Archive for August, 2007

Dave’s Mountain

August 31, 2007

On March 8, 2007, the Asheboro City Council voted to annex 300 tax parcels making up most of the “back side of Dave’s Mountain,” one of the city’s newer and more affluent neighborhoods centering around a warren of “Drives”: Greenmont, Viewmont, Northmont and the northern end of Oakmont. The area is the “back side” of The Mountain (“Dave’s” is becoming optional) because the “front” side (fronting on Old Lexington Road) became part of the city after a successful referendum on March 8, 1960. At that time the area was not legally known as The Mountain, Dave’s or otherwise, but as the “Dogwood/ Westmont” addition, 390 acres including the city water treatment plant.

Visually the Mountain is one of Asheboro’s central features, with the forest fire watch tower and cell phone antennas at its crest easily identifiable from miles to the north, south and west of the city. In 1957 a sign was installed by the Travel Council of North Carolina on US 64 west at the crest of a hill near the Davidson County line, which read “You are now looking at four of the larger mountains in the Uwharrie Range. Left to Right: Shepherd, Caraway, Back Creek, and Dave’s.” In 1955 Dr. William A. White, a geologist with the University of North Carolina, told the Greensboro Daily News that the Uwharries in general are the type of mountain known as “monadnocks,” “isolated residual knobs” of rock that have “resisted erosion and weathering better than the surrounding countryside.” Part of a geological feature known as the Carolina Slate Belt, they were formed by volcanic action in the early Paleozoic Era, and a higher-than-usual silica content gave some lava domes a greater resistance to erosion. [GDN, 10 Feb. 1955.]

Dr. J.E. Pritchard, a Methodist minister and a life-long resident of Asheboro, wrote in the Courier-Tribune on January 20, 1949 that Dave’s Mountain was also known as Goat or Billy Goat Mountain, “because back in the 1920s some Corwith brothers had a goat ranch on it… [and] the goats so denuded… the mountain there was little left for them to eat, so the ranch went out of business.” The good doctor offered nothing on the background of any “Dave,” but the Corwith brothers were Henry Phelps Corwith, Jr., and Williard Thompson Corwith, who moved to Asheboro from Winnetka, Illinois and purchased nearly 464 acres of the property in 1902. The Henry P. Corwith house, built about 1915, is the oldest residence on the Mountain and still stands at 1322 Oakmont Drive. Williard Corwith deeded his half interest in the property back to Henry in 1925, and disappeared from local records. In 1928 Henry Corwith recorded the first subdivison of the property, gradually turning the ‘goat ranch’ into five separate phases of residential building lots known as “Dogwood Acres” [see Plat Book 1, Pages 179, 195, 205, 227, and 308]. By 1972 newspaper columnist Henry King observed that “Dave’s Mountain” had almost lost its identity to the burgeoning Dogwood Acres subdivisions on its slopes. Gradually since then, the numerous non-Dogwood subdivisions have caused the nominal pendulum to swing back to the geographical common denominator, “Dave’s Mountain.” But the question remains: Who is Dave?

The Corwiths purchased most of the mountain in August, 1902, from Seth W. Laughlin and his wife Annie Laughlin. The first deed (103/580) was for 100 acres “known as the Ross tract.” The second deed [103/582] described “all the J.T. Anthony lands north of Salisbury [now Lexington] Road… Beginning at the South end of Davis Mountain; the third deed [103/584] described two tracts, one “Beginning at a rock pile in the line of the Dr. Worth Davis Mountain tract” [Dr. John Milton Worth being the brother of Governor Jonathan Worth, and one of the County’s biggest landowners] and another tract “adjoining the lands of M.L. Davis.”

So, maybe there has been a misprint all these years, and it actually should be Davis, not Dave’s, Mountain? Not so fast: the deed of 125 acres from M.L. Davis to S.W. Laughlin (103/588, dated a month earlier but recorded after the related 103/582) says “Beginning at a stone pile at the South end of Dave’s Mountain…” Now, which is correct: Dave’s or Davis?

M.L. Davis appears to have been a machinist who lived in Asheboro. He mortgaged his home in 1898 [lot 6 of the Fisher Estate, on Fisher Street (now Sunset Avenue)] to buy equipment from the High Point Machine Works [89/428], and had recorded a partnership agreement with E.H. Allred in 1893 “for the purpose of running a Foundry and Machine Shop” [78/168]. In 1882, operating under the name of “Davis, Pritchard and Company” he purchased what must have been one of the first steam engines in Asheboro from the Taylor Mfg. Co. of Westminster, Maryland [51/55]. That said, however, M.L. Davis only acquired the Mountain property that he sold in 1902 a year earlier [see 103/530, dated 1901]. So it’s hard to see how the Mountain could have taken his name in just one year.

To complicate matters even further, his predecessor in title J.T. Anthony had acquired the property [95/112, dated March 4, 1899] from the heirs of J. Riley Davidson, all of whom lived in Mecklenburg County. Riley Davidson, a resident of Randolph County, had mortgaged the property in May, 1890, had since died, and the heirs were deeding over the property to settle the debt. [see the mortgage deed at 74/35]. J. Riley Davidson and his wife Sarah W. (or Sallie) had acquired the 205 acres in question on November 1, 1858 from Winny Davidson, relationship unknown. The description is an unhelpful metes and bounds survey that makes no mention of any “mountain,” and where Winny Davidson acquired the land is presently unknown.

So is “Dave’s Mountain” more properly “Davis” Mountain? Or Dav[idson]’s Mountain? Or does it just memorialize some still unknown guy named Dave? At least one of the syllables appears to date back before the Civil War, which is all I can tell for now. All I can say is, take your pick, and tell the story the way it most appeals to you.

P.S.  There’s actually a related deed (103/592), dated July 16, 1902, for 100 acres “known as the Hooker Mountain.”  The property adjoined Joe Redding, Eli Brower, Riley Davis, William Gluyas (after whom Sunset Avenue was originally named “Gluyas’s Pond Road”), and “Hooker (now Spencer).”  So was “Dave’s Mountain” once “Hooker’s Mountain?”