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...

Lydia Holman – Serving Mitchell County for 58 Years

Lydia Holman – Serving Mitchell County for 58 Years

Lydia Holman came to Mitchell County in 1900 to serve as a private duty nurse for a woman suffering from Typhoid.  The woman got well and moved away. Holman stayed for the next 58 years serving the people of Mitchell County. Holman had graduated from the Philadelphia...

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...

The Mother of Little Switzerland ~ Nancy Buchanan

The Mother of Little Switzerland ~ Nancy Buchanan

Nancy M. DeWeese was born 2/2/1842 in Missouri, where her parents, Louis DeWeese and Rachel Matilda McKinney DeWeese, had moved.  Her father died when she was 5, and her mother took her and her two sisters, Jane Elizabeth (1837-1889) and Mary (1844-1929) back to North...

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...

Got Milk? The Carnation Dairy Plant in Spruce Pine

Got Milk? The Carnation Dairy Plant in Spruce Pine

When the Carnation Dairy receiving station opened in Spruce Pine on September 4, 1941, the Asheville Citizen reported that a large crowd was in attendance to hear speeches by state and corporate officials.  An open house was held prior to the speechmaking, and “iced...

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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