On Jan. 12, 1864, a Confederate battery of artillery and about 650 men under the command of Gen. Robert B. Vance crossed the Smokies at Indian Gap — situated at 5,317 feet between Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap along the high divide between North Carolina and Tennessee — in an attempt to secure provisions, screen the main approaches to North Carolina, and guard the left flank of the Longstreet’s main Confederate force at Greeneville, Tenn.
Randall E. Murff remembers the guns shooting at him.
“The Germans really could shoot those guns, they were good,” he said. “If you gave them 17 seconds, they’d knock you right down.”
Raymond Caldwell was 15 years old when he hitched up a team of horses to a wagon with 30 bushels of corn in tow, leaving the only home he and his ancestors had ever known in the idyllic Cataloochee Valley.
“I drove the wagon all over the farm, but that was the first time I ever drove it out of there,” said Raymond. It was a high stakes assignment, since the load represented the fall corn harvest and needed to last the family and livestock through the winter at the new farm they were heading to across Haywood County.
October, of course, is the month for haunting, when lawns become littered with skeletons and witches fly in through branches of trees shedding their leaves. Store shelves are stocked with masks and makeup and an array of costumes, all designed to terrify. But on “Where Shadows Walk,” Franklin’s haunted history tour, you won’t find any of that. No masked hatchet men will jump from behind gravestones; black-eyed zombie undertakers will not be your guides, because, said Gregg Clark, the tour’s owner and guide, you won’t need them. The stories themselves elicit enough scare power on their own.
General Grant knew from a young age he was an artist.
“I was gifted, it was a gift from The Creator,” he said. “He gave me multiple talents and I was not afraid to experiment with them. Through my experimentation, I’ve become very good at this and have able to make a living doing it.”
A new traveling exhibit is using technology to teach people about traditional Cherokee culture.
Charged with stealing, 15-year-old Charles Eason was sentenced to work on a prison chain gang.
It was 1882, and the teenager from Martin County soon found himself side-by-side with other convicts, many two and three times his age. Mostly from the eastern part of the state, the gang was sent to construct the railroad lines in Western North Carolina.
We Americans sometimes forget how new we are to the history of the world.
Here in Western North Carolina, for example, we live like other Americans. We drive cars on expressways, live in towns and cities, buy or build homes and apartments equipped with electricity and running water, erect schools, churches, and fast-food restaurants, build shopping malls, buy meat, vegetables and milk from large grocery stores, vacation at the coast or overseas, gather local information from papers like The Smoky Mountain News, and commune with the world via the internet and television.
Lately, it seems Ann Melton was born in the wrong century.
During the past two years, Melton has spent more time living in the late 1800s — the days when boarding houses and hitching posts lined Waynesville’s Main Street, when general stores still had butcher counters and bartering was a way of life — than the comparatively humdrum trappings of the 21st century.
The death of Haywood County Sheriff John Phillip Noland — a murder story set against the backdrop of the American Civil War — sounds as if it belongs in the pages of Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain.