Rockbrook Party in Charlottesville, VA

Rockbrook Camp Alumnae gather in Charlottesville
Sarah, McKenzie, Mercer and Mandy enjoy a visit in VA

During the fall and winter we travel around the country sharing Rockbrook with potential campers, current campers and their families.  We always love it when Rockbrook Alumnae are able to join us at the parties and share their camp memories and stories.

Just a few weeks ago we had a great show in Charlottesville, VA and were thrilled to be joined by McKenzie Harper Inigo and Mercer Reeves.  McKenzie and Mercer were both campers and counselors for many years.  Mandy and Sarah enjoyed getting to catch up with both of them! Those Rockbrook friendships sure are special no matter how many years it has been since you were at camp together!

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

The Biltmore Train arrives at Rockbrook Camp
The Biltmore Train, Summer 1968

One of our favorite and long standing Rockbrook traditions is the special treat known as “The Biltmore Train.”  It is an all you can eat ice cream extravaganza that has been happening at Rockbrook for many years.  It is a Rockbrook  “Surprise” and is announced with a special “choo choo” train song and skit.  When the tradition started the actual Bitmore Dairy Truck would drive up to camp and serve the ice cream (as seen in the photo above).  The Biltmore Dairy is no longer in business but we sure still enjoy it’s namesake activity.  “Biltmore, Biltmore” can often be heard being chanted around camp as the campers hope for the surprise ice cream day to arrive.

Nancy Carrier at Bryn Mawr College

We recently uncovered another piece of Nancy Carrier’s history while searching through some old documents.  One of these documents was the Bryn Mawr College Calendar and Register of Former Students.  Guess who was listed?  Nancy Barnum Clarke!   Nancy was listed as a Graduate Student in Psychology, Geology and Biology in 1909-1910.  It also indicates that she received her Bachelors of Science in 1909 from The College for Women in Columbia, SC.

Bryn Mawr was the first college in the United States to offer Graduate Studies for women.  We can imagine Nancy leaving Brevard and venturing to Pennsylvania for further schooling.  She was quite an amazing woman and very ahead of her time!

See the image below for Nancy’s record.  She is listed third from the top.

Nancy Clarke Carrier, Graduate Student at Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr Register of Former Students and Alumnae.

Julia Caroline Hurd

We’ve often pointed out that Nancy Carrier, the woman who founded Rockbrook Camp, is the great-granddaughter of P.T. Barnum, the great American showman and circus founder.  It’s true, and here is a cool old photograph that helps explain the lineage.  Taken in 1875, this is a portion of a larger family portrait showing P.T. Barnum, his second wife, Nancy Fish, several of his children, son-in-laws, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Julia Caroline Hurd and PT Barnum

P.T. Barnum is seated third from the right and the woman seated third from the left is Nancy Fish Barnum, his second wife. Standing between them is Samuel Henry Hurd, the man who married P.T. Barnum’s second daughter Helen Maria. Samuel and Helen Hurd had three daughters, the second of which, Julia Caroline, you see standing here to the far right. Julia Caroline Hurd, who was born in 1860, was P.T. Barnum’s granddaughter. In this picture she is fifteen years old.

Later, in 1886 when she was 24 years old, Julia Hurd married Henry Peck Clarke. She moved with her new husband from Connecticut in 1888 to South Carolina after purchasing the Goodwill plantation. It was there, in 1889, that Nancy Barnum Clarke was born, the woman who later marries Henry Nash Carrier in 1913, and in 1921 establishes Rockbrook Camp. Put differently, the young woman standing to the far right in this photograph is Nancy Carrier’s mother.

There are many more details and stories to tell about each of these people. Stay tuned…! Meanwhile, here is a short video discussing the history of Nancy’s founding of Rockbrook.

Help us Solve a Rockbrook History Mystery…

Rockbrooks Founder Nancy Carrier with her dog Peggy
Nancy Carrier and Peggy on The Rockbrook House lawn

As part of our continuing efforts to document the history of Rockbrook and its founders,  we have been doing some genealogical research on camp founder Nancy Carrier and her famous Great- Grandfather P.T. Barnum.   We have explored some fascinating genealogy books and websites and have also visited the Transylvania County Courthouse and Library.  We will soon be blogging a more detailed story of their  lives, but we need your help in unraveling some of the story.

Those of you who were campers and counselors during Mrs. Carrier’s time at camp can add a lot of detail to the story.  We are particularly interested in any information that you remember about her children, Henry and Helen.  We would also love to hear any recollections you have on her daughter in law Helen, who directed the camp. Your stories, photos and memories will assist us in painting a more accurate picture of Mrs. Carrier and Rockbrook.  Please let us know if you have anything to add!

Meet Mirabelle Buchanan

Future Rockbrook camper Mirabelle Buchanan visits camp
Christy and Mirabelle Buchanan

We were so excited to see former Rockbrook counselor and Junior Line Head extraordinaire Christy Middleton Buchanan when she stopped by the RBC office last week.  She came by to introduce us to her sweet baby girl Mirabelle!  Mirabelle was born July 1, 2010.  She is absolutely adorable and already has been introduced to all of the Rockbrook songs!  We wonder what her favorite song is?

Christy says that she is already counting down the days until Mirabelle can be a Rockbrook camper!  Summer 2018 will be here before you know it!  We will be waiting Mirabelle!

Mirabelle Buchanan Birth Announcement

Oldest Presbyterian Church

The Transylvania County Historical Society has made an interesting find that ties the Rockbrook Camp property to the oldest Presbyterian church in the area. Local historians Keith Parker and Gene Baker now believe the “Mamre congregation” had its “Presbyterian Meeting house below the mouth of Dunn’s Creek” right across from the main entrance to Rockbrook. What’s phenomenal is that this church was in place in 1798. That’s the same year that the U.S. government officially obtained this land from the Cherokee! This means the property that would later become Rockbrook Camp (when Nancy Carrier’s father Henry Peck Clarke purchased it) was a thriving community more than 100 years before the camp was founded. This area, known as the Dunn’s Rock Township, was the third largest in the area when Transylvania County was formed in 1861.

1798 Transylvania County Church near Dunn's Rock

Now take a look at this view of the French Broad River valley from the top of Dunn’s Rock. We’re not sure what year it was made (and whether it’s a colorized photograph or a painting based on a photograph; thanks to Roger Raxter for giving us a copy), but you can clearly see, along the bottom edge, the old “Dunn’s Rock Bridge” crossing the river. Right next to it, you can make out the red roof of what we think is that old Presbyterian meeting house from 1798. It was just south of where the bridge crossed the river.  Like the church, this bridge is no longer there.

Such important history surrounding Rockbrook!

Nancy Carrier’s Impact on Brevard

Nancy Carrier, Founder of Rockbrook Camp, featured in The Transylvania Times
From The Transylvania Times

While going through our archives recently we came across this fascinating article about Nancy Carrier, published in The Transylvania Times in 1989.  It was printed in honor of what would have been her 100th birthday. It is a wonderful addition to our archives, and is a testament to the legacy of Nancy Carrier. Besides being the founder of Rockbrook Camp, she also was one of the founders of Brevard Music Camp, now Brevard Music Center.  She also was a chairman of the first hospital auxiliary in Brevard and helped found Lyday Memorial Hospital, the first public Hospital in Transylvania County.

We also loved learning more about the early days of Rockbrook.  Did you know that through Mrs. Carrier,  the local Red Cross met at Rockbrook and made bandages for the war effort.   Or that sewing circles were held at Rockbrook to make useful items for soldiers during World War II?

Nancy Carrier passed away in 1977 and is buried right down the street from Rockbrook in St.Paul’s-in-the-Valley Cemetery.    We hope to locate more information on Mrs. Carrier and will share it with you as we uncover more about our remarkable founder.

Don’t miss this short video about Nancy and the founding of Rockbrook.

Camp Alumnae Hike to Kilroy’s Cabin

Rockbrook Camp Alumnae enjoyed a hike during our last summer camp reunion

During our camp reunion in 2009 one of the most popular events was the hike to Kilroy’s Cabin which is up past Castle Rock.   Jerry took a large group of hikers on one of his wild adventures to find Kilroy’s. The group returned with wild stories, dirty clothes and big smiles on their faces!

The legend of Kilroy is famous in Rockbrook history and everyone has their own version of the story.  What is your favorite Kilroy story?   Just watch out if you have red hair and green eyes… You may not want to go up there!

We are all looking forward to our next reunion which will happen during the end of August 2011!  We will gather again to celebrate 90 years of summer fun, friendships, and wonderful adventures (and a crazy hike to Kilroy’s of course).  We hope you will be able to join us!  Stay tuned for more information…

Nancy Carrier, P.T. Barnum and The New York Times 1888

While doing some research for the Rockbrook archives we came across this fascinating article printed in The New York Times in 1888.  It is another written source that connects Rockbrook, Goodwill Cabin, Goodwill Plantation, Nancy Carrier and P.T. Barnum.  What an interesting history!

P.T. Barnum's gift to his grandaughter, Nancy Clarke, Goodwill Plantation
The New York Times, October 24, 1888

Barnum’s Gift To A Granddaughter.

From the Columbia (S.C.) Register. October 18

It is evident that the renowned P.T. Barnum has a good opinion of South Carolina real estate, for he has recently given to his granddaughter, the wife of Henry P. Clarke, $100,000 for the purpose of buying and equipping the noted “Goodwill” plantation, which was formerly owned by the late Judge Edward Elliot Huger.  The transfer of the property took place yesterday.  Mr. Clarke owns another plantation near Eastover, where they have resided for several years.  “Goodwill” is one of the finest estates in the South, containing upward of 7000 acres, including a magnificent water power.  Several hundred acres of the richest river bottoms are protected from overflow by a levee extending for five miles along the banks of the Wateree River.  The other improvements on the property are  upon the same scale.

Right around the time that Nancy Barnum Clarke and Henry Clarke received their gift from P.T. Barnum they also purchased 300 acres in Brevard that would later become Rockbrook Camp. Their daughter Nancy Clarke Carrier grew up spending time between Brevard and Goodwill Plantation.  She founded Rockbrook in 1921.  Goodwill and Curosty are two cabins central to the heart of camp and are still in use today.  What an amazing gift from P.T. Barnum!