O. Henry (William Sydney Porter), the famous author of about 400 short stories, spent a few months in Asheville near the end of his life.
Porter was originally from Greensboro and eventually made his home in New York to be closer to his publishers. He did the majority of his work in New York, writing a story a week for more than a year for the New York World Sunday Magazine. While living in New York, he and his childhood friend Sara "Sallie" Lindsey Coleman, of Weaverville, began corresponding with each other. Their rekindled friendship led to an engagement, and they were married on Nov. 27, 1907.
In 1910, because of failing health, Sara brought him to Weaverville to recuperate, where they lived in a cottage near Weaverville Highway. But he didn't find the environment conducive to writing. He missed the hustle and bustle of New York and the inspiration that it gave him. He moved his office to downtown Asheville to be near city life but still found it to be too quiet and not enough people.
O. Henry died June 5, 1910, in New York at age 48 because of cirrhosis of the liver, complications of diabetes and an enlarged heart. After the funeral services were held, his wife brought him to Asheville to be buried in Riverside Cemetery in the Montford community.
O. Henry followers often visit Riverside Cemetery, leaving $1.87 at his grave. And he was honored by having a street named after him, O. Henry Avenue, where the Asheville Citizen-Times building is located today.
From The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.