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PRIMEVAL CONDITIONS. Exactly what the forests were like in the days of the earliest settlers and what were the kinds and habits of its wild denizens can be known only by the accounts that have come down from our ancestors. Whether the country was more open than now or whether the wild animals were tamer than we now find them, are matters that cannot be absolutely determined by any mathematical process. Some claim that the Indians kept the undergrowth thinned out by annually setting the fallen leaves afire in order that they might see the game the better, while others suppose that there were thickets and saplings beneath the giant forest trees as there are at this time. Following are some thoughts upon this question:

"It is also doubtless true that 150 or 200 years ago the forests were not nearly so well grown up as at present, and that would in a measure account for the presence of such animals as the moose or even elk. Old hunters have told me that when they could first recollect there was scarcely any laurel, with only now and then a small bunch, and that the woods were open and no underbrush at all; that they could see through the forest ever so far, and that the growth of the hemlock was nothing like it is at present. Now and then a giant monarch of the forest and all around for a considerable distance would be small hemlocks. At the writer's own home at Banners Elk, I had occasion a year or 50 ago to make a practical demonstration of that fact. There was evidence of one of those giant hemlocks that had fallen down perhaps a hundred years ago. It was all decayed but the knots, of which I piled up more than 125. The tree itself must have been 120 feet high when standing around, the hemlocks grew thick from two to two and one-half feet in diameter. That the forests have become more thicketty in the last thirty years is the observation of every thoughtful man."<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1

T. L. Lowe's "History of Watauga County."">[1]

A MYSTERIOUS FLORAL SISTERHOOD. In the "Carolina Mountains" (ch. VI) we are told that in the Himalayas and the mountains of the Far East are found the flame-colored azalea, the silver--bell tree, the fringe bush, the wisteria, and ginseng, which are found nowhere else except in our own Appalachians. What bond, the author asks, tore these tender flowers asunder, separating them by continents and vast seas? We are also told that the Rhododendron Vaseyii, which, unlike the other rhododendrons, sheds its leaves in the fall, was supposed to have become extinct (p.59) but that it is still found on the north side of the Grandfather mountain. We learn also that Shortia was named for Prof. Short of Kentucky, and was rediscovered on the Horse Shoe Pasture river a few miles south of Lake Toxaway, "literally coloring acres of the earth with its charming flowers" (p.275).

BOTANY AND BOTANISTS. The abundance, variety and beauty of the wild flowers, bushes and shrubs attracted the attention of botanists at an early date. William Bertram of Philadelphia was in the Cherokee country in 1776.<a href="#2" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 2

The facts stated herein are from "Southern Wild Flowers," by Alice Loundesberry, and P. M. Hale's "Woods and Timbers of North Carolina."">[2] Andrew Michaux was sent to this country by the French government to collect seeds, shrubs and trees for the royal gardens in 1785, and, on the 30th of August, 1794, reached the summit of the Grandfather, "the highest in all North America," he declared; "and with my companion and guide sang the hymn of the Marseillaise."<a href="#3" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 3

Michaux's journal and facts about his life are set out in Dugger's book, pp. 251-259, and were taken from a memoir prepared by Mr. Charles S. Sargent for the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia.">[3]
The following year Michaux explored the mountains of Burke and Yancey, carrying away in the fall 2,500 specimens of trees, shrubs and plants. In 1794 he visited the Linville, Black, Yellow, Roan, Grandfather and Table mountains. The late Col. Davenport of Yadkin Valley was his guide. His "Flora Boreali-Americana" is yet a classic. Mr. Fraser, a Scotchman, made botanical collections in these mountains in 1787 and 1789; and, under the patronage of the Russian government, he explored them again in 1799, accompanied by his eldest son, when he found the laurel or Rhododendron Catawbiense. They came again in 1807, and in 1811 the son returned, spending several years, and annually sending large consignments of plants and seed to Great Britain. F. A. Michaux, son of Andre, was here in 1802, and published his "Forest Trees of North America" in 1857. Thomas Nuttall, an Englishman, examined a portion of our mountains, and wrote "Genera of North American Plants." He died in 1859. Prof. Asa Gray of the University of Cambridge and John Carey of New York were in the mountains of Ashe and Yancey in 1841; and in 1843 Prof. Gray, with Mr. Sullivan of Ohio, came into our mountains from Virginia. S. B. Buckley came by the Hiwassee in 1842, and in the same year Mr. Rugel, a Ger'man collector, was here. In 1844 Mr. Dow, a young botanist, traversed the entire length of our mountain range. In 1840 Prof. Gray found the Lilium Canadense, but Dr. Sereno Watson discovered that it possessed traits peculiar to itself alone, "set it aside as a distinct species and honored it with its discoverer's name." In 1839 Dr. Gray observed in Paris an unnamed specimen brought there by the elder Michaux from "les hautes montagnes de Carolinie"; but on his return failed to find it till in 1877 G.M. Hymes, then a boy, accidentally discovered it on the bank of the Catawba near Marion. Dr. Gray had already named it Shortia in honor of Dr. C. W. Short. In September, 1886, Professor Sargent discovered that the Hogback mountain above Lake Toxaway is the original habitat of the Shortia, just 98 years after Michaux had first found it and probably near the same spot.

PIONEERS IN FORESTRY. Before the railroad got to Asheville, and afterwards, shrewd men went through these mountains buying standing timber and paying for it with a song, if with that. Thousands of the finest black walnut trees were branded as the property of the purchasers and left to grow on the land of the seller. Later on the finest poplars and cherries were also purchased and left to grow, while the railroads were ever drawing nearer. The walnut trees were first cut and their trunks hauled for miles to the head of the railroad. Later still the poplars and cherries followed. Then followed a demand for the stumps of the walnuts, and these also found a ready market, and brought more than the trees which had been cut from them, for by this time we had grown in knowledge and knew somewhat of the value of our timber. We had not known it before the Civil War, having used black walnut and cherry and poplar rails for the building of fences.

SCOTTISH LAND AND TIMBER COMPANY. In the eighties this company, managed by Alexander A. Arthur from Scotland, bought up ten square miles of the finest timber on Big Pigeon, between Cataloochee and Big creeks, and tried to float the logs down the Pigeon; but it was soon discovered that it did not pay at that time. Later on the Bushnells of Ohio, one of whom was afterward governor of Ohio, came and set up extensive mills at the junction of Little Tennessee and Tuckaseegee rivers, where they established booms; but the first flood swept booms and logs away. The place was called Bushnell and still retains the name. The Ritters, Whitings and others have followed.

MILLS TO THE TIMBER. During this time many small concerns were taking small steam engines to the timber and cutting it near where it stood. Even this did not pay in many cases, and it became a saying that if you had a grudge against a man, just give him a steam saw-mill and his ruin would soon follow. The business has since thriven in some cases and proven disastrous in others.

WEALTH IN FORESTS. It is in her forests, however, especially of late years, that this section has found its greatest wealth. There are at least a dozen well recognized species of oak, while most of the hardwoods and the coniferous and deciduous growths common to this latitude can be found in great abundance. Already saw mills, pulp mills, acid mills, and other mills for the utilization of these forests have been established and thousands of men are employed where only a few found employment before. The railroads are taxed to supply cars in which to haul the products of the forest to market. With the adoption of intelligent forestry; methods promised by the United States Government, which is now acquiring many of these forested areas, the future seems to hold out the hope that these forests will continue to be a source of revenue for all time to come.

FOREST FIRES. From the report of J. S. Holmes (State Forester) of 1911, it appears that the forest fires in the various mountain counties in 1910 have wrought considerable damage; table four of that report giving the facts in detail. From the same paper can be gathered the steps that have been taken to prevent these fires, including the State and National legislation on the subject. In 1909 the legislature of this State passed a law to declare any wooded land above 2,000 feet elevation a "State Forest," and the appointment of wardens as the owner of the land may request; but advantage has not been generally taken of its provisions, because it requires the owner to pay one-half a cent an acre additional tax for the benefit of the school fund, while he had also to pay the wardens for their services.

FROM ADVANCE SHEET OF FOREST SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES, 1912. Estimated amount of standing timber in thousand feet board measure, trees 10 inches and over in diameter breast high, in western North Carolina, by counties: [Omitted]

EASTERN FOREST RESERVES. In 1900 Dr. C. P. Ambler, George S. Powell, Hon. Locke Craig and Hon. Josephus Daniels inaugurated the Appalachian National Park movement at Asheville, which culminated in March, 1910, in the passage by Congress of the Weeks act, under which $10,000,000 were appropriated for the purchase of wild lands in the mountains at the heads of the navigable rivers of the eastern States. But as only $2,000,000 could be expended in any year, and as the act could not be put into force between March and June 30, 1910, the expiration of the fiscal year, only $8,000,000 were available. The operation of this act expires in 1915. At the expiration of 1913 the following purchases had been made: [Omitted]

As indicative of the rapid advance in the price of timberland in the mountains, the Murchison boundary in Yancey county may be cited. It was sold at Sheriff's sale about 1879 to the Murchisons for $2,200, who held it intact as a timber and game preserve until December, 1909, when they sold it for $225,000 to Carr and Keys, These held it about a year and sold it to ____ Brown for $300,000. The late R. B. Johnston, who owned 5,000 acres on Cat Tail creek, adjoining the Murchison tract, vainly offered it to Big Tom Wilson for $750 in 1879 as a goat farm. In January, 1911, Johnston's heirs sold the timber on this tract to the Carolina Spruce Company for $110,000. In October, 1912, G. W. Vanderbilt sold to Lewis Carr of Virginia, the timber, wood and bark, standing and down, on 69,326 acres of mountain land in Transylvania, Henderson and Buncombe counties for $12 per acre, payable in installments in twenty years. He had bought this land twenty years before for less than $3 per acre. (Deed Book, Buncombe, No.161, p.518.)

ELK AND BUFFALO. The native fauna, alas has largely dis appeared. But when Daniel Boone and his contemporaries first crossed the Blue Ridge they found black bear and red deer in the greatest numbers; while, in the neighborhood of Banner Elk have, even in recent years, been discovered the bones of elk and caribou. Elk mountain and Bull Gap in Buncombe county take their names from the elk. There is reason to believe that buffalo used to pasture along the lonely streams of this elevated plateau, while smaller game, such as the opossum, the raccoon, mink and otter, have not entirely disappeared to this day. The beaver, however, has long been extinct, leaving its name to innumerable streams. (See ante pp.42, 65, 251, 252 and 253.)

DOGS FOR FOOD? In that storehouse of information concerning this section of country, the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology,<a href="#4" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 4

J. W. Powell, director, 1897-'98">[4] page 26 it appears that when DeSoto arrived at Guaxule, which the author, James Moody, identifies as "the great Nacooches mount, in White county, Ga., a few miles northwest of the present Clarksville," and near Franklin, N. C., the Cherokees "gave the Spaniards 300 dogs for food, although, according to the Elvas narrative, the Indians themselves did not eat them." In a foot note it is stated that "Elvas, Biedma, and Ranjel all make special reference to the dogs given them at this place; they seem to have been of the same small breed ('perrillos') which Ranjel says the Indians used for food. " Mention is also made of the "delicious service berry of the southern mountains." <a href="#6" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 6

These berries grow wild, and it is surprising that no effort has been made to cultivate, them.">[6]

FIRST BUFFALOES. From the same work, page 26, it is learned that when DeSoto was resting at Chiha, near the present Columbus, Ga., he met with "a chief who confirmed what the Spaniards had heard before concerning mines in the province of Chisca," saying that there was a melting of copper and of another metal of about the same color, but softer, and therefore not so much used," and that DeSoto sent two soldiers on foot with the Indian guides to find Chisca<a href="#5" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 5

Ibid., p.27">[5], I which was "northward from Chiaha, somewhere in upper Georgia or the adjacent part of Alabama or Tennessee." When these soldiers returned to DeSoto they reported that they had been taken "through a country so poor in corn, so rough, and over so high mountains that it would be impossible for the army to follow"; but they had "brought back with them a dressed buffalo skin which the Indians there had given them, the first ever obtained by white men, and described in the quaint old chronicle as "an ox hide as thin as a calf's skin, and the hair like a soft wool between the coarse and fine wool of sheep." This must have been in the mountains of North Carolina.

FRUIT CULTURE. As to the adaptability of the soil and climate of the mountains to fruit culture, the State Agricultural Department has this to say in a pamphlet entitled "Orchard Lands," and dated at Raleigh, N. C., October 7, 1910:

"The Appalachian mountain region attains in North Carolina its maximum development, for here it reaches the greatest height east of the Rockies. This gives it a cool climate, like that of the northern states and Canada. In addition to its altitude, it has, on account of its southern latitude, a longer growing season and a more abundant and brighter sunlight. This makes it ideal for the commercial production of hardy fruits. The apples grown in this region are of very high color and of fine quality. The rainfall is heavy in summer, giving a rapid growth and making fruit of large size. The full weather is dry, cool, and bright, thus giving the most favorable conditions for fruit harvesting and marketing. The soils of the mountains are rich and fertile and produce a good growth both of tree and fruit. Healthy old trees are growing in many parts which have been bearing heavily for upwards of a century. In the deep, rich, ulluvial soil of mountain coves the ramous Albemarle Pippin finds the soil that brings it to its greatest perfection. On the mountainsides, in many places, are found the thermal zones that are so rarely visited by frost that total failures of fruit are practically unknown. It is destined to be the most noted apple growing section in the whole country. Apples from the mountain country have twice carried off the first prize at the Madison Square Garden in New York City in competition with the whole United States. Peaches attain a color and quality there which they do not reach in the lower country. They grow as handsome as the California peaches, and as to quality the California product is hardly to be named in comparison with them."

LIVE STOCK. Of the raising of live stock, the same excellent authority, in a pamphlet entitled "North Carolina : A Land of Opportunity In Fruit Growing, Farming and Trucking," has this to say, in a chapter called "Climates" (p.36):

"It is a region of fertile valleys and elevated plateaus, with a climate very similar to that of the northern middle states. The summers are cool and pleasant and the whole region is an attractive one to the summer visitor and is becoming a great summer resort. The winters are cold, but shorter than those of the middle states north. In most mountain regions the mountainsides are rocky and sterile, but in the mountains of North Carolina, as a rule, the mountain slopes are covered with fertile soil and in some parts of the mountain country the treeless 'balds' have their slopes to their lofty tops covered with fertile soil and rich greases, on which great herds of cattle are grazed in summer. The valleys in the southern section of the mountain country are less elevated and the climate is mild and pleasant, while the snowfall is very light. The clear streams of water that flow everywhere and the natural growth of fine grasses mark this region for cattle and the dairy, while on the uplands fruit of all kinds flourishes as it seldom does elsewhere."

GRAINS RICE IN PROTEIDS. Agriculturally the soil of this section is hospitable to the growth of all the fruits, vegetables and cereals of the temperate zone.<a href="#7" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 7

See "North Carolina, A Land of Opportunity in Fruit Growing, Farming and Trucking," issued by the Department of Agriculture. Raleigh, N. C.">[7] Some of the lands are too high and cold for maize or Indian corn, but rye and buckwheat can be grown there in great abundance. The soil is generally too thin to produce a large yield of corn or wheat to the acre, but the corn grown, being small and hard and maturing quickly, is richer in the proteids and all nutritive qualities than the larger and softer kernels which grow in such abundance from the black soil of the prairie states in the corn belt proper. It more than makes up in quality what it lacks in abundance. Corn grown on Tuskeegee creek in Swain county, in 1893, by John M. Sawyer, took the prize at the Columbian Exposition for being richer in the proteids than any other corn grown in the United States. Col. W. L. Bryan of Boone was awarded a diploma and bronze medal by the same exposition for buckwheat grown in Watauga county in 1893.

THE HOME OF THE APPLE. But, while most fruits and melons thrive in this soil, it is the apple which does best and brings most credit and notoriety to this section. Apples from this country took the prize at the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 over all apples grown in America, while prizes have been awarded to this fruit at the Chicago and St. Louis fairs.<a href="#8" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 8

See Bulletin of "North Carolina Fruit Land for Sale," issued by Department of Agriculture, Raleigh, 1910.">[8] It is a crop that rarely fails. There is a black soil in different localities of this section peculiarly adapted to the growth of apples, but they do well in any soil and require very little attention. The United States Geological Survey publishes maps showing the different variety of soils in the mountain region of North Carolina.

GRASSES AND STOCK. In the counties of Ashe, Alleghany, and Watauga grasses flourish so abundantly that little corn is planted, as it pays better to raise stock on the rich grass and hay and to buy such corn as is needed for work stock and human consumption than to plough up the grass and raise this cereal. In all the mountain region in these counties the land is not so steep but that it can be broken up and planted in grass, the result being that, with the exception of a fringe of trees upon the crest of the ridges, almost the entire country is given up to grass. Very little timber is left hereabout. On all the mountains, after the timber has been removed and the surface ground exposed to sunlight, grasses grow abundantly.

STOCK "RANGING." In other counties, where grass does not thrive so well, owing to the shade of the thick timber, and where the land is too steep to plough, cattle, mules, horses and hogs are "ranged" in the mountains from May until November and are then driven in, fat and sleek.

BEAR, DEER AND TURKEY. While, as has been said, most of the big game has been killed, there are still a few black bear left in the more remote and inaccessible mountains, in the pursuit of which much sport can be had. There are also a few red deer scattered here and there, and a few tame herds maintained in private parks. Gray squirrels, pheasants, quail, wild turkey, the red and gray fox and an occasional wolf can still be found in the more remote sections.

MOUNTAIN AND RAINBOW TROUT. The introduction of the California or Rainbow trout into the clear and cold mountain creeks and rivers, and black basts in the larger streams, has proven a great success; and, while the mountain or speckled trout proper are being consumed by their rainbow brothers, the latter still afford great sport for the anglers who visit these mountains every spring and summer in increasing numbers. But for the reprehensible and unlawful practice of dynamiting the bass streams by irresponsible people, this gamest of all game fish would soon multiply so rapidly as to afford sport for all who might care to take them. There are no finer streams anywhere for bass than the Cheowah, Tennessee, Tuckaseegee, lower Nantahala, upper French Broad, Hiwassee, Nollechucky or Toe, Watauga and New rivers.

WHERE AND WHEN IT WAS TOO COLD TO RAISE CORN. From Col. W. L. Bryan's "Primitive History of the Mountain Region," we learn that when Ashe and Watauga were first settled "the seasons would not mature corn and the pioneer settlers had to get their corn from the valley of the Yadkin river, carrying the same on their backs, for few had horses at that time…. There being no roads save the trails which had been made by the Indians and the great pioneer, Boone, those who had horses would place two and a half bushels of corn in a strong homespun and woven tow sack, throw it on their horse's back and fasten it by the use of a surcingle, turn the horse in the path and walk behind."

PEA VINE. From the same authority we learn that "in the earlier days of our country there was a growth called pea-vine, which was a very rich food for stock, and had an almost limitless range throughout the entire almost boundless forest."

SOME FAMOUS HUNTERS OF THE OLDEN DAY. "Near the headwaters of the Watauga is the Linville gap separating the Grandfather from Hanging Rock mountain and the waters of the Main fork of Watauga from the head prong of the Linville river. Near this gap used to live James Aldrich, a noted hunter, when bear, deer, elk, wolves and panther abounded. Harrison Aldrich, James' son, also lived there, and was a great hunter, having killed over one hundred bear." An encounter between Aldrich and a bear in a cave, while George Dugger, "another pioneer hunter and one of the very best of men," waited on the outside, is related by Col. Bryan; and another in which Aldrich shot a sleeping bear in a cave, striking him in the burr of the ear and killing "him so dead be never waked up." Of like courage and skill was Big Tom Wilson of Yancey, and Welborn Waters of Whitetop. Near the branch where James Winkler now lives, near Boone, and when Jordan Councill, Sr., was living there, a dog treed an unknown animal. Thinking it was a coon Jordan Councill went up the tree and followed the unknown "varmint" out on a limb. When it dragged its tail in Mr. Councill's face he knew it was a panther. He hastened down, got a torch, "shined" the eyes of the great cat and shot it.

FIRE-HUNTING. According to Col. Bryan, this sport was conducted by hunters during a certain season when the stones in creeks and rivers are covered with a peculiar moss of which deer and elk are very fond. The hunter would take a canoe or other small boat, place a torch in the front end and himself remain in the stern. The boat was poled or paddled by another. The boat would be silently floated up to deer standing belly-deep in the water and plunging their muzzles into the river to get the moss upon the rocks. Blinded by the light the deer would stand still till their eyes reflecting the light of the torch afforded a perfect target. Then the leaden missile would speed upon its fatal way. Cows also like this moss, and sometimes hunters would kill their own stock.

RAVENS. The ravens which fed Elijah the Tishbite by the brook Cherith (1 Kings, xvii, 6) did not thereby secure veneration for their descendants of our mountains after their settlement by the whites; for, when spring opened, they came down from the cliffs and crags and preyed upon the young pigs and lambs of the settlers, first plucking out their eyes and then clipping off their ears and finally killing and eating them. At the report of a gun in the remote mountains seventy-five years ago all the ravens within hearing flocked to the hunter, in the hope of preying upon whatever he might have killed or wounded. Fresh raw meat was, when hidden in tree-tops, kept from their beaks only by the wad of tow which had been used to clean the foul barrels of the guns.

WOLVES. On the 6th of June, 1794, Gideon Lewis entered 68 acres under tbe Three Tops mountain," at what is now Creston (Deed Book A, Ashe county, p.38.) Gideon and his family were great hunters; but his sons, Gideon Nathan, were for years the great wolf hunters of Ashe county. They would follow the gaunt female to her den, and while waited outside, the other brother crawled in and secured the pups, from six to ten in each litter, but allowing the mother to escape. The young were then skalped, the skalp of a young wolf being paid for the same as that of the mature animal. For each skalp the county paid $2.50. When asked why he never liked grown wolves, Gideon Lewis answered: "Would you expect a man to kill his milch-cow?" Wolves had greatly increased during the Civil War, and soon after its close the late Thomas Sutherland of Ashe county, with other cattle herders, hired the late Welborn Waters to kill all the wolves from the White Top to the Roan mountain. He would conceal himself in the wildest parts of the mountains and howl in imitation of a wolf. When the wolves which had heard him came, he shot them from his place of concealment. This soon exterminated the breed along the Tennessee line.

GINSENG. David Miller, Col. Bryan's grandfather, dug "a root of ginseng that weighed one pound, avoirdupois, and would frequently dig two bushels and a half of this root in a day. The price then was only ten cents per pound."

This is usually called "sang" by our people. Its value, use and how to prepare it for the market of China were first taught us by Andre Michaux on his first visit to the Blue Ridge in August, 1794.<a href="#9" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 9

Balsam Groves, 248">[9] It is called Gentian by some.<a href="#10" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 10

McClure, 233">[10]

COLONEL BYRD'S RHAPSODY. In his "Writings" Col. Byrd of Westover (pp.211-212) thus sings the praises of this indigenous herb : When near the Dan river on his famous survey of the dividing line between Virginia and North Carolina, he chewed a root of ginseng, which "kept up my and made me trip away as nimbly in my half Jack-Boots as younger men could in their shoes. This plant is now in high esteem in China where it sells for its Weight in Silver. (The capitals are all Col Byrd's). Indeed it does not grow there, but in the Mountains of Tartary, to which place the Emperor of China Sends 10,000 Men every Year on purpose to gather it…. Indeed, it is a vegetable of so many vertues (sic), that Providence has planted it very thin in every Country that has the happiness to Produce it…. This noble Plant grows likewise at the Cape of Good Hope, where it is called Kanna, and is in wonderful Esteem among the Hottentots. It grows also on the northern Continent of America, near the Mountains, but as sparingly as Truth and Public Spirit…. Its vertues are, that it gives an uncommon warmth to the Blood, and frisks the spirits, beyond any other Cordial. It cheers the heart even of a Man that has a bad Wife, and makes him look down with great Composure on the crosses of the world. It promotes insensible Perspiration, dissolves all Phlegmatic and Viscous Humors that are apt to obstruct the Narrow Channels of the Nerves. It helps the Memory and would quicken even Helvetian [Shades of Julius Caesar!] dullness. 'Tis friendly to the Lungs, much more than Scolding itself. It comforts the Stomach, and Strengthens the Bowels, preventing all Colicks and Fluxes. In one word, it will make a man live a great while, and very well while he does live. And what is more, it will make Old Age amiable, by rendering it lively, cheerful and good-humored."

The Associated Press dispatches on August 6, 1913, said that 150,000 pounds of ginseng was shipped to China from the United States for the past year, valued at $1,500,000-or ten dollars a pound, whereas it used to be sold for 121/2 cents in the mountains. Also that 155,000 pounds of the same herb had been exported the year before, valued at $7 per pound. It was also stated that before the wild forest supply diminished largely it brought only 40 cents per pound; and that its cultivation began in 1898.

FINE FOR DOGS BUT FINER FOR SHEEP IF- In a country so ideally situated for sheep-raising as these mountains, it is difficult to explain why that industry has not been more successful than it has been, unless the destructiveness of dogs is the reason. These faithful canine friends were indispensable to the pioneer, but their possession is now no longer necessary, and the farmers are getting rid of all that are not required for dairy purposes. This eliminates many hounds and worthless mongrels and substitutes for them the intelligent Scotch collie and shepherd. All efforts to tax useless dogs out of existence have thus far failed to eliminate the superfluity of our canine friends.

WILD PIGEONS. These birds used to come in flocks which literally darkened the heavens. At night their roosts were visited by men and boys bearing torches who wantonly killed thousands of these light-blinded birds. They come no longer. Pigeon river in Haywood county and Pigeon Roost creek in Mitchell have been named for these migrants.

THERMAL BELTS. In the pamphlet of the N. C. Agricultural Department, called "North Carolina A Land of Opportunity in Fruit Growing, Farming and Trucking " (Raleigh), is a most admirable article on thermal belts written by the late Silas McDowell, of Macon county, in 1858, for the U. S. Patent Office Report, from observations made near Franklin; and in the same paper are excerpts from a report made by the late Professor John LeConte on the thermal belts or "frostless zones of the flanks of the mountain spurs adjacent to the valleys of the Blue Ridge." His observations were made at Flat Rock, Henderson county, fifty miles east of Franklin. "These facts point out this region as the best place to be found for the cultivation of celery, cauliflower, tomatoes and other vegetables for canning; raspberries and strawberries, for shipment and preserving; for peaches, pears, fine apples, cherries, quinces and currants; also for the finer table and wine grapes."

MILK SICK. In former years, before the country had been cleared of its forests, far more than at the present time, though the malady still exists in certain localities, there was prevalent a disease popularly known as "milk sick," so called because it was supposed to be caused by the drinking of the milk of cows which had been pastured on "milk sick" land. The cows themselves do not at first disclose the fact that they were suffering any ill effects from having pastured there, as, if they did, it would be easy for people to avoid the disease by refraining from the use of milk of such cattle. On the contrary, such cows seem to be normal. This sickness is usually fatal to the victim unless properly treated. There were, and still are, for that matter, men and women peculiarly skilled and successful in the treatment of this obscure disease, who were called "milk sick" doctors. Sometimes they were not doctors or physicians at all, and did not pretend to practice medicine generally, seeming to know how to treat nothing except "milk sick." Whiskey or brandy with honey is the usual remedy; but in the doses and proportionate parts of each ingredient and when to administer it consisted the skill of the physician. When the "patch" of land supposed to contain milk sick had been located it was fenced off and all cattle kept from grazing there.

SYMPTOMS. In his "Medicine in Buncombe County Down to 1885 Historical and Biographical Sketches," 1906, Dr. Galliard S. Tennent, M. D., says :

"The symptoms, those of severe gastroententis with some variations, were said to follow the ingestion of milk or butter from an infected cow. The origin was variously ascribed to some plant or fungus growth, or to some mineral poison occurring in certain spots."

DISEASE CANNOT BE ACCOUNTED FOR. Here is what the United States Department of Agriculture says on the subject :<a href="#11" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 11

Letter of A. D. Melvin to Hon. J. C. Pritchard, February 7, 1912, Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln's mother, died of milk-sick.">[11]

"In reply I beg to advise you that many efforts have been made to elucidate the question regarding the nature and cause of milk sickness, but although many theories have been discussed none of them have so far been generally accepted. Some investigators hold that the disease is of micro-organismal origin, some that it is due to an autointoxication, while others think it is caused by vegetable or mineral poisons. All seem, however, to agree that the disease is limited to low swampy uncultivated land, and that the area of the places where it occurs is often restricted to one of a few acres. Furthermore, that when such land or pastures have been cultivated and drained the disease disappears completely.

"The discovery of a new focus of this disease in the Pecos Valley of New Mexico in November, 1907, gave Jordan and Harris the opportunity of studying this peculiar affection by modern bacteriological methods. As a result they have succeeded in isolating in pure cultures from the blood and organs of animals dead of this disease a spore-forming bacillus which they name Bacillus laclimorbi. With this bacillus they have reproduced in experiment animals the symptoms and lesions Peculiar to milk sickness or trembles, and from these animals the same organism has been recovered in purity. It therefore appears to have been demonstrated that the bacillus in question is the actual cause of the disease. As Jordan and Harris have already indicated, more comprehensive studies, based on a larger supply of material, are desirable in order that the many obscure and mystifying features connected with the etiology of this rapidly disappearing disease may be elucidated.

"The proper means of preventing losses from this disease is by excluding access to such pastures where the disease is known to occur. This has been done with good results in many places by the use of barb wire fences.

"The affected animals should be kept as quiet as possible and a dose of one pound of Epsom salts dissolved in water administered as a drench. If the symptoms become alarming a competent veterinarian should be employed."

HONEY DEW OR PLANT LICE. There is a sugary formation often observable on the leaves of certain trees and saplings-usually of chestnut, oak and hickory-which looks like a coating of honey which has dried upon the upper surface of such leaves. It has a sweetish taste, which has given it the name of honey-dew. Many persons really believe it is a sweet dew which settles on the upper surface of the leaves; but when the question as to the cause of this deposit was asked, the United States Department of Agriculture thus explained it:<a href="#12" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 12

L. O. Boward to Hon. J. C. Pritchard, February 9, 1912">[12]

"The honeydew, in question, is secreted by plant lice, scale insects, or leaf-hoppers, and more especially by plant lice, which appear early in the season and become frequently very numerous and gradually disappear as the summer advances. The honeydew is exuded by them from the anal end of the body and accumulates on the leaves below them."


  1. T. L. Lowe's "History of Watauga County."
  2. The facts stated herein are from "Southern Wild Flowers," by Alice Loundesberry, and P. M. Hale's "Woods and Timbers of North Carolina."
  3. Michaux's journal and facts about his life are set out in Dugger's book, pp. 251-259, and were taken from a memoir prepared by Mr. Charles S. Sargent for the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia.
  4. J. W. Powell, director, 1897-'98.
  5. Ibid., p. 27
  6. These berries grow wild, and it is surprising that no effort has been made to cultivate, them.
  7. See "North Carolina, A Land of Opportunity in Fruit Growing, Farming and Trucking," issued by the Department of Agriculture. Raleigh, N. C.
  8. See Bulletin of "North Carolina Fruit Land for Sale," issued by Department of Agriculture, Raleigh, 1910.
  9. Balsam Groves, 248.
  10. McClure, 233.
  11. Letter of A. D. Melvin to Hon. J. C. Pritchard, February 7, 1912, Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln's mother, died of milk-sick.
  12. L. O. Boward to Hon. J. C. Pritchard, February 9, 1912.