For several
decades the first Sunday in October was designated as Davidson River Day—a day of
remembrance of the heritage of Davidson River Presbyterian Church and Davidson
River Academy, as well as the daughter churches in Mills River (established in
1859) and Brevard (established in 1891), and a day to celebrate the future.

On
October 7, 1923 the Honorable Robert L. Gash gave an address proclaiming the significance
and history of Davidson River Day to those in attendance.  According to Gash, “In the late
seventeen-nineties, this grove was known as Walnut Grove Preaching Point.” Located
along the Davidson River not far from the home of Benjamin Davidson, the first
permanent settlers in the area following the Revolutionary War gathered for
services led by traveling preachers of various denominations.

In
1826 Benjamin Davidson deeded the grove to trustees appointed to build a “free
meeting house” used by Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists.  From this beginning, the Davidson River
Presbyterian Church with twenty-eight original members was constructed in
1828. 

The 1891 Davidson River Presbyterian church in the 
walnut grove.

By 1855 there was a need for a larger building to serve as a
church and school.  The school, Davidson
River Academy, offered a mid-level
education in the areas of classics and elementary reading, writing and algebra.  It had already been in existence for three
decades and would operate for an additional 40 years.
            

This
new building, the second to serve the Davidson River community, burned in 1891.
Gash states, “At that time the trustees of the church conveyed to the school
committee the site of the present school house; and in rebuilding, they built
only a church, although they permit the school to use the grove as a
playground.
 

The
1924 Sanborn map shows the school and church located on the east side of
Davidson River Road, north of the rail line into Pisgah Forest.

This circa 1915 photo shows the “present school house” at
Davidson River that Gash referred to in his 1923 address.

After
Davidson River Presbyterian and Brevard Presbyterian merged during the Great
Depression, services were moved to the Brevard church, located on Probart
Street.  Throughout the 1930s and early
1940s the congregation continued to celebrate Davidson River Day at the old
Davidson River Presbyterian grounds each October.  It was attended by hundreds from near and far. 

Photographs
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. For more information, comments, or
suggestions contact NCRoom staff at [email protected]
or 828-884-1820.
       

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