Affiliated Networks



Latest Activity

Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Spooks Branch, a human history story

Spooks Branch was a singular place in settlers’ loreby Rob NeufeldImportant editorial note:This is a significant historical story that is also, in parts, personal and controversial.  It is about a few families who settled a particular cove and played out their heroic and complex legacies in ways that interacted with place and time.  You don't read this kind of story much because people don't like to expose themselves or stir up trouble, even a little.  This caution makes history classes boring…See More
Dawn Trowell Jones updated their profile
Nov 24
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Nov 21
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Rise of Asheville by Marilyn Ball

History of the "Asheville 1000" and the 1970s renaissance                       Let’s not miss the history of Asheville’s renaissance, Marilyn Ball’s new book, “The Rise of Asheville,” advocates.            She’d come here in 1977, making her one of the advance guard of “artists, entrepreneurs, and off-the-grid…See More
Nov 20
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Century-ago woman's apple cake recipe

Mmm, them apples in Beaverdam coveIn 1972, Helen Nelon wrote about the traditions of old-time Spooks Branch, off Beaverdam Road.  Here's what she said about her use of apples in a cake.(The full story of Spooks Branch will appear soon.)There were apples for delicious cider cooled in the spring "dreem" (drain), apples for frying for cold winter days, and for special days there were dried apple sauce fruit cakes.These cakes were made of very thin, sweet dough with dried apple sauce spread between…See More
Nov 18
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Nov 16
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Dignity is the key to Richard Russo's inspiration

So funny, and yet so exposing--Richard Russo's geniusSnakes on the lane            In Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Empire Falls, the protagonist, Miles recalls the time his father, driving, had accelerated into a box on a highway.  “What if that box had been full of rocks?” Miles asks.  Unfazed, Max quizzes his son about what he would do about the box.  Max says he'd stop and look in it,  “What if it was full of rattlesnakes? “ his father asks.            The verbal match…See More
Nov 14
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Nov 13
Rob Neufeld commented on Mark de Castrique's video
Nov 12
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Humanize the history--especially with Civil War--writes acclaimed author

Writer illuminates tangled web of Civil Warby Rob Neufeld             David Madden has written a book, “The Tangled Web of the Civil War and Reconstruction,” that deserves special attention.            First, there’s Madden’s background.  In 1992, he founded the U.S. Civil War Center in New…See More
Nov 12
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Nov 11
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Nov 10
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Coming attraction--Singleton at Malaprop's & City Lights for Calloustown

George Singleton's latest collection of stories, Calloustown...features the folk who try to survive in a place that has little to offer besides a Finger Museum and a taxidermy petting zoo,It's funny, but also tragic and angry.  The review, "Love-hate humor cries in Calloustown," appears in the Asheville Citizen-Times, Sunday, 11/15/2015.  Singleton's at Malaprop’s Bookstore, 7 p.m., Wed., Nov. 18; and at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21.Here's an excerpt from the…See More
Nov 10
Lockie Hunter posted an event

Juniper Bends Quarterly Reading at DownTown Books & News

November 13, 2015 from 7pm to 8pm
Our very special Autumnal edition starts at 7PM and is sure to be a lively and vibrant set, with featured writers Randi Janelle, Tina FireWolf, Logan Parker, and Annabelle Crowe. Two of our readers have new books out, and as always there is wine flowing by donation. Hosts Lockie Hunter and Caroline Wilson look forward to seeing you there----remember, your wellbeing depends upon it.See More
Nov 9
Martha Arrowood Pelc posted a photo

Love and Mercy ~ Up On Roan Mountain

My family lived and loved up on Roan Mountain and in the surrounding mountain areas, and this is their story. It's woven into a tapestry that weaves down through the years, before the days of the Civil War and up to present day. They were…
Nov 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

It's All Relative--50 WNC women write about family

Family life as perceived by 50 WNC authorsby Rob Neufeld             If you have biases against small press books or anthologies of local writers’ work, I recommend you lay them aside and take a look at “It’s All Relative” (Stone Ivy Press), 52 stories and poems by 50 WNC women authors writing about family.           …See More
Nov 6

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.




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.

Views: 464

Reply to This

© 2015   Created by Rob Neufeld.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service