When Kim Sutton puts on his Civil War attire, he’s immediately transported to an era when a national conflict held court in the rural landscape of Haywood County.
For 10 years, museum curator Jackie Stephens has prepped The Shelton House for Civil War commemorations.
With the help of Civil War enthusiasts in Haywood County, The Shelton House Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts has put together a full weekend of events to commemorate the last shot fired in the Civil War east of the Mississippi. Many of the same events are also planned for the weekend of June 12-13.
William Holland Thomas, a self-made, prominent businessman, a revered chief in the Cherokee tribe, a politician and a colonel in the Confederate Army, spent the final 20 years of his life fighting mental illness. He passed those years, as he put it, “in a mad man’s cell.” No diagnosis of his condition exists, though biographers E. Stanley Godbold and Mattie U. Russell contend that Thomas was possibly suffering the tertiary state of syphilis, which causes erratic behavior and bouts of insanity.
Not all the Eastern Cherokee supported the Confederacy. Several served with the Union army during the Civil War and were ostracized by the Confederate Cherokees after hostilities ceased. Some evidence exists that one of these Union soldiers brought smallpox back to the small band of Cherokees who survived the war, with devastating results.
Union Col. William Bartlett tried to keep his cool as he watched his bitter, battle-hardened Confederate enemies riding down Main Street that May morning of 1865.
• Like a Good Neighbor: The Eastern Cherokee and the Confederacy
• Take a Civil War tour in Haywood County
• The Fall of Will Thomas
• Civil War commemoration attracts history fans
• Bringing the past to life
• ‘Last Shot Fired’ — Civil War 150th anniversary commemoration
They were flying a white flag, but the town was like a tinderbox waiting to spark. Union men had occupied Waynesville the day before, but Confederate militia were rallying in the hills, ready for blood if the parley wasn’t fruitful.
Looking up at the old chimney, William “Gene” Gibson still wonders how Santa Claus ever managed to fit in it.
“I never could figure how’d he come down through there and not get all covered in black,” the 87-year-old chuckled.
Inside and out, the Swain County Heritage Museum is an ode to history. The very building that houses the museum long served as the courthouse in Bryson City, and now serves to usher visitors through all those many years gone by.
Names of places throughout the Blue Ridge country pay tribute to the familiar wildlife of the region: Bear Wallow Stand Ridge, Beaverdam Creek, Buck Knob, Fox Gap, Wild Boar Creek, Coon Branch, Wildcat Cliffs, Possum Hollow, Polecat Ridge, Raven Rocks, Buzzard Roost, Eagle Heights, Rattlesnake Mountain, and so on.
To the Editor:
I have read with interest the original article by George Ellison questioning the account that Granville Calhoun has provided about the trip of Horace Kephart to Hazel Creek in 1904 and the response made to that article by Granville’s great niece Gwen Franks Breese and Mr. Ellison’s response to her letter. Quite frankly I am appalled by Mr. Ellison’s largely unsupported position that the story related by Mr. Calhoun was false.