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HIGHLAND MESSENGER. At some time prior to 1842 the late Joshua Roberts and Rev. David R. McAnally founded the first newspaper ever printed in Asheville, the Highland Messenger. John H. Christy, a practical printer, was associated with them in its publication. He married Miss Ann Aurelia Roberts August 23, 1842, which must have been after the paper had been started, she having been a daughter of Joshua Roberts. J. H. Christy subsequently moved to Athens, Ga., where he published for many years the weekly Southern Watchman, and during Reconstruction was elected member of Congress from the Athens district, but was not allowed to take his seat on account of political disabilities. His son is now one of the publishers of the Andrews Sun. Dr. David R. McAnally was a Methodist preacher and moved to St. Louis, Mo., where he edited the Christian Advocate. He was sometimes mentioned in connection with the bishopric in the Southern Methodist Church.

James M. Edney obtained control of the Highland Messenger and it afterwards became the Spectator. It was edited by John D. Hyman, who moved to Asheville about 1853, and Z. B. Vance. In it, in 1857, Gov. Vance published an account of the finding of Prof. Elisha Mitchell's body.<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1

A copy of this article can be found in "The Balsam Groves of Grandfather Mountain" by S. M. Dugger, p. 261.">[1] Thomas Atkin, of Knoxville, established the Asheville News about 1848 or 1850 and it ran a long time under that name. The late Major Marcus Erwin as editor wrote brilliantly for it. This paper, although nominally independent, supported Major W. W. Rollins for the State senate in 1866. On the day the election returns had to be made, Lee Gash, of Henderson county, was 27 votes ahead of Major Rollins, at sundown, with the votes of Mitchell county still not in. At ten o'clock that night the Rev. Stephen Collis arrived with them, having been delayed by high water. There were 770 votes for W. W. Rollins and only one vote for Mr. Gash; but they had arrived a few hours too late.<a href="#2" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 2

W. W. Rollins to J. P. A., May 31, 1912.">[2]

THE ASHEVILLE CITIZEN. This paper, at first a weekly, was established by Randolph Shotwell, who came to Asheville from Rutherford in 1869. About 1870 Col. V. S. Lusk sent a bill to the grand jury, while he was solicitor, against certain men for Ku-Kluxing some negroes, and the grand jury threw it out. There then ensued some newspaper controversy and the next Col. Lusk knew of it was a blow, dealt by Shotwell, knocking him to his knees. While in this position Lusk fired upward and wounded Shotwell in both legs. Shotwell gave Lusk a Masonic sign and Lusk fired no more. This happened on the public square about 1870 or 1871. Shotwell sold the Citizen to Natt Atkinson and went to Rutherford, after having been convicted of assault upon Lusk, sentence having been suspended at Lusk's request. Shotwell was soon afterwards convicted of Ku-Kluxing and sent to the Albany penitentiary, but was pardoned by Gen. Grant upon application of Col. Lusk, who had then been appointed United States district attorney.

JOHN P. KERR'S RECOLLECTIONS. In a letter dated June 11, 1912, Col. John P. Kerr, a veteran newspaper man, and now private secretary to Gov. Craig, wrote as follows:

"The first newspaper published in Asheville within my recollection was the News and Farmer. I am sure that this was the successor of the News, which had been printed by Rev. Thomas (?) Atkins, a Methodist preacher, subsequent to and perhaps during the war. R. M. Stokes was the editor of the News and Farmer, as I recollect, in 1868-1869. The printing office was in the building now known as the 'Hub,' N. W. Pack Square and N. Main street. It was up stairs. Stokes subsequently moved his paper to Union, S.C. The Pioneer, a weekly Republican paper, was also being published in Asheville in l868-1869. I began my apprenticeship as a printer on this paper. It was at this time edited by A. H. Dowell, with C. W. Eve as local editor. This paper was founded, I think, by A. H. Jones who represented this district in Congress at this time. The office was on the third story of the Patton Building, corner S. Main and S. E. Pack Square. Capt. Atkinson printed a paper in the rear room on the second story of the same building that the News and Farmer occupied, and I set type for him as a printer. About 1869 or 1870 the News and Farmer was purchased by Randolph Shotwell, who changed its name to the Asheville Citizen. Between 1870 and 1874 R. M. Furman took hold of the Citizen. His office was in the basement of the same building, the 'Hub.'<a href="#3" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 3

In July, 1871, the late Captain Natt Atkinson was running the Weekly Citizen and continued to do so till 1873. when the late Robert M. Furman took charge of it.">[3] Randolph A. Shotwell was either associated with Furman or else he ran another paper for a short time in Asheville during the period above mentioned. Thomas D. Carter started during this same period the Expositor; which also had its office in this same building when it began, but it was subsequently moved to the Legal Building, which covered the site now occupied by the big building, and I think became the property of Gen. R. B. Vance, then a member of Congress, and was edited by his brother-in-law, Maj. W. H. Malone. During this period Jordan Stone became associated with Furman in the Citizen, as did also Col. J. D. Cameron. I feel sure that the Citizen was a daily when I returned to Asheville in 1887. After an absence of several years Jordan Stone sold his interest in the paper about 1888, and went to California. Subsequently, perhaps about a year later, R. M. Furman sold his interest, and Col. J. D. Cameron ran the Citizen for a few weeks or months alone. The paper was then sold to Capt. T. W. Patton and J. G. Martin. Mr. Martin soon sold his interest and in either 1889 or 1890 a company was formed composed of T. W. Patton, W. F. Randolph, F. E. Robinson and John P. Kerr, who took charge of the paper. This was continued for only one year, after which Randolph Robinson and Kerr ran the paper until 1889, with F. E. Robinson as editor. In 1889 J. P. Kerr sold his interest to Dr. W. G. Eggleston, who became the editor. Dr. Eggleston remained with the paper for less than a year. After this there were a number of changes in the ownership of the paper which can be more accurately ascertained by the files of the paper itself. In 1887 Theodore Hobgood was running a dally paper in Asheville called the Advance . Its offices were in the basement of the old Legal Building. The present Gazette-News was the outgrowth of the Advance.

"I have no definite recollection as to the various steps in the life of the Gazette-News. After the sale or discontinuance of the Advance, Theodore Hobgood and Fitzgerald began the publication of a morning newspaper in the Barnard Building, or the building which preceded it. This ran only a short time when they sold it to W. F. Randolph and John P. Kerr, who ran it only a few weeks. This was about 1888. The Asheville Register was the name of a Republican weekly paper published for a number of years, and founded, I believe, by R. M. Deaver. R. B. Roberts was its editor for some years."

THE ASHEVILLE CITIZEN PUBLISHING COMPANY was incorporated April 1, 1890, A. H. Fuller, T. W. Patton, J. G. Martin and T. A. Jones being named as incorporators. It was the influence of this paper largely which secured the election of the late Capt. T. W. Patton as mayor on an independent ticket, in May, 1893.

THE ASHEVILLE DAILY GAZETTE was established in March 1896. It was incorporated as the Gazette Publishing Company April 2, 1897, Fred A. Johnson, J. M. Johnson and James E. Norton being named as incorporators. Mr. Norton, who had had fifteen years experience in reportorial and editorial positions on the New York Tribune Times, Commercial Advertisser and Brooklyn Eagle, continued in active management of the editorial and business affairs of the paper, except for a short interval in the fall of 1898 (?) when the late Robert M. man had control of the editorials, till 1903-04, when the paper was sold to the Evening News Publishing Company. It was converted into an afternoon paper, the Citizen, which before had been an evening paper, having taken the field as a morning journal. The Gazette was a Republican paper the last three years of its existence. Geo. L. Hackney had the two papers combined as the Gazette-News, under which name it has continued to flourish.

WATAUGA DEMOCRAT. It was started by Joseph Spainhour and the Democratic party prior to June 13, 1888. R. C. Rivers, its present owner, and D. D. Dougherty took charge July 4, 1889. Mr. Rivers has been with it since.

WATAUGA ENTERPRISE AND NEWS. The former ran in Boone in 1888, L. L. Green and Thomas Bingham conducting it. The News was begun in January, l913,<a href="#4" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 4

The Watauga Journal was the first paper ever published in Boone, but was soon succeeded by the Enterprise, both being Republican. The Journal was started by a Mr. McLauchlin of Mooresvillc, N. C., but he afterwards removed to Johnson City, Tenn. The Watauga News suspended publication in 1914.">[4] by Don. H. Phillips.

JEFFERSON OBSERVER. This paper is a weekly Democratic paper, published at Jefferson, Ashe county, and was establish about 1901 by Talbott W. Adams, formerly of Edgefleld county S. C. He is still in control of it. A Republican paper was started in 1909 but failed. It was called the Jefferson Watchman, and ran only three or four months. In 1910 an effort was made to revive it under the name of the Industrial-Republican Publishing Company of Jefferson, N. C., but it failed.

GENERAL ERASTUS ROWLEY HAMPTON. For several years during 1890 and thereafter, Gen. Hampton published a weekly paper in Jackson county.

FRANKLIN PRESS. This Democratic weekly was conducted by the late W. A. Curtis at Franklin, Macon county for a number of years prior to his death in 1900. It is still flourishing.

THE CAROLINA BAPTIST was the first newspaper printed in Hendersonville. In 1855 Rev. James Blythe, W. C. Berin and J. M. Bryan, as editors, started this paper, but later Prof. W. A. G. Brown became its editor. A copy was recently shown dated June 22, 1859.

HENDERSONVILLE HUSTLER. This newspaper was started in Hendersonville ten or a dozen years ago and is still flourishing. Now M. L. Shipman, Commissioner of Labor and Printing, is its editor and proprietor.


County Town Name of Paper Editor Proprietor
Mitchell Bakersville Mitchell County Kronicle T. M. Gosorn T. H. Gosorn
Swain Bryson City Bryson City Times H. W. Carter H. W. Carter
Transylvania Brevard Sylvan Valley News O. L. Jones
R. B. Wilson
Jones & Wilson
Watauga Boone Watauga Democrat R. C. Rivers R. C. Rivers
Yancey Burnsvllle Eagle J. M. Lyon Eagle Pub. Co.
Ashe Jefferson Recorder W. T. Adams W. T. Adams

CAPTAIN NATT ATKINSON was born November 15, 1832, in McMinn county, Tenn., near Charleston. He was a graduate of Hiwassee College and of Col. Wilson's private school in Alamance county, N. C. He married Harriet Newell Baird, daughter of Mary and Israel Baird, of Buncombe county; N. C., February 2, 1858. There were twelve children. He was admitted to the Asheville bar in 1868, and practiced law till 1873. He purchased the Asheville Citizen in 1870, and edited the same for three years following, when he sold that paper and moved to a farm on Swannanoa river, where he remained till 1882, when he returned to Asheville and entered the real estate business, which he continued till his death, August 25, 1894, at Salisbury, N. C. He was one of the most useful and enterprising of Asheville's citizens, encouraging every enterprise of merit, and forgetting his own interest in that of the community. He was the president of the Atlanta, Asheville and Baltimore. Railroad Company, and began the actual construction of the first street railway in Asheville under what is known as the Farinholt charter, which he sold to E. D. Davidson and associates, thus defeating an attempt was making to build and operate a steam railway the streets of Asheville and insuring the present system. He was also interested in the construction railways, and was really the father of the graded schools of Asheville. He was elected to the legislature of 1879 and by legislation secured largely through his efforts saved the State what he estimated to be $175,000. He was a captain in Gen. M. Vaughan's brigade of the Confederate Army, and was one of the personal escort of Hon. Jefferson Davis on his flight southward from Richmond via Charlotte in April, 1865.

THE LYCEUM. This monthly was published in Asheville from May, 1890, until some time in 1892. Tilman R. Gaines of South Carolina was its editor and proprietor. In it were published many papers of value, among which should be mentioned "Reminiscenses of Western North Carolina," by Col. Allen T. Davidson; "Poets of the South," by L. M. Hatch; "Persecution of the Jews," by W. H. Malone; "Protection of Birds," by J. D. Cameron; "State Landlordism and Liberty," by Judge C. E. Fenner; "Two Days with Gen. Lee at Charleston," by Col. L. M. Hatch; of Forty Years Ago," by Col. J. M. Ray; "Should Women Vote?" by H. B. Stevens, and an address by Col. Charles W. Woolsey on "The Asheville Art Club."

THE ASHEVILLE EVENING JOURNAL. About September, 1889, this paper started on its career, Messers. Clegg & Donohue being its editors and proprietors. Its advertisement in the Lyceum of September, 1890, (p.22) mentions that it "is now in its second year."

THE ASHEVILLE NEWS AND HOTEL REPORTER. This was a weekly paper which began publication in January, 1895, at Asheville with the late Natt Rogers as editor and the late Richard M. Furman as manager and publisher. It was intended as an advertising medium for hotels principally, but soon reached a wider sphere of usefulness, and until the health of Mr. Rogers became too much impaired it enjoyed a period of popularity and considerable prosperity. Its life was about sixteen months.

ROBERT MCKNIGHT FURMAN. He was born September 21, 1846, at Louisburg, N. C., and enlisted in the Confederate army in the spring of 1862, and served till the close of the Civil War. He moved to Asheville in the spring of 1870, and in 1873 he was married at Tarboro to Miss Mary Mathewson. He edited the Asheville Citizen from 1873 till Messers J. D. Cameron and Jordan Stone joined him, after which the three conducted that paper till about 1880. He moved to Raleigh in 1898 and became editor of the Morning Post, which flourished under his management till after his death at Beaufort, N. C., May 12, 1904.

THOMAS WALTON PATTON. He was for several years editor of the Asheville Citizen, during which time its columns were open to all public spin ted causes. He was born at Asheville, May 8, 1841, his father, James W. Patton, having been a son of James Patton, one of the pioneers of Asheville. His mother was Miss Clara Walton of Burke, and his grandmother on his father's side was a daughter of Francis Reynolds of Wilkes county. His mother's father was Andrew Kerr of Kelso, Scotland. He was educated by Col. Stephen Lee, from whose school he was graduated in 1860, after which he went to Charleston, S. C., and entered the office of his uncle, Thomas Kerr, a cotton factor. He enlisted in the Buncombe Rifles in April, 1861, and at the expiration of the six months' enlistment, he reenlisted, becoming captain of company "C" of the Sixtieth North Carolina Infantry, in which he served till the surrender of Johnston's army. In 1862 he married at Greensboro, Ala., Miss Annabella Beaty Pearson. In 1866 he removed to Alabama, where his wife and child soon afterwards died. He returned to Asheville and went into co-partnership with the late Albert T. Summey, in the mercantile business, for a short time. In 1871 he married Miss Martha Bell Turner, a daughter of James Calder Turner, a civil engineer who aided in the laying out and construction of the Western North Carolina railroad to Asheville. He and his sister, Miss Frances L. Patton, soon became active in all charitable and philanthropic work. He was elected a county commissioner in 1878, when he made it his first business "to visit the county paupers, whom he found 'farmed out' to the lowest bidder and living in huts far from the public road or any possibility of public inspection," which system he immediately abolished. He also visited the jails regularly, keeping up the practice of visiting prisoners and paupers till his death. "When, in 1893, he considered that the city administration was extravagant, if not actually corrupt, he did not hesitate one instant but declared himself an independent candidate for mayor, and was overwhelmingly elected. His two terms as mayor $25 a month as a salary, resulted in much "economy honesty, progressiveness and effiuiency" which reduced "expenses one-half without in the least diminishing the efficiency of the public service." In April, 1898, he enlisted in the First North Carolina regiment, and served in Cuba, as adjutant. His object was to influence the younger men for good, and the survivors of that war have named the local camp in his honor. He did much, with his sister, Miss F. L. Patton, to establish and operate the Mission Hospital, the Children's Home and other works of benevolence. He died at Philadelphia, November 6, 1907, and was buried at Asheville with every mark of respect.

THOMAS DEWEESE CARTER. He was born on Little Ivy in what is now Yancey county, February 14, 1834, and died July 29, 1894. He married Miss Sarah A. E. Brown of McDowell county, August 14, 1855. He owned a large interest in the Cranberry iron mine in Mitchell, now Avery, county and during the Civil War manufactured tools there for the Confederate government. About 1870 he wrote a series of spirited articles on the political situation for the Raleigh Sentinel and the Asheville Citizen. . This was the commencement of a long and active experience as a militant newspaper editor for his power as a writer of virile English was pronounced. In the spring of 1872 he came to Asheville and began a series of articles concerning the Swepson and Littlefield frauds, publishing his communications in the Citizen , till Captain Natt Atkinson, its editor and owner, sold that paper to Robert M. Furman, which necessitated the launching of a new weekly known as the Western Expositor , by Col. Carter. This paper immediately attracted attention not only throughout State, but the New York Herald paid editorial tribute to vigor of the Expositor's well written and vigorous editorials. Just about 1876 Col. Carter sold the Expositor to the late W. H. Malone, retaining only control of the editorials till after the great campaign of 1876, when the Democrats again gained control of the political affairs of North Carolina.


  1. A copy of this article can be found in "The Balsam Groves of Grandfather Mountain by S. M. Dugger, p. 261.
  2. W. W. Rollins to J. P. A., May 31, 1912.
  3. In July, 1871, the late Captain Natt Atkinson was running the Weekly Citizen and continued to do so till 1873, when the late Robert M. Furman took charge of it.
  4. The Watauga Journal was the first paper ever published in Boone, but was soon succeeded by the Enterprise, both being Republican. The Journal was started by a Mr. McLauchlin of Mooresvillc, N. C., but he afterwards removed to Johnson City, Tenn. The Watauga News suspended publication in 1914.