THEN AND Now. Probably there was no more difference in the manners and customs of the early days than we should now see in a community of modern people situated as were our ancesters one hundred and fifty years ago. There was a spirit of co-operation then that made conditions much easier to bear than they might othenvise have been. Those who remember the Civil War times in the South will recall that it is possible to get on without many things ordinarily considered indispensible; and that when it is the "fashion" to do without, simplicity becomes quite attractive. Calico gowns and ribbonless costumes used to look well on pretty women and girls during the war, and hopinj on was far better than no hopinjon. We imagine that we are far removed from a state of nature, but when the occasion arises we readily adapt ourselves to primitive manners and customs.
THE RUSH FOR THE MOUNTAINS. Long before the treaty of 1785 white men had passed beyond the Blue Ridge to hunt and trap. Ashe was sparsely settled long before Buncombe; but as soon as the land between the Blue Ridge and the Pigeon river was open for settlement legally, white men began to settle there, too.
WHERE THEY CAME FROM. Most of these early settlers came from east of the Blue Ridge, though many came from the Watauga Settlements in what is now Tennessee. Wolf Hill, now Staunton, contributed its quota, most of them going into what are now Ashe, Alleghany and Watauga counties. The charm of hunting lured many, but most who sought the mountains doubtless came from the mountainous regions of Scotland. After the French and Indian War several families that had gone into the Piedmont region of South Carolina, came through the Saluda gap and settled in what was then Buncombe, though now called Henderson and Transylvania. The Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania late in the Eighteenth century is also credited with having sent many good citizens into the mountains of western North Carolina.
THE PIONEER SPIRIT PERSISTS. Roosevelt was the first historian that gave to the pioneers of western North Carolina and Tennessee their rightful place in reclaiming from savage Indians the boundless resources of the Great West. Sam Houston, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone went from our sacred soil, and added Texas and Kentucky to the galaxy of our starry flag; while Joseph Lane of Oregon first saw the light of day through the chinks of a dirt-floor cabin that once stood in the very shadow of what is still called Lane's Pinnacle of the rugged Craggies-a mute, yet eloquent, monument to that spirit of liberty, enterprize and adventure that still fills our army and navy with recruits- for----the Sandwich and Philippine Islands of the Pacific. Yet, what visitor to that matchless canon beyond Hickory Nut pass, knows that in passing through Mine Hole gap six miles east of Asheville he was within a stone's throw of the spot where Lane's father in the dawn of the last century spent laborious days while mining for the precious ore that was to furnish horse shoes, plough shares and pruning-hooks for those who first tilled the savannahs of the Swannanoa and the French Broad? Did the pearls Henry Grady's eloquence, erstwhile, drop scintilant, and thrill the nation from the Kennebeck to the Williamette, because his lightest gem was "shot through with sunshine"? Then know, O ye fools and blind, ye who never cast was once longing, lingering look behind, that his grandfather was once sheriff of that Buncombe county whose people are classed by such self-styled "national journals" as Collier's Weekly, with the scorners of all law and order, because, forsooth, of the sporadic Allen episode in Virginia. Who discovered that wonderland-the matchless valley of the far-famed Yosemite? James M. Roan of Macon county, North Carolina, in March of Fifty-one.1 He, with the Argonauts of the world, won his way to the Pacific coast, and left to others to dig from the dim records of the past some frail memorial of his heroic deeds. The spirit that drove him forth has never died, and today, the mountains and hills of Idaho, Montana, Washington and Colorado, are dotted with the homes and ranches of those whose feet first trod "where rolls the Oregon." And Onalaska's ice-ribbed hills are peopled with our kin, as will be every frontier region till time shall be no more. Our ancestors were the Crusaders of American civilization, and "as long as the fame of their matchless struggle shall linger in tradition and in song should their memories be cherished by the descendants" of the peerless "Roundheads of the South." Still, the incredulous may ask "Can honor's voice provoke the silent dust, or flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death"? No; but if we will but heed while yet we may the silent voices of our worthy dead, and learn the lesson of the days now gone, we, taking hope, with Tennyson may cry:
"Forward to the starry track,
Glimmering up the heights beyond me,
On, and always on!"
THE FIRST INDIAN - MASSACRES. Samuel Davidson was killed by Indians in 1781 or 1782 at the head of the Swannanoa river, near what is now Gudger's ford; and Aaron Burleson was killed on Cane creek in what is now Mitchell county about the same time, probably, though the date has been lost. He was an ancestor of Postmaster-General Burleson of President Wilson's Cabinet in 1914. Davidson had belonged to a small colony of whites which had settled around what is now known as Old Fort at the head of the Catawba river in what is now McDowell county. Among those settlers were the Alexanders, Davidsons, Smiths, Edmundsons, and Gudgers, from whom have come a long line of descendants now residing in Western North Carolina. Burleson probably belonged to the settlers around Morganton, and had ventured beyond the Blue Ridge to hunt deer. Davidson's purpose, however, had been permanent settlement, as he had built a cabin where his family was living when he was killed.2
ASHE COUNTY. Except in a few localities, there are few evidences of Indian occupation by Indians of the territory west of the Blue Ridge and North of the Catawba. At the Old Field on New River, near the mouth of Gap creek, in Ashe county, was probably once a large Indian town, arrowheads, spear points, pieces of pottery, etc., still being found there; but this section of the mountains had not been populated by the red men for thirteen years before the treaty of 1785, the Indians having leased those lands in 1772, and in 1775, conveyed them outright.3
BUFFALOES. Thwaite's "Daniel Boone" gives much information as to the buffaloes that once were in this section. "At first buffaloes were so plenty that a party of three or four men with dogs, could kill from ten to twenty in a day but soon the sluggish animals receded before the advance of white men, hiding themselves behind the mountain wall" (pp. 17, 18). "They exhibited no fear until the wind blew from the hunters toward them, and then they would dash wildly away in large droves and disappear" (p. 90). Buffalo trails led down the French Broad; and just north of the Toe and- near the Indian Grave gap the trail is still distinctly visible where it crossed the mountain. The valley of the French Broad was a well recognized hunting ground and probably it had contained many buffaloes; but as the Cherokees occupied most of the territory west of the Pigeon, it is more than likely that the bison family was not so numerous there; although in Graham county there are two large creeks which have been called Buffalo time out of mind. Buffalo used to herd at the head of the Yadkin river, and their trails crossed the mountains into Tennessee at several places. But this part of the mountains had been free of Indians for many years before 1750, when the whites began to settle there. Col. Byrd, in his "Writings" (p. 225), says that when near Sugsr-tree creek when running the Dividing Line that his party met a lone buffalo-- a bull and already as large as an ox, which they killed. He adds that "the Men were so delighted with the new dyet, that the Gridiron and Frying Pan had no more rest all night than a Poor Husband Subject to Curtain Lectures." Roosevelt4 mentions that "When Mansker first went to the Bluffs (now Nashville) in 1769, the buffaloes were more numerous than he had ever seen them before; the ground literally shook under the gallop of the mighty herds, they crowded in dense throngs round the licks, and the forest resounded with their grunting bellows."
ONE VIRTUE IN LEATHER BREECHES. Col. Byrd in his "Writings" (p.212) has these observations upon the curing of skins by means of "smoak," as he invariably spells it: "For Expedition's Sake they often stretch their Skins over Smoak in order to dry them, which makes them smell so disagreeably that a rat must have a good Stomach to gnaw them in that condition; nay, 'tis said, while that perfume continues in a Pair of Leather Breeches, the Person who wears them will be in no danger of that Villainous insect the French call the Morpion"-whatever that may be.
SOME INSECT PESTS OF PIONEER DAYS. This same versatile and spicy writer makes these sage remarks concerning certain wood insects that have since that time cost these United States millions of dollars: "The Tykes (ticks) are either Deertykes, or those that annoy Cattle. The first kind are long and take a very Strong Gripe, being most in remote woods above the Inhabitants. The other are round and more generally insinuate themselves into the Flesh, being in all places where Cattle are frequent. Both these Sorts are apt to be troublesome during the Warm Season, but have such an aversion to Penny Royal, that they will attack no Part that rubbed with the juice of that fragrant Vegetable. And a strong decoction of this is likewise fatal to the most Seedtikes, which bury themselves in your Legs, where they are so small you can hardly discern them without a Microscope, Surely the man is talking about "chiggers."
HORSEFLIES AND MUSQUETAS. He says (p.213) that Dittany "stuck in the Head-Stall of your Bridle" will keep horse flies at a "respectful Distance. Bear's Oyl is said to be use by Indians (p. 214) against every species of Vermin." He also remarks that the "Richer sort in Egypt" used to build towers in which they had their bed-chambers, in order to be out of the reach of musquetas, because their wings are "so weak and their bodies so light that if they mount never so little, the Wind blows them quite away from their Course, and they become an easy prey to Martins, East India Bats," etc. (p.214).
FIRE-HUNTING. This Gentleman of Old Virginia (p.223) describes an unsportsman4ike practice of the early settlers of setting the woods afire in a circumference of five miles and driving in the game of all kinds to the hunters stationed near the center to slaughter the terrified animals. The deer are said "to weep and groan like a Human Creature" as they draw near their doom. He says this is called Fire-Hunting, and that "it is much practiced by Indians and the frontier Inhabitants." This, however, is not what was later known as fire-hunting, which consisted in blinding the deer with the light from torches at night only, and shooting at their eyes when seen in the darkness.
PRIMOGENITURE REVERSED. So hateful and unjust to our ancestors seemed the English rule which gave the eldest son the real estate, that a custom sprang up of giving the youngest son the family homestead, which persists till this good hour. Each girl got a cow, a mare and sufficient "house-plunder" with which to set up house-keeping, but they rarely got any land, the husband being expected to provide that. This latter practice still exists, though girls now sometimes get land also.
GAME AND HUNTERS. According to Thwaite's "Daniel Boone" (p. 18), "Three or four men, with dogs, could kill from ten to twenty buffaloes in a day," while "an ordinary hunter could slaughter four or five deer in a day. In the autumn from sunrise to sunset he could kill enough bears to provide over a ton of bear meat for winter use; wild turkeys were easy prey; beavers, otters and muskrats abounded; while wolves, panthers and wildcats overran the country." "Throughout the summer and autumn deerskins were in their best condition. Other animals were occasionally killed to afford variety of food, but fur-bearers as a rule only furnish fine pelts in the winter season. Even in the days of abundant game the hunter was required to exercise much skill patience and endurance. It was no holiday task to follow this calling. Deer, especially, were hard to obtain. The habits of this excessively cautious animal were carefully studied; the hunter must know how to imitate its various calls, to take advantage of wind and weather, and to practice all the arts of strategy" (p. 74).
COMMERCIAL SIDE OF HUNTING. "Deerskins were, all things considered," continues Thwaite (p. 74), "the most remunerative of all. When roughly dressed and dried they were worth about a dollar each; as they were numerous and a horse could carry for a long distance about a hundred such skins, the trade was considered profitable in those primitive times, when dollars were hard to obtain. Pelts of beavers, found in good condition only in the winter, were worth about two dollars and a half each, and of otters from three to five dollars. Thus a horse-load of beaver furs, when obtainable, was worth about five times that of a load of deerskins; and if a few otters could be thrown in, the value was still greater. The skins of buffaloes, bears, and elks were too bulky to carry for long distances, and were not readily marketable. A few elk hides were needed, however, to cut into harness and straps, and bear and buffalo robes were useful for bedding."
HOW GAME AND PELTS WERE PRESERVED. Thwaite continues (p.75), "When an animal was killed the hunter skinned it on the spot, and packed on his back the hide and the best portion of the meat. At night the meat was smoked or prepared for 'jerking,' and the skins were scraped and cured. When collected at the camps, the bales of skins, protected from the weather by strips of bark, were placed upon high scaffolds, secure from bears and wolves. Our Yadkin hunters were in the habit, each day, of dividing themselves into pairs for company and mutual aid in times of danger, usually leaving one pair behind as camp-keepers." Tow, rammed into the barrel of a "dirty" rifle took the odor of burnt powder, and was hung in trees near the fresh meat. This odor kept off wolves, wild cats, etc.
THE PLOTT DOGS. The motive which prompted the settlement of most of these mountain counties was the desire of the pioneers to hunt game. To that end dogs were necessary the long bodied, long legged, deep mouthed hound being used for deer, and a sort of mongrel, composed of cur, bull and terrier, was bred for bear. The Plott dog, called after the famous bear hunter, Enos Plott, of the Balsam mountains of Haywood county, was said to be the finest bear dogs in the State. A few of them still exist and command large prices. Although most of the settlers were Scotch, collies and shepherd dogs did not make their appearance in these mountains till long after the Civil War. They are quite common now.
WHEN LAND WAS CHEAP. Land was plentiful in those primitive times and as fast as a piece of "new ground" was worn out, another "patch" was cleared and cultivated until it, in its turn, was given over to weeds and pasturage. In all old American pioneer communities it was necessary to burn the logs and trunks of the felled trees in order to get rid of them, and the heavens were often murky with the smoke of burning log-heaps. The most valuable woods were often used for fence rails or thrown upon the burning pile to be consumed with the rest. Fences built of walnut and poplar rails were not uncommon. "New ground" is being made now by scientific fertilization.
CRUDE CULTIVATION. The ploughing was not very deep and the cultivation of the crops was far from being scientific. Yet the return from the land was generally ample, the seasons usually proving propitious. There was one year, however, that of 1863, when there was frost in every month. There was still another year in which there could not have been very much rain, as there is a -record of a large branch near the Sulphur Springs in Buncombe county having dried up completely. This was in August of the year 1830. (Robert Henry's Diary.)
UNERRING MARKSMEN. The flintlock, long-barreled Kentucky rifle was in use in these mountains until the commencement of the Civil War. Game was abundant. Indeed, if the modern repeating arms had been in use in those days, the game upon which many depended, not only for food but for clothing as well, would have disappeared long before it did. The fact that the hunter could get but one shot from his gun resulted in making every Nimrod a sure marksman, as he realized that if he missed the first shot the game would be out of sight and hearing long before his trusty rifle, charge it with powder and with his slim hickory ramrod ram down the leaden bullet encased in buckskin and "prime" his flintlock pan with powder.
USEFUL PELTRIES. The hams of the red deer were cured and saved for market or winter use, while the skins of both deer and bears were "dressed" with the hair left on them and made into garments or used as rugs or mats for the children to play upon before the wide fireplace, for bed coverings, or cut into plough lines and bridles, or made into moccasins. Out of the horns and hoofs of cows - they made spoons and buttons, while from hollow poplar logs they constructed bee-hives, cradles for their children, barrels for their grain, ash hoppers, gums for their bees and what not.
COTTON. Small patches of cotton were planted and cultivated in sandy and sheltered spots near the dwellings, which generally reached maturity, was gathered and "hand-picked," carded and made into batting for quilts and cloaks, or heavy skirts for the women and girls.
JACKS OF ALL TRADES. The men were necessarily "handy" men at almost every trade known at that day. They made shoes, bullets and powder, built houses, constructed tables, chairs, cupboards, harness, saddles, bridles, buckets, barrels, and plough stocks. They made their own axe and hoe-handles, fashioned their own horseshoes and nails upon the anvil, burnt wood charcoal, made wagon tires, bolts, nuts and everything that was needed about the farm. Some could even make rifles, including the locks, and Mr. John C. Smathers now (1912) 86 years old, is still a good rock and brick mason, carpenter, shoemaker, tinner, painter, blacksmith, plumber, harness and saddle maker, candle maker, farmer, hunter, store-keeper, bee raiser, glazier, butcher, fruit grower, hotel-keeper, merchant, physician, poulterer, lawyer, rail-splitter, politician, cook, school master, gardener, Bible scholar and stable man. He lives at Turnpike, halfway between Asheville and Waynesville, and brought the huge trees now growing in front of his hotel on his shoulders when they were saplings and planted them where they now stand, nearly seventy years ago. He can still run a foot race and "throw" most men in a wrestle "catch as catch can." He is the finest example of the old time pioneer now alive.
INDUSTRIOUS WOMEN. But it was the women who were the true heroines of this section. The hardships and constant toil to which they were generally subjected were blighting and exacting in the extreme. If their lord and master could find time to hunt and fish, go to the Big Musters, spend Saturdays loafing or drinking in the settlement - or about the country "stores," as the shops were and still are called, their wives could scarcely, if ever, find a moment they could call their own. Long before the palid dawn came sifting in through chink and window they were up and about. As there were no matches in those days, the housewife "unkivered" - the coals which had been smothered in ashes the night before to be kept "alive" till morning, and with "kindling" in one hand and a live coal held on the tines of a steel fork or between iron tongs in the other, she blew and blew and blew till the splinters caught fire. Then the fire was started and the water brought from the spring, poured into the "kittle," and while it was heating the chickens were fed, the cows milked, the children dressed, the bread made, the bacon fried and then coffee was made and breakfast was ready. That over and the dishes washed and put away, the spinning wheel, the loom or the reel were the next to have attention, meanwhile keeping a sharp look out for the children, hawks, keeping the chickens out of the garden, sweeping the floor, making the beds, churning, sewing, darning, washing, ironing, taking up the ashes, and making lye, watching for the bees to swarm, keeping the cat out of the milk pans, dosing the sick children, tying up the hurt fingers and toes, kissing the sore places well again, making soap, robbing the bee hives, stringing beans, for winter use, working the garden, planting and tending a few hardy flowers in the front yard, such as princess feather, pansies, sweet-Williams, dahlias, morning glories; getting dinner, darning patching, mending, milking again, reading the Bible, prayers, and so on from morning till night, and then all over again the next day. It could never have been said of them that they had "but fed on roses and lain in the lilies of life."
FASHION ON A BACK SEAT. There was little thought of "finery," no chance to display the latest fashions, few drives or rides for pleasure, and only occasionally a dance, a quilting party or a camp meeting. No wonder the sons and daughters of such mothers are the best citizens of the "Old North State"!
PEWTER PLATTERS AND POTTERY. The early settlers "burned their own pottery and delftware"5 but most of their dishes and spoons were of pewter, though horn spoons were also in evidence. "They made felt hats, straw hats and every other article of domestic consumption." Most young people never saw a bolster, and pewter plates are tied up with blue ribbons these days and hung on parlor walls as curiosities.
FRONTIER KITCHENS AND UTENSILS.6 "Dishes and other utensils were few-some pewter plates, forks and spoons; wooden bowls and trenchers, with gourds and hard-shelled squashes for drinking mugs. For knife, Boone doubtless used his belt weapon, and scorned the crock plates now slowly creeping into the valley, as calculated to dull its edge." Grinding corn into meal, or cracking it into hominy, were, as usual with primitive peoples, tasks involving the most machinery. Rude mortars and pestles, some of the latter - ingeniously worked by springy "sweeps," were commonly seen;7 a device something like a nutmeg grater was often used when the corn was soft;8 two circular millstones, worked by hand, were effective, and there were some operated by water power.
MEDICINE AND SUPERSTITION. "Medicine was at a crude stage, many of the so-called cures being as old as Egypt, while others were borrowed from the Indians. The borderers firmly believed in the existence of witches; bad dreams, eclipses of the sun, the howling of dogs, the croaking of ravens, were sure to bring disasters in their train."9 Teas made of burdock, sassafras, catnip, and other herbs are still in use. Lye poultices were considered Sovereign remedies for wounds and cuts. Hair bullets shot from guns against barn doors were sure to drive away witches. Tangled places in a horse's mane or tail were called "witches' stirrups," in which the witches were thought to have placed their feet when riding the animals over the hills.10 Mullein was cultivated for medicine for and cows.
NAILLESS HOUSES. Nails were scarce in those days and saw mills- few and far between, rendering it necessary for them to use wooden pins to hold their ceiling and shelving in place and to rive out their shingles or "boards" for their roof covering and puncheons for their door and window shutters and their flooring. Thin boards or shingles were held in position upon the roof rafters by long split logs tied upon them with hickory withes, or held in place by laying heavy stones upon them. There is still standing in the Smoky mountains a comfortable cabin of one large room, floored and ceiled on the inside, and rain and wind proof, in the construction of which not a single nail was used. This cabin was built in 1859 and is on the Mill Creek Fork of Noland Creek in' Swain county.
FIRST HOUSES. A single room was as much as could be built at first, then followed a shed, a spring house, a stable and crib. Then would come the "double" log house. In some of these houses there might be as many as six rooms, front and including two garret or loft rooms above the two main rooms of the house, and two shed rooms or lean-tos. After saw mills became more general, frame houses were erected, often of from eight to twelve rooms, with the kitchens detached from the main dwelling. But the log cabin in which Abraham Lincoln was born, and now enshrined in a marble palace at Hogdensville, Ky., is a fair sample of the average home of pioneer days.
"CHINKED AND DOBBED." The walls of these log houses were "chinked and daubed." That is, the spaces between the logs were filled with blocks or scraps of wood and the interstices left were filled with plain, undisguised mud-lime being too expensive to be used for that purpose.
THE GREAT "WAR GOVERNOR'S" HOME. The house in which Hon. Zebulon Baird Vance, the great War Governor and statesman of the Old North State lived for many years is on Reems Creek in Buncombe county. It consisted of a single large room below and a garret or loft above, reached by rude stairs, almost a ladder, running up in one corner near the chimney. The-re was also a shed room attached to the rear of this house. Some of us are quite "swagger" nowadays, but we are all proud of our log-cabin ancestry.
UNGLAZED WINDOWS. Windows, as a rule, were scarce. The difficulty and expense of glazing them were so great as to preclude the use of many. Most of those which found place in the walls of the house were made by removing about 18 inches from one of the wide logs running the length of the house and usually opposite the huge fire. It rarely contained any sash or glass and was closed by a sliding shutter running in grooves inside the wall. It was rare that upstairs or loft rooms contained any windows at all.
PRIMITIVE PORTIERS. Privacy was obtained by hanging sheets or counterpanes from the overhead sleepers or "joists" as the joists were almost universally called. Behind these screens the women and girls dressed when "men folks" were present, though their ablutions were usually performed at the "spout" or spring, or in the room after the male element had gone to their work. Sometimes a board partition divided the large down-stairs room into two, but as this made a very dark and ill-ventilated bedroom far removed from the light of the front and back doors and cut off from the heat of the fire place, this division was not popular or general.
THE LIVING ROOM. Usually, in more primitive days, the beds, mostly of feathers, were ranged round the room, leaving a large open space in the middle. The dining table stood there or against a wall near the fireplace. The hearth was wide and projected into the room two feet or more. A crane swung from the back of the chimney on which- pots were hung from "pot hooks," familiar to beginners in writing lessons and the ovens were placed on live coals while their lids, or as they were generally called "leds," were covered with other live coals and left on the broad hearth. In the kitchen of the old Mitchell Alexander hotel or "Cattle stand," eleven miles below Asheville on the French Broad, there is still standing and in daily use a deep old fireplace ten feet wide, the hearth of which projects into the room eight or nine feet. The water bucket with a curved handled gourd stood on a shelf just inside the door. Usually there was no wash pan, the branch or spout near by being deemed sufficient for all purposes. A comb in a box under a small and imperfect looking-glass usually hung on the wall over the water bucket. Around the walls behind the beds on pegs were hung the skirts of the girls and women; and, if the men of the house owned any extra coats or trousers, they hung there, too. On the tops of boxes or trunks, usually called "chists," were folded and piled in neat order the extra quilts, sheets and counterpanes. Some of these counterpanes or "coverlids" were marvels of skill and beauty in color and design and all were woven in the loom which stood at one end of the porch or shed in front of the house. There was also a wooden cupboard nailed against the wall which contained racks for the plates and dishes. Beneath this was a place for the pots and pans, after the cooking was over.
WHERE COLONIAL ART SURVIVES.11 Mrs. Eliza Calvert Hall has discovered recently that "in the remote mountains of the South, where civilization has apparently stood still ever since the colonial pioneers built their homes there," they still make coverlets that are rich "in texture and coloring" and are "real works of art." Of course we are also told that this art was first brought to America through New England; but she fails to state that it was also brought to Philadelphia, Charleston and every other American port through which English, Scotch or Irish women were admitted to America. That it has perished everywhere else, and still survives among us, might indicate that civilization instead of having stood still in the mountains has at least held its own there, while it has receded in New England. That, however, is immaterial. Certain it is that Mrs. Finley Mast of Valle Crucis is now at work on an order from President Wilson, and expects soon to see specimens of her handiwork in the White House of nation.
SLANDERS BY THE "UNCO GUID" Because in the spring of 1912 the Allen family of the mountains of Virginia "shot up" the court at Hillville, the entire "contemporary mountaineer" is condemned as resenting "the law's intrusion," part1y, perhaps, because he himself enjoys few of the benefits of civilized society.12 We regret the ignorance of this self-styled "national weekly" and others who defame us, and in view of the exploits of the "gunmen" of Broadway a few months later13 recall with complacency the louse that gave occasion for that immortal prayer "Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us." Little of good about the mountain whites is ever published North of Mason and Dixon's line. TheWatauga Democrat of July 10. -1913, records the fact that a few days before a journalist of New Canaan, Conn., and a photographer and illustrator of New York, had visited Boone, and that they had distinctly stated that their sole object in visiting these mountains was to look up "the destitution, ignorance and vice among the mountain whites." They were surprised to learn that the Appalachian Training School was located in Boone, and wanted no facts as to the good it was accomplishing. Their names were stated in theDemocrat. In "The Child That Toileth Not," by Thomas R. Dawley, Jr., (1912) has presented many photographs of most destitute and degenerate of the mountain population, ignoring the splendid specimens of health and prosperity he met every day. About 1905 a "lady from New York had two photographs taken of the same children at Blowing Rock. In the first they were dressed in rags and outlandish clothing; in the second, they wore most tasteful and becoming garb. She labeled the first "Before I Began," and the second, "After Three Weeks of Uplift Work." She had offered a prize to the child who should appear for the first picture in the worst clothing, and another prize for the child who should dress most becomingly for the second. The work of Miss Prudden and of Miss Florence Stephenson is appreciated by us; but our slanderers only make our blood boil. For, in the Outlook for April 26, 1913, appeared "The Case of Lura Sylva, "showing the filth, destitution, depravity and degrading surroundings of a twelve-year-old girl "which" we are told is "not an unusual" story of similar conditions "in a prosperous farming community of the Hudson river valley." Nothing worse has ever been written of any of the "mountain whites" than is there recorded of this girl. Let your charity begin at your own home. Charles Dudley Warner made a horseback trip from Abingdon, Va., to Asheville in August, 1884. He saw absolutely nothing on that trip which he could commend. ("On horseback," 1889) except two pianos he found in the home of the Worths at Creston. He was, however, lavish with his fault finding.
EVERY HOME A FACTORY. Manufacture means hand-made, Therefore, since few homes manufacture anything today, we have made no progress in manufactures, but have receded from the time when every home was a factory. We have instead simply adopted machinery and built factories.
SOME LOST ARTS. Those who never lived in a mountainous country are often surprised at the sight of what we call sleds, slides or sledges, made of the bodies of small trees with crooked ends, turning upward like those of sleigh runners though much more slumsy and heavy. As these runners wore down they were "shod" by tacking split saplings under them. Sleds can be hauled on steep hill-sides where wheeled vehicles would turn over or get beyond control going down hill. Our "Union" carpenters of this day could not build a house with the materials and tools of their pioneer ancestors, nearly all of whom were carpenters. Modern carpenters would not know what "cracking" a log was, for instance; and yet, the pioneer artizans of old had to make their boards by that method. It consisted in driving the blade of an ax or hatchet into the small end of a log by means of a maul, and inserting wooden wedges, called "gluts." On either side of this first central "crack" another crack was made, and gluts placed therein. There were usually two gluts placed in each crack and each was tapped in turn, thus splitting the log uniformly. These two riven pieces were next placed in "snatch-block," which were two parallel logs into which notches had been cut deep enough to hold the ends of these pieces, which were held in position with "keys" or wedges. The upper side of this riven piece was then "scored" with a broad ax and then "dressed" with the same tool, the under edges being beveled. The length of these pieces, now become puncheons, was usually half the length of the floor to be covered, the two ends resting on the sleeper running across the middle of the room. The beveled edges were placed as near together as possible, after which a - saw was run between them, thus reducing the uneven edges so that they came snugly together, and were air tight when pinned into place with wooden pegs driven through augur-holes into the sills and sleepers. Hewed logs were first "scalped," that is the bark was removed with an ax, after which the trunk was "lined" with- a woolen cord dipped in moist charcoal, powdered, which had been made from locust bark. This corresponded to what is now called a chalk-line. Then four of these lines were made down the length of the log, each pair being as far apart as the hewed log was to be thick-usually four to six inches-one pair being above and the other pair below; after which the log was "blocked" with an ax, by cutting deep notches on each side about four feet apart. These sections were then split from the sides of the log, thus reducing its thickness to nearly that desired. Then these sides were "scored" and and then dressed till they were smooth. The block on which the "Liberty Bell" of Philadelphia rests still shows this "scoring" or hacks made by the broad-ax. Houses were framed on the ground by cutting the ends of the logs into notches called "saddles" which, when placed in position, fitted like joiner work--each log having been numbered while still on the ground. When the logs were being placed in position they were lifted into place on the higher courses by means of what were called "bull's eyes." These were made of hickory saplings whose branches had been plaited into rings and then slipped over the logs, their stems serving as handles for pulling, etc.
ROOFING LOG HOUSES. Modern carpenters would be puzzled to roof a house without nails or shingles or scantling; but their forbears accomplished this seemingly impossible task with neatness and dispatch. After the main frame or "pen" of the house was up, two parallel poles were laid along and above the top logs, and "gable" logs were placed under these, the gable logs being shorter than the end logs of the house. This was continued till the gable end was reached, when the "ridge pole" was placed in position, being held there with pegs or pins. The frame of the roof was now ready, and "boards," or rough shingles were riven from the "blocks" or sections of chestnut, poplar or white oak, though the latter would "cup" or twist into a curved shape if "laid" in the "light" of the moon. The lower ends of the lowest row of "boards" rested against the flat side of a split log, called the "butting pole," because the boards butted upon it. Upon the lower row of boards, which were doubled in order to cover the cracks in the under tier, a single row of boards was then laid, the first row being held in place by a split log laid on them and made fast by pegs driven through their ends of and into the ends of the poles under the boards. These were also supported by "knees." The various pieces of roofing were called evebearers, rib-poles, weight poles, etc., etc.
TANNING HIDES AND MAKING SHOES. According to Col. W. L. Bryan, every farmer had his tan-trough, which was an excavation dug out of a poplar or chestnut log of large size, while some had two troughs in one log, separate by leaving a division of the log in place. Into these troughs ashes or lime was placed, diluted with water. Skins should always be salted and folded together a few days till all the blood has been drawn out; but salt was high and scarce, and this process was often omitted. When "green" hides were to be tanned at once, they were first "fleshed," by being placed on the "fleshing block" and scraped with a fleshing knife-one having a rounded edge. This block was a log with the upper surface rounded, the lower end resting on the ground and the upper end, supported on pegs reaching to a man's waist. Fleshing consisted in scraping as much of the fat and blood out of the hide as possible. When hides were to be dried before being tanned, were hung lengthwise on poles, with the flesh side upper-most, and left under shelter till dry and hard. Hair was removed from green and dry hides alike by soaking them in the tan-trough in a solution of lime or wood ashes till the hair would "slip" that is, come off easily. They were then soaked till all the lime or ashes had been removed, after which they were placed again on the fleshing bench and "broken" or made pliable, with a breaking-knife. They then went into the tan-trough, after having been split lengthwise into two parts, each of which was called a "side." The bottom of the tan-trough was lined with a layer of bark, after which a fold of a "side" was placed on the bark and another layer of bark placed above the upper fold of the side; then the side was folded back again and another layer of bark placed on it, and so on till the tan-trough had been filled. Then water was turned or poured in, and the mass allowed to remain two months, after which time the bark and water were renewed in the same manner as before. This in turn remained another two months, when the bark and water were again renewed. Two months longer completed the process, making six months in all. This was called "the cold-ooze" process, and while it required a much longer time it made better leather than the present hot-ooze process, which cooks and injures the leather. The hide of every animal bearing fur is thicker along the back-bone than elsewhere, and after the tanning process this was cut off for sole leather, while the rest was blacked for "uppers," etc. The under side of the thin or "uppers" leather was then "curried" with a knife, thus making it as smooth as the upper side. Sole leather, however, was not curried ordinarily. "Buffing" was the removal of the "grain" or upper surface of the hide after it had been tanned, thus making both sides alike. Smaller skins were tanned in the same way, and those of dogs, coons, ground hogs, etc., were used for "whang" leather--that is, they were cut into strings for sewing other leather with. Horse collars, harness and moccasins thus joined will outlast those sewed- with thread. The more valuable hides of smaller- animals were removed from the carcass without being split open, and were then called "cased" hides. This was done by splitting open the hind legs to the body and then pulling the skins from the carcass, fore legs and head, after which they were "stretched" by inserting a board or sticks inside, now the fur-side, and hanging them up "in the dry" till dried. Other less valuable skins were stretched by means of sticks being stuck into the four "corners" of the hide, tacked to the walls of the houses under the eaves and allowed to dry. The women made moccasins for the children by doubling the tanned deer skin along the back, laying a child's stocking along it so that the sole of the stocking was parallel with the fold in the skin, and then marking around the outline of the stocking, after which the skin, still doubled, was cut out around the outline, sewed together with "whang" leather, placed on a last till it was "shaped," after which it was ready for wear. The new moon in June was the best time for taking the bark from trees. White and chestnut oak bark was prereferred, the outer or rough part of the bark having been first removed with a drawing knife, which process was called "scurfing" or "scruffing." The bark was then piled, inside up, inider shelter, and allowed to dry. Among the personal effects of Abraham Lincoln's grandfather were "a drawing-knife, a currying knife, and a currier's knife and barking iron."14 Lime was scarce in most localities in this section, and ashes were used instead. Every deer's head was said to have enough brains to "dress" its hide.15 The brains were rubbed into the hair of the hide, after which the hide was folded together till the hair would "slip," when the hide was placed in the tan-trough and tanned, the brains thus taking the place of lime or ashes. After vats came in bark mills came also.
ELIZABETHAN ENGLISH? Writers who think they know, have said that our people have been sequestered in these mountains so long that they speak the language of Shakespeare and of Chaucer. It is certain that we sometimes say "hit" for it and "taken" for took; that we also say "plague" for tease, and when we are willing, we say we are "consentable." If we are asked if we "care for a piece of pie," we say "yes," if we wish to be helped to some; and if we are invited to accompany anyone and wish to do so, we almost invariably say "I wouldn't care to go along," meaning we do not object. We also say "haint" for "am not" "are not" and "have not," and we invite you to "light" if you are riding or driving. We "pack" our loads in "pokes," and "reckon we can't " if invited "to go a piece" with a passerby, when both he and we know perfectly well that we can if we will. Chaucer and Shakespeare may have used these expressions we do not know. We are absolutely certain, though, that "molases" is as plural as measles; and ask to be helped to "them" just as confident that we shall be understood as people of greater culture hope their children will soon recover from or altogether escape "them," meaning only one thing, the measles. Though we generally say we "haven't saw," it is the rarest thing in the world when we do things "we hadn't ought to," and we never express surprise or interest by exclaiming, "Well, I want to know." On the other hand we have Webster for our authority that "hit" is the Saxon for it; and we know ourselves that "taken" is more regular that "took"; Webster also gives us the primary meaning of "plague": anything troublesome or vexatious; but in th1 sense applied to the vexations we suffer from men, and not to the unavoidable evils inflicted on us by divine providence; while "tease" means to comb or card, as wool; to scratch, as cloth in dressing, for the purpose of raising a nap; and to vex with importunity or impertinence." Surely one may be in a mood or condition of consent, and when so, why is not he "consentable"? Webster also says that "care" means "to be inclined or disposed; to have regard to; with "for" before a noun, and "to" before a verb;" while "alight" is "to get down or descend, as from horseback or from a carriage," the very sense in which we invariably use it, our only fault consisting in keeping the "a" silent. Webster does not authorize the use of "pack" as a verb transitive, in the sense of bearing a burden, but he gives "burden or load" as the meaning of the noun "pack"; while a "poke" is "a pocket; a small bag; as, a pig in a poke." A "piece" is a fragment or "part of anything, though not separated, or separated only in idea," in which sense going "a piece" (of the way, understood) is quite intelligible to some of us who do not know our letters. Being, in our own estimation, at least, "as well as common" in this respect as in many others," we still manage to upstand and to be understood"; and claim that when we "want in," we generally manage to "get" in, whether we say "get" or not. Still in these respects, we may "mend," not improve; and who shall say that our "mend" is not a simpler, sweeter and more significant word than "improve"? But we do mispronounce many words, among which is "gardeen" for guardian, "colume" for column, and "pint" for point. The late Sam Lovin of Graham was told that it was improper to say Rocky "Pint," as its true name is "Point." When next he went to Asheville he asked for a "point" of whiskey. We even take our mispronunciation to proper names, and call Metcalf "Madcap"; Pennell "Pinion"; Pilkington "Pilkey"; Cutbirth "Cutbaird"; Mast "Moss"; Presnell "Pressly"; Moretz "Morris"; and Morphew - "Murphey." "Mashed, mummicked and hawged up," means worlds to most of us. Finally, most of us are of the opinion of the late Andrew Jackson who thought that one who could spell a word in only way was a "mighty po' excuse for a full grown man."
HORSE TRADING.16 "It is an interesting sight to watch the proceedings of a shooting-match. If it is to be in the afternoon, the long open space beside the creek, and within the circle of chestnut trees, where the shooting is to be done, is empty; but, just as the shadow of the sun is shortest, they begin to assemble. Some of them come on foot; others in wagons, or, as is most generally the ease, on horseback galloping along through the woods. The long-haired denizen of the hidden mountain cove drops in, with his dog at his heels. The young blacksmith, in his sooty shirt-sleeves, walks over from his way-side forge. The urchins who, with their fishrods, haunt the banks of the brook, are gathered in as great force as their "daddies" and elder brothers.
"A unique character, who frequently mingles with the crowd, is the 'nat'ral-born hoss-swopper. He has a keen eye to see at a glance the defects and perfections of horse or mule (in his own opinion), and always carries the air of a man who feels a sort of superiority over his fellow men. At a prancing gait, he rides the result of his last sharp bargain, into the group, and keeps his saddle, with the neck of his horse well arched, by means of the curb-bit, until another mountaineer, with like trading propensities, strides up to him, and claps his hand on the horse's mane.
"An examination on the part of both swappers always results in a trade, boot being frequently given. A chance to make a change in horseflesh is never let slip by a natural-born trader. The life of his business consists in quick and frequent bargains; and at the end of a busy month he is either mounted on a good saddle horse, or is reduced to an old rack, blind and lame. The result will be due to the shrewdness or dullness of the men he dealt with, or the unexpected sickness on his hands of what was considered a sound animal."
FROLICS.17 The banjo and the fiddle have been as constant companions of the pioneers of the mountains of North Carolina as the Bible and the Hymn Book. The country "frolics" or "hoe-downs", were necessarily less recherched than the dances, hops and germans of the present day, for, as a rule, the dancing had to take place on the uneven puncheon floors and in a very restricted space, often procured by the removal of the furniture of the kitchen or bed room, for usually a dwelling rarely had more than these two apartments, in the earlier days.
POOR ILLUMINATION. Owing to the fact that kerosene was unknown in the pioneer days, there was but poor illumination for those little mountain homes, generally consisting of but one large room and a shed or lean-to in the rear. Tin candle molds and heavy wicks were used with the tallow of beeves and deer for making of candles, which gave but a poor light. Bear's oil in a saucer, with a spun cotton thread wick also served to light the houses. As there were only a few books, the early settlers did not feel the want of good lights as much as we would at this time. So, when the days grew short and the nights long, our forbears usually retired to their beds soon after dark, which meant almost fourteen hours in bed if they waited for daylight. But, usually, they did not wait for it, arising long before the sun came above the horizon, building huge fires and beginning the day by the light of the blazing logs.
This is one reason so many of those people saw the "falling of the stars" on the early morning of the thirteenth of November, 1833. Twenty years ago there were still living scores of people who witnessed this extraordinary and fearful sight.
DANGER FROM WILD ANIMALS. Panthers, wild cats, wolves and bear were the most troublesome depredators and they were the means of much serious damage to the mountain ranges, settlers, most of which was driven to the mountain ranges where luxuriant grasses abounded from May till October. Colts, calves and pigs were frequently attacked and destroyed by these "varmints," as the settlers called them. But while there was little or no danger to human beings from these animals, the black bear being a notorious coward, unless hemmed up, the "women folk" were "pestered" by the beautiful and, on occasion, malodorous pole-cat or skunk, the thieving o'possum, the mink, weasel, etc., which robbed the chicken roosts after dark. Moles and chipmunks, also destroyed their "garden truck" in early summer, while hawks and eagles played havoc with their fowls, and crows pulled up the young corn and small grain which had not been sown deep enough. THE ORIGINAL "HOUN DAWG." Hounds were the principal breed of dogs employed by the pioneer. Crossed with the more savage species, the hound also made a good bear dog, and the Plott bear dogs were famous in the pursuit of Bruin. Some settlers kept a pack of ten or fifteen hounds for deer dogs.
THE DARK SIDE OF THE CLOUD. But from Thwaite's "Daniel Boone" we gather much that robs the apparent charm of pioneer life of something of its attractiveness. "Among the outlying settlers, much of the family food came from the woods, and often months would pass without bread being seen inside the cabin walls" (p.58). "For head covering, the favorite was a soft cap of coon-skin, with the bushy tail dangling behind; but Boone himself despised this gear and always wore a hat. The women wore huge sunbonnets and loose gowns of homemade cloth; they generally went barefoot in summer, but wore moccasins in winter" (p.29). These moccasins were "soft and pliant, but cold in winter even when stuffed with deer's hair and leaves, and so spongy as to be no protection against wet feet, which made every hunter an early victim to rheumatism." That many prisoner were massacred is also an evidence of the harshness these times.
TOUCHSTONE AND TERPSICHORE. There were shooting matches at which a young steer was divided and shot for foot races, wrestling bouts, camp-meetings, log-rollings, house-raisings and the "Big Musters" where cider and ginger cakes were sold, which drew the people together and promoted social intercourse, as well as the usual religious gatherings at the "church houses." Singing classes and Sunday Schools, now so common, were not at first known in these mountains, and, indeed, even Sunday Schools are of comparatively recent origin. When a young couple were married they were usually serenaded with cow horns, tin pans and other unearthly noises. This is still the custom in many parts of the mountains. Agricultural fairs were unknown in the olden days. Horse-racing over ordinary roads, horse-swapping and good natured contests of strength among the men were also in vogue generally.
BEFORE THE DAYS OF "BRIDGE." Among the women and girls there were spinning, carding, reeling and knitting matches, and sometimes a weaving match.18 Quilting parties were very common, and, indeed, the quilting frame can still be observed in many a mountain house, suspended from the ceiling above, even in the modern parlor or company room. All sorts of superstitions attended a quilting--the first stitch given being usually emblematic of the marriage of the one making it and the last of the death of the person so unfortunate as to have that distinction. Of course the coverlid or top of the quilt, usually a patchwork of bright scraps of cloth carefully hoarded and gathered from all quarters, had been prepared in advance of the gathering of the quilting party, and the quilting consisted in spreading it above the wool or cotton rolls spread uniformly on a white cloth and stitching the upper and lower cloths together. Hence the great convenience of the quilting frame which held the quilt and was lowered to a point about waist high.
THE "CASUS BELLI." At school it was customary for the larger boys to bar the teacher out when a holiday was ardently desired. This was accomplished by placing themselves inside the school room and barring the placing the rude and backless benches against it and refusing to remove them. As there was but one door and no teacher was helpless, and, after threatening and bullying for a time, usually left the boys in possession of the school house till the following day, when no one was punished. For anyone, be he friend or foe, but especially a stranger to holler "school butter" near a school was to invite every urchin to rush from the room; and the offender had either to treat the scholars or be soundly thrashed and pelted. In Monroe county, Tennessee, near Madisonville, in the year of grace 1893, this scribe was dared and double-dared to holler those talismanic words as he passed a county school, but ignommiously declined.
"ANT'NY OVER." A game almost universal with the children of that day was called "Ant'ny Over." Sides were chosen, one side going to one side of the house and the other to the other. A ball was tossed over the roof by one side, the problem being whether it would reach the comb of the roof and fall on the other side. If it did so and was caught by one on that side, that side ran around the house and tried to hit somebody on the other side with the ball; if they succeeded the one hit had to join the other side, and the side catching the ball had to throw it over the house and so on until one side lost all children. The rule was for the side tossing the ball to cry "Ant'ny!" as they were ready to throw the ball and when the other side hollered "Over!" the ball was thrown.
MOUNTAIN LAGER BEER. Methiglen, a mildly intoxicating drink, made by pouring water upon honey-comb, and allowing it to ferment, was a drink quite common in the days of log rollings, house raisings and big musters. It was a sweet and pleasant beverage and about as intoxicating as beer or wine.
LAWFUL MOONSHINE. "Ardent spirits were then in almost universal use and nearly every prosperous man had his whiskey or brandy still. Even ministers of the gospel are said in some instances to have made and sold liquor. A barroom was a place shunned by none. The court records show license to retail issued to men who stood high as exemplary members of churches. On November 2, 1800, Bishop Asbury chronicles that "Francis Alexander Ramsey pursued us to the ferry, franked us over and took us to his excellent mansion, a stone house; it may not be amiss to mention that our host has built his house, and taken in his harvest without the aid of of whiskey."
MOONSHINING. Before railroads were constructed in these mountains there was no market for the surplus corn, rye and fruit; and it was considered right to convert these products into whiskey and brandy, for which there was always a market. When, therefore, soon after the Civil War, the United States government attempted to enforce its internal revenue laws, much resistance was manifested by many good citizens. Gradually, however, illicit distilling has been relegated to a few irresponsible and ignorant men; for the penalty inflicted for allowing one's land to be used as the location for a still, grind corn or malt for illicit stillers, or to aid them in any way, is great enough to deter all men of property from violating the law in this regard. Moolishining is so called because it is supposed that it is only while the moon is shining that illicit stilling takes place, though that is erroneous, as much of it is done during the day. But, as these stills are located usually, in the most out-of-the-way places possible, the smoke arising during the day from the stills attracts attention and final detection. Stills are usually located on small, cold streams, and on wild land little adapted to cultivation. Sometimes, however, stills are situated in the cellar or kitchen or other innocent looking place for the purpose of diverting suspicion. Neighbors, chance visitors, the color the slops give to the streams into which they drain, and other evidence finally lead to life arrest of the operators and the destruction of the stilling plant and mash. The simplest process is to soak corn till it sprouts, after which it is dried and ground, making malt. Then corn is ground into meal, and it and the malt are placed in tubs with water till they sour and ferment, making mash. This mash is then placed in the still and boiled, the steam passing through a worm or spiral metal tube which rests in a cooling tub, into which a stream of running water pours constantly. This condenses the steam, which falls into the "singling keg"; and when a sufficient quantity has been produced, the mash is removed from the still, and it is washed out, after which the "singlings" are poured into the still and evaporated, passing through the worm a second time, thus becoming "doublings," or high proof whiskey. It is then tested or proofed-usually by shaking it in a bottle-when its strength is determined by the bubbles or "beads" which rise to the top. It is then adulterated with water till it is "right," or mild enough to be drunk without blistering the throat. Apples and peaches are first raashed or ground, fermented and evaporated, thus becoming brandy. Still slops are used to feed cattle and hogs, when practicable, but moonshiners usually have to empty their slops upon the ground, from which it is sure to drain into some stream and thus lead to discovery. Still slop-fed hogs do not as firm lard as corn-fed animals, just as mash-fed hogs do not produce as good lard as corn-fed hogs, though the flesh of mast-fed hogs is considered more delicate and better flavored than that of any other kind.
Blockading is usually applied to the illegal selling of moonshine whiskey or brandy.
THE STRENGTH OF UNION. The following account of the cooperation common among the early settlers is taken from "A Brief History of Macon County" by Dr. C. D. Smith, published in 1905, at Franklin:
"It was the custom m those early days not to rely for help upon hired labor. In harvesting small grain crops the sickle was mostly used. When a crop was ripe, the neighbors were notified and gathered in to reap and shock up the crops. The manner was for a dozen or more men to cut through the field, then hang their sickles over-their shoulders and bind back. The boys gathered the sheaves together and the old men shocked them up. The corn crops were usually gathered in and thrown in great heaps alongside the cribs. The neighbors were invited and whole days and into the nights were often spent in husking out a single crop. I have seen as many as eighty or ninety men at a time around my father's corn heap. If a house or barn was to be raised the neighbors were on band and the building was soon under roof. Likewise, if a msn had a heavy clearing, it was no trouble to have an ample force to handle and put in heaps the heaviest logs. It was no unusual thing for a man to need one or two thousand rails for fencing. All he had to do was to proclaim that he would have a 'rail mauling' on a given day, and bright and early the neighbors were on the ground and the rails were made before sundown. This custom of mutual aid, cultivated a feeling of mutual defence and brotherhood, and resulted in the most friendly and neighborly intercourse. Indeed, each man seemed to be on the lookout for his neighbor's comfort and welfare as well as his own. It made a community of broad, liberal minded people, who despite the tongue of gossip and an occasional fisticuff in hot blood, lived in peace and good will one toward another. There was then less selfishness and cold formality than now…. I am free to admit that there has been improvement along some lines such for instance, as that of education, the building of church-houses, style of dress, etc., but I am sure that there has been none in the sterner traits of character, generosity, manliness, patriotism, integrity, and public spirit."
GIANTS IN THOSE DAYS. It also appears from the same very admirable sketch of Macon county, that when a new road was desired a jury was appointed to lay it off and divide it into sections as nearly equal as possible, the work on each section being assigned by lot to the respective captains of militia companies, and that the work was done without compensation. Dr. Smith cites an instance when he saw "men taking rock from the river with the water breast deep to aid in building wharves. They remained until the work was finished."
FIST AND SKULL.
"There was another custom in those bygone days which to the present generation seems extremely primitive and rude, but which, when analyzed, shows a strong sense of honor and manliness of character. To settle minor disputes and differences, whether for imaginary or real personal wrongs, there were occasional fisticuffs. Then, it sometimes occurred in affairs of this kind, that whole neighborhoods and communities took an interest. I have known county arrayed against county, and state against state, for the belt in championship, for manhood and skill in a hand-to-hand tussel between local bullies. When these contests took place the custom was for the parties to go into the ring. The crowd of spectators demanded fairness and honor. If anyone was disposed to show foul play he was withheld or in the attempt promptly chastised by some bystander. Then, again, if either party in the fight resorted to any weapons whatever, other than his physical appendages, he was at once branded and denounced as a coward, and was avoided by his former associates. While this custom was brutal in its practice, there was a bold outcropping of character in it, for such affairs were conducted upon the most punctilious points of honor…. This custom illustrates the times and I have introduced it more for the sake of contrast than a desire to parade it before the public."
HORN AND BONE. Buttons were made from bones and cow's horns, while the antlers of the red deer were almost indispensable as racks for the long barreled flint-lock rifle, hats, clothing or other articles usually suspended from pegs and hooks. Dinner and powder horns were from cow's horns, from which the "picker" and "charger" hung. Irk bottles were made from the small ends of cow's horns, powder was carried in these water-proof vessels, while hounds were called in from the chase or "hands" were summoned from the fields by toots upon these far-sounding if not musical instruments. During the Civil War, William Sivei',s of Mitchell county made combs from cow's horns, filing out each separate tooth after boiling and "spreading" the horns into flat surfaces. He sold these for good prices, and once made a trip to Asheville with a wagon for a full load of horns as the neighborhood did not supply the demand.
GUNPOWDER BOUNTY.19 "In 1796 Governor Ashe issued a proclamation announcing that in pursuance of an Act to provide for the public safety by granting encouragement to certain manufactures, Jacob Byler of the county of Buncombe, had exhibited to to him a sample of gunpowder manufactured by him in the year 1799 and also a certificate proving that he had made six hundred and sixty-three pounds of good, merchantable, rifle gunpowder; and therefore, he was entitled to the bounty under the Act (2 Wheeler's History of North Carolina, 52). This Jacob Byler, or rather Boyler, was afterward a member of Buncombe County court, and in the inventory of his property returned by his administrator after his death in October, 1804, is mentioned "Powder mill irons."
ELIZABETHTON' S BATTLE MONUMENT. On a massive monument erected in 1910 at Elizabethton, Tenn., to the soldiers of all the wars in which Tennessee has participated is a marble slab to the memory of Mary Patton who made the powder with which the battle of Kings Mountain was fought. This was made on Powder Mill branch, Carter county, Tennessee. On what is still known as Powder Mill creek in old Mitchell, so long ago that the date cannot now be fixed with certainty, Dorry and Loddy Oaks made powder near where the creek empties into Toe River. Zeb Buchanan now owns the land.
WANDERLUST. Alexander Thomas, A. J. McBride, and Marion Wilson, all of Cove creek, Watauga county, went to California in 1849, crossing the plains in ox carts, and mined for gold. Captain Young Farthing helped to carry the Cherokees to the West in 1838, as did also William Miller, Col. James Horton and others of Watauga. They were paid in land warrants to be located in Kansas, but the warrants were usually sold for what they would bring, which was little. Jacob Townsend of near Shull's Mills was a pensioner of the War of 1812. Colonel J. B. Todd, Peter Hoffman and Jason Martin of Watauga were in the Mexican war. A number of others volunteered from these mountains, but were never called out.
FORGE BOUNTY LAND GRANTS. One of the first needs of these pioneers was iron, and in 1788 (Ch. 293, Laws of N. C. as revised by Potter J. L. Taylor and Bart Yancey, Esqs. 1821) the legislature passed an act by which 3,000 acres of vacant lands "not fit for cultivation most convenient to the different seats is hereby granted for every set of iron works as a bounty from this State to any person or persons who will build and carry on the same." One or more tracts for each set of works was to be entered and a copy of the entry transmitted to the next court that should be held in the county, when a jury of twelve persons of good character should view the land and certify that it was not fit for cultivation. Iron works were then to be erected within three years, and when it should be made to appear to the court that 5,000 weight of iron had been made the grant was to be issued. "Three forges where it was made grew up in Buncombe county, one on Hominy creek, upon the old Solomon Luther place, which belonged to Charles Lane; another on Reems creek at the Coleman mill place, which belonged to the same man, but was sold by him in 1803, to Andrew Baird; the third was on Mills river, now in Henderson county on what has ever since been called the Forge mountain, on which are also the Boilston gold mines. The iron ore for this purpose was procured at different places in Buncombe county."20 The State granted to Thomas Calloway, November 21, 1807, 3,000 acres of land in Ashe county (Deed Book D, p.88) and to WilIiam Daniel, David Worth, Moses L. Michael and B. Murchison 2,000 acres in Ashe county, in 1854. (Deed Book U, p.62.) Grants were also issued to the late Messer Fain in Cherokee, and some of the pigs are still in existence there.
DATES OF WOREING OLD IRON MINES. From" The Iron Manufacturer's Guide" (1859, by J. P. Lesley) we find that Harbard's Bloomery Forge near the mouth of Helton creek was built in 1807 and washed away in 1817; that the Cranberry Bloomery Forge on Cranberry was built in 1820, and rebuilt in 1856; that North Fork Bloomery Forge eight miles northwest of Jefferson on New river, was built in 1825; abandoned in 1829; washed away in 1840; Ballou's Bloomery Forge, at Falls of North Fork of New river, 12 miles north-east of Jefferson, was built in 1817; washed away in 1832 by an ice freshet; Helton Bloomery Forge, on Helton creek, 12 miles north-northwest of Jefferson, was built in 1829; washed away in - 1858; another forge was built one and one-fourth miles further down in 1802, but did not stand long; Laurel Bloomery Forge, on Laurel creek, 15 miles west of Jefferson, built in 1847; abandoned in 1853; Toe river Bloomery Forge, five miles south of Cranberry Forge, built in 1843; Johnson's Bloomery Forge, six miles south of Cranberry Forge, built in 1841; Lovingood Bloomery Forge, on Hanging Dog, Cherokee county, two miles above Fain's Forge, built from 1845 to 1853; Lower Hanging Dog Bloomery Forge, five miles north-west of Murphy, built in 1840; Killian Bloomery Forge one-half miles below Lower Hanging Dog Forge, built in 1843, abandoned 1849; Fain Bloomery Forge, on Owl creek, two miles below Lovingood Forge, built in 1854; Persimmon creek Bloomery Forge, on Persimmon creek 12 miles southwest of Murphy, built in 1848; Shoal creek Bloomery Forge, on Shoal creek, five miles west of Persimmon creek Forge, built about 854; Palsey Forge, built by John Ballou at mouth of Helton in 1859 and rebuilt by W. J. Pasley in 1871 (it is now abandoned); New River Forge on South Fork of New river, one-half mile above its junction with North Fork; built 1871, washed away in 1878. Uriah Ballou of Crumpler, N. C., has gold medals for the best magnetic iron ore from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and from the World's Fair at Paris immediately afterwards, which was taken from these mines. The lands are now the property of the Virginia Iron & Coke Company.
PIONEER THORS AND FORGES. Iron was manufactured at these old time forges about as follows : When the ore was in lumps or mixed with rock and dirt it was crushed by "stompers," consisting of hardwood beams 6x6 inches, which were raised and dropped by a cogged horizontal revolving shaft. When the ore was fine enough it was washed in troughs to separate it from as much foreign matter as possible. It was then ready for the furnace, which consisted of a rock base 6x6 feet and two and one-half feet high. On three sides of this base walls of rock were erected two and one-half feet high, leaving one side open. A nest was left in the bottom of this base or hearth, through the middle of which a two inch blast pipe ran, and projecting above it. Air was furnished to this pipe by a stream of water passing through wooden tubes 12x12 inches. A small fire of chips was started in this nest above the mouth of the blast pipe. Over this fire three or four bushels of charcoal was placed and blown into a white heat. Upon this charcoal a layer of ore was spread, and as it was heated, another layer of charcoal was placed above, and on it still another layer of ore. This was gradually melted, the molten ore settlin into the nest and the silica remaining on top. Into the mass of melted iron an iron bar would be thrust. This bar was used simply to form a handle for the turning of the ore that adhered to it after it had been withdrawn and placed on the anvil to be hammered. The melted ore thus drawn was called a "loop."
The hammer and the anvil were about the same weight, 750 pounds each, with an eye through, 6x12 inches. They were interchangeable. The anvil was placed on white-oak beams, about the size of a railroad cross-tie, which spanned a pit dug in the ground in order to give spring to the blow made by the hammer. Through the eye of the hammer a beam of strong wood was fastened, the other end working on a pivot or hinge. Near this hinged end was a revolving shaft shod with four large iron cogs, each about six inches long and five inches square and each having a rounded corner. These cogs lifted the hammer handle rapidly, while above the handle a wooden "bray" overcame the upward thrust, and gravity drove the hammer downward upon the heated mass awaiting it on the anvil. The blows thus dealt were rapid and heavy and could be heard under favorable conditions ten or more miles.
SILENT FINGER SIGNALS. It was the duty of the "tender, the chief assistant of the hammerman, to withdraw the loop from the furnace and place it on the anvil, when the hammer-man took the end of the handle and signaled with his fingers laid on the handle to the tender to begin hammering, which was done by the latter allowing the water to strike the wheel which worked the hammer shaft. Two fingers indicated more rapid hammering, three still more rapid hammering, and the withdrawal of all fingers meant that the hammering should cease. When the foreign matter had heen hammered out of the loop, it was divided into two or more loops of 25 to 30 pounds each; a short iron bar, to serve as handles, was welded to each piece, and they were again placed in the furnace and re-heated and then hammered into bars from 9 to 12 feet in length, or divided into smaller pieces for wagon-tires, hoe-bars, axe-bars, plough-shares, plough-molds, harrow-teeth bars, horse-shoe irons, and gun "skelps." There was an extra charge for "handage" in the case of wagon-tires because they were hammered out thinner. In finishing upeach bar or smaller piece of iron the tender would pour water on its surface to give it a hard and smooth finish.
GIANT "HAMMERMEN." The hammerman soon became a veritable giant in his arms, and it is related of one of the older Duggers that he could insert arm into the eye of the hammer and another into that of the anvil and strike the two together. For miles below the water powers which drove the streams were muddy with the washings from the ore. For years iron thus made was the principal commodity of trade. The ends of the iron bars were bent like the runners of a sled, and as many of these bars were bound together by iron bands as could be dragged over the rough trails by a single ox. In this crude fashion many tons of iron found a market on farms remote from wagon roads.
EXPENSIVE HAULING. It took from three weeks to a month to go from Asheville to Charleston or Augusta by wagon before the Civil War. The roads were bad, and those in charge of the wagons camped on the roadside, cooking their own meals. No wonder freight rates were high, and that people did without much that seems indispensable now. It is said that Waugh, Murchison & Poe, early merchants Of Jefferson, hauled their goods from Wilmington, N. C. The late Albert T. Summey says that: "goods were hauled from Augusta and Charleston and cost from $1.75 to $2.00 per hundred. Salt cost in Augnsta $1.25 for a sack of 200 lbs. Add $4.00 for hauling, and it is easy to understand why people thought it cheap when they could buy it for $5.00" As late as the spring of 1850 it took Deacon William Skiles of Valle Cruces three weeks to ride horseback from Plymouth, N. C. to Watauga.21
RIFLE GUNS.22 The word "rifle" is too generic a term for the average mountaineer; but he knows what a "rifle-gun" is. Some of the older men have seen them made--lock, stock and barrel. The process was simple : a bar of iron the length of the barrel desired was hammered to the thickness of three-sixteenths of an inch and then rolled around a small iron rod of a diameter a little less than the caliber desired. After this, the rolled iron was welded together gradually--only three or four inches being welded at a time because it was not practicable to do more at a single "heating" without also welding the rod which was inside. This rod was withdrawn from the barrel while it was being heated in the furnace and allowed to cool, and when the glowing barrel was withdrawn from the fire the rod was inserted and the welding would begin and be kept up till the bar inside began to get too hot, after which it was withdrawn and cooled while the barrel was being heated again, and then the same process was repeated till the work was done. The caliber of the barrel was now smaller than desired, but it was enlarged by drilling the hole with a steel bit operated by water-power. The spiral grooves inside the barrel were made by small pieces of steel, two inches long, with saw-teeth on the edges, which served the purpose of filing the necessary spiral channels. The caliber was determined by the number of bullets which could be molded from a pound of lead, and usually ran from 80 to The caliber of rifles is now measured by the decimels of an inch, regardless of the number of bullets to the pound of lead. No hand-made rifle was ever known to burst. The locks, hammers, triggers, guards, ramrods, etc., were all made on the common anvil.23
PRIMITIVE TOOLS AND METHODS. Dutch scythes for cutting grass have been in the mountains time out of mind, but English scythes for the same purpose did not come into use in some of the counties till about l856-7. Cradles for cutting small grain were employed about 1846; before which time reaping hooks had been used entirely. Before thrashing machines arrived small grain was separated from the stems by means of flails, as in the old Bible days of the threshing floors-only in western North Carolina a smooth place was made in the hillside, if there was no level ground elsewhere, cloth was spread down over it, and the grain beaten out by flails. After this had been done, what was known as a "riddle" was used to free the grain of straw and chaff, sheets or coverlids of beds being used to fan the chaff away as the grain fell. Then came the sieve to separate the grain from all heavy foreign matter, after which it was ground in grist mills, and bolted by sifting it through thin, loosely woven cloth wound over a cylindrical wooden frame revolved by hand, a labor often imposed by the indolent railler on the boy who had brought the grist to mill. The miller never made any deduction from his toll because of this labor, however.
GROUND Hon THRESHERS. When the threshing machine came, about 1850, it was a seven days wonder. It was what was known as the "ground-hog" thresher, and required eight horses to pull it from place to place. It was operated by horse power also, which power was communicated to the machine by means of a tarred cotton rope in place of a band and sprocket chain, both of which came later. The grain and straw came from the machine together and were caught in a big sheet surrounded by curtains. The straw was raked from the top of the grain by wooden forks made from saplings or the limbs of trees. Steel pitchforks did not come into general use in these mountains till about 1850. A ground hog thresher could thresh out about 100 bushels a day with the help of about 16 hands, while the modern machine can easily thresh out over 400 bushels with the assistance of 10 hands; but as the extra hands of the olden time charged nothing for their labor, and felt honored by being allowed to take part in such glorious work, no complaint was ever heard on that score. Mowing machines did not come into general use in this Section till 1869 or 1870. Even the North refused them till England took them up.24
THE HANDY BLACKSMITH. Tools of all kinds were made by the ordinary blacksmiths of the country at ordinary forges. They made axes, hatchets, drawing-knives, chisels, augurs, horse-shoes, horse-shoe nails, bolts, nuts and even pocket knives!
FISH AND FISH TRAPS. Fish abounded in all mountain streams, and "a good site for a fish trap" was the greatest recommendation which a piece of land could have. These places were always the first entered and granted. In them fish by the barrelful would sometimes be caught in a single night where the trap was well situated and strongly built. Fishing at night in canoes by torchlight with a gig was a favorite sport as well as profitable practice and it was much indulged in."25 Above vertical falls trout could not pass. river, above the Great Falls, had no trout till 1857 (D. L. Low inWatauga Democrat, June 26, 1913), when men placed them there.
GRIST MILLS. "The first consideration, however, with these primitive inhabitants, was the matter of grist mills Hence at the first session of the Buncombe county court we find it 'Ordered that William Davidson have liberty to build a grist mill on Swannanoa, near his saw mill, Provided builds said mill on his own land.' This was in April, 1792. In January, 1793, it was 'Ordered that John Burton have liberty to build a Grist mill on his own land, on a branch the French Broad River, near Nathan Smith's, below the mouth of Swannanoa,' Apparently Davidson's mill was not built "but John Burton's was on Glenn's creek a short distance above its mouth."
WHEN THE CLOCK STOPPED. There were a few old seven-day clocks brought by the first settlers, but as a rule watches and clocks were few. Men and women learned to guess the time with some accuracy by looking at the sun on clear days and guessing at it on cloudy. Following is a description of the usual time-piece : "The clock consisted of a knife mark, extending north from one of the door-facings across the puncheon next to it. When the mark divided the sunshine that fell in at the door from the shadow of the facing, it was noon. All other hours were guessed at on cloudy days the clock stopped."26
CULTURE AND MANUFACTURE OF FLAX. The flax seed were sown thick, and when the plant was mature it was pulled up by the roots and spread on the ground to dry. Then it was bound in bundles and placed in a dry place till the envelope surrounding the fiber was decomposed. Sometimes it was scattered over the snow to bleach the lint. It was then rebound in small bundles and when the farmer was ready it was opened and placed on the "brake," which consisted of four or five wooden slats parallel to each other through which wooden knives passed, driving the flax stems between. After the flax was thus broken a handful of it was placed on the end of an upright board which had been driven into the ground, and struck smartly by a wooden swing1ing knife in order to knock off the small pieces of straw from the fiber. Then the fiber was drawn through the hackle, which consisted of a board from whose surface projected five or six inches a row of iron spikes, which served to separate the tow from the flax. The flax was then spun on the low wheels now sometimes seen in drawing rooms, gilded and beribboned but never used. Then it was wound on spools from which it was reeled into hanks. In the elder day the women had to count the revolutions of the reels, but before the Civil War a device was invented by which, after 100 revolutions the reel crack, and the housewife thus knew a hank had been reeled off. The flax thread was ready to be spooled and placed on the warping bars from it was wound on the beam of the loom. From this beam it was put through greats and slays of split reeds, thus making the warp. After this, other flax thread was reeled off on quills from the hanks and and placed in shuttles which were shot through the warp as the tread opened it, and the thread thus placed between the warp was driven back against the first thread by means of the battern, thus making loose cloth. Wool was shorn, washed, dried, picked, carded, spun, reeled on to brooches with shuck cores from the spinning wheel, when it was ready to be woven or knitted.
CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS. The early settlers were Scotch-Irish, as a whole, and their descendants are a hardy, hospitable and enterprising population, They were about equally divided in the War between the States and are still almost equally divided in politics. Until the coming of the railroads there had been necessarily much of primitiveness in their houses, clothing and manners; but religion has always been a strong and controlling factor in their lives. Churches have always existed here; but school-houses had been few and small and very little attention had been given to education. But, since the railroads have penetrated into this region, all this has changed, and dwelling houses have improved, clothing and manners have changed, and it is the exception nowadays to find a boy or girl of twelve years of age who cannot read and write.
MILITIA MUSTER DAYS. On the second Saturday of October each year there was a general muster at each county seat, when the various companies drilled in battalion or regimental formation; and each separate company met on its local muster grounds quarterly, and on the fourth of July the commanding officers met at the court house to drill. The Big Musters called most of the people together, and there was much fun and many rough games to beguile the time. Cider and ginger cakes were sold, and many men got drunk. There was also some fighting, but seldom with stones or weapons.
SALABLE PRODUCTS. Apples, hog meat, deer hams, chestnuts, chinquapins, butter, honey, wax, lard, eggs were the commodities they usually took to market, returning heavily laden with salt, yarn, pins, needles, tools, crockery ware, ammunition and a few cooking utensils. They relied principally upon herbs for such medicines as they used; they wove their own cloth upon hand looms, spinning the wool into thread and hetcheling or hatcheling out the flax. As sewing machines had not yet been invented, the women and girls cut out and sewed together all the garments used by themselves, their children and "the men folks" generally.
NO MONEY. According to CA. A. T. Davidson inThe Lyceum for January, 1891, the older people "had no money to buy with…. All the necessaries of life were procured from the markets in Georgia and South Carolina. It was a three weeks' trip with a wagon to Augusta, Georgia. For this market the neighborhood would bunch their products, bring their forces together and make trips to Augusta loaded with bacon, peltries and such other marketable articles as would bear transportation in this simple way. The return for these products was sugar, coffee, salt and molasses; and happy was the family on the return of the wagons to be able to have a jugful of New Orleans black molasses. And how happy the children were to meet their fathers and brothers again, and have them recite the many stories of the trip. We then bought salt by the measure, a bushel weighing about seventy pounds. The average price on the return of the wagon was about three dollars per bushel. It was interesting to see the people meet to get from the wagons, their portion of the return load; and happy was the small family that got a half bushel of salt, 50 cents worth of coffee and a gallon of molasses. There was a general rejoicing, all going home satisfied and happy, content with their small cargoes, confident that they had enough to do them for the next year. It is remarkable how simply and carefully they lived, and with what earnestness and hope they went to their daily toil, expecting nothing more than this small contribution to their luxury for a year to come.
STOCK RAISING.27 "The borders in the valley of Virginia and on the western highlands of the Carolinas were largely engaged in raising horses, cattle, sheep and hogs, which grazed at will upon the broad slopes of the eastern foothills of the Alleghanies, most of them being in as wild a state as the great roving herds now to be seen upon the semi-arid plains of the far West." The same occupation was followed by those who passed west of the foothills of the Alleghanies, and is kept up till this day. Those who had bought up the wild lands at low figures encouraged cattle herders to pasture or "range" their stock there. In the first place it gained their good will and in the second it enabled landowners to become aware of the presence of any squatters who might seek to hold by adverse possession. Two other reasons were that landowners could not have prevented the ranging of cattle except by fencing in their lands, an impossible task at that time, and the suppression of fires in their incipiency. Certain it is, that all sorts of stock were turned into the mountains in May, where they remained till October, with weekly visits from their owners for purposes of salting and keeping them gentle. After awhile a market was found on the coast for the cows, sheep, horses and hogs, and they were driven there in the late summer and during the fall. "There annually passed through Buncombe county an average of 150,000 hogs, driven on about eight miles daily, which required 24 bushels daily for each 1,000 and were fed on corn raised in Buncombe."28
STOCK "STANDS." There were many ""stock stands" along the French Broad river in ante- railroad days, for the turnpike from Asheville to the Paint Rock was a much traveled thoroughfare. Its stockholders made money, so great was the travel.29 James Garrett had a stand about one mile below the Hot Springs. Then there was another opposite the Hot Springs, known as the White House, and kept by the late John E. Patton. At the mouth of Laurel creek was still another stand kept by David Farnsworth. Just above the railroad station now called Putnam's is where Woolsey had a stand, while Zach. Candler had another at Sandy Bottoms. Then came Hezekiah A. Barnard's stand at what is still called Barnards, though it used to be called "Barnetts," and opposite the mouth of Pine creek Samuel Chunn gave bed and board to the weary drovers and feed to "his dumb drien" cattle, sheep, hogs, horses, mules or turkeys. At the end of what is now Marshall, Joseph Rice lived and upper end of that narrow village David Vance kept a tavern a long one-probably 150 feet in length, huddled between the stage road and the mountains. Samuel Smith accommodated all travelers and their belongings at the mouth of Ivy, and Mitchell Alexander was the Boniface at Alexander's.
Hezekiah Barnard used to boast that, while David Vance at Lapland, now Marshall, had fed 90,000 hogs in one month he himself had fed 110,000 in the same period of time. Aquilla Young, of Kentucky, also made his boast he had driven 2,785 hogs from Kentucky to North Carolina single drove.30
OLD ROAD HOUSES. "The stock stands, as the hotels between Asheville and Warm Springs were called, were generally 'well kept.' They began four miles below Asheville, at five miles there was another, at seven and a half miles still a another, at ten another, and another at thirteen and a half After this, at 16, 18, 21, 22, 28, 33, 36, 37, 40 and 47 mileposts there were still other hotels. "Many of them have entirely gone, and actually the ground upon which some of them stood has disappeared. The road, with a few points excepted, is but a wreck of its former self. It was once a great connecting link between Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia, and the travel over it was immense. All the horses, mules, cattle, sheep and hogs were driven over this route from the first mentioned States to the latter, and the quantities of each and all used then was very much greater than now. In October, November and December there was an almost continuous string of hogs from Paint Rock to Asheville. I have known ten to twelve droves, containing from 300 to one or two thousand stop over night and feed at one of these stands or hotels. Each drove was 'lotted' to itself, and 'corned' by the wagon road, the wagon being driven through each lot with ten or a dozen men scattering the corn right, left and rear, the load emptied and the ground literally covered. The drivers of these hogs were furnished large rooms, with immense log-heap fire-places and a blanket or two each, that they furnished themselves. They would form a semi-circle upon the bare floor, their feet to the fire, and thus pass the night; that they slept, I need not tell you. After driving 20 to 50 hogs from daylight to dark they could eat without coaxing and sleep without rocking. The travel over this thoroughfare was the; life of the country."31
OLD TIME COUNTRY STOREs. "Corn, sixty years ago, was 'the staple production'; the culture of tobacca was not thought of. These hotel men, many of them, kept little stores, bartered or sold everything on a credit; and in the fall they would advertise that on certain days they would receive corn in payment of 'store accounts', and then the farmers would bestir themselves. They would commence delivering frequently by daylight and continue it until midnight. I have seen these corn wagons strung out for a mile and as thick as they could be wedged. They were more anxious to pay accounts then than some of us are now; but it was pay or no credit next year. Each merchant had his 'trade,' and there was no getting in debt to one and then skip to another. The price allowed for corn was almost invariably fifty cents per bushel, the hotel men furnishing it to drovers at about 75 cents. They charged the drovers from twenty to twenty-five cents 'per diet,' meaning per meal for their drivers, asking the whole in lame hogs at so much per pound, or a due-bill from the manager to be paid as he returned horse after having made sale of his stock, cash being only rarely if ever paid. These lame hogs taken on bills were kept until a suitable time for killing--a cold spell being necessary to save the meat-when they were slaughtered and converted into bacon and lard."31
HOG-KILLIN' TIME. "This hog killin' was a big time, and 'away 'fo' day' as the negroes, who were the principal participants, would say, twenty to thirty hands would build immense log-heap fires; with, first, a layer of wood and then a layer of stones, which continued till satisfactory dimensions were reached, when the fire was applied and kept buring until the stones reached a red-heat. In the meantime a platform would have been made out of puneheons, slabs or heavy plank, at one end of which and very near the fire a large hogshead (or scalding tub), filled with water, was placed. Then the hot stones were transferred to the water till a proper temperature for scalding was reached, and a certain number of hogs having been shot and 'stuck' (bled by sticking long knives in the throat), two stout men would plunge each hog into the hot water and twist and turn it about until the all the hair would 'slip,' when it would be drawn out and turned over to other hands, who, with knives, would remove all the hair from the hog, and then hang it by its hind legs, head down, on a long horizontal pole, where it would we washed an and scraped down, opened, the entrails removed, and after cooling, be cut to pieces, thus making hams, shoulders and middlings. Then it would be salted down, the fat having been taken from all parts. This fat was stewed into lard, from which the boy's dainty 'cracklings' was removed. How well I remember the enjoyment I had on these occasions, in broiling upon the hot stones the 'melts,' making a delicacy that I think would be relished even now; and in blowing up and bursting the 'bladders,' frequently saving up a lot of them for Christma's 'guns.'"32
OUR DEPOTS SIXTY YEARS AGO. "Forty years ago Charleston and Augusta were our depots; think of it-thirty to sixty days in going and returning from market! Our people then thought little or nothing of hitching up four or six mules, once or twice a year, and starting to market.. .with forty to fifty hundred pounds of bacon and lard, flour and cor meal, dried fruit, apples and chestnuts …and bring back a barrel or two of molasses and sugar, a keg or so of rice, a few sacks of salt and coffee, a little iron, a hundred or two pounds of nails and a box or so of dry-goods."33 ROADS SIXTY YEARS AGO. "But the roads then were charming. I can remember when the road from Asheville to Warm Springs, every foot of it, was better than any half-mile of Asheville streets. Old Colonel Cunningham's 'mule and cart' and two or three hands traversed it from beginning to end of year, removing every loose stone and smoothing up every place. All travel was then by private conveyance or stage, there being several four-horse coaches out from Asheville daily."34
AGRICULTURE AND WIT SIXTY YEARS AGO. Of the farming along the French Broad between Asheville and Warm Springs sixty years ago, we read that "the lands were in a high state of cultivation, exceedingly high a great deal of it, as one would infer in passing along the foot of many steep hills and looking up to the top, seemingly almost perpendicular; and yet I have ploughed over some of the worst of them many a day, and was often indignant at the surprise expressed and sarcastic remarks made by the passer-by. One would ask if we did our planting with 'shot-guns'! Another, when were we going to move, as he saw that we had our land rolled up ready for a start! The Kentucky horse-drovers would say the water of the French Broad was so worn out by splashing and dashing over and against the rocks that it for a horse to drink!"
HERBS AND ROOTS. Ginseng was for the principal herb that commanded cash in this section, but at first brought, when green, only seven cents a pound. It is now worth six dollars or more.35 But gradually a market was developed for many other native herbs, such as angelico blood root, balm of gilead buds, yellow and white sarsaparilla, shamonium (Jamestown or gyrlipsum weed), corn silk (from maize), corn-smut or ergot, liverwort, lobelia, wahoo bark, Solomon's seal, polk root and berries, pepper and spear-mint, poppy and rose leaves, and raspberry leaves. Dried black-berries since the Civil War also find a ready market. Arthur Cole on Gap creek in Ashe county once did an immense business in herbs, and the large warehouses still standing there were used to store the herbs which he baled and shipped north. Ferns, galax leaves and other evergreens are gathered by women in the fall and winter and find ready sale.
A LOW MONEY WAGE. Laborers and lawyers were poorly paid in the old days, and the doctors of medicine fared little better. A fee of one hundred dollars in a capital case was considered the "top notch" by many leaders of the bar, while the late David Ballard of Ox creek, Buncombe county, who died about 1905 at the age of eighty-odd years, used to say that, when he was a young man, he "had worked many a day for 25 cents a day and found himself." But 25 cents in those days would buy more than a dollar would now, and as most of the trading was by barter, money was not misses as much as might be imagined. Stores were few and most of the things we now consider indispensable were unknown to many of the poorer people. Besides, everything that was indispensable was made at home, and things that were not indispensable were cheerfully dispensed with.
DYES. Madder dyed red; walnut bark and roots dyed brown; bedewood bark dyed purple; dye-flowers and snuff weed dyed yellow; copperas dyed yellow, and burnt copperas dyed nearly red. All black dyes rot wool. Dyes fade unless "set" in the thread-that is, made fast before the thread is placed in the loom. Laurel leaves, copperas, alum, and salt set dyes. The ooze from boiled walnut roots and bark was used to dye the wool before it was spun. It was dipped and dried, and dipped and dried again and again till the proper color had been attained. The dye pot stood on the hearth nearly all the time, as it had to be kept warm. Some dye plants were grown in the gardens, but they usually grew wild.