About Mitchell County

Kilmichael Tower and Little Switzerland

Kilmichael Tower and Little Switzerland

Judge Heriot Clarkson of Charlotte and his family were the developers of the resort community of Little Switzerland in 1910. The community between Grassy Mountain and Chestnut Ridge had been settled by several generations of hardy pioneers by the time Clarkson arrived...

North Carolina Rhododendron Festival: Roots and Twigs

North Carolina Rhododendron Festival: Roots and Twigs

The beautiful Rhododendron flower is celebrated worldwide. These celebrations include festivals in Port Logan, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; Muroji, Japan; Taranaki, a bit south of New Plymouth, New Zealand: Florence, OR; Me, CA; Plymouth, MA; and tad closer to home,...

Mitchell County and the May Fresh of 1901

Mitchell County and the May Fresh of 1901

David Crockett described the flood of the Nolichucky in 1791 as “the second epistle to Noah’s fresh.” Most likely, since the Toe River feeds the Nolichucky and Cane Creek feeds the Toe River, the folks in what’s now Mitchell County also had to deal with high water....

Sergeant Simon Harrell and General John Hunt Morgan

Sergeant Simon Harrell and General John Hunt Morgan

In the Tipton Hill Community Cemetery rests a Union soldier whose company helped kill “the best man in the Southern Confederacy,” General John Hunt Morgan. The phrase comes from one of Morgan’s Captains, Henry B. Clay, who was present at the killing and is quoted in...

Bakersville’s Uncle Sam: A Tribute

Bakersville’s Uncle Sam: A Tribute

Samuel Silver was born near Micaville, NC in March 1854 to an unknown enslaved mother belonging to Green B. Silver. In 1860, Silver had 9 enslaved people including 5 children ages 2 months to 10 years. At that time there were 21 enslaved people of African descent...

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

For a Valentine’s Day week Looking Back, the Mitchell County Historical Society made an appropriate selection from its collection of digitized photographs.  The young man with his shined-up car and his best girl is Edd Ray Burleson (1915-1983), while his adoring...

John Graves Heap: Union Operative?

John Graves Heap: Union Operative?

John Graves Heap and his business partner Elisha Bogue Clapp are credited with bringing large-scale mica mining operations to the Toe River Valley. They came here with their families in 1870 and within a few years owned and managed over a dozen mines that employed...

Helen McBee: Teacher, Philanthropist, and Woman of Some Mark

Helen McBee: Teacher, Philanthropist, and Woman of Some Mark

Helen McBee was born 1/10/1909 in Los Angeles, CA to John Calhoun and Margaret Chambers Thomas McBee. Her father served in Company B of the 16th Infantry and had spent most of the Philippines-American War in the islands where Helen’s brothers Paul Thomas (1905) and...

“Doc” Hoppes – The Minstrel of Brushy Creek

“Doc” Hoppes – The Minstrel of Brushy Creek

Mitchell County was well represented at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933. Miss Lucy Morgan of Penland unveiled the “Carolina Cabin” at the event that showcased the handicrafts, music, folklore, and people of the Southern Highlands. An unusual attraction was scheduled...

The Historic Mitchell County Courthouse

The Historic Mitchell County Courthouse

The first Mitchell County Courthouse, built in 1869, served the county well until 1907 with the grand opening of the new Courthouse which was built on the site of the first courthouse.  More than just a courtroom where justice was served, the building was a gateway to...

John Graves Heap: Union Operative?

John Graves Heap: Union Operative?

John Graves Heap and his business partner Elisha Bogue Clapp are credited with bringing large-scale mica mining operations to the Toe River Valley. They came here with their families in 1870 and within a few years owned and managed over a dozen mines that employed...

Spanning The Toe

Spanning The Toe

This downtown landmark, labeled the “bottleneck bridge”, was built in 1922. At that time, it was the intersection of NC 226 and US 19E, as the Minpro bypass had not yet been built. Traffic congestion was a nightmare at times, not only because of the large number of...

The First Episcopal Church in the Toe River Valley

The First Episcopal Church in the Toe River Valley

The story of the Bakersville Episcopal Church begins with the story of the Episcopal Church in North Carolina on Roanoke Island in 1587, continues with its reunification after the Civil War by Bishop Thomas Atkinson, and moves closer with his efforts that resulted in...

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Oh, Christmas Tree!

In 2005 the Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) was adopted as the official state Christmas tree of North Carolina. The idea came from eighth-graders in Mr. Chris Hollifield's North Carolina History Class at Spruce Pine’s Harris Middle School who petitioned legislators to...

Working In The Mines ~ Mitchell County to Vance County

Working In The Mines ~ Mitchell County to Vance County

This article features recollections of Gary Forbes of Mocksville, NC, the son of Paul and Elsie Burleson Forbes.  He was born in 1948 in Spruce Pine at Williams Clinic.   My earliest memories are of living in the Hamme Tungsten Queen Mine Camp in Vance County, NC,...

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