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The Penlands and the Baileys

Penland is a tiny enclave on the North Toe River next to the railroad tracks in the mountains northeast of Asheville. Rich in history, Penland is named after Milton Pinckney Penland. However, for awhile the area had been called Bailey Station. Both the Baileys and the Penlands were central players in developing the region. Milton Pinckney Penland, who lived from 1813 to 1880, married Althea Coleman of Asheville, and settled for a while in Burnsville.

                Their first home was of hand hewn locust, an 8-bedroom log structure with dining room and basement kitchen, and is now encased in what is known as the Nu Wray Inn in downtown Burnsville, North Carolina. The first proprietor was Bacchus Smith who, sometime in the early 1830's sold his building to Mr. Penland. He established the inn as a permanent lodging and operated it prior to the time that Garrett Dewese Ray acquired control in 1870. Mr. Penland owned and ran many businesses, including a store in Burnsville, several grist mills, a tannery and store at Flat Rock and organized a school for boys and girls. Mr. and Mrs. Penland took care of the girls. The Penlands also owned a home in Asheville and were one of the city’s well known society figures.


                Penland spent many years exploring the mountains and believed the region to contain more than 500 minerals. Over time, he bought up 6000 acres in Mitchell County. He also was one of the only people in the county to have been a slave owner, having 31 slaves. The census holdings lists these poor, unfortunate souls by age and sex, but not name. 1860 Slave Schedules, His slaves were freed at the end of the Civlil War, in 1864.

Milton and Althea Penland's estate during the Civil War,
at Flat Rock, another part of the estate.

      Governor Vance placed Milton Penland, Yancey county representative, on his staff in the War between the States to provide food and clothing for the Confederate soldiers.

      Milton Penland was elected by Yancey County to go to Raleigh in 1861 for the vote on secssion of North Carolina from the Union. He voted yes. Legislation of the Convention of 1861. Sprunt Historical Monographs No. 1.


      One of Mr. Penland’s daughters, Louise, married Colonel Isaac Hutsell Bailey in 1875. He was a dashing gentleman with a goatee and moustache.

Before he married Louise, Colonel Bailey fought in the Confederate War in Company B, sixth battalion, 58th North Carolina regiment. He enlisted as a Private on May 17, 1862, at the age of 21. In the Battle of Chicamauga, he suffered nearly mortal wounds, was shot through the leg and had his left ear almost cut off. He survived, however, and after the war, was elected to the General Assembly from the 36th senatorial district. 

Here is a link to Col. Bailey's own words, describing his involvement in the war: Additional Sketch Fifty-Eight Regiment

Col. Isaac Bailey in uniform. From Walter Clarke, ed., N.C. Regiments, 1861-1865,at Vol. III, p. 447?

After marrying Louise, they had three sons, Harry, Charles and Robert. Col. Bailey, with the support of the family, took over most of the Penland estate. He expanded Milton Penland’s headquarters, where the Penland Post Office building in question stands today. The original date of the building is not known, but it housed the Bailey Lumber Company at around the turn of the 18th century. In 1902, the area became known as Bailey Station because the railroad came through and put in a train station next to the Bailey Lumber Company. At that time, there were several businesses, including a mica cutting house, two general stores and a feed and grain store. Col. Bailey had his fingers in many pots: timber sales, real estate and insurance, drug store, dynamite and explosives, warehouse storage, telegraph agency, manufacturer of leather goods, strip mining and prospecting, sawmill and lumber yard, livery stable, welding, black smithing, dam building, lake and pond improvement, windmills, fish trap, and electric power generating station. Part of the building was intentionally built on a 3 degree angle for a casket shop, so that the caskets could be rolled out of the building and loaded onto the railroad cars. Ruth and Grace Bailey lined the caskets and made the pillows. 


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