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Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25.

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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Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Cherokee and WNC music and dance events

Two Big Cultural Events in December in Hendersonville & Ashevillefrom press releaseThe Center for Cultural Preservation, WNC’s cultural history and documentary film center, presents, Cherokee Music and Dance on Thursday, December 7, 7 p.m., Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium.  Tickets are $5. The screening of A Great American Tapestry will be held on December 2, 2 p.m., at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Reuter Center, UNC Asheville.  Tickets for that event are…See More
Wednesday
Spellbound posted events
Nov 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Battery Park Hill through the ages

Battery Park through the Years by Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTIONS: 1) Present-day view of Battery Park Apartments from…See More
Nov 6
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post
Oct 13
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

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
Oct 8
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at MACA Authors' Booth

October 14, 2017 from 9:30am to 1:30pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be signing her new books A Part of Me and A Place That Was Home at the Mountain Glory Festival in downtown Marion on Saturday, October 14, from 9:30-1:30. She will be located at the MACA Authors' booth on Main Street.See More
Oct 7
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Sample 8 Great Smokies Writers at Malaprop’s, Oct. 15

Writers in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP)read atMalaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 3 p.m., Sun.,Oct. 15 Elizabeth Lutyens, editor of the GSWP’s Great Smokies Review, leads the Prose Master Class and will host the reading. ·        Ellen Carr, who works in the financial industry, will read excerpts from her novel of uneasy relationships, Unmanned. ·        Sarah Carter, an artist and photographer who will publish an excerpt of her novel, Jolene, Joe-Pye,…See More
Oct 6
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

The Douglas Ellington effect: An Appreciationby Rob NeufeldIMAGE: Douglas Ellington’s original drawing for a City Hall-County Courthouse Art Deco complex.            “Dear Douglas,” Kenneth Ellington wrote his brother, the 38-year old Pittsburgh architect, on May 6, 1925, “I know things are…See More
Oct 6
Mark de Castrique posted a blog post

How To Kill Your Reader

Danger is a crucial element in a mystery novel. A killer is on the loose and no one is safe. But sometimes the killer can be the writer, and the victim, the reader.I'm talking about when the author turns into a preacher and the story becomes a sermon. Now I am not against using a mystery novel for social commentary. Writing doesn't happen in a moral vacuum, and, after all, isn't a mystery a morality play? As fellow North Carolina author Margaret Maron said there is no topic that can't be dealt…See More
Oct 5
Mark de Castrique posted a video

Hidden Scars - A Sam Blackman Mystery

Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson investigate a 70-year-old death that unleashes a killer.
Oct 3
Mark de Castrique posted a discussion

Black Mountain College as Backdrop for Mystery

My new book, HIDDEN SCARS, is released Oct 3rd.  D.G. Martin notes the star of the story is Black Mountain College.  http://chapelboro.com/town-square/columns/one-on-one/one-one-lost-college-still-shinesSee More
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Upcoming book--Sacred Sites for Secular Times

Sacred Sites for Secular Times: 50 Commemorative Experiences in Western North Carolina by Rob Neufeld              Among the many sites dedicated to history, there are some—both overbooked and overlooked—that provide full and moving experiences.  They involve a physical component, connecting to landscape; an imaginative one, entering other times and minds; and an interactive one, maintaining relevance.             The entries in this book help create full experiences through descriptive…See More
Sep 25
Susan Weinberg posted events
Sep 22
Susan Weinberg shared their event on Facebook
Sep 22
Susan Weinberg shared their event on Facebook
Sep 22
Kathryn Hall posted a blog post

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: http://plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com/aim-for-beauty/…See More
Sep 11

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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