The History of Brevard
Transylvania County Courthouse - Brevard, North Carolina
The seat of Transylvania County,
Brevard, is a town like none other. It has all the wholesome, small
town charm of times long past, but its diversity never ceases to
surprise visitors: extraordinary live music, fantastic restaurants,
irresistible antique shops, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and much more.
The Brevard Music Center and Brevard College's Paul Porter Center
for the Performing Arts host an incredible variety of entertainment:
operas, musicals, jazz and classical concerts. The Brevard Little
Theater and the Brevard Chamber Orchestra perform throughout the year. Transylvania
is also home to a thriving community of local musicians, many of whom
you'll discover playing in the gazebo on the courthouse lawn or in one
of our local restaurants.
artisans and crafters have also chosen to make Brevard their home. In
addition to several beautiful galleries downtown, there are numerous
studios and shops to explore throughout Transylvania County. and visitors. Join us for old-fashioned fun on the Fourth of July, enjoy the thrills and chills of Halloweenfest in Transylvania, or savor the magic of Twilight Tour during the winter holidays.
general area was settled in the early 1800s by Scots-Irish immigrants
who were attracted by the rich soil and abundant game and natural
resources. These early pioneers were surely awed by the variety of the
land from lush green valleys to densely forested mountains to the
headwaters of a chameleon, meandering river, the French Broad, that begins near present-day Rosman (a few miles south of Brevard) and flows from south to north.
of these original settlers were farmers. Much of what is now forest
used to be farmland. Many of the current residents of the area are the
successors of these original settlers. To verify this, you need go no
further than the local phone book – take a look at the number of names
such as “McCall” and “Galloway.”
By 1860, the population had grown sufficiently that residents sought to establish a town near Rock Springs. Transylvania County
came into being in 1861 when Representative Joseph P. Jordan introduced
a bill to the North Carolina House of Commons to establish a new county
from parts of Henderson and Jackson Counties. Having been born on a farm near Blantyre in Transylvania, it is no surprise that Jordan chose the name “Transylvania” for his new county. The name, “Transylvania,” comes from the Latin, “trans” for “across” and “sylvan” for “woods,” and could not have been more aptly chosen. Jordan’s bill also provided for the requested new town in the county. The bill was approved on February 15. 1861.
The first official meeting of the Transylvania County court was held May 20, 1861 (by coincidence, the same day North Carolina
seceded from the Union.) in a one-room country store called “The Valley
Store” at a place called Oak Grove. Alex F. England, Leander S. Gash,
and Braxton C. Lankford jointly donated fifty acres for a town site.
Brevard was chosen as the name for the new town as a tribute to a
notable man, Ephriam Brevard, a colonel in the Revolutionary Army and
surgeon. Brevard grew slowly and started with only two or three stores,
a new courthouse and county jail, two churches and a dozen residences.
the turn of the century a rail line was built through the county. It
took some of the nation’s wealthiest families to vacation at Lake Toxaway
and carried much of the timber logged in the area to sawmills. Due to
the amount of logging done in the area, lumber companies sawmills, and
tanning companies became profitable businesses.
World War I. Transylvania County got it’s first modern industry. Harry
Strauss brought industrial jobs with the opening of a paper
manufacturing plant located on the edge of the Davidson River. This plant called Ecusta has been a major employer in the county for years.
town was named after Dr. Ephraim Brevard, a Revolutionary War colonel
and surgeon who, incidentally, drafted the Mecklenberg Declaration of
Independence. Born in 1744, Brevard studied medicine at Princeton College.
He was known to be socially prominent. He joined the fight for
independence when the British invaded the South. He was taken prisoner
at the surrender of Charleston.
was among prisoners who became severely ill from such afflictions as
dysentery. Reportedly, Andrew Jackson's mother cared for him at the
prison camp. He never recovered from his illness, despite special
medicines and treatment. He died in 1781, about the time the hostile
force trod his native soil, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Hopewell.
In front of Brevard City Hall,
a monument erected to Dr. Ephraim Brevard by his family declares that
the doctor "Fought bravely and died a martyr to that liberty which none
loved better and few understood so well."
following is quoted from Western North Carolina: Its Mountains and Its
People to 1880 by Ora Blackmun, Appalachian Consortium Press, Boone, NC, 1977:
at the outbreak of the Civil War, western North Carolina gained three
additional counties - Transylvania and Clay along its southern
boundary, and Mitchell on its western border. Across the territory
organized into Transylvania County was the ancient Indian trail leading from the present Henderson County to the Davidson River.
From there it ran over the mountains to the French Broad and on to
Estatoe, the most easterly of all the Cherokee towns and now the site
of Rosman, and then down into South Carolina. This trail was early made into a road, and along it had passed the volunteers on their way to the Mexican War.
region had been settled earlier when a grant of 640 acres had been made
to Colonel Charles McDowell of Quaker Meadows in 1787. After 1790 a
little colony was established along the Davidson River, and other settlers went to the forks of the French Broad.
A private fort erected by John Carson was reassuring to these first
settlers who were living so close to the Cherokee country. When Henderson County was formed, the settlers in its western area voted solidly for the French Broad
or "River" site for a county seat. They were never reconciled to the
returns of the election that placed the seat of government on Mud
Creek, or the "Road" site, and they began an agitation soon afterwards
for the formation of a county out of the western portion of Henderson.
years of impatient waiting, the petition for such a county was
presented in the General Assembly and granted in 1861. An organizing
group met at James Neill's Hattery Shop on the old Boylston road near
the site of the present Ecusta plant (now the site of the new Lowes
store in Pisgah Forest: editor). Contrary to the custom of naming
counties for prominent North Carolinians, this district received the
name Transylvania, a name possibly suggested by residents who had in
mind the Transylvania colony in Kentucky."
- Source: J.D. Lewis - Little River, SC