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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Carolina Mtns Lit Fest & Ann Patchett interview

Patchett, Kingsolver, and a thrill of writers buzz Burnsvilleby Rob Neufeld             If you take any pleasure or have any interest in literature, you’ll want to be in Burnsville this Friday and Saturday for the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival.            The variety of programs—talks, readings, workshops, performances—are great, as is the variety of subjects; and the 34 presenters are well-chosen.            The Saturday night program, with novelists Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett,…See More
16 hours ago
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash, and talk with author

Rash’s suspense novel gives time to poetryby Rob Neufeld             Ron Rash’s new novel, “Above the Waterfall,” weds a contemporary thriller with a portrayal of people tapping an ancient way of being.             A fish kill precipitates the story involving fishing rights, a crystal meth epidemic, and two reeling…See More
yesterday
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Saturday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson reveals how surreal emotions areby Rob Neufeld             Adam Johnson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Orphan Master’s Son,” comes to Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, 7 p.m., Fri., Sept. 4 to present his new book of short stories, “Fortune Smiles.”            The stories are remarkable…See More
Aug 23
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Leanne Brown will Present Her Cookbook at City Lights Bookstore

September 4, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8pm
Leanne Brown will visit City Lights Bookstore to present her cookbook on Friday, September 4th at 6:30 p.m. Her book, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day is designed for those on the strictest of budgets, particularly those on the U.S. food stamp budget. This book is great, though, for anyone wanting to eat really well cheaply. Good and Cheap features tips on shopping and kitchen equipment, and more than a hundred easy, flexible recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To reserve a copy,…See More
Aug 22
Spellbound updated an event
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September Teen Book Club at Spellbound Children's Bookshop

September 18, 2015 from 6pm to 7pm
Our new monthly book club for teens meets the third Friday of each month, 6:00-7:00PM. A different book will be discussed at each meeting, and will cover a variety of genres. No purchase is required to attend, but if you do plan to buy the book, we’d appreciate your support of Spellbound as the hosting store! All book club selections are 20% off until the day of the meeting.September's title: SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE by Marcus Sedgwick.See More
Aug 22
Spellbound posted events
Aug 21
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Betty Smith at Hendersonville culture event September 17

Center Kicks Off New Series With A BangNew “Keeping the Fires Burning Series” Launches With Betty Smith and Songcatcher (from press release) (HENDERSONVILLE, NC, August 18, 2015) – The Center for Cultural Preservation, is pleased to announce the launch of its second season of its popular public program series KEEPING THE FIRES BURNING- Heroes of Mountain Culture.  The series features musicians, authors and heritage preservation leaders who are working to keep mountain culture alive.  The…See More
Aug 21
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Pam Durban, author of Soon, gripping, psychological, Southern stories

Pam Durban: Facing reality with a wide-open eyeby Rob Neufeld             John Updike honored Pam Durban’s story, “Soon,” by selecting it for his anthology, “The Best American Short Stories of the Century.”  Now, it’s one of 11 included in Durban’s new volume, also titled “Soon.”            “Soon,” the short story, is a marvel…See More
Aug 21
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Aug 19
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Mary Joyce Returns with a New Book at City Lights Bookstore

September 12, 2015 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Sylva author, Mary Joyce will return to City Lights Bookstore on Saturday, September 12th at 3 p.m. to present her latest book.Underground Military Bases Hidden in North Carolina Mountains compiles information gathered by Joyce over several years about secret military facilities in North Carolina. The information about the secret bases is mostly from those with military, law enforcement and high-security backgrounds plus citizens who have stumbled upon evidence. Joyce is also the author…See More
Aug 18
Bill Ramsey posted an event

North Carolina Writer's Network Fall Conference at Asheville Doubletree Hilton

August 20, 2015 to August 22, 2015
When did you last attended a top quality and affordable writer's conference? The North Carolina Writer's Network is returning to western North Carolina. Membership in the Network is encouraged but not required to attend this event. For more info:http://www.ncwriters.org/2014-01-07-18-05-50/conferencesSee More
Aug 15
katherine soniat posted photos
Aug 12
Rob Neufeld commented on Joe Epley's blog post Speaking about the American Revollution in the Carolinas
"See Joe's website, Epley Writes, including about his novel, A Passel of Hate,"
Aug 12
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

R.T. Smith--Rachel-Rivers Coffey Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing at App State

R.T. Smith, poet, story-writer, and founder of Cold Mountain Review, honored with App State roleSee notice of new book at Washington & Lee U.fROM PRESS RELEASEBOONE—Writer R.T. (Rod) Smith has been named the 2015-16 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing at Appalachian State University. Smith will lead an eight-week colloquium during fall semester for students in Appalachian’s creative writing…See More
Aug 12
Pat Meece Davis posted videos
Aug 9

Biltmore Forest’s Downton Abbey spirits add a chapter

by Rob Neufeld

 

            “Ruth, I want to go back home,” 93-year-old Bessie Reeves told her great-niece, Ruth Bailey, when Ruth visited her at the Deerfield Retirement Community in 1970.  Bessie yearned for her former life on White Oak Road in Biltmore Forest.

            White Oak Road had been the first street on which home owners had built homes after Edith Vanderbilt had sold nearly 1,500 acres of the Biltmore Estate to a development company in 1920. 

            The builders, D. Hiden Ramsey wrote in a 1925 booklet, “wished to create and abide in a community where persons of moderate means could build homes that would embody on a smaller scale the same ideals which actuated Mr. Vanderbilt in the creation of the Biltmore Estate.”

            Bessie and her maiden sister, Ethel, lived at 11 White Oak, and, through the Depression, hosted neighborhood women in cards-and-cocktails, aided by their servants. 

            Rita Rees, an unmarried member of the tannery-owning Hans Rees family came; as did Alice Connally Cheesborough, whose husband, Dr. Thomas Cheesborough had died in 1937.

            As a young woman, Bessie had accompanied wealthy women to England, and came back with a British accent.  You can imagine her saying to Ruth, in the voice of Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess in “Downton Abbey,” “Oh, Ruthie, I wish you could have as much fun as I had as a bride in Asheville, but you never will.”

            The Reeves family was related to the Rutledges of Charleston, extending a lifestyle line from England to antebellum Charleston, Flat Rock, Victorian era Montford, and Biltmore Forest.

            Bessie died at the age of 101.  A subsequent owner of her home, not given to belief in the occult, attested to her lingering presence.

           “One night,” he said, “one of us had placed a candle down on the grouting” of a tile countertop he and his wife had had installed.  “The next morning, I walked in the kitchen, saw the candle, and walked over to the sink.  Something told me to turn around; and I did, just in time to see the candle go up in an arc and down to the floor.”

            Ethel, who had preceded Bessie in death, has been heard wandering around at night looking for the door from her bedroom to the bathroom.  A renovation had walled off Ethel’s entrance.

            As Mr. Carson, the butler at Downton Abbey, has noted, servants sometimes end up being more attached to their mansions than their owners, and are likely to haunt the places after they’ve passed away.

            At 17 White Oak, a genial, old he-ghost has been seen frequenting what had been the home of Sarah Fotterill Potter Coxe, the fifth member of Bessie Reeves’ card-playing group. 

            Bailey recalled, in a 2000 interview, sleeping in the front bedroom of that house as a five-year-old and seeing a man “climb through a window with a cot under his arm,” and set up to sleep there.  She asked the man to leave, and he did.

            A later resident seemed to have an encounter with the same spirit.  “I came into one of the front bedrooms,” the new owner said, “and sensed …an older gentleman, 5’2”, white hair, mostly bald, about 105 pounds, with pleasant features” communicating with him.

           "This is going to be where your girls are going to live,” the spirit said, acknowledging that his presence would “not be pleasant for them.  I’ll leave.”

           Sallie Middleton, the late artist and niece of architect, Douglas Ellington, saw a less pleasant ghost when she had gone to buy 16 White Oak, the former residence of Alice Cheesborough.  Her description of a woman with graying red hair, a slight build, and nervous habits matched  Mrs. Cheesborough’s live-in housekeeper, Alma, whom Mrs. Cheesborough had called “the old spook” for her disapproving glances. 

            Alma had been proud of her status as keeper of decorum in the Cheesborough household, and was aggrieved when Middleton’s entrance displaced her from the largest bedroom into the smallest. 

            One day, Alma’s ghost departed—at the same time that the butler had made his final exit from the house across the street.   Some say that the two servants discovered they could commiserate; and the association developed into a post-corporeal romance.

 

PHOTO CAPTION

 

Wedding party for Jessie Merrick and Alfred S. Barnard, c. 1900, photo taken at Lindsey’s Art Parlor.

Top row (l to r): Unidentified man; Vance Brown; Detta Merrick.  Middle row: Philip Cocke; perhaps a Miss West; Julia Atkinson; Elmer E. or William R. Heston.  Bottom row: Bonnie Reeves; Erwin Sluder; Bessie Reeves; unidentified man; Haywood Parker; and perhaps Nina Johnson.

Photo courtesy N.C. Collection, Pack Memorial Library.

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