Balfour Orphanage and Missing Grave

There was a Presbyterian orphanage in Balfour from 1907 to 1922.
The orphanage was established by Robert Perry Smith, a Presbyterian minister.
The following information is taken from “Our Mountain Work” at the UNC-A library and information on the Presbyterian Home for Children.
In 1904, Smith opened the “Mountain Orphanage,” a four-room cabin in the Crabtree community of Haywood County. Smith himself was orphaned at the age of 12. He first came to the mountains of Western North Carolina to serve as pastor at a church in Gastonia. In 1898 he became full-time superintendent of the Asheville Presbytery. His dedication to building a church presence in rural areas earned him the name, “Shepherd of the Hills.”
Throughout his travels, Smith found children orphaned and abandoned. He formed the Mountain Orphanage with the help of the Asheville Presbytery. Smith and a teacher, Lucy Smith Hare, rode on horseback to find orphaned children and bring them to the little cabin. Hare later wrote, “Dr. Smith told me I must, ‘Get a gentle nag and ride in the hills and get the children to come to my school.’ I did so and never feared to go into the wooded parts.”
The Presbytery assisted the operation of the orphanage with $20 a month. Within five years there were 14 children in the orphanage and more on a waiting list.
In 1907 Mountain Orphanage moved to the Balfour community in Henderson County.
The original site was 10 acres given by W.H. Spence. An additional 22 acres was purchased in the fall of 1910.
There were 40 children in the orphanage when it opened.
In the December 1910 issue of “Our Mountain Work,” a publication of the Asheville Presbytery, Mr. and Mrs. A.H. Temple wrote about the work going on at the orphanage.
“The Mountain Orphanage is doing a work that has been sorely neglected heretofore. A few persons seeing the great need commenced this enterprise in a quiet, modest way. It has made friends and is steadily growing in efficiency.”
The Temples went on to write that the increased acreage allowed the children to meet more of their own needs. They had pasturage for cows, a truck farm and canned much of the produce they raised. The workday for those in residence began at 5 a.m. with farm work, laundry and wood chopping.
In 1909, the children of First Presbyterian Church of Asheville raised $25 to start an infirmary at the orphanage. The next year, a scholarship fund started with a $50 contribution.
There were 75 children at the home in 1917. All children were “whole” orphans, having both parents deceased.
Over the next ten years, the Mountain Orphanage began accepting “half-orphans,” children who had one parent living who was unable or unwilling to care for the child.
Records in Raleigh indicate that the home typically housed 39 to 52 children.
Over the years the orphanage expanded and the total acreage owned by the orphanage was 140 acres. Most of this acreage was the farm land and pasture land for the cows.
In 1922 or 1923, the orphanage property in Balfour was purchased by Ellison Adger Smyth and the orphanage committee purchased a 135-acre tract of land near Black Mountain. In 1923, a brick orphanage was opened – the Black Mountain Home for Children. In the 1990s the children moved out of their dormitory-style building into individual family-style cottages. Today, the ministry serves youth from birth through college graduation through a variety of programs.
In 1960, the name of the orphanage was officially changed to the Presbyterian Home for Children of Black Mountain.
Here are excerpts from “Our Mountain Work” related to the orphanage when it was located at Balfour:
“From necessity some children are placed in orphanages who should not be there. The writer makes this statement after having several years’ experience in dealing with orphanage problems. The class referred to is composed, in part, of children of widows who have a small income, but not enough to support their children and give them suitable educational advantages. The mother must work to make ends meet. She must go from home and remain several hours during the day at a place of business. She cannot take the children with her for they would be in the way. Left at home without a mother’s care they are neglected, exposed to accidents, evil associations, etc. Serious troubles arise, the mother becomes discouraged over conditions, and contrary to her desires she is forced to place her children in an orphanage..
“The course pursued is the best thing she could do, since she could not make a support and at the same time care for children at home. There are numbers of mothers, such as we have described. Also, there are fathers with motherless children in the same condition, perhaps more helpless. These fathers and mothers belong to the great laboring class of men and women, who would gladly meet all necessary expenses for the care and the training of their children, if only the way were opened to them.”
These are excerpts from “Notes by the Way:”
“Vegetables are abundant at Balfour; they are helping greatly to relieve the shortage in cash receipts during the past few months.
“We extend a cordial welcome to Miss Elsie Russell, who has come to assist Mrs. Temple in the work at Balfour. She has had special training in domestic science. Mr. Temple and his boys are justly proud of their fine herd of cows at Balfour. The children have plenty of milk and butter, and some to spare. They have sold $25 worth during the past month. This home industry is now a great help in purchasing flour.”
There was at least one child buried on the grounds of the orphanage at Balfour. Her name was Maud Postell.
The location of her grave has not been located. Old-timers in the community state that the grave was located in what is now the Windsor Hills subdivision that borders North Clear Creek Road. The land extends to what was once the Balfour community.
The following is from a local newspaper and written at the time of her death:

balfour orphan death