Fetching its name from Hezekiah Barnard, who owned stock stand and inn near the Forks of Ivy in the 19th century, Barnardsville is one of Buncombe County’s most rural communities. Things get a little fuzzy on where exactly Barnardsville ends and Democrat and Dillingham begin, but we’ll get into that when we look at those communities in the coming weeks.
This week, we’re going to dig into collections that feature “Old Barnardsville” held here in the North Carolina Room. Thankfully, we have a few, and some supplementary items in the stacks to round out the history of this beautiful community.
Some of our favorites are photos taken in the early 20th century by a Burnsville (Yancey County) based photographer named Foster. Right now, we don’t know much about the photographer, if you do, by all means let us know!
So this post will be a quick review of some of our favorite materials in our collection related to Barnardsville. We hope it will inspire you to come by and take a closer look sometime! If you have family collections, we would love to talk to you about how you can donate them to the North Carolina Collection.
The Foster Photos
The four photos by Foster are not as high a quality as we might like. Unfortunately, it seems as though the originals are lost, but nevertheless their documentary value is priceless. The first one shows a view of the town of Barnardsville situated in the valley looking east sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century. Thankfully, 20 of the 22 buildings in this photo have been identified in Sherry Maney’s photo books (we’ll talk about them in a moment).
The three other photos have been identified by local historian and community elder Jerry Israel as Windom Methodist Church. They show three different views of this simple church by the railroad tracks. In one of the photos, you can see two women, maybe a mother and daughter, walking along in the foreground.
The Manuscript Collections
Buncombe County Schools (MS247) and Richard Sharp Smith (RS0208, Part of the Asheville Art Museum Collection)
A large part of what our collections hold on the Barnardsville community (and a lot of other communities) is centered around community schools and the Buncombe County Moonlight Schools collection. School and class photos have been around a long time, people love documenting “school days” ! These collections from the early 1900’s and into the 20’s and 30’s show off various Barnardsville Schools and their structure.
The Picture Books, By Sherry Fugett Byrd Maney (NC REF 975.688 MAN, V.1-V.7)
Besides the Foster photos, we don’t have many, if any, original prints of Barnardsville in our collection. However, Sherry Maney has curated a seven-volume collection of photos of the community. Each volume covers a different topic, and the photos are identified, for the most part. The volume topics are: “The Community,” “Schools, Activities, and Students,” “The Children,” “Couples,” “The Families,” “Individuals,” and “Our Boys Overseas.”
Despite Barnardsville seeming like it would be an all-white community, the volume covering families includes a section covering the African American residents living in the area from the early 20th century until about the 1950’s including the Coones, Rays, Roberts, Flacks, and Barnards.
The Melinda Stuart Barnardsville History Collection (MS328)
This collection contains a nice variety of research on the Barnardsville Community that would be helpful to any researcher interested in the development of the community over the past 100 years. Included in the collection are some photos of schools, churches, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp that was in Barnardsville, and copies of community newspapers like the Barnardsville Mountain News.
Odds and Ends
These couple of items relate to Barnardsville, but don’t belong to any particular collection.
This photo titled by a label added later on, is called “Making a Run on Anderson Branch near Barnardsville” and is taken from a scrapbook of the Ramsey family who did a lot of hiking in the Reems Creek and Barnardsville sections. We think our friend Dan Pierce will enjoy this one!
Another piece of our collection that might interest some is the oral history we have with Sarah Hart, an African American woman who grew up in Weaverville, and has a couple of mentions of Barnardsville in her interview. Follow this link to take a look.
We love sharing our collections with you! We especially like when they get a good workout from researchers, the curious, and even the stray interior designer or stylist! These images and collections are as much yours as they are the library’s. That’s what public libraries are all about!
Come on in and take a look. You never know what you might find!
As a reminder, this post is a part of our 52 Weeks, 52 Communities Series. In this series, we are covering a different Buncombe County community each week. Do you have materials related to Barnardsville you’d like to let us know about? Do you, your parents or grandparents have a good story to tell? Please let us know!!! We want to hear from you! The North Carolina Room is Buncombe County’s Public Archive, we want to help preserve and make accessible the history and culture of Asheville and Buncombe County for all its residents.
This post was authored by Katherine Calhoun Cutshall, a librarian working in the North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library.
Have you reached out to Robert Brunk (Brunk Auctions)? He is very knowledgable about the history of the Barnardsville area, I believe.
We speak to Bob and Jerry Israel pretty regularly. Thanks for the suggestion, Nancy!
That’s awesome. I want to soon make the trip up from Warner Robins Ga. to view these items if possible. Perhaps to put faces to the names of my ancestors.