May 2015
Issue No.2

It has already been an exciting year as The Museum and Transylvania County welcomed over 1,500 people to Clogfest Brevard 2015. The day was a resounding success and we look forward to making it even better in 2016! We would like to thank the Transylvania TDA and Charles and Beth Pickelsimer, III for their sponsorship of this event.

The new exhibit, Camp Country, will open on May 23rd at 1 pm during Brevard's White Squirrel Festival. Be sure to drop by and visit with us!

In honor of Preservation Month, I have included an article about one of the most amazing preservation stories I have ever encountered: The story of the Otmer Riley Scrapbook and its journey home.

We invite you to become involved this year by becoming a member (if you aren't one), volunteering or making a financial contribution. It is only through the continued support of our generous community that we are able to fulfill our mission of Connecting Community, History, and Life.

Sincerely - Rebecca Suddeth, Executive Director

Camp Country: Where America Comes To Play
New Exhibit Opens May 23rd



The Museum's new exhibit will open on May 23rd at 1:00 p.m. during Brevard's White Squirrel Festival.

The history of summer camps in Transylvania County spans most of the past century. It includes camps for girls, or boys, or both. It includes camps for more advanced students, as well as kids aged four to five. And, of course, there were camps for specially designated groups, such as the Girl Scouts, girls of Jewish faith, and others. By 1926, forty camps were within seventy miles of Asheville. Come learn about Transylvania Camps, their history and their impact on the county. 
The exhibit will be on display during The Museum's regular hours May 23rd through November 14th and was created in partnership with several Transylvania County summer camps. 

The Museum's Sneak Peek for the new exhibit will be Friday, May 22nd, from 5:30 - 7:00 pm.  It is a drop-in event; light refreshments will be served.  



Marker Dedication May 17th

The Waightstill Avery Chapter and Joseph McDowell Chapter of the DAR will hold a Grave Marking of Benjamin Davidsion at the Davidson River Cemetery at 3 pm on May 17th. 

During the American Revolutionary War, Benjamin served with the Burke County Regiment of Militia under Col. Joseph McDowell and fought in the Battle of King's Mountain on October 7, 1780. Sometime after 1790, he moved to what would one day become Transylvania County. Davidson River, once called the Rolling River, now bears his name.

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded on October 11, 1890, during a time that was marked by a revival in patriotism and intense interest in the beginnings of the United States of America. Women felt the desire to express their patriotic feelings and were frustrated by their exclusion from men's organizations formed to perpetuate the memory of ancestors who fought to make this country free and independent. As a result, a group of pioneering women in the nation's capital formed their own organization and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Pictured l to r: Ralph Rankin, Maxine Landfried, Bryan Thompson, David Lemming, Diana Mashburn, and Rebecca Suddeth
Scrapbook Returned to Hometown


More than a century after his untimely death, Otmer Adelbert Riley has become popular again  in Ripley, West Va., after a scrapbook filled with rich clues of his life was found in Brevard and returned to his hometown. 


The scrapbook was discovered in a trashbin at College Walk by sales director Diana Mashburn in 2001.  Its previous owners couldn't be identified, but she wanted to find the leather-bound, gold embossed trove of memorabilia a home. After a failed search for a Riley descendant living in Ripley, several attempts were made to locate a state historical society, or similar group to take possession of the scrapbook but to no avail. Thirteen years later she met Rebecca Suddeth, Executive Director of the Transylvania Heritage Museum.  "I said something like "Hey, I should show you this old scrapbook I have," Diana recalls. "Resourceful Rebecca was off and running. It was only then that the scrapbook began the last leg of its journey home."


On March 23, the two made the 363-mile trip to Ripley to formally present the artifact in a ceremony at the Jackson County Library.  "I always knew I would deliver the book to Ripley," Diana related. "I just did not know how, or when, or to whom."


The week following the presentation, Ripley librarian Dave Lemming reported that local historians were coming in to review the array of materials. "Otmer is very popular," he said.


No wonder. The outline of a colorful, adventurous, romantic, even perilous life is revealed in the scrapbook. Born in 1876, Otmer had died without heirs at the age of twenty-nine in 1906.   The scrapbook-a "selfie" of its time-provides a dot-to-dot of his life, from his days in the circus, as a musician in the Spanish-American War, as an actor, and as an itinerant and apparently skillful banker.  It even includes a sweet good-bye letter from, and invitation to the wedding of, the sweetheart he lost. His personal note above it reads: "This is what one would call a HEARTBREAKER."


The scrapbook also contains papers, letters, newspaper clippings and cards from Riley's many adventures in several localities in West Virginia. Multi-talented, mercurial and a man with an eye for the ladies, Otmer maintained his popularity until his mysterious death in 1906-headfirst in an icy creek after jumping from a moving train in a bout described as paranoia.


His madness, death and commentary on its cause are chronicled by whoever picked up the scrapbook and completed it. In its obituary, The Ripley Mountaineer, described Riley in a string of adjectives, among them "manly, intelligent, witty, and ambitious."


Local residents were thrilled with the return of a great piece of their history. 


"I want to thank Diana and Rebecca for bringing this wonderful scrapbook back to its roots,"  writes Maxine Landfried of the Jackson County Historical Society. "I will be reading the scans closely to ferret out more information about that time in our past."


In addition to the book, the Transylvania Heritage Museum provided digital images of the scrapbook pages as well as transcribed copies of several of the articles and letters contained inside.  


"I want to thank these ladies for making the trip here to bring Otmer home," reiterated Dave Lemming, Director of the Jackson County Library. "I hope they both left with the feeling that he has found a good home here with us, I know that he has gotten a good bit of attention so far."


"We are delighted that this scrapbook was found, saved, returned to Otmer's home," said Suddeth. "Being a part of bringing Otmer home to Ripley has been one of the most fulfilling projects I have ever undertaken, and I am pleased that Diana Mashburn allowed the Transylvania Heritage Museum to be a part of preserving his story."  ~article submitted by Jerry Brown, THM Board Member.


 Otmer A. Riley October 24, 1976-February 16, 1906


In This Issue

Davidson River: Land of the Free Exhibit
March 7-May 16

May 15th 4:00-5:00 p.m. Farm Fun Planting Day

May 17th, 3:00 p.m. Benjamin Davidson Marker Dedication at Davidson River Cemetery 

May 22nd  5:30-7:00 p.m. Sneak Peek for Camp Country Exhibit

May 23th  1:00 p.m
Camp Country: Where America Comes To Play Exhibit Opening

May 23rd 1:30 p.m. Guided Walking Tour On the Hunt of the White Squirrel. $15 per person. Reservations required. 

The 2015 Burlingame Drive for History will be Saturday August 22 with a noon tee time!
Print Registration form here. 
We thank our sponsors

DIAMOND - $5,000 - Up


Transylvania County

WSQL Radio


EMERALD - $2,500 - $4,999



College Walk

Transylvania Regional Hospital


OPAL - $1,000 - $2,499


Co-Ed Cinema


Haywood EMC

Pisgah Forest Rotary Club

M-B Industries


RUBY - $500 - $999


Blue Ridge Quick Print

Brevard Academy


Fisher Realty

Mountain Internet

Pisgah Fish Camp

Roess Mechanical

Transylvania County Schools


SAPPHIRE - $250 - $499


Automated Results

Greystone Inn

Jerome & Summey

Macon Bank

Sassafras Productions

Transylvania Times


AMETHYST - $100 - $249

AAAAA Services, Inc

Betty Travis

Broad Street Wine

Bryson Carpet

Cardinal Cleaners

Chestnut Café & Grill

Dalton Insurance

Dr. Lopez, DDS

Duckworth Insurance

Eric Hansen

Mt Range Golf Center

Rockin Bowl

Susan Breedlove Properties

Steve Owen & Associates


Exit Mountain Realty/Isaac Allen