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East Asheville history and sites

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Feb 27.

The German experience settling WNC 1 Reply

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History. Last reply by Scott Dockery Feb 16.



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Aim for Beauty

In honor of my blog Plant Whatever Brings You Joy's 10th Blogiversary I've posted a chapter from my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden. This particular chapter was also excerpted in Fairview's GreenPrints magazine, which was greatly appreciated. Read more here:…See More
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McCrumb ghost-opened world in The Unquiet Grave

McCrumb sees stories behind haunting ghost by Rob NeufeldPHOTO: Sharyn McCrumb and her dog Arthur, 2017.  Photo by Laura Palmer, courtesy, Sharyn McCrumb In “The Unquiet Grave,” Sharyn McCrumb once again demonstrates her mastery at turning a folktale into something larger, different, and greater.The legend of the…See More
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James Vestus Miller

­HISTORIC PHOTO James Vester Miller James Vester Miller had been a boy when his mother, a Rutherfordton slave, had responded to Emancipation by taking her three children to Asheville and getting a job as a cook in a boardinghouse—some say Julia Wolfe’s boardinghouse, Old Kentucky Home.  Growing up, Miller hung…See More
Aug 26
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Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Dave Minneman and a sense of justiceby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Dave Minneman doing research at Pack Memorial Library.  Photo by author.            “One of the biggest things I did as a kid, in order to escape my father,” Asheville resident Dave Minneman says of his 1960s and 70s rural Indiana childhood, “was…See More
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Dellinger's Mill, Hawk, Mitchell County

Meet the 4th generation miller of a historic millby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Triptych of Dellinger Mill and Jack Dellinger in his mill, showing the hopper, the 1859 waterwheel, bags of cornmeal, and the National Historic Place plaque.  Photos and composition by Henry Neufeld.            I had written about…See More
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FullSizeRender Lexie in the pillows

This is my little Lexie, a chihuahua mix who is tiny but so sweet. Here she is trying to sleep under my pillows. She is a burrower. Makes a great watch dog because she has a fierce bark.
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Tribute to Kathryn Stripling Byer at Jackson County Public Library, Sylva, NC

October 1, 2017 from 2pm to 4pm
On October 1, Sunday afternoon, 2 PM, at Jackson County  Library in the Community Room, NCWN and NCWN-West will honor the late Poet Laureate, Kathryn S. Byer . Everyone is invited to come. We will share her poetry and talk about her achievements and her legacy for writers and poets in NC. If Kay touched your life in some way, come and pay tribute to her. We all miss her and this is a way to share our mourning for losing her and show our appreciation for what she did for us. See More
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"On Saturday, September 9, 10:30 a.m., Richard Kraweic will teach a class at Writers Circle. He will teach how to organize a poetry book for publication. I know I need to learn that lesson. How about you?"
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"We have a memoir class going on now until the first Wednesday in September. Wish you could join us in a class at Writers Circle around the Table."
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East Asheville history and sites

A meaningful tour of East Asheville PHOTO CAPTION: View of Beverly Hills suburb, from a painting by Gibson Catlett that had once hung at subdivision offices.  Courtesy Special Collection, Ramsey Library, UNC Asheville.            I was walking in the Beverly Hills neighborhood the other day and noticed a few…See More
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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Gail Godwin’s latest crosses a mental boundary by Rob Neufeld Asheville author Gail Godwin, now a Woodstock, NY resident, comes back home here Wed., June 14 to present her new novel, “Grief Cottage” at Malaprop’s Bookstore, 7 p.m. “Grief Cottage” is the story of an orphaned, sensitive, troubled boy, named…See More
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Julia Nunnally Duncan Poetrio reading at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe

August 6, 2017 from 3pm to 4pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be a featured Poetrio poet at Malaprop's Bookstore/Café on Sunday, August 6, at 3 p.m. Julia will be reading from her new book A Part of Me. Fred Chappell says of A Part of Me: "Duncan's every reader will be reminded of some person, place, or time important to recall in a quiet hour."See More
Jul 28

Sunburst, a logging village, harbored a community

by Rob Neufeld


            Benjamin Blaylock, age fourteen, was working in a field two miles south of Canton on a June day in 1907 when a flying rock hit him in the head and killed him.

            The rock had come from a blasting operation of the Pigeon River Railway. 

            Two years earlier, Champion Coated Paper Company president Peter Thomson had engaged local attorney George Smathers to buy timber tracts along the Upper Pigeon.  Log transport, it was determined, could not be accomplished by wagon or water.

            A road bed had to be carved through the mountains with dynamite.  Reuben Robertson, Thomson’s son-in-law, went with Smathers to get right-of-ways from property owners. 

            Captain Terrrell in Bethel demanded a fair price for lost property.  Captain Ledbetter, a corn distributor, feared losing his market, and refused to yield.  In his “Memories of Champion Fibre Company,” Robertson recalls having to use “the railroad right of eminent domain in order to cross (Ledbetter’s) property.”

            Difficulties in buying tracts in the Balsam Mountains led Champion to move Sunburst, its logging community, four miles downriver to a new location, called “bastard Sunburst” by some locals.  Here, for a dozen years, a model village served as the home for five hundred residents and the gathering place for workers coming from logging camps in the region.

            Author Charles Frazier’s grandfather, Andrew Frazier, left South Carolina to work at Sunburst, which had gone into full operation after the railroad had reached it in 1913.  Getting his mail at the Lavinia Post Office one day, he spotted the postmistress’ daughter, Jessie Inman.  “He decided right away he was going to marry her,” recounts Phyllis Inman Barnett in her book, At the Foot of Cold Mountain.

            The post office, one mile north of Sunburst, was near Inman’s Chapel, established by Jessie’s grandfather, James Anderson Inman, a Universalist preacher.

            Homes in the backwoods logging camps were modules moved around by trains.  In Sunburst, the buildings were permanent, and had indoor plumbing and electricity.

            Barnett’s mother and aunt were born in Sunburst.

            Dr. Sam Stringfield served Sunburst and the camps, pumping a speeder—a bicycle that ran on the rails—to get to injured loggers at any time of the night or day.

           Joe Gaddy gave bootleggers rides to a moonshining factory in Canada, Jackson County by driving a locomotive to Camp 19.

            Mrs. Georgie MacAfee, an African American resident of Sunburst, slept in the kitchen of her parents’ house, and got up at 6 a.m. to make way for the workers boarding upstairs, who wanted breakfast.

           Tink Gibson, a mentally disabled man, went around with a hammer in his pocket, and would hit you if he felt you insulted him.  He was afraid of water, and you could scare him away with a glass of it.  He made deliveries of mail and moonshine on request, and froze to death one night on a trip to Canada.

           The schoolhouse became so popular, Mrs. Frank Battles had to move her first grade class to a room under the town jail.  She kept an eye on her children in the yard to make sure they didn’t get run over by nearby train cars.

           Activity in Sunburst ceased after the clear-cutting of the mountains and a bad fire.  Champion flooded the abandoned buildings by building a dam to control water flow for its downriver mill.  The dam created Lake Logan, now the site of the Lake Logan Episcopal Center.



The information for this article was derived from At the Foot of Cold Mountain by Phyllis Inman Barnett (2008); Sonoma—Valley of the Moon: Sunburst by Hugh K. Terrell’s eight grade class, Bethel Junior High School (1978); and Past, Present, Future: How the Lake Logan Episcopal Center Came to Be.



Homes and buildings surround the log pond at the Sunburst mill and village in Haywood County, c. 1915.

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