The Naming of Glenville
by Carol M. Bryson
There once was a quaint little village called Hamburg nestled on each side of the highest part of the Tuckasegee River.
In about 1890, the river meandered gently through the Hamburg Village for about five miles, with 40 or so homes and 240 people along its banks. At the end of the village, the river dropped dramatically over a 200-foot waterfall. A two-story high school, a Baptist church and a dozen or so businesses completed the fairy tale mountain village.
Among the villagers were Elisha Caylor Hedden and his wife Sarah Parker Hedden. Elisha’s parents gave him two lots on which he built a huge house and opened it as a hotel. He was the Hamburg postmaster in 1889.
A group of progressive-minded village people began to meet at Hedden’s hotel to discuss the idea of making Hamburg an official town. Elisha suggested the name of the town could be “Glenville,” just like his hotel. He had named his hotel “The Glenville House,” as shown on an advertisement he ran in the Tuckaseige Democrat newspaper. The group was successful in getting the N.C. Legislature to study their idea to incorporate their village into an official town called Glenville in February of 1891.
Elisha C. Hedden applied for a name change for his post office to be “Glenville” and his wife, Sarah, became the new postmaster.
The Glenville town charter named Elbert Watson as the interim Mayor. Elisha C. Hedden, Horace A. Brown, Alfred H. Wilson, William A. Wilson and Bennett J. Moody were the interim Town Commissioners; and John A. Gribble was named as the Marshall. The bill passed quickly after a modification to disallow the sale of liquor within the charter limits, which was in a three-quarter mile circle centered on the high school.
When the news came out that the bill to incorporate their village had been ratified, reaction was extremely negative, grounded in the fact there had been no local referendum on the issue. After months of bickering and threats of gunfire, it seemed futile to have the first election of town officers as called for in the charter. The name Glenville was commonly accepted, however, even after the village was flooded in 1941 by the dam of Lake Glenville and its people moved to higher grounds.