North Carolina Education - Haywood County

Year County Established

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Haywood County


In 1820, the American Baptist Foreign Mission Board appropriated funds for a church, boarding school, and model farm for the Cherokee Indians at Aquonatuste, a small Natchez Indian community in present-day Cherokee County. The Aquonatuste site was one of five such missions established in the area and was constructed with the aid of a prominent local mixed-blood chief named Currahee Dick. At the time of its founding, the mission was in Haywood County.

Under the supervision of Evan Jones, who translated the New Testament into the Cherokee language using the Sequoyah alphabet, the mission opened its doors in November of 1820. Soon afterwards, as many as fifty (50) Cherokee children were brought to the school by their parents to learn English and practice Christianity. A mixed-blood pupil named James Wafford aided Jones in compiling a spelling book that utilized both English and the Sequoyah alphabet.

Humphrey Posey, a Baptist preacher and teacher from Burke County, was appointed the school principal in 1822. Shortly thereafter, he organized Valleytowns Baptist Mission School, as it became known, into the most successful and popular such Protestant institution within the Cherokee nation. In addition to the model farm, Posey also organized the construction of a blacksmith shop and a gristmill to offer further vocational education to the Cherokees. Under Jones and Posey’s supervision, the mission trained future Cherokee leaders such as Peter Oganaya, John Wickliff, and James Wafford who led the political resistance to the New Echota Treaty and eventually took part in the Trail of Tears.

When the United States military began the removal of the Cherokee, they disbanded the mission. In 1836, the Federal government expelled Evan Jones from the Cherokee nation for continuing to administer to his congregation and students, and for inciting and aiding rebellious factions. However, he joined his former pupils at Fort Cass and in 1838 left for Oklahoma with one of the emigrant detachments. He settled on the Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma and attempted to rebuild the Valleytowns Baptist Mission there.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

To minister to the Cherokee people living in the area of present-day Jackson County, the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the South established the Echota Mission along Soco Creek. In 1841, Reverend D. Ring became the mission’s first pastor. Eventually several native preachers served the congregation. After attending one of the worship services, Charles Lanman reported that Cherokee worship was very similar to the worship of white Christians only that the service was done in Cherokee. He found the congregation to be neatly dressed and worshipping according to the Methodist custom, with the exception of singing hymns with more wild excitement.

The mission established a school in 1850 - it was in Haywood County at that point in time. Reverend Ulrich Keener, who had previously served as minister to the mission in 1847 to 1848, became the first resident superintendent of the school. He held the position until his death in 1856. Keener’s original cabin still stands next to the Cherokee United Methodist Church in the Soco Community of Cherokee. The cabin is the oldest architectural structure at a Cherokee site in North Carolina.

The above write-up (with edits and additions) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

The North Carolina Association of Educators can trace its roots to a meeting in Warrenton on June 30, 1857. At that gathering, the name “Educational Association of North Carolina” was chosen and a constitution adopted. The Association was inactive and disbanded during the American Civil War and Reconstruction years. But, in August of 1883, editors of a publication called "The North Carolina Teacher" conceived the idea of having a “Chautauqua” meeting in the mountains. The term “Chautauqua” derives from a movement born in New York in the mid-1870s whereby gatherings were held that combined study and recreation in a pastoral setting. The Chautauqua idea received a favorable response from many of the state’s educators.

The site chosen for the meeting—held in June 1884—was the White Sulphur Springs Hotel, approximately one mile from downtown Waynesville, the county seat of Haywood County. Attendees planned a two-week stay at Waynesville and a series of lectures and discussions on the methods of teaching, school government, organization, and similar matters relating to education. At the gathering, the group elected to call itself “The North Carolina Teachers’ Assembly.” The members decided to meet every year in June, but did not designate a permanent meeting place.

From 1888 to 1900, the Teacher’s Assembly met in Morehead City in a building constructed for that purpose. The group kept the designation of Teachers’ Assembly until 1922, when it was officially chartered as the North Carolina Education Association. On July 1, 1970, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) was formed when the North Carolina Education Association merged with the North Carolina Teachers Association. The latter group, which served black teachers, had formed in 1880, after the establishment of the NCEA. Today, the organization works to advance and ensure equitable, quality public education in North Carolina.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.


During the early twentieth century, Haywood County manufacturing was centered on the region’s extensive timber resources and the operations included logging, milling, furniture making, and tanneries. Timber companies purchased large tracts of land in order to harvest the hardwood. Most of the investors in Haywood County at that time were wealthy non-residents, such as Peter Thomson, owner of Champion Fibre Company in Ohio. Thomson was looking for a location to build a pulp factory to supply his mill in Ohio. He had many sites to choose from, but selected Canton for its abundance of desirable spruce trees. Although the pulp mill was in Canton, the logging for the mill was conducted elsewhere.

Logging operations required the establishment of temporary villages for the workers and sometimes for their families as well. One of the largest and most well-appointed villages was Sunburst, built about 1905 on the Pigeon River in Haywood County to supply timber to the Champion pulp mill in Canton, about fifteen miles away. Sunburst was on land owned by Thomson and was operated by Whitmer Lumber Company. There were dozens of houses, a boarding house, commissary, and a multi-purpose building that held a church, school, and even a skating rink. A post office was established in 1906. The community offered modern conveniences such as electricity, running water, and ample telephone service.

Dr. Carl Schenck, the German forester hired by George Vanderbilt to manage his estate, launched a school of forestry at Biltmore in 1898. After parting ways with Vanderbilt, Dr. Schenck used the facilities at Sunburst between 1910 and 1913. Sunburst offered “plenty of rooms for the students . . . and the most modern schoolhouse in western North Carolina.” Dr. Schenck did not formally move the Biltmore Forest School there, but used the location to allow students to study the local forests and logging operations.

During World War I, spruce lumber, such as that found at Sunburst, was important in the construction of airplanes and ships. After the war, however, timber production decreased. In the 1920s, Whitmer reorganized and created Suncrest Lumber Company, which moved its base of operations to Waynesville and then closed in the late 1920s. Champion continued to thrive in Canton, and in 1932 built a dam at the west fork of the Pigeon River. The resulting lake, Lake Logan, flooded most of Sunburst.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.


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