Polk County Museum program to focus on Vance, Yale of Tryon Toymakers

Published 8:57 am Tuesday, January 16, 2024

The Polk County Historical Association will kick off its 2024 program series with a special presentation by nationally known historian Bruce Johnson. 

On Saturday, January 27, at 1 p.m., Johnson will be giving a slide program on two young women, Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale and their impact on the local and regional handicraft industry in the early 1900s. 

In 1901, Vance and Yale stepped off the train in Biltmore Village and into a new chapter of their lives. Their journey led to the formation of two well known Arts and Crafts cottage industries, Biltmore Industries and Tryon Toymakers and Wood Carvers. Presenter Johnson has spent more than ten years researching the lives of these two innovative and talented women who caught the attention of the first lady of the Biltmore Estate, Editth Vanderbilt.

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This January program should be an eye-opening presentation for local citizens who have heard about the Tryon Toymakers but may not know the story of Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale and their arrival in Polk County in 1915.

Historian Bruce Johnson is an author, founder of the annual National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn and serves as vice-president of the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County. He is also the recipient of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.

This free presentation will be held inside the Polk County Historical Museum, located at 60 Walker Street in downtown Columbus. As always, the public is encouraged to attend. 


Submitted by John Vining