Category Archives: The History of Cashiers NC

The Birth of a County

There was nothing easy about the formation of Jackson County. Fortunately, state records chronicle the twists and turns.

There was nothing easy about the formation of Jackson County. Fortunately, state records chronicle the twists and turns.

The Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper printed in its May 22, 1932, edition an article entitled, “Jackson County, 80 Years Old, Has Been Part of 14 Counties.”
Following are excerpts from that article:
“Long before Jackson became a county, when the fastness of the mountains had not been penetrated, and the echo of the Cherokees still resounded throughout the stillness of this remote section, settlers began to move into what was later to become one of the most progressive counties of the 100 of the Old North State. Jackson County was formed in 1852 out of territory taken from Haywood and Macon Counties. As originally formed it was bounded on the north by Haywood, on the east by Henderson, on the south by South Carolina, and on the northwest by Tennessee. In 1850, the legislature of North Carolina authorized the creation of Jackson County. It required two years from that date to do the preliminary work necessary to set the government going. It was five years from the later date before the county had a seat and a house in which to transact business.
“The first court was organized by Judge John W. Ellis, afterwards, governor of the state, at the residence of Daniel Bryson, Sr. on Scott’s Creek, Monday, March 3, 1853. J. Newton Bryson was appointed clerk of the court, and Allen Fisher, clerk and master in equity. The second Superior Court was opened Monday, September 19, 1853 at Allen Fisher’s store house. The first grand and petit juries were composed of such familiar pioneer names as Keener, Conley, Queen, Bryson, Brown, Hooper, Dills, Alley, Allison, Wilson, Wood, Zachary, Hall, Norton, Shelton, Hedden, Monteith, Sutton, Sherrill, Henson, Allen, Buchanan, Watson, Wike, Enloe, Owen, Ensley, Ashe, Dillard, Davis, Parker, Painter, Coward, Rogers, Hyatt, Henderson, Moss, Middleton, Potts, Parks, Shular, and Gunter. The first two cases on the docket in the Superior Court were the State versus Adam Mathis and John B. Allison and Woodford Zachary versus Elisha Holden. The nature of these cases is unknown. “
The second half of this interesting article will be contained in next month’s Laurel Magazine.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

All’s Well…

 An Indian Stone Basin, possibly over 200 years old, is discovered at the old Historic Fairfield Inn site.

An Indian Stone Basin, possibly over 200 years old, is discovered at the old Historic Fairfield Inn site.

The Sapphire Valley Historical Society’s efforts to excavate and refurbish the Wishing Well at the old Historic Fairfield Inn site have revealed a real treasure – an Indian Stone Basin, possibly over 200 years old.
“Although we know the builders of the old Fairfield Inn created this seating area around this bowl, it never made sense why they would create the bowl in the first place,” says Rick Stargel, president of the Sapphire Valley Historical Society. “They built the Inn, the lake and later a few golf holes around the Inn, but why this?”
In addition to the well walls and seating being in really good shape, the floor of the well contains a perfectly carved bowl directly in the granite.
Our research tell us that other Native American stone basins have been found around the country, one most notably in Fredericksburg, Virginia. (See
Research also reveals many other stone basins in the US that resemble the Sapphire Valley Basin. Prior to 1830, Native Americans, possibly the Creek Indians, occupied this part of Western North Carolina. The Sapphire Valley Stone Basin is believed to have been created prior to 1800 (based on the amount of erosion out of the basin and the amount of forest growth around it) and used for ceremonial activities.
The Sapphire Valley Stone Basin is carved in the bedrock next to a year-round spring head and supplies the basin with pure mountain water even to this day. Surprisingly, the exit channel for the water points true north, not magnetic north, and just cannot be a coincidence.
The Sapphire Valley Stone Basin was in place in 1896 when the Fairfield Inn was built. Recognizing the value of this artifact, instead of covering it up when they graded the land for the roads and the Inn, the owners built the stone wall and seating area, protecting it so their guests would have another ‘amenity’ to enjoy.
Pictured is the full seating area as seen just after the initial cleanup in late March 2014.
The Sapphire Valley Historical Society’s goal for this project is to simply restore this basin to its original beauty and, along with the help of Camp Merrie Woode, create a photographic venue for visitors to Fairfield Lake and those that use the old Inn site for weddings, concerts and parties.

Contributed by Lisa Stargel

J.A. Zachary, 1833 Settler

The following is a Jackson County Journal newspaper article dated September 8, 1911, which reported on the events at the third Zachary Reunion.   It was written by T. R. Zachary of Cashiers.

The following is a Jackson County Journal newspaper article dated September 8, 1911, which reported on the events at the third Zachary Reunion. It was written by T. R. Zachary of Cashiers.

“The descendants of Colonel John A. Zachary, who settled in Cashiers Valley about the year 1833, met at the old graveyard Saturday, August 28, for the purpose of erecting a monument to the memory of Alfred Zachary and wife who was one of the original fourteen children, sons and daughters, of Col. John A. Zachary.
“There was a good large crowd present from many parts of the country, some traveling hundreds of miles for the purpose of being at the reunion. It’s needless to say that we all thoroughly enjoyed coming together for the third meet of the reunion.
We met for the first time in 1909 and placed a monument to the memory of our grandfather and mother, who had been lying in unmarked graves for about forty-five years. We met again in August, 1910 and placed a monument marking the resting place of our Uncle Thos. J. Zachary [Thomas Jefferson], who died in 1864.
“The last Saturday in 1912, we will meet for the fourth time and mark the resting place of Uncle Logan Allison and Aunt Betsy, and propose to meet annually the last Saturday in August until we mark the grave of each of that historic family who are sleeping in an unmarked grave. That duty being accomplished, we will then turn our attention to other relatives whose people are not able to erect monuments to their memory. We are trying to get the names of all the descendants but have not succeeded yet and would like for the head of each family to send in a list of the names and birth dates of their household to Mrs. R. H. Zachary, Brevard, N. C. and let us see how many thousand kinsmen there are in this prolific Zachary family.”

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

A Club Was Born

Fairfield Inn

Fairfield Inn

Oldest building in Sapphire Valley

Oldest building in Sapphire Valley


This is the first in a series of articles about the history of Sapphire Valley
In the early 1950s as the Highlands area grew in popularity, it became apparent that if you did not own property on the environs of the clubs there, that play on their golf courses would not continue to be available. Gene Howerdd Sr. was retiring from Georgia Pacific and decided to look for property to build a golf course community nearby.
In 1954, the Howerdd family acquired 12,000 plus or minus acres of land in Sapphire. The property included approximately 8,500 acres of land, an inn (originally known as Fairfield Inn) and a 200-acre lake (known as Lake Fairfield) on the North side of Highway 64, together with approximately 3,500 acres of land, some of which had been farmland, on the south side of Highway 64. This area was perfect for a mountain course as the terrain varied by no more than 12 feet across the valley floor!
The farm land area included an old farmhouse which is still there today. Formerly operated as The Library Restaurant and Club, the original building is the oldest structure in Sapphire Valley.
The property was owned by members of the Tatum family who were part of the original ownership group of Lake Toxaway. This land was deeded to them when the Lake Toxaway Dam broke and the 250,000-acre tract was divided up among the partners.
It was then renamed The Tatum Sky Club. The Tatum family owned a Club in Miami called the Tatum Surf Club and had visions of a fly-in resort in Western North Carolina. How Mr. Howerdd found out the property could be purchased is another chapter!
The Howerdd Family acquired the property and planning, development and operations began immediately and The Sapphire Valley Inn and Country Club, known today as Sapphire Valley Resort, was born.

Contributed by Rick Stargel | Photos courtesy Sapphire Valley Historical Society

Franklin and Katy Baumgarner

Franklin and Katy Baumgarner

Franklin and Katy Baumgarner

Everybody in Cashiers loved Franklin and Katy Baumgarner and they are remembered with a smile. James Franklin Kay Baumgarner, whose twin was Frances Lombard, was born in Whiteside Cove on June 12, 1915, the son of Rev. Frank Baumgarner and Molina Ellen Galloway. Franklin grew up on a farm and first saw his future wife, Katy Ann Bradley, born October 31, 1912, when, as a boy, he helped plow land for her mother in Cashiers. Katy was the daughter of Frank Bradley and Tiny Hoxit. In 1937, Franklin and Katy got married and settled in Cashiers. They had five children, Shirley, Doyle, Gayle, Joanne and Roy, all still living in the Cashiers area. It was a happy household with constant laughter and Franklin became known for his practical jokes and sunny disposition.
Katy’s father, Frank Bradley, was for many years the overseer at High Hampton and when she was young, Katy also worked at High Hampton making salads in the kitchen and at a later time she worked in the housekeeping department. Before going to work she would cook a big breakfast at home and always made extra gravy and biscuits to leave on the stove for anyone who might drop by to help themselves. She never turned a soul away from her door and taught her children to not be judgmental. After work, she and Franklin would sit on the front porch of their home near today’s charter school and anyone walking by would stop and talk awhile.
Baumgarner Builders was Franklin’s business and he did such a good job that one customer ran an ad in the newspaper praising the excellent house he and his sons built for her. In the late 1950s, Brad Pell’s crew, including Franklin and his sons were building a house that Mark Zachary passed by every day walking home from grammar school. Mark, fascinated by the building process, started hanging around and soon Franklin had put Mark to work at five cents a day, carrying nails and boards. That’s the kind of man Franklin was. He could be generous to a fault. Helping other people, talking, hunting and laughing, delighted Franklin.
After 47 years of marriage, Katy died at the age of 72 and seven years later, in 1992, Franklin was killed in a car wreck in front of the Cornucopia. They are buried at the Upper Zachary Cemetery.

Cashiers NC History

Diligent research solves a nearly 100-year-old mystery – Fay Zachary, who embraced life with  an unquenchable zeal, was felled by the bite of a mosquito.

Diligent research solves a nearly 100-year-old mystery – Fay Zachary, who embraced life with an unquenchable zeal, was felled by the bite of a mosquito.

This is a follow-up to my December 2013 Laurel Magazine’s article, the “Dynasty of Dentists.”
One of the youngest sisters of Dr. Daisy Zachary McGuire was Fay Zachary, born in 1894 in Hamburg (Norton), Jackson County. Dying in 1917 at age 22 years, 6 months and 18 days, Fay’s life was short so her family’s memories of her are not numerous but quite affectionate. At the time of her death, she had been employed as a teacher in either Georgia or South Carolina and had likely earned a teacher’s degree at the school in Cullowhee which is now Western Carolina University. Like the rest of her sisters, she was well educated, independent with a zest for life.
Although she had neither married nor ever became a mother, the descendants of her sister’s carried on her story through the generations. Not surprisingly slightly different versions of Fay’s story, as time went by, developed in the various family lines. This became apparent as I was locating and interviewing some of Fay’s present day nieces and nephews. Some thought she had died of Typhoid Fever and some thought she had died from a ruptured appendix. She had fallen ill while teaching away from her Norton home. While being cared for back at home, she perspired so much that her hair had to be cut short. She had beautiful, long, thick, fire-engine red hair and after the hair was cut, family members tied it with a blue bow and placed it in a box. Granddaughters of Fay’s sisters, Pearl and Tela, remember seeing Fay’s hair in a box in their respective grandmother’s attics but the present day location of that box is not known. That mystery is not solved here but the cause of her death is
another story.
Recently, still curious as to what had killed Fay, I suddenly realized that since the State of North Carolina began requiring death certificates in 1913 and since Fay died in 1917, there should be a death certificate on file for Fay at the Registrar of Deeds Office in Sylva. One of the blanks to be filled out on a death certificate is, “The Cause of Death was as follows:” And when I received Fay’s death certificate, I read the words “Effects of MALARIA.” Malaria is caused by being bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito but Fay died near the end of March when there’s unlikely any mosquitoes of any kind around. The profuse sweating certainly fits a symptom of malaria and “effects of Malaria” could have indicated her death occurred after a lengthy period of suffering from that disease.

Dynasty of Dentists

McGuire Dental Office Museum.Dr. David McGuire on the left.

McGuire Dental Office Museum.Dr. David McGuire on the left.

There is a place in Sylva where you can go to have your teeth cleaned and enjoy a history museum visit at the same time. The location of this private family museum is the McGuire Dental Office on King St., Sylva, NC with brothers, Dr. David S. McGuire and Dr. F. Patrick McGuire fulfilling today’s dental needs for folks in Sylva and surrounding mountain communities. They are the fourth generation of the same family to serve in this honored profession – well over 100 years.
In October, a group of 28 history buffs from the Cashiers Historical Society attended a day long program on the earliest area dentist, Dr. James Madison Zachary, who studied the art of dentistry in South Carolina shortly after the Civil War. He married Alice Josephine Rogers in 1877 with whom he had eight daughters, two of whom became dentists. The first stop was at the McGuire Dental Office where a fascinating talk was presented by Dr. David McGuire whose grandmother was Dr. Daisy Zachary McGuire, one of the aforementioned eight daughters of the pioneer dentist, Dr. J. M. Zachary of Hamburg/Norton.
Dr. Daisy Zachary McGuire was the second dentist in this lineage and is the best known of this four-generation dental family, largely due to the many newspaper articles written about her. She was still working on teeth well into her 90s, along with her husband who also became a dentist. Two of her children became dentists and it was Daisy’s daughter, Dr. Patsy McGuire [McGuire was also her married name] who is counted as the third dentist is the lineage. The fourth generation of practicing dentists are Dr. Patsy’s two sons, mentioned above.
In the many rooms of the office/museum, there are untold numbers of framed photographs, dental college diplomas, awards, scary-looking early dental tools and even Dr. Daisy’s “ancient” dental chair. Also, scattered around, are several huge potted plants, such as a Christmas cactus, that speak to the love of flowers each of the generations of this dental dynasty shared.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

Matilda’s Little Boys

Tombstone of the two little boys of Matilda Zachary Hinkle.

Tombstone of the two little boys of Matilda Zachary Hinkle.

There is an unusual shaped tombstone in the 5th row of graves at the Lower Zachary Cemetery in Cashiers. Inscribed on the same marker are: Mordecai Hinkle, 12 May 1857 – 29 August 1863, and Elias W. [Woodford] Hinkle, 9 January 1859 – 30 August 1863. Through many years, usually at the annual Zachary family reunion in August as we walked through the cemetery, reading inscriptions, I had wondered about who Mordecai and Elias Hinkle were and what was the story about these probable brothers who died so young just one day apart. During the past year some of Matilda Zachary Hinkle’s descendants got in touch with the Zachary Reunion Association and shared some of Matilda’s stories. She was born in 1828 in Surry County, NC, the youngest of the 14 children of Col. John A. Zachary, She was married to William Henry Hinkle of South Carolina in January, 1856, probably at the home of her parents in Cashiers Valley. The two little boys who shared a tombstone were the sons of Matilda. She and her husband remained in Cashiers for a few years but after the early deaths of their first two children, the Hinkle couple moved to a nearby area of South Carolina where they successfully raised to adulthood one son and two daughters.
Two separate tragic events happened to two of Matilda’s descendants many years after Matilda’s death in 1912. Both events were written about in Western North Carolina newspapers. The first event was actually told in one of my Laurel Magazine articles, printed in December 2010, at which time I didn’t realize the murdered teenager was my relative. Eighteen-year-old Edna Hinkle, a student at Rosman High School and a descendant of Matilda, was shot and killed in 1931 by an older man who was fixated on his unreturned love for Edna. He killed her, returned to his home and shot and killed himself.
The second story happened in 1969, in Pisgah Forest, when Ethel Wilbanks, age 87 and her son Robert Lee Wilbanks died in a house fire. Someone managed to rescue the family Bible from complete fire destruction and a family member managed to sew the Bible pages, which contained the family vital statistics, onto clear plastic sheets. This allowed the partially singed pages to be xeroxed and Matilda’s history was saved.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

Cashiers History, Killer Tuberculosis

Essie Zachary Pell is in the back row, extreme left.

Essie Zachary Pell is in the back row, extreme left.

Essie Belle Zachary Pell was 23s years old when she died at a Tuberculosis Sanitarium in Asheville. Two letters she wrote from her deathbed to her mother, Julia Beazley Zachary, in Cashiers, give us an insight into that wasting disease. Following are excerpts from those sad letters.

“Asheville, N. C.   Jan 16, 1907

Dear Mama:

I’ll try to write a few lines and send by Hampton.* I am feeling pretty bad this morning. I got up sick and then vomited part of my breakfast, then went to sleep and just now woke up. We are pleasantly situated now at No. 44 Clayton St.  I think I will be satisfied here. Everything is nice, clean and comfortable and they are good cooks.  Hampton can tell you what the Doctors think of me for he has talked to them more than I. Dr. Briggs says I have Tuberculosis of the throat while Dr. Purefoy says my left lung is affected. Dr. Briggs has ordered me not to speak aloud under any circumstances. But I can whisper a little or write or make signs. I have just eaten dinner. They brought me a big plate full of nice tomato soup, a little dish of Irish potatoes, one of corn, a big baked sweet potato, a dish of slaw, some crackers, loaf and cornbread and a large glass of sweet milk. I ate the soup, part of the sweet potato and the milk. I’m crazy to see Dana Bird.** Has she been back to see you since I left? Fred*** could go down there any day and bring her to you for awhile.   Lovingly, Essie

Sunday morning     (undated)

Dear Mama:

I’m waiting for breakfast. I have managed to get my clothes on and am out on my porch. I have on my wrapper and it feels mighty good and fits good too. Bird****had to take up the darts a good deal. I do not know if I am getting any better or not. I am so weak that I can hardly walk across the floor. My cough is no better. I’ve tried ever since I’ve been here to get something to check my bowels and at last, yesterday, he gave me some pills that would help my indigestion and be good for the bowels too. The pills are the size and the color of a Texas Runner Bean. He makes me so mad I could bust.  My feet have gotten cold so I’ll go inside and warm them. Lovingly, Essie”  [Essie died March 17, 1907.]

*Hampton Pell was the husband of Essie Belle Zachary Pell.

**Dana Bird Pell was the baby of Essie and Hampton Pell.

***Fred Zachary was Essie’s youngest brother.

****Bird Zachary was Essie’s older sister.


Under the Lake

 Lake Glenville filled to the top in 2013.

Lake Glenville filled to the top in 2013.

While working on preparing Ruth Ashe’s c1980s Cashiers Area history articles for publication, I decided I needed to share her story of what emerged at the bottom of Lake Glenville during a near drought in 1983. Following are excerpts from that story.

“The usually wet summers began to change until in 1980, our spring, which furnished our water supply, went dry and by the fall of 1983 Lake Glenville was the lowest we had seen it. Thinking that the lake would never be that low again, I was curious to see if there were any remnants of the old town of Glenville visible for the first time since the dam gates closed and water rose a hundred and fifty feet over the valley floor.

“Emory McCoy, owner of the Real McCoy’s General Merchandise Store on Hwy. 107, was kind enough to take me on a tour of the lake bed. Mr. McCoy had purchased Fowler’s store in 1937 and operated it until the dam was built. At that time, he moved the store to its present location.

“First, we saw the concrete clock and stone foundation of Lon Reynolds’ house and store. Standing upright, a good three feet high, it was the only remnant of a building still intact in the old town. A few feet away, the location of the original Hamburg Baptist Church was pointed out. The sparkling blue water still hid the site. As we walked south toward Hurricane Falls we passed pile after pile of huge stones. We believed these were the original homes. Some of the stones were the big, flat kind used for the fireplace hearth.

“Close to the edge of the water, we found the location of Mr. McCoy’s former store. A gas pipe protruding from the sand had once fed gas to the cars of the area. A pile of stones marked the spot where the Fowler Tourist Home and cabins had stood. Pieces of old pottery dishes were among the stones. In another place, huge nails covered the ground amid pieces of broken horseshoes, indicating where a blacksmith had plied his trade. A short distance away the foundation of Carl Jamison’s warehouse protruded a foot out of the water. One eerie sight was broken fence posts still standing, almost as if they were guarding a piece of land.

“Old Glenville resembled an archeological dig but man’s hand had not uncovered it. The silent, receding water pulled the curtain of time aside to show what once had been. Only a good imagination was needed to visualize the town that had been the original Glenville.”

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society



Buried Jackson County NC Deed Books

2012 staff of Jackson County Register of Deeds Office, Register Joe Hamilton and Jennifer Blanton Jamison, Stephanie Grissom, Lois Danner and Shandra Sims.

During the Civil War, William R. Buchanan, register of deeds for Jackson County, heard rumors of Union soldiers burning courthouses in Western North Carolina. He was scared that the Jackson County Courthouse, then located in Webster, was in danger, so he secretly took the four county deed books up to the top of Kings Mountain, dug a hole, and buried the books.

After the end of the Civil War, Buchanan returned to Kings Mountain to retrieve the deed books and restore them to the courthouse but he found that fallen leaves of at least one autumn had thoroughly covered the ground. The burial spot had not been clearly marked so that possible Yankee search parties would have no clue to the location of the deed books. In reality, bushwhackers were only interested in stealing food and horses.

Buchanan went back to Webster and recruited a crew of men armed with rakes and before long the register of deeds recognized the burial area and the four deed books were dug up. Deed Book 1, on top, had sustained extensive water damage. Deed Book 4, on the bottom, was somewhat mildewed but otherwise in pretty good shape. Deed Books 2 and 3 were in good condition. The original Deed Book 1 was typed years ago and bound as Deed Book 1A while the once buried Deed Book 1, recorded in beautiful handwriting, is kept in a box at the office of the current register of deeds in Sylva. Most of Deed Book 1 is filled with land grants from North Carolina governors, with the grants carrying a stipulation of five cents per acre.

The information for this article came from a book entitled Knowing Jackson County by Johnson Davis McRorie, published by the Jackson County Historical Association, plus an old article, undated, from the Sylva Herald and Ruralite.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

Mountain Weather Disasters, the 1940 Flood in Cashiers NC

Jeanne Pell Wright with her baby, Sandra, born during the August 1940 floods.

The worst natural disaster in Jackson County was the devastating flood in August 1940. No one who experienced that fury ever forgot the traumatizing event. Personal flood memories can be found in books, newspapers, on the internet and in the minds of the flood victim’s descendants who heard from birth, their parents’ or grandparents’ flood stories. What is not told, is that the root cause of the flood was two unnamed Atlantic hurricanes, one hitting land just north of Savannah, and the other one landing a little north of the first one only a few weeks later.  After hitting land, both hurricanes barreled north across land and dumped their massive amounts of water over the Western North Carolina mountains. [Note that hurricanes were first named in 1953.]

The Tuckaseegee River, with its headwaters in Cashiers, loosely parallels Highway 107 all the way from Cashiers to Bryson City and beyond. For most of that distance you’ll find buildings near the river on the left or on the right or on both sides as it flows through the valleys. All bridges over the river were destroyed and every building of any description was lifted off its foundation and carried downstream by the torrents.

Many people were interviewed for this article and a few of their stories follow: Cashiers resident, Jeanne Pell Wright, expecting the birth of her first child, was already at the hospital in Asheville, awaiting the big event, when the rainfall increased.  Baby Sandra Wright arrived but due to high water, Jeanne’s husband, Newell Wright, couldn’t get to the hospital for about five days to bring his wife and child home.  Mary Baumgarner, a Cashiers school girl, couldn’t get across the little creek that had turned almost into a river, so she missed over a week of school. On down the Tuckaseegee River, in the areas of Glenville, Tuckaseegee, Little Canada and Cullowhee, the worst devastation was found. It started in the blackness of night, when the people could hear but could see nothing. When sun rose the next morning, the landscape had changed to a wasteland.

Ancient hemlocks floated downstream, roots first. Dead hogs and chickens rolled by and a large rooster standing on the top of a building, crowed constantly as the building swept around a curve. Eight family members held hands as they walked to higher ground, all the time feeling the road pavement crumbling beneath their feet. Four residents lost their lives, one of them being Mrs. Vassie Mathis who was close to the end of her current pregnancy. A debris flow tore her from her husband’s arms and when daylight came, the house was gone except for a pie safe, standing upright, with the leftover food from supper still in it and a $10 bill in a tea cup, put there to pay the granny woman when their baby came.

These are only a few flood stories, a sampling of the hundreds available. If you have a 1940 flood memory, please contact me at (828) 743-9002.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

Cashiers NC History: David Mordecai Zachary

Mordecai Zachary and Elvira Keener Zachary’s eighth child, David Mordecai Zachary

Continuing the series on the children of Mordecai Zachary and Elvira Keener Zachary, this article will feature their eighth child, David Mordecai Zachary who was born in Cashiers Valley March 14th, 1865 in the grand old house now called the Zachary-Tolbert House. He moved with his parents and siblings to the Qualla (later called Whittier) area of Jackson County in 1873 and remained in that section all his life. Amanda Eglantine Carver married David M. Zachary on December 13th, 1891 and they became the parents of 10 children, three boys and seven girls.

David made his living as a “timber man,” working one time for the W. M Chester Lumber Company. On several censuses, his occupation was listed as a “sawyer” at a Saw Mill and his residences vary from Charleston, Swain County, North Carolina to Qualla, Jackson County. No land ownership was noted on the censuses. Family history tells of how David liked to read poetry to his children, particularly the works of John Greenleaf Whittier, and having the children memorize and recite poetry at the dinner table. Other family descendants remember stories of how David was adored by everyone in the household.

At the 2010 Zachary Family Reunion in Cashiers, two sisters from Knoxville, Tennessee were in attendance and while talking about who had pictures of Zachary ancestors, these sisters, Suzanne McNabb and Betty Whitworth, said they had a picture of their ancestor, David Mordecai Zachary. Back at home, they made a copy and sent it to me and that’s the picture shown in this article. You may remember a year or so ago, I wrote an article about the Bible of Mordecai and Elvira Zachary which had been passed down in the family of David Mordecai Zachary and donated to the Zachary-Tolbert House by Bill Fryer, a descendant of David M.

We’ll have to end this article on a sad note with the deaths of David M. Zachary and his wife Amanda Zachary. They are buried in the New Whittier Cemetery, in the Whittier, North Carolina area. Amanda’s birth and death dates are 1872-1921 with cause of death unknown. David M. Zachary’s death date according to his obituary, his tombstone and his death certificate was October 23, 1923. The family story tells that he, along with a crew of mostly Cherokees, went deep into the forest to harvest timber when his appendix ruptured. They were not able to get him out to the doctor in time and he died. The older daughters had to raise their younger sisters due to the untimely deaths of their parents, David Mordecai Zachary and Amanda Carver Zachary.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society


The Childers Brothers

Paul Childers (middle) & his nephews, circa 1950

In 1967, Rick Rodgers wrote an article for the Highlander titled “The Art of Woodworking,” which featured the Cashiers brothers Roy Hamilton “Ham” Childers and Paul Childers, owners of the Woodpecker Shop. Here are some excerpts from that article:

“Woodworking, like so many craftsman trades is a vanishing art, yet a few craftsmen are still creating hand made furniture to custom design, such as the bachelor Childers brothers in Cashiers. Since 1942, every visitor to Cashiers has seen the work of these mountain men at High Hampton Inn, Cottage Inn, Cashiers Motel and Oakmont Lodge. Each piece of furniture is expertly created at the rustic shop on Hwy. 64 East. Most of the local homes in Cashiers have at least one piece of the Childers furniture, usually more.

There seems to be a constant flow of visitors and customers in the little shop, slowing down the work but giving Ham time to refill his pipe and welcome newcomers.”

Now, over forty years after the above article was written, the Childers brothers have departed from this earth and are resting at the Union Hill Cemetery, near Whittier, NC. While collecting memories about Paul and Ham from folks in Cashiers, I found “gone but not forgotten” is the right phrase to use. Most people started off or finished up with the words, “They were good people. Everybody liked them.” They shared a house behind John Lee Rogers’ Gulf Station which was an easy walk to their shop. Right next door lived their sister, Alida Childers Pennington whose daughter, Tommie Pennington, worked in the shop making miniature rolling pins engraved “Cashiers, NC” which were sold as souvenirs in local gift shops. Johnnie Sue Rogers Frady was born on Ham Childers birthday, September 14th , and the two shared a birthday cake each year.

Paul was a talented musician, playing his fiddle at square dances about every weekend, always with Ham in attendance. They went to community centers, fish fries, and benefits of all kinds. Paul was the quiet one and Ham, with his big mustache and ever present pipe, was the more out-going type who enjoyed having a drink now and then. A hearty salute to these two Cashiers characters.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

Mordecai’s Children

circa 1899

In my position as historian for the Cashiers Historical Society, I gave myself the assignment of gathering data on the descendants of Mordecai Zachary and his wife, Elvira Evalina Keener Zachary. Thirteen children were born to this Zachary family with ten of them having children of their own. A few of Mordecai’s children remained in the Jackson County area although none of them lived out their lives in their birthplace of Cashiers Valley. Most of Mordecai’s children ended up in states that bordered the Pacific Ocean.

One of the lessons I learned while researching the family trees of many clients was to work towards locating living descendants of the ancestors as they may have in their possession, old pictures and family information passed down in their family line. Now I’ll share with you a recent successful search in my on-going identification of Mordecai’s descendants.

William “Willie” Keener Zachary, the fourth child of Mordecai and Elvira, was born in Cashiers Valley in the year 1858 and lived in the valley for the first 15 years of his life. He then moved with his parents and siblings to the northern end of Jackson County, settling near the Cherokee Boundary at an area later named Whittier. There they lived adjacent to the well known William Holland Thomas, the “White Chief of the Cherokee.”

About the year 1880 Willie Zachary married Martha Emiline Monteith in Jackson County. After 21 years of marriage, which produced eight children, Martha died in 1901. A year later, Willie married Laura B. “Maggie” Wilson at Webster and the couple, with Willie’s youngest children by his first wife, migrated to the west coast. He and his second wife had three children and in 1937, he died in Washington State.

Let’s fast forward to February of this year, 2011, when a voice mail was left on the Cashiers Historical Society’s telephone from an Oregonian lady named Colleen Graham. She had just learned that there was a yearly Zachary family reunion in Cashiers, North Carolina and she wanted to attend. She and I emailed back and forth and I learned that she was descended from William “Willie” Keener Zachary, the son of Mordecai and Elvira. She had never been to the east coast and when she and her daughter arrived in Cashiers in August, they both fell in love with this mountain area. She presented to the Cashiers Historical Society a tintype made between 1896 and 1902 which pictures Elvira Keener Zachary, widow of Mordecai Zachary; William Keener Zachary, son of Mordecai and Elvira, Willie’s wife, Martha Monteith; and five of Willie and Martha’s children.

What a priceless photograph. It’s the second photo we have of Elvira Keener Zachary; and the first photo we’ve seen of Willie Keener Zachary and his first wife, Martha and some of their children. The tintype had been handed down for several generations, starting with Willie’s daughter, Alice Bell, and now it’s been returned to the place where Willie was born, the Zachary-Tolbert House. Now, if we could just locate a likeness of Mordecai, himself!

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society


The Haunting of Thorpe Cottage

Thorpe Cottage, High Hampton

One of the many cottages at High Hampton Inn and Country Club is the Thorpe Cottage, named after J. E. S. Thorpe, who was the first president of Nantahala Power and Light Company, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America, builders of the hydroelectric project in Glenville. While the dam was under construction, starting c1939, Mr. Thorpe wanted to live full time in Cashiers, so he built himself on the grounds of High Hampton a nice sized cottage with wormy chestnut paneling. Years later when Mr. Thorpe vacated the cottage, for some unknown reason he left many of his personal belongings behind; things like golf and tennis trophies and Thorpe family pictures and diplomas on the walls. Strangely, those things are still there, frozen in time.

The year and date that the unexplained occurrences started at Thorpe Cottage are unknown, but we can estimate that reports circulated as early as the 1940s and continued on as recently as the late 1990s. Most of the stories were told by employees of High Hampton but others came from guests as well as from one famous parapsychologist.  A widow who worked in the laundry at High Hampton in the early days told this story. The widow lady would sometimes bring linens to the cottages and several times, while in the Thorpe Cottage, she would hear the sound of children playing outside. When she would look out the window she would catch a glimpse of children walking up the road but they would immediately disappear. Each time she saw and heard this, it was always exactly like the time before.

Men bringing fireplace wood and kindling to Thorpe Cottage heard women’s voices coming from the kitchen. After stacking the wood, they walked back to the kitchen to see who was there but they saw no one and there was absolutely no way anyone could have left without being seen.

Joshua P. Warren, an internationally recognized modern day “ghost hunter,” got wind of the mysterious happenings at Thorpe Cottage and rented the cottage for a night. He brought in fancy cameras and listening devices and settled in for the night. Nothing significant was detected until the next morning when Mr. Warren, shaving in front of a mirror, saw reflected in the mirror behind him a woman dressed in old-fashioned clothing. He whirled around but there was no one there.

This last story concerns a lady who worked part time at High Hampton. After getting off work at her normal job she would go over to High Hampton and work in Housekeeping as an inspector. Her job was to make sure the cottages had been satisfactorily cleaned to the high standards of High Hampton. So one early evening, she walked innocently into Thorpe Cottage and began checking each room for cleanliness. All of a sudden she heard someone playing the cottage’s baby grand piano. She stepped into the living room to see who was playing and there was no one sitting at the piano – but – music was still coming from the piano. She ran out and got into her golf cart and drove to the main inn and asked the first bellman she saw to get in the golf cart and go with her to Thorpe Cottage. He reluctantly got in; they went back to the cottage so the bellman could help her finish the inspection. They left the front door open wide. In a few minutes the door slammed shut. They both ran outside where the bellman whispered, “I don’t like this place.” The part time inspector swears she will never step foot into Thorpe Cottage as long as she lives.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

Dr. Halsted and His Mountain Neighbors

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

While preparing for a speech at the annual Cashiers Historical Society’s Symposium, I read copies of many letters to and from Dr. Halsted and his wife, Caroline Hampton Halsted, usually concerning affairs at their summer estate which they had named High Hampton in the late 1800s.  Quite frequently, Dr Halsted also penned letters to local Jackson County public officials, to his Cashiers Valley neighbors and to his estate caretaker–letters of complaint with grumbling about time-honored local customs which interfered with his way of life. Since my Great-Great-Grandfather, Alexander Zachary sold land to Halsted and my Great-Grandfather, T. R. Zachary, owned land adjoining Halsted’s, I didn’t care very much for Halsted’s attitude of superiority.

In November, 1913, Thomas Zachary, usually identified as T. R. Zachary, received a letter from Dr. Halsted.

“Dear Zachary: Mrs. Halsted writes me that she is disturbed at the idea of your having carte blanche to hunt pigs with a rifle on our property. I feel that her objections to it are quite sound, and I am sure that you will understand that if we give permission to one person, we must extend it to all. In such case, every man in the Valley could at any time hunt on our grounds with a gun, and excuse himself by saying that he was hunting his pigs.

I am sure you will see the force of this and not think Mrs. Halsted unreasonable. She will gladly send Frank Bradley with you whenever you decide to collect your pigs.” T. R. Zachary was merely on a search for some of his pigs that had free range to wander anywhere they pleased to forage for food.

In December of 1921, Halsted wrote to Thomas A. Dillard, well-known resident of Cashiers Valley:

“Dear Dillard: Douglas [High Hampton’s caretaker] has written me in regard to your trespassing on our land. You can imagine my surprise in learning that you had cut down one of our fine chestnut trees. I had considered you a friend, and have, as you know, always responded heartily to your calls for medical advice when members of your family were in trouble. Further more you have held political positions of trust and I have counted on you to uphold law and order and to set an example to the community. Undoubtedly, you have a good excuse for your action and will, I am sure be eager to offer me an explanation.” 

A week later, Dr. Halsted received Thomas Dillard’s excuse: “Dear Doctor: Some few days ago, while I was at Sylva, your letter came in regard to the trespass matter. I am very sorry that this happened as I am fifty-four years old and have never been accused of trespassing before. I have never molested your Pheasants or Turkeys before and have never before hunted deer on your land. I have not hunted for raccoons for twenty-five years until my boys got them a dog and I have went with them to learn them how to hunt. We were not hunting on your land, as I told Douglas that night he found me but passing through to the head of Silver Run, the dog had a coon treed. The tree that was cut down was second growth chestnut about 18” through and I do not think neither a fine nor valuable tree but it is yours and not mine and I knew that it was a violation of the law but I did not feel that I was wronging you or anyone else as it is a custom for coon hunters to cut trees that are not valuable. Sorry that I did this as you look at it in a different light – as trespassing. I promise that we will not trespass on you again in this manner. When it comes to the place that a man of my age that has never been accused of trespassing has to be ground after by a man like Douglas Bradley when he goes out after a little measley coon, I think it is time to quit. I am grateful to you for every favor you have rendered to me.  I have made a clear statement of the facts just as they are and hope that the explanation is satisfactory.”

An Old Mystery is Solved

Zachary Reunion c1960.

For most of my life I have attended the yearly Zachary Reunion in Cashiers and since the 1970s I have been active in searching for and collecting records on Col. John A. Zachary, his forebears and descendants. Many new Zachary records have been located but the question of why Col. Zachary, in the early 1830s, moved his family from Surry County, NC to a wilderness later named Cashiers Valley, had never been answered until a few weeks ago. I received from cousin Nancy Jane Flesch of Oregon, a copy of a 15 August, 1917 Keowee Courier newspaper article written shortly after the 9th Zachary Reunion.

John Robert Zachary of Oconee, County, SC and Ralph Horace Zachary of Brevard, both grandsons of Col. Zachary, addressed the crowd

“Our grandfather lived in Surry County, NC, in his own home which was at least a competent one. I have seen the home surrounded by a large family of healthy, intelligent children ranging from five years to manhood and womanhood, equal, perhaps, to almost any in the State. But by an unfortunate coincidence emanating from the goodness of his heart, ready to help his fellow man in trouble, he lost his property and his home. In his depleted condition he was not able to purchase another at the prices in that community, and rather than subvert the independence of his spirit which rebelled at the idea of becoming a tenant, he preferred to seek where he could build a home of his own, however humble, even though it be in a foreign land. And on his return from a long pursuit of the man who had reduced him to penury, he happened to pass through [the area of] Cashiers Valley and being attracted by its promises and possibilities, he decided to make it his future home. So, subsequent to that time – I don’t know how long – he returned here with some of the boys – I don’t know which ones – except for Uncle Andy – and by their own labor, they built two log cabins for a home and with their own hands they felled the trees and cleared the land, split the rails and fenced the fields and raised a crop of corn and potatoes. Then in the fall, he went back to Surry County and moved his family here.”

Ralph H. Zachary told of the hardships and the triumphs that followed the move but we’ll save that for later.  Perhaps the lesson learned here is “no good deed goes unpunished.” or maybe, “Never give up.”

PLEASE NOTE: This year’s Zachary Reunion will be held at noon at the Zachary-Tolbert House on August 14th, 2011.

Douglas Andrew Baumgardner

Baumgardner-Madden House, Cashiers School Rd.

Douglas “Doug” Andrew Baumgardner, the son of Andrew Baumgardner, was born in Cashiers. Doug [pronounced “Doog”] accompanied his brothers to Wyoming in the early 1900s. Frances Baumgarner Lombard, in her book From the Hills of Home, writes in detail about what she calls “The Great Migration West.” Many young men from the Cashiers and Highlands areas sought their fortune in the west, mainly in Wyoming.  Some returned home but many remained. Doug’s brother, Zebulan Baumgardner, was shot and killed by a “conniving woman” in Douglas, Wyoming in 1914. Zeb’s body was shipped back to North Carolina and buried in the Lower Zachary Cemetery in Cashiers. Brother Doug remained in Wyoming through the trial of the killer and then returned to Cashiers after hearing the guilty verdict.

Back at home, Doug married Gracie Cole, the daughter of George M. Cole and Mandy Zachary. Doug and Gracie had no children but Doug and his second wife, Julia Norris, had a daughter named Claudia. The Baumgardners lived in and operated what is believed to have been the first hotel in the community–the Cashiers Hotel. The large building was purported to have had eight bedrooms and two bathrooms and it is still standing at the corner of Cashiers Road and Zeb Alley Road.

After the death of his second wife, Doug left Cashiers and moved to South Carolina where he met and married his third wife, Ruby. They lived in the town of Fairplay where they had a farm. Besides farming, Doug worked for years as a salesman at Belk’s department store in the town of Anderson, South Carolina. In Cashiers, Doug had attended the Methodist Church but when he moved to South Carolina, he started attending a nearby Presbyterian Church due to its close proximity to his home. At times he even preached there if the minister was away.

But Doug was not yet through with marrying as when his third wife Ruby died, he married Dorothy Holcombe, his fourth and last wife. Though he had four wives, Doug only had the one child, Claudia.

[Note: The surname Baumgarner is spelled in a variety of ways]

Roderick Norton Early Settler of Norton, North Carolina

Original signature of Roderick Norton on an 1842 deed.

In 1824, 16-year-old Roderick Norton arrived in Whiteside Cove, North Carolina, with his parents, Barak Norton and Mary B. Nicholson Norton, plus two older sisters.

He had been born in Pickens County, South Carolina on January 18, 1808, and after moving into North Carolina, his parents had five more children.

Since in 1824, Roderick was his father’s only nearly-grown son, and we can imagine that he and his father were the ones who built the house as well as clearing land, planting crops and anything else that a new homesteading family needed done.

About 1832, Roderick Norton married Drucilla Burrell, seven years his junior and the daughter of Walter Burrell and Phoebe Pruitt. Before the child bearing years were over for Drucilla, she had borne 13 children with only one dying as an infant. “The Roderick Norton Family of Norton, NC,” by F. H. Norton, Omaha, Nebraska, written with permission as an addendum to “A History of The Norton Family of Cashiers Valley, NC,” Compiled by Trudy Adams, Birmingham, Alabama, states that Roderick was probably the first settler in the Norton community, although there is no direct proof of that. It is known that he and his family were living in Norton by the 1850s in a house at the corner of Norton Road and Yellow Mountain Road. For the second time in his life, he cleared land and farmed, which was about the only way to survive in that area at that time.

Roderick Norton’s eldest child was David Norton and he made a name for himself in several ways. In 1878, David Norton applied for the establishment of a post office in the community and in 1879 his application was approved and he became the first postmaster of Norton, North Carolina. In 1888, David opened the Central House, one of the first hotels in Highlands. During the Civil War, he served in the 25th North Carolina Regiment of the Confederate Army and his brother, Richardson was killed in that war.

Roderick was not a soldier in the Civil War but he did have at least one harrowing experience in his own home with escaped Union soldiers. That story was published in 1917 in a book, “Famous Adventures and Prison Escapes of the Civil War.” That experience will be detailed during the Cashiers Historical Society’s May 17th “Ramble to Cashiers Area Civil War Sites.” If you’re interested in being a participant, please call Jane Nardy at (828) 743-9002.


Cashiers History: Col. John Haywood Alley, Jr., of Whiteside Cove

John H. Alley [1814-1902] was not born in the Cashiers Valley area, but as early as 1835, he ventured into nearby Whiteside Cove to dig for gold. A couple of years later, having risen to the rank of First Lieutenant in the U. S. Cavalry, Alley  was sent to Whiteside Cove to round up the Cherokee for their removal west. On his first cove visit, he had been greatly impressed with the Norton family as well as the rich soil and the beauty of the cove. On his second visit he decided he’d like to settle there some day. After the Trail of Tears was completed in Oklahoma, Alley left the military and turned his horse east and made the journey back to the North Carolina mountains. There in the cove he married Sarah Whiteside Norton on December 16, 1845. His wife was the daughter of Barak Norton and she had been the first white child born in the cove

[Note: Sarah’s middle name, “Whiteside” was an old family surname and had nothing to do with the mountain.]

One child had been born to the couple and another baby was on the way when this Rutherford County native was called away to participate in the Mexican War.  His commander during both the Cherokee removal and the Mexican War was General. Winfield Scott, a famous leader who weighed so much that if he were living today, he would be a contestant on “The Biggest Loser.” During their marriage, Col. Alley and his wife, Sarah, had fourteen children with ten of the children living to adulthood. All were born and raised in the cove, first sharing the home with the Norton in-laws and later living in a substantial house built by Col. Alley. His house was at the base of Whiteside Mountain with a magnificent view of the white face of the mountain. The house is still there and the view is as stunning as ever.

Col. Alley was 47 years old when the Civil War started and he joined the Confederate Army. During the first year he sustained severe injuries to his leg that eventually led to amputation. He recovered enough to be appointed the head of the North Carolina Confederate Home Guard. Close to the end of the war, a group of Union Bushwhackers from “Kirk’s Raiders” came to the Alley house, terrorizing the family and almost killing Col. Alley. That story will be part of a Cashiers Historical Society’s “Ramble to Cashiers Area Civil War Sites” on May 17th, 2011, and will be told by a descendant of Col. John Haywood Alley, Jr. If you wish to be part of this ramble, please call Jane Nardy at (828) 743-9002.

Georgetown Goldmine

There were lots of mining enterprises in Jackson County during the 1800s. Included in the minerals mined were copper, kaolin, mica, corundum and gold. The only gold mine mentioned in The History of Jackson County was Georgetown Goldmine, a placer mine which was located a few miles east of Cashiers Valley in Fairfield on Long Branch of the Horsepasture River. The primary evidence of Georgetown Goldmine comes from the Cashiers Valley Store Account Ledger of Alexander Zachary. Lori Holder, a graduate student at Western Carolina University, transcribed the ledger and wrote a fascinating introduction that reads like a novel, set in Cashiers Valley in the 1840s and 1850s. Much of the following comes from Lori Holder’s writings.
Zachary would occasionally accept payment for his goods in work at the Georgetown mine. Eli Shelton paid two dollars and eighty five cents of his store debt with 7 ½ days work at the mine. James Ledford’s 1846 account noted on two separate credits that he had worked nine days mining for which he had received eighteen ounces of gold in payment toward his debt. The store ledger entries indicated that most of the production occurred in the summer, mainly in June and July. Of the sixty mine workers listed in the ledger, half were also listed as patrons of the Zachary store.
In the Jackson County, North Carolina Heritage Book, on pages 44 and 45, is found  an autobiography of Andy J. Wood where he tells that he worked five to ten years in gold mines throughout this county, sometimes making as much as fifty dollars a day. On one day he made forty-three dollars in just three hours.  According to Mining and Mineral Production in Jackson County, North Carolina, Two to three hundred thousand dollars worth of gold was extracted from the streambed at the Georgetown mine during the time it was worked. [mid 1830s until late 1890s] There’s a nice write-up on page 22 of The Cashiers Area, Yesterday, Today and Forever about Georgetown Goldmine. It quotes the late Cashiers resident Walter Fugate,”There was a feller in here the other day asking me if I could tell him where Georgetown was. And I said I could and I did. It’s all covered up by Fairfield Lake now. Gold was discovered there and a little mining village was built named Georgetown. If you take the trouble to go there to the foot of the cliffs on Bald Rock Mountain, you can still see them old races they used to wash the gravel through in their operation.”’

Cassie Riley Zachary

The mountain woman you’re about to meet was as unusual as her name. Cassie Riley Zachary was born in 1888 to James Albert Zachary and Nancy “Nannie” Jane Bradley, who lived on Whiteside Cove Road, Cashiers. The first one and a half decades of her life were spent in Cashiers and later in life she would tell of the panic she felt the first time she saw an airplane flying high above. She was in the cornfield and on hearing and seeing the plane, she quickly squatted down, hoping to avoid detection. Her brother Wade ran and hid under the house.
A hint of the bounty the magnificent American Chestnut trees provided was revealed in Cassie’s description of the family, at the beginning of fall, driving the farm’s livestock down Highway 64 to “Lonesome Cove” to fatten them up on the new crop of fallen chestnuts. When it was time to butcher the livestock, they would be herded back to the farm.
In about 1904 Cassie’s father moved his family to the Brevard area, where Cassie married George Washington Smith in 1909. Standing well over six feet tall, Cassie was a big raw-boned woman – not fat but slim and strong with large hands and feet. She was usually seen wearing brown leather men’s sturdy shoes. Her health was excellent–never had arthritis and at an advanced age she was so limber she could gracefully bend down in the garden to tend her plants and flowers. She did fall on the front porch and scratched her leg, which resulted a “staph” infection. She successfully cured her wound with applications of Sue Bee Honey. Cassie’s hair came down to her knees and at bedtime she braided it into two pig-tails. When she got up, she combed it a long time before putting it up on her head in a loose bun. Her grandson, Ray Smith, remembers his grandmother washing her hair in Glovers Mange Cure, which you could smell all the way into the yard.
Cassie’s husband, George W. Smith, was a self taught electrician but his favorite way to support his family was to distill liquor, a skill he passed on to some of his children. He raised chickens in his barn and they concealed his still which was tucked back in a corner  beyond the flapping, clucking chickens. What he wasn’t skilled at doing was hiding from the revenuers who kept George locked up in jail for long chunks of time, leaving his family in bad financial condition. One time when he was in the Brevard jail, he got a son to slip him part of a hand saw, a small file and some metal from which he made a key and let himself out of his cell. Later, he was caught and put in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary.
Late in life when Cassie had outlived all of her six children except for one, she went to live in Michigan with her daughter, Georgia, who Cassie called “Tom.” The old wound on her leg got “staph” infection again, and Georgia put Cassie into a nursing home. Hearing that his beloved grandmother was far away, alone in a nursing home, grandson Ray Smith immediately drove to Michigan and brought Cassie Riley back to her home to live out her days in familiar surroundings, cared for by family members.  She died in September 1981 at the age of 93 and was laid to rest beside her husband, George, at Cathy’s Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.

The Fruits of Unrequited Love

In the July 9th, 1931 edition of the Brevard News is found an article describing a murder and suicide.
“Charley Bryson, 40 years of age and a widower, fired six shots into the bosom of Edna Hinkle, 18, early Wednesday morning, killing her instantly, and then went to his home a mile away, sent his five motherless children from the house, laid down upon a couch, and sent six bullets into his own breast, dying instantly.  The first tragedy occurred at Sapphire, where both were working–Miss Hinkle in the house and Bryson on a plumbing job.
Sheriff Patton and Deputy Tom Wood were called to the scene of the double tragedy, made investigation, held a formal inquest, and returned to Brevard about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Disposition of the bodies await decision of members of the two families.
Miss Hinkle was a member of the junior class in the Rosman High school in the coming term, where, friends claim, she intended to pursue her studies when school started again. She was considered one of the most beautiful and lovable girls in the upper end of the county. (Note: Sapphire, Transylvania County, was barely a mile away from Jackson County.) Her father, Henry Hinkle, moved to Salem, S.C. a short time ago.
Bryson was well known throughout this and Jackson counties, and had friends by the hundreds who are shocked beyond expression at the awful double tragedy in which he alone took an active part. He was a son of Robert Bryson and a brother of Harry Bryson.
It is said that Bryson had been in love with the young girl for almost two years. Some friends of the slain girl say that she was not interested in Bryson, and repulsed his efforts at courtship. The theory most generally advanced for the tragedy was that of a mad love which had no response from the girl. It is said that she was most studious in her school work and ranked among the leaders of the sophomore class of Rosman High last year. She has several brothers and sisters who are with the parents at their new home in South Carolina.”
Oral history, censuses and death certificates provided more information. Bryson had been married to Bessie Burgess who died of breast cancer in 1929, leaving behind five children. Charley Bryson and Edna Hinkle were both employed by Dr. Parsons at his Sapphire Hotel, and it was on the steps of the hotel that Edna died.
Edna is buried at the old Bohaney Church Cemetery and Charley Bryson is buried beside his wife, Bessie Burgess Bryson at the Lower Zachary Cemetery in Cashiers. Thanks to Paula Rhodarmer for letting me use her story. J

Ordinary Living in Cashiers North Carolina

The following excerpts were taken from two letters written by Cashiers Valley resident Alexander Zachary in 1881 and 1882 to his son, T. R. Zachary, in Kansas. They will give you an idea of what kind of daily life was led in this little hamlet 125 years ago. Pictured is a copy of the envelope that held the 1882 letter. At the bottom of the Cashiers Valley postmark is the name “E. J. Bennett”. That was Elizabeth J. Bennett, the Cashiers Valley postmaster, as listed in the appendix of The History of Jackson County on page 583. This is the first time I’ve seen the name of the postmaster on the postmark stamp.
“December 9, 1881. I am not so well as I would wish to be. Some six weeks ago, your mother and I gathered apples. I got very hot, sat down and cooled off too quick that gave me a very bad cold and sore throat. I have hardly got over it yet altho’ I am very harty. I would like for you to be here with me. I think it would be an advantage to us both. Your wife seems to want to get away from that country [Rush Co. Kansas] and I don’t suppose she is to blame from what you say yourself. If you was here and could put up with light work and good living you could live at the Courtney farm or perhaps in the house with us. I can support you and your family and never miss it. We have plenty of everything that we want. We have fifty or sixty chickens ready for the pot. We can’t eat them all without help. Alf [son Alfred Zachary] will soon have his steam saw mill running and about three hundred logs ready to saw J. M. [son, James Madison Zachary] is in the south at work at his trade [dentist].”
“July 18 1882. We’re doing the best we can. If we are not making much, we are seeing a good deal of 5 horses and 8 boarders and looking for more. I want about 12 and then I’ll stop taking them in. There may be a good many who want to come but we are not fixed up for any more and still have a place left for ourselves. They are paying me $4 per week. I tell them I will feed them and bed them and if they want to be waited on too, that will be extra.
“Mr. Cunningham has been here near 3 months with his family. Since he has been here he has bought a pair of horses and sent and got his carriage. They are very agreeable boarders all right. We have 2 ladys from Augusta, Ga. We have beef and mutton. I bought a load of corn, chickens and ducks, so you see we can not lack something to eat. We have always had plenty and hope we always will. I would tell you what we had for dinner but there was such a variety I don’t think I can. The poorest dish we had was dewberries all white with sugar. “
“I want someone with me to do my cutting wood and the likes. I have quit farming since your mother died. We do just as well as what I did then. I generally make a little corn and buy a little and that does me as well. I have been preparing already to save for this winter. I have sold Buck and Bill. You know them and how old they are. I sold them to Taylor Bryson on short time for $60. I like to have forgotten to tell you that I have a lot of grass steers to brake this fall. You had better come on and brake them. I have 8 good pastures containing from 6 to 50 acres each – more than any other man in the county. I have 1 ½ acres in corn and a garden. The corn looks well but the garden is nothing to brag about and the moles have been the worst I ever saw. I am trapping them.
Goodbye for the present. Write soon. Your affectionate father, Alex Zachary.” J