Discovering Montford’s Early History Part 3: Where the Name Montford Came From

The entire view of the area around Broadway, titled “Vista from Cumberland Circle.”

We now know that Richmond Pearson named the new station Montford Park Station. Why the Name Montford?

An article in the Daily Citizen of March 31, 1891, titled “Montford Park Station: Asheville’s New Suburb on the French Broad” reveals that “for the privilege of naming the station, Mr. Richmond Pearson, last summer, agreed to erect a station building to cost not less than $2,000.”

Why Montford?

In the previous post I referred to an article in the North Carolina Room’s newspaper file that was not found on the microfilm of the newspapers. It was filed under “Festivals/Fourth of July” and that’s where I found the answer to this often-asked question.

That article, Asheville Daily Citizen—Extra dated July 4, 1890, stated that Richmond Pearson’s July 4th, 1890 was held under the auspices of the Asheville Construction, Loan & Improvement Company, proving that the new suburb was originally planed to be on both sides of the French Broad River.  That same Extra newspaper article also said that Richmond Pearson “named the new park Montford, the family name of his grandmother” [emphasis added].  The father of Asheville’s Richmond Pearson was Richmond Mumford Pearson, who lived in present-day Yadkin County on a plantation that was also named Richmond Hill.  Richmond Mumford Pearson’s mother was Elizabeth Mumford, the daughter of Robinson Mumford, a former officer in the British navy who had come to North Carolina before the American Revolution.  She was related to the Elder William Brewster of New England, an English official and Mayflower passenger.

Sources on surnames say that Mumford (English) is a variant of Montford and that the surname Montford is “French and English (of Norman origin); habitational name from any of the numerous places called Montfort, from Old French mont ‘hill’ + fort ‘strong’, ‘impregnable’.”  Place names such as Montford-sur-Risle in Normandy, Monfort-sur-Risle in Eure, and Montford, Shropshire, Great Britain are given. Sources agree to various surname spellings for Mumford and Montford: Montford, Mounford, Mountfort, and Mun(d)ford.  One source said that in “the ‘Modern’ idiom, the name is spelt Montford” with all variants having a French origin.

[Dictionary of Surnames, Oxford, 1988; Dictionary of American Family Names, Patrick Hanks, editor, Oxford, 2003; and]

The Thomas J. Wooldridge House, a typical early Montford Park house with the trolley car tracks in view at 114 Montford Avenue. House built circa 1896.

And what did Montford Park originally refer to? The first several uses of the name in the local paper were from June and July and all were specifically referring to the part of the new subdivision that was on the west side of the river, near Richmond Hill. So Pearson had named the depot there Montford Park Station and he also named the area there on the west side, Montford Park. “It is now contemplated to build two lakes, one on this side the river and one in Montford Park on the other side the river.” Pearson’s July 4th celebration was held at Montford Park.

Vista From Cumberland Circle, circa 1910-14

The first reference I found to all of the property of the new subdivision being referred to as “Montford Park” is in an Asheville Daily Citizen article of May 26, 1891, “Out at Montford Park.” George Powell, apparently the person on the ALC&I Company board (and president of same) who had the most direct effect on the creation and early development of the subdivision, took a reporter over the property. The article contains a complete description of the developments and it is clear that by this time the entire subdivision had taken on the name of Montford Park. I did not find any official announcement. We know of the residential developments of Norwood Park, Grove Park and Lakeview Park. Today, if you told someone you’d meet them at Montford Park, they’d be sitting at the park in Montford waiting for you.

I have not found when Montford Park simply took on the name Montford. Montford Park was used in the newspaper’s coverage in my research through 1896. When Montford was incorporated in 1893 the name was “the town of Montford” as well as when Montford was taken into the city of Asheville in 1905.

Academy Street’s name was officially changed to Montford Avenue as reported December 20, 1890.

[These findings were first published in Montford: The Newsletter of Asheville’s Most Historic Neighborhood in 2013. Republished here in part, with the permission of then editor, Joe Newman and current editor Ross Terry.]

Post by Zoe Rhine Librarian

Click links below to read the two previous articles.

Discovering Montford’s Early History Part 1

Discovering Montford’s Early History Part 2





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