Lizzie Ann Rucker

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About Lizzie Ann Rucker

Known as Lizzie Ann, she was a hearty woman, of German descent, descended from Huegenot immigrant Peter Rucker of Virginia. Was proprietress of the Boxwood Inn or Columbus Hotel in Columbus, NC. Buried Columbus Baptist Church.

Apparently, she had the opportunity to host Henry Ford at the Boxwood Inn when he brought his "horseless carriage" into the South in 1911. My uncle sent me the following article several years ago; he did not include the source, but I suspect it was from a local newspaper:

    Henry Ford and his two traveling companions, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone, planned a trip into the Southern Appalachian Mountains to demonstrate the utility of Ford's Model T cars in mountain country. The good folks of Polk County never envisioned such a trip would lead to their descendants commuting from their homes to work in far-away Spartanburg, in a Ford automobile, and return each evening.  Neither did they dream of their descendants working in a Firestone factory to make, among other things, parts for the strange thing called automobile. 

In 1911, Mr. Ford shipped a car of that year's vintage to Spartanburg. This model was not as adaptable to rural mountain roads as later models, and the road from Spartanburg to Asheville was less suited to the car.

   

Ford, Edison and Firestone left Spartanburg on the Boiling Springs, S.C. road. Sam, who served as chauffeur and Ford's right-hand man, was the driver. The four proceeded to New Prospect without much inconvenience not normally encountered. It was one of the better roads of the county, with practically no hills, and served Rutherford and Polk County farmers as a means of hauling cabbage, apples, and potatoes to Spartanburg markets.

    The exact time of year has not been pinpointed.  But we have evidence that it was during school, probably during a lay-by school term.  Whenever a mudhole was encountered, Ford, Firestone and Edison got off the machine to make it lighter, and to assist by pushing it.  It seems Sam was the only one to ride the entire length of the trip.  Sam was kept busy maneuvering steering wheel, spark and gas levers, and the three pedals on the left side of the floorboard. 
    It has been told that the touring party left what is now Highway 9, at a point near Beulah Church, and came into Columbus on the Peniel Road.  The party stayed overnight at Boxwood Inn.  The local populace stirred with excitement over that new "horseless carriage."
    After a good night's rest and a wonderful  home-cooked breakfast at Boxwood Inn and a delightful visit with the Arledge family proprieters, the touring party left Columbus, proceeding out the Old Tryon City road to join the Howard Gap Road.  By way of the latter, Sam was able to ascend the mountain after many stops, pushings, back-ups, and "running-go starts."
    The crowning victory was the entrance into Saluda.  The Ford automobile had conquered the mountain with four passengers (part of the time), on available roads, just three decades behind the puffing steam engines of the Asheville and Spartanburg railroad.  What a day!

Addendum:

    Boxwood Inn in Columbus was located near the courthouse and had a normal sleeping capacity for 23 guests.  In time of overflow, it was possible to bed down a few latecomers on pallets in the hallways and in the lobby.  The Inn served as a social center for the community.  On Saturday nights, after dinner, the tables were pushed back in the dining room, chairs stacked in the hallway, and square dances were held in the lobby and dining room.  Music was furnished by local fiddlers and everyone had a good time.

Some say the automobile caused the decline of Boxwood Inn (later re-named Columbus Hotel). Court attendants and salesmen commuted from Spartanburg, Asheville, and Charlotte, giving little thought to a restful night in old Boxwood Inn when the automobile became available as a means of their transportation.

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Lizzie Ann Rucker's Timeline

1860
May 26, 1860
1878
November 25, 1878
Age 18
Mill Springs, Polk County, NC
1880
August 15, 1880
Age 20
Mill Springs, Polk Co, NC; HOH 1920 Polk Co NC census; HOH 1930 Hendersonville, Henderson Co, NC, farmer
1882
February 21, 1882
Age 21
Mill Springs, Polk Co, NC; HOH 1910, 1920 Polk Co NC census
1883
May 30, 1883
Age 23
[or 1882] Mill Springs, Polk Co, NC; lived in NE & PA for a few years (listed in 1914 Omaha City Directory as Dean, Creighton College of Pharmacy, res 4242 Wirt); 1930 HOH Henderson Co, NC; attorney
1885
May 12, 1885
Age 24
Mill Springs, Polk Co, NC; never married; living with father in 1920 census (age given as 30); 1930 census boarder w/ Robert F. McFarland family in Columbus, Polk Co, NC on Peak St.; bookkeeper
1885
Age 24
1889
April 28, 1889
Age 28
Polk, North Carolina, United States
1891
March 6, 1891
Age 30
Columbus, Polk Co, NC