AHGP Transcription Project

A History of Henderson County

Until 1838 Henderson was a part of Buncombe, and the story of its first settlement belongs to that county. But in 1838, when Hodge Rabun was in the senate and Montreville Patton and Philip Brittain were in the house, it was erected into a separate county and named in honor of Leonard Henderson, once chief justice of the State, the county seat also having been named in his honor. In 1850 it had only 6,483 population, while in 1910 it contained 16,262.

The crest of the Blue Ridge, in Henderson County, is an undulating plateau, which will not be recognized by the traveler in crossing. The Saluda Mountains, beyond Green river, are the boundary line of vision on the south. The general surface features of the central part of this pearl of counties will be best seen by a glance at the pictorial view from Dun Cragin, near Hendersonville.

With a general altitude about that of Asheville, with broad river bottoms along the French Broad, Mud Creek and else where, its agricultural and grazing advantages surpass those of Buncombe; while as a summer and health resort, Hendersonville, its county seat, with its fine and well-kept hotels and boarding houses, surpasses in many important respects the only town that exceeds it in population, the famed city of Asheville. The social charm of this beautiful place, as well as of Flat Rock and Fletcher, is at least not surpassed in Buncombe or in Asheville itself. Hendersonville has everything in the way of hotels, boarding houses, clubs, banks, street railways, parks, lights, water, livery and other advantages that could be wished. The points of interest in the immediate vicinity are numerous and appealing. Last summer there were 15,000 visitors in town and 25,000 in the county. The churches represent every denomination.

John Clayton, of Mills River section, was in the legislature in 1827 and 1828, and in the senate in 1833. Largely through his influence Henderson was formed into a separate county. He was the grandfather of Mrs. Mattie Fletcher Egerton, first wife of Dr. J. L. Egerton and great-grandfather of Mrs. Wm. Redin Kirk. He with his son, John, was among the first jurors of this county. R. Irvine Allen, brother of Dr. T. A. Allen, the latter being the oldest male inhabitant of this county, and Jesse Rhodes were among the chain-bearers when the county lines were first surveyed. A committee, consisting of Col. John Clayton, Col. Killian, and Hugh Johnston, was appointed to select and lay off a county seat, and their first choice was the land at what is now called Horse Shoe in 1839. But there was so much dissatisfaction with this that two factions arose, called the River and the Road parties, the River party favoring the Horse Shoe site, it having been on the French Broad River. In 1839, however, the Road party enjoined the sale in lots of the land selected at Horse Shoe, and the controversy soon waxed so warm that the legislature authorized an election to determine the matter by popular vote, resulting in the success of the Road party. Judge Mitchell King of Charleston, S. C., who had been among the first settlers of this section and owned much of the land where Hendersonville now stands, conveyed fifty acres for the county site; and this was laid off into lots and broad, level right-angled streets, and sold in 1840. Dr. Allen died early in 1914.

At the time the Civil War commenced there were on Main street, the Episcopal Church, completed save for the spire; the Shipp house, adjoining, which formerly stood where the Pine Grove lodge now stands, and where Lawyer Shipp, father of Bartlett Shipp, Esq., lived. The present Sample home was then owned by the Rev. Collin Hughes, the Episcopal clergyman. The old Virginia House stood on the corner now occupied by the First National Bank, and was built by David Miller and William Deaver, the latter having been killed in the Civil War. It was conducted many years by Mr. C. C. Chase; but about eighteen years ago it became the property of Hall Poole. A still older house was the old hotel built by John Mills, and stood on the present site of the St. John. It later became the property of Colonel Ripley, and was known far and wide as the Ripley House. There was nothing south of the court house site except the old Ripley residence, built by the Kings, and the house that is now Col. Pickens’ residence. The only two houses standing prior to the formation of Henderson County in the town of Hendersonville, and remaining unchanged now, are the Arledge house on Main Street, and the stone office building in front of the Pine Grove Lodge, near the Episcopal Church.

Bowman's Bluff
About forty years ago a small colony of English people came to this section, and bought a vast acreage of land. Among them were the Valentines, well known in Hendersonville for many years, the Thomases, the Jeudweines, the Malletts (who still live on their place) and the Holmeses, still owning the place above referred to. It would be hard to describe this beautiful place. To the south of the old-fashioned house lies a tangle of garden, with its riot of vines, and its numerous overgrown arbors, and old trees trimmed in fantastic shapes. The house is approached by a long, winding drive, between great old pines, and just in front of the house is the immense bluff, whereon wild crab-apples bloom in profusion. This falls away, a sheer descent many feet to the river below, and it was here that Mary Bowman was said to have leaped to her death many years ago, desperate over a hopeless love.

Centrally located to what was this English colony and on top of a hill, sits the little Episcopal Church, where they were wont to worship on Sunday, and which is used irregularly still.

Mr. Frank Valentine, who came to America in this colony, was educated at Cambridge, England, graduated with highest honor, holding several degrees. He went from Bowman's Bluff to Asheville, and later moved to Hendersonville, where he spent his remaining days. He was known as one of the finest educators in Western North Carolina.

Former Citizens
Peter Stradley lived at Old Flat Rock, and in 1870 died there almost 100 years old, highly respected and loved; Joseph Dotson lived to the age of 104 on his farm near Bat Cave, and made baskets and brooms. He was captured while in the Confederate army but escaped, running 18 miles over the ice. Govan Edney of Edneyville, also lived to a great age, and had a large experience as a hunter. Harvey Johnston and his wife once owned nearly all the land on the west side of South Main Street, Hendersonville, and having no horse, managed to make fine crops notwithstanding. Robert Thomas, first sheriff of Henderson County, was killed by bush-whackers during the Civil War. Solomon Jones lived on Mount Hebron, and was known as a builder of roads, having constructed one from Hendersonville to Mount Hebron, and another up Saluda Mountain; lived to be nearly 100, and made his own tombstone.

Business Enterprises
The Freeze Hosiery mills were opened June 15, 1912; the Skyland Hosiery Co., at Flat Rock make silk and cotton hose and have been operating several years; the Green River Mfg. Co., at Tuxedo, six miles south of Hendersonville, was started in 1909. They make combed peelers and Egyptain yarns, their annual output being 350,000 pounds; employing 250 hands, of whom 200 are skilled. They support an excellent school eight months every year; the Case Canning factory on the Edneyville road six miles from Hendersonville, at Dana, has a capacity of 500,000 cans a season; the Hendersonville Light & Power Co., 7˝ miles east of Hendersonville, have 1,250 horsepower, using only 400 at present; George Stephens operates a mission furniture factory, at Lake Kanuga, six miles out, where also is Kanuga Club.

Country Resorts
Besides the excellent hotels in Hendersonville, there is a fine hotel at Osceola Lake, one mile from town on the Kanuga Road; Kanuga Club on Kanuga Lake; Highland Lake Club, one and a half miles out on the Flat Rock Road, with cottages, is a stock company; Chimney Rock, twelve miles east, is in the Hickory Nut canon; Buck Forest, now the property of the Frank Coxe estate, was for years a summer resort, and the falls in the vicinity are noted; Fletcher, near the Buncombe line is also popular, and the social charms of the neighborhood are well recognized; Buck Shoals is near, and the famous Rugby Grange, the attractive country estate of the Westfelts of New Orleans, is one of the "show-places" of Western North Carolina.

A Literary Curiosity
A poem written on white satin in quatrain form, into each of which was incorporated a clause of the Lord's prayer, is known to have been written by Mrs. Susan Baring and is now in the possession of a Hendersonville lady.

Settling the Graham Boundary Line
By ch. 202, Pub. Laws, 1897, 343, the county surveyors of Cherokee and Graham were authorized to locate the line between these two counties and Tennessee, according to the calls of the act of 1821.

Source: Western North Carolina A History From 1730 to 1913, By John Preston Arthur, Published by Edward Henderson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, of Hendersonville, N. C., 1914

BACK to Henderson County AHGP Main Page

Be sure to add us to your favorites list and check back often.

This page was last updated Saturday, 17-Dec-2016 21:39:46 EST.

Webspace for this site is generously provided by

Information contained on this website may be used for personal genealogical research only and not to be given to pay to view sites or used on any other web site without the express consent of the contributor.

Copyright © 2016~2018 by Henderson County AHGP