Old business and city directories provide a wealth of
material for historical researchers and genealogists. They offer a snapshot of neighborhoods and
the larger community as a whole.
In the mid-to-late 1800s Levi Branson compiled and published
Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory.
Each volume contains facts, figures, names, and locations of businesses
throughout the state. There are
illustrated advertisements from many of the more prominent businesses of the
period. In addition they contain an array of statistical information.
For family and local researchers the value is in the
details provided at the county level.
Included are county and city officials; colleges and schools; churches,
pastors, and ministers; hotels and boarding houses with proprietors; farmers,
lawyers, merchants, mechanics, physicians, and teachers; manufacturers, mills,
and mines with owners; newspapers; and post offices with post masters.
Branson’s 1867 directory lists four Transylvania County
physicians—Brooks, Harris, Jones, and Lyday and two lawyers—Duckworth and
Whitmore. The 1890 directory lists the
three largest communities by population in the county as Brevard (350), Calhoun
(215), and Cherryfield (129).
|Hill’s Brevard City Directory, 1962.|
City directories offer similar details for citizens. They contain names listed alphabetically, as
well as by street address. Generally the
head of household, address, occupation, the wife’s name, name of the deceased
husband if widowed, and business partners’ names are stated. City directories typically include government
officials at all levels, information on schools, societies, churches, post
offices, and various other data of local interest.
Only one city directory for the Town of Brevard was ever
compiled. Published in 1962, it includes
the areas of Forest Hills, Fortune Cove, North Brevard, and Pisgah Forest but
does not cover the entire county. It is
made up of five parts—advertisements, a business directory, an alphabetical
listing of citizens and businesses, followed by the same listed by street address,
and a telephone directory in numerical order.
|This Know Your Directory tip explains, “The wife is listed with her husband,
and also is listed separately if steadily employed.”
There are also four pages of statistical and historical
information with facts such as, “Total street mileage 15, with 12 miles paved
and .5 miles under construction. Miles
of sewers (storm and sanitary) 15.
Number of water meters 1,450.”
While content varies in both business and city
directories depending on the time and place covered, both can provide the next
step in leading genealogists and researchers to more of the story. Many historical directories are available
online through DigitalNC, the Digital Public Library of America, and Ancestry.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by
the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information,
comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]