Thomas Shepherd Deaver
1803 - 1893
Thomas Shepherd Deaver was one of the group of local citizens
who, recognizing the need for better education for their children,
established in 1856 the French Broad Baptist Institute, which later
became known as Mars Hill College.
John Robert Sams wrote to Mars Hill College President R. L. Moore,
in 1925, about the early days of the school. In describing how the
first building was constructed, he said, "The bricks were made by
slave labor . . . and the lumber was sawed on T. S. Deaver's sawmill
of the old vertical type of water sawmills. There being no roads at
that time from the Forks of Ivy to Mars Hill, the long joists and
sleepers and all the lumber were hauled up Little Ivy to the
Pritchard place, or Metcalf Mill, and by the Alfred Sprinkle place to
the present Mars Hill." (McLeod, pp. 18-19)
Elsewhere in his book, John McLeod relates the following: "Thomas
Shepherd Deaver was a wealthy landowner and one of the original
trustees, who probably contributed more money to the
establishment and early support of the college than any other man.
Thomas Shepherd Deaver, date unknown,
from John Angus McLeod's book, From These
Stones: Mars Hill College 1856-1967, Mars
Hill College Press, 1955, 2000, p. 28/29.
He did not attempt to conceal the fact that he was a unionist. He used to tell of a message which he
received from Zebulon B. Vance, just before the famous war governor transferred his allegiance from
the North to the South, in which Vance said, 'Squire, stand by the Union!' During the war his mill, the
largest in the neighborhood, which stood at the Forks of Ivy where Metcalf's mill is now located, was
burned; and after the war many living about looked upon him as a kind of Shylock."
-- John Angus McLeod, From These Stones: Mars Hill College 1856-1967, Mars Hill College Press, 1955, 2000, pp.