Discovering Montford’s Early History

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
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A couple of years ago Zoe Rhine, a Special Collections Librarian at Pack Memorial Library, set out to see if she could find the origins of the name Montford. Many people have pondered the question: who named it and why was it named Montford?

In 1976 when Montford was getting a lot of deserved attention from being placed on the National Historical Register, Bill Moore, a Citizen‘s staff writer, took several stabs at the origin of Montford’s name. Colonel Montford, a veteran of the War Between the States seemed a possibility, but records found that no such person existed. The librarian at the North Carolina Room was consulted, Sarah Upchurch, the chronicler of the Mondford area was questioned, as was local historian Dave Bailey. “But there were no answers.” Colonial Paul Rockwell said that at one time there was a ford across the French Broad River near a promontory called simply “the mountain” or “the mount.”  He surmised then the ford was called Mountain ford or mountford.

And then a week later Bill Moore assumed he had it wrapped up when someone brought him a copy of the book, “Historical Sketches of North Carolina,” by John H. Wheeler published in 1851. Moore says the book mentions a Joseph Montford (actually spelled with the variant “Montfort” by Wheeler) being listed with the Halifax District at the Provincial Congress that met at Halifax in 1776, and sites further references to him in this book. At any rate, Moore decided if Asheville could take the name of a governor of North Carolina, Samuel Ashe (even though Ashe died before being inaugurated), then why couldn’t a little village in Buncombe County take the name of this Colonel? (Asheville Citizen 1/14/1977, 1/21/1978)

Continue reading Zoe Rhine’s research into the origins of Montford at packlibraryncroom.wordpress.com.

(Prepared by Zoe Rhine, Pack Memorial Library’s Special Collections Librarian.)

(Image: Looking north from the head of Montford at Bearden; cobbled street, trolley tracks, horse-drawn carriage with umbrella (probably indicating a street vendor), woman standing on street nearby and two streetcars in distance. Circa 1907-1910.)

(Image credit: Pack Memorial Library.)