Answer: The Friends of the North Carolina Room!
We are a fun and varied group of Asheville residents who love local Asheville history. We love to get together and . . . yes . . . talk about local history. We love to socialize, i.e., eat, drink and talk together.
This years Friends of the North Carolina Room social was held in the Patton-Parker home at 95 Charlotte Street. Artifacts were shown from the Patton-Parker family collection as well as newly donated items recently discovered by an electrician in the wall of the house during renovation and donated to us by current owner Jim Siemons.
The Siemon Collection, mostly 1840s-1870s documents, also contained presidential land grants for Lewis Tyus and Samuel Mitchell signed by Andrew Jackson, 16 November 1830 and a land grant for Alfred Crawford signed by Martin Van Buren, 15 May 1837.
The cane Dr. Foster A. Sondley gave to Thomas Walton Patton was also on display, as well as Mary and Josey Parker’s Christmas card index file of friend’s mailing addresses. Did Mike McCue find himself in the index?
Guests enjoyed seeing James Patton’s original diary written in Asheville, N.C., March, 1839.
Zoe Rhine North Carolina Room librarian talked about the history of the house, built 150 years ago, which the social was celebrating. While commending the 7 decades of family members who have lived in the house, and the work they did do build up Asheville, Zoe reminded us to also pay homage to the part African Americans played in the history of the house. It was built in 1868 by three black carpenters, most likely previous Patton slaves. Just eight years prior, in the 1860 Federal Slave Schedule Census, Thomas Walton Patton was listed as owning 18 slaves and his father James Patton was the second largest slave owner in Buncombe owning 78 slaves, the second largest slave owner next to Nicholas Woodfin.
And then, in 1894 the house played a role in the history of women’s rights. A group of women met at Mayor Thomas Walton Patton’s house in November to plan a rally for the next day at the Buncombe County courthouse. The North Carolina Equal Suffrage Association was formed and the fight for women’s right to vote was launched in North Carolina.
The North Carolina Room was blessed last semester to work with UNCA professor Ellen Pearson who assigned us senior history intern Cora Hacker. Cora worked diligently archiving the Jim Siemon’s Collection (MS360), as well as diving into the quite large Patton-Parker Collection (MS195) given to us over the years by Mary Parker, and, after her death, by the Patton-Parker family. Cora spent many hours bent over her desk trying to transcribe mostly illegible cursive. –Remember, Cora, being young, only studied cursive in the third grade! Cora was an inspiring person for us to work with–for too short of a time. We thank her for her work and for a new friendship.
Click here to listen to Cora Hacker’s take-away from her local history presentation.
Thanks to North Carolina Room board members who made it happen: Louise Maret for the luscious spread (and main worrier) and her spouse Mike McCauley for taking pictures; Joe and Wanda Newman for the beverage pick-up (they’re still arguing about whose responsibility it was to remember to pack the red wine), and Tammy Young who pulled in just in time for clean-up.
The North Carolina Room is indebted to Jim Siemons for his donation, his amazing renovation of 95 Charlotte Street, and for inviting us to socialize in this home–that means so much to so many.
And with love to Mary Toole Parker 1916-2012
How do you get invited to the 2019 social for the Friends of the North Carolina Room? Easy. Join us for only $15.00/year membership. AND it will also help support our monthly local history programs, parking passes for volunteer scanners and to buy equipment for our community outreach projects.
Post by North Carolina Room librarian Zoe Rhine