"Rutherford County is actually the oldest county in western North Carolina. It was formed in 1779 and that's in the middle of the American Revolution." -- Robin Lattimore, Historian

Family Life in and around Rutherfordton

Main Street in the 1890s. Main Street in the 1890s.

By the time the Bechtler family moved to western North Carolina in 1830, Rutherfordton was well established as a commercial and trading center. A variety of mercantile and other retail establishments, including two taverns, a livery stable, and at least two hotels, could be found in the town during that era.

During the year of the Bechtler’s arrival the town also became the site of the first newspaper published in the region. The North Carolina Spectator and Western Advertiser was first printed in 1830. Notices in The Spectator from the 1830s announced the arrival of at least three physicians, a dentist and four attorneys to the town. The newspaper is the principal source for information concerning the Bechtler’s early businesses in Rutherford County.

The years between 1825 and 1850 saw a number of substantial homes and other buildings erected in Rutherfordton, including a grand Greek-Revival style court house with towering portico constructed on Main Street in 1836.

Naturalization papers granting U.S. citizenship to Christopher Bechtler, Sr., to Augustus, and to Christopher Bechtler, Jr.; numerous deeds and other land records, Christopher Bechtler, Sr.’s last will and testament, and an inventory list of property assembled following his death were all filed at the court house in Rutherfordton. Many of those records survive today.

The Bechtler House on Washington Street. The Bechtler House on Washington Street. A two-story, frame house was built for the Bechtler family on North Washington Street in 1838. Tradition says that the home was constructed by builder David Houser of the Cane Creek community in northern Rutherford County.

The Bechtler Home originally consisted of two rooms and a wide center hall on each floor. Surviving architectural details from the 1830s include fluted door and window moldings and stylized Greek Revival mantels. In the years following the Civil War a dining room wing was added to the home. Other additions were made in the early 20th century. Late Victorian era trim survives in the downstairs main hall and on the front porch. The home was repositioned to face Sixth Street in 1926.

The Presbyterian Church.The Presbyterian Church.Like many townspeople in Rutherfordton, the Bechtler’s home was supported by a variety of outbuildings. It is likely that the family maintained a kitchen garden behind the home and possibly kept a milk cow. It was at their home in Rutherfordton that some production of gold coins continued after Christopher Bechtler, Sr.’s death in 1842.

Little is known of the Bechtler’s activities in town. Church records reveal that some members of the family were charter members of the Rutherfordton Presbyterian Church when that congregation was formed in 1834. Early records for the Town of Rutherfordton record that either Christopher Bechtler, Sr. or his nephew, Christopher Bechtler, Jr., donated funds for the improvement of Rutherfordton’s City Cemetery in 1841.

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