Finding Aid of the Alexander Inn Collection, PC.7000


Finding Aid of the Alexander Inn Collection, PC.7000


This collection documents the history of the Alexander-Davidson family of Buncombe County. The Alexanders were one of the first white families to settle in the area and have remained influential in the region. Since the 1820s, the Alexanders managed a series of businesses, including one of their most well-known financial endeavors, the Alexander Inn, which operated from roughly 1820 to the 1950. The Alexander Inn Collection consists of letters, photographs, newspaper clippings, genealogical information, guest registers, financial ledgers, and other ephemera relating to the Alexanders' businesses.

Descriptive Summary

Alexander Inn Collection
Call Number
Alexander family
1833 - 1992
Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina

Series Quick Links

  1. Collection Contents

Restrictions on Access & Use

Access Restrictions

Available for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.

Collection Overview

The Alexander Inn Collection consists of letters, photographs, newspaper clippings, genealogical information, guest registers, financial ledgers, and other ephemera relating to the Alexanders' businesses.

Arrangement Note

The documents are arranged chronologically and by type of document.


The Alexander family origins can be traced to Somerled, Lord of the Isles, (d. 1164) of Scotland. It is believed that the Alexanders immigrated to Northern Ireland, but there is debate on the exact date. Around 1750, John Alexander and his friend John Davidson immigrated to Philadelphia. Alexander married Rachel Davidson, one of John Davidson's daughters and sister of Samuel Davidson. John and Rachel Alexander had two children, James and Thomas. James Alexander and his uncle Samuel Davidson were among the first settlers in western North Carolina.

Samuel Davidson was the first white settler in present-day Buncombe County. Davidson, along with his wife, child, and female African-American slave came to the Swannanoa Valley, west of Old Fort in 1781 or 1782. Davidson built a cabin for his family, but was killed shortly after their arrival. It is said that Samuel would let his horse graze at night. In order to find the horse the following morning, Davidson attached a bell to the animal's neck. One morning, Samuel Davidson went to find the horse and heard the bell up the mountain. It is believed that some Cherokees fetched the horse and used the bell to lure Davidson into the woods. His wife heard a shot and immediately grabbed her daughter and servant and walked fifteen miles to find refuge in Old Fort. Days later, a group of men from the fort, some related to Samuel Davidson, managed to retrieve Davidson's body and avenged his death.

During the 1820s, James Alexander, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, built a two-story log cabin and established the Alexander Inn, which served travelers for over a century. The hostelry was one of the stopping spots of the stage coach, which came via the Western Turnpike that ran from Salisbury, North Carolina west through Morganton, Marion, Asheville (where it intersected with the Buncombe Turnpike), Waynesville, Franklin and Murphy to the Georgia border. A railroad station was established in Swannanoa in the 1880s and travelers began arriving by train. By the 1920s automobiles became the primary mode of transportation to the region. In addition to the inn, the Alexanders also ran a tavern and a mercantile, making the family one of the earliest entrepreneurs in western North Carolina. In 1984, the Alexander Inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Contents of the Collection

Collection Contents
Box 1 Genealogy and Family History
Box 2 - Reunion
Box 3 Correspondence and Clippings
The Charlotte Observer, November 16, 1958, Newspaper contains a number of articles as it is preserved in its entiretyDr. Folsom Dies at 74: Physician Here 50 Years (copy), December 10, 1971A Great Escape: Frontier Flight Recounted (copy), February 26, 1974Obituary, O. M. "Spec" Alexander, October 1, 1973
Box 4 Business
Box 5 Ledgers
Box 6 Photographs and Miscellaneous
Box 7 Studio Portraits

Alexander and Davidson families, chiefly unidentified.

Box 8 Photo Albums
Box 9 Photo Albums
Box 10 Oversized Photographs
BOX 10
Box 11 Family Bibles
BOX 11

Subject Headings

  • Alexander family
  • Davidson family
  • Alexander Inn (Swannanoa, N.C.)
  • Business enterprises -- North Carolina -- Hendersonville--North Carolina
  • Guest books
  • Taverns (Inns)
  • Processing Information

  • Processed by Alejandra Lillo-Fa├║ndez McCall, spring 2013.