Tag Archives: Cashiers NC History

Cashiers NC: Charles Franklin Zachary

Charles Franklin Zachary and his wife, Isadora Rogers, circa 1903.

Charles Franklin Zachary was born April 13th, 1869 in Cashiers Valley, the 10th child of Mordecai and Elvira (Keener) Zachary.  In April 1870, little Charlie took his first steps, recorded on the wall like height measurements (still readable to this day at the Zachary-Tolbert House). When Mordecai Zachary sold his Cashiers’ Greek Revival house in 1873, four-year-old Charlie moved with his family to what is now the Whittier area.

The United States declared war on Spain in April 1898 and on May 11th, Charles, now age 29, enlisted in the 2nd Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers. He was promoted to Corporal on June 27th and completed his enlistment on Novemher 7th, 1898 – a six month tour
of duty.

Sometime before March 1901, family story has Charles traveling by train to California with his sisters, Rose and Hattie.  He settled in Kennett, California, a mining town at the base of the Cascade Mountain Range. [now under Shasta Lake] Charles worked as a house carpenter, not a surprising occupation for the son of a master carpenter and furniture maker. He married Isadora Rogers on November 19th, 1902, and they had only one child, John Lyman Zachary, born December 4th, 1905. Due to complications of childbirth, Isadora died shortly after the birth. Charles never remarried and his older sister, Amelia Josephine Zachary Wallace would help raise his boy.

Between 1914 and 1916, Charles moved from Kennett to Harrison Gulch, possibly to start a new venture or pastime.In 1918 he had 20 separate mining claims, either Quartz or Chrome, with fanciful names such as “King Solomon Chrome Mine” and “Queen Ester Quartz Mine” and one named after his son, “Lyman Zachary Chrome Mine”. In the mid 1920s, Charles changed professions and becomes a Rancher.

When Charles was 58, his son married Pansie Morris on November 8th, 1927. Charles saw two grandchildren born (Wanda, 1928 and John, 1929) before being diagnosed with cancer in 1932. After three weeks at a nursing home for disabled volunteers in Los Angles, he decided to live out the rest of his days near family and familiar surroundings. He saw his last grandchildren (twins Mervin and Marion born September 1933) before passing away on May 11th, 1934, at St. Caroline Hospital, Redding, Shasta County, California at age 65. Charles is buried next to his wife Isadora in Redding Memorial Cemetery. Although Charles never returned East, many of his descendants have visited Cashiers and Matthew Zachary donated five granite benches which are scattered around the Zachary-Tolbert House
Museum grounds.

Contributed by Jane Gibson Nardy, Historian, Cashiers Historical Society

Cashiers NC Historical Society

Contributed by Lydia Doyle, Executive Director Cashiers Historical Society

Eight years ago Jan Wyatt, then president of the Cashiers Historical Society, created an annual symposium.  This year, in honor of the sesquicentennial, the Symposium will be about the Civil War in the Carolinas and is co-chaired by Bob Lathan and Joe Doyle.

The event, which is a partnership between the Cashiers Historical Society and High Hampton Inn, features renowned speakers from across the region and draws sell-out crowds.  This year will feature a performance by the 8th Regiment Band from Rome, Georgia and talks by Todd Groce, Richard Starnes, Gordon McKinney, Jane Nardy, John Cay, Charlie Coker, Eric Emerson, Philip Gerard, Marty Daniels, and Bob Lathan.

Talks will be about a range of topics including Zeb Vance, Reconstruction, Divided Loyalties in Appalachia, the Shelton Laurel Massacre, Mary Chesnut, Cashiers in the Civil War, Sherman’s March in the Carolinas, Hannah Lide Coker, General Edward Porter Alexander and Cashiers in the Civil War.

On June 1st, renowned local historian, Jane Nardy, will lead a ramble to Civil War sites around Cashiers.  Jane will take the group to significant historic sites around Cashiers and talk about what life was like in the Valley during the Civil War. Ramblers will be treated to stories of bushwackers and life on the home front.  Even though no major battles were fought here, the War had a significant impact on the valley and its residents.

The Symposium will be 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on May 31st at the High Hampton Inn Pavilion and costs $50 per person.  The ramble costs $5 for members of the Cashiers Historical Society and $30 for non-members.  Both events include lunch.

For more information please call (828) 743-7710 or email info@cashiershistoricalsociety.org.

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


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


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.”

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.


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