AHGP Transcription Project

A History of Transylvania County

This County was formed in 1861, while Marcus Erwin was in the senate and Joseph P. Jordan of Henderson County was in the house. M. N. Patton was its first representative, in 1864. Court was held in a store room on what is now Caldwell Street, Brevard. The first regular court house was a small frame building which stood on site of present building. It was built by George Clayton and Eph. England, contractors, and was not quite complete in 1866. The first jail was also small and of wood. Both these buildings were moved across the street and are still in existence. The present court house was built about 1874 by Thomas Davis contractor. Probit Poore built what is still known as the "Red House," before the Civil War; but it was not used as a hotel till William Moore opened it as such, and this was the first hotel in Brevard.

In 1872 or 1873 Nathan McMinn built a store and afterwards a hotel where the present McMinn house stands and opened a hotel there about 1879. George Shuford, the father of Judge G. A. Shuford, used to own the Breese or Hume place in Brevard, and sold it to Meredith D. Cooper who built the present mansion, and sold it to Mrs. Hume. George Shuford bought the mill place from Ethan Davis and built a grist mill there, but when M. D. Cooper got it he built a flour mill, which was burned. Cooper afterwards sold the mill to Mr. Lucas and he sold it to Mrs. Robert L. Hume, who conveyed it to her daughter, Mrs. Wm. E. Breese, the mill having been rebuilt.

About 1800 George Shuford moved from Catawba County and bought land below Shuford's bridge on the French Broad River, and took up a lot of mountain land, considered valueless, but which is held today by John Thrash at $25 per acre. It is in the Little River Mountains. John Clayton, father of John, George and Ephriam Clayton, settled on Davidson's River, above the mill, at the Joel Mackey place. The Gash family were originally from Buncombe. Leander S. Gash lived for a time in Hendersonville where he died. He was a prominent and influential man, having represented Henderson County in 1866 in the senate; while Thomas L. Gash represented Transylvania in the house in 1874. Their ancestor had fought in the Revolutionary War.

The Duckworths are another large and influential family, John having settled at the mouth of Cherryfield creek on a part of the David Allison grant, which corners there, after following the present turnpike from Boylston creek. It was here, too, that the Paxtons lived. Just prior to the Civil War, while Transylvania was a part of Henderson County, many wealthy and fashionable people from the lower part of South Carolina bought many of the finest farms and built what were palatial homes for those days. Among them were Frank McKune and William Johnston from Georgetown, S. C. Their fine teams and liveried servants are still remembered. Then, too, Robert Hume built a stone hotel at the foot of the Dunn Rock, about four miles southwest of Brevard, where he kept many summer boarders prior to the Civil War; but, during that awful time, the hotel was burned; the ruins still standing.

What is still known as the Lowndes Farm, on the French Broad River, about five miles below Brevard, originally belonged to Benjamin King, a Baptist minister, who married Miss Mary Ann Shuford; but when the Cherokee country was opened to the whites, Mr. King sold it to William Ward, a son of Joshua Ward. William Ward built the fine house which stands on the land still; his father having built Rock Hall, the present home of the Westons. Ephriam Clayton was the contractor who built the Lowndes house for William Ward, and it was then one of the show-places of Transylvania.

The Wards were South Carolina rice planters, and quite wealthy; but during the Civil War William got into debt to Mr. Lowndes, a banker of Charleston, who obtained judgments and sold the land after the war, bidding it in, and afterwards placing the farm in charge of a Scotch gardener named Thomas Wood, who immediately put the land in splendid condition, the amount spent for the land and improvements having cost the estate nearly one hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Lowndes was very much attached to this place and spent much of his time there; but after his death, his grandson did not care much for it, and sold it, with stock and farm implements for a small sum to John Thrash, and he in time sold it to Col. Everett, a genial and popular gentleman of Cleveland, Ohio. He has improved the place greatly. The original farm now includes the James Clayton, the Wm. Allison and the Henry Osborne places, all fine farms.

The late A. Toomer Porter, of Charleston, started to build a home on top of a small mountain, three and one half miles down the French Broad River, and a Mr. Clarkson of South Carolina started a summer residence on the opposite side, but the war stopped both enterprises. A relative of the late P. T. Barnum, owns the Hankel place about three miles from Brevard on the French Broad River. He has an extensive chicken farm, containing 5,000 white Leghorns. His name is Clark.

Buck Forest, nine miles south of Brevard on Little river, containing the shoals and three picturesque falls or cascades of that stream, graphically described the "Land of the Sky," was originally the property of Micajah Thomas, who after building a hotel there before the Civil War, kept summer boarders when deer hunting was popular; but after the war sold it to Joseph Carson. The late Frank Coxe, Carson's brother-in-law, however, paid for it, and in the litigation which followed retained the title and possession by paying Carson's estate about $12,000 in 1910. The Coxe estate have since bought large tracts of land in that neighborhood and it is said will create a large lake and build a hotel on the property. The Patton family of Transylvania is one of the largest and most influential of that section, the original of that name having owned from Clayton's to the Deaver farm, a distance along the French Broad River of about three miles. They were a large family, but there was land enough to go around to about a dozen children. No better people live anywhere than the Pattons.

Cherry Field
In November, 1787, Gen. Charles McDowell and Willoughby Williams entered 200 acres in Rutherford County (Buncombe County Deed Book A, p. 533), "adjoining the upper end of his Cherry Field survey on French Broad River and extending up to his Meadow Camp survey"; and in November, 1789, the State granted to Charles McDowell 500 acres on both sides of the French Broad River, including the forks of said river where the Path crosses to Estatoe (Deed Book No. 9, p. 200, Buncombe). This old Indian path to Estatoe crossed near Rosman.

Ben Davidson's Creek
On the 25th of July, 1788, Charles McDowell entered 500 acres in Rutherford County on Ben Davidson's River, including the Great Caney Cove two or three miles above the Indian Path, though the grant was not issued till December 5, 1798 (Buncombe County Deed Book 4, p. 531), and in November, 1790, Ben Davidson got a grant for 640 acres in Rutherford County on both sides of French Broad River, above James Davidson's tract, including the mouth of the Fork on the north side and adjoining Joseph McDowell's line, "since transferred to Charles McDowell." (Buncombe county Deed Book 1, p. 74.)

Source: Western North Carolina A History From 1730 to 1913, By John Preston Arthur, Published by Edward Transylvania Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, of Transylvaniaville, N. C., 1914

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