Original story written for the Hendersonville Times-News can be found at http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20070729/NEWS/70729005/0/search
By Jennie Jones Giles
The mysterious hiding place of an oddly shaped, mammoth granite rock is guarded well by rattlesnakes and copperheads. Few people can tell you how to find the rock.
Those who can issue dire warnings: It’s on private property. Even if the owner gives permission you’ll never find it. It’s a haven for copperheads and rattlesnakes. Be sure to carry a machete and wear thick hiking boots. I can take you there, but not until winter and after a couple of hard freezes when the snakes won’t be around. There isn’t a trail; you’ll need to blaze one. Go behind the owner’s house and start walking toward the Green River, but watch for the snakes.
Raven Rock voting precinct takes its names from this rock. There has never been a community named Raven Rock.
More than 100 years ago, officials in Henderson County decided to combine the communities of Mountain Page and Macedonia into one voting precinct. A name for this precinct was needed.
People in the Macedonia community were voting at the house of Mitchell Revis.
“Just name it after the rock formation at the back of my house,” Revis is quoted as saying.
“They named it after that,” said George Jones, a founder of the Henderson County Genealogical and Historical Society.
The rock formation behind the Revis home place was known among the settlers as Raven Rock.
Heeding recent warnings, a search was launched for a photograph of the rock. Ruth Kidd, a volunteer at the History Center and a descendant of early settlers into the Macedonia community, ventured into the forest on a search for the rock. After more than an hour of walking, she found it.
“I was unable to get the whole rock in one photo since I wasn’t able to see the whole thing any distance away because of the evergreen trees,” she said.
The rock isn’t the only odd landmark in the community of Macedonia.
As the Green River flows southeast from the headwaters in the Green River community, through Tuxedo and Zirconia, the river enters the Macedonia community. Not far from where the river flows under U.S. 176 is a narrow, rock strewn area known as “pot shoals,” where Duke Energy built a hydro-electric plant.
Huge boulders line and fill the river. Slabs of rock completely cover the bottom of the river in places. A small waterfall gushes between the boulders.
The boulders and even the slabs of rock along the bottom of the river contain numerous “pots.” The “pots,” holes carved from the water of Green River eroding the large slabs of rock and boulders, are teeming with frogs and tadpoles.
Tall trees, mountain laurel and wildflower line the banks of the river. At the bottom of the small waterfall, after flowing over and between the boulders, the river forms a tranquil pool.
It is here people from the community held baptisms and picnics.
“Macedonia Baptist Church still holds their baptisms here,” said Frank Hill, employee with Duke Energy.
Farther down the river is where Phillip Guice and his family settled in 1798. The family owned the land where the well-traveled Howard Gap Road crossed the river, almost directly under where the Interstate 26 bridge crosses the river today.
Peter Guice Bridge
In 1820, Peter Guice, a son of Phillip Guice, built a wooden toll bridge at the spot where Howard Gap Road crossed the Green River.
The family built a way station for pioneers and drovers traveling the rough, dirt trail into what was to become Henderson County.
There were stock pens for the hogs, sheep, cattle and other livestock; a grist mill for grinding of cornmeal; a blacksmith shop; a pounding mill to crack grain to feed the droves of animals; and a tavern, according to family members. Land was cleared for a campground, where drovers, travelers and pioneers slept inside and beneath their wagons, pulled by oxen.
At some point in the late 1800s, a flood washed out this first bridge. Peter Guice’s son built another bridge in the same location.
In the 1920s, U.S. 176 was constructed, replacing the Howard Gap Road as the main road into the county from the southeast. The U.S. 176 bridge crossing Green River is known to longtime residents as the “High Bridge.”
When the route for Interstate 26 was surveyed, state surveyors found that the best way to cross the Green River was at almost the exact location where Peter Guice built that first bridge in 1820. The interstate bridge was opened to traffic in 1972. It is 220 feet above the Green River and was, until a higher bridge was built in West Virginia, the highest bridge east of the Mississippi River.
On April 9, 1976, the new bridge was dedicated and named for Peter Guice, with the unveiling of a plaque.
House of Seven Gables
In the community of Macedonia is an English-style country house made of stucco or pebble dash, with wooden shingles with seven high-peaked gables. The unusual house was an oddity. Most people living in the community descended from early pioneers who lived in log cabins and later weatherboard houses.
Over each of the high-peaked, seven gables is mounted a small cross. Five chimneys rise high in the air. The foundation of the house is sold granite. The unusual house was built by a couple who arrived on one of the early trains climbing the Saluda Grade in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Leonard Hewett and wife, Eliza, got off the train in Saluda and decided to stay, according to residents, researchers and the story as told by Frank L. FitzSimons in the book “From the Banks of the Oklawaha.”
Leonard Hewett (spelling on wife’s grave stone and in primary source documents) was born in England about 1867 and immigrated to the United States in 1885. Census reports list his wife’s name as Eliza, not Elizabeth as stated in local myths and legends. Her grave stone states “Eliza Fry Hewett.” The couple married in 1888. They are listed on the 1900 and 1910 censuses in the Macedonia community. The 1900 census report states Eliza was born in 1865 in Kentucky and her parents were from Virginia. The 1910 report states that she was born in New York and her parents were from New York. It appears that she was actually a descendant of the Maury family.
The couple bought a large tract of land in the Macedonia community, along with a Maury brother-in-law. Freight cars brought in building material and loads of furniture, unloaded off the train in Saluda and hauled to the house the couple was constructing. The house was a replica of an English country house.
In the summers, the Hewetts entertained visitors who came from the Low Country of South Carolina to Saluda. Expensive horses and carriages transported the guests from the Saluda depot to the unique house in the community of Macedonia. The Hewett couple attended social events at summer estates in Flat Rock. Eliza Hewett died and was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Asheville.
At this point stories differ. One legend is told that upon the death of his wife, Leonard Hewett “walked to the front terrace and threw the keys as far as he could.”
This version of the story has Hewett leaving Macedonia and boarding a train to New York, where he booked passage back to England on a ship. On the way back to England, he disappeared, presumably throwing himself overboard.
Another version of the story, whispered in secret among longtime residents, is that Hewett was involved in an illicit relationship with a local woman from Macedonia. Some say he left the community with this woman. Others say he was forced to leave the community. It is a fact that he did not leave immediately after the death of his wife. This is known because he “courted” Lydia Luvenia Arledge and “asked for her hand in marriage.” She refused.
The actual facts are that Hewett disappeared in the summer of 1912 on a ferry crossing Chesapeake Bay. He left a note to be delivered to his brother-in-law, Austin Maury.
“Baltimore, July 4, 1912 – Times-Dispatch, “Leaves Word of Suicide”
“Leonard Hewett Disappears from Bay Steamer
“Baltimore, July 4 – Leaving a letter behind him explaining that he had committed suicide, and asking that a relative in New York be notified, Leonard Hewett, a gentleman farmer, with a considerable estate in North Carolina, disappeared Tuesday night from onboard the steamship City of Baltimore enroute from Norfolk to this port.
“The wireless operator on the steamship said that at 11 o’clock Tuesday night he short a pistol shot. Shortly after he reported the occurrence it was discovered that Mr. Hewett’s stateroom was unoccupied.
“In the room was the following letter to the captain:
“’I sailed on your ship today from Norfolk. Report my disappearance as soon as possible by telegraph to Austin C. Maury, 33 Morningside Avenue, New York. I enclose $2 to cover expenses of telegram and express on handbag to same address. Accept my regrets for any trouble my intentional suicide may put you to. Leonard Hewett’”
“New York Tribune, July 4, 1912 – note found about midnight while steamship was in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay …. The captain found the handbag and turned it over to Customs House officers who reported it to the police. In the bag were found articles purchased in Southampton, England. Police are wondering if there was a reason he wanted the world to believe him dead. They are unwilling to take the letter as the final explanation for his disappearance. Had he shot himself, it is argued, he would not have disappeared overboard.
“Austin Maury is a brother-in-law of Leonard Hewett. He said he knew of no reason for his brother-in-law’s disappearance. When he last saw Hewett about a week ago he was in good health and did not seem worried about anything.
“Mr. Hewett was 45 years old and a widower. He was never engaged in any business.”
In 1898, a church was built in the community. The parishioners named the community church Macedonia Baptist. Primary source documents indicate this church was actually organized in homes about 1892.
Prior to the building of this church, families in the community attended the old Mountain Page Baptist Church and Friendship Baptist Church (located today in Polk County near Saluda). After the arrival of the railroad and the building of the town of Saluda, some residents also may have attended churches in the town of Saluda.
Prior to 1898, this community was considered part of the larger Green River community. As this community divided in later years into the communities of Zirconia, Mountain Page, and Green River, the community now called Macedonia became isolated, separated from Mountain Page by Pace Mountain and the town of Saluda; and separated from Zirconia by U.S. 176.
The Macedonia community is bordered on the north by the Upward community. The ancient Indian trail, now called the Howard Gap Road, passes through the community from today’s Polk County and Warrior Mountain area. The old road crosses the Green River within the Macedonia community (underneath today’s Interstate 26), and proceeds north into the Upward community.
To the south of Macedonia is the Mountain Page community. The communities are separated by Pace Mountain.
To the east is Polk County and the town of Saluda.
Macedonia is bordered on the west by the communities of East Flat Rock, Zirconia and a small area of Tuxedo.
Green River flows through the community, along with several tributaries, including Camp Creek.
When traveling east on Interstate 26, the bridge (Peter Guice Bridge) crossing Green River is within the Macedonia community. Between the bridge and the Polk County line, land on both sides of the interstate is within the Macedonia community.
Mail is delivered from the Saluda Post Office on a rural route.
Saluda Volunteer Fire and Rescue serves the community. Volunteers live in Henderson and Polk counties.
Today, much of this community is part of the Green River Game Lands, owned and managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources. Some sections of the community, including the Pot Shoals area, are owned by Duke Energy. No camping is allowed in the Game Lands or in the areas still owned by Duke Energy.
For a map of the Green River Game Lands within the Macedonia community, visit: http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Hunting/GameLand_Maps/Mountain/Green_River.pdf
A school, Macedonia School, was located near the church in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This school closed when the Saluda School opened as a consolidated school.
Today, there is an agreement between Polk and Henderson counties to serve students in Macedonia.
Elementary school students attend Saluda School in Polk County.
Middle and high school students attend Flat Rock Middle School and East Henderson High School in Henderson County. They can elect to attend middle and high school in Polk County.
Polk County school buses go into Macedonia. School buses transport students to Saluda School and then on to Flat Rock Middle and East Henderson High schools.
Students living in Polk County and served by the Saluda School can elect to attend Flat Rock Middle and East Henderson High schools.
Surnames of some of the earliest known settlers include Williams, Pace, Guice, Revis, Bishop, Johnson, Barkley, Ward, Staton and Arledge.
Early deeds prior to 1800
Early deeds can be found in Rutherford County and Old Buncombe County.
. March 1, 1784 – Andrew Miller enters land on Camp Creek of Green River
. Aug. 26, 1784 – William R. Davie and David Miller, land entry along upper cove of Green River, “includes the big shoals” (pot shoals)
• March 3, 1785 — Wilby Williams, 400 acres on Camp Creek waters of Green River, including the cane break and the forks of said creek.
• Jan. 24, 1788 — Roger Carson and Joel Musick. 100 acres on Camp Creek of Green River above Williams’ land.
• Feb. 28, 1789 — Joseph Henry. 100 acres on both sides of Green River, includes the “shoals.”
• July 24, 1798 — Phillip Guice, land on Green River.
Now known as Howard Gap, the gap through the Blue Ridge Mountains was one of the routes into the mountains of Western North Carolina from the area of Spartanburg, S.C. American Indians, early explorers and settlers had used the trail for many years.
After 1785, some early settlers entered today’s Henderson County using this ancient Indian trail from Polk County, some stopping to settle in this community. But, until Peter Guice built the bridge crossing the Green River, it was not the best place to cross the river. After the bridge was built, it became the preferred route to enter the county from the Spartanburg and Polk County area. Later a stagecoach from Spartanburg County, S.C., will travel this route into Henderson County, passing through the Macedonia community, crossing Green River at the Guice bridge, and proceeding into the Upward community via what is today called the Howard Gap Road.