Mitchell County Historical Society https://mitchellnchistory.org Bakersville, NC Tue, 22 Sep 2020 23:48:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://mitchellnchistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/cropped-MCHS-Site-Icon-32x32.png Mitchell County Historical Society https://mitchellnchistory.org 32 32 The School Beneath the Roan https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/22/the-school-beneath-the-roan/ https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/22/the-school-beneath-the-roan/#respond Tue, 22 Sep 2020 23:48:06 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4940 In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Mitchell High School class of 2020 took part in a historic graduation at Lavonia Crest. As they rolled through their parade on their way to becoming alumni of MHS, the graduates may have noticed the old gray building on the left, a building that is the home […]

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Glen Ayre School in 1953

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Mitchell High School class of 2020 took part in a historic graduation at Lavonia Crest. As they rolled through their parade on their way to becoming alumni of MHS, the graduates may have noticed the old gray building on the left, a building that is the home of school memories long ago. According to the 1953 yearbook, the beautiful building of the Glen Ayre Administration Building was established in 1940. Twelve years later in 1952, Glen Ayre became one of the first standardized elementary schools in Mitchell County.

As noted in the yearbook, librarian Mae P. Slagle was in charge of 1,166 books, all of which were classified according to the Dewey Decimal System. The school lunchroom was established in 1947. The school cooks, Mrs. Gladys Ollis and Miss Ruth Stevens were in charge of feeding an average of 108 students per day, all while ensuring that it always maintained an A Grade rating. The lunchroom at the time was valued at $3,000.00.

The 1-7 grade school was led by Principal Holden Edwards who also taught 7th grade. Extra-curriculum activities at the school included a basketball team and a 4-H Club. The 7th grade class of 1953 was represented by Class Colors: Blue and White, Class Flower: Pink Roses, and the Class Motto: “By the ropes of the past we ring the bells of the future.”

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Clarissa Baker Buchanan – The Epitome of A Strong, Courageous, Mountain Woman https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/16/clarissa-baker-buchanan-the-epitome-of-a-strong-courageous-mountain-woman/ https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/16/clarissa-baker-buchanan-the-epitome-of-a-strong-courageous-mountain-woman/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 01:53:43 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4923 Driving up Cane Creek Road in eastern Mitchell County there is a community called Clarissa. (Most people may pronounce it “Claircey”.) The story of how the name of this settlement came about dates back to the era of the Civil War. Clarissa Baker, daughter of Senator Thomas Baker and Susannah Wiseman Baker, was born in […]

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Driving up Cane Creek Road in eastern Mitchell County there is a community called Clarissa. (Most people may pronounce it “Claircey”.) The story of how the name of this settlement came about dates back to the era of the Civil War. Clarissa Baker, daughter of Senator Thomas Baker and Susannah Wiseman Baker, was born in 1812. In 1836 she married Arthur James Buchanan, the son of Joseph Benedictor Buchanan and Sarah Jones Buchanan. Arthur James was a large landowner whose holdings stretched from Sandy Branch to Hawk. Together they had ten children, six girls and four boys, Susannah, Sarah Ann (Sally), Nancy, David, James Henderson, Joseph, Thomas, Caroline, Mira, and John. Clarissa taught all of her children to read and write using the Bible and the Blue Back Speller as textbooks. Although Clarissa and Arthur were large landowners, they were opposed to slavery. Life during the Civil War was difficult for the family, and to make things worse Arthur died in 1863, leaving Clarissa to raise this large family in the middle of the conflict. When the war broke out and men of fighting age were being conscripted, she was able to slip two of her sons, Joseph and David, by the Confederate lines to Union forces as they didn’t want to fight for the Confederacy. “Her intelligence, leadership ability and speaking ability were feared by the Confederate Home Guards who illegally confiscated property, livestock, and food from the families who fought with the Union” according to the plaque dedicated to her at the Clarissa Community Center. After making it through the Civil War, Clarissa continued to show her fighting spirit and ingenuity. Having to be the head of the household as her husband had died, she not only took care of the daily tasks inside the home, but outside as well. One day while she was out looking for her livestock she discovered a huge piece of mica out of which she made a sun bonnet. A visiting miner from New York heard about this and asked to see the place where it came from. Thus began the Clarissa Mica Mine, one of the three oldest mica mines in Mitchell County along with the Horse Stomp Mine in Little Switzerland, and the Sink Hole Mine near Bandana. She later sold the mine to a company from England around 1870. Mica from this mine was used until the 1950’s. Clarissa died on January 15, 1877 at the age of 64 and was buried beside her husband in the Chestnut Hill Cemetery in, of all places, Clarissa, North Carolina.

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Toecane ~ The Commercial Center of Mitchell County https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/16/toecane-the-commercial-center-of-mitchell-county/ https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/16/toecane-the-commercial-center-of-mitchell-county/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 01:41:43 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4920 Indigenous people came through the area where Cane Creek meets the Toe River at least four thousand years ago on their way to their hunting camp up Cane Creek near Sandy Branch. In 1540, de Soto came close to the area on his way to his overnight camp at Webb then on to Guaxule (Erwin). […]

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Indigenous people came through the area where Cane Creek meets the Toe River at least four thousand years ago on their way to their hunting camp up Cane Creek near Sandy Branch. In 1540, de Soto came close to the area on his way to his overnight camp at Webb then on to Guaxule (Erwin). But  the story of Toecane really begins with the Johnson family.

Between 1863 and 1870, Thomas (Thompson) and Margaret “Peggy” Forbes (Fawbush) Johnson purchased about 250+ acres of land on the Toe River from the Davises and Burlesons among others. In 1880, their son, William Johnson (32), listed as a farmer, and Elizabeth Gouge Johnson (33), as a housekeeper, with 4 children, C. Hunter, Timp, Tweetie, and William W. were recorded as living in the Bakersville Township. In 1881, William purchased 80 acres “on the waters of the Toe River” from Thomas and Margaret. Elizabeth died in June 1883 then William, in 1884, married Elmira Stewart, daughter of John C. and Mahala Gurley Stewart and niece of Francis “Frankie” Stewart.

In 1897 William and Elmira purchased an additional 10 acres “on the mouth of Cane Creek” from his brother Wilson Johnson and C. Garland making his total property holdings to be the approximate the size of what we know today as Toecane.

In 1900, William was listed as a merchant with 2 sons Roscoe (11) and Desoto (10) along with his father Thompson whose wife, Margaret, had died in 1887. William had opened one of the first stores that eventually were to be located in Toecane.

A new transportation system put William in a unique and important position as the land owner of a significant portion of Toe River front property. By 1893, the Charleston, Cincinnati, & Chicago Railroad Company, commonly referred to as the 3 C’s, had laid 20 miles of track between Johnson City and Chestoa (Erwin) on the way up the Toe River. The CC&C was the brain child of John T. Wilder, best known locally for having built the Cloudland Hotel on Roan Mountain; however, financial problems from the Panic of 1893 forced him to let the company go and it became the Ohio River & Charleston Railway Company which reached Huntdale in 1899. Apparently the company called the area near the mouth of the Cane Creek, Intermont Station.

In November, 1901, J. R. and S. L. Edwards “desirous of promoting the buildng of the O R & C” gave the company access to a 95 foot strip of  land on the north bank of the Toe River for $25.

In January 1902, William and Elmira, “desirous of promoting the building of the South Western Railway Company” sold a strip of land on the north bank of the Toe River. The name diffeerence resulted from George Carter who had purchased the tracks from the OR&C that year and named his line the South and Western Railway. In 1908, the line was rechartered as the Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railway (CC&O) then in 1924 it became the Clinchfield Railroad.

With the obvious developments, the area known as Intermont Station needed postal service; however, equally obvious, the local population preferred a different name for their community. In May, 1902, the first post office was established in Toecane with John Richmond Garvin as the first post master, perhaps in William Johnson’s store building.

By 1909, a reporter from the Charlotte Evening Chronicle said, “Toecane…is the centre of the greatest developed wealth along the entire line.” Until 1954, when railway passenger srvice ended and the post office closed, Toecane had a successful economic presence in Mitchell County.

In its heyday, Tocane had as many as 300 residents and trains stopped twice a day at the depot, one coming up and another going back. The depot had day and night shifts and three taxis came to Toecane daily. People often came from one of the other stops on the Mitchell County line to shop and then return the same day. Also, families all along the line conveniently would go over to Unicoi or nearby to visit relatives.

The Jordan Manufacturing Company, in the 1920’s, under the direction of A.D. Roper, established a production facility known as the “Bobbin Plant” which made “bobbins, cops, skewers, and clearer rolls” for the textile industry.

The first electric production service in Mitchell County was located in Bill Masters’ 3-story mill operated by a water wheel which turned a generator that Masters purchased from a company in Knoxville. The Bakersville Milling, Light and Power Company was located on S 166.77 of the rail line near the coal trestle in the 1920’s. Masters negotiated a special track that was laid to accommodate the mill. The building burned in 1933 and Masters rebuilt in the present location on the other side of Cane Creek.

Stores in Toecane have included the Hughes Brothers and Roscoe Johnson’s which also served many years as the post office. Grove Greene, Clarence Wilson, Brown Wilson, the Blevins brothers, Joe Johnson, and Phil Hight had stores. Warfield Brown kept a soda fountain in his store, Jess Johnson had a restaurant, D.O. Blevins owned the Gulf Oil Company, and Frank Canipe ran a movie house. There were 2 hotels which were busy throughout the year with salesmen from as far away as Chicago and travelers, some heading up to the Roan by hack to Bakersville. There was a barber shop and a dentist’s office.

Commercial products of all sorts were shipped in and out—cattle, lumber, horses, apples, herbs, flour, mica—anything that modern transportation could carry. In 1913, over 6,000 bushels of apples were shipped out.

In 1916, the Road Commissioners of Mitchell County accepted bids for the first macadam road between Toecane and Bakersville. In 1919, the first paved road in Mitchell County was begun following the same path, but with many enhancements.

Toecane was the center of commerce for Mitchell County at that time. The stores in Bakersville flourished with access to goods brought in by the trains, yet residents found a wider range of choices just 3 miles away. Residents up and down the line boarded the train to purchase everyday items regularly as well as “come down” at special times for Christmas shopping, new dresses and hats for Easter, or getting ready for weddings.

Today, two trains come thru Toecane, but they never stop. The depot is just a memory and only one of the existing store buildings, once operated by Emmitt Wilson, continues to contribute economically now as the art studio and gallery of the respected glass artist, Judson Guerard.

Thanks to Michael Joslin <michaeljoslin.com > for allowing the author to use information from his September 20, 1995, Mitchell News Journal.

 

 

 

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“One of our most cherished teachers” ~ James B. Blevins https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/16/one-of-our-most-cherished-teachers-james-b-blevins/ https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/16/one-of-our-most-cherished-teachers-james-b-blevins/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 01:33:49 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4917 The 1963 Senior Class of Bowman High School dedicated their annual to “one of our most cherished teachers, James B. Blevins.” Until his untimely death at 37 from complications of multiple sclerosis that year, which attacked him only 2 years before his passing, he was a respected teacher and a good friend to his students. […]

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The 1963 Senior Class of Bowman High School dedicated their annual to “one of our most cherished teachers, James B. Blevins.” Until his untimely death at 37 from complications of multiple sclerosis that year, which attacked him only 2 years before his passing, he was a respected teacher and a good friend to his students. He was demanding, yet always fair and helpful with a smile and positive comments in every class and with every assignment. Little did his students know that this gentle person served his country with honor during the last traumatic years of WWII.

James Bailey Blevins was born April 21, 1925 the youngest of 3 sons of Taylor Dewitt and Inez Julia Young Blevins. He shared the name of his great grandfather, James Blevins, and his maternal grandmother, Ella Maria Bailey. His brothers were Robert Lee and George Nathaniel.

James was an 18-year old student at NC State when he registered for military service on his birthday, April 21, 1943 and enlisted on July 3, 1943. His enlistment states, “Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.” He went on to serve until the war’s end two horrific years later for a total of 31 months.

James began his training at Camp Croft, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Most of the trainees at Croft were “selectees,” as was James, meaning they were men drafted into service through Selective Service rather than volunteers.

Until additional information becomes available, much of James’ military career can be “read” from his Army uniform jacket now in the safe keeping of his son. The “Ruptured Duck,” as the eagle in a circle was called, along with two good conduct metals, indicate that he was discharged honorably. On the left shoulder, the patch indicating the unit in which he served last is that of the 9th Infantry. On the lapel is the brass castle or engineer designation. Confirmed by a newspaper article, he was in the 15th Combat Engineers during the last months of his enlistment which was a part of the 9th.

According to army regulations, a soldier may wear the patch of a former unit on the right shoulder. That patch on James’ jacket is of the 45th Infantry “Thunderbird” Division. According to family tradition, his wife, Inez Johnson Blevins McRae, has recounted that James had been traumatized when his unit participated in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp, yet he never said which one. Considering this, the following scenario is likely to be a good description of his service in WWII:

Based on the “usual” time for basic training 12-13 weeks he could have been shipped out in Oct/Nov/Dec ‘43. Considering that soldiers coming out of Camp Croft were usually “replacements” it is possible/probable that James may have been with the 45th  when they advanced up the Italian peninsula then landed at Anzio in February 1944, where it withstood repeated German assaults against its positions. Cutting across the country, the unit was sent to southern France in August 1944. It quickly advanced through western France, reaching the German border by the end of the year. In March 1945, the “Thunderbird” division crossed the Rhine River and headed southward. On April 20, it captured the city of Nuremberg and on April 30, Munich.

As the 45th Infantry Division completed its drive on Munich, the unit was ordered to liberate the Dachau concentration camp. On April 29, 1945, three US Army divisions converged on the camp: the 42nd Infantry, the 45th Infantry, and the 20th Armored. When the three units arrived at Dachau, they discovered more than 30,000 prisoners in the overcrowded camp. James had just turned 20.

No documentation has been found which confirms that the 9th Infantry was involved in the concentration camp liberation efforts. Therefore, James probably was reassigned to the 9th to serve out the remaining months after Dachau.

It is difficult to imagine the mental toll 31 months took of an 18-year old Carolina mountain boy who had spent less than a year at NC State in Raleigh. However, there is no indication that he was wounded otherwise, that he was treated for PTSD, or suffered from other traumatic injury after he returned home.

He came home around February 1946 and likely entered Appalachian State Teachers College that summer or fall. On December 6, 1946, he and Inez Elizabeth Johnson, daughter of George and Pearl McKinney Johnson of Toecane, were married in Boone. Inez had graduated from Maryville College and was teaching home economics at Bowman High School. After a brief wedding trip, James continued his studies at Appalachian State Teachers College where he was a member of the Playcrafters drama club and YMCA. He graduated in August 1949 and accepted a position teaching at Harris High School where he directed at least one senior class play.

Later he was transferred to Bowman High where he taught until his death. His service to the community was significant including holding several offices in the Bakersville Lions Club including that of President just before he died. He was active every year in the N.C. Rhododendron Festival, a member of the volunteer fire department, and was Sunday School Superintendent and teacher in the Bakersville Methodist Church. One of his dreams was to be the proprietor of a general store like his uncle George Young. Although he did build one beside his home in Bakersville, he did not have the opportunity to realize a success there. Neither did his two young children have the opportunity to enjoy his love and attention as a father although he remains a cherished memory to them.

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“Can you hear me now?” Upgrading Spruce Pine’s Phone System https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/16/can-you-hear-me-now-upgrading-spruce-pines-phone-system/ https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/09/16/can-you-hear-me-now-upgrading-spruce-pines-phone-system/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 01:22:19 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4914 Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company opened a new exchange building on Walnut Avenue in Spruce Pine in May 1953.  This new, larger structure replaced the old telephone office shown above.  Calvin Hall recalls that the old office also sat on Walnut, but closer to Oak Avenue, just above the Fortner Insurance building in Spruce […]

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Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company opened a new exchange building on Walnut Avenue in Spruce Pine in May 1953.  This new, larger structure replaced the old telephone office shown above.  Calvin Hall recalls that the old office also sat on Walnut, but closer to Oak Avenue, just above the Fortner Insurance building in Spruce Pine.

A 3-page spread in the Tri-County News on 5/7/1953 documented how the Spruce Pine-Newland Telephone Service had gone “From Ox Cart to Atomic Bomb Era” with the flick of a switch.  Twenty photographs illustrated the process by which the local phone system was converted to a dial system.  The rotary dial telephone was patented in 1892, but was not common until Southern Bell began using a Western Electric model in 1919.  Work crews from Western Electric installed the equipment in the new building in Spruce Pine.  Also mentioned in the article were Fred H. Cook and Jack Wilson, Spruce Pine installers and repairmen.  “Miles of the most modern type of cable were installed in Spruce Pine and vicinity, leading from the new exchange building in all directions.  Cables contain various numbers of wires and practically insure against failure of service during storms.”

Southern Bell first came to Spruce Pine in 1925 with the purchase of a small local telephone company with about 50 telephones, according to a 7/13/1952 Asheville Citizen-Times article by Ashton Chapman.  By the time the new Southern Bell exchange was built in Spruce Pine, the number of telephone subscribers had increased 14 times.  “What seem to be countless wires were required to enable the dial system to function automatically” in the new exchange.

The telephone exchange building built in Spruce Pine in 1953 had a 10-position automatic switchboard.  Because most of the operators were female, “the company makes special efforts to provide good facilities for them to relax when not working,” including a ladies lounge with a snack bar.  Some of the women operators were Bonnie Puckett, Louise Johnson, Kathleen Sullins, Lillian Cooke, Lyla Hughes and Betty Broadway.  In 1967, newspapers reported that Bonnie Puckett, unit supervisor at the phone exchange in Spruce Pine, had been presented with a gold pin marking her 25 years of service to the company.

Party Lines, or shared service lines, with multiple phone service subscribers, were the norm for home telephones at mid-century and even up to 1971 in NC.  Monthly residential telephone rates were $3.15 for one-party service, $2.65 for two-party service, and $2.40 for four-party service.  Long-distance calls of course cost more.

 

Touch-tone phones with push buttons were introduced at the 1962 World’s Fair, although they weren’t in widespread use until after the 1970s.  The near monopoly of Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph over local telephone service was broken in 1982 when “Ma Bell” split into seven “Baby Bells,” one of which was Bell South.  Several mergers later, local telephone service in Spruce Pine would once again be provided by American Telephone & Telegraph, established in 1885 by Alexander Graham Bell.  The building Bell Telephone moved into in 1953 is still the hub of ATT operations in Spruce Pine.

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Robert B. Phillips – Educational Giant and Farmer https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/08/26/robert-b-phillips-educational-giant-and-farmer/ https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/08/26/robert-b-phillips-educational-giant-and-farmer/#respond Wed, 26 Aug 2020 23:05:29 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4841 Robert Blalock Phillips was born 10/30/1902 in the Snow Hill community of Mitchell County.  He was the son of W.S. (Woodfin Squibb) Phillips (1874-1952) and Sophia Blalock Phillips (1876-1906).  He had 4 older siblings, and his mother gave birth to another child prior to her death at just 30.  R.B.’s father married again, to Lucy […]

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Robert Blalock Phillips

Robert Blalock Phillips was born 10/30/1902 in the Snow Hill community of Mitchell County.  He was the son of W.S. (Woodfin Squibb) Phillips (1874-1952) and Sophia Blalock Phillips (1876-1906).  He had 4 older siblings, and his mother gave birth to another child prior to her death at just 30.  R.B.’s father married again, to Lucy Westall Young of Yancey County, widow of Julius Decatur Young, and there were 2 additional children.

Florence Elizabeth Poteat (1903-1979), daughter of John Spencer and Rose Anna Greene Poteat, became the bride of R.B. Phillips on 11/24/1927, and they were the parents of 3 children, Anna Katherine, Bobby Emerson, and Marie.  Anna Katherine died at just 6 years old in 1937.  Mr. Phillips donated large framed portraits of Florence and Anna Katherine to the Mitchell County Historical Society, and they hang in the Society’s Museum in Bakersville.

Young Robert left school after 7th grade and worked for several years in sawmills and cutting timber.  With little money, he worked at the Spruce Pine Store when he enrolled in Harris High School at age 20.  He ended up being Valedictorian.  In less than 4 years he had his degree from Carson-Newman College in Tennessee, followed by 2 years of post-graduate study at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“He heard the call to teach,” according to Rick Gunter, and for 23 years he was a school principal in Mitchell and McDowell Counties.  He was Mitchell County School Superintendent for 2 years during the Great Depression, but “as a Democrat in a heavily Republican county, he found the post too political.”  The experience was not a pleasant one for Phillips, who said the job had “too little to do with what happens to the children.”  He went back to the position of principal at Harris High School.

A feature in The Tri-County News of 1/15/1959 entitled “Apple Valley – the Farm Without a Plow” described the conservation methods on Phillips’s 45-acre orchard, including grass-clover mulch, rotation grazing, and woodland restoration.  Phillips was the first in Mitchell County to grow alfalfa successfully, earning the nickname “Alfalfa Bob.”  He was the second in the county to grow apples on a commercial basis, developing a “spur-type” red-gold apple which, according to his obituary, he sold to Stark Brothers Nursery.  In 1992, R. B. Phillips was inducted into the Western North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame; at his induction, he was described as an “educator, former Mitchell County school superintendent and innovative farmer.”

In a piece for The State magazine, February 1993, Elizabeth Hunter referred to Phillips as “A Can-Do Man.”  She wrote that former Mitchell County Agricultural Extension head Ed Terrell praised Phillips for helping “apple growers in the area organize an apple cooperative that packed and sold 50,000 to 100,000 bushels of apples for 20 years to northern and southern markets.”

Despite having retired from education in 1954 to farm full time, Phillips continued to be a patron of schools and students.  He was a supporter of Mars Hill College and a major contributor to the Phillips-Gwaltney Child Development Center at Mayland Community College.  According to Elizabeth Hunter, he “helped needy but promising students pay college costs,” certainly remembering his own financial struggles to obtain an education.

Hunter also related Phillips’ concern about the school system relying too much on standardized testing to judge educational outcome.  “There’s no character-building or development of the thinking process anymore.  …The goal of education should be the development of wisdom, not improving test scores.”

R.B. Phillips was also a published author of 2 books.  At age 78, he was compelled, he said, to write his story of “four generations of roots in the valley, early history, autobiography, local lore, and philosophy.”  According to an Asheville Citizen-Times article (8/21/1983) by Rick Gunter upon the publication of Phillips’ first book, One of God’s Children in the Toe River Valley, “Mountain tradition and decency radiate through every page.”

“It becomes a sort of compulsion to write a book.  It gives you some kind of release.  You have to not worry about what people will think of it.  You have to get it out, forget about spelling and punctuation while you’re writing.  You can go back and correct that later” (quoted by Hunter.)

At 85, Phillips wrote his second book, Through My Picture Window, which is full of “poems, quotations, sayings, anecdotes, and bit of personal philosophy on topics ranging from education to immortality, from work to motherhood, from youth and age to forgiveness and mercy” (Asheville Citizen-Times 11/20/1988).  The book also has beautiful photographs of statuary at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC.

The life of Robert B. Phillips, which author John Ehle declared to be among the best we have in the North Carolina mountains, came to a close on 1/24/1999.  He was preceded in death by not only his first wife Florence but also his second wife, Ruth Inez Pitman Wiseman (1924-1994).  Phillips is buried in Snow Hill Cemetery.

 

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Nathan Garland and the Old Bloody Sock https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/08/26/nathan-garland-and-the-old-bloody-sock/ https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/08/26/nathan-garland-and-the-old-bloody-sock/#respond Wed, 26 Aug 2020 22:47:35 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4836 Nathan Garland was born in Bakersville on January 15, 1857. He was the son of Stephen Garland and Elizabeth Forbes. Nathan married Cordelia “Celia” Hopson in 1879. Nathan and Celia lived in the Fork Mountain township and raised ten children together as follows: Elizabeth (Bettie), Tiny, Wesley, Merritt, Mary (Polly), Texie, Jane, Garrett, Carter, and […]

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Cordelia “Celia” Hopson and Nathan Garland

Nathan Garland was born in Bakersville on January 15, 1857. He was the son of Stephen Garland and Elizabeth Forbes. Nathan married Cordelia “Celia” Hopson in 1879. Nathan and Celia lived in the Fork Mountain township and raised ten children together as follows: Elizabeth (Bettie), Tiny, Wesley, Merritt, Mary (Polly), Texie, Jane, Garrett, Carter, and Arthur. Nathan passed on December 27, 1940 at the age of 83. Celie would follow him on April 6, 1953 at the age of 96. They were both laid to rest in the Garland Greene Cemetery. Mrs. Elsie Yelton of Bakersville, recalled an early encounter with Nathan Garland from her childhood. She originally sent her account in a letter to “Folk-Ways and Folk-Speech”, a reader-response column. Her story was later published in Thrice-Told Tales: From Rogers Whitener’s Folk-Ways and Folk-Speech of Southern Appalachia. In her own words, her story was told as follows: Old Bloody Sock “The word veterinarian was never used when I was growing up. We had one local cow-doctor and he made his rounds through each community, de-horning and doctoring cattle. I was small the first time I saw him. Paw told us to keep a look-out for him. This was the day he was expected in ‘The Flats,’ as our community was called then. “Our barn set on one side of the road, and our house set on the other side. We children went down and set down beside our log barn on some big rocks and watched for him. I didn’t quite understand what de-horning was all about. Paw had said simply that he was going to have our old cow’s horns took off. “Finally we saw the cow doctor coming up the road on his old white mare. We had been told enough about Uncle Nate Garland- just the mention of his name was enough to send chills down a person’s spine. “They got a rope around the old cow and threw her to the ground. Then the cow-doctor got out a wicked looking old saw and began sawing away at her horns. Our old cow rolled her eyes around in her head and let out a pitiful bawl. That and the sight of blood was enough for me. I took off as hard as I could and didn’t stop until I was way back of our house where I couldn’t see or hear what was going on. “But my brother stood his ground. He stayed until they got through with the old cow and let her go. But he got a scare that day that lasted until he was a grown man. All anyone had to do was mention Nate Garland’s name. Paw and Maw laughed a lot about it later. When Uncle Nate got through with the cow he wiped his hands on a bloody rag. While he was doing this he looked straight at my brother. ‘Have you been a good boy, son?’ he asked. ‘If you ain’t, I’ve got a bloody sock I stick mean boys in. Why, I even make special rounds just catching all the mean younguns and poking them in my bloody sock. I carry them off and they are never heard from again.’ “My brother had been brave enough to watch the de-horning, but now his nerve failed him. The sight of the bloody paw and Nate’s hands were too much for him. He almost had a fit right then and there. “Sometimes Maw would have to go somewhere and she would leave our oldest sister in charge of us smaller children. All she had to do to get us to mind her was to threaten putting us in the older cellar beneath our house, which was a terror in itself, all dark and spooky. She told us that Nate Garland was in there with his old bloody sock, just waiting for us. You can imagine how very little trouble she had out of us after that.” .

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Local Residents Enjoyed Spruce Pine Club House for Decades https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/08/03/local-residents-enjoyed-spruce-pine-club-house-for-decades/ Mon, 03 Aug 2020 23:22:16 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4793 In July of 1946, the Spruce Pine Chapter of the American Business Club dedicated the Spruce Pine Club House. According to the Asheville Citizen Times “The clubhouse with its entertainment facilities constitutes one of the most modern recreational centers in this section, and has been made available to the public through the cooperation of Charles […]

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In July of 1946, the Spruce Pine Chapter of the American Business Club dedicated the Spruce Pine Club House. According to the Asheville Citizen Times “The clubhouse with its entertainment facilities constitutes one of the most modern recreational centers in this section, and has been made available to the public through the cooperation of Charles Robbins, owner and builder of the house, and the American Business Club, to whom Mr. Robins has given a 10 year option.” Clubs, civic organizations, and other groups who wish may use the building for meetings, dances, and dinners. The Robbins Family, who owned the Robbins Hosiery Mills in Spruce Pine were very civic minded. This is just one of the many contributions they made to the community during their years in Spruce Pine.  At the dedication Mr. Frank Watson was the toastmaster. The invocation was given by the Rev. James Fowler, pastor of the Spruce Pine Methodist Church. Dr. William Davenport introduced the out of town guests. Officers of the business club were Frank Robbins, president, Elmer Cline, vice-president, Henry Becton, treasurer, Tommy Hall secretary. The board of governors were Max Poteat, Oral Baker, Ray Dixon, Dr. William Davenport, and Winston Felts. Over the years, Spruce Pine residents and organizations made good use of the beautiful facility. High school proms, wedding receptions, Bible study camps, 4-H meetings, and weekly dances were just some of the various uses. The building was a unique log structure built of vertical logs instead of horizontal. The clubhouse was located on Altapass Road between the current hospital and the dialysis center. It was torn down sometime in the early 1980’s.

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The First Electric Lights for Bakersville and Toecane https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/08/03/the-first-electric-lights-for-bakersville-and-toecane/ Mon, 03 Aug 2020 23:09:37 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4787 Bill Masters is credited with bringing the first electric lights to Toecane and Bakersville from energy generated by his water wheel in a 3-story mill in Toecane. According to living relatives, Bill was a voracious reader with a table in his home piled with stacks of newspapers, books, journals, and other documents. In his 68 […]

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Bill and Cora Lee Masters

Bill Masters is credited with bringing the first electric lights to Toecane and Bakersville from energy generated by his water wheel in a 3-story mill in Toecane. According to living relatives, Bill was a voracious reader with a table in his home piled with stacks of newspapers, books, journals, and other documents. In his 68 years, he never owned a TV and the only telephone in his house was the crank type mounted on the wall. Yet he was the first in Bakersville to own a refrigerator, was noted for applying the most recent agricultural reports to his 73-acre farm, and as one family member said, “Always thinking.”

William M. “Bill” Masters was born January 7, 1892 to Isadore D. and Hattie Imogene Peterson Masters. In 1900, Bill was 8 years old and living in the Red Hill community of Mitchell County with his father and mother, Isadore D. (30) and Hattie Imogene Peterson Masters (28), his brothers Oscar (5) and Henry (1), his sisters Naomi Jane “Oma” (4) and one-month old Rissie who would die the next year. His grandfather Henry (54) and grandmother Elizabeth Teresa Jane Peterson (54) and a black servant Judge Conley (23) also lived there. His father was a farmer and his Grandfather was a manufacturer who, according to the 1890 edition of Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory, owned and operated a corn and flour mill in Red Hill. By 1910, sisters Anna, Dora Augusta, and Bessie Louise were added to the family.

For a time, Bill attended the Stanley McCormick Academy in Burnsville. This was the same school which the noted teacher, education administrator, local historian, and Bill’s cousin, Jayson Basil Deyton also attended. Bill, however, chose to leave the school and return home to work in his grandfather Henry’s grist mill. In 1910, he was living with his parents in the Red Hill community with his Grandparents now living in a separate house relatively nearby. In 1912, Bill married Cora Lee Garland daughter of Charles Wesley and Sarah Garland and continued to work with his grandfather.

There is no indication as yet as to whose idea it was to begin exploring the idea of using water power to generate electricity; however, as early as 1913 The State Journal in Raleigh indicated that “An electric light plant is also being installed in Bakersville.” In 1919, the High Point, NC Review reports that “the Bakersville Milling, Light, and Power Company of Bakersville is chartered with $25,000 capital authorized and $10,000 subscribed by R.T. Teague, C.G. Ellis and others,” including John C McBee, President.

Apparently, Bill read about Knoxville, Tennessee having lighted one area of town, Gay Street, on December 22, 1885 which then led to the formation of the Knoxville Power & Light Company. Bill contacted them and they sent a German electrical engineer by the name of Wofford to Bakersville.

During the late teen’s, Bill began building a 3-story mill in Toecane that he opened in 1920. The mill had an operating capacity of 40 barrels of flour a day. A barrel traditionally contains about 196 pounds of flour or enough for about 8 24-pound bags.

Sunbeam Flower – Made by the Bakersville Milling Light and Power Company, Toecane, N.C.

It was here that Bill installed an electric dynamo and the Bakersville Milling, Light, and Power Company of Bakersville also began generating electricity for “brave” residents of Toecane and Bakersville. The first homes were reported to have been wired by Mr. Wiss T. Wilson. The homes could only use the power between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. when the water wheel was not being used for grain milling. Each home paid $1 per month for the service.

As demand increased with customers getting more electric appliances, Bill decided to concentrate on the success of the milling side of the business and sold the dynamo and electric system to the Northwest Utilities Company of Burnsville, which the French Broad Electric Membership Corporation purchased in 1940.

Good fortune ended on February 23, 1933 when it was reported that the Toecane frame building mill was destroyed by fire from some unknown cause. The building had been insured and Bill began immediately to rebuild a mill; however, it was no longer located in Toecane, but a short distance away where that building sits today on highway 226 just outside Loafers Glory. Albert Wilson of Bakersville was in charge of its four-story 30 X 40 foot construction as well as the new 15 foot high, 130 feet long dam across Cane Creek. The dam was 5 and ½ feet thick at the base and 3 and ½ feet at the top. The 15 foot high steel overshot wheel provided approximately 30 horsepower to operate the machinery, which was purchased from the William J. Savage Company, Knoxville, TN. The capacity of the mill was 50 barrels of flour, 5 tons of feed, and 200 bushels of meal per day.

There are many other stories regarding family and events in the life of Bill Masters that need to be told including his and Cora Lee’s dedication to the Bakersville Methodist Church, his kindness to family and friends, his firm political stand, and how he dealt with hundreds of dollar bills stuck together where he had buried them for safe keeping. It is obvious that Bill was a very special and creative person.

Special recognition for article resources to Bill Loven, Mary Lee Barron, Nora Lee Bolton, and Connie Bowman who gave us the flour sack.

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Charlie B. and Margaret Willis Norman and Their Large Family https://mitchellnchistory.org/2020/08/03/charlie-b-and-margaret-willis-norman-and-their-large-family/ Mon, 03 Aug 2020 22:54:09 +0000 https://mitchellnchistory.org/?p=4784 Recently discovered in the news clippings collection at the office of Mitchell County Historical Society was this photo from the Tri-County News of 2/28/1974.  The family was likely photographed 1905-1910 based on the number and ages of the children.  The article’s caption reads “A Poor Man Cannot Properly Feed, Clothe, and Educate 13 Children Without […]

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Recently discovered in the news clippings collection at the office of Mitchell County Historical Society was this photo from the Tri-County News of 2/28/1974.  The family was likely photographed 1905-1910 based on the number and ages of the children.  The article’s caption reads “A Poor Man Cannot Properly Feed, Clothe, and Educate 13 Children Without Help.”

The article stated that the couple, with 13 children in this photo, had additional children before they moved to Arkansas; “some more children were born there, making a total of 21,” all “single births,” the article said.  Despite this claim of 21 children, Ancestry and census records indicate that 15 children grew to maturity.  Charlie and Margaret lost at least one child, according to the 1900 census.

Charlie B. Norman, born 2/15/1862 in Wilkes County, NC, was the son of Anna Elizabeth Norman.  On 12/12/1884 he married Margaret Willis, born 1/15/1871 in Mitchell County, daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Nancy Jane Biddix Willis.  Interestingly, Charlie’s brother Frank married Margaret’s sister Mollie.  Margaret Willis Norman died 5/27/1920 in Arkansas, no doubt worn out by childbearing!  On 1/8/1923, in Baxter County, Arkansas, Charlie married Eliza Hale, born 1877 in Indiana.  It was the second marriage for each.

Charlie and Margaret may be found in the 1900 Federal census, Snow Creek Township; Margaret had given birth to 11 children by then, with 10 living.  These older children were Sarah J. Norman Duncan (1887-1977), Della M.  (1888-1977), Minnie Norman Bartlett (1889-1978), John B. (1890-1967), Bertie (1893-1966), Lucy (1894-1974), Fannie (1895-1973), Hessie Mae (1896-1973), Rettie (1897-1938), and Clayborn (1899-1982).  Born after 1900 were Verdie (1901-1996), Flossie (1904-1991), Gratie Lucille (1906-1994), Jacob (1906-1923) and William Teddy (1909-1986).  Jacob was born in 1906 in Mitchell County, and Will, the youngest, was born in Arkansas in 1910, so the family obviously made the move from NC during those 2 years.

Prior to their family’s departure for Arkansas, Sally married Dock Duncan and Minnie married Will Bartlett; these older daughters lived their lives in Mitchell County.  Sally and Dock Duncan lived next door to Charlie in 1940 when he, with his second wife, was back in Mitchell County, in the Snow Creek Township; Charlie and Eliza state, however, that they were in Arkansas in 1935.  The 1910 and 1930 censuses show him in Arkansas; he hasn’t yet been located in 1920.  Charlie B. Norman died 10/24/1949 in Madera County, CA; obviously, he didn’t stop at Arkansas on his westward trek.  Youngest son Will had moved to California, so Charlie may have followed him there.  Besides the 2 girls who died in Mitchell County, 5 children died in Arkansas, 3 died in Oklahoma, 4 in California, and 1 in Montana.

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