped, and his crop destroyed, and that from 
this incident that mountain took its name of Handlen Mountain. 

This mill John Burton afterwards sold with the fifty acres of 
land on which it stood, to Zebulon and Bedent Baird. It was un- 
doubtedly the first grist mill in Buncombe County, all the grinding 
of the settlers having been done previous to its erection at the Old Fort. 
After this sale John Burton moved to Gap Creek on the road from 
Asheville to Fairview, where he met with business misfortune and lost 
all his property. His wife, Jean or Aunt Jean Burton, was a sister of 
William Forster mentioned above, and an aunt to Captain Thomas 
Foster. She was born April 13, 1746, and died January 28, 1824. 

144 Asheville and Buncombe County 

We have noted above that one of the last of his town lots sold by 
John Burton was to Patton and Erwin, after the town had become 

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 Caro- 
lina 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. They 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. 

Andrew Erwin is the man to whom Bishop Asbury refers as "a 
chief man." He was born in Virginia about 1773, and died at his 
residence near the War Trace in Bedford County, Tennessee, in 1833. 
When seventeen years of age he entered the employment of James 
Patton, with whom he soon afterwards went into partnership as inn- 
keeper and merchant at Wilkesborough, North Carolina. In 1800 and 
1801 he was a member of the House of Commons of North Carolina 

Asheville and Buncombe County 145 

from Wilkes County. He was Asheville's first postmaster. In 1814 
he removed to Augusta, Georgia, and afterward carried on an extensive 
mercantile establishment as the leading partner in various firms in 
Savannah, Charleston, Nashville, New Orleans and elsewhere, but his 
business was unsuccessful and ended in disaster. 

James W. Patton, the oldest son of James Patton above men- 
tioned, was born February 13, 1803. He became a merchant and 
liotel keeper in Asheville and conducted there a large tanyard and 
several other business undertakings. For many years he was chairman 
of the County Court of Buncombe and one of that county's most 
prominent men. He died in December, 1861. 

A granddaughter of this same James Patton mentioned above, 
Miss S. Rose Morrison, became the wife of Albert T. Summey, whose 
long life in Buncombe County as one of its most worthy and best- 
known inhabitants reached down to a time comparatively recent. He 
was born in that part of Lincoln County which is now Catawba 
County, September 1, 1823. Removing with his father, George 
Summey, to Flat Rock now in Henderson County, North Carolina, he 
was in business there until 1842, when he came to Asheville and was 
employed for six years in a mercantile house into which, at the end of 
that time, he bought an interest. In that business, through various 
changes, he continued up to 1873. For sixteen years he was treasurer 
of the county, an office then known as County Trustee, and for several 
years treasurer of the Buncombe Turnpike Company. For thirty-six 
years he was a justice of the peace, for twenty years a United States 
Commissioner, for the period from 1876 to 1881 Mayor of Asheville, 
and for many years held other places of trust in the community. He 
die^in Asheville, April 16, 1906. 

^^""^'IvL 1808 the County of Haywood was created out of Buncombe's 
territory, and included all of Western North Carolina beyond Bun- 
combe County. The description of the part of Buncombe County 
takeiy o make the County of Haywood is as follows : 

"That all that part of the county of Buncombe, to wit: beginning 
where the southern boundary line of this state crosses the highest part 
of the ridge dividing the waters of the French Broad from those of the 
Tucky Siegy River, then along the said ridge to the ridge dividing the 

146 Asheville and Buncombe County 

waters of Pigeon and the French Broad River, then with said ridge 
to the top of ^Nlount Pisgah, thence a direct line to the mounth of the 
first branch emptying into Hominy Creek on the north side above 
Jesse Belieu's, thence with said branch to the source, and thence 
along the top of the ridge, dividing the waters of French Broad and 
those of Pigeon River, to the northern boundary of this state, and with 
the state line to the line which shall divide this state from the state of 
Georgia, and with that line to the beginning, shall be and is hereby 
erected into a separate and distinct county, by the name of Haywood, 
i^honor of the present treasurer of this state." 

The eastern part of North Carolina, having been the first settled 
by white people, controlled, of course, the government of the State. 
The creation of every new county in the western part of the State gave 
to that part at least- one additional member of the State legislature. 
Soon the eastern part of the State grew exceedingly apprehensive that 
its control of the State government would be destroyed by the creation 
of new counties in the west. Hence they refused to consent to the 
foundation of a new western county unless, at the same time, a new 
eastern county was formed. This explains the fact that the same act 
which created the western County of Haywood created also the eastern 
County of Columbus. 

In 1833 another part of Buncombe's territory was taken to help 
make the County of Yancey. In 1838 still more of Buncombe's terri- 
tory was taken away to form the County of Henderson, and in 1850 
she lost more of her territory when the new County of Madison was 
Unmade; then, in 1851, some more to the County of Henderson. 

The first settlers of Buncombe County were chiefly Presbyterians, 
Methodists and Baptists. For some time the only preaching which 
they had was by travelling preachers. Soon, however, churches began 
to be established, and houses of worship built. The earliest Presby- 
terian congregations were at Swannanoa (afterward called Piney 
Grove), Reems Creek, Asheville, and Cane Creek. The earliest Metho- 
dist congregations were at Beaverdam (Killian's), Salem Camp- 
ground (Weaverville), Asheville, and Turkey Creek Camp-ground; 
and the earliest Baptist at Asheville, Green River, and Ivy. 

The first church building in Asheville appears to have been where 

Asheville and Buncombe County 147 

the Newton Academy now is. For some time there had been a small 
combined church and school house there, when on July 11, 1803, 
William Foster, Jr., conveyed the land on which it stood "including 
an old school house with a new one, and a frame Dwelling house, a 
spring, &c," containing eight acres, to "Andrew Erwin, Daniel Smith, 
John Patton, Edmond Sams, James Blakely, William Foster, Senr., 
Thomas Foster, Jur., William Whitson, William Gudger, Samuel 
Murray, Joseph Henry, David Vance, William Brittain, George 
Davidson, John Davidson of Hominy, and the Reverend George New- 
ton," 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 above named Trustees or a 
majority of them, or their successors in office, he the said William 
Foster reserving to himself an Equal Interest and privilege with the 
above named trustees and to be considered as one of them in all future 
proceedings so long as he continues to act as trustee. . . . for a 
place of residence, for a preacher of the Gospel, teacher of Latin and 
English School or Either as may be thought the most proper," with a 
provision for substitution of trustees in case of death, refusal or in- 
ability to act, and with further provision that "there shall at all times 
be eleven trustees in the neighborhood of said institution who live 
convenient enough to send their Children to said school or schools from 
them their Ow^n Dwelling houses and two from the Reverend George 
Newton's present congregation on Cain Creek, and two from his 
present congregation on the waters of Rims creek, and One from his 
present Congregation in the neighborhood of Robert Patton's meeting 
house, and one from the neighborhood of the mouth of Hominy who 
shall be so appointed and approved of from time to time." (Record 
Book 4, page 678.) 

"Robert Patton's meeting house" was the predecessor of Piney 
Grove near the present town of Swannanoa, and was on the side of the 
mountain about three-fourths of a mile east of Piney Grove to which 
it gave way. 

Again on November 15, 1809, said William Forster, Jr., conveyed 
three and one-fourth acres of land adjoining this on the south "includ- 
ing the brick house now building to Andrew Erwin, Daniel Smith, 

148 Asheville and Buncombe County 

John Patton, Edmond Sams, George Swain, William Forster, Sr., 
Benjm. Hawkins, Thomas Foster, Jr., James Patton, William 
Gudger, Sr., David Vance, William Brittain, Samuel Murray, Sr., 
John McLane, William McLane, William Moore, Sr., Samuel David- 
son, and the Rev. George Ne\\1;on, Trustees of the Union Hill 
Academy," "established by an act of assembly a seminary of learning 
in chapter 43 in the year 1805." This William Forster, Jr., was a 
brother of Captain Thomas Foster above mentioned and a son of 
William Forster, Sr., above spoken of. Union Hill Academy was a 
log house, which was removed in 1809, and a brick house took its place. 
In the same year its name was changed by an act of the legislature to 
Newton Academy. Here for many years the people attending preach- 
ing, sent their children to school and buried their dead. In 1857 
or 1858 the brick building between the present academy and the grave- 
yard was removed and the brick academy now there was erected. (See 
Clayton vs. Trustees, 95 N. C. Reports, 298.) 

From 1797 to 1814 this George Newton taught a classical school 
at this place, which was famous throughout several States. !Mr. Newton 
was a Presbyterian preacher and reported to the synod at Bethel 
Church, South Carolina, October 18, 1798, as having been received by 
ordination by the Presbytery of Concord. (Footers Sketches of North 
Carolina, page 297.) He lived on Swannanoa until 1814, when he 
removed to Bedford County, Tennessee. There for many years he was 
principal of Dickson Academy and pastor of the Presbyterian Church 
at Shelbyville, and there died about 1841. 

The first church building in Asheville appears to have been the 
old log church used by the Baptists, which stood at the Melke place. 
It was probably built about 1829, and it remained standing until about 
1842. They never owned the land on which it was built. Their next 
church was at the corner of Spruce and Woodfin streets on land con- 
veyed August 21, 1863, by Herman Franze to David Garren, C. C. 
Matthews, G. N. Alexander, J. F. Sullivan and G. W. Shackelford, 
trustees of the Baptist Church in the town of Asheville. (Record 
Book 27, page 387.) 

This structure still stands, although on July 11, 1890, the con- 
gregation bought a lot at the corner of Spruce and College streets, and 

Asheville and Buncovibe County 


after erecting on it a very handsome church edifice, removed to it, and 
have ever since occupied it. The old church is now a Jewish 

Apparently the next church after that at the Melke place built in 
Asheville was an inferior frame structure of the Methodists. On July 
20, 1839, James M. Alexander gave and conveyed the land on which 
this building had been put "including the building erected for a female 
academy and Methodist E. church, and the Sunday School house," to 

AsheviUe-Central cChuich Street) M. E. Church. South, 1857-1903 

150 Asheville and Buncombe County 

''William Coleman, Israel Baird, Wilie Jones, J. F. E. Hardy, N. W. 
Woodfin, James M. Alexander, Geo. W. Jones, James M. Smith and 
Joshua Roberts, Trustees," as a gift "for the use of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, and when the same is not in the occupancy of the 
said M. E. Church, ministers of any other regular orthodox denomi- 
nation of Christians who shall come duly authorized by their respective 
churches and whose moral and religious character and habits are 
unexceptionable, may be authorized to occupy the same as transient 
visitors." About 1857 this old building was replaced by a brick 
structure which, after being remodelled several times was replaced by 
the stone edifice w'hich is known as Central Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South, erected in 1903. It stands on the western side of 
Church Street. (Record Book 22, page 359.) 

On October 8, 1842, James Patton conveyed to Charles Moore, 
James W. Patton, Samuel Chunn, John Hawkins and John B. White-' 
side, trustees of the Presbyterian Church in the town of Asheville, a 
portion of the land on which the Church Street Presbyterian Church 
now stands. The remainder of this is said to have been given by 
Samuel Chunn for the same purpose and at about the same time. The 
church erected here was a brick structure facing to the east. This was 
afterwards rebuilt and then remodelled and afterwards removed to give 
way to the present church building at the same place. (Record Book 
22, page 507.) 

On April 30, 1359, James W. Patton gave the site of the Episcopal 
Church on Church Street by conveying it to "Nicholas W. Woodfin, 
Lester Chapman and Hatfield Ogden, of the Vestry and Trustees of 
Trinity Church, Asheville, and members of the said congregation" 
"to and for the use and benefit of the congregation of said Trinity 
Church Asheville worshiping according to the forms of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church, as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer and 
for no other purpose whatsoever." 

A brick church-house was erected in this lot. Later about 1880 
a more commodious edifice succeeded that; and, when the later 
structure burned, the present church was built there. 

James Mitchell Alexander was born at the Alexander Place on 
Bee Tree, May 22, 1793. His grandfather John Alexander, of Scotch- 

Asheville and Buncombe County 151 

Irish descent, was a native of Pennsylvania. The latter married Rachel 
Davidson, sister to Major William Davidson and Samuel Davidson 
above mentioned; lived in Rowan County, North Carolina, but 
removed to Lincoln County, North Carolina; and resided there during 
the Revolutionary War. Afterward he came with the very first settlers 
to Buncombe County, and, after a few years, moved to Tennessee, and 
settled on Harpeth River, where he and his wife died. His son, James 
Alexander, was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, December 
23, 1756, on Buffalo Creek. He removed with his father to Lincoln 
County, where they settled on Crowder's Creek, near Kings Mountain. 
While living here he fought on the American side at Musgrove's Mill 
and Kings Mountain, and a camp chest, said to have belonged to Lord 
Cornwallis, was captured by him in that last fight and is still in Bun- 
combe County. On March 19, 1782, he married in York District, 
South Carolina, Rhoda Cunningham, who was born October 15, 1763, 
in Maryland, and removed to South Carolina before her marriage. 
James Alexander after his marriage removed to Buncombe County 
with his father and uncle, and settled on Bee Tree, the old Alexander 
Place. They came over the Swannanoa Gap. The old road through 
this gap did not cross, as it has often been stated to have done, at the 
place where the Long or Swannanoa Tunnel is. In later years the 
stage road did cross at that place. But the old road crossed a half a 
mile further south. To travel it one would not, as in the case of the 
later road, leave Old Fort and pass up Mill Creek three miles to where 
Henry Station, so long the head of the railroad, stood. He would leave 
Old Fort and go across the creek directly west for about a mile before 
going into the mountains. Then he would turn to the right, ascend the 
mountain, cross it at about one-half mile south of Swannanoa Tunnel, 
and thence pass down, the mountain until his road joined the later road 
above the town of Black Mountain. 

This James Alexander was the James Alexander who was one of 
the justices of Buncombe County's first County Court who organized 
that county in 1792. The United States paid him a pension through- 
out his later life for his services in the Revolutionary War; and, after 
his death on June 28, 1844, in Buncombe County, continued the 


Asheville and Buncombe County 

pension to his widow, Mrs. Rhoda Alexander, until her death at the 
same place on January 29, 1848. 

James Alexander died at the place where he first settled on Bee 
Tree. He was a Presbvterian. 

Grave of James Alexander— Piney Grove. Dark slab with white piece inserted 

James Mitchell Alexander was a son of James Alexander and 
Rhoda, his wife. On September 8, 1814, he married Nancy Foster, 
oldest child of Captain Thomas Foster above mentioned, who was born 
November 17, 1797. In 1816 James Mitchell Alexander removed to 
Asheville and bought and improved the property on the west side of 
South ;Main Street known as the Milliard residence. On this he erected 
the old house which was removed in 1889 in widening the street and 
stood just at the turn in the street. By trade he was a saddler, and at 
this house lived until 1828, carrying on his trade and keeping a hotel. 
At the last mentioned date, upon the opening of the Buncombe Turn- 
pike, part of which he built as a contractor, he bought and improved 
the place on the eastern side of French Broad River at Alexander's 
known in the early days as the "Alexander Hotel" and "French 
Broad.'' Here for a great many years he conducted a hotel and mer- 

Asheville and Buncombe County 153 

chandise business, and carried on a tanyard, a shoe-shop, a harness- 
shop, a blacksmith-shop, a grist mill, a saw mill, a farm and a wagon- 
shop. His hotel was famous from Cincinnati to Charleston for its 
superior accommodations. In the latter part of his life he turned over 
his business to his son, the late A. M. Alexander, and one of his sons- 
in-law, the late J. S. Burnett, and improved a place three miles nearer 
Asheville called Montrealla. Here he died on June 11, 1858, and was 
buried in his family burying ground about a half a mile away at 
Alexander's Chapel, a church named in his honor and built by him. 
He accumulated a good property. His wife survived him a few years 
and died January 14, 1862, and is buried by his side. They were 

Reference has several times been made to James ]M. Smith. He 
was the first white child born west of the Blue Ridge in North Caro- 
lina. His father. Colonel Daniel Smith, a native of New Jersey, after 
considerable experience in the Indian wars, and as a soldier on the 
American side in the Revolutionary War, removed to Buncombe, then 
Burke, and settled immediately east of the railroad at the first branch 
above the passenger station at Asheville, on the hill just north of the 
branch where his cabin stood for many years, and where he died May 
17, 1824. He was buried with military honors on the hill where Ferni- 
hurst now stands; but about 1875 his body was removed to the Newton 
Acadeniy graveyard where it now rests. The curious and interesting 
inscription on his tombstone is as follows : 

"In memory of Col. Daniel Smith, who departed this life on the 
17th May, 1824, Aged 67. A native of New Jersey, an industrious 
citizen, an honest man, and a brave soldier. The soil which inurns 
his ashes is a part of the heritage wrested by his valour for his children 
and his country from a ruthless and savage foe." 

His old rifle is still in Asheville. His widow, Mary Smith, who 
w^as a daughter of Major William Davidson above mentioned, died 
April 29, 1842, in the 82d year of her age and is buried by his side. 

At the home place of Colonel Daniel Smith just described was 
born on January 7, 1894, his son, James McConnell Smith. The latter 
married Polly Patton, daughter of Colonel John Patton hereinbefore 

154 Asheville and Buncombe County 

He settled in Asheville, and began at the old Buck Hotel and on 
the opposite side of the street his long and singularly successful career 
as hotel keeper, merchant and manufacturer of several kinds of articles. 
He also conducted farming on a large scale, and for many years kept 
a tanyard in the valley of Gash's Creek between where South Main 
Street crosses that stream and where Southside Avenue first crossses it 
going from the public square in Asheville. He was a large landowner 
in Asheville, and its vicinity, and at the time of his death was a very 
wealthy man. He died on December 11, 1853, and was buried at the 
graveyard of his family where Fernihurst is now; but in 1875 his body 
was removed to, and now rests in, the Newton Academy graveyard. 
His wife had died in 1843. A numerous family of children and 
descendants survive him, and are yet living in Buncombe County and 
elsewhere in the United States. 

On August 12, 1869, W. D. Rankin and wife, E. L. Rankin, con- 
veyed what has since been known as Catholic Hill to Rev. James 
Gibbons for a Catholic Church. About 1874 or 1875 the Catholics 
built on this lot the brick structure used by them for many years as a 
church, but in 1889 they bought the lot on Haywood Street at the 
comer of Flint and erected on it a Catholic Church, first a frame and 
la.ter a brick building, the last now standing and very handsome. 

The first female school in Asheville was that conducted by John 
Dickson, D.D., M.D.,CTn the building which stood on the site of a 
portion of the Drhumor Block) His music teacher had conceived the 
idea of studying medicine. He taught her in this science, and later 
gave her material assistance. She was Elizabeth Blackwell, and after- 
wards became the first woman doctor who ever received a medical 
diploma in the United States. This school, through various changes 
from time to time, was later the Asheville College for Young Women. 

In 1846, the late Stephen Lee, a South Carolinian, opened first at 
the Thornton place near Swannanoa River and later at his residence in 
Chunn's Cove, now occupied by the Messrs. Armstrong, a boys' school. 
This he continued to teach until 1879, the time of his death, except 
during the war, when he was a colonel in the Confederate service, and 
one session, which he taught in conjunction with Mr. Sturgeon, a 

Presbyterian preacher, in 1867, at thlNewton Academy. Probably no 


Asheville and Buncombe County 155 

local school ever had a greater fame, a wider patronage, or a better 
teacher than Colonel Lee's. ■Men from all parts of the south sent their 
boys here to school, and it was nothing unusual to meet in any of the 
Southern States with a man whose education was begun at Colonel 
Lee's school near Asheville. He was a graduate of West Point, and a| 
strict disciplinarian, but a kind hearted man. 

And yet we arc told that in the face of these facts, a few years ago 
in the Congress of the United States "Mr. Campbell, of Ohio, was 
showing the percentage of population as to reading, and found Bun- 
combe County, ::orth Carolina, the lowest." (Why We Laugh, by 
Samuel S. Cc:, page 242.) 

Asheville's first newspaper, established about 1840, was the 
Highland Me.sscngar. It was edited by D. R. McAnally, who was a 
Methodist preacher and later a Methodist edit or in S aint Louis 
Missouri, where he died in July, 1895^ He was born in Granger 
County, Tennessee, February 17, 1810, and became a preacher when 
he was nineteen years old. For some years he engaged in preaching 
and came to Asheville in that work, living at the foot of the hill on the 
north side of Woodfin Street a little east of the mouth of Vance Street. 
He edited the Highland Messenger, a weekly paper, for three years, 
and in 1843 went to Knoxville, Tennessee, where, for eight years, he 
had charge of a female school, four years of which he also edited a 
religious newspaper there. In 1851 he went to Saint Louis, Missouri, 
and there for many years was editor of the Christian Advocate, and 
was superintendent of a Methodist book concern. When the war on 
the South was conducted he was imprisoned and suffered much for his 
outspoken devotion to the cause of the South. He was the author of 
Life of Martha Laurens Ramsey (1852), Life and Times of Rev. 
William Patton (1856), Life and Times of Rev. Dr. Samuel Patton 
(1857), Life and Labors of Bishop Marvin (1878), History of Metho- 
dism in Missouri (1881), and a large number of pamphlets. His 
second wife was a sister of Dr. R. H. Reeves of Asheville. 

Such was Asheville's and western North Carolina's first editor. 
The publishers of the Highland Messenger were Joshua Roberts above 
mentioned and his brother-in-law, John H. Christy, who later removed 

1 56 Asheville and Biincomhe County 

to Athens, Georgia, where he published the Southern Watchman. The 
first newspaper published in Asheville more frequently than once a 
week was the Journal, owned and edited by W. H. Deaver, and pub- 
lished by him semi-weekly in 1879 on the western side of the Public 
Square a little north of the present Smith Drug Store. The Asheville 
Citizen soon thereafter began to issue, besides its weekly edition, the 
first daily newspaper published in Asheville. 

Chapter XII 


A SHEVILLE and its vicinity was a favorite summer resort of 
/\ John C. Calhoun. Probably no greater triumph of inductive 
•^ -^ reasoning could anyv;here be found than the process by which 
that extraordinary man, merely by an examination of the map, reached 
the conclusion long before the facts had been demonstrated by measure- 
ment, that in the Black Mountains near Asheville was the highest land 
in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. He repeatedly 
declared this to be the fact to Governor Swain and others before any 
measurement of those altitudes had been made. Finally, in 1835, and 
1844, Elisha Mitchell, D.D., who had been professor of mathematics 
and natural philosophy in the University of North Carolina, and then 
held in that institution the chair of chemistry, mineralogy and geology, 
measured these mountains, and found one of them to be, as Calhoun 
had declared he would, the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains. 
Dr. Mitchell was born in Washington, Litchfield County, Connecticut, 
August 19, 1793. After graduating in Yale College in 1815, he was 
elected to a chair in the North Carolina University in 1817, was mar- 
ried in 1819, ordained by Orange Presbytery in 1821, made professor 
of chemistry, mineralogy and geology at the University in 1825, became 
Doctor Divinity in 1840, and died June 27, 1857. 

A controversy arose between him and the late General T. L. Cling- 
man as to who had first measured the highest peak. Dr. Mitchell 
undertook to establish his claim, and was proceeding through these 
mountains to Big Tom Wilson's in order to get up evidence for this 
purpose, when, being overtaken by night, he fell over a declivity and 
was drowned at what was afterwards called Mitchell's Fall on Cat 
Tail Creek of Cane River in Yancey County, near the scene of his 
greatest achievement. For days his disappearance could not be ac- 
counted for, and numerous parties from all directions flocked to the 
mountains in search for him. At last his body was found and brought 
to Asheville, where it was buried in the churchyard of the Presbyterian 


Asheville and Buncombe County 

Mitchell's Falls— Yancey County Cat-tail Branch of Cancy River Scene of Death of 
Dr. Elisha Mitchell in 1857 

Asheville and Buncombe County 159 

Church on Church Street. Later it was removed and reburied on the 
top of the highest peak of the Black Mountains, named in his honor, 
Mitchell's Peak. Here a monument has in late years been erected 
to him. 

There was no dispute as to Clingman's having measured the high 
peak in 1855 or as to Mitchell's having measured peaks of the Black 
Mountain in 1844. The only question was as to whether or not 
Mitchell had measured the high peak in 1844. In this last mentioned 
year his guide had been Thomas Wilson of Yancey County, commonly 
called "Big Tom Wilson"; and when Mitchell lost his life he was on 
the way to the home of Wilson in order to secure a statement from the 
latter that the high peak was one of those which Mitchell had measured 
the altitude of in 1844. It was Wilson who led the party that dis- 
covered Mitchell's dead body. For years following this, great num- 
bers of people visited Mitchell's Peak every summer, approaching it 
by way of the North Fork of Swannanoa. At the foot of the moun- 
tains near which has been for years the "intake" of the Asheville 
Waterworks, was built a house for the entertainment of the visitors 
and halfway up the mountain, five miles above that house, Mr. William 
Patton, of Charleston, South Carolina, built another house where such 
visitors might spend the night, and for some time he kept it up. 
Finally the war on the South this latter house, commonly called 
the "Mountain House," or Half-way House," was left without any one 
to care for it and at last decayed and fell. Years later visitors to 
Mitchell's Peak began to reach it from the town of Black Mountain 
over the peak called Greybeard and later over a lodging railroad. 

Mitchell's Peak has been variously called Mitchell's Peak, 
Mitchell's High Peak, Clingman's Peak, Black Dome, and some- 
times Mount Mitchell, although this last name has also been given to 
another peak of the same range a few miles away. According to the 
measurements of A. Guyot the high peak is 6,701 feet above sea-level 
at its top, but a later measurement of Professor Turner puts its altitude 
at 6,711 feet. T. L. Clingman made it 6,941 feet and Dr. Mitchell 
made it 6,708 feet high, although the latter's former measurement was 
6,772 feet. 


AsheviUe and Buncomhc County 

Mitchells Peak 

Asheville and Buncombe County 161 

Mitchell had been led to measure the heights of peaks in these 
mountains called the Black Mountain by the hope of finding here the 
highest land in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, because 
he found here a greater variety of vegetation than anywhere else and 
much of this vegetation towards the tops of the mountains in "the 
Black'- was of a character that belonged only to high altitudes or far 
northern latitudes. 

About 1873 the United States established and for some time main- 
tained on the top of Mitchell's Peak a meteorological signal station and 
built there a log cabin in which the men so employed lived. Their food 
und other supplies were carried to them from the settlement ten miles 
cr more below chiefly by the late Charles Glass on his back. 

When about the year 1836 a railroad from Cincinnati to Charles- 
ton, which should pass through Asheville, was projected, Robert Y. 
Hayne, the great South Carolinian, who had vanquished Daniel 
Webster in debate and cowed Andrew Jackson in resolution, was made 
its president. At a meeting of this company, held in Asheville in 1839, 
J\Ir. Hayne, who had continued to be its president, became dangerously 
ill and died here September 24, 18^9. Jn 

During the war on the South, Asheville became in a small way i ^ 
military centre. Confederate troops were from time to time encamped J 
at Camp Patton, at Camp Clingman on French Broad Avenue andlt^ 
Philip Street, at the crossing of Flint Street and Cherry Street on the! 
north sidj^of Flint Street called Camp Jeter, on Battery Park hill then! 
Battery Porter, on Beaucatcher Peak now called Beaumont, on Woodfin 
Street opposite the former site of the Oaks Hotel, on Montford Avenue 
near the residence of J. E. Rumbough, on the hill near the end of River- 
side Drive north of T. S. Morrison's, and on the ridge immediately 
east of the place where North Main Street last crosses Glenn's Creek, 
just before reaching French Broad River, once owned by the childrenA 
of the late N. W. Woodfin. /At this last place, on April 5, 1865, a 
battle was fought between tfe Confederate troops at Asheville and a 
detachment of United States troops, who came up the French Broad 
River. The latter was defeated and compelled to return into Tennessee. 
This was the battle of Asheville. 

162 Asheville and Buncombe County 

In 1869 S. C. Shelton, who had just removed from Virginia and 
settled in Chunn's Cove, introduced into Buncombe County the culture 
of tobacco, which theretofore had* been raised in that region only in 
small patches planted by old women and negroes. Soon tobacco came 
to be the chief crop of the farmer and in tw^o or three years equally so 
in Madison and other adjoining counties. About 1888 Asheville had 
six or seven large warehouses devoted, in the season for sales, to the 
marketing of tobacco raised in Western North Carolina, which was 
said to be the finest and best in the world. Packing-houses were 
numerous throughout the business parts of the city, but the ware- 
houses were on the site of the present Millard Building at the corner of 
North Main and Walnut streets, and in the southern portion of the 
Swannanoa Hotel on South Main Street, and on Valley Street, and at 
the northwestern corner of Walnut Street and Lexington Avenue (then 
called Water Street), and at the southeastern corner of Patton Avenue 
and Bailey Street (now Asheland Avenue) where is now the street-car 
building. In two or three years more the business had disappeared 
and a very few^ pounds of tobacco were raised in Western North Caro- 
lina. The danger from early frosts, the labor and risk in curing, and 
the variations in prices, have all been assigned as reasons for this 
sudden change in farming, while some tobacco-buyers said that the soil 
no longer produced as fine a quality of the article as before. 

The Confederate postoffice was in the old Buck Hotel building on 
North Main Street, now Langren. The Confederate commissary was 
on the east side of North Main Street between the Public Square and 
College Street. This old building was afterwards removed to Patton 
Avenue, whence it w^as removed again to give way to a brick building;. 
The Confederate hospital stood on the grounds afterwards occupied 
by the Legal Building. The chief armories of the Confederate States 
were at Richmond, Virginia, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, but 
there were two smaller establishments, one at Asheville, North Caro- 
lina, and the other at Tallahassee, Alabama. (1 Davis's Rise and 
Fall of the Confederate Government, page 480.) 

The armory at Asheville was in charge of an Englishman by the 
name of Riley as chief machinist. It stood on the branch immediately 
east of where Vallev Street crosses it. About a hundreds yards or a 

Asheville and Buncombe County 163 

little more north of it was the armorer's house on the same lot. Here 
when North Carolina was one of the Confederate States of America, 
the Confederate flag from a high flag pole was constantly displayed. 
There it floated in the breeze and rested in the sunlight, the emblem 

*'0f liberty bom of a patriot's dream. 
Of a storm-cradled nation that fell." 

These buildings were burned by the United States troops when 
they entered the town in the latter part of April, 1865. 

In 1840 the charter of the City of Asheville was amended by an 
act of the Legislature, Chapter 58, which recites that 

"The main street in Asheville is too narrow, and the laying out of 
one or more cross streets and the ascertaining the extent of the public 
square and the boundaries of the village and the encroachments upon 
same are demanded by the public convenience"; and appoints Philip 
Brittain, Thomas Foster and James Gudger as commissioners to buy 
land for widening the street, and making cross streets, and for other 
purposes. Afterwards, on January 11, 1841, the Legislature passed 
another amendatory statute whereby "James M. Smith, James W. 
Patton, N. W. Woodiin, 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." 

In 1901 another act of the legislature enlarged the territorial 
limits of the city. Then again on March 4, 1905, another act was 
passed further extending the city's northern and southern borders until 
at the southwestern corner they reached nearly to the mouth of the 
Swannanoa River, and reached on the east one hundred feet east of the 
mountain crest. Various small municipalities had then recently been 
incorporated on the northern and southern borders of the city. On the 
northern part had been so formed on February 28, 1889, the town of 
Ramoth, the name of which had been changed to Woolsey, on March 
2, 1903. At the same end and further west had been thus formed on 

164 Asheville and Buncombe County 

February 17, 1893, the town of Montford. Then on the southern end 
had been so formed on February 27, 1891, the town of Kenilworth, 
and west of that had been thus formed on March 7, 1887, the town of 
Victoria. This act of March 4, 1905, enlarging the city's limits, took 
into these the territory of Woolsey and Montford and Victoria and part 
of the territory of Kenilworth and repealed the charter of all of these 
small to\\Tis except that of Kenilworth, and even the charter of Kenil- 
worth in so far as it related to territory formerly belonging to that 
municipality but now transferred to the City of Asheville. On 
February 9, 1889, the legislature had incorporated the town of West 
Asheville for territory opposite Asheville and on the western side of 
French Broad River. This charter was repealed on March 8, 1897; 
but the town was reincorporated on March 6, 1913. On March 
5, 1917, provision was made in an act of legislature for a consolidation 
of West Asheville with the City of Asheville if so approved by a vote 
of the two corporations at an election on the question to be held in 
June, 1917. The election w^as held at the time so appointed and 
resulted favorably to the consolidation and West Asheville became a 
part of the City of Asheville. 

For many years Asheville was the only municipal corporation in 
Buncombe County. After a while a good number of small towTis within 
that county were, from time to time, incorporated by special legislative 

On September 7, 1832, there was formed at what is now the 
southern end of Weaverville a campmeeting place called "Salem." 
Adjoining this was a church building provided for on the north on 
September 20, 1844. Then, on December 19, 1849, was provided a 
Methodist Parsonage on the east; and on June 17, 1851, a Temper- 
ance Hall and school house adjoining the church and camp ground on 
the west. Then a college on the north of the church and Temperance 
Hall lots was incorporated under the name of Weaverville College on 
December 15, 1873. At this place, on March 16, 1875, was formed by 
legislative charter the town of Weaversville, which on ]March 8, 1909, 
was made the town of Weaverville by an act of the legislature then 
passed. Some years before the war on the South a settlement on New- 
found Creek in the northwestern part of Buncombe County was named 

Asheville and Buncombe County 165 

Leicester in honor of Mr. Leicester Chapman, a naturalized English- 
man then engaged in merchandizing at the place. To the public, 
however, it soom became somewhat jocularly known as "Lick Skillet" 
and even as "The Skillet." Even yet the name of Leicester is pro- 
nounced in the neighborhood by many people just as it is spelled and 
not as the English pronunciation of Lester would have it. The town 
was incorporated on February 9, 1874, but the act of final incorpora- 
tion was repealed March 2, 1905. 

On March 29, 1880, the State of North Carolina sold its interest 
m the Western North Carolina Railroad Company to W. J. Best and 
his associates. At that time the railroad of that companv had been 
extended west to the Blue Ridge vicinity but not across to where is 
now the town of Biltmore. When it reached that far the place was 
made a station and called Best. In May 3, 1888, Mr. G. W. Vander- 
bilt began to buy land in that neighborhood and erected on that his 
handsome mansion (finished in 1895) and Biltmore Estate. In his 
purchase he included Best, and built on its site the town of Biltmore on 
the southern side of Swannanoa River. That town was incorporated 
under the name of Biltmore on March 6, 1893. Its corporate limits 
were enlarged so as to cross Swannanoa River and take in some land 
to the north of the stream and the stream itself on March 6, 1903, and 
it now adjoins the City of Asheville. 

To the south of Biltmore is the town of South Biltmore incor- 
porated February 15, 1895. 
l_ Black Mountain, where for many years before the arrival of the 
railroad there had been a postof&ce called Gray Eagle at Mr. S. 
Dougherty's, was incorporated March 4, 1893; and its close neighbor 
Montreat is the town of the "Mountain Retreat Association," incor- 
porated March 2, 1897. 

Arden was incorporated March 13, 1895. 
Alexander became a town February 21, 1905. 
Swannanoa was first made a railroad station and called 
"Cooper's" in honor of A. D. Cooper who then owned the land; but 
soon the name was changed to "Swannanoa." 

Hazel was incorporated February 28, 1891, and Jupiter March 
12, 1895. 

166 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Buena Vista was incorporated March 4, 1891 ; but its charter was 
repealed in 1903. So, too, Inanda was incorporated in 1893 and its 
charter was repealed ]March 7, 1901. 

Other places, such as Fairview, Ridgecrest, Acton, Turnpike, Sky- 
land, Busbee, Candler, and Barnardsville, had grown up in the county, 
chiefly since the railroads came. 

The matter of early roads in Buncombe County has been already 
mentioned. The Asheville Plateau was approached through gaps in 
the surrounding mountains although usually the roads through these 
gaps were scarcely worthy of the name. Going from Asheville toward 
the east there vras a road which passed up the French Broad River and 
over the mountains near Caesar's Head into what is now Greenville 
County of upper South Carolina; then further north the road 
from Asheville ran by way of the present Hendersonville through 
Saluda Gap and on to what is now the City of Greenville, and to 
Columbia in separate branches; then yet further north was what was 
called the Howard Gap Road which left the road to Saluda Gap at 
Fletchers on Cane Creek and taking to the east passed through 
Howard's Gap and by way of the modern Lynn to the town of Spartan- 
burg; then still further north the Mills Gap Road left the road to 
Saluda Gap at the present Busbee and ran by way of Edneyville across 
Mills's Gap at Point Lookout Mountain down to Green River; then 
another road left the Mills Gap Road before reaching Mills's Gap and 
running further east went through Cooper's Gap north of Mills's Gap 
and near Sugar Loaf Mountain ; then further north still a road known 
as the Hickorynut Gap Road turned to the east at the present town of 
Biltmore and passed by the modern Fairview and through Sherrill's 
Gap later called Hickorynut Gap and down Broad River, and a road 
from Edneyville and on through Reedy Patch Gap (the lowest gap in 
these mountains) into the Hickorynut Gap Road at little north of 
Chimney Rock, and then still to the north the Swannanoa Road ran up 
Swannanoa River and passed through Swannanoa Gap (originally 
one-half mile south of the Big Tunnel place and later at that place) 
down Davidson's Mill Creek to the Old Fort. Going from Asheville 
toward the west the road ran to the Pigeon River at the site of the 
present town of Canton and on to Clyde, but forked with one fork 

Asheville and Buncombe County 167 

passing down Pigeon River into Tennessee and another running on 
west, one branch by Franklin and through Rabun's Gap into Georgia, 
another branch down Tuckaseigee and Little Tennessee rivers into 
Tennessee, and a third branch between them into the present Cherokee 
County. From Asheville going to the north the road ran down French 
Broad River, the Old Warm Spring Road often leaving the river to the 
west for considerable distances, but the later Buncombe Turnpike keep- 
ing near that stream's eastern or northern bank, passing opposite Warm 
Springs to Paint Rock ; another road led northward from Asheville by 
way of the present Weaverville beyond which it forked, with the left 
fork passing over into Tennessee in the Watauga region and the right 
fork running to the modern town of Burnsville. Mr. S. M. Feather- 
stone has aided me much in locating some of the eastern gaps just 

Of these roads in early days, that between Paint Rock and Saluda 
Gap was most used, especially after the construction of the Buncombe 
Turnpike, which was for many years kept in excellent repair by squads 
of hands under the direction of the late Colonel Enoch H. Cunning- 
ham. All the more prosperous people of the country kept handsome 
carriages and a pair of fine horses whose only duty was to draw the 
vehicle and with a negro man who generally gave his entire time to the 
care of the carriage and its horses. At a very early day wealthy men 
from South Carolina and Georgia began to spend their summers in 
these mountains and came wdth their beautiful carriages and horses. 
Thus, particularly in summer but throughout the year, a traveller on 
one of the principal Buncombe roads, and especially on the Buncombe 
Turnpike, was sure to meet many handsome equipages on any portion 
of his journey. 

Then, too, even as early as 1800, stock-raisers of Kentucky and 
Tennessee had begun to drive their hogs and horses and cattle in large 
droves through Buncombe County to the markets of South Carolina 
and Georgia. This species of travel greatly increased when the Bun- 
combe Turnpike was opened. To such an extent was this increase that 
at the proper season of the year one passing along that road in daytime 
was scarcely ever out of sight and hearing of one or more of these 
droves. Even turkeys were driven to market in the same way, the 

168 Asheville and Buncombe County 

drivers using whips with pieces of red flannel tied to the end of the 
lash. At one period there passed through Asheville in these droves 
every year from 140,000 to 160,000 hogs in the months of November 
and December. For the entertainment of these drivers and their droves 
taverns sprung up along the road at about every five miles and their 
capacities were often taxed to the utmost. The country raised the corn 
which, in enormous quantities, was required to meet the demands of 
this extensive business. This brought considerable profits to the 
farmers, the merchants and the innkeepers, and prosperity to the entire 
community. The business of driving stock continued, though in de- 
creasing quantities, until about 1870, w^hen it ceased. Railroads had 
increased everywhere and furnished the stock-raisers of Kentucky and 
Tennessee cheaper and quicker methods of reaching the markets with 
their products. 

Chapter XIII 

IN 1885 occurred in Buncombe County a change in the law regu- 
lating the care of stock raised in that region. Before that time 
any one who chose to do so might turn out his cattle and hogs to 
seek food wherever they could find it. Of course, this made it neces- 
sary for farmers to protect their crops by surrounding them with fences. 
After a while the timber required for fences became scarce. Then, in 
1885, the law was so changed that owners of livestock must prevent 
them from depredating on lands of other people. Fences then disap- 
peared. For economic reasons the change was unavoidable, but the 
absence of fences detracted much from the beauty of farms. Before 
this the fences had contributed greatly to the appearance of agricul- 
tural districts, especially where such fences were of planks. This was 
often the case, particularly along roadsides. A farm so fenced was a 
great beauty in the landscape, and its roads were most attractive to the 

When carriages became less numerous and stock-driving through 
the country had ceased, less attention was paid to roads and even the 
turnpike companies allowed their privileges to lapse. In 1848-1849 
the State of North Carolina directed the building of the Western 
Turnpike from Salisbury westward to the Georgia line. In 1854-1855 
Asheville was ordered to be the eastern terminus of this road. Then 
the road was constructed, but was never a good one. When railroads 
arrived all care of other roads was, for a time, abandoned. Mean- 
while the streets of Asheville, from increased use by a growing popu- 
lation, were in such condition that, in seasons of winter or prolonged 
rains, they were often impassable. Paving with crushed rock, obtained 
from the place where the "New Reservoir" is now, was put upon some 
of the streets near the city's centre and toward the depot, beginning 
about 1884. Then other streets were paved with stone blocks. At 
last, in 1890, a system of paving was adopted. The first of this was 
on that part of South Main Street from the Public Square southward 
toward Southside Avenue. The material used for this work was 
paving-bricks and the contractor for the work was General P. M. B. 

I ville 

170 Asheville and Buncombe County 

Young, the distinguished Confederate cavalry officer. In 1896 Mr. 
Caney Brown was chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Bun- 
combe County and revived the matter of road improvement. He and 
his successor, Mr. J. E. Rankin, did a small amount of paving with 
crushed rock on the road between Asheville and Biltmore; but in 1900, 
when Mr. M. L. Reed was chairman of that board, the county com- 
menced systematically to pave its roads and put iron and concrete 
bridges over the streams where the roads crossed them. 

The Western North Carolina Railroad was the first to reach Ashe- 
ville. This was in 1881. Its first depot in the place was a frame 
uilding erected for the purpose where West Haywood Street crosses 
that railroad in the vicinity of the old Smith's Bridge place. After a 
year or so the present freight depot on Depot Street was built and its 
northern end used for a while as a passenger station-house while the 
remainder of the building was used for freight. Then the present 
passenger depot was constructed. The Asheville and Spartanburg 
Railroad was completed to what is now Biltmore, but then was Best, 
in 1886. Through the enterprise of the late Captain C. M. McLoud. 
the city had a telegraph line connecting it with Henry Station on the 
Western North Carolina Railroad (now abandoned as a station) about 
three miles west of Old Fort, a year before the railroad came. In 1887 
the first street cars were put upon the streets of Asheville. It was an 
electric trolley system from the beginning and ran at first only from the 
Public Square to the present passenger station. Its builder, a Mr. 
Davidson, gave a dinner at this station when the car made its first full 
trip down. That trip was by way of Southside Avenue. About one 
^ear later the streets oegan to be lighted with electricity, chiefly through 
a tall tower or mast which stood on the Public Square, there having 
theretofore been for a short time a few gas lamps near that square, 
telephones were introduced in 1886. Until about 1876 Asheville's 
sidewalks were exceedingly few and short and were constructed entirely 
of round stones which were then found in great plenty on or near the 
surface of the ground on Battery Park hill. Then some walks were 
built of thick planks running longitudinally along the street, two 
planks about six inches apart constituting the sidewalk. These gave 
way to sidewalks of flagstones and these to bricks and these to concrete. 

Asheville and Buncombe County 171 

The road which left the present Patton Avenue at or about what 
is now the head of Asheland Avenue ran southwestwardly entering the 
modern Aston Park at its northeastern corner and circling with the 
top of the ridge until it came to the present French Broad Avenue at 
about the southeastern corner of Aston Park. That portion of this 
road which lay about fifty feet to the south of what is now the Meri- 
wether Hospital w^as used in 1865 and 1866 for a tournament ground 
by the young Confederate soldiers who had just returned from the army. 
The first of these tournaments were ridden only with the sabre. The 
rider attempted to catch on his sabre a metal ring of about two inches 
in diameter suspended loosely from the arm of an upright post, which 
arm projected over the course at about half way, while the ring hung 
just a little above the rider's head. At one-fourth the length of the 
course, one on the right hand and the other on the left, stood by the side 
of the course two posts about as high as a horse. These posts were 
surmounted by large wooden balls supported on the posts by small 
pieces of wood six inches long and just large enough to hold the balls. 
The rider ran his horse at a rapid gallop along the course and sought 
as he passed to cut these small necks with his sabre so that the balls 
would fall to the ground and in the middle of the course catch the ring 
on the same w^eapon. Later the sabre and balls were abandoned and 
the rider attempted to catch one or more suspended rings with a long 
lance which he carried. At this place and at about the same time was 
held a barbarous "gander-pulling" in which instead of the ring was 
suspended a live gander with greased neck, while every rider attempted 
to pull off the bird's head. This brutal performance was never re- 
peated. It is said to have been practised elsewhere in early days. (See 
Judge Longstreet's Georgia Scenes.) On this old field was Asheville's 
earliest baseball ground. Here occurred in 1866 the first game of that 
kind ever played in Buncombe County. Soon it supplanted the old 
"town-ball," of which it is a modification, and later it passed largely 
into the hands of professional players. 

On this ground, too, which was uninclosed, were for many years 
conducted picnics and other popular sports and were held political 
speakings and other outdoor public gatherings. All these were by per- 
mission of the owners of the land or without objection from them. 

172 Asheville and Buncombe County 

In Asheville's early days the merchants of Buncombe Count) 
hauled their goods in four-horse or six-horse wagons from Charleston. 
South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia, making annual trips and 
spending a month or more in the journey. The front pair of horses or 
mules always was adorned with jingling bells above their heads. Later 
when railroads came into general use these merchants made their pur- 
chases in Baltimore or New York, going in person to those markets 
usually every spring and every fall for the purpose. At the close of 
the war on the South Asheville was sixty miles from the nearest point 
of every of three railroads, Morganton in North Carolina, and 
Greenville in South Carolina and Greeneville in Tennessee, and goods 
were usually hauled in wagons from the last of these. Then the rail- 
road from Morristown to Wolf Creek in Tennessee was completed as 
far as Wolf Creek and the goods were so brought from that place. 
Then the Western North Carolina Railroad reached Marion, North 
Carolina, and then Old Fort and then Henry Station and from these 
places, respectively, while one was the nearest railroad station, Ashe- 
ville's merchants brought their goods by wagon. 

At first the money used in Buncombe County was of the English 
denominations of pounds, shillings and pence and it was for pounds 
and shillings that the first lots in Asheville were sold. Later occasion- 
ally Mexican dollars, or as they were usually called "Spanish milled 
dollars," were in common use. Then came the United States currency. 
As late as 1872 there were in circulation in Asheville a good many 
silver six-pence (six and one-fourth cents) and shilling (twelve and 
one-half cents) pieces. From 1830 to 1835 two men named Bechtler 
of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, obtained an act of Congress which 
permitted them to coin, in private coinage, gold gathered in the pied- 
mont portion of Western North Carolina and South Carolina and in 
Northern Georgia. They produced a good many coins of the denomi- 
nations of one dollar, two and one-half dollars, and five dollars, the one 
dollars being far the most numerous. These coins contained a little 
more gold than their denominations called for, and were produced for 
many years, constituting with Mexican silver dollars the principal 
money of that region. Often they were counterfeited in brass; but, as 
the brass was less easily bent than the gold, a practice grew up of test- 

Asheville and Buncombe County 


ing the genuineness of a Bechtler coin by placing it in the crack of a 
door and bending it in order to see how easily it was to bend. For this 
reason most of such coins which exist have creases across them. They 
are now very scarce, however, and command large premiums from col- 
lectors. Durins: the war on the South both the Treasurer of Buncombe 

Bechtler Coins 

County in behalf of the State and Asheville for itself issued paper 
money; the county in denominations of five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty- 
iive and fifty cents and one dollar; and the town in the same denomi- 
nations less than one dollar. But probably the greater part of the 
mercantile transactions up to about 1875 was by exchanging country 
produce for goods, or as these transactions were differently called, 
"barter," or the customer selling his produce and "taking it out in 
trade." Sometimes the merchant had two prices which he would pay 
for produce, giving more when the seller agreed to "take it out in trade." 
Asheville never had a complete market house until the present 
building called the City Hall was erected in 1892; but ever mercantile 
establishment, except a drug store, was a general store which sold all 


Asheville and Buncombe County 



i:'r ^- -ill 




1 3 v4 





Srs \ 



i>' '. ■ 



1 if ^ 




•si , \ 





— .; 



-<-< «^ 

Asheville and Buncombe County 


kinds of goods and bought all kinds of country produce, although for 
a short time before that market-house was built there was in the city a 
sort of market-house. 

Asheville's first burying-ground was at the southeast corner of 
Eagle Street and Market Street, but later on this was changed to a 
burying-ground en the east side of the present Church Street between 
the Presbyterian Church and Aston Street. Then in 1865 a Methodist 

burying-ground was established 
on the western side of Church 
Street immediately south of the 
Central Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South, church building. 
There were also some burials in 
the churchyard of Trinity Epis- 
copal Church immediately south 
of that church building on the 
eastern side of Church Street, and 
some on the same side of that 
street immediately north of the 
Presbyterian Church. All these 
graves on Church Street, with the 
exception of that of James Patton, 
g. ^^ wTre removed to Riverside Ceme- 

Pl W tery when it was established in 

1885 by the Asheville Cemetery 
Company incorporated on August 
4th of that year. In this way it 
came about that many graves in 
Riverside Cemetery contain bodies 
which were removed to it from 
other burying-grounds and some 
of which have been removed twice. Among the latter is the grave 
marked by the oldest tombstone in that cemetery. It is that of 
John Lyon, the distinguished English botanist, '^a gentleman through 
whose industry and skill more new and rare American plants have 
lately been introduced into Europe than through all other channels 

Grave of John Lyonl 
Riverside Cemetery, Ashevi 


] 76 Asheville and Buncombe County 

whatever." John Lyon died of consumption in the old Swain Buildini^ 
on the eastern side of South Main Street, in September, 1814, at the 
age of 49, a lonely stranger in a strange land among strangers 
thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean from any relative, but 
cared for by strangers with great tenderness. His body was buried in 
the old burying-ground east of Market Street and removed thence to 
the old Presbyterian graveyard east of Church Street and finally to its 
resting place in Riverside Cemetery near the southeastern corner. No 
doubt the oldest burying-ground in the county is the Shawano Indian 
burying-ground on the eastern banks of French Broad River about one 
mile above the mouth of Swannanoa River. Probably the oldest 
burying-ground of white people in the county is the old Robert Patton 
bur}'ing-ground near the town of Swannanoa. The Newton Academy 
graveyard is now the oldest graveyard in Asheville; but the oldest 
graves in Asheville were the "Indian Graves" on Patton Avenue, 
immediately west of the crossing of Lexington Avenue, which were used 
as a landmark to indicate the place selected for Buncombe's county 
town. This and the other circumstances attendant upon the making of 
that location seem to disprove the old story told about that location, as 
about the location of other towns, that the commissioners determined 
to put the town at the bar-room at which they had met for the purpose 
of drinking and had been drinking. There was no bar-room w^here 
they determined should be the site of the county town of Buncombe. 
Had there been, it would have been called for in making the location. 
The more detailed story that the bar-room was at a cross-roads w^here 
the proporietor professod to be deaf and would ask every traveller who 
stopped to inquire his way whether he said that he wanted a whiskey 
or brandy, is equally set at rest in the same way. 

Chapter XIV 

THE first preachers having charge of churches in Asheville 
were: l^or the Presb>1:erians, George Xewton mentioned above; 
for the Methodists, the first circuit rider of "Swanino Circuit" 
was Samuel Edney in 1792-1793, while Samuel Lowe was its presiding 
elder; and the first station preacher at Asheville was J. S. Burnett 
(in 1848); for the Episcopalians, the first preacher w^as Jarvis 
Buxton; for the Baptists, the first regular preacher was Thomas 
Stradley, an Englishman who came to America and lived on Beaver- 
dam in Buncombe County. The first Episcopalian in Buncombe 
County was JNIrs. William Coleman (born Miss Evelina Baird). Dr. 
Jarvis Buxton was born February 27, 1820, near Washington, North 
Carolina; came to Asheville in 1846, where he established the first 
Episcopal Church; and died March 11, 1902. 

The first physician in Asheville seems to have been R. B. Vance, 
who became a member of Congress from the district and was killed in 
a duel by S. P. Carson; and the first drug store was built and opened 
in 1850 and thence conducted by P. C. Lester, a physician, on the 
western side of South Main Street, in a frame building where is now 
Hilliard Hall, and in the second story of which was Asheville's first 
photograph gallery kept by an itinerant photographer about 1866. 

Apparently the first hotel in the place was that of Colonel James 
M. Alexander on South Main Street in what became the Hilliard 
Residence that occupied a site now within the street. Opposite that 
house and just south of the "Henrietta" was a hitching lot where 
horseback riders from the country visiting the town hitched their 
horses ; but later the hitching lot was on the western side of Haywood 
Street opposite the present Citizen Building; and later still every 
merchant had his own hitching lot. The next hotel was the Eagle 
Hotel on the eastern side of South Main Street between the present 
streets called Eagle and Sycamore. It was kept by James Patton. 
Then, at an early day, came the Buck Hotel on the site of the present 
Langren and kept by James :M. Smith. Next came the brick house at 
the southwestern corner of North :Main and Cherry streets kept by 


Asheville and Buncombe County 

Top— Bank Hotel looking north, site of T. C. Smith Drug Store 
Bottom— North Public Square, Buck Hotel, left background— 1888 

Asheville and Buncombe County 179 

Israel Baird and later the Brand residence. The Carolina House, 
built by John Reynolds on the western side of North Main Street a 
little the south of Woodfin Street, was next. The Battery Park Hotel 
was built by Frank Coxe and opened in the summer of 1886 to visitors. 
It occupied the site of the old Battery Porter, so called from a Con- 
federate battery stationed there; and when the hotel was built the name 
was change to "Battery Park." For many years, extending back to the 
time of its origin, Asheville had been visited by many strangers in the 
summer months of every year; but about the time this hotel was first 
opened, the town began to be an all-the-year resort for the pleasure- 
seekers and tourists. In the year 1912 on July 4th, the Langren Hotel, 
occupying the site of the old Buck Hotel, began business, chiefly 
patronized by commercial travel. Then in the summer of 1913 Grove 
Park Inn first threw open its door for public entertainment. 

Before the war on the South the advantages offered by Asheville 
climate for the treatment of persons afflicted with consumption had 
been well known. In 1871 two physicians of the name of Gatchell 
established a sanatarium at Forest Hill then just without Asheville's 
corporate limits. After some while this enterprise was abandoned but 
later revived by one of them at the northeastern corner of Haywood and 
College Streets. In 1876 a physician named Gleitzman began to con- 
duct in the old Carolina House on North ^lain Street a sanatorium for 
tubercular patients and continued it for some years. 

During the war there had been a Confederate hospital w^here the 
Central Bank is now\ After that Asheville had no hospital until 1892 
when the Mission Hospital w^as built on Charlotte and Woodfin streets, 
after the Supreme Court of the State had declared void an ordinance 
of the city under which the city authorities attempted to prevent its 
erection. (See State vs. J. A. Tenant, 110 N. C. 609.) 

Before 1884 Asheville had no waterworks. The need of its 
inhabitants for water was met by wells and springs. A public well 
stood about thirty feet north of the present Central Bank and another 
one was on the other side of the Public Square about seventy-five feet 
north from the former. Many homes had private wells and a few had 
springs. Many of the physical features of Asheville had changed since 
it became a town. Some of these physical features of the place are no 
longer recognizable, even to people yet living who had known it years 


Asheville and Buncombe County 

Asheville, 1SS3— Eastern side of French Broad River near (earlier) site of Sniitli's Bridge 

Asheville and Buncombe County 181 

ago. The streams have ceased to rise and flow where they once rose 
and flowed. On the west side of Water Street immediately south of 
Walnut Street once stood a famous spring called for in the old deeds, 
hut now not to be found. Below it, on both sides of the street, springs 
have disappeared in the last half of a century. Even subsequent to 
the late war, horses have been seen to mire up to the body in the blue 
mud of Water Street (Lexington Avenue) just south of Woodfin Street. 
Almost the same state of affairs has existed, and the same changes 
taken place in Central Avenue since 1865, when it was a narrow lane 
ending at a private residence now opposite the entrance of Orange 
Street. I was informed by the late Mr. R. B. Justice, that at the time 
of his first visit to Asheville in 1846, a spring of good water, much 
used, existed on the spot where now stands the postoffice or Federal 
Building. Until within the last two years there stood on the northern 
border of South Beaumont Street about fifty yards west from its 
junction with College Street a large old chestnut tree in whicli-the late 
Colonel E. H. Cunningham used to relate that he had seen-killed at 
one time three black bears, an old one and her two young. 

At a time not long antecedent to the war, some gentlemen had con- 
ceived the idea of having a waterworks for the town and, under the 
supervision of the late Hosea Lindsey, had excavated, at the present 
site of the "Old Reservoir," a place in the mountains near where 
College Street begins to ascend and had dug a trench for pipes from it 
some distance in thedjrection of the tow^n's centre; but the project had 
been abandoned. /Sbout 1884 the City, at the suggestion of the late 
Captain Thomas W. Patton, completed that reservoir and pipe line 
bringing into them the water collected from the branches running west 
out of the mountain for a distance of about a mile to the north. Then 
in 1886 the City constructed a pumping station on Swannanoa River at 
the place where the road to Oteen leaves the river, now called the "Old 
Waterworks," but formerly the site of the late Montraville Patton's 
grist mill. This water supply was pumped across Beaucatcher Gap 
into the "Old Reservoir" and later also into the metal standpipe on 
College Street and the old supply of water from the branches was aban- 
doned. Then, in 1902-1903, the city built a gravity line by which 
water from "the intake" on the North Fork of Swannanoa River was 


Asheville and Buncombe County 

Asheville and Buncombe County 183 

carried in, pipes from its superior altitude, across Beaucatcher Gap, 
into the "Old Reservoir" and this standpipe. The filter station on the 
southern side of College Street was built in 1890. In 1907 the City 
constructed the "New Reservoir" near the standpipe on the eastern side 
of College Street a little to the north of Beaucatcher Gap. Then in 
1920 was added to the existing source of water supply another "gravity 
line" by which water from Bee Tree Creek is carried over Beaucatcher 
Gap into the same reservoirs. 

As long as Ashe\dlle had' no water^vorks it had, of course, no fire 
department or sewer lines. When a fire occurred crowds assembled 
and organized an extemporary "bucket brigade." A Hook and Ladder 
Company was organized as early as 1882 to assist at fires. But when 
waterworks had been established, voluntary "hook and ladder" and 
"hose-reel" companies were formed, the first in 1884; and, since the 
reservoirs were higher than the part of the City then built up, no fire- 
engine was needed or has been used. Sewers came in 1888. 

Asheville's altitude above sea-level is 2,200 feet according to 
some or 2,250 feet according to Guyot, at the Public Square. Most 
of the City is built on hills elevated far above the French Broad and 
Swannanoa rivers, while parts of the City are much lower than these. 
For many years there had occurred, at very rare intervals, floods of 
considerable size in these streams; but no one apprehended danger to 
any part of the place from such a source. It is said that there had been 
a heavy freshet in April, 1791 and another in May, 1845. On August 
28-30, 1852, a freshet had done considerable damage in the valleys 
of these rivers and washed away on the French Broad the bridge at 
Captain Wiley Jones's near the mouth of Hominy Creek, Smith's 
Bridge at Asheville, Garmon's Bridge at what is now. Craggy, Alex- 
ander's Bridge at French Broad (now Alexander) and Chunn's Bridge 
and the Warm Springs Bridge in Madison County, and on the Swan- 
nanoa Patton's Bridge about half a mile above the mouth of that stream. 
It has been said that in about 1810 or 1811 there had been a famous 
freshet in the Swannanoa River, but the injury from it was not great; 
but this is probably an exaggerated statement. Then in June, 1876, 
a freshet in both rivers had done much damage, especially in the valley 
of the French Broad. But on July 16, 1916, occurred a flood in both 


Asheville and Buncombe County 

rivers which exceeded any of these and caused ravages parts of 

are yet to be seen. The streets of Biltmore and the lower parts of 

ville were flooded to considerable depths 

until in both places men were drowned in 

them, while much property and many 

bridges disappeared or were ruined or 

greatly injured. 

Patton Avenue is Asheville's principal 
business street. The part of it from the 
Public Square to the Federal Building, 
Avith much narrower width, was part of the 
old Haywood Road. Beyond that part to 
the west until it comes to Haywood Street 
about three-quarters of a mile| from the 
Public Square had been opened, under the 
name of Patton Street, as a rough country 
road through the woods before the war, but 
the large fills where three hollows were 
crossed had washed out in great part, and 

it was rare that wagons attempted to pass 

over it by driving around the fills. In 

1876 this part of the street was rebuilt 

and widened under the supervision of 

E. Clayton. 

Ephraim Clayton was born in that 

part of Buncombe County which is now 

Transylvania County, on Da\4dson River, 

in 1805. In early life he became a con- 
tractor for building houses and in that 

business built probably more houses in 

North Carolina, South Carolina and 

Georgia than any other two men. Among 

the buildings erected by him were Wofford 

College at Spartanburg, South Carolina, 

and the Buncombe Courthouse which 

was burned in 1865 and the present 


Asheville and Buncombe County 185 

Newton Academy and (in 1840) the house in Asheville which 
gave place to the Drhumor Building and the houses of the Everett 
(formerly Ward and then Lowndes) Place on French Broad River in 
Transylvania County. His home for the greater part of his life was in 
Asheville on what is now the eastern side of Spruce Street opposite 
the eastern end of Walnut Street. He brought to Asheville the first 
planing machine ever in Western North Carolina. During the war on 
the South he headed a company which manufactured in that town guns 
of the Enfield rifle type for the use of Confederate soldiers with which 
to protect their country from an invading foe. One of those guns is 
now owned by the writer. These guns were made at Colonel Clayton's 
shop adjoining his home on the north, w^here is now the residence of 
Doctor R. H. Reeves, and the company which made them was com- 
posed of Ephraim Clayton, R. W. Pulliam and G. W. Whitson. The 
guns, however, could not be made satisfactory at first for want of 
proper machinery, but later were by improved machinery superior 
rifles, the best in the Confederate army. Iron for their manufacture 
was obtained at Cranberry. After the war Colonel Clayton went into 
railroad contracting. A large contract on the Spartanburg and Ashe- 
ville Railroad was worked out by him; and, when, by the failure of 
the railroad company, he lost all that was due to him for this work his 
property was greatly reduced. He died at his home near Asheville on 
the western side of French Broad River on August 9, 1892, the day 
before that on which Buncombe County's centennial w^as celebrated at 
the northeastern corner of Flint and Magnolia streets and with various 
displays and ceremonies throughout the City. 


Asheville and Buncombe County 

Chapter XV 

FOR a long time the name of Asheville's streets were such as the 
public saw fit to bestow on them, every man applying to a street 
such name as he liked. This continued until December 4, 1876, 
when the town authorities appointed a committee, consisting of two 
aldermen P. Rollins and F. M. Miller and Colonel R. W. Pulliam, 
Captain Thomas W. Patton and Captain William M. Cocke, Jr., all 
now deceased, to give official names to all the streets. Some of the 
names then given yet remain, but many of them have disappeared. It 
w^ould not be too much to say that the official work has not always 
improved upon the haphazard of earlier nomenclature in sound or 
propriety. Anyhow, Academy Street has been changed to Montford 
Avenue, Mulberry Street to Cumberland Avenue, Starnes Street to 
Hiawassee Street, North Main Street to Broadway, Beaverdam Street 
to Merrimon Avenue, Libbey Street to Liberty Street, Bridge Street to 
Central Avenue, White Oak Street to Oak Street, Pine Street to 
Furman Avenue, South Main Street to Biltmore Avenue, Bailey Street 
to Asheland Avenue, Maria Avenue to French Broad Avenue, Roberts 
Street to Bartlett Street, and Buxton Street to Park Avenue and the 
"PubHc Square" to "Pack Square." 

The Public_ Library of Ash eyille was started in 1879 asa privateV 
benevolence/^Asheville and Western JNorth Carolina have not been en- 
tirely \\'ithout a historical literature. The principal of the books on the 
subject are: (1) Francis Asbury's Journal, quoted above; (2) Charles 
Lanman's Letters from the Alleghany Mountains, 1849, republished in 
his Adventures in the Wilds of the United States and British American 
Provinces, 1856, vol. 1; (3) D. K. Bennett's Chronology of North 
Carolina, of which the parts on Western North Carolina were by the 
publisher, James M. Edney, 1858; (4) Henry E. Colton's Mountain 
Scenery, 1859; (5) The Land of the Sky by Christian Reid (Miss 
Frances Fisher afterwards Mrs. Tiernan), 1875; (6) T. L. Cling- 
man's Speeches and Writings, 1877; (7) W. G. Zeigler and B. S. 
Grosscup's Heart of the Alleghanies, 1883; (8) Standard Guide to 
Asheville and Western North Carolina, illustrated by Roger Davis, 



Asheville and Buncombe County 

Asheville— Eastern side of South Main Street— Upper floor marked "Reading," first room 
occupied by Asheville Public Library— About 1878 — Site of Old George Swain House 
where John Lyon died, in portion just south of cut 

published by P>ed L. Jacobs, Asheville, N. C, 1887; and (9) John 
Preston Arthur's Western North Carolina, 1914, published by the 
Edward Buncombe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolu- 
tion of Asheville, N. C. 

As bearing more particularly, although not exclusively, on the 
Cherokees may be mentioned a two-volume novel now extremely scarce, 

Asheville and Buncombe County 189 

entitled "Eoneguski or the Cherokee Chief: A Tale of Past Wars. By 
an American" (Judge Robert Strange of North Carolina), 1839; and 
Myths of the Cherokee, by James Mooney, published in 1902 as a part 
of the United States government publication "Nineteenth Annual 
Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology." 

On the botany of Western North Carolina a very clear and trust- 
worthy guide to the trees and shrubs will be found in Dr. M. A. Curtis's 
Trees and Shrubs of North Carolina, originally published as Part III 
of "Emmons's Geological and Natural History Survey of North Caro- 
lina," 1860 reprinted as part of P. M. Hale's "Woods and Timbers of 
North Carolina," 1883 ; and on the gems of Western North Carolina a 
valuable treatise will be found in George Frederick Kunz's "History 
of the Gems Found in North Carolina," published as "Bulletin No. 
12," being a part of J. Hyde Pratt's "North Carolina Geological and 
Economical Survey, 1907." 

The book by Christian Reid mentioned above applied a new and 
popular name to the Asheville region, which at once became to the 
public and has since been frequently called 

The Land of the Sky. 



Genesis of the County of Buncombe 

By Hon. Theo. F. Davidson 

Ar the close of 1791, Burke and Rutherford were the frontiei 
counties of North Carolina, their western boundaries extend- 
^ ing with the Cherokee Indian treaty lines from the State of 
South Carolina to Tennessee. 

Within a short time after the close of the Revolutionary War, 
hostilities with the Cherokee Indians, who had been the allies of the 
British, ceased, and the beautiful and fertile lands of the French Broad 
valley began to attract a rapid influx of emigrants from the Piedmont 
Section of North Carolina and the "Watauga settlements" of Tennessee, 
and to which was added a steady, although relatively smaller stream 
from southwest Virginia and the upper districts of South Carolina. 
They were descended from that remarkable people known as Scotch- 
Irish, and were peculiarly fitted by their courage, self-reliance, love of 
adventure and devotion to the true principles of liberty, for the 
dangerous and difficult task of developing a new country and estab- 
lishing sound government. 

In 1791, the population along the French Broad, extending from 
the vicinity of the present towns of Hendersonville and Brevard to the 
Warm Springs, but confined chiefly to the eastern side of the river, had 
become sufficiently numerous and important to require a new county, 
and at the session of the General x\ssembly of North Carolina, which 
assembled in November of that year, in the town of Newbern, an act 
was passed creating the County of Buncombe. 

The Journal of the House of Commons for Saturday, December 
17, 1791, recites: 

"Mr. Vance presented the petition of the inhabitants of that part 
of Burke County lying west of the Appalachian Mountains, praying 
that a part of that and a part of Rutherford County be made into a 
separate and distinct county. Mr. Wm. Davidson presented a petition 
to the same effect, both of which being read, Mr. Vance moved for leave 

194 Asheville and Buncombe County 

and presented a bill to answer the prayer of the said petitions, which 
was read the first time, passed and sent to the Senate." 

The Journal of the Senate shows that the bill was received and 
passed by that body on the same day, and it was ratified on the 14th 
day of January, 1 /^2. The "Mr. Vance," who introduced the bill, was 
Colonel David Vance, and was one of the representatives in the General 
Assembly from the County of Burke, and at that time and until his 
death in 1813, he resided on his farm at the head of Reems Creek 
valley. The "Mr. Wm. Davidson," who presented one of the petitions 
for the new county, was Colonel William Davidson, then one of the 
representatives in the General Assembly from the County of Burke. 
At that time he resided on the south side of the Swannanoa River, at 
the place, a short distance west of the present village of Biltmore, now 
known as the "Gum Spring." At his house in April following the 
county was organized. 

The following is a copy of the act : 

"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North 
Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same: 

"That all that part of the counties of Burke and Rutherford cir- 
cumscribed by the following lines (viz.) : Beginning on the extreme 
height of the Appalachian mountains where the southern boundary of 
this State crosses the same, thence along the extreme height of said 
Mountains, to where the road from the head of the Catawba River to 
Swannanoa crosses; thence along the main ridge, dividing the water.s 
of South Toe from those of Swannanoa into the Great Black Mountain; 
thence along said mountain to the northeast end; thence along the main 
ridge between South Toe and Little Crab Tree, to the mouth of said 
Catawba Creek; thence down Toe River aforesaid, to where the same 
empties into the Nolechukle River; thence down the said river to the 
extreme height of the Iron Mountain and Session line; thence along 
said Session line to the southern boundary; thence along the said 
boundary to the beginning is hereby created into a separate and distinct 
county, known by the name of Buncombe. And for the due admin- 
istration of justice in said County of Buncombe. 

"Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That the 
justices nominated and commissioned in the said County of Buncombe 

Asheville and Buncombe County 195 

shall have the same power and jurisdiction as the justices of the peace 
have in any other county in this state ; 

"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That Philip 
court for the said County of Buncombe aforesaid, shall be constantly 
held on the third Mondays of January, April, July and October, and 
their first court shall be held at the house of William Davidson, Esq., 
on Swannanoa, but the justices of said court may adjourn to any other 
place more convenient, until a court house shall be built; 

"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That Philip 
Hoodenpyl, William Brittain and Lemuel Clayton are hereby appointed 
commissioners to fix on the most central place in said county for the 
purpose of erecting a court house, prison and stocks; 

"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That Ben- 
jamin Hawkins, William Whitson and John Patton are hereby ap- 
pointed commissioners for the purpose of contracting with workmen 
to erect the necessary public buildings in said county as soon as the 
commissioners shall fix on the center; 

"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That 
nothing herein contained shall be construed to debar the late sheriffs 
of Burke and Rutherford counties as they stood undivided, to make 
distress for any levies, fees and other dues now actually due, or owing 
from the inhabitants of said counties of Burke and Rutherford as they 
formerly stood undivided in the same manner as by law the said 
sheriffs or collectors could or might have done, if the said counties had 
remained undivided, and the said levies, fees and other dues shall be 
collected and accounted for in the same manner as if this act had never 
been made, anything herein contained to the contrary notwithstanding; 

"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the 
sheriffs and other collectors and holders of public money in the said 
County of Buncombe, shall, from time to time account for and pay 
into the public treasury of this state, all public money wherewith they 
shall stand chargeable, in the same manner and under the same pains 
and penalties as by law any other sheriff and holder of public money 
are obliged to account in the State; 

"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That a tax 
of one shilling on each poll and a tax of four pence on every hundred 

196 Asheville and Buncombe County 

acres of land, shall be and is hereby assessed on the taxable property 
in the said County of Buncombe for two years, to commence from the 
passing of this act, and that all persons who shall neglect and refuse 
to pay the aforesaid tax at the time limited for the payment of public 
taxes shall be liable to the same penalties and distresses as for the non- 
payment of public taxes, and the collectors of said taxes are hereby 
required and directed to account for and pay the money by them 
collected, to the commissioners, aforesaid, after deducting two and a 
half per cent for the trouble of collecting the same, and in case of 
failure or neglect in any of the said collectors, each collector so failing 
or neglecting, shall be liable to the same penalties and recoveries as by 
law may be had against collectors of public taxes; 

"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all 
manner of suits, causes and pleas, w-hether civil or criminal, commenced 
or depending in the said county courts of Burke and Rutherford, shall 
continue and may be prosecuted to the final end and determination in 
the same manner as if this act had never passed; 

"And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That the 
court of the said County of Buncombe shall appoint five jurors to 
attend at every Superior Court for the district of Morgan; 

"x\nd, whereas, the County of Burke appoints jurors to attend the 
Superior Court, and Rutherford court appoints nine jurors to attend 
the said court, which in justice ought to be altered agreeably to the 
part taken off each county; 

"Be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the 
County of- Burke, from and after the passing of this act, shall appoint 
twelve jurors to attend the Superior Court, and Rutherford seven jurors 
to attend said court, any law to the contrary notwithstanding. 

"Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the county 
court of Burke shall constantly be held on the fourth Mondays of 
January, April, July and October; 

"Be it further enacted, That all justices appointed, either in the 
counties of Burke or Rutherford, which now reside in the County of 
Buncombe, shall exercise their offices in the same manner in the County 

Asheville and Buncombe County 197 

of Buncombe as they could have exercised them in the counties of 
Burke and Rutherford as they stood undivided. 

"Wm. Lenoir, S. S. 

"S. Cabarrus, Sp. H. C. 

"Read three times and ratified in General Assembly the 14th day 
of January, Anno Domini 1792." 

(Endorsed on back.) 

"An act forming the western parts of Burke and Rutherford 
counties into a separate and distinct county. 

"Examined. "J. Graham, 

"D. Stone." 

Then came the work of organization and putting the machinery 
of county government in operation, and fortunately we have preserved 
the original record now' before us in the handwriting of Col. David 
Vance, the first clerk of the court. The beauty of his chirography, the 
order, neatness and accuracies of his entries, gt^^g evidence of his 
qualifications for the duties of his office. The following extract from 
the record of that day's proceedings showing the first officers and jurors 
for the county, cannot fail to be deeply interesting to every one who 
loves his country or reveres his ancestors. 


"North Carolina, Buncombe County. 

"April 16th, A.D., 1792. 

"Minutes of April Court, 1792. 

"Agreeably to a commission to us directed the county court of said 
county was begun, opened and held at the house of Col. William 
Davidson, Esq. 

"Present: — James Da\qdson, David Vance, William Whitson, 
William Davidson, James Alexander, James Brittain, Philip Hooden- 

"Took the oath of office for the qualification of public officers 
and took their seats as justices. 

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

198 Asheville and Buncombe County 

"Lambert Clayton and William Brittain being duly commissioned 
as justices of said county, appeared and qualified as such by taking the 
oaths for the qualification of public officers and the oath of offices as 
justices of the peace for said county and took their seats. 

"The court proceeded to the election of a sheriff for said county 
and did elect to that office Joseph Hughey, Esq., who was directed to 
find security, give bond and qualify tomorrow at 10 o'clock. 

"The court then proceeded to elect the clerk of said county, and 
did elect thereto David Vance, Esq., who was directed to give bond 
with security tomorrow at 10 o'clock. 

"The court then proceeded to election of entry officer of claims for 
land in said county, and did elect thereto Thomas Davidson, Esq. 

"The court proceeded to elect a surveyor, and did elect to that 
office John Patton, Esq., who was directed to give bond and security 
tomorrow at 10 o'clock. 

"The court proceeded to elect a registrar, and did elect thereto 
John Davidson (son of James). 

"The court then proceeded to the election of a ranger, and did elect 
John Dillard, etc., etc. 

"The court proceeded to the election of a coroner, and did elect to 
that office Edmund Sams, Esq. 

"Court adjourned till tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. 

"Court met according to adjournment. 

"Ordered by the court that the following persons be summoned to 
attend as jurors at the succeeding term, viz. : 

"1. George Baker. 2. Hickman Hensley. 3. Will Treadway. 
4. Henry Atkins. 5. Thomas Patton. 6. Matthew Patton. 7. Samuel 
Forgee. 8. Robert Patton. 9. Will Dever, Sr. 10. John Weaver. 
11. Will Gudger. 12. Benjamin Hawkins. 13. William Greggory. 
14. Benjamin Odele, Sr. 15. Joshua English. 16. Thomas May. 
17. James Stringfield, Sr. 18. Nicholas Woodfin. — Benjamin 
Johnson. 19. Elijah Williamson. 20. John Craig. 21. James Wilson. 
22. John Ash worth. 23. Henry Deweese. 24. John Dillard. 25. 
James Cravens. 26. Will Foster. 27. Gabriel Ragsdale. 28. James 

Asheville and Buncombe County 199 

Clemmons. 29. Harmon Reid. 30. Simon Kuykendall. 32. John 
Philips. c>i. James Medlock. 34. Adam Dunsmore. 35. Benjamin 
Yearly. 36. Daniel Smith. 37. Nat Smith." 

In these records will be recognized many names now borne by 
their descendants v/ho yet "dwell in the lands which their fathers gave 
unto them.'' 

It is interesting to note in the subsequent proceedings of this court 
the rapid growth in the population and development of the country, 
and the temptation to make further extracts is very great, but the pur- 
pose of this paper being only to direct the attention of my fellow citizens 
to the principal historic facts connected with the creation and organiza- 
tion of the now famous County of Buncombe, I shall leave its later 
history to more competent hands. Let me, however, give two further 
quaint extracts, which may illustrate the simple and grave manners 
of the men and women of those times : 

"Minutes of July Court, 1792. 

"A bill of divorce from Ruth Edwards to her husband John 
Edwards was proved in open court by Philip Hoodenpile, Esq., a sub- 
scribing witness heretofore — ordered to be registered." 

While this homely method of untying the inconvenient matri- 
monial knot does not begin to compare with the modern solemn per- 
formances to accomplish the same end, it has the merit of being far 
more honest and direct — and doubtless was as effectual. Perhaps the 
parties, in the absence of any other known provisions of law or 
precedents, recalled the old Misaic statute, that when a man desires to 
get rid of an undesirable wife, "let him write her a bill of divorcement, 
and give it in her hand and send her out of his house." 

"Minutes of October Court, 1793. 

"Ordered by court that Thomas Hopper, upon his own motion, 
have a certificate from the clerk, certifying that his right ear was bit 
off by Philip Williams in a fight between said Hooper and Williams. 
Certificates issued." 

When we recall that in those days and for many years afterwards 
the punishment for certain crimes — perjury, forgery and perhaps some 
others — was by cutting off a portion of the ear of the offender, com- 
monly called "cropping," we can well understand why "said Hopper" 

200 Asheville and Buncombe County 

was so anxious that the truth of his misfortune should be preserved in 
some authentic way. Evidently the court being plain, sensible and just 
men saw nothing unreasonable in the matter and gave a place on the 
records for the fact. 

I have looked in vain through these records for evidence of any 
criminal prosecution of the "said Hopper and Williams," for this fight, 
but as good old-fashioned fighting without rocks, knives, pistols or 
"brass knucks" was one of the most common and popular amusements 
of those days, and there seems to have been no more serious injury than 
the loss of an ear, and doubtless the fight being a fair one, the con- 
servators of the law and order did not feel called upon to take official 
notice of it. Nowadays such an occurrence would furnish us with a 
sensational two days' trial, and fees galore. 

Perhaps, possibly with the exception of Orange, Buncombe has 
exerted greater influence in the thought, history and policy of the State 
than any other County. It has furnished three governors, three United 
States senators, one Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, nine judges 
of the Superior Court, nine representatives in Congress, one president 
of the Universit}' to the public ser\dce. In addition, its delegations to 
various constitutional conventions and representatives in our State 
Legislature and Executive Departments of the State are recognized 
among the first in the annals of our Government. In wealth, popu- 
lation, enterprise, especially in the great movements of civic and 
economic progress, it has been in the front rank. 

"The past, at least, is secure." 




^'frw^. ,