Born on October 19, 1870 in Sandy Mush, Buncombe County, North Carolina, Alonzo became teacher, superindentent of county schools, and college president at what are now University of North Carolina at Asheville and Western Carolina University. When Alonzo was 28 he married Nannie Elizabeth Woods, in Hillsboro, North Carolina on August 11, 1899. They had the following children:
i. Mary Woods (1900-1966)
Alonzo died in Arden, North Carolina on October 4, 1953 aged 82 and was buried in Green Hills Cemetery, Asheville, North Carolina.
by Elizabeth Gray Parker
Alonzo Carlton Reynolds was a man who was proud of his mountain heritage. The fifth child of John Haskew and Sara Ferguson Reynolds, he was born October 19, 1870 in the Sandy Mush section of Buncombe County. He spent his entire life in Western North Carolina, working for its people in the field of education and bringing up his family in the mountains he loved. Throughout his life he kept alive the spirit of pioneer living, a respect for the land and dedication to hard work that he learned from his parents. The farm on which he was born soon after the Civil War was almost entirely self-sufficient, and everyone in the family, including the children, was expected to help with the chores. The fields had to be plowed and cultivated, the animals tended, wool sheared and spun for cloth, and many other tasks accomplished for daily life. Even the feather beds were made by plucking the farm's own geese.
One of my grandfather's first memories is of his younger brother, age four, trying to run from an angry gander who had grabbed the child's dress in his beak. The children grew up knowing their responsibilities, and getting an education was one of them. Grandfather walked to Sandy Mush Brick Church School every day it was in session, including a time when the snow was thirty-six inches deep, and he was the only person there.
He continued his schooling at Weaver College and Peabody College in Tennessee and graduated with a lifetime certificate to teach. With this he began his fifty-three year career in education. His first job was in a one room schoolhouse in Sandy Mush with eighty students from five to fifteen years old.
Although he was only nineteen, Mr. Reynolds was a respected figure to his pupils. Later as President of Rutherford College (1902-1905), he commanded even more respect. A group of boys planning a Halloween prank of putting someone's buggy on the roof of the school was properly abashed when they sneaked through the dark to get the buggy and found Grandfather sitting in it. "He was always there," said one of his students. For each of the schools he was a teacher in or principal of, he knew everything that was going on; and he worked tirelessly.
In 1899 he married Nannie Elizabeth Woods (1874-1968) of Orange County. She was also a teacher, and following their marriage, she worked with him. After a period as Buncombe County School Superintendent (1905-1912), A.C. Reynolds became the president of a new college in Jackson County, Cullowhee Normal and Industrial School, now known as Western Carolina University. His wife took charge of the girls dormitory, bought supplies for the kitchen, planned the meals, entertained important visitors, and brought up a family of nine children.
The first child born was Mary Woods (1900-1966), followed by Sallie Emeline (1903-1949), Alonzo Carlton Jr. (1905-1906), Ruth Ferguson (1907), Elizabeth Wilhelm (1909), Margaret Cornelia (1911-1915), Alphonzo Curry (1914-1945), Evelyn Katharine (1916-1975) and Thomas Davies (1919). The children had the unique experience of growing up on a college campus tucked in a valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A high point of each year was the summer camping trip that the family took to Whiteside Mountain near Highlands. Two covered wagons pulled by mules carried the provisions, babies, and those who became too tired to walk on the two-day trek. Near the top of the mountain they spent two weeks living in large tents and sleeping on balsam boughs. Besides the camping trips, excursions into the woods around Cullowhee were common for the Reynolds.
During a fishing trip with Governor Bickett, Grandmother slipped on a rock in the Tuckaseigee River and fell into a deep pool. Knowing she could not swim, Grandfather jumped in to rescue her without taking off his hat. After they made it to shallow water, the hat was recovered and dried out along with dollar bills that floated from Grandfather's coat pocket.
Grandfather loved the mountain countryside, and his dream was to retire to a piece of land he owned in McDowell County with timber, several creeks, an orchard, a garden to hoe, and a view of the mountains from his front porch. Before retirement, however, he served as Superintendent of Haywood County Schools (1920-1924), a second term as Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools (1926-1933), President of Biltmore College, now known as the University of North Carolina at Asheville, (1933-1936), and principal of several other schools.
In 1942 A.C. Reynolds retired from his career as an educator and lived in his mountain cabin until ill health forced him to move to a home in Arden, N. C. where he stayed until his death in 1953.