Deeds as early as 1783 refer to the “Great Bend In the river,” below the “Big Bend” and along the “horseshoe bend” of the French Broad River. Therefore, it was only logical to name a community along this bend Horse Shoe. Yes, it is spelled with two words. No explanation has yet been located why the spelling is two words instead of one word.
If it had not been for the votes of 109 people, Horse Shoe would have been the county seat instead of Hendersonville. When Henderson County was created in 1837 there was no town in which to place the county courthouse. At this time in our county’s history, much of today’s Transylvania County was within Henderson County. This would place the center of the county near the “great bend” in the river.
But, other folks wanted the county seat closer to the main transportation route at this time. This was the area of the Old Buncombe Turnpike.
This controversy results in people choosing sides: the River Party and the Road Party. The controversy lasted from 1838 to 1841.
In 1841 a referendum election was held to determine the placement of the new town and the county seat. The Road Party won by 463 to 354 votes. Appeals were filed by leaders of the River Party. The court case went all the way to the N.C. Supreme Court. The court upheld the election results.
The Horse Shoe community in Henderson County extends from the “big bend” of the French Broad River to the town limits of Laurel Park and Hendersonville. It is bordered to the north and east by the traditional community of Rugby, but there are no definitive community lines. The two communities tend to merge. Mills River is also to the north of Horse Shoe, again with no definitive separation. To the west of Horse Shoe is Etowah and to the south are Laurel Park and Big Willow. The town of Hendersonville also borders Horse Shoe on the east.
Battle Creek, Shaw Creek and sections of Mill Pond Creek flow through the community before emptying their waters into the French Broad River.
Horse Shoe Mountain and Burl Mountain separate the community from Big Willow, and Davenport Mountain is within Horse Shoe. Jump-off Mountain (Davis Mountain) separates Horse Shoe from Laurel Park in the area of the Turley Falls (Brightwater Falls) waterfall. Long John Mountain separates Horse Shoe from the Rugby community.
The first three early deeds in the area of Horse Shoe along the French Broad River were for land purchased by persons who will later sell the land to other early settlers.
These deeds are:
. August 1783, James Davidson, William Davidson, Benjamin Davidson and Charles McDowell begin claiming large areas of land in today’s Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties along the French Broad River.
. Aug. 10, 1783, James McDowell bought land along the French Broad River in an area known as “the Great Bend (Horse Shoe) and on the path of the east side of the river where there is an oak tree marked by John McDowell, first owned by Gen. McDowell.” James Miller enters a land deed along the “western waters at the mouth of a branch on the east side of the French Broad River, below the Big Bend at a birch marked WR.”
. Sept. 23, 1785 – James Greenlee enters land on both sides of the French Broad River, including “the Great Bend in the river and mouth of a creek that empties into the river on the southeast side about 8 miles more or less above the mouth of Big Mud Creek.”
Then on July 26, 1791, Jeremiah Osborne enters his first land deed. This entry is for land on the French Broad River, “the Nob.” Based on where his home is known to have been located, the “nob” area became the Osborne home place.
In November 1794 Martin Gash purchases the first of hundreds of acres of land. This one was on the French Broad River. The Gash land extended into today’s Horse Shoe and Etowah communities.
On Feb. 21, 1795, Henry Newman and Waightstill Avery (land speculator) enter land deeds along the “horseshoe bend” of the French Broad River, “adjoining the land of James Blythe.”
In 1798, Thomas Justice purchases land along Shaw’s Creek from Andrew Miller.
It was also in 1798 that Noble Johnson, Rueben Johnson, John Johnson, James Johnson and Jacob Johnson enter the first of hundreds of acres of land in Henderson County. Some of this land was located in other communities. But, the vast majority of the land was in today’s communities of Horse Shoe and Mills River. Many of the land deeds are located along the French Broad River, Shaw’s Creek and Mills River. Noble Johnson and James Johnson were Revolutionary War veterans. For more information on Noble Johnson and James Johnson, visit http://hendersonheritage.com/some-revolutionary-war-patriots/ and http://hendersonheritage.com/shaws-creek-methodist-campground-cemetery/ and http://hendersonheritage.com/shaws-creek-ame-zion-church-cemetery-logan-chapel/
In addition to the Osborne, Gash and Johnson families, other early settlers of the Horse Shoe community included families with the surname Allen, Allison, Anders, Bird, Bryson, Crawford, Dalton, Davis, Hawkins, Leverett (Leverette, Liverette), McCarson, Sitton, Spann, Ward and more.
From near the time of the Civil War and prior to 1900, families with the surnames of Brannon, Broyles, Cannon, Cox, Garren, McCrary, McCullough, Moffitt, Rymer and others were living in the community.
Where the largest slave owners lived in Henderson County can tell us where the largest number of freed slaves lived at the end of the Civil War. One of these communities was within Horse Shoe.
Shaw’s Creek AME Zion Church in Horse Shoe was the first church in the county organized by newly freed slaves. The church began in 1865. The first trustees were Frank Gash, John Wesley Logan and Alex Maxwell.
In 1878, James Herren was one of three trustees, along with Samuel Gash and Alfred Rhodes, to obtain land from Noble Johnson for the first black school in the Rugby and Horse Shoe communities.
In addition to Gash, Herren, Logan, Maxwell and Rhodes, other families included those with surnames of Clayton, Darity, Daugherty, Dausuel, Green, Hunt, Jones, Lynch, Robinson, Smith and Spann.
The Horse Shoe Post Office was established in 1878. Emily Allen, daughter of Marcus Allen, was the first postmaster. The post office was within the Allen home. In 1898, Allen moved the post office into the Johnson and Lytle store. The post office appears to have been located near the “horse shoe” bend and near its present location.
Allen served as postmaster until 1903 when her nephew, Philip J. Sitton, became postmaster and a new post office was built near the same location. It was in 1903 that a rural route began out of Horse Shoe. Sitton served as postmaster until 1907, when Louisa Bird became postmaster. She will serve until 1921. From 1921 to 1952, Jessie L. Shipman was postmaster.
This post office still serves the community and has rural routes into nearby communities.
Another post office in the Horse Shoe area was the Yale Post Office established in 1892. This post office was located near the railroad tracks from Hendersonville to Brevard near the Yale Station railroad depot. The train depot and post office were near the railroad tracks as it crosses Yale Road today.
Cora Broyles, daughter of Branson Broyles, was the first postmaster. She was the postmaster until 1901 when her sister, Addie M. Broyles, became the postmaster. The Yale Post Office closed in 1905.
In 1898, the Opelika Post Office opened with Louisa Bird as postmaster. She was the daughter of Thomas Franklin Bird (http://hendersonheritage.com/political-leaders-1860-to-1900/ ). The post office is described as being north of Horse Shoe. The post office was within the Bird home. Census reports place this family as living in the area of Shaw’s Creek Road and Old Campground Road, close to the Rugby community. This post office closed in 1903. Louisa Bird then became postmaster at the Horse Shoe Post Office.
It is documented that there was a school in the area of today’s Horse Shoe as early as 1839.
In 1839, a year after the state created its first public school system; the counties were divided into school districts. In the list for the districts within Henderson County, there were 31 school districts. District 18 reads as follows:
“Begins at the French Broad River below David Haddon’s thence along the dividing ridge between the waters of Crab Creek and Willow Creek to the head of Mud Creek thence with the dividing ridge between Willow Creek and Mud Creek to the head of Shaw’s Creek leaving Samuel Evans in 17 district thence along the dividing ridge between Willow Creek and Shaw’s Creek west of the French Broad River below Jeremy Osborne thence up the same to the beginning. The following gentlemen are appointed School Committeemen for number 18, namely: James Blythe, Richard Sentell and John Davis Jr.”
Later in the 1800s, there was a Horse Shoe school. The Horse Shoe graded school was located behind the Horse Shoe First Baptist Church. The school is mentioned in newspaper accounts in 1915, 1918, 1919 and 1922. Based on newspaper accounts, this was a two-room school in 1919.
The Holly Springs School was located at the border of today’s Horse Shoe, Etowah and Mills River communities. This building is one of the last remaining one-room schoolhouses in Henderson County.
In 1907, there was a bill to establish a graded school in the Rymer special tax school district of Henderson County. Later this is described as District No. 4 in the Hendersonville Township. Trustees were William Dallas Rymer, H.H. Carson, W.C. Jordan, P.A. Bly, Joseph McCrary and Hix (Hicks) McCrary.
In 1922, there was a Rymer Community Club. It is not clear where this school and club were located, but it appears to be the section of Horse Shoe closer to Laurel Park and Hendersonville.
In 1919 and 1922 newspaper articles mention a Yale school. In 1921 it was reported that Bert Johnson, who had taught at the Yale School for two years, accepted the position to teach at the Horse Shoe School. This school was located closer to the Shaw’s Creek section of Horse Shoe.
James Harren (Herren) was one of three men deeded land by Noble Johnson to establish a school in Colored District No. 4 in 1875, only 10 years after the end of the Civil War. In 1878, Herren (Harren) was one of three trustees, along with Samuel Gash and Alfred Rhodes, named to this early black school.
The grave site of James Harren is at the Mill Pond Cemetery in the Rugby community. Census records prior to the Civil War list the Harren (Herren) family as free black.
In 1918, documents describe the school as Horse Shoe – colored. The teacher is John W. Dausuel (1866-1935). He was the husband of Mary Whitesides. His death certificate states that he was born in Mills River, a son of Samuel Dausuel, who was born in Virginia, and Lear Bryson, who was born in North Carolina. His grave site is at the Shaw’s Creek AME Zion Church Cemetery, today named Logan’s Chapel. All census reports place the family in the area of the Shaw’s Creek section of the Horse Shoe community, close to the Rugby community. There is today a Dausuel Trail off Broyles Road, near where Campground Road becomes Broyles Road. He had a brother, Joseph Napoleon Dausuel (1868-1949), also with a grave site at the same cemetery, who was single and states residence as Horse Shoe.
In 1911 this school was listed as No. 3 “Colored” with the School Committee members listed as Isaac Spann, J.W. Dausuel and Logan Darity.
From location and records, it appears that the school established in 1875 was most likely within the same area as the school in 1918. This black school was most likely located near the Shaw’s Creek section of Horse Shoe and the Rugby community, serving students from both communities.
During the 1920s a school consolidation program was implemented in Henderson County. The small schools closed. White students in the Horse Shoe community began attending the Etowah School in 1928. The Etowah School was a union school, serving elementary and high school students until 1960 when West Henderson High School opened.
The exact date of the closing of the black school in Horse Shoe has not been located. In 1951, black students in the Horse Shoe community began attending the Ninth Avenue School in Hendersonville and in 1965 began attending Etowah School and West Henderson High School.
In 1973 all junior high students were moved to Rugby Junior High School. When this school changed to Rugby Middle School, sixth graders in Horse Shoe began attending Rugby Middle School.
Students in the community near Laurel Park and between Laurel Park and the town of Hendersonville attend schools in Hendersonville.
The oldest church in the Horse Shoe community traces its history to the Methodist Campground Church. This is today Cummings Memorial United Methodist Church.
Methodist preachers rode into the “wilderness” of Western North Carolina in the 1790s and early 1800s on horseback, carrying their message to the pioneer settlers. The early settlers gathered their families into wagons, laden with enough supplies to last several days and sometimes bringing along the family cow, and headed out to a central gathering point, usually a large field.
There were at least three places in today’s Henderson County where these early settlers gathered in the late 1790s and early 1800s to hear the circuit-riding Methodist preachers. One of these was Shaw’s Creek Methodist Campground, now the site of a cemetery. This campground was on land owned by James Johnson. In 1805, Johnson gave 25 acres of land for the church cemetery and campground. In 1835, a log church was built near the campground site.
In 1897, Horse Shoe Methodist Church was organized by members of this early Methodist congregation. The church moved to land given by Hugh Johnson.
In 1956, Horse Shoe Methodist Church changed the name to Cummings Memorial United Methodist Church after James H. Cummings gave a donation to the church building fund and educational building. Today, the church is located on Banner Farm Road in Horse Shoe.
A white frame church was erected near the original campground site in 1905 for special occasions, reunions, etc., by the Johnson family.
For more information on the early church and cemetery, visit http://hendersonheritage.com/shaws-creek-methodist-campground-cemetery/
When the Methodists held these campground meetings, the slaves came with them to worship. Based on early records of the campground meetings, the slaves worshiped alongside their owners. At the end of the Civil War, the newly freed slaves continued to worship at or near the site of these early campground meetings.
This was the beginning of the Shaw’s Creek AME Zion Church, now named Logan Chapel.
These early black Methodists first worshiped under trees, using logs for pews, in 1865 near the same early campground site. They purchased land near the slave cemetery from the Leverett family for a church. For more information on this church and cemetery, visit http://hendersonheritage.com/shaws-creek-ame-zion-church-cemetery-logan-chapel/
In 1873, Baptists living near the Shaw’s Creek section of Horse Shoe formed Shaw’s Creek Baptist Church. For more information on this church, visit http://hendersonheritage.com/shaws-creek-baptist-church-cemetery/
In 1888, Baptists living in the area of Horse Shoe near the post office and river formed Riverside Baptist Church. The Rev. D.B. Nelson was the first pastor. There were 29 charter members. The church first met on land near the French Broad River. In 1898, the church sold this land and purchased land from M.J. Allen. They salvaged wood and the bell from the “Mountain Lily.” They hung the ship’s bell “on posts in the churchyard and used it until 1924.” The bell is located today under a covered shelter at the church.
For more information on the French Broad Steamship Company and the “Mountain Lily,” visit http://hendersonheritage.com/homes-transportation-and-communication/
In 1907, Riverside Baptist Church changed the name to Horse Shoe Baptist Church. The church bought the old post office property in the 1980s and used the old post office building as an activity center. In 1985, the church changed the name to Horse Shoe First Baptist Church.
Cartoonist William “Bil” Dwyer (1807-1987) once lived at the end of Battle Creek Road in Horse Shoe prior to 1970. Dwyer worked at the King Features Syndicate and was appointed to take over the Dumb Dora strip in 1932. Dumb Dora was cancelled in 1936 and in 1951 Dwyer created the short lived strip, Sandy Hill. The Register and Tribune Services distributed Sandy Hill until 1954. He dedicated three years to Disney Studios helping direct Bambi, Pinocchio, and Fantasia. After Disney, Paramount Pictures hired him to write personality profiles of actors and actresses which led him into portraiture of famous persons.
He retired to cattle and hog farming at the end of Battle Creek Road in Horse Shoe. About 1970 he and his wife moved to Highlands and established the Merry Mountaineers. Their publications include “Dictionary for Yankees and Other Uneducated People,” “Southern Appalachian Mountain Cookin’,“ “Southern Sayin’s for Yankees and Other Immigrants” and “Cookin’ Yankees Ain’t Et. “
Battle Creek Road got its name from three families fighting over two oxen, according to storyteller Frank FitzSimons. The two oxen were stolen or borrowed by members of one family from another family who lived in the area. Three families then gathered on the banks of the creek “yelling, cursing, screaming, shouting, fighting and shooting.” A Civil War veteran living within hearing distance said it “sounded like a battle with the Yankees.”
Thus, the road became known as Battle Creek Road.
Sixth Avenue from Hendersonville to Laurel Park was once named Shaw’s Creek Street. It became Shaw’s Creek Road at the town limits where it crossed Shaw’s Creek. Today, this is U.S. 64 West, also called the Brevard Road.
Horse Shoe was a rich agricultural area before subdivisions, houses and tourist cottages took over much of the land.
Agricultural areas remain primarily along the French Broad River and along Yale Road.
The Johnson family still grows vegetables in the fields along the French Broad River in Horse Shoe. Mountain Bean Growers and Flavor 1st are owned by the descendants of the early Johnson brothers who had land in Horse Shoe in the late 1790s. For more information, visit http://hendersonheritage.com/dairies-vegetables-and-flowers/
The Brannon family still owns large amounts of agricultural acreage in Horse Shoe.
Visit http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20041101/NEWS/411010323 to read the article written on Drew Brannon and the Brannon family.
Also read an interview with Carl Leonard Brannon at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=12451388
The Hawkins family once owned Tree Haven Farm in the late 1800s and early 20th century.
The Brightwater Falls area once had a farm owned by Samuel James Childs (1873-1962) and his wife Jessie McCune Childs (1888-1977). Childs moved to Henderson County in 1929 from St. Petersburg, Fla., where he was in the real estate business. He bought a large tract of land and developed Brightwater, a colony for summer residents. He also began a poultry farm and bred cattle on the land.
At one time, the Gordon Bradley family in Mills River leased the land to grow their famous gladiolus. Read under “Old-Fashion Flowers” at http://hendersonheritage.com/dairies-vegetables-and-flowers/
Super Sod, a division of Patten Seed Company, may own the largest agricultural area today in Horse Shoe. The farm consists of approximately 343 acres dedicated to growing sod.
The company owns Horseshoe Bend Farm, on which it donated a 360-acre conservation easement in 2003, meaning the land will be used for agriculture in perpetuity.
This farm land was once owned by Albert Cannon and it was known as the Cannon Farm. Cannon raised beef cattle. The Cannon family also had a store nearby. Cannon served on the first Board of Trade (Chamber of Commerce), the board that organized the first WNC Fair, and was one of the men to organize the French Broad Steamship Co. Later Bert Cantrell owned the farm and changed the name to Horse Shoe Bend Farm.
Dairy farms were scattered throughout the Horse Shoe community from the early 1900s through the 1960s, during the height of the dairy industry in Henderson County. In 1921 Henderson County Extension Agent S.S. Stabler organized dairy farmers in Mills River and Horse Shoe into a cooperative for making and marketing cheese and ice cream. The Brannon Dairy Farm, one of the largest dairies in the county, joined the cooperative. On June 8, 1923, the cheese factory was completed. Within less than a month the cooperative was producing 100 pounds of cheese a day, with most of the cheese sold in local markets. The cooperative also made Mountain Maid Ice Cream. By the late 1920s, the price for whole milk rose and the cheese factory could not pay the prices a dairy farmer could make by selling whole milk. Lutheran Rev. J.L. Mauney purchased the factory’s equipment and moved the facility to Hendersonville, still making and marketing cheese and ice cream. During the Great Depression the cheese and ice cream factory closed.
J.D. Obermiller grows strawberries and vegetables today near the railroad tracks on Allstar Lane in Horse Shoe. He is the only pick-your-own strawberry grower in Henderson County. Visit http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20030519/NEWS/305190329/0/search
Paddlers and Anglers
There is a river access park on the French Broad River in Horse Shoe.
Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy acquired 1.7 acres in Etowah at U.S. 64 along the French Broad River in order to create a public access point for paddlers and anglers. The land was donated by Patten Seed Company, producers of Super-Sod turfgrass.
CMLC donated the new river access tract to Henderson County Parks and Recreation. There are plans to make it a new park. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission built a boat ramp and parking area.
For more information, visit http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20141118/ARTICLES/141119913
The majority of the Horse Shoe community is served by the Etowah-Horse Shoe Fire Department. Sections of the community before Laurel Park, beginning near Brightwater Farm Road, and between Laurel Park and Hendersonville, are served by the Valley Hill Fire and Rescue.