This story was published in June 25, 2007, in the Hendersonville Times-News. To view the three stories with photographs, visit www.blueridgenow.com/article/20070625/NEWS/706250342 or www.blueridgenow.com/article/20070625/NEWS/70624001 or www.blueridgenow.com/article/20070630/NEWS/707010417 or http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1665&dat=20070625&id=VXk0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=TCUEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3958,6308615
By Jennie Jones Giles
A worn path snakes down the mountain through a canopy of majestic trees reaching to a blue sky.
In single file, the hikers thread their way around thick vines, wide trees, rocks and poison ivy. Blooming mountain rhododendron and lilies adorn the trail.
It’s easy to imagine early pioneers walking along an old Indian trail into a wilderness of mountains and forests.
The hikers pass remnants of an old house, a stone chimney and old car, reminders that mountain folks once lived here.
But here, visitors are more likely to spot rare ginger plants and trillium than mailboxes.
Mountain Page may be the oldest community in Henderson County.
It’s also among the least known.
Some of the most beautiful spots in the county are hidden among this rugged terrain. One is at the bottom of a trail Bill Russell and Nancy Barnett walked one recent afternoon.
Home is Mountain Page for Russell, even if he gets his mail from Saluda and casts votes in Raven Rock.
“See the old cherry trees,” said Russell, whose family has lived in the Mountain Page community for generations. “I remember when cherries were on those. And the walnut trees, I sat and cracked walnuts with my uncle. He kept the walnuts up in the barn in a sack.”
“There’s a lot of wild raspberries growing in here,” added Barnett, whose family owns land in the area. “I found a still on my property. You’ve got to have good water to make good whiskey.”
“Look at that plant,” Barnett said. “It’s a rare type of ginger.”
So rare, a professor at Clemson University came to take a look.
“There’s the little brown jug,” she said. “It’s fertilized by ants. This area is very numerous with trillium. Some not even named are found here and only a few other places.”
Rarely seen beauty
The sound of roaring water grows louder as the hikers inch closer to the bottom of the trail.
The dark canopy opens to the blue sky at the Pacolet River and there is Pacolet Falls, a spectacular waterfall only seen by few people outside of the tight-knit community. Local author Frank FitzSimons describes the falls as the most beautiful waterfall in the county.
A cool breeze from the trees bordering the river banks meets the cool mist from the falls. The sun shines at the top of the falls, peeping through trees to shower rays on the water gushing over the rock terraces.
Water flows from two branches of the river at the top of the waterfall and gush into a round, calm pool, with a sandy bottom.
“I used to sit on that rock and swim in the river,” Barnett said.
“The falls are taller and prettier than Pearson’s Falls,” Russell said. “This is one place still isolated and I hope it stays that way.”
Pearson’s Falls is found off U.S. 176 between Saluda and Tryon on Pearson’s Falls Road in the Melrose community of Polk County. The Tryon Garden Club owns the land surrounding the waterfall, a popular destination. The public can visit the falls for a small fee.
Pacolet Falls is on private property and not open to the public. Much of the land surrounding the waterfall is under conservation easement with the Pacolet Area Conservancy, the land trust serving Polk and parts of Henderson County, and upper Spartanburg and Greenville counties in South Carolina.
Pacolet Falls and the headwaters of the Pacolet River are highlights of the Mountain Page community, along with a mountain described in the earliest deeds found for land in Henderson County.
As early as 1789, Mine Mountain is named in deeds.
“From all indications, it was a mica mine,” Russell said. “From what people tell me, it was under the mountain, near the top. We called it isinglass.”
In the 1700s, glass windows were hard to come by. The price of glass was high, as it had to be shipped from Europe. British law required that all manufactured goods had to be imported. When mica was found in large transparent sheets that could be split thin and used as strong, clear window material, the discoverer was pleased, but fearful. The location was a secret, especially to authorities. Few people today know the location of the old mica mines.
“Onyx was mined in there, too,” Barnett said.
At the foot of Mine Mountain, the remains of the old gristmill that ground the corn grown in the community can be seen.
“We called it the old Ward’s Mill,” Russell said. “The old sluice line came through there.”
A “Lazy Gal” was used to haul water from the river.
“They always called it a Lazy Gal,” Russell said. “It rolled the water up a hill in a bucket to supply their water. It stayed there until they reworked the road.”
The bucket moved up and down the hills and mountains on a wire, rolled on a wheel by hand from the houses.
“There’s an old apple tree,” Russell said.
“We used to have picnics down here,” Barnett said.
“Look at the sycamores,” she said. “They’re ghost trees. You can see their white reflections at night in the winter. The bark is white. They’re eerily beautiful.”
As Russell and Barnett continued to share memories of days past in the Mountain Page community, they shared worries about possible development marring the beauty and closeness of the community.
“I love it and want to preserve it,” Barnett said.
A story is told that a man with the last name of Page settled in the area in those early years when the rest of Henderson County was still Cherokee land. No one remembers his first name. He gave the land for the church, so it was called Mountain Page.
The extreme southeast section of the county east of the Blue Ridge is a narrow peninsula separated from the rest of the county by mountains and bordered by Polk County and Greenville County, S.C.
The community is bordered on the north by the community of Macedonia and the town of Saluda. To the east, the community is bordered by the town of Saluda, Polk County and South Carolina. South Carolina also borders the community to the south and west. A section of the community borders the community of Tuxedo to the west.
The easiest routes to Mountain Page take one into Polk County, the town of Saluda, and back into Henderson County; or into South Carolina, through the Greenville Watershed, and back into Henderson County. The only route without leaving Henderson County is across Pace Mountain.
Mail is delivered from the Saluda post office.
Fire and Rescue
Saluda Fire and Rescue. Volunteers live in Henderson and Polk counties.
Raven Rock. This landmark is not in the Mountain Page community.
There is an agreement between Polk and Henderson counties to serve students in Mountain Page.
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. Students living in Polk County and served by the Saluda School can elect to attend Flat Rock Middle and East Henderson High schools.
Polk County school buses go into Mountain Page. School buses transport students to Saluda School and then on to Flat Rock Middle and East Henderson High schools.
• Old Mountain Page Cemetery, located where one of two of the first churches in today’s Henderson County was built. (The other is Old French Broad Baptist Church in the Rugby community, west of the Blue Ridge)
• Mountain Page Baptist Church and cemetery, the “new” location of the church. The first building at the new location was wooden. The current church building was constructed in 1936. It was built of granite that was quarried and laid by church members. The granite was quarried in the community, some on Heatherly Heights, some near Trammel Gap and some on Pace Mountain. The 18- to 24-inch thick granite walls line the outside and inside of the church.
• Mountain Page Community Center
The following are early deeds in Old Tryon, Rutherford and Old Buncombe counties for land in the Mountain Page community prior to 1800. A thorough search of Old Tryon County deeds was not conducted, nor were deeds searched in North Carolina prior to the formation of Old Tryon County or in South Carolina.
• 1778 James Miller and John Potts both make deeds along the North Pacolet River. Unclear if this is Henderson or Polk counties.
• 1779 Joseph Henry makes a deed for land along the North Pacolet River. Again, unclear in which county this land would be located today.
• 1789, Feb. 6: Mathew Maybin and Andrew Miller. 150 acres on the North Pacolet River above Mine Mountain. Also 200 acres at the head branches of the North Pacolet River near the dividing ridge between the Pacolet River and Green River.
• 1792, July 12: Mathew Maybin and David Miller. 150 acres on the North Pacolet River above “the” mine mountain.
• 1794, April 26: Mathew Maybin (spelled Mebane) and David Miller. 150 acres on the North Pacolet River above Mine Mountain.
• 1794, April 30: Mathew Maybin (Mebane) and David Miller. 100 acres on both sides of the Pacolet River near Ezekiel Potts’ line.
• Andrew Miller, a Revolutionary War veteran, and James Miller bought and were granted large acreages of land throughout today’s Henderson County.
They sold hundreds of acres of this land to other pioneers. Andrew Miller is buried in the Old French Broad Baptist Church cemetery in the Rugby community.
• Mathew Maybin, a Revolutionary War veteran, also had large acreages of land, selling it to others, and settling permanently in the Green River community. He is buried in the historical Maybin family cemetery in Green River.
• Joseph Henry, a Revolutionary War veteran, was also granted large land grants, and sold much of this land to others. His grave is in the Old Beulah Baptist Church Cemetery in Etowah.
• No information is available on the early Potts’ family noted in the above deeds.
• Mention is made in deeds as early as 1780 of land granted to Anthony Madcalf (Metcalf) for acreage “above Kelley’s cabin.” Yet no deeds were located granting land to a person with the surname of Kelley. It is known this was an early pioneer in the Mountain Page community, with old tombstones engraved with this last name.
The Metcalf family land is at the border of today’s Polk-Henderson counties with the old Metcalf cemetery just a few yards from today’s Henderson County line.
Mountain Page History
Mountain Page is most likely the oldest settlement in Henderson County. On July 20, 1777, the Cherokee ceded all land east of the Blue Ridge, including Mountain Page. It was in 1767 that North Carolina’s Royal Gov. William Tryon left New Bern to meet with the leaders of the Cherokee nation to set a boundary line so settlers could move farther west. The boundary surveyed in 1767 and 1768 began at the Reedy River near Travelers Rest, S.C., across the brow of the Saluda Mountain Range in Greenville County, S.C., to Tryon Mountain in Polk County, the east side of the Blue Ridge, “where the westerly and easterly waters divide” (Continental Divide), then north to the lead mines in Virginia.
It was not until July 20, 1777, that most of the area of today’s Greenville County, S.C., and the Mountain Page community of today’s Henderson County were officially ceded by the Cherokee in the Treaty of Long Island of Holston. The remainder of today’s Henderson County did not open for settlement until after 1785.
Peter Franks and Robert Hughes owned land in Mountain Page to Camp Creek (headwaters on Pace Mountain) before the Revolutionary War, local historian George Jones said.
Early pioneers entered the region through Pace’s Gap, following the Pacolet River, and through Trammel Gap out of South Carolina. The trail and old road through Trammel Gap used to go over the mountain and down to the Saluda River in South Carolina. The Greenville Watershed closed it.
The Old Mountain Page Baptist church, east of the Blue Ridge, but within Henderson County, was established sometime around 1785. This date was taken from an early deed describing land that bordered the “old mountain church.” It is known that a log church stood on the hill next to the Old Mountain Page Cemetery in 1789. A cornerstone of the present Mountain Page Baptist Church states the church was established in 1789.
Early pioneers built their homes and farms not knowing for certain where the state line was located. Several homes were built on the line, with census records one year listing them in North Carolina and 10 years later they were found on the South Carolina census, yet the people never moved.
The Mountain Page community continued down into what is today the Greenville Watershed. Greenville County established the watershed about 1954. Many families had to leave homes and land that were in the family for generations. Historical family cemeteries and the church cemetery of Piney Grove Baptist, just a few yards into today’s Polk County, were left to nature and descendants are not allowed to visit. Some of the Greenville Watershed is within Henderson County.
“Some families lost hundreds of acres and they got very little for it,” said Bill Russell, whose family has lived in the community since the early 1800s.
The old U.S. 25 (what was known in the late 1700s as the Saluda Path and later as the Old Buncombe Turnpike) is now in the middle of the lake that Greenville County, S.C., made when the watershed was established. The lake covers the old community of Tiny Town, S.C.
The community borders what was known as “Dark Corners,” an isolated area in the corner of North and South Carolina known for the making of “moonshine.” Early tax and census records show several families having income from distilleries.
In the 1800s and early 1900s, a one-room schoolhouse in Mountain Page served students in the area, including students across the line in South Carolina.
The names of the first settlers into the community are not known for certain. As far as can be determined, no historian or researcher has searched for these early deeds. Where to find them is the major problem.
The boundary line with South Carolina was not established until 1815, so they might be found in either state. Rutherford County was not established until 1779. Deeds prior to 1779 could be located in records of the Old Tryon County, which was dissolved in 1779. Rutherford and parts of South Carolina were in Old Tryon County for a few years. In 1769, most of Spartanburg County was in the Old Ninety-Six District of South Carolina, with some sections in Old Tryon County. Spartanburg County was not formed until 1785. Greenville District was not formed until 1784.
And to confuse matters further, “people from Mountain Page went for many years listing deeds in Rutherford, marriages and other records, after it became part of Old Buncombe and later Henderson,“ local historian George Jones said.
• Surnames of some of the earliest known settlers include Metcalf, Russell, Pace, Staton, Morgan, Kelley, Hipp, Heatherly and Ward.
• The early settlers were subsistence farmers, growing all their vegetables and fruits, fishing, hunting, making molasses, gathering honey. They had cows for milk and butter, pigs, chickens and other farm animals. After the town of Saluda was established in the 1880s, they went to stores there for other items. Prior to that, they had to travel to Greenville, S.C., or Hendersonville and Columbus.
• Burrell Pope Pace, the ancestor of most of the Pace family living in today’s Henderson County, was buried in the Old Mountain Page Cemetery in 1816. Pace was granted land in 1804 in the Mountain Page community. He had six sons: Moses, Jonathan, Daniel, Cornelius, Burrel Jr. and Richard. Pace and his wife, Lydia Woodruff Pace, moved their family from South Carolina, where the town of Woodruff was named for Lydia’s family, in 1804. They settled in the gap which took his name, Pace’s Gap. Burrell Pace was a descendant of Richard Pace, who arrived in Jamestown, Va., with his wife and infant son in 1611.
• Benjamin Staton, with his family, including sons John Walter Staton and Samuel Gordon Staton, came to the region in the early 1800s. Family tradition states that Benjamin Staton was in the Revolutionary War. He lived to be 103. The family property was at the North Carolina-South Carolina line in the Mountain Page community. It is said some of the family had some rooms of their houses in Greenville County, S.C., and other rooms in Henderson County. This property is now in the Greenville, S.C., Watershed between the Henderson County communities of Mountain Page and Tuxedo. Benjamin and his wife, Mary Wood Staton, were members of Mountain Page Baptist Church.
“This February the 4th 1854
1st the Church met in love
2nd appointee B J B Staton Ch Clk
3rd we are under the painful necessity of recording that on the 15th (16th written over it) of January last our Beloved Brother and Father Benjamin Staton departed this life yet we hope his happiness fare exceeds our sorrow.”
Please click on the following links for more stories and articles on the people and history of the Mountain Page community.
To view a county map with the location of the Mountain Page community, visit http://hendersonheritage.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/COMMUNITIES-2.pdf on this web site.