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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.



Latest Activity

Sue Diehl shared their event on Facebook
Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event

Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion


I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a mythic story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and in our minds,…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Jan 16
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


IntermissionHear audio by clicking mp3 attachment!(Part of poem, "Coalescence") I thought I might take a break at this point to look around,Now that I’m in the business of making things resound.It’s so nice to have the luxury of being carefree. If you stop and sit back and try to take in everything,It stuns you and you can’t focus on anythingUntil something crops up, and what…See More
Jan 16
Joan Henehan replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Coalescence
"It's an odyssey..."
Jan 8
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


The Main Show: A Story Poem Cycle(formerly, Coalescence) (part of  Living Poem)The Main Show  Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and…See More
Dec 11, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Sultan's Dream

The Sultan’s Dream (Part of Living Poem) When it comes to walking, the jig’s up.No more fit lad sitting at the pub.No more flim-flam smiling with a limp. See how the legs totter and the torso leans.Do you know what a lame sultan dreams?Of reclining on a divan wearing pantaloons, Comparing his plight to a mountaineer’sNegotiating an icy bluff in a fierce wind,And then lounging in a tent to unwind. Which…See More
Nov 15, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Tale of Ononis

The Tale of Ononis by Rob Neufeld Part 1: The Making of a Celebrity ❧  Hare Begins His Tale  Ononis was my region’s name.People now call it Never-the-same.I’ll start with the day a delivery came. The package I got was a devil’s dare,Swaddled and knotted in Swamp Bloat hairAnd bearing, in red, one word: “Beware!” Bloats are creatures from the Land of Mud Pies,Wallowing in waste with tightly closed eyesUntil fears bring tears and the bleary bloats rise.   ❧  Hare’s Colleagues  I asked my boss,…See More
Nov 9, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Drop Your Troubles: A Solo Storytelling Performance with Connie Regan-Blake at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

December 1, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join this internationally renowned storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she transforms a packed theater into an intimate circle of friends with old-timey charm, wisdom, and humor. We’ll also welcome the Singer of  Stories, Donna Marie Todd, who will perform her original story, “The Amazing Zicafoose Sisters.” Connie’s last two shows at BMCA have sold…See More
Nov 6, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” The event will be hosted by the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, just a short drive from Asheville nestled in the picturesque mountains surrounding the area. Call the Center for advance tickets (828) 669-0930 or order…See More
Oct 28, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive, affirming…See More
Oct 28, 2018

Zachariah Candler and Waightstill Avery were first land-buyers

by Rob Neufeld


            “In mid-2010, while compiling the descendant chart for the Zachariah Candler family,” Charles Haller writes in “Pushing the Indians Out,” his book about first developers, “I became interested in Zachariah’s obsession with accumulating land grants issued by the State of North Carolina.”

            Zachariah was one of the resident landowners who jumped on the big post-Revolutionary War land sale. 

            Many of the early developers were non-resident speculators, who bought immense tracts, which overlapped with those of smaller claimants, who had to file pre-emption claims to hold onto what they had.

            John Burton—buyer of 400 acres that included what became downtown Asheville—had been one of those pre-emption claimants.

            The speculators, by the way, didn’t fare too well in certain cases.  They often borrowed money for their purchases and then ran into problems—for instance, delays caused by lack of roads and wars that prevented immigration of settlers.

            Speculators Robert Morris, John Nicholson, and James Greenleaf of the North American Land Co. of Philadelphia exceeded their acreage limits by using false names.  They bribed officials, overpriced shares, ultimately defaulted, and ended up, Haller writes, in the “infamous Prune Street Jail, a Philadelphia debtor prison.”

            Nicholson died in prison.  Morris spent 41 months there, was released thanks to a new bankruptcy law, and died five years later at age 72.  The two of them owed $3 million to 61 creditors.  Greenleaf got out of prison after a year, having declared bankruptcy.

            Meanwhile Candler, living in the area of his holdings, Haller states, moved “progressively down the French Broad (from present-day Transylvania County) with each stage of new acquisitions.”


Waightstill Avery


            “Eventually,” Haller reveals, “I learned that Waightstill Avery, Burke County’s top frontier lawyer, exceeded Zachariah Candler in his pursuit of acquiring early land grants.

            Avery, North Carolina’s first Attorney General, bought up 151 blocks in Burke and Buncombe Counties starting in 1778, and moved to his estate, Swan Ponds, west of Morganton, in 1781.

             Many of those tracts came into his hands while he was confined to a chair.  In 1801, he’d been thrown from a horse, shattering both legs in a way that could not heal sufficiently.

            He was 60 at the time.  His son, Isaac Thomas Avery, a teenager, came home from studying law to take care of his father and run the plantation.

            Retired from politics and courtroom law, Waightstill “continued to wear the colonial style of dress until his death,” the UNC Libraries webpage for the Avery Family papers notes.  Perhaps he dressed for work and meetings, as he was busy buying land around the Linville and Toe Rivers, where he had hopes of finding gold.


Listen up


            Educated at Princeton, after growing up in Connecticut, Avery made education one of the top causes in his career.  The part of the N.C. Constitution that established schools and teacher salaries in Nov. 1776 is said to have been in Avery’s handwriting, Edward Phifer Jr. states in his history of Burke County.

            He had children around him, four of own, mostly grown; five of his younger brother, Rev. Isaac Avery, who died in 1799; and later in life, grandchildren.

            His library was the largest in Western North Carolina, Governor David Swain said, according to Samuel A’Court Ashe’s “Biographical History of North Carolina.”

            British General Charles Cornwallis burned Avery’s Charlotte law office down in 1780.  Avery had been colonel of the militia of Jones County (north of Wilmington); and in 1775, participated in the writing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a precursor to the U.S. one.

            Eleven Connecticut Averys had died at the Battle of Fort Griswold in Groton at the hands of Benedict Arnold, Waightstill learned from his brother, Solomon, the great-grandfather of John D. Rockefeller.

            For 30 years, Waightstill bought thousands of acres of land around Grandfather Mountain, hoping in part to discover gold.  He sent his slaves, of which he had 24, to dig mines, Haller recounts.

            One of the most colorful stories is about his duel with Andrew Jackson.


False as hell


            In 1788, Avery was a 47-year-old lawyer with the oldest and largest practice in this region.  In Jonesborough, Tenn., he was opposed in a case by 21-year-old Andrew Jackson, who had just gotten his license and moved to Jonesborough the year before.

            According to sources consulted by John Allison for his 1897 book, “Dropped Stitches in Tennessee History,” Jackson was losing.

            Avery cited “Bacon’s Abridgement,” the top authority on modern English law, a copy of which, bound in buckskin, Avery always carried with him.  Jackson ridiculed Avery’s pet source, and Avery responded with a sarcastic remark about Jackson’s ignorance.

            “Jumping to his feet,” Allison relates, “he (Jackson) exclaimed, ‘I may not know as much law as there is in Bacon’s Abridgement, but I know enough not to take illegal fees.’”

            Apparently a new schedule of fees had been issued by the state, and Avery had taken two pounds instead of one pound six shillings.

            “It’s false as hell!” Avery hissed about the charge.

            Jackson tore a page out of a law book, wrote a challenge to a duel on it, and handed it to Avery.  Avery accepted.  Later, they shot their pistols into the air, as agreed.

            There’s another version of this story, funnier, and more of a credit to Jackson.

            In this account, Jackson had the upper hand in court.  Avery, surprisingly, had forgotten his green bag with “Bacon’s Abridgement” in it, and asked for a recess until the next day.

            Jackson took an opportunity to sneak into Avery’s room and substitute a book-sized slab of bacon, wrapped in buckskin, for the book.  When in court, Avery went to produce the book out of his bag, out tumbled the piece of bacon.  Amid the laughter, it was Avery who challenged Jackson to the duel.

            The versions of the tale varied with the geography of the teller, Allison had discovered.



Pushing the Indians Out: Early Movers & Shakers in Western North Carolina & The Tennessee Territory by Charles Haller (Money Tree Imprints trade paper, July 2014, 288 pages, $24.95).  The book includes authoritative appendices on the early land grant claimants, their descendants, and their grants.  It is available through Amazon.


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