Authors: Elaine McAlister Dellinger & Kiesa Kay
The biggest meteor shower of the century filled the sky in the winter of 1833, and Yancey County came into being that December. It is a place of fierce independence, astounding natural beauty, and civic pride. Nestled amidst the Black Mountains, the county boasts 19 peaks above 6,000 feet, including Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak in the Eastern United States. Archaeological excavations trace human history in Yancey County as far back as the Paleo-Indian period, 9000 to 10,000 BC, based on regional dates. Families have flourished for many generations along the Cane and Toe Rivers in a mineral-rich land dotted with fresh springs and free-flowing creeks. Named for statesman and orator Bartlett Yancey, the county is characterized by streets and areas with delightful names, such as Barking Dog, Bee Log, and Merry Bear Lane. The citizens are descended from ancestors who fought on both sides of the War between the States. Working the county’s land of plenty has given them ginseng, galax, tobacco, ramps, and a cornucopia of fine foods.
Elaine McAlister Dellinger is a local historian who traces her Yancey County lineage back 200 years. She and coauthor Kiesa Kay interviewed 40 locals to consolidate images from families that include the Rays, Honeycutts, Proffitts, Byrds, Tiptons, Riddles, McCourrys, Webbs, Griffiths, Anglins, Whitesides, and more.