A Cherokee Cloth Doll

The North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library currently has on exhibit through September, four exhibit cases highlighting Asheville and Western North Carolina Tourism Souvenirs. Of course, the exhibit set us on a research binge, trying to find out all that we could about the local souvenir trade and how it developed. This is the sixth of an ongoing series, sharing some of the images in the exhibit and what we have learned.

We moved to Asheville in mid-2000. As someone always interested in local history I began to read as much as possible about the area, both fiction and non-fiction. With a somewhat limited budget I looked for things that had been made here and was able to pick up some miniature rustic chairs, wooden teapots and jugs with their location spelled out on them, animals carved in Brasstown and small Appalachian and Cherokee baskets. My husband, who is an antique dealer, was also on the lookout for me and one day he came home with this wonderful handmade cloth doll.

cherokee doll 1

cherokee doll 2

We hoped it was Cherokee made, but it wasn’t until we stumbled on this post card that we were pretty sure that we had a Cherokee-made doll. Then, in 2001 Rachel Bonney and J. Anthony Paredes authored Anthropologists and Indians in the New South, published by the University of Alabama Press. They state “Eastern Cherokees make mostly rag dolls dressed in 18th and 19th-century clothing, carrying a baby on their back, for sale to tourists…” So, voila, our doll, probably made circa 1930 to 40 has been identified. She is typical of the few vintage Cherokee dolls that we have seen online and she is a grand souvenir of Western North Carolina.


Post card published by Harry N. Martin; post card type dates to 1930-1945.

The North Carolina Room has several postcards and photographs of Cherokee mothers and their babies that confirm how small children were often carried. Clearly the shawl-like wrap worked well – and is an earlier version of today’s baby carrying wraps.


Post by Lynne Poirier-Wilson, Friends of the North Carolina Room Board Member.


An Evening of Local History at Pack Library — Missing History: The Family Store

Isaac and Sarah Malke Michalove immigrated from Lithuania, Russia and came to Asheville in 1890. Isaac, a pioneer Jewish merchant, operated the Michalove Wholesale Grocery company.

MS239_002A Photo A

Isaac and Sarah Malke Michalove

Isaac and Sarah’s daughter Hattie, born Sept. 20, 1890, married Barney Pearlman and they immigrated in 1901, coming to Asheville in 1908. Barney operated several groceries, and then opened a small store on Patton Avenue in late 1927, the Railroad Salvage Co. The store moved to larger headquarters in what had been the Bank of Asheville and then moved into the Haywood Building in 1932, it having previously been a garage. It was initially called Pearlman’s Railroad Salvage Co., Inc. and updated to Pearlman’s Super Furniture Store in 1960, and then Pearlman’s of Asheville.

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Barney Pearlman circa 1920.


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Pearlman’s Furniture Store at 56 Haywood Street as it appeared in the 1960’s.

The Pearlmans also built the Pearlman building on Page Avenue. They were the first in the area to carry discounted furniture.

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The Pearlman company expanded to other towns after WWII. The store on Tunnel Road was opened November 30, 1973.

The Pearlman family collection MS239 was donated to the North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library by Lowell R. and Marvin “Skip” Pearlman in 2013.

The story of Jewish merchants in Asheville is Asheville’s history. Would you like to learn more about it?

An Evening of Local History at Pack Library

Missing History: The Family Store

Thursday August 27, 2015, 6 pm-7 pm

Missing History: The Family Store. A panel about the bygone days of the many Jewish-owned businesses that used to be in downtown Asheville. From 1880-1990 there were more than 454 different Jewish-owned retail businesses downtown. This panel discussion will follow a 20 minute visual presentation on how instrumental these merchants were in creating what we know today as downtown Asheville. Why did these merchants come to Asheville, why were they even merchants? The panel will include some of the merchants themselves, most of whom are descendants of the original store owners.

Presenter: Jan Schochet, co-creator of the public history exhibit you can see now across downtown, “The Family Store: A History of the Jewish Businesses of Downtown Asheville, 1880-1990.

Panelists: Skip Pearlman of Pearlman Furniture; David Schulman, business owner and author; Ellen Carr of Tops for Shoes; and Dennis Winner, retired Superior Court Judge and son of Harry winner of Winner’s Department Store.

Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian.



Local Hand Crafts Also Made the Market as Souvenirs

The North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library currently has on exhibit through September, four exhibit cases highlighting Asheville Tourism Souvenirs. Of course, the exhibit set us on a research binge, trying to find out all that we could about the local souvenir trade and how it developed. This is the fifth of an ongoing series, sharing some of the images in the exhibit and what we have learned.


Cat with her kitten carved by Hope Brown of Brasstown Carvers.

 For a little more money, someone visiting Wester North Carolina might choose a local handmade craft as their souvenir from their visit, making local crafts a large part of the souvenir industry. There were five major concerns in Asheville, all of which began as cottage industries.

The Biltmore Estate Industries operated at Biltmore from 1905 to 1917 after which it was bought by Fred Seely, becoming simply Biltmore Industries and was moved to buildings at the Grove Park Inn.


Bird and stamp box believed to be Biltmore Industries.

Allanstand Cottage Industries was founded by Frances Goodrich in 1897 in Madison County. She opened a sales showroom downtown Asheville in 1908 and donated the gift shop to the Southern Highland Craft Guild in 1930.




Bear carved by Amanda Crowe.

The Spinning Wheel founded in 1925 by Clementine Douglas, was first located on Burnsville Hill Road now Lakeshore Drive, and moved to the Hendersonville Highway after 1940.

Spinning Wheel


The Treasure Chest was founded in 1924 by Hugh Brown, but he lost the business in the depression in 1931, and it ended up in the hands of the Farmer’s Federation who operated it for a number of years. Brown turned around in the midst of the depression, and with his brother Robert Brown and William Lashley formed the Three Mountaineer’s Inc. in 1933, now competing with the Treasure Chest. Both The Treasure Chest and Three Mountaineers sold and shipped to places all over the country. Three Mountaineer’s continuing selling handmade crafts up until 1940, when they turned solely to wood manufacturing, closing sixty years later in 1992.

Treasure Chest




Three Mountaineer’s “Bathroom Sign,” copyrighted in 1943, was their signature tourist souvenir.


Three Mountaineer’s maple Nut Bowl with hammered aluminum handle and ball feet.

The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, previously known of as The Craftsman’s Fair, helped support crafts people in the area, and provided another market for purchasing crafts, such as this hound dog carved by Wade Martin of Swannanoa, NC. As someone said while viewing it, “You could talk to that dog.”


Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian.

Where Did Tourists Buy Asheville Souvenirs?

The North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library currently has on exhibit through September, four exhibit cases highlighting Asheville Tourism Souvenirs. Of course, the exhibit set us on a research binge, trying to find out all that we could about the local souvenir trade and how it developed. This is the fourth of an ongoing series, sharing some of the images in the exhibit and what we have learned.


Souvenir in “Asheville Tourism Souvenirs 1880’s-1950’s” Exhibit, Pack Memorial Library.

Where did tourist’s buy their souvenirs? In the late 1800’s, souvenirs were sold in most of the drug stores, book stores, china and gift shops: Thrash’s (Thaddeus W. Thrash & Co. AKA the Crystal Palace), A.M. Field’s Jewelry, Ray’s Book Store, Roger’s Book Store, the 5 and 10 Cent Store, Dr. T.C. Smith’s Drug Store, Northern’s Souvenir Store, The Log Cabin Co. adjoining the Post Office and J.H. Law’s Silverware which sold cutlery and crockery and “Distinctive Native Goods.”


Thrash & Company in the Grand Opera House building, 41-43 Patton Avenue.

In a previous post we mentioned that Arthur M. Field’s Jewelry had added to their souvenir spoons, a silver souvenir thimble. While silver spoons held sway as the most popular souvenir here and across the country, soon the market offered souvenir bracelets, napkin rings, buttons and fans as well. A.M. Field’s also made an ingenious business move. Following the thimble, they began offering gems native to North Carolina as souvenirs.

The first use of the term “rustic souvenirs” in Asheville newspapers was in 1894. Ray’s Book Store on the Square offered miniature chairs, tables, bedsteads, and easel screens made from native rhododendron. (See last week’s post here on Appalachian rustic souvenirs.)


Miniature table, souvenir in “Asheville Tourism Souvenirs 1880’s-1950’s” Exhibit, Pack Memorial Library.

An article titled, “From Tree to Souvenir” in a 1902 Warrenton, North Carolina newspaper, the Warren Record, reveals more history behind this mountain industry. “Many of the souvenirs are made by farmers who utilize the spare time afforded by the winter months, and days when outdoor work can not be done, and display great skill in constructing pleasing effects out of the rough rhododendron and mountain laurel wood. The work is almost entirely done with a pocket knife.”


Souvenir in “Asheville Tourism Souvenirs 1880’s-1950’s” Exhibit, Pack Memorial Library.

There was also a company in Asheville devoted to manufacturing rustic souvenirs, Lambert & Murray. They were located on south Main just past the Swannanoa Hotel. In 1904 they opened a second manufacturing plant in Fairview. That same year, they received a large contract to supply rhododendron souvenirs to the World’s Fair at St. Louis. The Asheville Citizen newspaper bragged about them in 1907, saying that, “The quality of souvenirs made in Asheville by the Lambert-Murray Co. may be judged from the fact that in the past week the Citizens Dray Co. shipped for this firm five cars of souvenirs, consigned to different cities of the country.”

Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian



Appalachian Rustic Souvenirs

The Appalachians have long been noted for the rugged individualism of their inhabitants. The terrain was and is difficult, limiting its occupants’ employment. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the area was conducive to small farms, cottage industries and the lone artisan. With rhododendron, mountain laurel, chestnut, hickory, willow and oak prevalent in the area, the materials for rustic furniture were at hand, ready to be used in their natural state, and suited to an independent craftsperson. For the most part the work required only rudimentary tools – saws, clippers, pen knives, hammers and measures.

By the late nineteenth century the train had arrived in most of the Appalachian areas. With it came tourists seeking the cool air of the mountains and contact with nature. What better way to commemorate their visit than purchasing a locally made rustic souvenir that would remind them of their adventure.

Miniatures are small versions of everyday normal-sized things. Generally inexpensive and often charming, these pieces made excellent souvenirs as they were more easily transported from a vacation spot to home than their full-size counterparts. Once home, they could be easily displayed or given as a gift from afar. Rustic furniture makers recognized the popularity of these small objects and often inscribed them with their place name.

The small rustic chair inscribed Asheville, NC 1904 was a staple of many rustic furniture builders. These chairs were modeled somewhat on the full size chair known regionally as a “settin chair.” As with much of rustic whether miniature or full-sized it is notched to give decoration.
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Many of these souvenirs were sold throughout Appalachia over a long period of time. The miniature wishing well and the moonshine still are both from the 1930’s. The still, inscribed Moonshine Still Asheville, NC also has a notation by the original purchaser penciled on the base – bought at Chimney Rock during the week of my vacation the last of October 1936.

All three of these objects have been found in catalogs of The Treasure Chest, an Asheville company, which sold Appalachian crafts.


“Treasure Chest” 1928 Catalog, MS082.001Q. Proprietor, Hugh Brown 1926-1931.

Post by Lynne Poirier-Wilson, Friends of the North Carolina Room Board Member

Danny Bernstein, Hiker and Author to Speak at Pack Memorial Library


A Brown Bag Lunch Series on Local History at Pack Memorial Library


Bring a brown bag lunch and enjoy a talk by committed hiker



Danny Bernstein

 Danny Bernstein’s motto is, “No place is too far to walk if you have the time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 12 noon—1 pm

Pack Memorial Library, Lord Auditorium (lower level)

67 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC

ADMISSION: free & open to the public


Danny Bernstein’s book, The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina, published by the History Press, focuses on the beauty, quirkiness, and vibrancy of the 1,000 miles from Clingmans Dome in the Smokies to the Outer Banks. Danny recounts the highlights and challenges of walking the MST.   Meeting people is a vital part of walking the trail. Danny’s talk will center on the history found on the trail.

A committed hiker for over 40 years, Danny completed all the trails in Great Smoky Mountains, the Appalachian Trail, National Park, the South beyond 6000, many other hiking challenges, and, of course, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Recently she walked the 440 miles of Le Chemin de St. Jacques, the French section of the El Camino .

There will be time to ask questions and for book-signing. Please join us for this entertaining and leisurely walk through the natural and cultural history of the Mountain-to-Sea Trail.



Danny Bernstein’s book begins, “I decided to walk the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) across North Carolina to really see my state.”  . . .”The MST stretches for one thousand miles across a diverse landscape connecting the mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. It seemed the perfect way for me to understand North Carolina wildness, culture and history.”

Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian in the North Carolina Room

Asheville Tourism Souvenirs–1890’s-1950’s


The North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library currently has on exhibit through September, four exhibit cases highlighting Asheville Tourism Souvenirs. Of course, the exhibit set us on a research binge, trying to find out all that we could about the local souvenir trade. This is the second of an ongoing series, sharing some of the images in the exhibit and what we have learned.


Evidence of regional tourism souvenirs dates to at least the 1890s, created in part from the larger influx of tourists after the railroad reached Asheville in 1880. But tourist souvenirs here actually follow a craze that began in Europe and then spread to the larger cities in the United States. The boom was on by the summer of 1891 and it quickly spread across American cities. The first ad for “souvenirs” was found in Asheville newspapers in March of 1891, with brief earlier 1890 mentions of photographs available as souvenirs.


“Asheville Citizen” March 14, 1891

The 1891 souvenir ads were for cut glass, china and other novelties. These early Asheville souvenirs were on the more “elegant” side and were imported from outside the area. An interesting “foreign” example in the exhibit is the china pitcher with a windmill painted on it and “Asheville, N.C.” on the opposite side.


Asheville souvenir with windmill.


Verso cup with windmill

It appears that souvenir items developed from non-local images accompanied with the name of the town printed on it, to the inclusion of local images painted, embossed or engraved. An ad from 1898 by Dr. T.C. Smith’s Drug Store invites visitors to examine engraved souvenir spoons with sketches of Biltmore, the Battery Park Hotel and other local scenes that were produced by the Shepard Manufacturing Company in Massachusetts.


Sterling Silver Souvenir Spoon, cut-out of “Asheville” on handle.

A more sophisticated version of the “windmill” cup is this nicely painted demitasse. Compare the painted scene to the postcard of same era.



An ad in the Asheville Citizen in November 1891, drawing attention to Arthur M. Field’s jewelry store’s newest souvenir addition of a silver thimble, recounts that “Souvenirs are still the rage here.” Actually, it was only the beginning.

Post by Zoe Rhine, Librarian