THE HERITAGE OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA - A COLLABORATIVE DATABASE
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"'A PLACE of resort -- that is only
"Western North Carolina"
[Description of Asheville]
|"Asheville, delightful for situation, on
small hills that rise above the French Broad below its confluence with the
Swannanoa, is a sort of fourteenth cousin to Saratoga. It has no springs,
but lying 2250 feet above the sea and in a lovely valley, mountain girt,
it has pure atmosphere and an equable climate; and being both a summer and
winter resort it has acquired a watering-place air. There are Southerners
who declare that it is too hot in summer, and that the complete circuit of
mountains shuts out any lively movement of air. But the scenery is so
charming and noble, the drives are so varied, the roads so unusually
passable for a Southern country, and the facilities for excursions so
good, that Asheville is a favorite resort.
There was a kind of predetermined and willful gayety about Asheville, however, that is apt to be present in a watering-place, and gave to it the melancholy tone that is always present in gay places.
[Battery Point] is a hill with a grove, which commands a charming view, and was fortified during the war. We found it illuminated with Chinese lanterns, and little tables set about under the trees, laden with cake and ice-cream, offered a chance to the stranger to contribute money for the benefit of the Presbyterian Church.
The sojourner at Asheville can amuse himself very well by walking or driving to the many picturesque points of view about the town; livery stables abound, and the roads are good. The Beaucatcher Hill is always attractive; and Connolly’s, a private place a couple of miles from town, is ideally situated, being on a slight elevation in the valley commanding the entire circuit of mountains, for it has the air of repose which so seldom is experienced in the location of a dwelling in America whence an extensive prospect is given.
There are certain excursions that the sojourner at Asheville must make. He must ride forty-five miles south through Henderson and Transylvania to Caesar’s Head, on the South Carolina border, where the mountain system abruptly breaks down into the vast Southern plain; where the observer, standing on the edge of the precipice, has behind him and before him the greatest contrast that nature can offer. He must also take the rail to Waynesville, and visit the much frequented White Sulphur Springs, among the Balsam Mountains, and penetrate the Great Smoky range by way of Quallatown, and make the acquaintance of the remnant of Cherokee Indians living on the north slope of Cheoah Mountain." (Warner, "On Horseback," The Atlantic Monthly vol. 56, issue 336, Atlantic Monthly Co., Boston, October 1885, p. )
"On Thanksgiving Day, 1895, Miss Anna C. Aston, Miss Frances L. Patton and other ladies published a "Woman's Edition" of the Asheville Daily Citizen. It contained much valuable and important information of that city. But in February, 1898, Foster A. Sondley, Esq., a descendant of the Fosters and Alexanders of Buncombe county, and a leading member of the Asheville Bar, published a historical sketch of Buncombe county and Asheville, containing practically all that could then be ascertained concerning the early history of this section. Hon. Theo. F. Davidson and the late Albert T. Summey also contributed their recollections. There was a woodcut reproduction of an oil painting of Asheville by F. S. Duncanson, which was taken from Beaucatcher, and it appears that there were not more than twenty five residences in 1850 that were visible from that commanding eminence, all the buildings, including outhouses, not exceeding forty, and they were between Atkin, Market and Church streets. The painting itself, now owned by Airs. Martha B. Patton, shows five brick buildings, the old Presbyterian church, on the site of the present one, with the cupola on its eastern end, because the street ran there; the little old Episcopal church, on the site of the burned Trinity; the old jail, standing where the city hall now stands; Ravenscroft school, and the Rowley house, now occupied by the Drhumor building. The old jail was three stories high. The other buildings were white wooden structures, and included the central portion of the old Eagle hotel and the old Buck hotel. Mr. Ernest Israel also has a similar picture." (Arthur, John Preston, Western North Carolina: A History, 1914, p. ..)
|"Dr. J. S. T. Baird's facile pen has given us an equally vivid picture of Asheville in his "Historical Sketches of Early Days," published in the Asheville Saturday Register during January, February and March, 1905, as it appeared in 1840. He records the facts that the white population then did not exceed 300, and the total number of slaves, owned by eight or nine persons, did not exceed 200. In the 400 acres embracing the northeastern section of the city, between the angle formed by North Main and Woodfin streets, he recalled but two dwellings, those of Hon. N. W. Woodfin and Rev. David McAnally, both on Woodfin street. There was an old tannery and a little school house near the beginning of what is now Merrimon avenue, the school having been taught by Miss Katy Parks, who afterwards became 'Mrs. Katy Bell, mother of Rev. George Bell of Haw Creek. This 400-acre boundary, now so thickly settled, was then owned by James W. Patton, James Al. Smith, Samuel Chunn, N. W. Woodfin and Israel Baird. There was a thirty-acre field where Doubleday now is, and was called the "old gallows field," because Sneed and Henry had been hanged there about 1835. Standing south of Woodfin and East of North and South Alain streets to the southern boundary, there were but eight residences, not including negro and outhouses." (Arthur, John Preston, Western North Carolina: A History, 1914, p. ..)|
|"In his [Samuel Ashe's] 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....Finally in July...or October 1796 or
in January, April, or July 1797, the name of the town was duly changed
from Morristown to Asheville. (1922. Sondley, F. A. Asheville and
Buncombe County, p. 89.)
[The name change was no-doubt prompted by the ignominy of Robert Morris, the wealthy US Treasury official who gave his name to the original town. His activity as a rather greedy land speculator and his subsequent imprisonment for his excesses and debts most likely encouraged the town to look to more noble men to honor. hw]
|"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 Carolinians, Col. Doherty and Col. McFarland had led an invasion from East Tennessee of a part of the Cherokee country which had escaped incursions from the whites....It was contrary to the orders of the Tennessee territorial government, but probably prevented the contemplated attack on the Swannanoa settlements and saved from destruction the village of Morristown, now the City of Asheville. (1922. Sondley, F. A. Asheville and Buncombe County, p. 91.)|
|"With regard to Asheville, I can only say that it is a very busy and pleasant village, filled with intelligent and hospitable inhabitants, and is the centre of a mountain land, where nature has been extremely liberal and tasteful in piling up her mighty bulwarks for the admiration of man. Indeed, from the summit of a hill immediately in the vicinity of the village, I had a southwestern view, which struck me as eminently superb. It was near the sunset hour, and the sky was flooded with a golden glow, which gave a living beauty to at least a hundred mountain peaks, from the centre of which loomed high towards the zenith, Mount Pisgah, and the Cold Mountain, richly clothed in purple, which are from twenty to thirty miles distant, and not far from six thousand feet in height. The middle distance, though in reality composed of wood-crowned hills, presented the appearance of a level plain, or valley, where columns of blue smoke were gracefully floating into the upper air, and whence came the occasional tinkle of a bell, as the cattle wended their way homeward, after running among the unfenced hills. Directly at my feet lay the little town of Asheville, like an oddly-shaped figure on a green carpet; and over the whole scene dwelt a spirit of repose, which seemed to quiet even the common throbbings of the heart." ( Lanman, Charles. Allegheny Mountains.)|
"The road to Asheville is rough but safe. Our party sent on their baggage, and stopped at a way-side farm-house, "Alexander’s," about twelve miles from Asheville. Mr. Alexander, a hale, sprightly young man of eighty, who, like all other farmers in the mountains, "took in" travelers, gave them an excellent supper and comfortable beds, and sent them on the next day… The road followed stolidly the windings of a pearly little river, the Swannanon [sic], through dank snaky fens, through stately park-like forests into deep creeks of chocolate-colored water rushing down from the pine regions above.
Asheville lies upon a high plateau surrounded by the Balsam Range;
the pure dry air sifted through these trees has healing on its wings for
all lung diseases. (Rebecca Harding Davis
"The Great South: Among the Mountains of Western North Carolina."
Scribner’s Monthly Magazine vol. 7, issue 5
Charles Scribner and Sons
New York, March 1874
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