When you think of Biltmore Forest the first thing that comes to mind is probably a sea of early 20th century wealthy white golfers.
In this week’s edition of 52 Weeks, 52 Communities we’re sharing an Oral History from our archives that sheds light on the construction of Biltmore Forest by African American workers.
Take a look at this interview from community member Samuel Abdul-Allah, who speaks at length about his grandfather, Samuel Barnes. Samuel, half Native American and half white, learned the trade of landscape architecture from Chauncey Beadle and became the first superintendent of the Biltmore Forest Country Club golf course.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
“My grandfather being the number one landscaper at the Biltmore Estate and all black men working out there, more or less, you know, just to do that kind of work, my grandfather was given the blueprints from the Country Club to build that golf course. And people wonder, you know, how was he able to–how was a black
man able to have the knowledge to read blueprints to build that golf course.
Well, he trained up under Chauncey Beadle and he was the architect that
took over Olmsted’s place in 1890. So he was, you know, the number one–
I have a 1910 census showing my grandfather on the census of Mr.
Chauncey Beadle that has Chauncey Beadle, his wife Margarita, my
grandfather, and then a young teenager, I think that was his niece, and then a
young Caucasian lady and she was like a–they were all listed as servants
over there. When someone, you know, works for you, they were listed as
servants. So, you know, they, more or less, you know, lived over there.”
Follow this link to read the entire interview and stop by the North Carolina Room soon to learn more about Mr. Abdul-Allah and his family’s history in the Biltmore Forest and Sweeten Creek Road and Rock Hill Road area.
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 Biltmore Forest 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.