Early Beginnings

The year was 1880. A good teacher could earn as much as a hundred dollars a month. A man’s suit sold from 4 dollars to 35 dollars, (boy’s $2.75 and up) coats from 45 cents to 4 dollars, and a man?s shirt cost a dollar. A good Chickering piano could be bought for a hundred dollars and just like now, you could pay 25 dollars down and 10 dollars a month arid take it home with you. For those so inclined, moonshine whiskey was sold on the main street of Asheville and neither seller nor buyer was the least concerned about whether the transaction was legal.

Some time in October of that year the first train would arrive at the small village of Best. Now for you who weren’t around then, Best was later named Biltmore. Should you wish to travel east, you could catch a train at Swannanoa to Hickory and Salisbury. The trip to would take about ten to twelve hours, providing no trouble on the track.

Wagons, horses, and oxen were still the means of trans­portation in the mountains. It was said there were two roads to everywhere, a dry weather road, and a wet weather road. (The wet-weather road was just 12 inches below the dry-weather road.)

In Reems Creek, on 2 acres of land donated by Robert G. Brank, and wife Lucinda, and James M. Parker and wife Matilda, a small band of Christians started an unusual church, a Union Church. As the deed stated it embraced the Orthodox Churches of the day.
The first building on the site was a log structure, known in the community as “Slab College”; so named because a Bill Williams taught school there. Service was held here while a one – room frame structure was being built. It was then named Pleasant Grove Union Church.

The Rev. Alfred Penland, a Presbyterian, was the first minister to serve as Pastor . . . . . . .Some Sundays when no preacher was scheduled, the service was a type of Prayer-meeting, with songs, prayer, and testimonies of one, or more of the congregation. In 1887, a Methodist class was organized with a minister appointed to a regular schedule.

Baptist ministers held service from time to time.