I grew up between Hwy 64 old and Hwy 64 new on land that originally belonged to my grandfather who, and I found out this past week, bought it from a bank who got it from the Anderson's, who got it from the Eade's, just like I thought. And it was next door to Janice Sumner’s grandfather’s on one side. [My grandfather's] correct name was Wesley Crockett Jones, but he got mad at his father and he changed his name to John Wesley Jones. So the family Bible says Wesley Crockett but his land deeds say J. W. or John Wesley. I went and looked at his tombstone. It just says Wesley. His wife was not going to go there. She wasn’t going to argue with him even after he died. You have to know that about the Joneses. They will argue about anything. All day.
My father’s family came here in the early 40’s from Lake Toxaway. They owned a lot of land up there. They gave part of it to the boys who had married and wanted to live up there. They came here because my grandfather thought it would be better for his asthma. It wasn’t, but that was the thinkin’. My mother was a Duncan, her mother was a Blythe, and her mother [my great grandmother] was a Shipman. The Shipman’s have been on Bowman’s Bluff up Pleasant Grove to Piney Grove Cemetery since 1734. We’re from here, not the Joneses, but the Shipman’s and Blythe’s are.
I was born in 1947. My relatives are from Wales. They were part of the Welsh Colony.
My grandmother lived on Little Mountain which [some] call Misty Mountain, I understand. The name of it was Little Mountain. They changed the road to Misty Mountain Road, and wasn’t that Little Mountain when you were growin’ up? [Also called Eade Mountain perhaps] Well, Eade Mountain ran into Little Mountain. Eade goes across and Little comes off of – it’s just a little bump on the side of Eade. My [maternal] great grandfather owned property on Bowman’s Bluff, like 300 acres or somethin’, and he lost it. [His name was] Francis Marion Blythe. He bought the farm on Little Mountain and I’m not sure how much property. I’ve been trying to find that out. I was told this by someone living here at the time. When he bought the farm on Little Mountain, in order to pay the mortgage, he took a job up in the Forest at the Pink Beds. To me this is impossible, but my first cousin once removed swears this happened. He went to church on Sunday, came home, had a good meal, visited his family, walked to the Pink Beds working as a games-keeper up there all week. He got off at noon on Saturday. He walked home, got a good bath, had a good visit with his family, went to bed, got up, went to church and did the same thing. And he did that until he paid the mortgage off for that property. He died in 1935, and my grandmother and her four brothers shared the property.
If I know what I am talking about and I may not, I don’t think many women inherited property. It was usually given to the sons. When I was lookin’, a lot of it belongs to R. V. Blythe - that's Robert Vernon, a lot belongs to William Jefferson - we called him Uncle Jeff, he was the oldest. My grandmother was Annie Evalina Blythe, then Julian Dawson Blythe and Henry Euart (sp?). Henry Euart had died so he didn’t inherit, but the rest did. And they all sold my grandfather a few acres each for $10.00 and 'because we love you ' so that Big Mama [Annie Evelina] would have an equal share because she was expected to take care of their mother. So she got the home place, the land the house was on. Where Jessie Norton lives [now] belonged to my Uncle Vernon. I don’t know which person got what. Big Mama lived there until my grandfather died, and he died in ’48. They still lived there for several years, but momma was married, Aunt Coe was married, Uncle Cecil was married and Uncle Ed could not chop enough wood to keep that house warm.
So she traded her house and land for a little bitty house on one acre of land two doors up from Etowah Baptist Church. That’s where she lived for most of my life. I can remember the house over on the hill, and I can remember playing over there. I have a picture of my sister’s birthday, or it’s my sister and somebody out in the yard, and you can’t see anything except Etowah School. There’s nothing . . . just Etowah School way over in the distance. Nicholson was there, but the trees were between them and her so you didn’t see their house. The other houses weren’t there. [About] ’39, early ‘40’s.
My father was a big fisherman and hunter person and one of his favorite places to fish was over in the Follies – I guess it was Willow Creek. He knew the Cantrell’s and a bunch of people over there. My father worked at the plant [Ecusta] and farmed on the side.
If you have a farm, whether you have a cow or you have 20 cows, you don’t go on vacation. To quote my father, “Yes, I will take you to the beach as soon as you learn how to tie the old cow to the top of the car. Otherwise, we’re not goin’. Forget it.” But we did have a neighbor, Thad Newman. Every once in a while, when they both had their 5 days off- they worked swing shifts up at Ecusta. And if they were both off on swing shift, Thad would stay home because there was always stuff he was building. He [Thad] did take his family to the beach, and when he took them, we fed the dogs and the pigs at their house. When we went somewhere, we camped and they milked the cows and fed our chickens, dogs and pigs or whatever we had at the time. And we had goats. My sister and I couldn’t drink milk and couldn’t drink goat’s milk either. We camped in the Follies. That was my parent’s vacation. Momma sewed, daddy fished, and we played in the creek. If we got to go in the fall, we picked fox grapes. We would pick two bushels of fox grapes. I don’t know whose property it was on, but we had permission. I think there were Fulham's over there - somebody up there daddy knew. And we would pick bushels. I’m not saying a box. I’m saying several bushels of fox grapes. They’re purple, they’re delicious and make the best grape jelly and best grape juice.
I thought there would be several things great about being grown up. One, I could eat cereal. Two, I would have store bought clothes. Never dawned on me there ain't no place that can make clothes that's gonna fit me like the ones my mother made. When I was in school I could see a kid with a dress on I liked, come home from school, describe it to my brother, who's a very good artist. He would draw a picture. We would whip out to the remnant shop, get the material, and I wore it to school the next day. My mother was that good and she liked to sew. One time, the lady you call Grandma Jones, Alice Jones, had a daughter about my size. Lillian Jones had a daughter about my size. Her mother had a daughter about my size. And they would buy a pattern. But I didn’t have a pattern. Momma Alice called Momma Cat, my mother, and said, “I need to borrow Marylin’s pattern. Loretta wants a dress.” Momma said, “I don’t have one.” So she called Miss Polly (Pauline Sumner) and Pauline said, “I don’t think Kathleen does have a pattern.” I had a piece of newspaper. It was the top of a dress. And on the side it said, "Marylin’s hips are; the length of a skirt for Marylin is; and she doesn’t like lace." That was my pattern. Everything I owned was made from that pattern. My mother could make a jacket, a vest, a blouse, the top of a dress, a formal dress – anything from that piece of newspaper because all our parents knew how to sew. I can’t sew. Can’t do it. I would not take Home Ec [Economics]. I refused to take Home Ec.
[The Follies] was just a place up in the mountains. It had a creek that ran through it filled with trout. It had some caves that we were not allowed to go in. I know you’ve read about Matilda’s Folly. We never heard of Matilda or her folly. We were not allowed to go in the caves because they were full of snakes and they were full of bats. There was more than one cave. Now there were a lot of snakes there because when we camped daddy took our dog, Eleanor, and one time, he had us all sleeping in the back of a truck on hay. And when we got up the next morning, there was a dead rattlesnake and the dog was bitten, but it didn’t die. I guess [the snake] didn’t release venom because it didn’t die. That’s when he stopped letting us sleep in the back of the truck on hay because apparently the warmth . . . Our method of camping was you took a quilt. We didn’t have a tent. We sure didn’t have a fifth wheeler or any of those things. We had a quilt. My father could build a fire in the pouring rain. We took eggs, peanut butter, Sunbeam bread and all kinds of little . . . Do you remember Prince Albert in a can, smokin’ tobacco that came about that tall, that wide, a flip can? You needed one for cornmeal, one for worms, one for coffee. And I think there was another one, I think it had band aids and mercurochrome in it. And they all lived in my daddy’s huntin’ jacket.
When you got there you didn’t cry for help. You weren’t going to get out if it snowed. You were there. You were there and you stayed there. We would just camp wherever he wanted to hunt or fish. We never saw anything [wildlife] up there. Raccoons, possums and squirrels, but we never saw a bear, deer – not there. If you wanted to see that, you needed to go up toward Transylvania County. There was stuff like weasels and muskrats in the water – that kind of thing. Maybe the people who lived there could tell you there were panthers and pumas, but we didn’t see anything like that.
I had a fascination with the train because my grandmother lived so close. I don’t know when it was that the train stopped bringing the mail and the mail truck started coming. [I think] the mail came from Hendersonville in the morning. Miss Nicholson was the postmistress. She was probably the assistant to Mrs. Addie Morgan.
My memory is that there was a man who lived across the street from my grandmother called Whitey. To this day, I can’t find out what the man’s name was. I did not call him Whitey. I called him yes sir and no sir. He was very nice. I was terrified of him. No earthly idea why I was so afraid of him. Arnold Bradley’s house is behind where their house was. Right beside their house was a cement block house right on the road and he had a watch repair shop in the living room. The man’s wife was disabled. When I stayed at my grandmother’s and we’d be messin' around outside on the porch, and he would come outside and ask, “Mrs. Duncan you gonna be around a while to listen for my wife?” She’d say, “Yah, are you going to take this one with you to the post office?” He’d say, “Come on.” I’d say, “I don’t want to go.” She said, “You go. You walk right behind him. You be polite and you tell Miss Nicholson what you want.” Because if you didn’t watch me I would ask for everybody’s mail. I want Momma’s mail, I want Uncle Ed’s mail, I want Big Mama’s mail. I wanted everybody's mail 'cause I thought it was fun.
There was a store [next to my grandmother's house] called Grey’s Store. By the time I came along the Waldrop’s lived there. I haven’t been able to find out their first name. I’m told there was a daughter, who played the organ really really well to the point that she would be invited to play at Hendersonville First Baptist Church. Big Mama’s house was on the [Baptist] church side [of the road]. [Wanda Love: The parking lot of the Promise Center would have been your grandmother’s house and the store somewhere there.] There was Mr. Waldrop, Glenn Waldrop, my grandmother, then there was Grey’s Store which was smack on the road and then Walter Roberts and then the railroad track.
Miss Woodson drove [the school bus, called the "chicken coop"] and it was just a wee little bus and it didn’t have seats across it. We [Marylin and Wanda Sumner Love] were next door neighbors. There was nothing between us but hay fields and woods and a road that got in our way.
What started the Volunteer Fire Department [organized in 1963] was when the Clayton’s House burned down [on Eade Rd, late 1950's]. That was a horrible thing to have happened, but we never thought about fighting fire. Daddy came running in the front door yelling, “Kathleen, get me an axe. Get me a hoe and, if you got one, give me a flashlight.” She said, “Why in the world would I have an axe in my house?” And he went flying through house to the barn, took the time to run to Thad Newman’s and get him because he knew couldn’t run over there fast enough. You could see red from anywhere in Etowah. Most people came running. It was so fast and so hot.
Oh, I would move back [to Etowah] in heartbeat if I could. Because it was community. It didn’t matter if there were three families or 33 families or 3,000 families.
Pounding the Preacher
When Dr. John Rymer came to Etowah Baptist Church as a young preacher, he was told by his congregation that he and his wife would need to make themselves available on a certain night at a certain time as they were going to receive a "pounding." I think he was too shocked to even ask. He just said "OK." I believe this practice came about long, long ago when trips to town were rare and money was tight for any young couple just setting up housekeeping. Dr. and Mrs. Rymer were the last couple I can remember the ladies of the church giving one [a "pounding"]. Back in the day, it was a loving welcome to the community and a lot of fun. This is what happens. At the appointed time and place, everyone invited shows up at your home with a pound of whatever they might have they want to share with you . . . to help you start out in your new home in the community. Such as, a pound of flour, sugar, salt, corn meal, coffee, honey, cookies (homemade, hopefully), pound cake, fat back (salted pork), jelly, whatever. And, as one of our most famous Methodist ladies would have said, "A good time was had by all."
Bigmama & Cousin Jesse
Jesse Shipman was Bigmama's favorite cousin and best friend, and they never "had hard feelings or a harsh word." Jessie never married. She served as the postmaster at the Horse Shoe NC Post Office for 31 years and was the first postmaster of Horse Shoe to receive a Presidential Commission when the office advanced from 4th to 3rd class in 1942. She was very active in the Shaw Creek Baptist Church.
Bigmama loved those rare days when Miss Jessie could drive up to Etowah to visit with her. [Bigmama was Marylin's grandmother, Annie Evelina Blythe born in Bowman's Bluff, February 22, 1892] She [Jesse] had a small black and white Boston Terrier. I think his name was 'Lucky' and I thought he lived on the shelf behind the back seat of her car because I never saw him anywhere else. When we would expect Miss Jessie to come, we would sit on the porch to wait for her. Bigmama would always clap her hands, chuckle, and say, "Little Bit, take a deep breath. Her comes Jessie." The joke being that Miss Jessie would come in one door talking and leave by the other . . . still talking. And even if we had eaten a meal in the several hours she was there, it never seemed that she stopped talking long enough to take a breath! They both wore very neat print dresses and those old-lady black shoes . . . and I was jealous. Bigmama would tie one of her aprons around me under my arms, and I would clunk around in her old pair of old lady shoes. We would eat stuff like turnip greens with turnips, boiled cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber and sliced onions, homemade pickles and relish, and cornbread. The drink of choice was buttermilk. I drank good cold water.
Bigmama's Bedtime Story - Mill Pond
I have no idea what stories are told these days to children to settle them down to sleep. Mine, however, were often family stories told to me by my maternal grandmother, Bigmama, Annie Blythe Duncan.
She told me about growing up at Bowman’s Bluff where she lived with four brothers, of being a young bride and how poor couples obtained necessary items for setting up housekeeping, of being the wife of a tenant farmer and of how hard it was to move; of good times and bad, sorrow and rejoicing. Oh the stories she told of her children, of cooking for a lumber camp in Transylvania County one summer, of white washing walls and burning old bed tics - to rid houses of lice and vermin. She was a happy lady and a good storyteller.
I do not remember my grandfather at all, although I did know several of his brothers, so I have some idea of his personality. I believe that, though poor, he worked hard to support his family, first as a tenant farmer, then at Etowah Brickyard, and before his death, at Ecusta. In fact, he died at Ecusta in Pisgah Forest. From pictures I know he was tall and lanky whereas my grandmother was short and “round.”
One of the bedtime stories she told me was of her unsuccessful swimmin lesson in the pond of Blythe Mill on Burns Creek in Etowah, and how it vexed Grandaddy Tyre so badly.
Growing up she had two older brothers, Jeff and Vernon, and two younger brothers, Julian and Ewart. As much as she was pleased to become old enough to “put her hair up and her skirt hems down,” she never really outlived her sense of fun in boyish activities. Grandaddy Tyre was often embarrassed by the very things she did that he found charming. After all, he was the head of the household and a deacon in the Baptist Church!
He really did have to at least appear to disapprove of activities that were considered inappropriate for a lady: things like shooting his shot gun straight up into the air on Christmas morning in order to awaken the family, or allow her five kids to use the kitchen chair for sledding (and maybe taking a turn herself). One thing she always regretted was that she had never learned to swim.
I do not know exactly when she and Grandaddy Tyre lived at the mill pond, or whether they may have lived there more than once. She did tell me that she and Grandaddy Tyre rented the mill pond from her Uncle Volney Blythe when the boys were young.
At any rate, she told me that on one very hot day, the girls were in the house, my mom being in charge of whatever task she had set them to, and the boys were playing in the shallow part of the old mill pond. When she went out to check on them, they talked her into donning a pair of Grandaddy’s overall and wading in to join them - just to cool off.
My, what fun they must have been having! The water was so cool and felt so refreshing, and she just needed to wade a little bit further out toward the center and . . .
Well, either the bottom was slick from mud or she stepped on a rock. Splash! She suddenly found herself sitting on her ample backside, and laughing so hard that even with two small boys pulling at her arms, she could not get back to her feet.
Just as she was beginning to despair of ever dragging herself and her heavy soggy make-shift bathing attire from the pond, wouldn’t you just know it? Grandaddy came a-whistling up the road!
Of course he was alarmed, and he really did try to appear stern and angry, but they all looked so forlorn and helpless that he burst out laughing - and threatened to leave them there until he could round up some friends to come see the sight. Said he could charge them a penny each and make so much money he would not need to work for a week!