Asheville Photographer Tim Barnwell Speaking at Pack Memorial Library

Please join us for this very special event! Tim will discuss how his 5 year effort of photographing and researching these vistas culminated into his beautiful and insightful new book.

It’s a human characteristic to want to know where we are in time and place. Mr. Barnwell’s book satisfies this natural curiosity and brilliantly connects us with our surroundings. As a ready reference to the Blue Ridge Parkway’s bountiful scenic views and cultural history, this book will predictably become dog-eared and well used.” – Dr. Houck Medford, Founder and CEO Emeritus, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation







 Some eye-catching advertisements from a stack of

old Asheville newspapers I happened across.





N.C. Citizen: 1879

We’ve always been foodies.





N.C. Citizen: 1879

Oh how we love our spirits…even if we don’t have a “stomachic.”





Daily Citizen: lost the date, but still looking

Water seems to always be an issue.

And look…”wind-mills!” Sustainable energy source pre-solar panels.




Looks like Asheville may have struggled with drawing quality entertainment to town.

Not exactly sure how to take this:


The Register. March 31, 1894

Their big claim to fame: “the ONLY show coming this year.”

Perhaps Colonel Hall is saying he’s in too high demand to come back through town. Even so, not the best word choice.




Before we had an abundance of acupuncture, homeopathy, and massage clinics

we had Walker Hill: Medicine Man. To be precise, the men had Walker Hill.

The ladies had Mrs. Walker Hill: Medicine Woman.


State Register. May 21, 1897




Too much turtle soup and corn whiskey causing a toothache?


Asheville Daily Advance. March 26, 1887

Judging from the pictures, I would definitely go with Dr. Reevs. No question.




No medicine man, medicine woman, or dentist can save us from the inevitable.

On the upside: custom coffins made in just six hours’ notice!


N.C. Citizen. Dec. 4, 1879


posted by Lyme Kedic

“Seaweed Soup on a Mountain Slope”

Long, long ago (in the 1960’s) Western North Carolina was not known for its culinary landscape. The Jarrett House in Dillsboro and the The NuWray Inn in Burnsville were about as close as one could find “fancy food”. And truly, their country hams and family style meals were wonderful. Even the big city of Asheville was not the foodie’s dream it has become. The Paradise—Chinese-American—Restaurant located at 19 Broadway was as well-known for Southern Fried Chicken as Egg Fu Yung and egg rolls.

Much to my surprise one afternoon, I ran across a postcard of Geisha Gardens in Maggie Valley. Geisha Gardens in Maggie Valley? My fingers flew across the keyboard to enter my bid. Several days later the card arrived in the mail. And a search was on.

Color-King Natural Color Card. W.M. Cline Co., Chattanooga, Tennessee

Color-King Natural Color Card. W.M. Cline Co., Chattanooga, Tennessee

A quick search led to an address—985 Fie Top Road—and a link to an article in The Miami News by Herb Rau, published on August 22, 1965. One of my favorite lines in the article is “North Carolina is as far apart from Japan as Candy is from Mother Goose.” (Terry Southern’s erotic spoof had appeared on the NY Times bestseller list in 1963 and was a common cultural reference for several years thereafter.)

Mr. Rau writes that the owner Hal Jenkins “took his bankroll and came to Maggie Valley” to open Geisha Gardens. In his directions, Mr. Rau explained that the road to Geisha Gardens was at the entrance to Ghost Town, a tourist draw built in 1961. Hal Jenkins’ enterprise included a teahouse, restaurant, gift shop, and garden.

In the evening hours, a “Japanese feast was served by kimono-clad Oriental girls”. Mr. Rau’s writes that the menu included teriyaki and sukiyaki. When he visited he was served “seaweed soup with a slice of raw squash and raw carrot and a ‘snippin’ of cucumber rind. He noted that the dish was decorated with a sprig of pine. And that there was “plenty of tea all through dinner.” For dessert there were fortune cookies as well as “chilled Mandarin orange wedges topped by a green cherry. “ Authentic?

For a few more contemporary views of Geisha Gardens (from 1975) visit the JC Raulston Arboretum website at

Post by Terry Taylor, Friends of the North Carolina Room board member

You’ve Got Mail!

You’ve Got Mail!

What do Ochopee, Florida; Muddy, Illinois; Ojo Feliz , New Mexico and two communities in North Carolina have in common? In the early part of the last century, small towns across the nation advertised their diminutive post offices with postcards. It was (and still is) a draw for the tourist traveling in automobiles from coast to coast. From the Outer Banks to the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina was home to two “smallest post offices” in the country.

Salvo, North Carolina. Elizabeth City News Co., Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Plastichrome by COLOURPICTURE, Boston, Mass. 02130

Salvo, North Carolina. Elizabeth City News Co., Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Plastichrome by COLOURPICTURE, Boston, Mass. 02130

On the coast, a group of three Native American villages known as Chicamacomico was renamed Clark or Clarksville by white settlers. During the Civil War a passing Union frigate could not find a name on the map for the small settlement. The captain ordered a cannon “salvo” (a greeting) and a ship’s mate hastily noted the position of the community as Salvo on the map. Forty years later, the town officially renamed itself as Salvo and in 1901 opened its first U.S. Post Office.

Barely 100 square feet in size, the original post office burned down in the 1990’s and a new post office was built. Now a replica of the small building stands proudly alongside NC 12 in zip code 27972.

Post Office of Grimshaws (sic),  N.C., said to be the Smallest in the World near High Hampton Inn and Country Club     Cashiers, N.C.  The Finest American Made View Cards-The Albertype CO, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Post Office of Grimshaws (sic), N.C., said to be the Smallest in the World near High Hampton Inn and Country Club Cashiers, N.C. The Finest American Made View Cards-The Albertype CO, Brooklyn, N.Y.

In the Blue Ridge Mountains the post office of Grimshawes boasted of being the smallest post office in the world. In operation from 1903 to 1953, the structure still stands on Whiteside Cove Road, where it once served the rural community between Cashiers and Highlands.

Post Office, Grimshawes, N.C. Smallest Post Office in the U.S.A.  Published by Asheville Post Card CO., Asheville, N.C.

Post Office, Grimshawes, N.C. Smallest Post Office in the U.S.A. Published by Asheville Post Card CO., Asheville, N.C.



I discovered a one-cent, direct mail postal card for Rose Brothers Lumber & Supply CO. in St. Paul, Minnesota. It bears the National Recovery Administration logo along with advertising on the wares the company sold. The card was mailed to customers in the St. Paul area. Note the special cancellation on the reverse of the card. Also note the dimensions of the small building: 33 square feet!

U.S. Postal Card

U.S. Postal Card


Post by Terry Taylor, Friends of the North Carolina Room board member.

The Carrolls – Stories to Tell

The Asheville Times reported on November 19, 1950 that “Ruth and Latrobe Carroll, artist and author, respectively, of children’s books…moved to Asheville…and are making their home in the Edgewood Knoll Apartments.”  Ruth Carroll graduated from Vassar and studied at the Arts Students League in New York City.  Latrobe Carroll was  a Harvard graduate and writer for literary magazines.  They left New York City for the mountains of Western North Carolina because they wanted to be near nature and near to “natural children.”  They had already produced eleven books, all for children.  During the next fifteen years, spent in Asheville, they would produce twelve more books, including a series based on Appalachian life.  Ruth was the artist for all of their books and Latrobe (known as Toby) was the wordsmith.

The first book written in Asheville was titled  Peanut and was the story of the smallest dog in the world and of the biggest dog.  Peanut was first read to the first, second, fourth, and fifth grades at Grace School (today Ira B. Jones School) whose students highly approved of the story.  The Carrolls used a young man named Johnny Self as the model for the little boy in Peanut and Breck, a Great Dane who was also an Asheville native, was the second model for the big dog Jupiter.

MS023.002 Photo E

Peanut – Cover


MS023.002 Photo F

Peanut was so small that he could fit on the top of a spool of thread and his home was a small window box.


MS023.002 Photo I

Peanut and Jupiter

After a number of adventures, Peanut and Jupiter became best pals. Ruth Carroll had a difficult time getting Breck to model for her.  He was much more interested in chewing her pencils and erasers and laying his head on her sketch pad.  “The sketches were finally made when Breck, worn out with his show of energy, lay down for a short nap.”  When the book was published in 1951, it was dedicated to the children of Grace School.
In Beanie, published in 1953, the Carrolls first introduced the Tatum Family who lived in the Great Smokey Mountains of Appalachia, and the youngest son, Beanie, who is given a puppy for his birthday.  The puppy soon receives the name Tough Enough and he and Beanie have some brave adventures. The Carrolls often dedicated their books to the children they read to as well as to those individuals who helped them.  In two of the Tough Enough series, they dedicated their books to the Alexander family of Cataloochee ranch and to specific librarians, among others.

MS023.002 Photo A

Drawing for the cover of Tough Enough, 1954

The Carrolls went on to publish seven books that starred the Tatum family and Tough Enough. These books,  generally known as the Tatum Series included Beanie, 1953; Tough Enough, 1954: Tough Enough’s Trip, 1956; Tough Enough’s Pony, 1957; Tough Enough and Sassy, 1958; Tough Enough’s Indians, 1960; and Runaway Pony, Runaway Dog, 1963.

MS023.002 Photo B2

Tough Enough and the Tatum family children


MS023.002 Photo C1

Book jacket for Tough Enough’s Trip

Tough Enough was selected by the American Institute of Graphic Arts for an exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1955 and Peanut  won the 1953 award for children’s literature given by the North Carolina Division of the American Association of University Women. In 1959 the Asheville Art Museum, which was then on Charlotte Street, exhibited Ruth Carroll’s paintings and drawings.  By then, the Carrolls had written a total of 22 children’s books.

In 1963 another of the Tatum Family books Runaway Pony, Runaway Dog was chosen by Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club.  Through the book club, some 80,000 copies in a special edition were distributed.  It was the first book by their publisher, Henry Z. Walck, Inc., to be distributed through the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club.  In 1965 the Carrolls returned to New York City and continued to write children’s books.  Latrobe Carroll died in 1996 and Ruth in 1999.

The Carrolls’ books are reflective of their time.  They always feature an animal – often a dog – and of course children, and although there may be strife in the middle of the story, happy endings abound.  A postscript to this blog is the story of an out-of-town couple who came into the North Carolina Room about a year ago to do some research.  At the time there were a group of Ruth Carroll’s drawings exhibited in the room including those of Tough Enough.  “Oh,” exclaimed the wife.  “As a child, I read all of the Tough Enough books and we even named our dog after him.”  They weren’t aware of the Asheville connection and thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition.  Clearly Tough Enough and Ruth and Latrobe Carroll’s influence went far beyond their Asheville home.

Post by Lynne Poirier-Wilson, President of the Friends of the North Carolina Room Board and North Carolina Room volunteer.

“Hungry for History” Brown Bag Lunch Series Has Great Kick-off with Jon Elliston’s Look at Asheville 100 Years Ago!


Jon Elliston opened his “Asheville in 1915″ talk by appearing in period costume dressed as a “newsie” with a newspaper delivery bag slung over his shoulder, and walked up the aisle hollering out the news headlines of the day while passing out copies of a 1915 Asheville Citizen front page.


Jon Elliston, journalist and historian, appearing in 1915 “newsie” costume. Photo by Jake Frankel.

All one hundred and fifty enthralled attendees were suddenly transported to Asheville 100 years ago.


150 people attend “Hungry for History” brown bag lunch series kick-off in the Lord Auditorium, Pack Memorial Library March 25th, 2015.

Jon’s multimedia presentation covered Asheville’s politics, crime, vices, race relations, sports and recreation, gender, and tourism one hundred years ago. He preceded his talk by pointing out, “One hundred years ago, was a long time ago!” Amazingly enough, some things were very similar to today, but some things were also hard to imagine.  The Asheville Board of Trade spoke of 1915 Asheville as a “modern city, cosmopolitan in its make-up, progressive, liberal, and given to hospitality.” –Much the same as the Asheville Chamber might tout today. But, the Civil War had only ended 50 years earlier, and reconstruction had only ended 30 some years earlier. The town was still influenced by Jim Crow laws and racial tensions still marred the city. But Asheville had one of the first schools for blacks in the state.

Prohibition was imposed in North Carolina in 1908, a full decade before the Eighteenth Amendment made liquor consumption illegal in the United States in 1920. But we learned that Ashevillians still drank. Liquor was shipped in (and brought in) from other states and was also made here. And the law fought hard to stop it; about every week someones still got busted. (Asheville actually went dry the previous year. Newspaper headlines of October 9, 1907, read “Ashevillle Goes Dry by Astounding Number; Many Women and Children Capture Various Precincts.”) Child labor was a big crime to deal with, alongside petty thefts–chicken stealing was popular. Train hopping seemed prevalent, which often left people with missing limbs.

In terms of gender, a newspaper editorialist thought women had no interest in bothering with politics, and if they voted, they’d just vote the same as their husbands. This was stated even though the Asheville Suffragist League had been organized in 1894–the first in the state.

Baseball was big in Asheville; golf was popular, and basketball was coming on. We danced, even doing the Tango, which some preachers thought too erotic.

Though most of the photographs in Jon’s presentation were in black & white, he reminded us that Asheville in 1915 was very colorful.


Night view of Pack Square. Postmarked 1914. Vance Monument spiraled with electric lights and with strings of lights from top out to other strings around the Square, like a Maypole.

And then came the question-and-answer time. Hands went up–people wanted to know more. Jon’s batting average was pretty good, especially considering he has a day job. Librarians are taught never to answer off the top of their heads–you always have to cite your sources–so, for the most part, North Carolina Room staff kept their mouths shut. But we thought it only fair to look back–with our resources at hand–at some of the day’s questions.


Jon mentioned that the Asheville Citizen had a circulation of 10,000, an astonishing number for a city of  34,000 population. (That was another question, as well as the population of Buncombe County which was somewhere around 57,000 in 1915.)

Was there another newspaper in town?

There was the Asheville Gazette News, a precursor to Asheville Times, which it became in 1916.

What was the difference in the two papers?  The Citizen was a morning paper and was a voice for Conservative-Democratic politics and was an advocate of economic expansion. People who grew up here have pointed out that the Asheville Times, being an afternoon paper, was read after work, making it more of a working man’s paper. In 1930, the Citizen’s owner Charles A. Webb formed the Asheville Citizen-Times Company with Don S. Elias, publisher of the afternoon Asheville Times. One Sunday edition of both papers was consolidated under the name Citizen-Times, although the editorial staffs remained separate and followed independent policies. The Asheville Times ended in June 1991.

Were there any African-American newspapers?

The only one we’ve found was a reference to the Asheville Enterprise newspaper published in 1888. We do not know of any surviving copies. Staff have noticed society columns for the black community published in the Citizen, but it would take some research to find the time span for that coverage.

Where were the fairgrounds located in 1915?

The first Western North Carolina Fair was held in 1911 at Riverside Park. The skating rink was used to show off agricultural products and the car shed was the livestock and poultry building.

And where was the ball field?

The Montford School had a baseball diamond that was sometimes used for ball games. Oates Park, however, was the main place to see a game. It was on Southside at the corner of Choctaw. The site was secured by the management of the Asheville Baseball Club in January 1913, although there was a contingency that wanted an “uptown” location. The stockholders and directors of the club named the park after J. Rush Oates, a prominent businessman and sports enthusiast who had much to do with the formation of the club. Securing a baseball field was seen as a good draw for tourists, making it a “highly necessary attraction.” There was a separate bleacher for the black community, although in 1918, when the Asheville black team, the Royal Giants played there, a set of bleachers was saved for white baseball enthusiasts. In 1913 Tyrus Raymond Cobb, outfielder with the Detroit Tigers, played Asheville’s Mountaineers team at Oates Park. It appears that the baseball club changed its name from the Mountaineers to the Tourists in 1916. McCormick Field opened in 1924. Babe Ruth played at McCormick Field in 1925 and again in 1931.


Photo showing a baseball game in 1918 between the Asheville Royal Giants and Atlanta at Oates Park (Southside Ave near Choctaw St). Royal Giants were Asheville’s first black baseball team. Southside AME Zion church (#198) left background.

Were there any schools of higher education in 1915?

Asheville Normal & Collegiate Institute, which was at the current location of Memorial Mission Hospital, and the North State Fitting School, attended by Thomas Wolfe, and St. Genevieve College on Victoria Road. Allen Industrial Home on College Street was a school for young black women. There were also two business colleges, Asheville Business College on Pack Square and Emanuel Business College located in rooms in the Drhumor building. There was also the Bingham Military School.

What/who was Jim Crow?

We had to look this up outside or our collection resources: “Throughout the 1830s and ’40s, the white entertainer Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860) performed a popular song-and-dance act supposedly modeled after a slave. He named the character Jim Crow. Rice darkened his face, acted like a buffoon, and spoke with an exaggerated and distorted imitation of African-American Vernacular English. In his Jim Crow persona, he also sang ‘Negro ditties’ such as ‘Jump Jim Crow.’

“After the American Civil War (1861-1865), most southern states and, later, border states passed laws that denied blacks basic human rights. It is not clear how, but the minstrel character’s name ‘Jim Crow’ became a kind of shorthand for the laws, customs and etiquette that segregated and demeaned African-Americans primarily from the 1870s to the 1960s.” []

Were there movie houses?

There were three movie theaters, the Galax Theatre on Patton Avenue, the Majestic Theatre on College Street and the Princess Theatre on Pack Square.  The theaters at this time often presented plays put on by the Majestic Players or the Princess Players. Theaters also had their own orchestras. Professional actors also came through presenting plays at these theaters. And there were “play movies” shown, apparently plays from other parts on film. Charlie Chaplin movies were shown in 1915.

There was also the Asheville Auditorium at about the same location as the Civic Center today. The North Carolina Collection contains programs for the plays “Never Say Die,” “H.M.S. Pinafore,” and “Rigoletto” being performed at the auditorium in 1915.


Asheville City Auditorium built in 1904 at the corner of Haywood and Flint Sts. Office of Asheville Board of Trade, stenciled on double doors at right.

Were there any sanitariums?

Fifteen sanitariums are listed in the city directory, including Asheville Mission Hospital and St. Joseph’s Sanitarium.

How extensive was the street car system?

Twenty miles of track encompassed all points of Asheville and West Asheville, and 7.5-minute and 15-minute schedules were maintained throughout the year. (The Asheville Transit system today runs on the hour.) And yes, there was a nine-mile electric car track from Asheville to Weaverville. The board of trade wrote in 1915 that Asheville was the second city in the country to operate electric cars.

Jon Elliston is an editor and writer for Carolina Public Press and WNC Magazine–and the curator of the @AVL1915 Twitter feed, which recounts century-old news. First appearing as @AVL1914, the feed was launched from the microfilmed records of early Asheville newspapers in Pack Memorial Library’s North Carolina Collection. Jon is also a board member of the Friends of the North Carolina Room.

Please feel free to add additional comments or corrections on this blog site. We are especially interested in more information concerning the differences in Asheville’s two newspapers.


If you missed Jon Elliston’s, Asheville in 1915 presentation, he had a lot of fun doing it and will present it again at the library.

Post by Zoe Rhine librarian; photographs of event by Lyme Kedic.










The Friends of the North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library will present a brown bag lunch series on local history, Hungry For History.

Bring your own brown bag lunch and enjoy some local history.

All events are free and open to the public.

Jon Elliston will kick-off the series with his presentation “Asheville 100 Years Ago” on this Wednesday, March 25th, 12:00-1:00.

Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood Street, Asheville, North Carolina, Lord Auditorium, lower level.


Jon Elliston

Local journalist and historian Jon Elliston will open a window into Asheville as it was 100 years ago, sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of local history during an early phase of the city’s rise to prominence.

The Asheville Board of Trade, in their 1915 brochure, said “Asheville is a city set on a hill, in the midst of the most beautiful mountain country on this continent–a modern city of 34,000 population, including suburbs–cosmopolitan in its make-up, progressive, liberal, and given to hospitality.”

We’re excited to see what Jon has to say. Come join us.


Colorized night view of Pack Square. Vance Monument spiralled with electric lights and with strings of lights from top out to other strings around the Square, like a Maypole. Post card published by S.H. Kress & Co.

Elliston is an editor and writer for Carolina Public Press and WNC Magazine–and the curator of the @AVL1915 Twitter feed, which recounts century-old news. First appearing as @AVL1914, the feed was launched from the microfilmed records of early Asheville newspapers in Pack Memorial Library’s North Carolina Collection. Jon is also a board member of the Friends of the North Carolina Room.

The event is sponsored by the Friends of the North Carolina Room and co-sponsored by the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Other events in the Hungry For History series are:

Wednesday May 27, 2015:

            John Toms with docents from St. Lawrence Basilica: “The Guastavino Family: Asheville and South America”


Wednesday July 29, 2015:

            Danny Bernstein: “The History of the Mountains to the Sea Trail”


Wednesday September 30, 2015:

            Kevan Frazier: “Asheville and the Roaring 20’s”