The Transylvania Times -

When Do You Become A Transylvanian?

The Journey Inward


Last updated 11/5/2020 at 10:08am

Arriving in Brevard 15 years ago, I was eager to fulfill one of my dreams by setting up a private practice counseling center here in the mountains. I was ecstatic about being here. But early on and for some time afterward I did not yet belong. There was a sense that I was part of an outer circle. The inner circle consisted of folks who were native to the area, the traditional families.

Certain family names kept popping up; I sensed these families went back generations. And I did not delve into the history of the area other than picking up anecdotes.

Recently I read “To Stand on Solid Ground” by Keith Parker and Leslie Parker Borhaugh. After reading the book, I developed a thirst for local history, including travel to local sites that give me a feel for what happened there many years ago. I did not know Lamb’s Creek road existed, for example, until I read the book.

The book is a delight to read and illuminates the origins of Transylvania County and Brevard. The story takes place around the time Transylvania County was formed and North Carolina seceded from the United States.

From the book and other sources, I read about families who tried to negotiate the difficulties of split loyalties during the Civil War. Establishing law and order was challenging during a time of intense rivalry. There was fierce loyalty to kin. Care for neighbors, though, never flagged when deprivation blighted the land. Notable leaders arose to create stability and further the establishment of a young town.

On May 28, 1861, Leander Gash, Alexander England and Braxton Lankford met at Poor’s store on Probart Street as the clouds of war hung heavy over the area, and designated that the county seat would be one-third of a mile from the store. Each donated 50 acres, which included plots for a courthouse and churches.

This history is common knowledge to established residents, but since I am a relative newcomer, reading about those formative years and the people who risked their lives and sparse fortune to establish the county where we now live is inspiring. Through the years local historians have either preserved records of the past or written about it in order to keep the story of Transylvania alive.

Yvonne McCall-Dickson, for example, in her Arcadia Publishing book about the county lists 81 pioneer families that settled and stayed to build the foundations of Transylvania County. We are the beneficiaries of their efforts. So, when I hear one of these pioneer names mentioned I feel deep respect, for without them I would not have been able to fulfill one of my dreams.

When do you become a Transylvanian? For me, it took a while. Feeling the spirit and heritage of this place was a big step toward belonging. So, when? As I now say, “This is my home. I am proud to call myself a Transylvanian.”

(Dr. John Campbell is a psychotherapist and clergyperson living in Brevard.)


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