Asheville’s Landing Strips

We recently returned from St. Petersburg, FL to Asheville on Allegiant Airways. One hour and twenty minutes. No stops. Lovely.   We had a clear day and were able to identify a number of landmarks as we came in for our (on-time) landing. It made me wonder about the earlier days of flying in this mountain city, and the North Carolina Room was again a font of information, particularly pictorial.


Asheville’s first landing strip was on what was known as Baird’s Bottom, the land that was later flooded to create Beaver Lake which is owned and maintained by the North Asheville residents of Lake View Park.


Henry Westall preparing to take off from Baird’s Bottom June 19, 1919

Above, on June 19, 1919 Henry Westall prepares to take off from Baird’s Bottom in his plane the Asheville. Westall was an army Signal Corps pilot in World War I and started a commercial aviation business here in 1919 with shares selling for 50 dollars each. He purchased a surplus Canadian training plane and some parts, and “voila” the Asheville Aerial Corporation was in business. Rides over Asheville were available for 15 dollars, a hefty sum at the time. Also in 1919 Westall was the first aviator to fly over the Blue Ridge. It took him less than an hour to fly from Asheville to Morganton, NC. The rest of the story, is hearsay, but interesting. Henry Westall only flew for about 18 months, and on his last flight, after landing, he kissed the wing of his plane, and never flew again.

The second landing strip was Dillingham Field established in 1920 when Scott Dillingham turned a cornfield in Haw Creek into an airfield. Dillingham bought Henry Westall’s plane, hired a pilot, and also went into the passenger flying business. His organization flew people over Asheville for two dollars (which is a pretty serious reduction from Westall’s charge of 15 dollars).


3-passenger (AVRO British) plane on the ground

Here Scott Dillingham and others stand in and around a three-passenger British built plane. The pig (in the center of the photo) was a present for the Asheville police force from the Waynesville police force (another day’s story).


Emma Air Park with Mrs. Vance Spivey in aviator’s clothing.

Our next “airport” was Emma Air Park a 14 acre tract of land located about a half mile west of Emma. Mrs. Vance Spivey in aviator’s clothing looks to board one of the small planes to her left. On January 24, 1928, Harry Brooks, Henry Ford’s test pilot, attempted to fly from Ford Field in Dearborn, Michigan to Miami, Florida. This first long distance attempt in the Ford Flivver landed short in a forced landing at Emma Air Park in Asheville although Brooks did set a non-stop distance record in his small, single seat, 36 horsepower plane. The Detroit craft flew 790 miles on 20 gallons of gas. Harry Brooks was killed in a crash in 1929 and his death, along with the depression, caused Henry Ford to pull out of the business of manufacturing airplanes.


Taken from a Piper J2 Cub NC 17984 (40 hp), which is landing at Owen Field in West Asheville, 1940s.

Owen Field in West Asheville was our next airport. Owen airport was originally called Carrier Field from the days when it was used for horse racing. It was renamed for Dr. James E. Owen, a local dentist and old-time barnstorming aviator. After the airport closed, the Asheville Speedway was built on the site opening as a dirt track in 1961 and paved for the 1962 season. The Speedway closed after the 1999 season and the land was converted to a city recreational place that we enjoy today as Carrier Park.

As early as 1925 the Asheville Chamber of Commerce recognized the possibilities for tourism and appointed a committee to research areas for a future airport. In 1936 a government consortium (Asheville and Hendersonville) purchased the land for a commercial airport. From 1943-1947 The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers operated the airport. During this time, the Federal Works Progress Administration spent $170,000 to build runways. Known as the Asheville/Hendersonville airport or sometimes “Lakeside Airport” it was located in the Arden/Fletcher area where larger tracts of flat land were available. Delta, Capital and Piedmont Airlines all flew into this air field.

An aerial view of the Asheville/Hendersonville airport taken in March of 1950. Note the crisscross runways and passenger building in center with a commercial plane pulled up in front. Numbers of small planes also dot the field.


Bingham aerial photo of Asheville-Hendersonville “Airport, March 1950.” View from the west. Two strips, Airport & Fanning Bridge Rds. Rooftop advertising for Esso (fuel) and Stinson (planes).

The Asheville/Hendersonville airport runway as a plane taxis in. March 1950.


Western North Carolina’s first Wing Scout troop at the Asheville-Hendersonville Airport, 1950

This is Western North Carolina’s first Wing Scout troop at the airport in a ceremony on March 12 of 1950 as the scouts received their pins. The troop was led by Ms. Anne Shields (second from right) who trained fighter pilots during World War II. Note the Capital Airlines plane in the background.

By the late 1950’s air travel was increasingly popular and there was need for a yet larger airport with longer runway capacity to handle the bigger, speedier aircraft. Another tract of land was purchased – this one about three miles to the west of the earlier Asheville/Hendersonville airport.


Billboard announcing construction of the Asheville Airport to open in 1960.

A proud billboard announces construction of the new Asheville Airport to open in 1960.


Asheville Airport main terminal under construction.

The airport under construction in 1960.


“The new Asheville Airport, Showing the Terminal Building and a Delta Airliner, Fletcher NC”. Post card not dated.

In January 1961, just a few months late, the new Asheville Regional Airport opened. The airport continues to grow with its traditional carriers – Delta, United and US Airways and by adding new carriers like Allegiant.

Interiors are continuously updated and refurbished and as the Asheville Citizen Times reported on July 19, 2014 the airport is “poised for growth.”  During the next five years the runway will be replaced and a taxiway added.  As a spokesperson for the airport stated; “this is the biggest construction project since the airport was built and opened in 1961.”

Posted by Lynne Poirier-Wilson, Volunteer




For nearly 30 years, a captured German cannon sat beside the base of the Vance Monument in Pack Square. Then one night in 1942, it mysteriously disappeared. Here is its story.


In the early morning of Nov. 11, 1918, Company I of the 321st U.S. Infantry engaged in one of World War I’s final battles near Verdun in France. Veterans of the battle included Asheville residents Theodore Sumner and Leftwich Ramsey, who gave thrilling accounts of that day. They reported that three German machine gun nests targeted them; they threw themselves onto the ground to avoid the bullets of field rifles and cannon fire.   Forty-seven men were wounded and fifteen killed during the fight. But during the battle, two platoons crept through a swamp until they reached one of the cannons and took possession of it. This helped the soldiers hold their ground until, an hour and a half later, all fighting ceased. The war was over.

The commanding officer, Col. Dan Adams of Old Fort, ordered the men to lift the 3,000 pound cannon out of the swamp and onto a wagon. Mules pulled it across France until it was eventually dismantled and crated to be shipped home with the soldiers.  Army policy dictated that such equipment should remain in France. However, the cases went uninspected and so the cannon arrived safely at Fort Jackson, SC. The soldiers who brought it home were then mustered out of the army, leaving it behind. They didn’t forget the German cannon, though. When Col. Frank Halsted visited Asheville, former soldiers Sumner, Ramsey and Adams recruited him to accompany them to South Carolina to retrieve it.   According to reports, Col. Halsted used the full authority of his rank to humble the young lieutenant serving as officer of the day at Fort Jackson.  Subsequently, the cannon was transferred from a warehouse to a truck and then to the railroad car that brought it over the mountains to Asheville.

The men gave the captured German cannon to the city to serve as a monument to the heroes of the Great War. But how would the City of Asheville manage this unexpected gift? Clippings in the Pack Library Newspaper File Collection indicate that there was no consensus. An Asheville Citizen article from Aug. 19, 1920 reported plans were being made for a concrete base to support the cannon, but goes on to say that “details of the mounting have not been fully determined,” and “the exact location is yet to be decided upon.”   An article published on February 24, 1922 referred to discussion of the cannon “precipitating volleys and salvos of debate.” “A permanent foundation is to be built somewhere, somehow, sometime,” but meanwhile, “the old gun has been standing in the rear of the courthouse yard, having been forcibly ejected from the shelter of the county garage several weeks ago.”

One year later, veterans groups took this “point of controversy” to the city commissioners and received approval to place the cannon on Pack Square. They had collected $1,000 to pay for its mounting. On April 23, 1923, a plan submitted by architect Arnold H. Vanderhoof was accepted. His design put the cannon at the base of the Vance Monument and was “constructed from gray stone of similar texture.” The installation was completed but apparently some rancor persisted. An article that appeared on January 19, 1924 reported that the final piece, a bronze tablet commemorating the soldiers’ bravery, was placed beside the cannon. However, there was no ceremony to mark the event “owing to the length of time that it has taken to erect the monument and also owing to the fact that a small sum to meet the expense of the mounting had to be raised.” It seems that a payment of $73.00 was due.

The German cannon sat on Pack Square facing down Patton Avenue for nearly three decades. After the controversy concerning its placement subsided, newspaper stories retold its history periodically, celebrating the heroism of the soldiers who brought it home. The cannon was a familiar sight to Asheville residents. But then it disappeared, twice.


The first time the cannon disappeared was in August, 1942. A newspaper article on August 26 reported that during the previous week, the cannon had been donated to the Buncombe County salvage committee. It was then taken to the army service command depot at Biltmore for shipment to a steel furnace.   Col. Adams protested loudly, sparking “widespread debate,” which resulted in the return of the cannon to its base on Pack Square. The reprieve was short lived, however.

The cannon’s second disappearance was reported on October 29, 1942. In the dark of night, it was removed from Pack Square, never to be seen again. Who took it and where it went remain mysteries. However, a note left in its place reveals its probable fate:

Dear Folks of Buncombe County:

You won’t find me in my accustomed place in Pack Square today. The time has come for me to bid you farewell. My life’s story of heroic adventure is now a glorious tradition in this community. You all know me well. I am the old German cannon of World War I that occupied this spot of honor in your beautiful city for 23 years.

Although made in Germany I became a loyal American citizen. This is a wonderful country—the home of the brave and the free—and I love it more than anything else in the world.

That is why I am leaving you—never to return. There is another World War on, fellow citizens, and this time I am on your side. I am made of iron and steel and Uncle Sam needs me.

I have gone to join your boys who are fighting to preserve your freedom and way of life. They need me and I cannot fail them in this critical hour.

If we all do our duty we can save not only America but civilization itself.

Goodbye and God bless you all.



Blog post by Laura Gaskin

The audit of the Asheville Police Department’s Evidence Room, here for your inspection

jon with APD audit

Jon Ellison in the North Carolina Room with the APD audit. July 2014. Photo by librarian Lyme Kedic.

The audit of the Asheville Police Department’s Evidence Room:

When news broke in early 2011 that a significant number of sensitive items — drugs, guns and money — was missing from the Asheville Police Department’s Evidence Room, a public-records battle began.

Now, more than three years later, that struggle has been resolved. A full copy of the extensive but incomplete audit of the room is finally available — in the North Carolina Room on paper, and online via digital copies published by Carolina Public Press [].

(Full disclosure: I work as a reporter and editor for CPP, an Asheville-based news service, and volunteer on the board of the Friends of the North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library.)

Asheville City Council commissioned the audit, a review of what might have been stolen from the room, soon after the scandal erupted. It cost $175,000 in public funds, and wound up finding that we’ll probably never know just how much evidence was pilfered, given the extent of the disarray in the evidence room.

We learned that only recently, as the audit was off-limits to the public for about three years. After the recent sentencing of former APD Evidence Room Manager Lee Smith, who pled guilty to stealing drugs and is slated to serve 10 months in federal prison, Buncombe District Attorney Ron Moore released the document.

Some backstory over the public-records issues: In 2012, a coalition of local media outlets, with CPP leading the effort, sued both the district attorney and the city of Asheville in an attempt to make the audit public. That legal challenge failed, except to the extent that it raised public awareness about the lack of official openness about a key local law enforcement controversy.

Now, the audit is available for all to see. It’s a lengthy, complicated document, spanning 15 volumes and some 4,000 pages. For those with an interest in what it reveals, I suggest starting with a close read of volume 1, which offers an overview of much of what’s in the audit.

Post by Jon Elliston

Jon Elliston is a writer and editor for Carolina Public Press and WNC magazine.

An Old-fashioned Fourth of July at Beech


Fourth of July at Beech, 2014.

Beech is a community in north Buncombe County six miles up Reems Creek Road — 14 miles from Asheville. It is formed by the junction of Maney Branch and Reems Creek and was named after the beautiful grove of Beech trees growing there. A resident back in 1894 wrote to the editor of the Asheville newspaper saying that “I never see anything in your highly appreciated columns about Beech, which is the most lovely spot in all the whole country.” Beech has been long known for its flat farm land that goes right to the foot of the steep mountains in the Craggy range, making it some of the best farm land in Western North Carolina.

And the residents of Beech know how to stay at something. They have held the longest consecutive Fourth of July celebration in the county, some say — and they are probably right — in the state. This year was the 130th! Belhaven, N.C. boasts the longest but they are a mere 72 years old.


The veterans got many cheers.


Beech Presbyterian Church (built in 1939) on left and the former Beech School, now the Beech Community Center to right.

The Beech celebration was started in 1884 by Alfred Marion Penland (1833-1898.) He killed a beef and invited the community, who all thought Alfred quite generous since they mostly had pork and poultry on their plates. Alfred was the founder of College Hill school in the Riceville section and later in 1872 founded the old Beech academy at Beech. His wife was Sarah Lewis Penland and they had a son Francis A. Penland, also an educator who retired as principal of Weaverville High School in 1948.  Another Beech resident “Uncle Dave” Penland added to the day’s tradition by roaming the mountainsides for wild flowers, which he then made into bouquets to give to one or two women. The woman who gets the bouquet today is just as pleased as if she’d won the raffle for a new car.


“Uncle Dave” Penland with his floral bouquet. He made this one on a wooden frame he’d built, cone-shaped, and covered it with woods moss and then added rows of red bee balm, then rows of Queen Anne’s lace, then black-eyed Susan, then lobelia. Photo from the collection of “Pat” Rhea Hensley and published in”The State of Buncombe” by Mitzi Tessier.


There were kids on skateboards, 4-wheelers and festive bicycles and dogs.


There were horses with stars.


There were tractors, old ones . . .


and more tractors.


And more tractors.


Old trucks.


And there were lots of fire trucks, thanks to the Reems Creek Fire Department.


Come next year, all are welcome. The parade is followed by a program in the Community Center and then there is a bring-your-own-dish spread out on picnic tables under the Beech trees in back. There are field events for the children and a horse shoe pit. The celebration is always pretty much the same as it has been now for 130 years. As Beech resident Bob Nesbitt said, this is the only place you can ask someone, “You going to the Fourth?” and they’ll know what you mean.


Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian. Photographs by Brenda Murphree.




What a pool it was, too. An acre in size, the pool opened July 17, 1924. At the time it was said that the pool “is clearly among the largest, and costliest in America.” Masonry walls of massive granite enclosed the pool. “The water was continuously filtered, chlorinated, aerated and introduced to the pool through an attractive grotto and splashing waterfall–all the machinery for these purposes being noiselessly operated by electricity.” Ocean sand provided for a nice beach.

The lake and pool were part of the 2000 acre subdivision begun in 1924. Nationally known city planner John Nolen was given a free hand to employ his best talents in the layout and arrangement of the holdings of the subdivision’s owners. During the summer of 1925, the swimming pool was the scene of an important meet of the World’s Olympic Swimmers with large crowds attending.  ["Beaver Lake," 12/20/1925, Asheville Citizen.]


The recreational features included a casino, golf course, bath house and even a Tea House. A dwelling that stood near the swimming pool was converted into a delightfully rustic and inviting lakeside Tea House, purely to add pleasure of life in Beaver Lake. It served luncheon, afternoon tea and dinner.


Lakeview Road #44 in 1978, as published in “Cabins & Castles,” edited by Douglas Swaim. Photo shows changes after the Beaver Lake Tea Room was reconverted with additions and alterations.

Many people recreated at the pool over the decades.

MS239_001D photo G

Photo of Fred and Anne Manket Pearlman in bathing suits on blankets on sand beach at Beaver Lake. People and umbrellas in background. Concrete steps in view. Photo from the Pearlman Family Collection, circa 1940s.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported in January 1953 that the 157 Lake View property owners voted two-to-one in favor of dismantling the 26-year-old pool. They cited that the pool had been operating at a deficit for several years and that its equipment, including the chlorination system, was worn out. An online timeline of Beaver Lake says that the following month, the lake was drained to allow removal of the concrete walls, leaving only one portion. Rob Neufeld wrote about the demise of the pool in  The Asheville Citizen-Times June 25, 2008, with information from Joe Hiles Jr. whose father had been commissioner of the pool in the 1940s. He said “that the problem with the wall separating the lake water from the pool water weakened to the point that lake water was entering the pool faster than the filter systems could clean the water for swimming.” He added that the walls would have been too expensive to rebuild.

beaver lake drained

“Asheville Citizen Times,” February 24, 1953.

Beaver Lake Promotional

From a promotional publication, “And the place is Beaver Lake Asheville, North Carolina “The Land of the Sky” 1928?

Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian



The Social for the Friends of the North Carolina Room at 95 Charlotte Street

NC Room staff and the board of the NC Room Friends held a social on Tuesday, June 17th, to celebrate their newly formed Friends of the North Carolina Room. We also celebrated the life of Mary Parker (1914-2012), who would have been 100 years old that day. Mary was a longtime library supporter, and her family, the Patton-Parker family, has had a long tradition of friends and family joining for merry-making. The beautiful old home seemed glad for its walls to hold the sounds of laughter again. Fifty Friends attended. And the traditional front-porch-steps-photograph was taken.

Have you heard the old joke: “How long does it take to herd a large group of local history enthusiasts together?” Just ask photographer Cathryn McLeod, whose idea it was. The answer is, “You can’t.” Why? Because every one of them will say sweetly, “We’ll be right there …. as soon as we finish our conversation.”

9901 6x5

Friends of the North Carolina Room Social, June 17, 2014. Except for the latecomers.


Photo hanging in the house of Mary Parker taken during the celebration of her 93th birthday put on by the Buncombe County Library June 17, 2007.

NC Room Librarian Zoe Rhine introduced other staff members Lyme Kedic, Betsy Murray and Ann Wright, and then told about the day when Lynne Poirier-Wilson was volunteering, scanning one more endless box of postcards, and she looked up and said, “I’ll be dead before I get through these!” That was the moment, Zoe figured, that the seed was planted in Lynne’s mind to start a Friends of the NC Room.

 NC Room librarian Zoe Rhine introducing Lynne, President of the Friends of the NC Room board. Mary Hyde, past proprietor of the Biltmore Village Museum, listens on.

NC Room librarian Zoe Rhine introducing Lynne, President of the Friends of the NC Room board. Mary Hyde, former proprietor of the Biltmore Village Museum, listens on.

Lynne posed the question, “Why does local history matter?” Her answer? “One of the main reasons is that local history focuses on the ‘new’ social history — the history of everyday peoples. It is a challenge to the view that history was comprised only of great men and battles. Instead, historians now look at and put the ordinary men, women and children back into the human story. Asheville has no general history museum, but Pack Library’s North Carolina Room captures our two-dimensional local history and holds it for future generations.”

She went on to promote the North Carolina Collection at Pack and then asked for continued support from the community — first, as ambassadors, in letting people know about our collection, and secondly as financial supporters, in helping our collection move forward to serve the needs of future generations.

Lynne then introduced Peggy Gardner, Board Member of the Friends and close friend of Mary Parker.

Board Member Peggy Gardner speaking to the group.

Board Member Peggy Gardner speaking to the group.

Peggy talked about her effort to process the several generations of Patton-Parker family papers and photographs still in the house. She mentioned finding, among Christmas cards and utility bills, James Patton’s original missal he wrote in Asheville in 1839 to his children, admonishing them to do good things for the people in their community. Peggy then noted that this was the same letter she had encountered in a graduate Public History course as a prime example of someone passing important social information to their children.



Exhibits high-lighting some of the private Patton-Parker Collection were created for the social. The exhibit focused on the five generations and how all of them have contributed greatly to Asheville.



Ann “Duff” Parker Knight, a niece of Mary Parker’s, who along with her husband Paul are living in the house, went to great work to exhibit several 19th century dresses and baby clothes belonging to the family.


Duff on left.




Deborah Austin taking a closer view of the beading in this dress we believe is the same dress worn by Martha Turner Patton (1843-1929) in the following photograph.

Photograph circa 1904 of Josie Buel Patton, wife of Haywood Parker (Mary Parker's parents) sitting on floor next to her second-born child, Thomas Patton Parker who only lived one year. Josie's mother Martha Turner Patton, wife of Thomas Walton Patton, stands on right.

Photograph circa 1904 of Josie Buel Patton, wife of Haywood Parker (Mary Parker’s parents) sitting on floor next to her second-born child, Thomas Patton Parker who only lived one year. Josie’s mother Martha Turner Patton, wife of Thomas Walton Patton, stands on right.

Other clothing items on display:



Board Member and Membership Chair Phyllis Lang staffed the membership table. Phyllis has researched and written extensively on the Patton-Parker family and was co-producer of the 1999 video Thomas Walton Patton: Asheville’s Citizen and Soldier, a copy of which is in circulation at the library.

Board Member Phyllis Lang.

Board Member Phyllis Lang.


Peggy Gardner Treasurer Friends of the NC Room

And what’s a social without food?



Nan Chase Board Member Friends of the NC Room talking with Lynne and Zoe. Nan is the author of Asheville: A History and has just started a book tour for her just published book, Drink the Harvest.

Nan Chase Board Member Friends of the NC Room talking with Lynne and Zoe. Nan is the author of “Asheville: A History” and has just started a book tour for her just published book, “Drink the Harvest.”

And the beverages were a nice touch.

Friends of the NC Room Board Member/crostini maker/cheese slicer/bartender, Terry Taylor.

Friends of the NC Room Board Member/crostini maker/cheese slicer/bartender, Terry Taylor.

Believe it or not, there was also A LOT of local history conversation.



Jack Thomson, Executive Director of the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County talks with Dale Slusser, author of the recently published book, “The Ravenscroft School in Asheville.”



John Toms and NC staff Betsy Murray talk with Joanne Marshall Mauldin, author of “Thomas Wolfe: When Do the Atrocities Begin?”




And there was lots of laughter.


And then, too soon, it was time for goodbyes.




The Patton-Parker home is currently on the market. The Preservation Society of Asheville & Buncombe County (PSAB) is assisting in the sale. This local historic landmark, owned and occupied by seven generations of the same family, has reached a turning point in its future. “We will make sure that future will be secure,” noted Preservation Society Executive Director Jack Thomson. “When this historic house is sold, we will place preservation covenants in the deed that will protect the historic nature of this special place in perpetuity.”

Camp Patton, built in 1868-69 by Thomas Patton after returning home from the Civil War, had previously served as a military encampment for both the Union and Confederate military. Patton employed African American carpenters to help him in the construction of the house.

To schedule a viewing of the house, please contact the Preservation Society offices at 828-254-2343.

Special thanks to photographer and Friend of the N.C. Room, Cathryn McLeod for volunteering to take photographs. Thanks also to Kathryn Temple and staff member Lyme Kedic for their photographs.

Thanks to all Friends who attended! Do you have any comments to add?

Thomas Walton Patton’s 1907 Diary

On October 8, 1907, Thomas Walton Patton wrote in his diary, “Election over—bad conduct on part of prohib [prohibition] ladies—very distressing.”

Thomas Walton Patton, the third generation of Asheville’s Patton family, was born in Asheville in 1841 and served in the Confederate Army, 1861-1865. The city elected him mayor in 1893 and 1894.


Portrait of Thomas Walton Patton, signed “N. Brock 1904.

Like his grandfather James Patton and his father James Washington Patton, T. W. Patton took his civic responsibilities seriously and promoted modern conveniences which benefitted the Asheville community, including trolley cars, electric lights, and water and sewer systems. He sponsored municipal institutions—the public library, the home for orphans, the home for destitute young women, the YWCA and the YMCA.

During his life Patton wrote hundreds of letters and kept diaries of his travels. His family has shared with us a diary that he kept in 1907, the last year of his life. Even though he was very ill, he still closely watched the people and events in Asheville and western North Carolina and jotted down his observations.

Diary kept by Thomas Walton Patton during 1907, the last year of his life

Diary kept by Thomas Walton Patton during 1907, the last year of his life

One of the big events of 1907 was a local election held Oct. 8, 1907, in which Asheville voted in favor of prohibition: 1274 votes in favor, 426 votes against. North Carolina was the first state to end the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, voting statewide May 26, 1908. This was eleven years before the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (ratified Jan. 16, 1919) brought prohibition to the entire country. Support for prohibition was especially strong in the western part of North Carolina.

At a rally in support of prohibition, men prepare to throw bottles into the French Broad River from the side of the bridge at Riverside Park.

At a rally in support of prohibition, men prepare to throw bottles into the French Broad River from the side of the bridge at Riverside Park.

Thomas Patton’s diary entries during the time of the Prohibition election are as follows:

October 1, 1907—“Prohibition letter published in Gazette-News.”

October 5, 1907—“Great Prohib [prohibition] parade—antis hold meeting at night—Prohibs sure to win I fear.”

October 7, 1907—“Much excitement about tomorrows election—but I hope it will go off quietly.”

October 8—“Election over—bad conduct on part of prohib ladies—very distressing—majority for prohib reported 800-848.”

Men and women gathered for the Prohibition vote in 1907. Although women could not vote, they were there to be sure their husbands voted against alcohol.

Men and women gathered for the Prohibition vote in 1907. Although women could not vote, they were there to be sure their husbands voted against alcohol.

Like many other thoughtful Asheville citizens, Patton believed that it was unwise to attempt to legislate morality and feared the economic and social effects of a legal ban on alcohol. But sentiment had been so whipped up against the evils of liquor, especially among local women, that prohibition forces won the election by a large majority. Patton’s comment about the “bad conduct on part of prohib ladies” is supported by newspaper accounts. Women and children were at their posts in large numbers when the polls opened, wearing white ribbons, blocking the way to the polling places. Men wearing red ribbons, showing their support for legal alcohol, were surrounded and so harassed that many gave up and changed their vote. “From the very start the prohibitionists took the lead and their opponents were utterly demoralized.”

The Asheville Gazette-News reported, From the Opening Hour, Every Voter Was Beseiged by Women and Children

The Asheville Gazette-News reported, “From the Opening Hour, Every Voter Was Besieged by Women and Children”

REMINDER TO THE FRIENDS OF THE NORTH CAROLINA ROOM: Patton’s fascinating first-person account of events in turn of the century Asheville will be one of the items on view on Tuesday, July 17, 5:30-7:00, at the Patton-Parker home at 95 Charlotte Street. Patton’s granddaughter Mary Parker (1914-2012), a devoted library Friend, would have been 100 years old on this date. We will celebrate her life and her family with an appreciation event for the members of the Friends of the NC Collection. R.S.V.P. required.

Thanks to Phyllis Lang, board member of the Friends of the North Carolina Room, for her research and text on the Parker-Patton family. Phyllis was co-producer of the video, Thomas Walton Patton: Asheville’s Citizen and Soldier, 1999.