In 1895 the village of Jupiter was described by one Weaverville-based Asheville Citizen correspondent as “a very wide place in the road” where “one can purchase postage stamps at a price less than anywhere else in the United States.” The postman, Mr. McDowell, was happy to strike a deal for his patrons, primarily corn and tobacco farmers.
Once upon a time, Buncombe County had many more post offices and postmasters than it does today. The offices, of course, were named, and served small populations of residents spread throughout the county, be they hidden in coves and hollers, or living in the center of town. Most folks would be surprised to learn just how many post offices, (therefore, named communities) have been lost to time. In particular, in the late 19th and early 20th century, as roads and transportation improved and population began to consolidate around industrial resources, many of the communities that a late Victorian Buncombian could have given you easy directions to, may now only exist in the earliest memories of some old timers.
Jupiter itself is an obscure location for some modern Buncombe residents. Located in the northwest section of the county, the community is between Flat Creek to the east and the French Broad River to the west. According to Reba Roberts, a student at Red Oak High School (near present day Alexander) in 1932,
“[Jupiter] received its name in about 1885 or 1888, by Old North McCLean (sic), he being the first post master. His theory for naming the settlement Jupiter was that it is of a very high altitude and from the post office you could gain a very plain view of the Jupiter star that rose in the north east. There was about three or four men present at the time… they agreed and it was called ‘Jupiter Post Office.’”
At the same time, and before, though, there were other small communities declaring their existence all around the same general location. At one time or another, most around the time Jupiter was established, these now seemingly forgotten communities (probably for ease and because of improved transportation) consolidated their mail service to Jupiter.
So what are some of these pre-Jupiter communities?
Roberts (Began in Madison County, became Jupiter in Buncombe County 1885)
Roberts was the name of the post office before Jupiter came along. According to Reba Roberts’ essay, the mail was sent to the home of “Uncle Jack Roberts” who had a special room for sorting the mail. The house was, according to Reba, still standing in 1932, and apparently an interesting place to visit. Mr. Roberts’ sorting table and slots were still intact.
I had a tough time pinning down exactly who this Jack Roberts is. His full name, according to postal history records is Jackson D. Roberts. There are several options in the 1880 census in the Flat Creek, Reems Creek, and Ivy Townships. If anyone has insight, please let us know!
Grantville (Post Office est. 1871, Sent to Jupiter ca. 1906)
The Grantville post office is the longest lasting of all the offices that eventually consolidated into Jupiter. The first person to hold the title of post master in Grantville was Alexander Lafayette “Fate” Logan. Grantville was very close to the Madison County line.
Fate Logan operated a grist mill at Grantville, and sources indicate this mill was at the Forks of Ivy.
Morgan Hill (Post Office est. 1875, sent to Jupiter ca. 1908)
Morgan Hill is perhaps the best documented of all the “bygone” communities on this list. It finds itself geographically smack dab in between Flat Creek, Barnardsville, and Jupiter. This community held on to their identity for some time after losing their post office because of an established citizenry and infrastructure, including a mill, school, and a couple of churches baring the name.
The first postmaster at Morgan Hill was James H. Sams, father in law to Asheville Mayor Gallatin Roberts.
Refuge (Post Office est. 1882, sent to Jupiter 1885)
Unfortunately, we don’t know a darn thing about Refuge, but now we’re on the prowl. Send us tips!
According to the directory of post offices and post masters we have here in the North Carolina Collection, the first post master at Refuge was William B. Smith.
Fulton (Post Office est. 1901, sent to Jupiter 1906)
Fulton, like Refuge, was extraordinarily short-lived, and we don’t know much about it. Their first postmaster was James E. Chandler.
For a while, Jupiter was an incorporated township, that is, a proper town that could levy taxes and request from the state special assistance for particular types of infrastructure projects. The original incorporation happened about the time the post office opened. However, in 1909, the post office was discontinued, and by 1912, the people of the town submitted the paperwork to rescind their incorporation. However, in 1958, to everyone’s surprise, townspeople discovered that their paperwork had never been submitted, and their “very wide place in the road” inhabited by about 100 people was indeed, a town. For a short while, the citizens of Jupiter considered holding elections, but they never took place. Instead, they chose to submit their disincorporation documents, for real this time.
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 Jupiter or its predecessors 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.