The Aikens were kin to, married to, or in business with many of the first families to settle what is now Transylvania County. One Aiken with multiple connections was Julius “Jule” Luther Aiken. His grandfather was famed rifle maker John Gillespie, and in 1895 he married Idelle or “Ida” Allison, great-grandniece of William Hicks Allison of Elk Park. An interesting side note is that Ida had a twin named Adelle or “Ada” who married a reverend and moved to Spartanburg, SC.
Jule and Ida had their first child, Willie Mae, in 1900. Tragically she died in the 1903 Scarlet Fever epidemic, and the same illness left their son Walter Clingman deaf in one ear for the rest of his life. The family enjoyed hunting together, as can be seen in this photo of Jules, Ida, and Walter in their REO out on a hunting trip.
Julius ran a feed and grain store in Brevard alongside Dr. J. Whitfield “Whit” Brooks. They began the venture in January of 1916 in the “old Whitmire garage” on East Main Street and called it Aiken & Brooks Feed Store. Brooks retired after only a year and Volney Becker “Bud” Scruggs took over as Aiken’s partner in January 1917. The business changed locations and by June of the same year, Teague & Turner were operating another garage in the previous space. Current papers of the day called it the “Brooks building”, perhaps giving credit to its most recent previous occupant despite the fact that it had been built by Mr. T.W. Whitmire many years prior. The building continued to host numerous businesses over the years including liveries, garages, and the Cash & Carry Super Market. It is the location of Cup and Saucer coffee shop today.
The family eventually moved to Ocala, Florida but remained connected to Transylvania County. They lived out their lives in Florida, but both Jules and Ida were laid to rest in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Transylvania County next to their lost daughter Willie Mae. Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History Librarian Laura Sperry Gardner. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.