The only major change in the county’s boundary during this time period was in 1903 when the town of Saluda was given to Polk County by an act of the state General Assembly. Part of the city limits of Saluda remain in Henderson County today. This annexation was appealed as recently as the late 20th century.
As a result, after 1903, the county lost an incorporated town, so Hendersonville was the only incorporated town in the county.
Henderson County votes for president followed the national trend, not the state trend. The state consistently went Democratic. The majority of Henderson County residents voted for William McKinley (R), Theodore Roosevelt (R), William Howard Taft (R) and Woodrow Wilson (D).
From 1900 to 1940 all senators to the U.S. Congress from North Carolina were Democrats. None were from Henderson County.
There were three Democrats and four Republicans representing Henderson and other counties in the U.S. House of Representatives during this time period.
John Gaston Grant was the only one from Henderson County
John Gaston Grant
John Gaston Grant was born Jan. 1, 1858, in Henderson County, the son of William P. Grant and Elizabeth Freeman Grant. He was born in a log cabin and grew up on Grant Mountain, between Edneyville and Bat Cave.
His ancestors date back to some of the earliest settlers into old Rutherford County and Henderson County.
He married Zura Edney, a daughter of William Mills Edney and Martha Patricia Nix, in 1876.
Grant was an Appalachian Mountain farmer.
“He was a mountain man, mountain born and mountain raised, and he was proud of it,” said Frank Fitzsimons in the book “From the Banks of the Oklawaha.” “He grew up in a log cabin near Edneyville … he worked the fields with the rest of his family.”
He taught himself to read and write.
“With the meager cash that he managed to save, John Grant bought a dictionary, a blue back speller, and a Davies arithmetic. After the long hard hours of work on the farm and his young wife had gone to bed, he laboriously studied far into the night … He taught himself to read and to write and to cipher, as arithmetic was called in those days,” Fitzsimons wrote.
Grant became interested in politics. He was elected a representative to the N.C. General Assembly in 1889 and served until 1892. He declined re-nomination. He was elected sheriff of Henderson County in 1892 and served until 1896. He refused a re-nomination in 1896.
He was an elector to the Republican National Convention in 1896.
In 1908, he was elected congressman to the U.S. House of Representatives from the 10th N.C. Congressional District, representing the counties of Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, McDowell, Macon, Polk, Rutherford, Swain and Transylvania.
Grant was a Republican. During his run for Congress, the Buncombe County Democrats “made fun of his mule-back riding,” Fitzsimons wrote. Some of the newspapers gave him the nickname “Cornbread John.”
It was during Grant’s tenure, 1908-1910, that the U.S. Post Office was allocated money to buy land at Church Street and Fourth Avenue West and build the Hendersonville post office, now known as the Federal Building.
He died June 21, 1923, in Hendersonville. A newspaper editorial summarizing his career after his death wrote: “John Grant was a man of fine character in the artificial atmosphere of Washington. He still retained the simple tastes and wholesome manner of life which he had learned in his mountain home.”
His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
Governors of North Carolina during this time period were all Democrats, except for Daniel Lindsay Russell, who served 1897-1901. None were from this region.
State senators who represented Henderson County in the state General Assembly represented more than one county. State senators representing Henderson County were mainly from Rutherford and Polk during this time period. Three were from Henderson County.
1. Charles French Toms was born Sept. 5, 1873, in Hendersonville, the son of Marion Columbus Toms and Josephine French Toms. He married Ethel Pankin in 1894 and later he married Meta Husing Bude. Toms was an attorney. In 1905, he was elected as a Democrat to the state senate. It was Charles French Toms, not his father (71 at the time), who was instrumental in getting Carnegie funds to build the county’s first library. He also donated land for Toms Park to be named after his deceased father. He put in the city’s first swimming pool at Toms Park. He died Feb. 5, 1937, in Hendersonville. He and his father are buried at Riverside Cemetery in Asheville.
2. Thomas Bradshaw Allen was born Dec. 8, 1864, in the Mills River community, the son of Robert Irvin Allen and Mary Jane Carson Allen. He married Ella Sue Jones. He was a farmer and in the real estate business. In 1913, he was elected as a Democrat to the state senate. He died Dec. 20, 1941. His grave site is at Mills River Presbyterian Church.
3. James Foy Justice was born Sept. 8, 1886, in Buncombe County, the son of Amos Isaac Justice and Minerva Matilda Fisher Justice. He married Alice Pearl Griffin. He was an attorney and a judge. In 1917, he was elected as a Democrat to the state senate. He died Sept. 18, 1944, in Hendersonville. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
Henderson County elected one representative to the state house in the General Assembly. All were Republicans except for one.
1. Orville Volney Fullam Blythe (1865-1931) – (R) 1901-1903 – He was born in the Dana community, a son of James Joshua Blythe and Mary Fullam Blythe. He married Roxie Evans. He was a judge of the circuit criminal court and the county attorney for many years. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
2. Jerome Benjamin “Rome” Freeman (1849-1919) – (R) 1903-1905 – He was born in the Bat Cave community, the son of Joseph Hawkins Freeman and Louisa Sayles Freeman. He married Elizabeth Ashworth. He was a farmer. Freeman owned Chimney Rock, purchasing it and the surrounding 400 acres from a speculation company for $25 between 1880 and 1890. It was Freeman who first thought of making a trail to the base and erecting a stairway to the top of the rock. He opened it to the public about 1890. In 1903, with the financial backing of his brothers, Dr. Lucius Morse paid Freeman $5,000 for 64 acres of Chimney Rock Mountain, including the Chimney and cliffs. His grave site is at Fruitland Cemetery.
3. Wiley Columbus Rector (1870-1926) – (R) 1905-1909 – He was born in Madison County, the son of George G. Rector and Edith Rector. He never married. He was an attorney, a law partner of Orville Volney Fullam Blythe. He served two terms. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
4. Jesse Sherrill Rhodes (1850-1912) – (R) 1909-1911 – He was born near Saluda, the son of Jesse Rhodes and Jane Thorne Rhodes. He married Frances Arminta Morris. By 1880, he moved to the Mills River community. He was a farmer. He served on the committee of the Carolina Baptist Association to select a site for a school. A site in the Fruitland community was selected and the Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute opened in 1899. In 1903, he served on the board to organize the first Western North Carolina Fair. He was Henderson County Sheriff from 1902 to 1906. His grave site is at Mills River United Methodist Church Cemetery.
5. Hamilton G. Ewart (1849-1918) – (R) 1911-1913 – See “Political Leaders 1860 to 1900.”
6. John P. Patton (1853-1921) – (D) 1913-1915 – He was born in Buncombe County, the son of Franklin Patton and Rosella Garren Patton. He married Susan C. Barnett. He was a merchant and served as chairman of the Henderson County Board of Education for several years. He was also a postmaster in Flat Rock. His grave site is at Mud Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Flat Rock.
7. George Henry Valentine (1877-1957) – (R) (1915-1917) He was born in England, the son of Frank Valentine and Anna Laura Wood Valentine. He married Sarah Ewart, the daughter of Hamilton G. Ewart. He was an attorney and director of the Bank and Trust in Hendersonville. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
8. Brownlow Jackson (1872-1956) – (R) (1917-1921) He was born in the Clear Creek community, the son of James Jackson and Jane Laughter Jackson. He married Grace Susan Freeman and, after her death, he married Gertrude Williams. He was a banker and real estate agent. He served two terms. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
The following men served as mayors of Hendersonville from 1900 to 1920.
1. Peter E. Braswell (1834-1913) – Mayor: 1900-1901. He was born in Edgecombe County. He married Catherine Bland and, after her death, Lucy Fishback. He was a merchant and inspector of naval stores in Georgetown, S.C., before moving to Hendersonville. He died in Florida. His grave site is at Elmwood Cemetery and Annex in Georgetown, S.C.
2. King Galileo Morris (1871-1949) – Mayor: 1901-1903. See “Political Leaders 1860 to 1900.”
3. Jonathan O. Williams (1847-1911) – Mayor: 1902-1903 and 1904-1905. See “Political Leaders 1860 to 1900.”
4. Hamilton G. Ewart (1849-1918) – Mayor: 1903-1904. See “Political Leaders 1860 to 1900.”
5. Andrew Franklin Pierce King (1856-1950) – Mayor: 1905-1907. He was born in the Dana community, the son of Samuel M. King and Emily Maxwell King. He married Sarah Jane Barnham and, after her death, Margaret Drake Clontz. In1880, he sold books and stationary and in 1910 he was a grocery salesman. He listed his occupation as farmer from 1920 to 1940. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
6. Michael Schenck (1876-1948) – Mayor: 1907-1909. He was born in Lincolnton, N.C., a son of David Schenck and Sally Ramseur Schenck. He married Rose Few. He was an attorney, Superior Court judge and retired as an associate justice of the N.C. Supreme Court. He died in Raleigh. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
7. Reuben Hilliard Staton (1871-1952) – Mayor: 1909-1913. He was born in the Dana community, the son of John Walton Staton and Mary Williams Staton. He married Irene Johnston. He was an attorney, Hendersonville postmaster from 1921 to 1934, a judge of the Recorders’ Court (misdemeanor cases), and a real estate broker. He served as Henderson County Sheriff from 1900 to 1902. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
8. Milas Monroe Shepherd (1867-1929) – Mayor: 1913-1915. He was born in the Crab Creek community, a son of Jesse M. Shepherd and Serrepta Jane Osteen Shepherd. He married Susan Frances Patton. He was a merchant in Hendersonville. His grave site is at Shepherd Memorial Park (originally at Oakdale Cemetery).
9. Charles Edward Brooks (1871-1966) – Mayor: 1915-1919. He was born in Tennessee, the son of Benjamin Brooks and Cordelia Bell Brooks. He married Hazel Lee Johnson and, after her death, Caroline “Carrie” Pittman. He was a bank president and vice-president. He died in Florida. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.
10. Jesse Mack Rhodes (1881-1955) – Mayor: 1919-1923. He was born in the Mills River community, the son of Jesse Sherrill Rhodes (state legislator and sheriff) and Frances Arminta Morris Rhodes. He married Ora May Knight. He was a banker and bank president. He died in Fort Worth, Texas. His grave site is at Laurel Land Memorial Park in Fort Worth, Texas.
Columbus Mills Pace (1845-1925) served 57 years as clerk of court for Henderson County, from 1868 to 1925. He was the longest serving clerk of court in the history of North Carolina. He was born in the Upward community, a son of Leander Jackson Pace and Louvina Morris Pace. He married Leona Allen. His grave site is at Oakdale Cemetery in Hendersonville.