The Gash family has deep roots in Transylvania County, and one prominent Gash who had an impact on her community was Annie Jean Gash. A native of Transylvania County, she was born on June 1, 1879 to Thomas Lenoir Gash and Dovie Ann Deaver Gash and was the youngest of five siblings.
She graduated from Agnes Scott College, an all-women’s Presbyterian college at the time, in 1899 with a concentration in Science, and in a humorous list of “awards” given to the seniors in the yearbook, she was bestowed with the distinction of “Professor of Penmanship, Perpendicular Style.” She furthered her education by graduating from Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1906 with a Bachelor’s degree in Domestic Science. The archives in the North Carolina Room at the Transylvania County Library contain many of her college essays, recipes, anatomy and physiology notes, and other remnants of this very specific education. After graduation, she became a teacher at Tusculum College in Greenville, TN before moving back to Transylvania County.
Now home, Gash put much of her energy into her passion for history and genealogy. She founded the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) in 1911, with 25 charter members and served as its president for many years. The group enacted their mission of supporting veterans in many ways, and even expanded their efforts into other community-wide initiatives, such as the creation of Brevard’s first library. Originally a private organization, the library was housed in a small building on the same property as the courthouse, in approximately the location of the gazebo and Veteran’s History Museum of the Carolinas today. The library was purchased by the county and became public in 1944.
Gash was also the Organizing Regent of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in 1921, and it was unanimously voted on by the members to name the group in honor of Gash’s ancestral link to the Revolutionary War, Waightstill Avery. His devout parents named him “Wait Still Upon the Lord,” but he shortened it to Waightstill. The club was a veritable Who’s Who within the county, with members such as Elizabeth Silversteen, who was the vice-regent locally and who held even more prestigious state level positions in later years. Gash’s duties shifted over the years, and she stepped into a historian’s role by 1937.
1937 is also the year in which Gash filed a patent for a weaving loom called “Weave-It” and was granted the intellectual property protection in 1939. She served as a librarian at the UDC Library for many years, and her occupation was listed as seamstress on the 1950 Census, which is the most current Census that is publicly available. Annie Jean Gash passed away on Marcy 27, 1970 and was laid to rest in the Davidson River Cemetery.
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. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.