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Book discovered at Warren Wilson College reveals nuggets about Appalachian history

After 123 years, Warren Wilson College is still uncovering more about its roots. Soon, a recently discovered farm school ledger will be scanned and made available to the public. The book is connecting some interested dots in Appalachian history. (Photo credit: Warren Wilson College Archives)

After 123 years, Warren Wilson College is still uncovering more about its roots.

Soon, a recently discovered farm school ledger will be scanned and made available to the public. The book is connecting some interested dots in Appalachian history.

"Oh, you know it's the discovery of the stories like that," said Diana Sanderson, who lives for "Eureka moments" as she keeps track of artifacts.

"We do have some photos of that," she told News 13, showing the structure known as Old Main. "It really was an impressive building. Everything in the school was in that building."

Generations before it became the college we know today, the Asheville Farm School opened in 1894. Back then, students farmed the school's 500 acres along the Swannanoa River.

"But what that bought them was a place to go to school and a job on the farm or within the school itself," Sanderson explained.

Many mountain families have a link to the Asheville Farm School for Boys.

A.C. McCurry said his father spent time there.

"He did, but he didn't have much to say about it," McCurry said. "He was telling me how he remembered using a wagon for hauling hay or something and that was primarily it."

As a World War II veteran, Mr. McCurry played a vital role in history, and he's curious about his family's mountain past.

Diana's recent discovery helps fill in the blanks.

"So, this is a register of all the students who came to the farm school, signed up at some point starting at about 1902," Diana said, showing the old farm school ledger to A.C.

"There are Penlands and Penleys, Pattons and Porters," she said, almost as if Dr. Seuss documented history. "Vance, there was a Vance who came here."

The McCurry's were here, too.

"So, August 17 of 1910, two boys McCurry, Bernie and McCurry, Troy from Weaverville," Diana pointed out.

Troy was A.C.'s dad.

"It says stayed, but only a few weeks," Diana told News 13.

"He let us know that he went to the farm school," she said. "But strange he didn't say anything about Uncle Bernie, his brother, being out here with him."

"A lot of these mountain boys stayed one night, and they got out," Diana told McCurry. "Or they were kicked out. A lot of these kids, they just decided they didn't want to be away from home."

This more than a century-old book is a glimpse of simpler times and one more piece of a jigsaw puzzle that will go down in Buncombe County history.

"Well, it was interesting, certainly," McCurry said.

"This is gravy," Diana says. "This is what makes my job worth it is for folks to discover more about their ancestry, and that they did have a place here."

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