I spent much of this past Saturday walking around downtown Hendersonville. It’s a beautiful little town with lots to see and do; great restaurants, tons of quaint and charming shops and…bears! Yes, that’s right, there are bears in the streets of downtown Hendersonville. Okay, they’re not real bears, they’re only statues which have been painted to match the shops and are a part of Hendersonville’s Bear-footin’ on Main Street program.
I love those bears, they never fail to get a smile out of me. Well, except for the one wearing a New York Yankees uniform, I could do without that one, but hey, at least they painted him in a baseball uniform instead of football or basketball.
Anyway, beyond the history of the town itself, I also have something of a personal history with this area. Once upon a time, long before I was born, my dad’s family lived in Hendersonville. The family later moved to Hot Springs where my great-grandfather was a constable, a carpenter, a blacksmith and a tax-collector in the lates 1800’s. My great-aunt Bessie graduated in 1899 from Dorland-Bell Institute, an Appalachian Mission School located in Hot Springs. The school has quite a history of its own and was showcased in the book, The Season of Dorland-Bell by Jacqueline Burgin Painter, who is a distant cousin of mine. There is a picture of Aunt Bessie’s diploma in the book, dated May 12, 1899. There’s also a picture of the town officials which shows my great-grandfather John Daniels in all his handle-bar moustache and silver-star-on-his-chest glory.
So, I’m living in the town where my ancestors lived long ago, and it’s a comforting feeling knowing they were a part of this place…sort of like a warm hug and a friendly “good to see ya’!” from people who contributed a share of their blood to make me who I am.
I feel like I’ve come full-circle and am finally where I was always meant to be.