Tales of Tryon: The Politics of Post-Civil War Life in the Southern Mountains

Published 11:53 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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The Tryon History Museum will inaugurate its 2023 Tales of  Tryon series on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Steven E. Nash, associate professor of history at East Tennessee State University and author of 2016’s Reconstruction’s Ragged Edge, will talk about how Reconstruction played out in western North Carolina, using the differing stories of two former Confederate officers as focal points.

Virgil Lusk, trained as a lawyer, was a native of what is now Madison County but spent most of his long life and career in Asheville. Lusk, who eventually became mayor of that city, laid down the Confederate cause along with his sword in 1865 and became a Republican, committed to social change and the rule of law. In his role as a district solicitor, he was responsible for the 1869 prosecution of 20 suspected Klansmen for their role in beating and terrorizing a helpless family.  This led to a confrontation with Randolph Shotwell, a Democratic editor and founder of the Asheville Citizen.

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Shotwell attacked and caned Lusk in the public square in Ashville. Lusk returned the favor by firing two bullets into Shotwell’s legs. Nash will tell the rest of the story and reveal some Polk County connections at the Depot at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22.  Admission is free and all are invited. 


Submitted by Wanda May