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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.

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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
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
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
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Explore the Landscapes of Story and Telling at Lenoir-Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies

January 23, 2019 at 10am to February 27, 2019 at 12pm
A Storytelling Offering in Asheville, NCWednesday Mornings 10am-12pmJanuary 23 – February 27, 2019 This winter Connie is excited to offer a learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville, NC at Lenoir-Rhyne University for six story-work sessions with a weekly format that allows for skills to grow over time while encouraging a consistency in discovering, revisiting and refining your stories. During these weekly sessions participants are invited…See More
Nov 6
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Explore the Landscapes of Story & Telling at Lenoir-Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies

January 23, 2019 at 10am to February 27, 2019 at 12pm
A Storytelling Offering in Asheville, NCWednesday Mornings 10am-12pmJanuary 23 – February 27, 2019 This winter Connie is excited to offer a learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville, NC at Lenoir-Rhyne University for six story-work sessions with a weekly format that allows for skills to grow over time while encouraging a consistency in discovering, revisiting and refining your stories. During these weekly sessions participants are invited…See More
Oct 28
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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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
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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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
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Let’s say every word is precious

Let’s say every word is precious (Part of Living Poem) Let’s say every word is precious.Say every word is precious.Every word is precious.Every word precious.Every word.Word.--Rob Neufeld, Oct. 16, 2018See More
Oct 17
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Oct 12
Nancy Sutton replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Metamorphoses
"Poignant in so many ways!   "
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses (Part of Living Poem)Hear audio: Metamorphoses%20181004_0192.MP3 So Apollo committed the first rape.He’d come back from exterminating Python,The Bane of Humanity, now his arrow-victim,And stopped to mock…See More
Oct 2
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

First Drumbeat

First Drumbeat(Part of Living Poem) The time has come.Call it a drum,Or a crumb,What’s left of life. I used to tell a jokeWhen my life was wide,And I was a stud,And not a dud—I knowI’m not a dud.  I’m a dude,A dad.  But everyone mustRebut the dud chargeAt summing up time. Oh yeah, the joke,A trademark one for meIn that it’s not funny. I used to say I’ll never retireFrom writingBecause if I’m ever…See More
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks for the prompt, Joan!  I have attached the whole work in progress as a doc at the bottom of the table of contents page: http://thereadonwnc.ning.com/special/living-poem"
Sep 22
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Is there a way from this website to print everything or might you send me such a document to bayjh@icloud.com?"
Sep 22
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event
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Julia Nunnally Duncan at Marion Branch McDowell County Public Library

October 24, 2018 from 4pm to 5pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be launching her new poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes (Finishing Line Press, 2018) at a book presentation and signing to be held at the McDowell County Public Library in Marion on October 24.See More
Sep 21

The Highland Messenger, Asheville's first newspaper, sought to improve the masses

Asheville first newspaper: a fascinating example of bad journalism

by Rob Neufeld

 

            “Our section of the country has been visited with an unusual flood of rain during the past week,” reported the Highland Messenger, Asheville’s first newspaper, as it launched its first issue, June 5, 1840.    It was the biggest downpour in 40 years.  Consequently, the editors noted, “We have had no mail from the east.”

            Editors Rev. David R. McAnaly, a Presbyterian minister, and Joshua Roberts depended on news from outside to edify their readership.

            We “shall do all in our power to benefit our readers,” they avowed, “to improve the mind and morals—to enable the ignorant to learn and the wise to improve their recollections.”

            Ministers held big sway over communities.  Women turned to them to temper drunkenness.  Upwardly mobile families turned to them for their children’s education.  Communities turned to them for social order.

            On June 16, the Highland Messenger noted ten days later, McAnaly presided over the equivalent of a royal marriage in these parts, that of Nicholas Woodfin to Eliza McDowell, daughter of Col. Charles McDowell.

 

Sentiment and bias

 

            In a literary style brimming with sanctimony, the Highland Messenger reiterated the sentiments of the Raleigh Register regarding their vision of family values.

“A Mother’s influence!  Alas!  I fear my feeble pen can but ill acquit itself of the task of portraying one of the most powerful, holiest, of all earthly influences.”

            In the political arena, the editors professed objectivity, but clearly supported Gen. William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate for president, against Martin Van Buren, the Democratic incumbent.

            Presidential politics had only recently become two-party; and 1840 marked the first modern-style campaign.  The Highland Messenger helped defend Harrison against charges that he’d sold “poor white men for debt.”  It raised alarms about Van Buren wanting to support a standing, peacetime army.

 

News in the ads

 

            Locally, the editors promoted Asheville with the kind of hype generally associated with the post-railroad era forty years later. 

            “The road (the Buncombe Turnpike) is good—very good,” the newspaper stated.  It’s the best passage within a 100-mile radius.  The region “is the most healthy, romantic, and in many respects desirable to be found in the United States.”  Asheville has got six dry goods stores, two groceries, two hotels, and two academies.

            Only “criminal apathy” will prevent Asheville from growing rapidly and becoming wealthy.  Occasionally, hard news crept in, sometimes through ads, to confirm this opinion.

            That summer, R. Deaver let people know that his hotel, Sulphur Springs, was “in excellent repair, and open to accommodate from one hundred and fifty, to two hundred persons.”  Bath houses, stables, and enlarged rooms were available.

            And there were discomforting notices.

            The estate of William T. Coleman was selling off all of his possessions, including his store goods, and horses and carriages.

            The town had jailed “a Negro man, about 35 years old…who says his name is Henry.”  He’d left home in Chatham County with “a mulatto boy named Toney.”  The owner is requested to come forward and pay the retrieval fee.

            That item appeared every week for a few weeks; as did one in which Daniel Payne plaintively noted that his yellow sorrel horse had been stolen from John Love’s stable in Haywood County.

            It has got “a pretty large blaze in his face, extending to his mouth,” Payne said.  “His hind legs (are) both white, with wind-galls on the ancles; he is about fifteen hands and a half high—very heavy bodied, with a beautiful ear, head and neck…one of his hips is a little lower than the other…I swapped for him four years ago…I have since rode him on the Blairsville, Lafayette, and Spring Place Circuits.”

 

Curdled words

 

            Only a couple of years after the Trail of Tears, the Highland Messenger took a moral stand against broken treaties,

            “We are informed on good authority,” the editors reported on July 24, 1840, “that between nine hundred and a thousand of these deluded beings (Cherokees), are still hovering about the homes of their fathers, in the counties of Macon and Cherokee.  It is also stated, that they are a great annoyance to the citizens of those counties, who have been induced to purchase the lands at a high price under the firm belief that the Treaty would be strictly complied with, in the removal of all the Indians. 

            “The citizens,” the writers continued righteously, “have petitioned the President of the United States to have them removed…(but) he has returned them the following answer: that ‘they (the Indians) are, in his opinion, free to go or stay.’  Thus saying…what he has…said to the citizens of the whole United States, ‘you are in the habit of looking for too much from the General Government.’”

            So there were the old contradictions: federal peacetime army, bad; federal interference with Cherokees, good

            The Whig candidate, Harrison, was famous for falsely promoting his log cabin origins.  Parties clamored for a populist image, and the Highland Messenger reflected this in their humorous anecdotes.

            A miller asks a fool what he knows and doesn’t, one joke goes.  “I know that millers have fat hogs,” he says.  “I don’t know whose corn they eat.”

            Finally, there’s the issue of grabbing sensational stories and not doing enough fact-checking.

            The newspaper passed on the news sent by the Sydney (Australia) Herald that Capt. Charles Wilkes on the U.S. ship Vincennes had discovered the continent of Antarctica.

            As has been revisited by Nathaniel Philbrick in his compelling 2003 book of history, “Sea of Glory,” Wilkes had been a brutal tyrant who’d promoted himself to captain, faced a mutiny and a court-martial, and falsified the date of his landing to discredit British explorer James Ross.  His greater achievements as a nautical surveyor comprise another story, and one with a less flashy headline.

MORE INFO

Early issues of the Highland Messenger, the first newspaper to be published in Asheville, are now available in the North Carolina Newspapers project at digitalnc.org. The Highland Messenger was nominated for digitization by Buncombe County Public Libraries.

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