According to family tradition, the Garrison family came from France to Virginia, settling first near Richmond. The family grew, and by 1790 at least one male descendant had moved to Rutherford County, NC. On January 12, 1812 William A. Garrison was born in Rutherford County to Garrett and Elizabeth Garrison. William grew up to become a stagecoach driver on the route that followed the present Route 9 through Broad River to Asheville and Buncombe County. Garrison was required to sign a document stating that he was willing to give up his life to protect the passengers on his stage. He was also required to carry a Bible on the stagecoach in case a passenger should die en route and Garrison be forced to bury him by the side of the road.
The High Porch Tavern run by James and Nancy Murphy was located along Garrison’s route on the straight section of road between the intersection of Old Fort Road and Route 9 and Crooked Creek Road’s left turn towards Old Fort. An earlier Mr. Murphy lived in Edenton, NC at the time the Revolutionary War broke out. This Mr. Murphy decided to fight for the American side in the war, but was afraid the British might harm his family if they found out he was fighting for the rebel cause. He sent his wife, children, livestock and slaves to the western frontier of North Carolina for their safety. Murphy was killed in the Revolutionary War. His family stayed in Western North Carolina, eventually moving to Broad River. The later James Murphy was likely his grandson.
James Murphy turned his home into a tavern, stage stop and inn, the High Porch Tavern. William Garrison met James Murphy’s daughter Emeline at the stage stop. They fell in love and married around 1840. William Garrison made an arrangement to transport several local politicians to Washington, D.C. in his stagecoach. He took his new bride Emeline along on the trip to spend their honeymoon in Washington. This was a very unusual journey for mountain people, many of whom never traveled as much as 100 miles from home in their lives. On September 12, 1823 Sarah Emeline Murphy was born in what was then Rutherford County. William and Emeline built a home next to Emeline’s parents James and Nancy.
William Garrison became a skilled carpenter and builder. He took his family to Atlanta, Georgia to help build a new county courthouse, but lost everything he had while working on the project and was put in debtor’s prison. Emeline Garrison was upset with her husband and took her children back to Broad River. But when William Garrison was released from prison, he came back to Broad River and all was forgiven.
The Garrisons made legal whiskey in the middle and late 1800s, but the problem with making legal whiskey was that the whiskey tax was so high no one could make a profit. The Garrisons solved that difficulty by removing the whiskey tax stamp from each barrel of whiskey as soon as it was delivered. They would then place the stamp on the next barrel of whiskey they delivered, making it appear that they had paid the tax on that barrel as well. Each whiskey tax stamp was used three or four times.
At one point the Garrisons and the neighboring Morris family had a falling out. Everyone claims not to remember the cause of the dispute; either that or they will not tell it. If the Garrisons caught a Morris away from home by himself they would tie the Morris man to a log and then roll the log. Thus the family soon became known as the “Garrison Pressing Gang”.
William A. Garrison left home on June 12, 1893 to vote on a whiskey referendum, walking four miles from his home to the voting place. Garrison was standing under a large tree talking to several of his friends when a thunderstorm came up. Suddenly lightning struck the tree, killing Garrison, another man and two mules. Garrison was eighty-one years old. Sarah Emeline Murphy Garrison died February 10, 1912 in her 89th year. William and Emeline are buried in the cemetery at Wilkey Baptist Church.
William and Emeline had nine children. Mary Matilda Garrison was born in 1843 and first married Richard McBrayer (1846-1878), the son of William McBrayer and Elizabeth Fortune. Matilda’s second husband was George Washington Reed (1861-1935), the son of Abner F. Reed and Mary Matilda ”Tildie” Clements. Matilda Garrison McBrayer Reed died in 1913. She and both husbands are buried in Cane Creek Cemetery in Fairview. John H. Garrison was born November 8, 1845. He married Isabella Freeman (1833-1895), the daughter of Jarrett and Anna Freeman. Isabella is buried in Laurel Springs Cemetery. John died on March 7, 1905 and is buried at Wilkey Baptist Church. Louisa Elizabeth Garrison was born in 1848 and married April 24, 1873 to James W. Lancaster (b. 1845), son of Joseph C. Lancaster. James Calhoun Garrison was born March 6, 1850. He married Dora Anna Lancaster (1855-1927), the daughter of Joseph Lancaster. James died on June 22, 1915. Both he and Dora Anna are buried at Wilkey Baptist Church. Anne Garrison was born in1851 and apparently died in childhood. Martha Jane Garrison was born in 1854. Matilda Dora Garrison, born in 1857, was married on February 27, 1879 to William B. Dalton (b. 1850), son of Josiah and Mary Dalton. William Albertus B. Garrison was born in 1861 and on January 15, 1885 he married Rebecca E. Ledbetter (1860-1946), daughter of George and Eliza Ledbetter. William died in 1943. He and his wife are buried at Wilkey Baptist Church. Lavina Emeline Missouri A. Garrison was born in 1866. v Local historian Bruce Whitaker documents genealogy in the Fairview area. If you have photographs, documents or history on residents of the community, call Mr. Whitaker at 628-1089 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.