When I went searching our database for sources to write this edition of 52 Weeks, 52 Communities I had one thought when the results came back:
“This cannot be it.”
Alas, this seems to be the only historical image of the Shiloh Community in the North Carolina Collection here at Pack Memorial Library.
This photo, shot by photographer Thomas H. Lindsey, is, right now, one of the very few pieces of documentation that exist in the North Carolina Room that might help us tell the story of this important, historically black community. And what’s more, is that the community is in a totally different location now than when this photo was taken. The Shiloh Community was displaced when George Vanderbilt purchased the original community property.
Indeed, there are a few oral histories in which the community comes up, and there is another photo, taken about 1980, of Shiloh AME Zion Church. But when it comes to photos of people, homes, and businesses, the North Carolina Collection, Buncombe County’s public archive has nothing… and in an archive as extensive as ours, it’s almost more difficult to have nothing than to have something.
This is terribly disappointing for a number of reasons, primarily because the absence of historical materials related to this historic African American community speaks to (in my opinion) our collective respect and understanding (or lack thereof) for the history of the area.
We know there is more out there, though. Can you help us find and conserve more history of the Shiloh Community?
What important stories are we missing?
Can you tell us about the development “Lincoln Park?” We have this incredible poster, but not a ton of information about this “seclusive colored development.”
If you think you can contribute to our archive, especially if you have material related to the Shiloh Community, please make plans to join us tomorrow afternoon for our second History Harvest.
A history harvest is an
afternoon-long event where the public is invited to bring their historical
items including photos, scrapbooks, business papers, and more to the library so
that staff and volunteers can scan (digitize) the items, add them to our special
collections, and return the items to you with digital copies!
We’re working hard to increase the size and visibility of our collections pertaining to people of color in Asheville, and we need your help!
We’ll have some light refreshments, and opportunities to mingle with friends, family, and maybe some folks you haven’t seen in a while.
Order of the Day:
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm :
“Ask your elders” round table discussion
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Digitization and return of items
If you can’t make it to the harvest, that’s ok! Get in touch with us any time! We will be so, so happy you did.
We love sharing our collections and stories with you! We especially like when they get a good workout from researchers, the curious, and even the stray interior designer or stylist! Our 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. We want to hear from you, too! 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.
When a story about the history of a place is repeated enough it becomes fact when actually,with out documentation, it is still just “oral history”. This is true of the picture by Lindsey who in 1880 published a picture of the supposed Shiloh AME Zion Church. The picture is clearly stated as being a picture of the “Shiloh Baptist Church”. At that time there were at least one Baptist Church in Shiloh. Also, if one is familiar with the geography surrounding the original two acres that the Shiloh AME Zion Church stands on they will see that the land goes down and not up as in the picture!
I am part of a committee to put the church and cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places and at this point our application is at the State level. We are hopeful! However, we would also like to see pictures of the church during different periods of it’s development.
We would be very glad to share any of our information with you and also see any pictures you may have gathered.
Thanks in advance. Sincerely, Diane Zimmerman