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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Salman Rushdie come to Asheville with new novel

Atheist believes in genies, novel revealsby Rob Neufeld             Salman Rushdie’s latest novel—“Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” (1,001 nights)—has permitted me to come up with a headline as wild as the one above because the book is so exuberantly and infectiously…See More
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Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Jan 31
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

73 classic works about Appalachia going online

Key Appalachian studies publications now going onlinefrom press release, Jan. 27. 2016 Appalachian studies scholars and those interested in regional history will have greater access to out-of-print works thanks to a two-year National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Open Book Program grant totaling $88,000 awarded to Belk Library and Information Commons at Appalachian State University.  Pamela Mitchem, the library’s coordinator of digital scholarship and…See More
Jan 30
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

John Parris' home-grown prose

South of Sylva, back of yesterday: John Parris' inspiration             “For the life of me, I just can’t understand why folks stopped usin’ cradles,” John Parris’ 97-year-old maternal grandfather had told him 60 years ago.            The oil lamp, the buggy, and the spinning wheel—they all were replaced by things…See More
Jan 27
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

James Sturm expands scope of graphic novels

James Sturm blazes cartoon path to a new worldby Rob Neufeld             Why is it that when an author combines pictures with words, the medium is considered juvenile, like comics?  Words create literature; images, art.  Why, when you marry them, is it like pairing a milk cow with a mop?            Nothing against…See More
Jan 24
susannah eanes posted a blog post

The Writer as Pilgrim

Two articles leapt at my consciousness this week, both about writing. And suddenly, I know how to go forward from here. The first, The Price I Pay to Write, by Laura Bogart and published online in Dame Magazine, reflects on the difficulties of…See More
Jan 24
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Tired of thrillers with no soul?

Why read a 1940 man-on-the-run classicby Rob Neufeld             After reading a classic novel, you might think, “Oh, look at this superior ancestor of today’s fiction.”              For instance, “The Power and the Glory,” Graham Greene’s 1940 thriller about political oppression in Mexico, exemplifies the…See More
Jan 17
Susan True updated their profile
Jan 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Art of Grace by Sarah Kaufman

Dance critic applies grace to every moveby Rob Neufeld             It’s nice to find just the right word for something, especially when it sums up a main idea in your way of thinking.            That was the case with Sarah Kaufman when she’d first felt moved, nine years ago, to write her new book, “The Art of Grace” (W.W.…See More
Jan 9
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Jan 9
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Jan 8
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Fire and Ice Roses interview with author/gardening blogger Kathryn Hall

Fire and Ice Roses has been interviewing gardening bloggers and gardening experts and were kind enough to include this short interview recently which was quite fun and very much appreciated! http://fireandiceroses.com/ask-an-expert-kathryn-hall/See More
Jan 5
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

History in the making, January 2, 2016

History in the making: items of note, January 2, 2016It was reported in today’s print edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times that a new state law went into effect, requiring people who’ve filed for unemployment benefits to make at least 5 job contacts a week.  It had been 2.  How will that work?  Are there that many jobs for which a person is qualified?  Can you apply to the same job twice if it continues to be listed? Paul Bonesteel, noted Asheville filmmaker, revealed on Facebook that a…See More
Jan 2
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Local event of the day, Jan 1 2016

Tarantino, eminent domain, and emancipation Tarantino comes to townQuentin Tarantino’s New Year’s gore and gabfest, The Hateful Eight, is gutted by New Yorker reviewer Anthony Lane, who says that Tarantino toys with rather than explores history, using it “for boyish fantasies of revenge, as if enormous crimes could be undone, after the event, by lone and wanton acts of humiliation.” …See More
Jan 1
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Railroad history in Western North Carolina: a close-up and bottom-line look

Railroads in WNC: the perils, the people, and the profitby Rob NeufeldWritten in conjunction with exhibit, "How The West Was Won," in Rural Heritage Museum, Mars Hill University PHOTO CAPTION: The entrance to the railroad show at the Rural Heritage Museum is commanded by a mock-up of Climax engine…See More
Dec 24, 2015

How the New Year’s bells rang and tolled

by Rob Neufeld

 

            On Jan. 1, 1890, the new Swannanoa Country Club—an outgrowth of the Swannanoa Hunt Club—hosted a fancy ball in the old Battery Park Hotel, which had occupied, since 1887, a hill that had sloped down to present-day Wall Street.

             The hunt club had once started their fox hunts on the hill, before barbed wire had become a boundary feature.

            Edwin Wiley Grove razed the hotel and graded the hill in 1923 to remake that end of the city into a retail district, starring the Grove Arcade.

            In later years, youths roved the passages linking the Arcade to Patton Ave. playing the street game, fox-and-hounds.

            Another of Asheville’s major landscape-changers, George Willis Pack, used the New Year, in 1901, to announce his donation of land to the county for a new courthouse—a Romanesque behemoth, now gone.  It came with a mandatory public park.

            The city was ecstatic.  “We salute George W, Pack!” the Asheville Citizen proclaimed.  Public Square was renamed Pack Square; and the library, Pack Memorial.

            Funds finally flowed for the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville at the start of 1949, after a long delay caused by military spending priorities. The Authority’s first project, Lee Walker Heights, tucked behind Southside Ave., was intended for veterans.

            Eighteen years later, the vision proved to be troubled, as families fought ghetto conditions—drugs, crime, landlord neglect, and exploitation.  Residents banded together with those from Hillcrest to stage one of the most notable Civil Rights actions in Asheville history, the rent strike of 1967.

            President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, declaring all slaves in rebellious states free.  Most African Americans who intended to leave would wait until the Federal Army occupied their regions at the end of the Civil War.

            On Jan. 1, 1837, John Ridge and other Cherokees left their homeland before the Federal troops arrived.   The members of the Treaty Party—those who had agreed, at New Echota on Dec. 29, 1835 to resettle out west—did not wait for the round-up and forced march that has become known as the “Trail of Tears.”

            New Year’s Day evicted patients and staff from Biltmore Hospital (formerly the Clarence Barker Memorial Hospital) in 1921 when fire consumed the main building.

The wings survived, and became nurses’ quarters.  A new hospital was constructed in 1929, and merged with Mission Hospital in 1947, before closing in 1951.  (Mission merged with St. Joseph’s on Jan. 1, 1996, by the way.)

            There may have been a child or two who gave their parents New Year’s greetings in the original Biltmore Hospital’s obstetrics ward, 1919-1920, but their names and lives go untold on this page.

            We do know that to Caroline Lane and Jesse Swain was born in Beaverdam (now part of Asheville) on Jan. 4, 1801 a boy named David Lowry Swain.  He was Caroline’s youngest child by a second marriage (her first husband had died in an Indian raid), and her 11th in all.

            David, named after his mother’s first husband, would become a state legislator at age 23; and Governor at 31.  For 32 years, he would serve as President of the University at Chapel Hill, resigning when Reconstruction politicians took over.  He wrote an eight-volume history of the “British Invasion of North Carolina in 1776.”

            Not long after the “British invasion,” and American victory, Daniel Smith, father of Swain’s friend, James McConnell Smith, went with William Davidson from Old Fort to the Swannanoa Valley to avenge the murder of William’s brother, Samuel, by Indians.  Samuel had crossed the Blue Ridge with his family before the land had been ceded to the U.S. by treaty.  Daniel, a noted “Indian killer,” carried a rifle he named “Long Tom,” which the Smith-McDowell House Museum owns.

            James McConnell Smith was born in a log cabin on the Swannanoa on “January 7, 1794,” F.A. Sondley writes in his “History of Buncombe County” (1930), “the first white child born in North Carolina west of the Blue Ridge.”

            The oft-quoted “first white child” fact has been disputed.  The birthdate, at any rate, is wrong.  June 14, 1787 is the date that the Smith-McDowell House and genealogists give for James’ advent.  Smith’s wife, Mary “Polly” Patton, was the one born on January 7—in the year 1794.  The Patton and Smith families were related by marriage, business, and government service.

 

PHOTO CAPTION

The old Battery Park Hotel built in 1887 by Col. Frank Coxe kicked off the year 1890 with a Hunt Club party.

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