The Story of Squire Billy Posted March 31, 2014


bedrooma2WILLIAM DINWIDDIE RANKIN “Squire Billy” was born January 23, 1804 of David and Jane Belle Dinwiddie Rankin. After moving to Asheville, William served as mayor of Asheville from 1855-1857. He also served for more than 20 years as a commissioner for various city boards. He operated a successful mercantile business as well jointly owned the Rankin & Pulliam Brick Store, located on South Main Street with branches in Charleston and New York, until the Civil War. In addition, he had the areas largest tannery, located on the Rankin property.

William married Elizabeth in 1826 in Tennessee. They were very active in real estate speculation. William was a personal friend and customer of future President of the United States, Andrew Johnson. The vest William wore when he married was Elizabeth, was made by Andrew Johnson. Later, when the newly installed Union government took away William’s rights of citizenship for fighting in the Civil War as a member of the home guard, William went to Washington, and received a handwritten pardon from then President, Andrew Johnson allowing him to maintain his business.

Elizabeth and William had nine children, but only four survived to adulthood. The four surviving children were: James Eugene, Amelia, David and Alonzo. William Rankin died in 1879 of a skull fracture, resulting from being kicked in the head by a mule. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery.