Transylvania County, North Carolina

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Land of the Waterfalls
1700's Cherokee were here, living in the forests and mountains, prior to arrival of settlers, North Carolina government began legislation, 1830 to move them westward to Oklahoma.. Immigrants arrived in wagons to the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Davidson River. Tracts of 100 to 640 Acres began to be settled by the early settlers in the French Broad Valley. Families were: George Orr, Lambert Clayton, James, Benjamin Davidson, Joseph Patton. Hohsed and Mathew Wilsons settled near Dunn's Rock. The Wilsons and Kings were the early settlers near Brevard. [1] [2][3]
Oct 11, 1783 William Porter on Cathey's Creek (4 miles west) of early Brevard received a land grant of (50 acres). [1][3]
1792 Benjamin Davidson settled near the Davidson River (Brother, William Davidson, of King's Mountain began a water powered sawmill). William Davidson received permission to begin a grist mill near his saw mill. (An operator of a gristmill and saw mill received (50 acres) in land grants and an exemption from paying taxes for the militia. Since millers were not paid in cash, they received (one eighth) of the ground corn. Opening a sluice to the mill allowed the gushing water to turn the wheel. Customers brought their corn and container for the corn to be ground. [1]
1804-07 The Walton War occurred which was a border dispute between North Carolina and Georgia. [2]
Some settlers stayed in Transylvania areas but others moved westward, battling weather, mud and the swamp lands. To build a cabin they chopped down the trees, split the logs prior to putting them together. They created doors or windows by cutting the logs and creating the doors or window with wooden shutters. Since there were no nails, these were attached to the cabin with leather hinges. The center of the cabin was the fireplace where people could gather, to keep warm, cook, and eat. They built ice "houses" to store their ice blocks by digging out of the mountain or building with insulation. [1]
Early 1800's Immigrants were English, Scotch-Irish, and Welsh who arrived via the Cherokee Trading paths, Davidson River, French Broad River and the Savannah River. The immigrants were attracted by the rich soil, abundant game and natural resources. The lush green valleys in the area became densely forested mountains, then onward to the French Broad River which begins near Rosman and meanders southward to northward. Many settlers were farmers. A lot of the forest seen currently were originally farmland. [4]
Plank Road found beneath blacktop.
1830's The 2nd generation of Transylvanians were innovative. They created early roads consisting of two tracks of planks over the mountainous or marshy areas. Travel was by canoes, and flatboats on the French Broad River, than wagons or ox carts, due the poor roads. The 1860's diaries mention going to church in rowboats. If a road extended across a settler's land, the settler had to maintain the road and bridges. Thus he would set up a toll booth to off-set this maintenance cost. (Horses could travel 25 miles/day). Taverns such as grog shops and feeding pens for the animals were built.[3][1][5][4]
map with townships
The Water wheel was invented in western North Carolina. This enabled the mill and forge were to be used.. Three forges were at Mills River, Hominy Creek and Seems Creek to produce iron. Nails, horseshoes, knives, hatches axes chisels, augers, bolts, were produced by the Phillip Sutton Iron Works, contributed to the name of Forge Mountain. [1]
1850 George Shuford began black-smithing and repairing tools in the Davidson River Iron Works. Iron ore could be mined on Forge Mountain near the Mills river. Then the ore could be hauled by oxen and mule teams down Boyleston Road. [1]
Citizens from the east side of Jackson County petitioned to join Henderson County. Low population and geography prevented much interaction until May 20, 1861 when a bill was submitted forming Transylvania County. It specified that Brevard be the county seat, but when surveying was done, it was called the "Town". [1][4]
1851 The Piedmont Air Line Railroad had ended in Greenville. The Plank road made it possible to extend the Western North Carolina into Asheville by 1870. A post office was established in what would later be known as Brevard. The postman announced his arrival by a few blasts on his trumpet. Then Farmers would travel to Greenville to trade their vegetables, apples, chestnuts, for some lead, muslin, tools and utensils. [1][5][4]
Red House Inn
1850-1860 Robert Poor built the Red House, which became the first hotel in Town. Rockbrook Hotel was built where people came for the summer, which burned during the Civil War. Another hotel resort was built in Buck Forest, where many South Carolinians and other southerners visit. [3][4]
1860 Citizens of theTransylvania area asked for a new county. Representative Joseph P. Jordan, introduced a bill to the North Carolina legislature to form a new county. The North Carolina legislature requested B.C. Langford to hold Transylvania area court at his home. A council was asked to build the first public buildings located near W. P. Poor's store.
1861 Brevard was selected to be the County Seat and has continued as this to today. [2] [3] [4]
Travel was a buggy or wagon drawn by a horse or ox. Farmers took produce to market by wagon in South Carolina. The market for timber had not begun. At first, timber was cut down and burned if a clearing was needed. Some timber could be floated down the French Broad River to Asheville to be sold. When they tried to build jetties for navigating the French Broad River, one boat came to Brevard and returned. No other trips were attempted.[4] .
Courthouse in Brevard, NC, Transylvania county, NC
In 1861, North Carolina created Transylvania County from parts of Henderson and Jackson counties. Representative Joseph P. Jordan's bill brought the action. The name of the county comes from latin words: "sylva" means "woods" and "trans" means across, i. e. across woods" The legislature gave instructions for court to be held in B.C. Langford's house. Rock Spring was renamed Brevard, Transylvania County, North Carolina and has been the county seat since that time. [4]
May 20, 1861 The first Transylvania County meeting was held officially for Transylvania County court in "The Valley Store" in Oak Grove, North Carolina, (a one room country store). Alex F. England, Leander Gash, and Braxton Lankford donated (50 acres each) for the town site of Brevard. [4]
1861-67 Iron products were needed by the Confederate army. Eli Patton was the overseer and employed by the new Transylvania county for non-military manufacturing. This provided income for local citizens. By 1867, the Iron Works closed.[1]
1862 Separate cemeteries were built for African Americans. Cathey's Creek and Cooper's have the earliest dates of 1862.According to this article most cultural history of African Americans are involved in church and school.[1]
Schooling began at home, barns or second floors of churches, using ink made from pokeweed berries. Paper was scarce, so the children used the slate. There were no standards, no trained teachers. The school year depended on cattle drives or the times there was no farming and harvesting chores to be done. These were called "old fields or "blab" schools.. [1]
1862-68 African Americans were slaves until after 1867. Some of the slave owners lived in Estatoe Town, Gloucester, Cathey's Creek, East Fork, Brevard, Davidson River, Little River and Cedar Mountain. The Emancipation took effect at the end of the Civil War. North Carolina was in a state of chaos at this time. Gradually these freed African Americans began to find land/ job where they could live, have a garden and earn money.[1]
Transylvania County, mountain view in fall
Late 1860's Plank roads were built over mountains and swamps. These were on (84) roads using state and private funds to build the 500 miles of road for #300,000-$800,000 in western North Carolina in areas where forests were plentiful.[6]
1866- 1879 Children did not have a school for a few years until Henry Thomas talked the settlers into beginning a school. Some boys rolled logs from (2) cabins, to build a schoolhouse and church, Lake Toxaway Baptist Church.. Children walked miles from Whitewater and Gloucester for school. Henry P Thomas used the "Blue Black Speller" and the Bible for teaching aids. The first schools began in Quebec, Gloucester, with earlier ones near Estatoe Ford.[1]
Aug 2, 1881 Citizens built a two deck passenger steamboat, called Mountain Lily to haul passengers and freight (17 miles) on the French Broad River to the Oklawaha River. It was operated by the French Broad Steamboat Company, with a size of (90 feet) and held 100 passengers. [7][4]
1885 A flash flood pulled the Steamboat loose where it was moored at Banner Farm Road and could not be refloated. Eventually the citizens salvaged the wood from the steamboat to use in building the Horseshoe Baptist Church. They used the steamboat bell to ring to call people to church. [8] [5]
Brevard, North Carolina, 1886 and Now
Brevard, NC. 1886.
Brevard. NC more current.
1895-99 Henderson & Brevard Railroad (later the Transylvania Railroad Company) extended the tracks to Brevard. This brought more tourists and commerce to the area. The Railway brought tourists to Transylvania. The luxury resort town, Lake Toxaway began which stimulated the region's economy with its escape from 19th century life. During the 1916 flood, the Lake Toxaway dam broke. This destroyed the small communities below the Lake Toxaway. Lake Toxaway became a dry lake, resulting in the resort failing to survive. This was both a human and ecological disaster, with lumber debris still visible today.. [3][5][2] [4]
1895 - 1896 The railroad arrived in Brevard, 1895 and in Rosman 1896. Rosman was one of the only places with a population in 1880 of 1880 of 5,339. Tannerys began such as: McMinn Tannery, Charles Patton Tannery in Brevard and Ashworth Tannery in Little River. [1]
Forests were lush, which led to lumber mills and Tannin extracts to become resources. Joseph Silverstein began tapping native trees such as Chestnut and the bark of the Chestnut Oak for the items used as tannins when tanning hides and skins. Toxaway Tanning Company began 1902 in Brevard.. Soon its name changed several times from Toxaway to Eastatoe, then French Broad, then back to Toxaway.[1] [4]
1895 Fitch and Sarah Taylor moved into the Red House, began the Epworth School (for girls). The Red House became the Brevard Institute (high school), which later became the Women's Home Mission Society where Brevard College is located. [1][4]
1898 Biltmore Forest School was founded by Schenck, showing the Settler's contribution and the Transylvania County development. In the late 1990's timber and timber products are produced here. [3] [5]
1902 Lake Toxaway was built on the Toxaway River. This was the first artificial lake to be in the Appalachian Mountains. Size of the earthen dam was 500 ft. long, 60 feet (18 m) high and 20 feet wide at the top. Its advertisements called it the "Switzerland of America". J.F. Hayes built the Franklin Hotel with his Toxaway Company. Excursion trains arrived from other parts of the country. [5] [1]
Lake Toxaway.
1906 The school term was short as the children helped their parents on the farms. [4]
1923 High School) Brevard Institute was the first and only high school. Broad Valley Institute in Enon, North Carolina began in Brevard. [4]
1910 The Gloucester Lumber Company spun off to the Gloucester Company Store, to be the Rosman Tanning and Extract Company. Citizens from Brevard did their shopping in Rosman, North Carolina. When the band saw was introduced, logging began as a business. There were logging camps, using horse teams to move the large logs. Many companies spun off the original companies. In that year Joseph Silverstein also changed the family name to Silversteen.[1]

1913 - A story of Happiness in The Greystone Inn
The Armstrongs visiting from Savannah stayed in the Toxaway Inn in 1910. By 1913 they had decided to build a home in the area. Lucy Camp Armstrong with her (11) servants lived in a tent on a knoll overlooking Lake Toxaway. while they began the building of their summer home. The (six-level) home was finished in 1915 with features similar to a Swiss cottage. The walkways were created from native stone. Then the dam burst in 1916, but the Armstrong's cottage survived. Mr Armstrong died in 1920, but Mrs. Armstrong continued living there. In the late 1920's, Mrs. Armstrong added on to the "cottage" with a kitchen, library, staples and pool so she could lie there year-round. Carl Molz asked Mrs. Armstrong to marry him and the couple lived in the mountain home until 1963, when he died. R.D Heinitsh Sr. bought the large cottage to become the Greystone Inn. So Mrs. Armstrong Molz moved to a smaller home on Lake Toxaway until her death in 1971. Wikipedia Lake Toxaway and Greystone Inn

Aug 13, 1916 Too many rainy days this year caused rivers and creeks to flood the banks. This damaged land, trees. The Toxaway dam broke and flooded the county, clear into South Carolina. This destroyed the Toxaway lake and buildings. The resort survived but the Lake was destroyed. In 1946 the resort was torn down to salvage the lumber.[9] [2]
Post 1916 Some other small communities did recover. Tourists come to the county to see the waterfalls here. There are (3) forest parks here, called Du Pont State Forest. Gorges State Park which has the 250 waterfalls, and Pisgah National Forest.. Whitewater Falls are (411 feet tall). [2]
map of Transylvania highways and towns
1920 Segregation was subtle in stores and streets, but dominant in schools. Rosenwald was the 2nd Brevard African American School. Poverty hindered operation and supplies, until the school burned in 1941. The children were sent to three churches for classes. In 1948 the children were then bused to Hendersonville until a new school was built. The high school children were bused to Henderson until 1963. Poverty influenced the operation and supplies of the school, though there was empathy and support from whites. The high school grades students were bused to Hendersonville. In 1948 a new $61,000 school was built for the lower grades. .[1]
1933-34 Two older colleges which were related to the Methodist Episcopal Church. Rutherford College began 1853, and Weaver College which eventually in 1934 was renamed Brevard College. The Epworth School was an early school for young women. Later, Brevard College was founded.[1]
1936 - today Brevard College stressed education in the arts and science. The artistic community. Brevard Music Center on 200 acres of grounds. The campus has (150 buildings) with different shapes, sizes. In the summer the professional staff hold a six-week summer Festival. At this time the outstanding performers participate with awards for scholarships. This has 150 buildings of different sizes, on 200 acres. Just the auditorium will hold 1,647 people. Here some summer music festivals and programs are held. [1][4][2] [3]
1941-43 Pearl Harbor was attacked. Just as all states and counties, Transylvania County sent many workers to war, either by draft or they joined. Straus' company considered them to be on leaves of absence and stressed the security of their jobs, with continued medical coverage for their families. Victory Gardens began. Ecusta Workers were supported if they planted Victory Gardens. By 1943 there were 2,597 Victory Gardens just in Transylvania County. [1]
1963 R.D. Heinitsh, Sr. and a group of bought the 9,000-acre (36 km2) tract that once surrounded the original start of the early 1900's 20th resort. These investors restarted the Lake Toxaway Company and working on restoring the large artificial 640 acres lake. A learning Center is and Lake Toxaway County Club was added.[10]
Biltmore Forestry school
1968 The Cradle of Forestry was formed.Biltmore Forest School The 6,500 acre forest exists to commemorate forest conservation. Tracts of forest here became the Du Pont State Forest, Nantahala National Forest, and Pisgah National Forest. [2] [1] [5]
Historical attractions in Transylvania County are the Franklin Hotel, the Athelwold, McMinn House, Henning Inn, Hotel Brevard with estimated thirty other hotels, inns, boarding houses. [1]
Industries began in Transylvania are:
Olin Industries, then became Mathieson Chemical Corporation
American Thread which became Coats American when it merged with Coats & Clark, Inc.
Ecusta Paper Corporation
Gloucester Company Store became Rosman Tanning and Extract Company
By 2003 many industries closed.
Transylvania continues to produce timber and timber products. The Biltmore Forest School began the first efforts for conservation of the forests.. This county has three forests: Pisgah National Forest (83,000 acres in Transylvania Co., and Du Pont State Forest, Nantahala National Forest. The Cradle of Forestry in America historic site in northern Transylvania County,is on the site of the Biltmore Forest School founded by Schenck in 1898, commemorates the role of the school and the county in the development of modern forestry. The county remains an important producer of timber and timber products. [3]

Adjacent counties

  • Henderson County - east
  • Greenville County, South Carolina - southeast
  • Pickens County, South Carolina - south
  • Oconee County, South Carolina - southwest
  • Jackson County - west
  • Haywood County - northwest
  • Buncombe County - northeast

Government Offices

1881 Transylvania Courthouse

1881 Courthouse.

Current Courthouse

Transylvania courthouse, Brevard, NC


Description -sylvan beauty
Lakes -calm lakes,
gushing waterfalls The county is popularly billed as the "Land of Waterfalls" (there pver250 water falls,on account of its more than 250 falls, including Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock Falls, and Whitewater Falls (411 feet, is considered the highest cascade east of the Rocky Mountains.
State Park: Gorges State Park
Weather -temperate mild weather attracts visitors from the south and north
Size: 378.39 square miles
Population in 2010 was 33,090.
Rivers -Davidson River, French Broad River and Savannah River
Parkways- Blue Ridge Parkway traverses through parts of the county, and has views of the Appalachian Mountains
Altitude - Chestnut Knob in NW of Brevard inTransylvania county is (6,025 feet )

Protected areas

Looking Glass Falls


In 2010, there were 33,090 people in the county with a population density of 83 people/sq. mi. The racial makeup of the county was 92.4% White, 3.9% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.4% Asian, and 1.12% from two or more races. 2.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino. The median income for a household in the county was $38,587, and the median income for a family was $45,579. The per capita income for the county was $20,767. About 6.60% of families and 9.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.80% of those under age 18 and 7.00% of those age 65 or over.[11]


  • US 64
  • US 178
  • US 276
  • NC 215
  • NC 280
  • NC 281

  • Transylvania Regional Hospital (TRH), (94-bed facility) was formed in 1933 with the mission to serve the health care needs of this community.
  • Politics Transylvania is a solidly Republican county, although much less so than the vast majority of Appalachia. No Democratic presidential nominee has carried Transylvania County since Jimmy Carter.

County Resources,_North_Carolina


  • U.S. Senator, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, Augustus S. Merrimon was born Born Septr 15, 1830, studied at the Asheville Male Academy, read law with fellow classmate Zebulon B. Vance, and was accepted by the state bar in 1852. Merrimon was deeply involved in the impeachment trial of Governor William W. Holden.
Merrimon served for six years in the U.S. Senate, then was appointed to the North Carolina Supreme court, in 1883, until death in 1892..
  • Loretta M. Aiken ( Jackie “Moms Mabley”0
  • Selena Hall Robinson vocalist.


  • Boyd
  • Cathey's Creek
  • Dunn's Rock
  • Eastatoe
  • Gloucester
  • Hogback
  • Little River


  • Population in 2010 was 33,090



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  6. Roads
  7. 1861-1911 heritage

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