Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Western North Carolina Its Mountains and Its People to 1880

Most of our married life we've lived in the mountains and we've been missing the smell of the woods and the crisp air. The first ten years of our marriage we lived in the Sierra Nevada mountains in a small village called Foresthill. Later we lived for two years in the Cascades in another small town called Shingletown. Then we moved to Tuolumne close to Yosemite. The last mountain place was in Springville where I had my lavender gardens.

We decided to mosey on up and spend some time in the mountains of North Carolina which we missed doing on our trip there over three years ago. I happened to find this book about the mountains and was entralled by all the history of the region. I've taken a slight detour in my reading habits to include a bit of history of the mountains of North Carolina.

I just finished reading Western North Carolina Its Mountains and Its People to 1880 by Ora Blackmun. Someone happened to donate a signed copy to our library complete with the color illustrated dust cover. The book is filled with historical photographs of battle scenes, cabins, maps, and many of the historical figures of the day. I really enjoyed reading about the history of the early settlers in the eastern United States and learing more about my ancestors the Cherokee Indians. I was surprised to learn the discovery of gold in North Carolina was one of the reasons the Cherokee were finally completely forced out via the Trail of Tears. I particularly like the descriptions of the flora and fauna of the mountains. Normally I don't like historical books but I found myself turning page after page captured by the narrative. Here are a few teasers:

"Of the thousands of plant forms in Western North Carolina and the number reaches 3,600 in the Smoky Mountains the rhododendron and laurel covering the balds and their relativee, the flame azalea, growing both on the balds and grassy slopes, furnish spring's most spectacular display".

"Until after the Civil War, mountain women made their dyes from vegetables, roots, and bark. With these dyes they colored linen thread and the woolen yarns which they wove into the linsey-woolsey cloth for their families' clothing".

"They were all men of the woods and hills, trained by necessity in self protection, in quick decisions, in precise timing. The spared not a thought on uniforms and army equipment, and they had not time to enlist in the American army (even if any of them by chance thought of such action)".

"Murphey led a crusade for an east-west highway, a state public school system, and the revision of the state's constitution. After his death, western leaders continued the crusade that in time led to reforms. Murphy, the county seat of Cherokee County, was name in his honor".

"By the time the most westerly counties were formed, the Cherokees had long been accustomed to the white men's dress. They no longer lived in lodges but in cabins like those of the white settlers".

Judging from the hardships the settlers faced it's truly a wonder any survived enabling generations who followed to make this country what it is today. Can't wait to get up to some cool mountains air. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. Funny how history is grabbing us. I guess while I was younger (raising kids/working/whatever)I seemed too busy. Now I treasure and research our history and am amazed at the strengths and courage. I'm also appalled by some things...however, it is history. Maybe we can learn???

  2. I have a dye chart that shows what roots and vegetables create colors when used as thread dye. The creator of the chart credits the Navajo but I'm sure many other tribes used the same vegetation for coloring. The most likely passed it on to the settlers.

  3. It must have been really hard work being a mountain woman back in those days. Thyy must have scrounged for everything they needed and invented what they could.

  4. The mountain sides covered in rhododendron and laurel are beautiful. In the NC mountains, the only other place I would want to live.

  5. I really regret the way that history was taught when I was at school. Dates, battles, conquests and very little more. Now, years later, I am fascinated in finding out how people lived - and amazed at the tenacity our ancestors needed to get by.
    That looks/sounds like a fascinating book - and have a wonderful time in that fresh mountain air.

  6. Interesting history of that area. A good blog buddy of mine, Larry and his wife were just RVing in that same area. They were staying right north of Franklin at the Great Adventures RV Park. He just did a post about it, if you want to check it out.


    Have fun and enjoy the mountains!

  7. Thanks all, we are now in Brunswick GA and it is almost 100 and we are sweltering but plan to go to one of the islands tomorrow early and hopefully go on a sea turtle tour or into the museum at least, more later.

  8. Congrats on your new home.I could walk my dogs in it! I wish you a safe journey! : )

  9. I look forward to each visit to your post....I will get to see and learn things i am not able to do at this time of my life. I am a RVer wanna- be LOL

  10. It's not all a bed of roses in this thing, yesterday we spent 4 hours at a truck stop getting the transmission fluid changed and the rig lubed and by the time we left it was really hot and we were worn out just from waiting.

    The cats are nervous too so we stop every so often to give them a rest.

    More later.


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