Blame it on Edmund Pearson. His 1928 collection Queer Books first caught my attention because it contains a splendid writeup of Alonzo and Melissa. Among the book’s other treasures is a chapter called “The Baedeker of Banner Elk”, extolling The Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain. This novel-and-guidebook combination was first published in 1892, with a second edition in 1907. If you consider only its literary style—to use the term loosely—The Balsam Groves is a fair match for Alonzo and Melissa. Unfortunately it lacks the one thing that true monuments of cheesiness require: a plot, the more far-fetched the better. Something happened four years before the events of the novel, but the author never gets around to telling us what it was, why it was important at the time—or why our hero and heroine are so quick to put it behind them.
Pearson, it turns out, was not the book’s only admirer. In 1894, a copy of the first edition fell into the hands of Ladies’ Home Journal editor—and future Pulitzer Prize winner—Edward Bok (1863–1930). He was so impressed that he gave it a full page: four columns of small print (below).
Later came Phillips Russell, who wrote up “The Bard of Ottaray” in North Carolina Folklore Journal 17 (May 1969). And then there’s the 1974 anthology Tar Heel Laughter (UNC Press, edited by Richard Walser):
In later books [Dugger] unfortunately abjured the periphrasis and purple patches so delightful in his first one, but he did not lose his cheerfulness and enthusiasm. He could always, in the words of Philips [sic] Russell, ‘swing the English language around his head.’
Shepherd Monroe Dugger (1854–1938) had a varied career: teacher, hotelkeeper, Superintendent of Roads. Towards the end of his life he became one of North Carolina’s first crop of county historians, representing Avery County. But first, last and foremost there was The Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain. The Dictionary of North Carolina Biography tells us:
The book, entered in a one-thousand-dollar contest sponsored by the Linville Improvement Company to promote the Grandfather Mountain area, did not win a prize but was the only entry deemed sufficiently propagandistic for publication.
Just how propagandistic is sufficient? Consider only this passage, dropped into the middle of a description of the Eseeola Inn in Linville, North Carolilna:
Such is the variety and flavor of the food that, when you place your foot on the threshold of the masticating department, your nasal proboscis is greeted with the aroma of roasted mutton or beef, and the alimentary pupils of your orbicular instruments are fixed upon large slabs of comb honey, consisting of the gathered sweets from mountain flowers, and rivalling in delicacy the nectar of the gods.
I’m making my reservation right now.
Some quirks of spelling:
Typographical errors are marked with and are listed again at the end of each chapter. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.
A TALE OF THE WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA MOUNTAINS.
INFORMATION RELATING TO THE SECTION AND ITS HOTELS, ALSO A TABLE SHOWING THE HEIGHT OF IMPORTANT MOUNTAINS, ETC.
SHEPHERD M. DUGGER.
SHEPHERD M. DUGGER.
Copyright, 1892, by Shepherd M. Dugger.
Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.
TO THE LOVERS OF
THE SUBLIME AND THE BEAUTIFUL,
AND ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO HAVE GRASPED MY MOUNTAIN PALM,
THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED.
As the firm foundation of a house is less attractive than the painted columns and modillions which it supports, so the first chapter of our story is the stratum of understanding that underlies a more beautiful fabric of knowledge. It locates the scenes in Western North Carolina, on the great evergreen Grandfather Mountain, whose highest point is the everlasting cornerstone of three counties, Watauga, Caldwell, and Mitchell.
The object of the author has been to supply the great need of a book that would introduce to the outside world a section of country which, until recently, has been almost unknown and obscure, but nevertheless is rich in soil, replete with iron ore, and with fine forests of valuable trees, checkered with rapid, flowing streams of limpid water, decked with a thousand hills, fortressed with ponderous mountains tall and rugged, and pictured with wild and varied landscapes.
The writer was cradled in the loving arms of 6 maternal toil in one of the first rude log cabins constructed in the morning and evening shadows of the beautiful mountains with which he has grown up in love, and every scene described is as familiar to him as were the blooming vines in which the humming-birds nestled around the home of his childhood.
“The Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain” is a story founded on facts. The roads, streams, fountains, places, mountains, and distances are real; the picture of the character Rollingbumb will be hailed with delight by thousands of mountaineers, who will recognize it as the likeness of a familiar friend; the description of the Salmer estate on the banks of the Linville will touch to tears a prominent gentleman now residing in the city of Richmond, Virginia; and the genuine name William West Skiles will thrill the hearts of many a North Carolinian.
“The Western Gate-way to the Highlands,” following the story, is as fair a representation of truth as the writer could possibly formulate; and “The Hotels in the Land of the Sky” is intended to be such an unerring guide to health- and pleasure-seekers that strangers will not be disappointed when they visit the scenes.
The search for the body of Rev. Elisha 7 Mitchell, D.D., having been written by Hon. Z. B. Vance, needs no comment.
For the “Journal of André Michaux” and its introduction, we are indebted to the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia.
Three of the poems, viz., “The Land of the Sky,” “The Iron Horse is Coming,” and “Boone,” have been furnished by our esteemed friend, “The Bard of the Highlands;” while “The Ballad of the Beech” has fallen from the euphonious quill of “Chuckey Joe,” our estimable former associate from the city of Baltimore, Maryland.
The table of North Carolina elevations has been collected from heights ascertained and published by State and United States officials.
In the ample field which our little volume discloses, the most luxuriant rambler may range at large, visiting streams and mountains in endless variety and extent, and, after his boldest excursions, he can only wing his way in imagination among the splendid objects that are still before him.
Will you come to Grandfather, “The Land of the Sky,”
Where a banquet of glory is spread for the eye,
Where scenes of enchantment enravish the soul,
And reason to rapture surrenders control.
Where the mountains do rear their summits above
The storm and the cloud, to the regions of love;
Where waters go dashing down rocky declines,
And the hills are covered with evergreen vines.
Where boasting musicians are wont to retire
When the bird of the mountain tunes his sweet lyre,
And lends to his melody wings that can fly,
To scatter his song through “The Land of the Sky.”
Where fountains are gushing from every hill-side.
All sparkling and cold as a health-giving tide;
An elixir of life more tempting to sip
Than the cup that presses the Bacchanal’s lip.
Where the air is freighted with sweetest perfume
Wafted from the flower when full in its bloom,
And the breezes that float o’er mountain’s tall peak
Give back the invalid the rose to his cheek?10
Ye seekers of pleasure, oppressed by the heat,
Come to this region, ’tis a pleasant retreat;
Ye ones that are feeble, why linger and die,
Come up to this beautiful “Land of the Sky.”
The object of the author has been to supply the great need
[That is, ahem, cough-cough, “supply” in the once-common sense of “fill the gap created by X”, not to be confused with the current sense of “provide X”.]
the picture of the character Rollingbumb will be hailed with delight by thousands of mountaineers, who will recognize it as the likeness of a familiar friend
[And if they don’t recognize his description, they will be helped out by his real name, helpfully included in the figure caption.]
Three of the poems . . . have been furnished by our esteemed friend, “The Bard of the Highlands;”
[You would think, wouldn’t you, that the label “Bard of the Highlands” could be applied to dozens of people, including but not limited to every Scotsman who ever put together a rhyming couplet. In fact, an exact-text search of the Internet turns up precisely three hits. A bit further along, the author reveals the Bard’s initials, A. M. D. But a more exact identification is not forthcoming.]
“The Ballad of the Beech” has fallen from the euphonious quill of “Chuckey Joe”
[Like the Bard of the Highlands, Chuckey Joe appears to have no documented existence outside the works of Shepherd M. Dugger.]
|The Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain—A Story in Five Brief Chapters, associating the Quaint and Uncultured Pioneer Mountaineers with the Refined and Learned of the City||13-93|
|The Western Gate-Way to the Highlands—The Cranberry Railroad—The Vale of the Watauga—Andrew Johnson—Thomas A. R. Nelson—The Heroes of King’s Mountain—William G. Brownlow—Andrew Jackson—The Taylor Brothers, Bob and Alf—Landen C. Haynes—The Stem-Winder—The Doe River Gorge—Roan Mountain Station and Cloudland Hotel—The Cranberry Iron-Mines—The Future of Elizabethtown—A Railroad Poem||94-107|
|The Hotels in the Land of the Sky—Elk Park—Banner Elk—Cranberry Hotel—The Cranberry Mines—Linville—Harlan P. Kelsey’s Nursery of Wild Flowers, Forest Trees, etc.—Eseeola Inn—The Yonahlossee Road, the Grandest Drive in the South—Grandfather Hotel—Shull’s Mills—Blowing Rock, the Popular Summer Resort on the Crest of the Blue Ridge—Boone (the Highest Court-House in North Carolina) described in Elegant Verse—Valle Crucis (Vale of the Cross)||108-143|
|The Journal of André Michaux, the French Naturalist, who travelled in the Mountains of North Carolina in July and August, 1794, gathering Shrubs, Seeds, and Plants for the 12 Royal Gardens of Paris—A Brief Sketch of his Life—An Extract from his Diary, including his Journey to Black Mountain, Roan, Yellow, Grandfather, Hawk-bill, Table Rock, etc., together with the Names of the Plants he collected: highly Entertaining to all Persons interested in the History of Botanical Discovery in America||144-160|
|A Dictionary of Altitudes showing the Heights of Important Places and Mountains in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee||161-174|
|The Search for the Body of Rev. Elisha Mitchell, D.D., written by Hon. Z. B. Vance—A Dispute between Dr. Mitchell and Hon. T. L. Clingman as to which of the Two Gentlemen had been First to determine the Altitude of the Highest Peak East of the Mississippi River—Dr. Mitchell resolves to settle the Matter by a Second Measurement and the Affidavits of his Former Guides—He is Lost on Black Mountain—A Ten Days’ Search by the Good Citizens—The Body found in a Pool of Water—Its Removal, Interment, etc.||175-187|
A lowly thatched cottage in humble attire,
With chimney adaub and a broad open fire;
A string for its latch-key, three strangers within,
And far away moved from the city’s loud din.
The lay of my land and the lays of my story are commingled in the zigzag windings of mountain topography.
The general direction of the Blue Ridge is from northeast to southwest, but on a sublime spot in North Carolina it swerves and runs north for the distance of three miles, and then turns again by an acute angle towards its terminus in the cotton-fields of Alabama.
The intelligent reader will now understand that the part of the Blue Ridge generally spoken of as the “South Side” here faces the west, and 14 what would otherwise have been the “Western Slope” of the great water-shed catches the golden gleams of the rising sun.
This digression in the backbone of the Appalachians is also characterized by a deep saddle-like depression called “Linville Gap,” in the centre of which the forest is now broken by a verdant meadow about a half a mile in length from east to west, and half as broad.
The pommel of this elegant land-saddle, rising to the south, forms the beautiful dome of Grandfather Mountain, five thousand nine hundred and ninety-six feet above the foam of the sea; while the rear of the equestrian fixture rises into the less elevated but equally pleasing heights of Dunvegan, culminating in twin towers of stone mantled with ivy and plumed with ferns.
From the beautiful green turf on the eastern declivity of the mead referred to gushes and trickles the first streamlets of the Watauga, which, being of the Indian vernacular, is said by some to mean “Beautiful River,” by others, “River of Islands,” and by still others, “River of Reeds.”
On the western slope of the sweet-sodded meadow, and not more than a stone’s cast from the sparkling source of the Watauga, rises the rippling river of Linville, which took its name 15 from a family of that nomenclature who once occupied its banks.
The Cherokee name for Linville is Eseeola; and, while those conversant with Indian lore have not defined the word, it probably had its origin in the great cataract of that stream, now designated as “Linville Falls.”
These two crystal rivers are so kindred at their sources that each could easily be turned into the other by a ditch; and yet they flow in opposite directions and retreat into different climes,—the Linville passing through the mingled waters of the Catawba, the Wateree, and the Santee to the Atlantic Ocean, while the Watauga finds its way through the channels of the Holston, the Tennessee, the Ohio, and the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Watauga, as it rushes and dallies to the northeast, rumbles and tumbles over ledges and boulders, under boughs of laurel and pine, receiving its pellucid tributaries from the green glades of the Grandfather on the right, and from the Ginseng and Crawley region, in the foot-hills of Dunvegan, on the left. At the end of three precipitous miles from its rise, its united torrents have lost their leapings and blended into a sweetly murmuring stream that splits in twain a gradually widening valley, at the upper 16 end of which once lived a man by the name of Tom Toddy, who obtained his bread by husbandry, and his meat from the spoils of his gun. His lone log cabin stood on the left bank of the “Beautiful River,” leaving space between for a narrow yard and the dim road outside.
One lovely evening in the month of July, 1860, when Sol was shooting his last golden arrows across the mountain-tops from his rosy couch beyond the horizon, two men and a lady, well mounted on good steeds, called for admittance at this humble cottage.
Mr. Toddy knew the older gentleman to be the “Good” William West Skiles, an Episcopalian clergyman who kept a school at Valle Crucis (Vale of the Cross), ten miles below on the Watauga.
Of the two whose faces were not familiar in that quarter, the gentleman was Mr. Leathershine, who had been expelled from an institution of learning in the eastern part of the State, and afterwards received by Mr. Skiles at Valle Crucis, because it was supposed that in that sequestered spot there was no land for the culture of wild oats.
The beautiful young lady, Miss Lidie Meaks, was one of the faculty of St. Mary’s School, in the city of Raleigh. She was a medium-sized, 17 elegant figure, wearing a neatly fitted travelling dress of black alpaca. Her raven black hair, copious both in length and volume and figured like a deep river rippled by the wind, was parted in the centre and combed smoothly down, ornamenting her pink temples with a flowing tracery that passed round to its modillion windings on a graceful crown. Her mouth was set with pearls adorned with elastic rubies and tuned with minstrel lays, while her nose gracefully concealed its own umbrage, and her eyes imparted a radiant glow to the azure of the sky. Jewels of plain gold were about her ears and her tapering strawberry hands, and a golden chain, attached to a timekeeper of the same material, sparkled on an elegantly rounded bosom that was destined to be pushed forward by sighs, as the reader will in due time observe. Modest, benevolent, and mild in manners, she was probably the fairest of North Carolina’s daughters.
The host received his three guests with the words, “We are poor, but you are welcome to such as we have.” When they had dismounted and come near the door, Mrs. Toddy apologized for the size and inconvenience of the domicile by saying, “Come in, if you can get in.” But Mr. Skiles, knowing the embarrassment that strange 18 company brings upon the culinary labors of a one-room cabin, replied that they would enjoy the breezes of the yard, and view the entrancing beauties of the great evergreen Grandfather, to whose lofty they were going on the morrow.
In plain view, on the northern slope of the mountain, was the upright, stupendous profile of a man carved in rock and plumed with ferns, and in the furrows of his face, worn by the lapse of time, clung and crept the most beautiful flowers and vines. Pointing towards this figure with his cane, the minister said, “See the old man of the mountains; when that is silvered with frost or blanched with snow it has the appearance of great age, and hence the pioneers called it the Grandfather, and the mountain of which it is a part Grandfather Mountain.”
“Between the old man and the high top,” said Miss Meaks, “is a beautiful green tower, as if supported within by a column of stone.”
“Methinks,” replied the clergyman, “that is called the Haystack, from its marked resemblance to a mound of hay.”
The dame, who was preparing supper over the open fire within, was listening with awe to the high-flown conversation without, and, as she drew a shovelful of glowing coals from beneath 19 the forestick to put under the oven of bread, she muttered, “I don’t know how to cook for ‘big-bugs.’ I’ve got nothin’ fit for ‘quality,’ and I wish they’d a-stayed at home.”
At this instant the attention of the party was attracted by a passing hunter, by the name of Rollingbumb, who, having some business with Mr. Toddy, stepped into the yard with a great wild turkey swung under his arm by a withe, which, passing diagonally up his breast, formed a cross with the leathern strap of his shot-pouch that hung on the other side. He was a square-shouldered man, six feet tall, with a long firelock rifle on his shoulder, while from beneath his buckskin moccasins peeped some blades of grass, as if to of being ill-used. His face was round, with great facilities for a beard, though, like Julius Cæsar, he never wore one. His high forehead was half obscured by a brimless coon-skin cap, having the beautifully ringed tail of the animal attached to the hinder part, where it hung down his back, and rolled to and fro at the will of a gentle breeze. He wore a Turkey-red blouse, in native parlance, “hunting-shirt,” the same being drawn close about him by the long corners, which were tied together in front just below the waistband of his homespun pants. Such was the development of 20 hair about his chest and shoulders, that it grew up and hung out over his shirt-collar in black profusion like a fringe. This feature of his person was so significant that a deaf-mute, who made himself understood by motioning, told that Rollingbumb had killed a bear, by indicating that it was done by the man with a hairy neck.
Mr. Skiles approached the hunter and asked to see his game, whereupon he placed his thumb under the withe and, passing it quickly over his cap, laid the great bird on the ground. The minister examined the graceful beard, which was twelve inches in length; the lady, spreading to full width the tail, found it ornamented with a border which, in the arrangement and brilliancy of its colors, was like a miniature rainbow; but Leathershine examined the shot which had entered one side and passed out on the other.
Rollingbumb, who lived but a mile farther down the Watauga, now equipped himself to continue his journey homeward; but, before taking leave, he said pleasantly, in his rude dialect, “Strangers, what mout yer names be?” Leathershine, speaking quickly for the party, said in reply, “They mout be Jones, or they mout be Smith, or they mout be Vance.” Rollingbumb, being a man of native intelligence, and therefore understanding the import of the 21 sarcasm, turned his hawk eyes upon the critic and said, in a firm voice, “I’m an unlearnt man; but if you fool with me, sir, I’ll knock you as flat as a pancake.”
Mr. Skiles, being mortified at the conduct of his student, took the hunter by the hand and expressed regrets, both for himself and Miss Meaks, that he had been thus insulted, while Leathershine sat upon a stump and looked “like the boy the calf ran over.”
A few moments later, supper being announced, Mr. Toddy sat at the head of the table and his wife at the opposite extremity of the small but hospitable board, with her back towards the fireplace, which was in the east end of the cabin. The two more distinguished guests occupied the side next the open door, while Leathershine, seated in front of them, cast “a lean and hungry look” on the bear meat before him.
After a blessing had been asked, the host said, “Help yourselves;” and the hostess, in her course of apologies for the plain repast and the rude table furniture, said, “Poor folks have poor ways.” The minister assured them that they should ever be thankful to the Master for such as their table afforded; and, indeed, he was right, for, in addition to the flesh of Bruin, it contained corn-bread, milk, butter, Irish potatoes, green 22 corn, and that choice variety of honey gathered from the linden tree.
While the evening meal was being enjoyed with a hearty relish, the children, three in number,—George, ten years old, with his younger brother and sister,—waited by the fire, and sang in perfect harmony the beautiful lines below, which their mother had often sung to them as a lullaby. From the best information we can gather, these ancient stanzas were composed in “Merry England,” and transmitted, through successive generations, from British soldiers who were captured during the war for independence, and settled in the new republic after the terms of peace were concluded.
A sitting one cold winter’s night,
A drinking of sweet wine,
A courting of that pretty little Miss
That stole that heart of mine.
She is like some pink or rose
That blooms in the month of June,
Or like some musical instrument
That is newly put in tune.
Oh, fare you well, my dearest dear,
Oh, fare you well for a while;
I go away, but I’ll come back again,
If I go ten thousand miles.23
Oh, who will shoe my feet, my dear,
And who will glove my hands?
Or who will kiss my ruby lips,
When you’re in foreign lands?
Your brother will shoe your feet, my dear,
Your mother will glove your hands;
And I will kiss your ruby lips
When I return again.
Oh, don’t you see that turtle-dove
A flying from vine to vine?
A mourning the loss of its own true love,
As I shall mourn for mine.
In due time Mrs. Toddy replenished the dishes with warm food, and, before reoccupying her seat at the table, she set the ovens away from the fire, shovelled up the dead coals with which the supper had been cooked and threw them behind the back log, just prior to sweeping the hearth.
Subsequently the guests, together with the family, formed a social circle around the blazing logs, which were not uncomfortable, and yet not needed, except to light the conversation, in a domicile where lamps were not a part of the furniture.
Some inquiries, made by the strangers, about the fauna of the country led the host to relate rare hunting tales of his own experience, of which we will give only one, as follows: He 24 said that several years previous to that time, while spending a night in the woods of the Grandfather, he used a venison ham for a pillow, first placing some dry leaves between it and his head to protect his cheek from the raw flesh. When the gloom of midnight had mantled his couch of moss in darkness and Somnus scarcely lifted his chest with breathing, he was ousted by sharp claws passing over his bald scalp. As he sprang to his feet and grabbed his gun, a panther, that had now stolen his pillow, screamed forth the signal of a victorious departure.
It was now time to retire, and the house contained but three beds, all of which were in one room, the only room, and generally occupied by the family. But in those days the ladies constructed temporary bed-chambers by taking two large curtains, each about the size of a counterpane, and either hanging them from the joists or supporting them on frames, one along the side of the bed, and the other at right angles to it across the foot. These were generally made of large-flowered calico, and decorated with such ruffles and laces as the wealth and skill of the times could employ.
Such luxuriant sleeping fixtures, however, could be afforded only by the “bon-tons” of log-house society, who were sometimes classed 25 by their jealous inferiors among the “big-bugs.”
Mrs. Toddy was not a “bon-ton,” but she rendered one bed private, nevertheless, by hanging up two quilts in the manner that curtains were hung by those who could afford them.
This sleeping apartment, in the northwest corner of the cabin, was occupied by four persons,—Miss Meaks and her hostess at the head, and the two younger children, with their feet in the opposite direction, at the foot. This economical mode of sleeping, by which the tapering ends of human anatomy are fitted together like the teeth of a shark, is still practised in some remote neighborhoods around Grandfather Mountain.
Another bed, opposite the first, though not so close in the corner, was on a poorly tenoned ’stead, which sent its old-fashioned turned posts up to an extraordinary height, and, being loose in its mortise joints, had twice wrecked with its occupants and fallen sidewise onto the floor. For this reason a low bed, that was trundled endways from beneath the one that was concealed by the curtains, was prepared for Mr. Skiles and his student. But when the minister was apprized of the arrangement, he evaded the young man by inviting Mr. Toddy to share his bed, saying 26 that he wanted to tell his friends that he had slept with a hunter whose midnight pillow had been stolen by a panther.
This kind and complimentary invitation being accepted, the original sleeping plan was disorganized, and Leathershine slept on the perilous bedstead with little George Toddy.
An hour later, when a stray splinter about the smouldering fire caught ablaze and cast a glimmering light upon the log joists above, the sleepless dame was soliloquizing about the hazardous bed. “If Mr. Toddy had slept with George,” thought she, “he would have turned himself cautiously on the mattress, and thus saved the ’stead from falling; but now it would be most sure to tumble with the young man, in which event he would think that the cabin had been overturned by an earthquake, while her own chum and the bed-fellow of her husband would leap from their slumber in fright.”
the Watauga, which, being of the Indian vernacular, is said by some to mean “Beautiful River,” by others, “River of Islands,” and by still others, “River of Reeds.”
[Or possibly “broken water”. History did not begin with Europeans; Watauga (Watogi, Whatoga) is the Cherokee rendering of a non-Cherokee, possibly Creek name. In Chapter VI we will learn that the whole thing is lifted from a speech by Landen C. Haynes.]
the “Good” William West Skiles
[There is a reason why Skiles is the only person in The Balsam Groves to have a plausible human name; see Chapter VII. But how I wish there were a corresponding “Bad” William West Skiles!]
one of the faculty of St. Mary’s School
[Good choice, Dugger. St. Mary’s—an all-girls Episcopal school—is still in existence, having celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2017. Its academic credentials have always been impeccable; one source tells us that “In the late 1800s, Vassar College admitted St. Mary’s graduates without examination.”]
as if to complain of being ill-used
text has complaln
From the best information we can gather, these ancient stanzas were composed in “Merry England,”
[Exercise: Look up the lyrics line by line and see how many matches you get to Child’s ballads. It’s mainly no. 76 (“The Lass of Roch Royal”; “Lord Gregory”) with a possible admixture of no. 85 (“George Collins”; “Lady Alice”).]
shovelled up the dead coals with which the supper had been cooked and threw them behind the back log, just prior to sweeping the hearth
[Crystal ball says that this is not a case of Chekhov’s Dead Coals; they will play no further role in the narrative.]
When the gloom of midnight had mantled his couch of moss in darkness and Somnus scarcely lifted his chest with breathing
[And that’s why this hunting tale is not given in direct discourse. Even Shepherd Dugger would not have had the nerve to present Mr. Toddy saying, in his own voice, “When the gloom of midnight had mantled my couch of moss in darkness and Somnus scarcely lifted my chest with breathing—”]
The skies with luminaries shine,
Yet seven thunders roar;
Fatality her works design,
Through cycles evermore.
When George Toddy awoke in the morning, the sweet-scented breakfast was cooking in the ovens over the glowing coals on the hearth, and the great wood fire was sweetly roaring to the strong suction of the flue above.
The little birds carolling from the trees had invited the minister from the couch of his morning dreams; and he had gone from the house to view the saffron streamers from the rising sun, or to see the speckled beauties through the crystal waters of the Watauga, or to give the lady of the cottage room and ease of mind.
The young lady, who was now dressing behind the curtain quilts, soon emerged and washed in the wooden basin on the block outside the door, wiped on the flaxen towel by the inside of the threshold, smoothed her hair with the horn comb, and, careful to ask for nothing that the 28 cabin might not afford, she only inquired where she would be least in the way, and then took a seat in the corner.
It was now past George’s time to be up, but he had been dreading to crawl over his new and sleepy partner who was in front. The head of the bed which they occupied was towards the fire, and the door opened back against it. Between the foot-board and the wall beyond was a space of about three feet, which gave room for a tub that sat in the corner.
At length Leathershine awoke and, rubbing his hollow eyes, gave a sleepy groan. On his elbow he raised himself and looked wonderingly at Miss Meaks, who kept her eyes steadily on the cooking. He now put on his “studying-cap” to solve the mystery of secret dressing under the one-room government, and the aperture behind the foot-board was selected as a place where that task might be successfully performed, provided he could land himself safely into it. So, leaving one cover on George, he rolled the rest up lengthwise on the front railing, leaving between a kind of trough, in which he lay full length on his back. Pressing his heels firmly against the straw mattress, and lifting his body with his hands, he drew himself forward, his knees going upward like a measuring-worm 29 passing over a pair of trousers. One more measure and his long legs dangled across and beyond the foot-board.
While in this attitude, George discovered in the lower part of the under-garment that clothed the upper half of his person a large round hole, that seemed to have been made by an accidental fire in the laundry.
Leathershine was now in a position to pass safely over into the place by the tub where he could dress in seclusion; but when, in the zenith of his leap, his quick motion, exhilarated by high hopes of success, threw the hole over the bed-post, and as he kicked and dangled in the air, the bed wrecked, and all went thundering collaterally down to the floor.
Miss Meaks and Mrs. Toddy, thinking that a tree had fallen on the house, turned quickly and saw Leathershine sprawling on his face with his palms extended. Mrs. Toddy, being conversant with log-cabin etiquette, ran out at the door, and Miss Meaks, catching on to the style, followed her example.
“Halloo, here!” exclaimed that the kind of chinch dens you sleep on?” said he, referring to the wreck.
“Help me set up the bed,” said George, and, after he had repeated the appeal, the young man 30 reluctantly assisted in replacing it upon its legs. The two now passed out of the door, and as they went towards the laughing river to wash in that clear, passing medium the ladies were re-entering the threshold of the cabin; and when they came near the hearth they discovered that the shock, created by the fall of the bed, had thrown from the chinks above the fire a number of articles, of which the pegging-awl was in the skillet of gravy, the hammer in the pan of cabbage, and the old man’s last, being the mould of a very large foot, had broken through the lid into the oven of bread. Also, a lot of falling shoe-pegs had showered so thickly into the gravy and the cabbage that it was impossible to determine which one of those articles of food contained the greatest number of the wooden fastenings.
When the breakfast-table was ready to be occupied, the coffee-pot, which alone had escaped the wreck unharmed, sat on the floor beside Mrs. Toddy, who reached down and took it by the handle whenever the cups were to be refilled. At the close of the repast, each person had left on his plate a nice little pile of pegs which he had picked from his teeth while masticating fried cabbage or bread overspread with gravy.
The host now took his firelock rifle from the rack, picked his flint, poured fresh powder in the 31 pan, and then, placing the long hunting-piece upon his shoulder, started to guide his guests on the grand climb. While the flowers were yet cool with the dews of night and the long shadows of the morning were falling towards the west, the horses were being tied to the trees at the place where Grandfather Hotel now stands near Linville Gap.
Here their way was to the left by a rising footpath, which was overhung with drooping violets and shaded with spreading boughs from evergreen and deciduous trees. Three beauteous miles through umbrageous leaves and fragrant wilds would take them to where morn casts her first queenly robe upon the mountain-top and Sol withdraws the last rosy curtain from the frowning rocks to his ocean bed.
When they had overcome two-thirds of the precipitous clamber, they came to a little bench-like spot of earth which was clothed with ferns, mosses, mitchella, and oxyria, and supporting a mixed growth of black spruce (Abies nigra) and balsam (Abies Fraseri), whose matted branches form a beautiful green canopy.
Looking east from this point, the old man of the mountains presents a bold and imposing figure, which in the magnitude and perfection of his features is superior to the Sphinx of the 32 Nubian Desert, and always entrances the beholder into dreams of wonder and admiration. While Miss Meaks was admiring this mysterious profile, Leathershine offered her a large rhododendrons bloom, which she received and fastened on her bosom with a pin. The young man, deeming that she wore it strictly for the sake of the giver, was seized with a sudden emotion which seemed to have no hope of reciprocation from a lady who was so far his superior both in intellectual and moral development.
The party now continuing their journey were soon confronted by a high, steep rock, which seemed to cross their way like a wall through which there is no entrance. At its base, however, the track turned to the right, and passing round by ascending curves and zigzags continued its course towards the top.
About midway up the cliff is an overhang like a cornice, below which the rock is perpendicular, but above this it retreats with the pitch of a Gothic roof. At the top of the upper half, rhododendronss annually hang out their scarlet florescent garments in gay profusion; but from the multiple crevices in the perpendicular part below grow beautiful grasses, ferns, and wild flowers, always kept green and moist by a little water escaping from above.
From the base of this cliff gushes and sparkles the coldest perennial spring, isolated from perpetual snow, in the United States. Its highest temperature is 42°, and half a pint from its unpolluted channel quenches the greatest thirst created by an exhaustive climb.
Our acquaintances were resting at this fountain, and, having no cup, they were drinking from a concave piece of bark from an oval knot on a tree, when they saw two men approaching along the path by which they had ascended. The eyes of the unknown persons were steadily fixed upon the ground, for between the rocks of this particular place are numerous holes and crevices so dangerous to careless feet that every step requires investigation.
As they came into a spot of sunshine which fell through a narrow vista in the trees, the younger and better dressed of the two turned his eyes upward to see what part of the sky was then occupied by the glorious orb, when Miss Meaks discovered in his face what she thought to be the familiar features of a long-lost friend. The beautiful rhododendrons bloom that embossed her bosom now rose and fell with a deep sigh that pushed forward the elegantly rounded prospect behind it; but when his brow returned to the shade of his brim, she doubted her impression, 34 and said in silent soliloquy: “Impossible that he who knows not my love could be here. No more shall my heart leap and my lips tremble to the deceitful refraction of light in woods like these. The warm palm I once refused will never return, alas! to reclaim me from my folly. Farewell, good-by, my Charlie; I shall never see you again until I drink the water of Lethe, and return from the Elysian fields not knowing that I ever did you wrong!”
The approaching couple had now come to a curve in the path which placed between them and the seated party the lap of a fallen tree and a little cluster of mountain maple, through whose tangled brush only glimpses of their moving forms could be seen. The one who was guiding the other now said, in a voice distinctly audible to those who were listening near, “The spring is under the big mossy rock before us.”
“Ah!” rejoined the traveller, “when we get there, I will drink to her I once loved, but now only remember; and if the water is as icy cold as you say, it will be a most suitable beverage for the occasion; for then I will say, ‘Here is to that cold heart that drove me wandering from my country; that stole the sweet sleep from my midnight pillow and gave me for it insomnia; the heart that charged me with all the flattery 35 belonging to the untrue of my sex; and while this portion from the living fount of Grandfather shall quench the last smouldering spark of love for her that lingers in my bosom, may some messenger of the gods bear her the news that Charlie was true.’”
all went thundering collaterally down to the floor
[Hence the term “collateral damage”.]
“Halloo, here!” exclaimed Leathershine, “is that
text has Leathershine,” is with misplaced quotation mark
mosses, mitchella, and oxyria
[Mitchella was not, you will be disappointed to learn, named after Elisha Mitchell; the genus name goes back to Linnaeus. There was apparently nothing distinctive about the plant’s sexual organs, so he had to fall back on naming the genus after an American correspondent.]
The party now continuing their journey
[The three-member party of Chapter I—the Rev. Mr. Skiles, the far-from-reverend Mr. Leathershine, and Miss Lidie Meaks—has been augmented by a guide, their overnight host Mr. Toddy.]
bark pealed from an oval knot on a tree
Farewell, good-by, my Charlie . . . . I will drink to her I once loved, but now only remember
[Spoiler: The author has no intention of telling us what happened four years ago between Lidie and Charlie.]
The rocks that brave the blasts of time
Without a pulse or motion,
Support the forms, reflect the sounds,
That tell the heart’s commotion.
The words that close the previous chapter were understood by none of those at the spring save one, and she had changed her position to conceal some gracious drops that stole down over two roses that had thrice flourished and faded in a few brief moments. After the stranger had expatiated upon the destitution of his heart as set forth in the promised health, he hummed a love-tune, advanced rapidly, and suddenly emerged from behind the bramble not more than a rod from Miss Meaks. Here he raised his eyes, and drew back with shadows of confidence and doubt displacing each other upon his face as he tried to determine whether the form before him was really the object of his love, or her apparition. Observing on her part an inclination to rise, he advanced with an extended hand, and expressed his pleasure and 37 surprise in a manner that could be appreciated only when accompanied by his noble person and voice.
He was a tall, commanding man, with a gracefully flowing moustache, aquiline nose, evenly set teeth, mobile chin, high forehead, and the elongated corners of his dark-brown eyes stretched away under dark brows around fair temples, from which beautiful black hair retreated above his ears.
The words that Miss Meaks uttered in return for his were only of that social cast which is characterized by the meeting of friends, but their confiding tone and feeling delivery inspired new confidence in his “heart’s attorney,” and added fresh fuel to that smouldering spark which no draught could ever have extinguished.
Introductions now went round, revealing the fact that the arrivals were Mr. Charlie Clippersteel and his guide, Mr. Wiseman, the latter being from the foot of the great Roan, some twenty miles to the west. They had camped the previous night about two miles from the source of the Linville, on the banks of that stream, where they had left their blankets and a light tent.
The six persons now united at the spring were within the border of one of the most beautiful, 38 the most bewildering, and the most extended evergreen forests in the whole South. Here the tall and densely growing balsam and spruce extend their branches in united clusters that support the snows of winter and exclude the rays of the summer sun. Beneath these are many ancient trunks of fallen trees which are completely concealed, and only revealed by a soft, deep, bright, yellowish green moss growing over them and following their shapes. Up through this rich carpet, from their roots in the decaying wood, grow delicate ferns and young balsams of a fern’s height and higher that wave and tremble to feeble breezes that stray off from the stronger ones that moan in the trees above. This robe of green not only mantles the old logs, but spreads its soft covering unbroken from one object to another, hugging the spreading bases of the trees, and clothing the rising rocks and sticks that help to form the extending landscape. This lovely scene extends up and over the mountain, broken only by great cliffs equally beautiful in the flowers of their crags, until it covers an area as large as the city of New York. Such were the exquisite beauties along the winding step-way by which our acquaintances were about to continue their ascent.
Mr. Skiles and the two country gentlemen 39 now led the way, but were met and detained by a most wonderful man, while the three younger persons still lingered at the spring, where Leathershine was puffing with jealousy and whiffling around like a “fice in high rye.” The reunited lovers gave him no recognition, and, observing that his “cake was dough,” he joined the minister and the guides, who were entertained some distance away by what seemed to be a resurrected giant of prehistoric ages.
When Clippersteel observed that those in front were about to advance, he said: “Miss Lidie, I offer you my hand, as in the days of yore, to help you up the rocks and steps of a path which, my guide informs me, leads through flowery beds and mossy dales like these.”
“I accept your offer with thanks, Mr. Charlie; but you are not ready to go: you have not drunk the health you promised,” she said, handing him the concave bark with a smile.
“Pardon me, my friend,” said he; “it cost me four years in a foreign land to travel to the frigid zone of my heart, where the snows that ended the summer of love were lighted only by the flitting meteors of the borealis race. But your unexpected presence here to-day, which I could not avoid, has placed that icy region again under the burning sun of the tropics. Already the 40 snows have gone, and their place is occupied by the water lily, perfumed with the spices and the cloves and spreading its sweet petals upon my bosom. How can you drive such love as mine from its mortal habitation and leave my bosom empty with all but wondering pain? My heart is thirsty, and you are its living fountain. Let me drink and water a desert that will soon flourish with the green bay-tree and the balm of Gilead.”
“O God,” she cried, “pardon the weakness of woman,” and burying her face in his bosom, her lachrymal lakes overflowed and anointed his garments with drops that were to him the myrrh of the soul. “It is pursuit,” she said, “and not possession, that man enjoys, and now therefore the tender regard you have for me is ready to be cremated upon the pyre of my broken spirit, and nothing but an urn of ashes left to its memory.”
“Never,” replied Charlie, “never until God himself is buried, and the dark marble of oblivion erected for his tombstone, shall my person or my angel forsake fair Lidie Meaks.”
When Clippersteel had thus vowed his eternal love and his lady had confessed her devotion, their friends had gone far out of sight up the mountain. The gorgon who had lately met 41 them and excited their curiosity was a native by the name of Skipper John Potter. He was exercising the occupation of gathering balsam of fir, which, being a much valued medicine, I will acquaint the reader with its production, as follows: The resin of the balsam tree (Abies Fraseri) is carried in the bark, and, when this becomes overcharged with the aromatic substance, it deposits its surplus just beneath the surface in small protuberances called blisters, because they resemble little bladders caused by fire or overwork upon the hands. These vary in size from a mere pimple to a bulk as large as a common marble, and the balsam is collected by tapping the larger ones at the bottom with a knife, and bringing a pressure to bear upon the top, while the thick fluid runs slowly from the incision and goes down into a little tin vessel, whose lip is firmly pressed against the bark below.
All over Grandfather is a scattered growth of black spruce (Abies nigra) which the natives call tamarack. It is so much like the more abundant balsam that casual observers pass them for one and the same; but the resin of the spruce is carried partly in the wood; is not medicinal, and does not blister the bark. Also, the needles of the foliage are flat and of a yellowish-green 42 cast, while those of the balsam are round and emerald.
Skipper John Potter was a large man, six feet and a half tall, and his feet, which were always bare in summer, were huge and long in proportion. His big bony toes when fairly spread by his weight were connected near their base by red membranes like those of a web-footed fowl. The garments of his person consisted of white home-woven linen pants a span shorter than his legs; a shirt of like material, with a broad turn-down collar, and a home-spun jean coat of a very short cut, as if made for the convenience of wading high water or to overtop the weeds of the forest. A retreating chin, a head flat on top and sheltered by a hat plaited of rye straw, characterized his upper extremity. His long, straight back was always leaned forward from a starting-point at his hips. He had evenly set teeth; and when he laughed, his mouth spread to his ears; while two good-humored streaks, one extending from each corner of the great vocal orifice, passed round and met on the back of his head. When he talked, it seemed that the thunders had been endowed with the powers of speech. He was too wise for a fool and too ignorant to create an offence. His knowledge was so limited that the lack of it was by him unmissed. He 43 often misunderstood the meaning of words, and when he attempted to reproduce one that he had heard a superior use, he generally missed it entirely and got one of similar sound. For instance, when he heard John Smith say that he was going to have his land transferred, he told Tom Jones that John Smith was going to have his land transmogrified.
Those whose admiration had been excited by Skipper John had prevailed on him to go with them on the journey; and as they toiled up the mountain, while Clippersteel and Miss Meaks were yet behind, Mr. Skiles placed his hands upon his hips and, leaning against a tree, exclaimed: “Oh, my spine!” when Skipper, embracing the opportunity to recommend his medicine, said in tones of thunder: “Ef you’ll take a dost or two of my balsam, you’ll have no spine.”
The happy couple behind overtook those in front at a cliff called Harmon’s Rock, because it gave shelter to Malden Harmon, a respectable citizen of Sugar Grove, when on his annual trips to Grandfather to replenish his brain with inspiration and gather balsam for family physic through the ensuing year. From this point, a five minutes’ walk took them to the top, where the radius of the entrancing panorama is led on 44 by mountains, and hills, and vales, and streams, and crags, and ravines, until, like the stars that form the milky way, they lose their identity and blend into a circle of ethereal blue. So extended was the view on that beautiful day that the heavens lost their concave form, and stretched away over blue domes and fading valleys to a horizon in the dim distance of the inseparable land and sky. The beautiful clouds, the ships of the ethereal sea, in whose electric berths the giant thunders were sleeping, now sailed only mountain high over the valleys, presenting a side view to the tourists; and, as they caught the rays of the sun in their rigging or allowed his beams to pass through between them to the beautiful earth below, the landscape was leopardized for miles around with a moving robe of light and shadow.
While the party was admiring the exquisite beauties of the scene, Clippersteel asked the more intelligent of his hearers if they had ever heard of the interesting diary kept by André Michaux when, in the eighteenth century, he journeyed in the Highlands of North Carolina. Both Mr. Skiles and Miss Meaks, and even our acquaintance, Leathershine, answered that they knew nothing either of that journal or its author.
“André Michaux,” said Clippersteel, “was sent 45 to this country in 1785 by the royal government of France to collect seeds, shrubs, and trees for the royal gardens; and at that time seems to have had an earnest loyalty. But after the French revolution broke out he evidently became a very zealous republican, a true Frenchman, as will appear from his ardent language upon the spot now occupied by ourselves; for thus reads a portion of the journal,” said he, producing a
“‘1794. August 26.—Started for Grandfather Mountain, the most elevated of all those which form the chain of the Alleghanies and the Appalachians.
“‘1794. August 27.—Reached the foot of the highest mountain.
“‘1794. August 28.—Climbed as far as the rocks.
“‘1794. August 29.—Continued my herborization.
“‘1794. August 30.—Climbed to the summit of the highest mountain of all North America, and with my companion and guide sang the hymn of the Marseillaise, and cried, “Long live America and the Republic of the French! Long live Liberty! etc.”’”*
“But was he not mistaken as to the highest mountain?” inquired Mr. Skiles, profoundly.46
“Indeed, he was in honest error, for the range of the Rockies was not known to him; and in those days, when the unknown heights of the North Carolina mountains were compared by the effect of their environments upon the æsthetic mind, or by the length of the rivers that trickle from their feet, Grandfather was conceded to be fair Luna’s nearest neighbor and friend. In truth, there can be no better proof of its surpassing beauty, to-day, than the fact that a man of Michaux’s taste gave vent to his greatest enthusiasm upon its summit; for he had travelled in Persia; he had seen the Alps, under whose frowns Cæsar battled with the Gauls; he had journeyed from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the Blacks in North Carolina, and his eyes had been cultured to the flowers of the king’s garden.”
Just at this instant a buffeting breeze lifted Skipper’s light hat from his crown and gave him a lively southward race for its recovery; and every time that one of his big feet went forward, the heel of the other flew up behind and hit him on the hip, while his great hands were extended forward in pursuit of the structure of cereal straw.
Our two lovers, Lidie and her Charlie, now descended the northern slope of the mountain a 47 short distance to an immense cliff, and occupied one of the four or five natural steps that round off to the dangerous brink. This perpendicular rock, which faces the west, is about four hundred feet high, and in its crags grow ferns, wild pinks, and on its brow clusters and blooms the little evergreen shrub, Leiophyllum buxifolium.
Here Lidie found in the recent resignation of her heart visions of roses blooming about the door of her future mansion, with humming-birds nestling in the vines, and the voice of him she loved falling upon her ears like apples of gold in the acoustic halls of peace. And how changed seemed the fortunes of him by her side, who but an hour ago was whirling in the storm that had blown him to despair. Yet all in his bosom was not peace. Even the narrow rulings of destiny gave him pain, for, had he not been delayed by the rains of a single day, he would never have won the diadem of his soul. “O great Jehovah,” thought he, “can my happiness be real, or am I dreaming? If I am in the deceitful arms of Morpheus, may I never awake to sustain the regrets of my fancy; or, if I have fallen from some high cliff, where, bleeding with unconscious wounds, my dying hour is sweetened with these visions, may that hour last, and the 48 red current flow throughout the countless ages of eternity.”
His muse was here broken by a gentle female voice that said, “What cold wave of silence is passing over your brain?”
“I was tracing the wilds through which I came,” was the reply.
These words were the prelude to a low, sweet, musical conversation, ornamented with smiles and softened by the tenderest emotions of the human heart.
No one to eavesdrop was near, and the trembling ferns could never blab the touching story; but the envying Echo, who steals the pathos from all sweet words and returns only the hollow bones of speech, deserves our notice.
“She was a nymph, but only now a sound,
Yet of her tongue no other use was found
Than now she has, which never could be more
Than to repeat what she had heard before.
“This change impatient Juno’s anger wrought,
Who, when her Jove she o’er the mountains sought,
Was oft by Echo’s tedious tales misled.
Till the shy nymphs to caves and grottos fled.
“Her flesh consumes and moulders with despair,
And all her body’s juice is turned to air;
So wondrous are the effects of restless pain,
That nothing but her voice and bones remain.49
“Nay, even the very bones at last are gone,
And metamorphosed to a thoughtless stone;
Yet still the voice does in the woods survive;
The form’s departed, but the sound’s alive.”
Those conversant with mythology will remember that “Echo by chance met Narcissus in the woods, and so admired his beauty that she fell in love with him, courted and embraced him; but he broke away from her arms and fled. Narcissus afterwards fell so deeply in love with his own beauty that the love of himself proved his ruin. His thirst led him to a fountain, whose waters were clear and bright as silver; and when he stooped to drink he saw his own image, and gazed at it, insomuch that he fell passionately in love with it. He continued a long time admiring this beloved picture; but at length the unhappy creature perceived that the torture he suffered was from the love of his own self.
“‘My love does vainly on myself return,
And fans the cruel flame with which I burn;
The thing desir’d I still about me bore,
And too much plenty has confirm’d me poor.
Oh, that I from my much-lov’d self could go;
A strange request, yet would to God ’twere so.’
“In a word, the power of love was greater than he could resist, so that by degrees he 50 wasted away and consumed, and at last, by the favor of the gods, was turned into a daffodil, a flower called by his own name.”
The hapless ghost of Echo now lurked in the solid face of a cliff that was neighbor to the one occupied by our lovers, and, envying them because she were not Lidie and Charlie her long lost Narcissus, she mimicked their conversation as follows:
“Down in yonder lonesome woods is a flowery bed of green, where I am soon to be tried by the ordeal of forbearance. Already on that sacred spot nature’s tear-drops are falling thick and fast; for, in presence of those on yonder height, how can I give thee the cold ‘good-by’ that they will expect, or the warm ‘adieu’ they would not understand? Oh, gracious Pan, thou god of the beautiful woods, conceal thy uncomely form by the spring on our return; blow the sweet melody of thy cithern through the trees and entertain our companions till we pass on to that solemn shade. There, under the sighing pines on a mossy carpet kneeling, I will lay the blue-veined violets of confidence on the roses of my true-love’s promise, and, binding them with the tendrils of the woodbine, will leave her to join her friends in that lonely dell and my guide to overtake me by the brook of Klonteska.”51
“Not so, Charlie; if you depart so soon from the paths I travel, your vows and your actions will not seem to flow in the same gentle stream.”
“Pardon me, my dear Lidie; my words to you have always been tuned to the emotions of my heart, and there is no discord in the sweet chime of faith and feeling which I now enjoy. Fain would I have withheld my promise to meet a comrade traveller on the great Roan to-morrow, could I have foretold the events of to-day. But the cause of my delay, sent in a note by my guide, will obtain his pardon, for, on the night before we clambered together the eternal snows of Mont Blanc, I dropped into the ventricles of his sympathizing heart the secret of my wanderings. When we beheld the wild flowers growing so near the glacier (mer de glace) that they leaned their almost frozen corollas against the accumulated ice and snow of ages, I said, ‘These delicate blossoms are sickly from the low temperature which the glacier imparts; and as they woo in vain this congealed mass to melt and warm them into a brighter existence, even so did I implore the angel of my joys to enter the gate-ajar of my heart and give me a life of bliss by her side.’ Only yesterday he knew that the sweet home of love once in my bosom, where all the happy dreams of life had been cherished, 52 was but an empty urn, from whose future every hope of joy on earth had vanished.”
“Oh, speak not thus, Charlie; disturb not the clear, sweetly flowing river of the present by turning in a troubled current from the stream of memory.”
Here the conversation was broken by the remainder of the party arriving from the top, and as Mr. Skiles neared the awe-inspiring brink he drew back and exclaimed, “Oh, what a dangerous abyss!” Whereupon Skipper John informed them “that Rollingbumb once killed a bear on top of that ‘abscess,’ and, tumbling him over the brink, all of his bones were broken by the fall.”
All were soon seated upon the rock, where they looked well to the west, and, while talking of the many attractive objects in that direction, they determined that, as Mr. Skiles was out on a week’s vacation, they would continue their journey to Linville Falls, which are from Linville Gap about eighteen miles.
From the base of the great precipice which they occupied the mountain continues its descent by steep declivities, and so precipitous are they that a person might stand at many points and grasp the topmost branches of trees that have their roots in crags far below. A bewildering mile this rugged green extends, and then scatters and 53 terminates in the deciduous trees of a fertile slope that leads down to the Linville Valley. Here the landscape is dotted with the conical tops of giant hemlocks (Abies Canadensis) towering above and spreading beneath, so as to partly obstruct the view of the intervening birch and completely obscure the undergrowing rhododendrons.
Through this tangled mass lay the first five miles of the narrow road soon to be travelled by the party on their way to the beautiful cataract.
Retracing their steps to the top, Clippersteel gave his guide a liberal sum to start, without further delay, to the Roan with an appropriate note to his friend.
They now turned upon their heels and took a last glance at the dim and distant outline that once bounded the vision of Michaux, who had long since passed to silence and pathetic dust in far-off Madagascar.
To the southwest of Grandfather, the great Blacks—the highest American mountains east of the Mississippi—present themselves in a line of blue domes at right angles to the vision, and often support the clouds that empty their liquid burdens or gather new lading upon their lofty crests. The renowned Mitchell’s Peak is the highest of this group, and on its summit the Rev. Elisha 54 Mitchell, D.D., is buried; and whether the virgin snows mantle his grave with their trackless undefiles, or æolian breezes whisper between it and smiling moons, or the serene sunshine steals the noontide zephyr from the umbrageous firs, or the great storm king anchors his sable ship of gloom upon it, and turns loose the guns of thunder from its fiery portals, he sleeps the same under the sod of eternal fame.†
From the top of Grandfather almost the entire northwest is crossed by the long line of the Clinch Range, through whose depressions, in beautiful autumn weather, glimpses can be seen of the more distant mountains in Kentucky and West Virginia.
To the northeast is White Top, on which three States—North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee—corner and join. It is a massive oval mountain, showing the side view of an oblong bald, with a background of evergreen on land slightly more elevated than that denuded of trees.
The most distant mountain seen in the east is the dim Pilate in Stokes County, North Carolina. It culminates in a hazy tower of stone, which in 55 shape and proportion, as presented by the visual angle, is like a large gravestone set in the top of an Indian mound or a knoll.
Midst the cotton-fields of South Carolina rises to view the immortal King’s Mountain, on whose summit, October 7, 1780, the gallant Americans, under Colonels Campbell and Sevier, killed and captured the entire British command under Ferguson.
Near the south end of the Blacks, the beholder observes the bald of Hickory-Nut Gap, three miles beyond which is Round Knob Hotel, where the already beautiful scenery is greatly enhanced by the most intricate railroad contrivance in the South.
The reader will understand that I have mentioned only a few of
A thousand mountains and a million hills,
With intervening rivers and rills,
And tints that blue and clouds that fly,
Within the scope o’ the natural eye.
Our acquaintances, having completed the panorama a second time, now turned their backs upon the summit with such parting compliments as “Good-by, Grandfather!” “Farewell, ye sweet groves! I will love you when I am far away.” Arriving at the spring, the concave bark, full 56 to the brim, was circulated with free politeness; and Clippersteel, being the last to drink, raised it to his lips and said, “Here is to De Leon, who searched for this ‘fountain of youth,’ which he never found; may his soul be at peace and the sympathies of all mankind with his memory.”
They soon descended to Linville Gap, and, after an appropriate parting with the guide from the Watauga, Mr. Skiles said to Mr. Clippersteel, “Get on my horse; we will ride and walk alternately, and neither of us will be tired at night.” The person thus addressed declined at first to set the devout man on foot, but being assured by him that he would not be discomfited by the change, the offer was accepted. Mr. Skiles, however, was prevailed on to ride first, and Leathershine having hastened to mount Miss Meaks, as if he owned that right by previous attendance, all went down the merry Linville.
Miss Meaks ventured to ride by Mr. Skiles, but Leathershine was so goaded with jealousy, and so anxious to get the advantage of his formidable rival, that every time the narrowness of the road crowded them into single file, he pressed his horse in by hers and tendered his undying love. In vain did she use 57 silent contempt, in vain she changed the conversation.
“Please, Mr. Clippersteel,” said she, “lead my horse over this difficult road.” Delighted at the opportunity to be of service, he took the rein, when Leathershine, being close by the lady’s side, placed his open hand beside his mouth, as if to turn the full force of his breath upon the object of his love, and leaning quite over whispered in her ear.
“Get up and ride, Mr. Clippersteel,” said the minister, alighting from his steed.
Charlie first conducted Miss Meaks’s horse a little to the front, Leathershine being immediately on the opposite side, and then, stepping back to Mr. Skiles’s steed, placed his foot in the stirrup.
Leathershine, seeing that he was about to be superseded by one who seemed to be in more popular favor, took Miss Meaks’s horse by the rein, and giving his ankle a twist spurred him in the side, at the same time hurrying his own, and the two went in a sweeping gallop around a curve of the road.
“Thar,” roared Skipper, “he’s got yer gal an’ gone with ’ur.”
As Clippersteel lit in the saddle, he heard his intended say, “Let loose my rein. What do you 58 mean?” and being impelled by a sudden feeling of rescue and revenge, he gave the horse a thud with his spurless heel, and went thundering down the road like a tornado, leaving the minister and Skipper in the desolated country behind.
The rocks that brave the blasts of time
[Bard of the Highlands—or Plagiarist of the Highlands? The words “brave the blasts of time” are from Mary Robinson, “Stanzas written near a tree over the grave of an Officer”. “Without a pulse or motion” is Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And sooner or later everyone said “the heart’s commotion”.]
not more than a rod from Miss Meaks
[Hurrah, it’s my favorite unit of measurement. 16½ ft, 5½ yds, or just a hair over 5m.]
inspired new confidence in his “heart’s attorney,”
[Today I Learned . . . that “heart’s attorney” was once a common locution for “tongue”. Here, the quotation marks seem to imply that the expression was on its way out.]
like a “fice in high rye.”
[Our author didn’t make up this expression, but it’s exceedingly rare in print. A fice, more often written “feist”, is a small hunting dog especially known for treeing squirrels.]
observing that his “cake was dough”
[More often used negatively: “You’ll wish your cake was dough”, you’ll wish you had it to do over again. But no less a person than David Crockett—or his ghostwriter, she said unkindly—used the expression in much the same way Shepherd Dugger does:
She told me she was engaged to her cousin . . . . This news was worse to me than war, pestilence, or famine; but still I knowed I could not help myself. I saw quick enough my cake was dough, and I tried to cool off as fast as possible.]
said he, producing a memorandum.
final . missing
he was in honest error, for the range of the Rockies was not known to him
[Neither, of course, was Alaska. (Trivia: The highest peak in the Lower 48 is not in the Rockies but in California’s Sierra Nevada.)]
in its crags grow ferns, and wild pinks
text has an wild
Those conversant with mythology will remember
[If you didn’t remember it before, the sixteen lines of quoted verse will have reminded you. The quotation marks correctly imply that our author did not make this up himself; the poetry and prose are lifted directly from “Tooke’s Pantheon”.]
growing so near the glacier (mer de glace)
[Inquiring minds want to know: How, exactly, did Charlie pronounce the parentheses and italics?]
passed to silence and pathetic dust in far-off Madagascar
[Really. Michaux died in Madagascar in 1802.]
more distant mountains in . . . West Virginia
[The author has forgotten that his dramatic date is 1860.]
In verse I’ll not disclose what did betide,—
The scene’s too varied, wild, and warm, and wide.
From the dome of Grandfather, a high arm leads off, south of west and parallel with the Linville, for the distance of two miles, and then drops abruptly down into a deep pass called Grandmother Gap, beyond which rises Grandmother Mountain, the queen-consort of the reigning Grandfather.
Along the centre of this elegant spur is a succession of three beautiful cones, which are only a few feet lower than the highest point and rear their gray crests through dark mantles of rhododendrons and firs.
In the year 1890, a Baltimore bard, who signs his name “Chuckey Joe,” named one of these peaks—the one nearest the main top—“Yonahlossee,” which, in the language of the Cherokee Indians, means “Passing bear.” This name was suggested by the fact that bruin’s favorite trail 60 crosses the great mountain, through the depression, between this height and the next one towards the southwest.
In the fall of the year, when Rollingbumb did much trapping for bear in this pass, he made his head-quarters down in the deciduous woods, on the northern slope of the mountain, in a rock cavern which had been formed by a large slab of stone sliding down over a cliff and leaning up against it, leaving beneath a long chamber with a triangular opening at each extremity. When this was occupied by the hunter, he closed the three-cornered thresholds by building a blazing fire in one and suspending the skins of wild beasts in the other.
The rock that formed the shelter, and also the cliff that extended from either end of the cavern, were grown over with mosses and lichens, while clinging here and there in the crevices were beautiful ferns, orchids, and wild pinks.
Only a few rods away, the east end of the cliff led down to a hollow, in which great bowlders, that had come down from higher altitudes, were piled one upon another. Some of these were carpeted with a soft moss, and the remainder had on top of them an accumulation of soil that supported wild turnip, dog-tusk violets, beth, mandrake, leeks, ferns, seneca, 61 spikenard, angelica, ginseng, wild-gooseberry bushes, and many other plants and shrubs that flourished and bloomed in the most brilliant profusion.
COPYRIGHTED, 1892, BY M. DUGGER
Beneath this rich robe and the bowlders which it mantled was a subterranean brook, whose invisible falls and cascades rumbled like “muffled drums,” as their waters passed on to some crystal outburst below.
When Rollingbumb passed out from between the adamantine walls of his sylvan chamber and concealed his gigantic steel-traps beneath the leaves and moss of bruin’s passway, the grabs at the ends of the chains were not fastened to immovable objects, as might be supposed, because, in that event, a monstrous bear, when captured, would have been better able to extricate himself than when the great sharp-fanged transitory prison was allowed to move to the bent of every overpowering exertion of its captive.
When bruin suddenly finds his paw in steel shackles, against which all his weapons of carnivorous warfare are powerless, he invariably turns at right angles from his trail, and seldom goes more than two or three rods before the grabs become intangled, as seen in the cut, and he comes to an abrupt halt. But after biting off all the shrubbery within the length of his cable, 62 and turning everything around him topsy-turvy, he generally disengages himself, and then, snorting with rage and jingling his metallic fetters, he continues his clumsy flight, making signs that can be followed as readily as the path of a whirlwind, until the grabs catch under a root or over a bough, and he is hindered as before.
Thus clambering through his painful and provoking prison bounds, he seldom gets more than a fourth of a mile from his trail, when the hunter, going to his traps and finding one of them missing, follows it up, and slays poor bruin in the manner illustrated.
On the opposite side of the Linville from the Grandfather is the spring-flowered and autumnal tinted Flat-Top Mountain, which also runs parallel with that beautiful stream, and has a splendid pinnacle west of the centre. It is noted for its fertile soil, for the abundance and variety of its wild herbs, and for its beautiful groves of oak, chestnut, sugar-maple, and other deciduous trees.
The last scene of our story occurred at the point where a line would pass if drawn from the top of Yonahlossee, through the valley of the Linville, to the pinnacle of the Flat-Top.
The party had passed the place where Clippersteel and his guide had camped the night before, 63 and Skipper, having been paid to carry the tent and blankets, had them rolled up and laid on his shoulder. The minister gazed after the flying steeds with a dumfounded face, while Skipper stood by, with an obelisk of mud on the big toenail of his left foot, and said in an ecstatic voice, that might have been heard by the man in the moon, “I’ll bet ye a gill of balsam ag’inst a dollar that them fellers ’ll fight over that gal, yit.”
When Clippersteel passed round the curve behind which his true love and her captor had gone, he saw them going at full speed, so far down a long stretch of road that the laurel hangings seemed to crowd in almost to its closing. In his hot pursuit, he snatched a branch from a rhododendrons and, larruping the horse with the broad leaves, the animal leaped forward with increased alacrity; and Leathershine, observing that the management of two horses was unequally matched against the skill and speed of a single rider, dropped the rein, and, continuing his flight, was soon lost to view under the overhanging boughs of the forest road.
Lidie Meaks was an expert in the overland accomplishment of horseback riding, and would have prevented this equestrian tornado, but Leathershine getting the horses under speed before she apprehended his intentions, all her 64 skill was required to keep the saddle and evade the lowering boughs.
When Leathershine dropped the rein, she checked the speed of the horse and caracoled in the road, but her spirits were borne down with fear lest her Charlie would believe that the fires of jealousy burning upon the youngster’s heart had been blown by the bellows of her own bosom. Guided, however, by a clear conscience, she galloped towards her champion, and when she met him each saw on the other’s face spots of sunshine and shadow, like those produced on a harvest-field by the passage of broken clouds. Comprehending her fears and knowing her innocence, Charlie said, in a tranquil voice, “Be of good cheer, my dear Lidie, for in the game of snatch we are often taken by the one we least admire.”
“Thank you,” she said, panting for breath and regaining a smile; “and believe me,” she continued, “I never saw that fellow until a week ago; and although he seemed to be fond of my company, I never thought of his presuming to claim my regard until this hour, during which he has kept my horse crowded into the woods and my ears inflated with wind.”
“Had not the coward fled,” said Clippersteel, “I would have tested the thickness of his cranium.”65
“Let me implore you,” answered Lidie, “for the sake of the good man whose pupil he is, that you treat him as beneath your notice, and I will stay beyond his ken.”
“Hello,” shouted Skipper, arriving with the tent on his shoulder and the pyramid of mud on his toe-nail; “you’ve got yer gal back, I see.”
Lidie turned her head to conceal the humorous expression which the remark created upon her visage; and Charlie answered him with a look that was half laughter.
Mr. Skiles now inquired after his student, and, being informed of his flight, he said, solemnly and reverently, “I have often prayed God to gather his wild oats into the garner of repentance.”
After Clippersteel had apologized to the clergyman for driving his horse through the nimble storm of passion’s fleet despair, the journey was continued, and, though the fugitive was often looked for, only the tracks of his horse were seen.
Close beside them and often crossing their way was the rippling river of Linville, singing its song of joy to the youthful Linville Valley, or murmuring its sweet story to the myriads of speckled beauties that played on its sparkling sands. Here it is that the angler casts his rod over the home of the piscatorial tribe and brings 66 forth his elegant prize, fluttering his finny prattle against the rhododendrons boughs that hang like green-spangled awnings over the glassy pools.
Late in the afternoon, when the green leaves were rustled by a bracing zephyr, the dim highway—so little used that it was partly grown over with wild herbs—was leading the party through a forest of large trees with but little undergrowth. Here was a lone rhododendrons blooming at the foot of a tall oak, yonder a cluster of that fired the forest with its flaming flora.
Suddenly they came to a fence, and going straight forward, while the road turned to the left, they passed through a gate into a broad, beautiful meadow, which was divided into two nearly equal parts by the pathway that led through it before them. To the left of this little meadow passage the mead rolled its green sward gently down to the Linville River, beyond which was a hill of laurel and pine that led up by steeps and land-saddles that wove themselves into a more distant prospect of elegant ridges.
On the opposite side of the grassy track was a cosey carpet of horizontal turf that led back to a hill of equal green, which, being a part of 67 the same enclosure, swept down and blended into the level that terminated its descent.
Directly before them, and about the centre of the large enclosure, arose, as if by magic, an elegant white mansion. Of its two fronts, one overlooked the rolling sward that divided it from the river on the south, while the other caught in the modillions of its Corinthian entablature the first kisses of the rising sun.
Surrounding it was a commodious yard, enclosed by a picket fence of such low structure that it gave almost a complete view of the pinks, roses, and other perennial blossoms that adorned the within.
Two gravelled walks, one leading from each front through the beautiful flowers, terminated at as many gates, of which the one on the east stood ajar to receive those who were about to enter its portal.
This was the residence of Colonel Salmer,* a gentleman of fortune, who had swapped the song of the mocking-bird in South Carolina for the 68 nesting place of the snow-bird in the beautiful land of the sky.
From a window within, the lord of the mansion recognized Mr. Skiles as the shepherd of the little flock to which he belonged, and, going out to meet him, received his hand with a cordial clasp. The Colonel was then introduced to Mr. Clippersteel and Miss Meaks, while Skipper John looked upon the formality with surprise, and evidently believed it to be some angelic performance, the sanctity of whose mysteries none but those in close communion with the Deity could understand.
An inquiry about Leathershine being now in order, it was ascertained that he had been there an hour before, but, having learned through Colonel Salmer that a Mr. Franklin lived near the falls, he had gone thither to spend the night.
The arrivals were now conducted to seats in the south portico, which commanded an elegant view of many objects, the least comely of them all being the dim road; for here I may say that, from where we saw it last, it led down to where the fence made a right angle, and then turning between that enclosing structure and the river continued thus until it passed the house.
Skipper being helped to a chair leaned his stupendous form against one of the supporting 69 columns that stood nearest the steps. His great wide mouth swung open like a fly-trap made of two clap-boards, and his knees extended quite up to the sides of his flat head, while resting on a round of the chair below were two massive feet, whose hard bottoms, seared by long and severe exposure, bade everlasting defiance to the chestnut-burr and the thorn.
The landlord, thinking that he had seen him before, scrutinized him with a curious eye, and only wondered what manner of man had been brought to his house; but when his light-hearted wife tripped through the hall and burst into his presence, she drew back like an unarmed man meeting a grizzly on the great solitudes of the West. Her eyes twinkled beneath a scowl as she scanned him with a recovering glance. She then advanced with shy steps, and gave the minister her hand and received an introduction to his friends.
By this time Clippersteel had perceived that a rusty pair of number sixteen feet, supporting a form of proportionate size and bearing, would be unwelcome visitors between the lily-white sheets of Mrs. Salmer’s sleeping apartments; and as soon as he could politely excuse himself he prepared his tent-bearer a resting-place by spreading the tent below the house, by the laughing river.70
When Clipper had placed Skipper securely in the little pavilion and returned to the portico, Mr. Skiles and Miss Meaks had been conducted to their rooms, and Mrs. Salmer had withdrawn to the culinary department. But the Colonel, remaining in what Skipper called the “portikiazer,” invited his returning guest to a seat, and asked him how he liked the country.
“It is beautiful indeed,” was the answer; “and what estimate would you set upon it, if a hundred farms in this valley were prepared and occupied like yours?”
“It would be the Eden of the world, sir, and the pittance for which the land could now be bought would scarcely be recognized in the estimation of its value.”
“I concur in your opinion; and I venture to say further, that the fifteen miles of country that I have seen this evening, embracing yonder stream from here to its source, is worth more for the real comforts of life than ten times its area elsewhere in the most fertile fields of the South.”
“Experience has taught me that your position is true, and, while my friends call it monkish in me to have withdrawn from the allurements of city life to this tranquillizing retreat, I answer them with the following beautiful story of Cincinnatus:71
“When that model of Roman genius and integrity had received a letter from the senate, asking him, for the sake of the republic, to return to the dictatorship, which he had resigned, he replied as follows:
“‘If you could see the nice cabbage that I have planted to-day, you would never say republic to me again.’ In like manner I say to my friends, ‘If you were to drink from the cool, pellucid water of my spring; feast on the rich milk from the fat cattle that graze my fields; breathe the sweet air from the Balsam Groves of the Grandfather, and view their glorious aspect, and see the red roses that have taken the place of blanched lilies on the cheeks of my wife and darling boy, you would never say city to me again.’”
The spring of which the Colonel spoke was reached by a diagonal path passing through and beyond the front yard to the right, where the smoothness of the landscape was broken by some rocks that jutted from the slope, and seemed to wall the subterranean channel through which the little stream came from some higher source. Here was the dairy, which was made of hewn logs neatly joined together and painted white. Its form was that of an oblong square. The plates crowning the side walls and the roof supported by them, passed over and beyond the end 72 wall next the hill, forming an extended gable that sheltered both the spring and the entrance to the little edifice.
Large slabs of stone walled in the crystal fountain, and extended their collateral joinings on the side towards the approach, forming a seat for two persons.
After a delicious supper of savory dishes, its elegant serving by the accomplished landlady, the sending of a portion of the same to Skipper, who lived in the tent, and the interesting and varied conversation participated in during the consumption of the repast, Clippersteel and his beloved went down to the spring and occupied the seat above referred to.
The tiny streamlet, trickling from its source through the apartments of the dairy, chirped like young birds claiming their mother’s protection at night, as Clippersteel said to his intended, “Look towards those willows by the rippling stream; see how the glow-worms and fire-flies streak and spangle the twilight.”
“I was just asking myself,” she replied, “whether or not our lives would end so beautifully as the closing of this day.”
“Only those who live after us can tell the solution of that problem. Useful lives and beautiful days often have endings quite different 73 from the zeniths of their glory; and the changes that take place in the skies of a single day may elegantly illustrate the human career. For instance, I have seen the sun burn his way through twelve hours of ethereal blue, and then set in a cloud that soon obscured the sky with darkness and gloom, and the red lightning, darting its fiery shuttle through the loom of thunder, wove a curtain that mantled the earth in terror and death. Then I have seen days that were dark and dreary, when the bellowing thunder drove the wild beast to his shelter in the rocks, and the pelting rain thrown by the angry hand of the storm demolished the crops of the land and left the sinewy hands of toil empty with hunger and pain. Then the clouds drifted away, and Sol impressed his good-night kisses upon the mountain-tops in token that he would rise from a saffron bed on the morrow. Again, there has been many a succession of beautiful days accompanied by as many glorious eves, when Venus and the moon, contesting for the prize of beauty, hung their golden scale in the west to weigh the admiration that each received from the world, and the chestnut sunshine that painted the blooming fields was broken only by gentle showers, that struck not the earth with madness, but gave it a warm kiss, from whose loving 74 impress there sprang up a beautiful robe of green.”
“What a profusion of beautiful words you utter, Charlie. You have painted three pictures of human life from the cradle to the grave. May our lot be neither the first nor the second, but let it be like the continuation of beautiful days. May our lives be a season of perpetual sunshine to the heart, when the mind neither reverts to the past nor reaches to the future, but is content with the pleasures of the present; and if tears must come, may they fall in the prepared soil and ripen the fruits of the soul; and at the end we will not contest for the prize, but will be content to share alike the glories of the world to come.”
“You have a tenderness about you, my dear Lidie, and a nobleness of heart which I never heard expressed before. Your sweet words, dropping like vocal roses from the gardens of language, heighten, if possible, the joy of the thought that you are soon to be mine. Your silvery accents, to which the trickling streamlet beside us plays a sweet accompaniment, tell me to rob life no longer of the bliss for which I sigh; and now, as you have no parents’ consent to obtain, no sisters to invite, but only a lone brother far in the West, I propose that our 75 nuptials be performed at the great falls, tomorrow.”
Lidie, remaining silent for a time, heaved a sigh, and then said, “I fear that Prudence would censure my acceptance, for I am in the far-off mountains, without a wedding garment, or even a few friends to celebrate the occasion.”
“The foaming falls will lend you from their white spray a queenly robe, the benign woods will deck it with flowers more gorgeous than the artist can paint, and the harmonious melody produced by the combined musical agents of flood and forest will do honor to the occasion.”
* During the war between the States, this mansion was burned by Colonel Kirk’s men when on their raid to Camp Vance. The property is now owned and occupied by Geo. E. Watkins, formerly of the U. S. Navy, who has built an elegant dwelling near the spot where the first one stood.
“Yonahlossee,” which, in the language of the Cherokee Indians, means “Passing bear.”
[Another popular etymology is “trail of the bear”. Compare this source, which says that the word is a compound of Cherokee yonah (bear), and Creek lasi (town, place).]
[plate caption] COPYRIGHTED, 1892, BY S. M. DUGGER
text has S M. DUGGER
[If this supplementary copyright notice means that Shepherd Dugger painted the picture himself, he was indeed a man of many talents. Harrison Aldridge (1821–1905) was unequivocally a real person; see here and here.]
yonder a cluster of azalia
the modillions of its Corinthian entablature
[A modillion is, in fact, an architectural feature. What the word meant in the context of Miss Lidie’s hair, back in Chapter I, is anyone’s guess.]
the following beautiful story of Cincinnatus
[Ah, good ol’ Cincinnatus and the cabbages. Unlike George Washington and the cherry tree, this one really happened—at least to the extent that Cincinnatus voluntarily resigned his dictatorship as soon as possible, rather than serving to the end of his allotted six months. The story is undoubtedly lifted verbatim from the nearest textbook, but I couldn’t identify it.]
The spring of which the Colonel spoke was reached by a diagonal path
[I’ve just realized what all these painstaking descriptions remind me of: old-style text adventure games. “To the WEST you see a path.”]
The falls that pour their foaming floods,
And set the wind in motion,
That wave the boughs and flaunt the curls
On heads of true devotion,
Could they but sing the song of pain
That’s mingled in my story,
Their name would fill the vaulted skies,
And be enrolled in glory.
The beautiful homestead depicted in the last chapter is now in Mitchell County, but at the time of our story it was in the county of Watauga, and more than twenty miles from the court-house. However, it was only eight miles south of a place that was and is called the “Old Field of Toe,” a muster-ground in use before the war, where lived a magistrate who was deputized to issue marriage licenses.
When Clippersteel had conducted his lady in out of the night air from the seat by the spring, he consulted the landlord for a few moments, after which he wrote a note to the justice, enclosing 77 a license-fee, and then passed out and down towards the tent.
As he tripped down through the lawn with the peert and nimble spirit of Hymen playing in his bosom, he sang the following lines:
Lovely Emma, sweet Emma,
Would you think it unkind,
If I were to sit by you
And tell you my mind?
My mind is to marry,
And never to part;
The first time I saw you
You wounded my heart.
Oh, her breath smells as sweet
As the dew on the vine;
God bless you, lovely Emma,
I wish you were mine.
He was now near the little white pavilion, where Skipper’s deep slumbers were betokened by the loud, nocturnal winding of his nasal horn. His peculiar errand, and the feeling engendered by it, had intensified that inherited superstition which dwells even in the bosom of the wise. Forms of fear gathered in the quiet willows by the stream, and the nasal voice of Skipper sounded like groans from some cavern 78 of the earth in which the bones of dead men were mouldering.
“On the lawny sands and shelves
Trip the peert fairies and the dapper elves.”
With his heart slightly unnerved and dancing to the music of Hymen’s lute, Clippersteel bounded into the tent and stirred the snoring man from his lethargy.
“Have you ever been to the ‘Old Fields of Toe’?” inquired he.
“Yes, sar,” answered Skipper, pressing the knuckles of his front fingers against his eyes; “I went thar to the big balluginary” (battalion) “muster.”
It was now agreed between Clipper and Skipper that, if the latter should have the license in the tent by daylight on the morrow, he was to receive, as a partial compensation, enough money to buy him a new fur hat, which in those days meant a high stiff hat, plushed with fur on the outside, and having a crown flat on top.
This was the style of masculine head-gear that a gentleman had on when a jester accosted him with the following interrogation:
“Halloo, stranger; are your cows all dead?”
“No, sir,” replied the man; “and why do you ask that question?”79
“Why, sir,” replied the merry-Andrew, “I see that you have your wife’s churn on your head.”
In case of a successful trip on the part of Skipper, he was to receive, also, sufficient money to purchase himself a pair of boots, of which the fronts were to be red, from the tops down nearly to the ankles.
Skipper was soon plodding his way through the valleys and over the heights, and, as the moping owl complained to the fair moon that rolled up the eastern sky, he meditated upon the future as follows: “I’ll stick a feather from the red rooster’s tail in my fur hat, and put my red-topped boots on the outside of my pants, and go to see Peggy Sigemore, and Betz Kite, who kicked me and called me an old balsam climber, will wish that she had me for a beau.”
As these happy thoughts of sudden distinction passed through his mind, he was so transported with joy that he answered the hoot of the owl with the following hymn, which he sang to long metre:
“The squir’l he has a bushy tail,
The possum’s tail is bare,
A rabbit has no tail at all,
But a little bit-a-bunch of hair.
“The raccoon up the chestnut-tree,
The possum in the holler,
A purty gal at our house,
As fat as she can waller.”
Next morning, when twilight still spread her dusky pinions over the land, and the moon, hanging just above the western horizon, cast a pale glare on the saffron-gild from the sun, Clippersteel re-entered the tent, where his precursor, having returned, was again wrapped in the restoring arms of Morpheus. In his right hand, which rested on his brow, was the marriage document, while around one of his great toes, at the other extremity of his long person, was a bandage of green leaves tied on with a string of hickory bark and bloodied from a wound within. Seeing that all was well, he left the man for an hour to his peaceful slumbers, and then returned with a waiter heavy laden with hot coffee and wholesome food, and as he entered the tent Skipper arose, and, extending his hand, said:
“I got ’um, goody; her’s yer licengers.”
“And here,” said Clippersteel, “is your money,” passing him a handful of silver dollars. Skipper smiled behind his ears, and his short coat danced up and down to the roaring chuckle that inflated his ribs.
“Did a snake bite your toe?” inquired Clippersteel.
“No, sar,” replied Skipper; “I stump’ the nail off’en it,” and, putting his hand in his pocket, he drew out the great bloody toe armor, 81 and, handing it to Clippersteel, said, “Thar it is. I’ll give ye that to remember who brought yer licengers.”
“Thank you, Skipper,” was the reply; “it is a nice souvenir, and I shall ever keep it among my most valued treasures.” Skipper thought that he had never before heard a toe-nail called a “susandear,” but, not doubting the authenticity of the word, he adopted it into his vocabulary, and ever afterwards applied the name to toe-nails that had been knocked off by accident.
The blue sky that adorned the wedding-day was decked with a bright sun that had risen a few degrees above the horizon when the party filed through the gate, by the tent, and turned down the murmuring stream. Riding in front was the lone Mr. Skiles. Next in order was the bride and groom, the latter occupying a horse procured from a Mr. Dellinger, who was neighbor to the host and hostess. Third in rank was Mrs. Salmer and the Colonel, who were mounted on two splendid bays from their own stalls, while the rear was brought up by a servant riding a long-eared donkey and bearing on his arm a large basket of lunch.
Skipper, who had gone in advance, was so elated by his connection with the affair that he told every yeoman he met by the way what was 82 going to take place at the falls; and these early settlers, whose amusements were few and far between, looking upon the outdoor wedding as a public affair, dropped their ploughs and hoes in the fields, and putting on their best garments went towards the scene.
In consequence of the above, Mr. Skiles soon found an equestrian partner in the person of a Mr. Buchanan, who had quit the irksome monotone of his plough for the exhilarating pastime of nuptial festivities.
Before the equestrians reached the falls, Skipper, whom they had passed on the way, had gathered to his side a company of twenty persons or more, made up of both sexes, in about equal numbers. The women wore homespun dresses, which they had made for themselves, by carding, spinning, and weaving the fleece of the sheep, and, finally, cutting and fitting the fabric to their persons. Their head-gear consisted of plain calico bonnets, while their waists and bosoms were set about with fillets of red ribbon that flaunted to the gales of the woods.
Each man was armed with his long firelock rifle, which, when stood upon its breech, extended from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. These were carried as a means of killing the abundant deer and other 83 game that frequently crossed the roads and paths.
In the party was a moustached man, middle-aged and handsome, by the name of Clark, who seemed to have descended from some professional family that had strayed into the far-off mountains and retrograded from their former learning and dignity.
Beside him was his daughter, Miss Ada, a blooming girl of sweet sixteen, whose form was cast in neat proportion’s mould. Her queenly hands, tapering and fair as the lily, were gloved with a pair of red of her own knitting, which exposed the ends of the fingers and the first joints of the thumbs.
Her golden hair was like a shower of primrose petals falling, and her cheeks were finished with the artistic touches of Aurora’s rosy hand. Her eyes were like the corolla leaves of the blue-veined violet, her nose was a posy to her face, and her pearly teeth sparkled with nectarean dew. “She was a flower born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
In those days it was customary for a gentleman to propose his escort to a lady in the following manner. Walking up to her side, he said, “Do you love chicken?” which nowadays would be equivalent to asking if she were a Methodist. 84 If she answered “Yes,” he then presented his arm with the words, “Have a wing,” whereupon she put her arm through his. But if the answer was “No,” he was refused, or, in the parlance of the times, she had “kicked” him. Such scenes usually occurred in large crowds that were going the distance of ten miles or more, to or from church, on the Sabbath day, and the fellow who got “kicked” was always greatly derided by most of those who witnessed the chagrin of his disappointment.
On the present occasion, when all were bound for the falls, a fellow, with the blood-red top-knot of an imperial woodpecker in his hat-band, stepped up to the side of Miss Ada; but just as he would have propounded the Methodist question, her father gave him a disapproving glance, by which his heart failed him, and he passed on to the side of a bunty girl with a flaxen head and a frisky air, and, looking her in the face with a grin, he said, “Aggie, do you love chicken?”
“I don’t love roosters,” was the pert reply.
The answer being new and thoroughly original, the fellow was for a time completely dumfounded for something to say, but finally he got his mouth off, and said, “Will you let one walk with you to the wed’en?”
“Yes, if he don’t crow too loud,” she replied.
The heterogeneous gathering was now on the west bank of the river, at the top of the cataract, where the stream passed transversely over a saddle of rock, and dropping off, at the lower skirt, fell the height of a tall tree into a pool of matchless depth and beauty. But since that time the ledge has broken down, so that the water leaps and cascades alternately through a curved and partly concealed grove, and finally terminates in a clear fall of only about thirty feet, as seen in the cut.
The pool, however, which is about fifty yards wide and twice as long, with the corners slightly rounded, has lost none of its original beauty, unless it is in the diminished magnitude of the white breakers that ruffle its dark bosom. The long way of this beautiful lake is at right angles to the fall, and its outlet is through a narrow channel at the east end.
The party, having satiated their æsthetic vision from the top, now started for a landing at the bottom, and there never was a wilder way than theirs. The little track wound, and still winds, through and under laurel and ivy, around and over cliffs, and then turns down a slope of forty-five degrees, and runs as straight as a gun-barrel for the distance of fifty yards. This visible section of the path, canopied by the 86 lapping boughs of the rhododendrons and calmia, is crossed by many rocks and tree roots, which, having been divested of soil by clambering feet, look like the rounds of a long ladder leading down to the subterranean falls and glittering stalactites of a cave. At the foot of this shaded vista, the way turning down the stream to the right passes up into and down through crevices, where the overhanging rocks, being of the Methodist persuasion, sprinkle the heads of the passers-by with clean water. And, indeed, it seems quite thoughtful in these stones to prepare the traveller at this point for death, because the next fifty yards of his path are the most dangerous that the writer has witnessed in all North Carolina. Here the south side of the pool is bounded by a perpendicular rock that walls an unknown depth of water, and then rises from ten to thirty feet above its surface; and we do not exaggerate in the least, when we say that the track is on the very brink of this ledge, and in some places barely wide enough for the feet. The fears of the tourist are to some extent removed by the laurel hangings above and a fringe of light vegetation on the brow of the rock below, but the latter would not support the weight of a falling babe, and the former might be missed by the clutch of one who had lost his footing. If 87 ever a lady tumbles over this precipice, she will most probably be lost, and a gentleman could save himself only by good swimming.
Our wedding party, now quadrupled by the country people, followed this hazardous track to where it spreads into a bench of rock about as wide as the floor of a bedroom and several times as long. If we imagine this seat occupied by a giant of suitable size, his calves will rest against the perpendicular wall of the pool and his feet will be washed by its breakers. Before him, the white torrent pours down into the boiling pot, while immediately on the right of the foaming cataract rises a great ledge of stone, from whose summit a Niagara leaper might make a most beautiful dive into the pool, one hundred feet below.
This ledge is only the upper end of a long wall that extends down the stream and rears its battlements in front of a low oval knob, in the rear of which is a scattered growth of dead and living pine, with scarcely anything beneath except short bunches of calmia.
The back of our imaginary giant is supported by the smooth face of a cliff about thirty feet high, which breaks at the top into a succession of ivy-mantled crags that rise almost perpendicularly for several hundred feet, to where they 88 are crowned with a grove of Carolina pine (Abies Caroliniana). While these crags are exceedingly beautiful in elevation, they are also equally picturesque in their longitudinal extension far down the stream, where the rocks rear their gray crests above their evergreen mantles, and, with their surroundings, blend into a scene as wild and varied as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and repose.
The country gentlemen, having leaned their rifles against the cliff, stood with their women folks, anxiously awaiting the expected event. In due time the bride and groom, attended by Colonel and Mrs. Salmer, were arrayed for marriage.
Their backs were in the neighborhood of the guns, while their faces were towards the great pouring column, whose white wings and boiling pedestal sent forth a breeze that set all the near flora and other equally movable objects in motion,—bush, weed, and flower, as well as ribbons, tresses, whiskers, and moustaches, and even the leaves of the minister’s book were all dancing to the wind of the falls. As Mr. Skiles composed the fluttering pages beneath his thumbs, he drew so near and spoke so loud, in order to be heard above the roar of the waters, that his manner, elsewhere, would have been suitable 89 only to those who were partially deaf. The charming bride, with dove-like eyes, looked steadily upon the minister; and, as he proceeded with the beautiful Episcopal service, there never was a bliss more wild and warm and boundless than that which thrilled her heart. “If any man,” said the clergyman, “can show just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak or else hereafter forever hold his peace.”
To the great surprise of all present, a sneering voice, on a different key from the thundering of the falls, was heard to say, “I object.” This came from none other than Leathershine, who had resolved to avenge his defeat by vexing the occasion with this obnoxious objection, based, as we shall see, upon an odious falsehood; and, the better to accomplish his design, he had concealed himself in the green of the steeps, so as to appear at a time when the groom could not contravene his purpose nor do him violence.
“What is the ground of your objection?” inquired the minister.
“She is engaged to me” was the reply.
No one can describe the trembling pallor that seized the person of poor Lidie Meaks. With eyes full of overflowing fondness, she looked upon him she loved, as if to say, “I am innocent.”90
Her chin dropped upon the flowers that adorned her bosom; every nerve and muscle of her frame lost its energy, and she sank at the feet of the groom, not in the fashion of one who falls under the influence of excessive excitement, but like a pure woman borne down by the weight of a calumny perpetrated upon a warm life that no sin had ever tarnished.
The copious pool, so near the fainting bride, was yet so far that not a drop of its pellucid contents could be had with which to bathe her brow.
But the groom quickly produced from his pocket a little bottle of brandy, which he carried, as a precaution, in case of accidents, and spreading a portion of its contents over her pallid face, the signs of restoration soon became apparent. The country folks had gathered round like the people of a city rushing to the scene of an accident, when those at disadvantage look over the shoulders of those in front to get a view of the within.
By this time Leathershine had run down the lake, and was ascending the heights at a point below, when Clippersteel, darting through the crowd, snatched a rifle from its leaning-place, and was aiming a shot that would have despatched the retreating coward, had not Mr. 91 Clark grabbed the muzzle of the gun and borne it downward until he had gone out of sight.
A few minutes later the infamous dude mounted his horse, and, riding directly to Valle Crucis, packed his trunk and fled before Mr. Skiles had returned.
The tumult was now ended; the bride was able to sit upon a shawl which had been offered by a good mountain matron; and an hour later the marriage service was closed with the following prayer:
“O eternal God, creator and preserver of all mankind, giver of all spiritual grace, the author of everlasting life, send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy name; that, as Isaac and Rebecca lived, faithfully together, so these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made (whereof this ring given and received is a token and pledge), and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Hanging on a limb, at the top of the cataract, was the basket of lunch, and those for whose comfort it had been prepared, now climbing in single file for its rich morsels, were followed by the riflemen, with their ruddy consorts and lasses.92
As the mountaineers were departing for their homes, Mr. Clark and his daughter accepted a cordial invitation from Mrs. Salmer to take lunch.
The dinner was taken to a convenient spot, where a number of large rocks laid round in circular form, and spread within their circumference on the cloths in which it had been folded.
Skipper, having now remained with his older friends, looked on from a distance, as if uncertain as to how near the food his welcome extended; but when Clippersteel observed his doubtful attitude, he took him by the arm and seated him on a bowlder, suitable to his size, within the circle. His valuable service to Mr. Clippersteel and the wound upon his great toe having elicited general sympathy, Mrs. Salmer helped him to the first round, as she did the rest, and then bade all wait on themselves.
Under the cloths, in the corner nearest to Skipper, was a flat rock that so pressed its bosom against the white covering as to form a neat little elevation, which was occupied by a large, highly-flavored cake, of a rich, yellowish cast, the same being cut from the centre to every second or third convolution that ornamented its circumference.
When Skipper had quickly gulped down what had been given him, he took a piece of 93 cake, when Mrs. Salmer, looking upon him with a degree of allowance, thought, “Poor, ignorant fellow doesn’t know which end of the meal to begin at.”
The Adam’s-apple on Skipper’s neck had not played up and down more than twice, when he seized a second piece of the rich composition, and then a third; and the lady in charge, becoming alarmed lest none should be left for the rest, laid a drum-stick on a biscuit, and said,—
“Here, Mr. Potter” (calling his surname), “have this nice chicken and biscuit.”
“Oh, no,” said he; “eat that yerself; this punkin bread’s good enough fur me.”
Those who had previously suppressed their hilarity at Skipper’s mistakes were now unable to conceal their glee, and all burst into such explosions of laughter that great mouthfuls of masticated bread and butter flew against the surrounding rocks like showers of shot from a fowling-piece.
Mr. Clippersteel settled with his lovely wife in the city of Raleigh, where he had formerly resided, and the murmurs heard in that family were like the voice of a sunlit tide embracing the tinted shells of the shore in love.
You can tell that the author is getting tired, because this final chapter of the romance is packed to the gills with folksong lyrics just to make up the page count.
Lovely Emma, sweet Emma
[Our Shepherd seems to have spliced together two different songs. The verse is the song “Polly, Pretty Polly” (in some versions alternating amoebically with “Willie, Little Willie”). Today the chorus shows up most often in what must have started out as a parody (er . . . mustn’t it?):
God bless the moonshiners,
I wish they was mine;
Their breath is as sweet as
The dew on the vine.]
if the latter should have the license in the tent by daylight on the morrow
[I want to read the scene in which the magistrate at “Old Fields of Toe” is awakened from his honest slumbers by a midnight demand for a marriage license.]
which he sang to long metre
[I can’t figure out whether this is a joke, or a description of Skipper’s vocal technique. (The rhyming lines are seven syllables, not eight.)]
The squir’l he has a bushy tail
[Just where does he get this stuff? Another version goes:
A raccoon’s tail is ring-ed around;
A possum’s tail is bare;
The squirrel has a bushy tail,
And stub tail is the bear.
Yet another (“Boil them Cabbage Down”) is:
Raccoon has a bushy tail,
Possum’s tail is bare.
Rabbit has no tail at all,
’cept a little bunch of hair.]
his pant’s pocket
homespun dresses, which they had made for themselves, by carding, spinning, and weaving the fleece of the sheep, and, finally, cutting and fitting
[How I wish I knew the target audience for this arcane technical information. Besides, he forgot dyeing and fulling—to say nothing of the actual sewing.]
his daughter, Miss Ada, a blooming girl of sweet sixteen
[There is no carved-in-stone rule that forbids introducing a new character in the final chapter. But let’s not go overboard.]
red mits of her own knitting
She was a flower born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air.
[Interesting that he chose to quote this as prose. It’s from Gray’s “Elegy”:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.]
as seen in the cut
[In the beginning, illustrations in printed books were woodcuts. So “cut” becomes synonymous with “illustration”, even if the referenced picture is actually a steel engraving, an etching, a lithograph—or, as in this case, a photograph.]
fifty yards wide and twice as long, with the corners slightly rounded
[The “slightly rounded” part (how often do rectangular bodies of water occur in nature?) prompted me to look up the dimensions of an Olympic-size swimming pool. Answer: 50m long by 25m wide, or pretty exactly one-quarter the size of the pool at the foot of these falls.]
the overhanging rocks, being of the Methodist persuasion, sprinkle the heads of the passers-by with clean water
[Wouldn’t those be rocks of the Baptist persuasion?]
If ever a lady tumbles over this precipice, she will most probably be lost, and a gentleman could save himself only by good swimming.
[What Not To Say In A Sales Pitch, Chapter One.]
Their backs were in the neighborhood of the guns
[Shotgun wedding, anyone?]
In due time the bride and groom, attended by Colonel and Mrs. Salmer, were arrayed for marriage.
[In the previous chapter, Charlie assured Miss Lidie that the running waters of the fall were all the bridal array she needed, making this a NSFW scene.]
a shot that would have despatched the retreating coward
[In North Carolina in 1892, interfering with the smooth progress of an Episcopal marriage service was a capital offense.]
If you only came for the romance, you may now leave quietly. Try not to step on through-travellers’ feet as you make your departure. The rest of you, settle in; there’s another hundred pages.
The East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad, which is more generally known as the Cranberry Railroad, leads through one of the most unique and beautiful regions in America. The first ten miles of this admirable narrow gauge, extending from Johnson City, Tennessee, to Elizabethtown of the same State, lies through the broad, fertile valley of the lower Watauga, a country productive in men so eloquent as to convert the very language of common life into poetry.
It was in and around this favored spot that Andrew Johnson, though born in North Carolina, began that political career that crowned him with the garlands of the nation.
Here was born and reared Thomas A. R. Nelson, the able jurist, who, soon after the late rebellion, wrote the prophetic poem on East Tennessee beginning with the following beautiful lines:95
East Tennessee! secluded land
Of gentle hills and mountains grand,
Where healthful breezes ever blow,
And coolest springs and rivers flow;
Where yellow wheat and waving corn
Are liberal poured from plenty’s horn,—
Land of the valley and the glen,
Of lovely maids and stalwart men;
Thy gorgeous sunsets well may vie,
In splendor, with Italian sky;
For, gayest colors deck the clouds,
As night the dying sun enshrouds,
And heaven itself doth wild enfold
Its drapery of blue and gold,
And, pillowed in the rosy air,
The seraphs well might gather there,
And, in the rainbow-tinted west,
Be lulled by their own songs to rest!
Thy bracing winter, genial spring,
The ruddy glow of rapture bring;
Thy summer’s mild and grateful heat,
From sweltering suns gives cool retreat;
While frosty autumn, full of health,
Fills crib and barn with grainy wealth,
And challenges the earth to dress
Its leaves in richer loveliness!
Enchanting land, where nature showers
Her fairest fruits and gaudiest flowers;
Where stately forests wide expand,
Inviting the industrious hand,96
And all the searching eye can view
Is beautiful and useful, too;
Who knows thee well, is sure to love,
Where’er his wandering footsteps rove,
And backward ever turns to thee,
With fond, regretful memory,
Feeling his heart impatient burn
Among thy mountains to return!
In this fertile valley Colonels Shelby and Sevier collected and marshalled the troops with which they joined Colonel Campbell, of Virginia, in winning the glorious victory over the British at King’s Mountain.
Here William G. Brownlow, the Fighting Pastor, preached, and at the same time ran a forge and a casting-furnace on the Doe River, only a few miles above its confluence with the Watauga, just below Elizabethtown.
At his forge the blacksmiths purchased a good quality of wrought-iron, from which they made the hoes, harrows, and ploughs of the times; and from his furnace, which was simply a primeval manufactory of cooking utensils, the ladies obtained the long-legged black iron pots that ornamented the broad, anti-stove hearthstones of East Tennessee homes.
On the left bank of the Doe River, within the corporate limits of Elizabethtown, is an historic sycamore that is destined to catch the eye 97 and receive the touch of thousands of American citizens. Its branches are as flourishing as the State in whose soil it grows, and its leaves are fashioned to the patterns of the dallying nooks in the rippling stream, to whose joyful song they dance and tremble. Its beautiful bark, always brightly spotted by the partial dropping of its annual incrustations, looks as though it were mantled in the robes of the leopard. Even its parting boughs seem to have been passed through the cased arms of skins from the carnivorous beast.
Beneath the umbrageous foliage of this beautiful tree, within the mirthful sound of the laughing Doe River, where every breeze was sweet with the odor of neighboring cedars, Andrew Jackson (Old Hickory), the royal hater of John Quincy Adams, held the first Supreme Court ever convened in the great Commonwealth of Tennessee.
Three miles below the place of the great soldier’s sylvan court were born and raised the Taylor brothers, Bob and Alf, who, being rival nominees for Governor of Tennessee in 1886, reproduced “The War of the Red and White Roses.” In this political unique, Bob proved to be of the House of York, even for a second term, and the House of Lancaster, though defeated 98 for the gubernatorial chair, has since been twice elected to Congress.
I cannot better continue my description of the Watauga Valley than by quoting the magnanimous oration which Landen C. Haynes, the maternal uncle of the Taylor brothers, delivered under the following circumstances:
At a grand banquet given to members of the bench and bar, during a session of the Supreme Court, held in Jackson, Tennessee, soon after the war between the States, General N. B. arose and said: “Gentlemen, I propose the health of the eloquent attorney from East Tennessee” (turning to Haynes), “a country sometimes called the God-forsaken.”
Mr. Haynes responded as follows:
“Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,—I plead guilty to the soft impeachment. I was born in East Tennessee, on the banks of the Watauga, which in the Indian vernacular means beautiful river, and a beautiful river it is. I have stood upon its banks in my childhood and looked down through its glassy waters, and have seen a heaven below, and then looked up and beheld a heaven above, reflecting, like two vast mirrors, each in the other its moons and planets and trembling stars.
“Away from its banks of rock and cliff, hemlock 99 and laurel, pine and cedar, stretches a vale back to the distant mountains as beautiful and as exquisite as any in Italy or Switzerland.
“There stand the great Unaka, the great Roan, the great Blacks, and the great Smoky Mountains, among the loftiest in America, on whose summits the clouds gather of their own accord, even on the brightest day. There I have seen the great spirit of the storm after noontide go and take his evening nap in his pavilion of darkness and of clouds.
“I have then seen him aroused at midnight as a giant refreshed by slumber and cover the heavens with gloom and darkness, have seen him awake the tempest and let loose the red lightnings that ran along the mountain-tops for a thousand miles swifter than an eagle’s flight in heaven.
“Then I have seen them stand up and dance, like angels of light in the clouds, to the music of that grand organ of nature, whose keys seemed to have been touched by the fingers of the Divinity, in the hall of eternity that responded in notes of thunder resounding through the universe.
“Then I have seen the darkness drift away beyond the horizon, and the morn get up from her saffron bed like a queen, put on her robes 100 of light, come forth from her palace in the sun, and ‘stand tiptoe on the misty mountain-top,’ and while Night fled before her glorious face to his bedchamber at the pole she lighted the green vale and beautiful river, where I was born and played in childhood, with a smile of sunshine.
“Oh, beautiful land of the mountains with thy sun-painted cliffs, how can I ever forget thee!”
Mr. Haynes had a countenance as broad and brilliant as the land of his birth, and a voice as sweet and musical as Watauga’s murmuring tide. If he had lived in the days of Greek or Roman triumph, and had displayed his silver-tongued eloquence at the foot of Helicon or in the valley of the Tiber, his countrymen would have dropped a wreath of glory upon his brow and proclaimed him first of the nation.
It is most probable that he had never seen the great evergreen Grandfather, through whose ferny filters trickle the first sparkling streamlets of the pellucid river that he immortalized, for if he had ever beheld its beautiful clouds shedding their vernal showers upon the myriads of speckled beauties in the Watauga, the Elk, and the Linville, or “looping their wind-swung folds” around the giant arms of the majestic 101 balsams high on the mountain-top, he would have set it as a gem in the exquisite eulogy on his native land.
The passenger-train that curls its column of smoke through and beyond the beautiful vales of the Watauga is called by the quaint but appropriate nomenclature of the stem-winder, because, in winding the many graceful curves of the road where brooks pouring down over the rocks throw spray in at the windows, and the passing gales blossom with the sweet odors of the woods, it bears a marked resemblance to the tempered steel of a time-keeper in playing its part within the glittering gold and among the intricate movements of the best jewelled stem-winder in the pocket of the millionaire.
Six miles above Elizabethtown, the stem-winder stops at Allentown, a handsome station, where the “Spring Lake Inn” and the Hampton Hotel are situated beside a clear and unusually voluminous limestone spring, which is the nearest calcareous neighbor to the free-stone fountains of the Highlands.
One mile beyond Allentown, the iron steed dashes through one of the five tunnels on the line, and bursts into a grand canyon called the Gorge. Here the Doe River, a rumbling, tumbling, rollicking, frolicking stream, in dancing and 102 dallying along the countless ages of time, has cut its way down through the Azoic rocks to the depth of a thousand feet, and so nearly perpendicular are the walls on either side that a suspension bridge could be constructed, with usual decorum, across the chasm at the top. Through this unique and beautiful gate-way to the Highlands of Western North Carolina, the road-bed has been prepared, for the distance of four miles, by cutting a niche out of the rocks, about fifty feet above the river, on the left bank; and as the stem-winder “wheels its droning flight” through crag and canyon, by rushing rapids and foaming falls, through bracing air and views sublime, it passes by great towers and walls, and temples, and cathedrals, and castles of stone, ornamented with spires and domes and turrets and battlements, and enriched with a profusion of wild pinks that grow in the crevices and impart a glowing harmony to the gray columns and pilasters and obelisks and pinnacles and porticos of stone behind them. Passing this colossal structure of Nature’s masonry, the stem-winder follows the rumbling waters of the Doe to Roan Mountain station and hotel, which are connected by a hack line and a telephone with Cloudland Hotel, twelve miles away on the bald of the great Roan Mountain.
Leaving the banks of the Doe, the train winds through the alternating valleys and ravines of Shell Creek, crossing the State line and continuing two miles beyond to its terminus, where the Cranberry Iron and Coal Co. are operating the greatest mine of magnetic iron ore this side of cold, piney Sweden. Such are the agencies that have driven the crouching panther from the Highlands, and the rhododendrons blooms that waved over his lair now drop their crimson petals upon the heads of fair men and maidens who sit beneath the shades and woo the sweet flowers to the rescue of their love-stricken hearts.
Returning to the banks of the Watauga, we call attention to the fact that the Bristol, Elizabethtown, and North Carolina Railroad will soon be completed to the last-named town, which renowned and historic spot has recently been purchased as the site for a co-operative manufacturing city. Among its owners are a number of the wealthiest and most influential gentlemen in America, who look forward to the early extension of railroads from Elizabethtown and Johnson City, across the Blue Ridge, to connect with the Richmond and Danville system and other lines of the Atlantic slope.
The completion of the unfinished link in the Charleston, Cincinnati, and Chicago between 104 Johnson City, Tennessee, and Marion, North Carolina, is anticipated with impatient interest; and the Cranberry narrow gauge is on the eve of being extended across the fertile Valley of the Linville, and then along beneath the frowning rocks of the Grandfather to Lenoir; while the Co-operative Town Company dwell with especial emphasis upon the continuation of the Bristol, Elizabethtown, and North Carolina up the Watauga Valley, through the region of Mountain City, to the top of the great watershed, and thence down to the present terminus of the Yadkin Valley road at Wilkesboro.
With implicit faith in the early building of one or all of these connections, our friend, the Bard of the , has presented us with the following beautiful production of his genius:
There’s news on the wind, ’tis wafted from the shore
Like a faint voice from the ocean’s mighty roar;
The iron horse is coming, oh, tell it once more.
On the Atlantic coast the iron horse will start,
And dash through the mountains like a winged dart;
Through the old North State and the State of Tennessee
The iron horse will travel and travel in glee.
Yes, the iron horse is coming, and that’s good news;
It will cure hard times and drive away the blues.105
Awake from your slumbers, ye good mountaineers,
You’ll hear the mighty whistle in two or three years;
Ring the bells of welcome, let your cheers go round,
Our wealth will come forth, our wealth is in the ground.
What a resurrection of ores to the sight;
And our gems will sparkle like stars of the night.
And joy will kindle in the good farmer’s eye
When he can buy so cheap and can sell so high.
His cabbage, potatoes, his turnips and fruits,
His bacon, beef, butter and milk from his brutes,
His cider and wine, and his crout in his kegs,
His honey and feathers and poultry and eggs,
And everything he grows, his grain and his hay,
Will bring good prices, and prices that will pay;
And everything he buys from a railroad store
Will come much lower than he ever bought before:
His clothing and coffee, his sugar and flour,
Will all testify to the iron horse’s power.
And all the day long, through the hot summer days,
While out in the field, ’neath the sun’s burning rays,
The farmer will whistle the iron horse’s praise.
And in front of his door the bird in her bower
Will tune her sweet lays to the iron horse’s power;
How the merchant will smile when the railroad comes
And brings cheaper goods to his customers’ homes;
When he gets connected with the business world,
He’ll hang out his sign like a flag unfurled:
“Come one and all, great and small, rich and poor,
Everything is first-class in my railroad store.”
And the laboring man, the abused of the earth,
By cheap labor kept poor, and poor from his birth,
The only man that knows what money is worth,
Can rejoice when he hears the iron horse neigh:106
“One dollar instead of fifty cents a day.”
The iron horse is coming, he’s a steed that’s fleet,
He’ll trample hard times ’neath his great iron feet.
Methinks I hear the train dashing o’er the plain,
Roaring and thundering like the mighty main.
On through Carolina’s undulating hills,
Now through the deep cuts and now along the fills,
Across each swamp and river by trestle or bridge,
And on to the foot-hills of the great Blue Ridge,
And panting and climbing and leaping its spurs,
And fretting and foaming in his cast-iron gears,
And snorting and groaning his burden to bear,
And prancing and puffing and snuffing the air,
At length he reaches the top of the mountain,
And slakes his thirst in a cold crystal fountain;
Nor ever did steed of iron or of flesh
Quaff water from a stream more cooling and fresh;
Nor ever did hills that echoed to thunder,
Present more romance and grandeur and wonder.
On dashes the steed as fast as a pigeon
Through a rugged, rich, and beautiful region;
And the passengers glance with wonder-bleared eye
At the hill-strewn landscapes, as backward they fly,
That deck so profusely this land of the sky.
The steed dashes on with thrilling locomotion,
Piling up mountains ’tween him and the ocean;
And the breath from his nostrils rolls back on the air,
And hangs like a cloud quite pensively there,
Or shoots up a column all curling and black,
That winds like a serpent far over the track.
On dashes the steed as fast as he can run,
His head-light gleaming like the noonday sun,
Through forests unmeasured, trees without number,
Millions of trees made a-purpose for lumber.107
And now the iron wheels clank and clatter and roar
And press the rich beds of East Tennessee ore.
In the county of Johnson, where the steed now runs,
The hills are swollen with millions of tons.
What wealth has slept since the dawn of creation,
Awaiting the hand of this generation!
Awake from your slumbers, ye good mountaineers,
You’ll hear the mighty whistle in two or three years;
Ring the bells of welcome, let your cheers go round,
Our wealth will come forth, our wealth is in the ground.
beginning with the following beautiful lines
[Shepherd Dugger lets us off easy; the whole poem runs several hundred lines.]
[plate caption] DOE VALLEY, ABOVE ELIZABETHTON
Andrew Jackson . . . held the first Supreme Court ever convened in the great Commonwealth of Tennessee
[Pro tip: Do not put the words “Andrew Jackson” and “Supreme Court” into the same sentence. It cannot end well.]
General N. B. Forest
[Our author understandably omits to mention that Nathan Bedford Forrest’s dislike for East Tennessee was because of its strong pro-Union leanings.]
Mr. Haynes responded as follows:
[It is well known that speakers of British English can pronounce parentheses, while Americans can’t. I can only suppose that the ability to pronounce small capitals is a similar dialectal quirk. Haynes’s speech—delivered in 1872—is more or less historical.]
I plead guilty to the soft impeachment.
[The locus classicus for “soft impeachment”—a fancy way of saying “accusation”—is Sheridan’s The Rivals.]
cold, piney Sweden
[Pet peeve: Translations that render gran—Scandinavia’s default, generic, ubiquitous conifer—as “spruce” on the specious and irrelevant grounds that it happens to be the correct botanical name for the tree. In English, the generic or unmarked conifer is pine, so that’s the appropriate translation. “Piney Sweden” it is.]
our friend, the Bard of the Highland
[The Bard of the Highland(s), whether singular or plural, magnanimously declines to give his name, preferring to let Shepherd Dugger take all the credit. Back in the Preface, our author at least gave the Bard’s initials, A. M. D.]
His cider and wine, and his crout in his kegs,
[Give us a hint, Bard. Is “crout” some otherwise unattested variety of moonshine, or is this the common variant spelling “sour-crout”, which in fact could be prepared in barrels that had previously held wine or vinegar?]
RICHMOND AND DANVILLE
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The Scenery in the Mountains of Western North Carolina is Unsurpassed. Highest Peaks east of the Rocky Mountains. They have a Ruggedness and Grandeur not possessed by any other Mountains in the Eastern States.
The Greatest Summer and Winter Resorts
to be found in the Union are in this section of
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See that your Tickets read via the
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One mile below Cranberry on the narrow-gauge is the thriving town of Elk Park, where scores of health- and pleasure-seekers dismount from the iron horse. Here comfortable board can be had at the Banner House, the Bowers House, or the Walsh Hotel, for one dollar a day, with reasonable reductions for longer periods. But if more costly fare is desired it will be found at the elegant cottage of Nat. W. Taylor, brother to Robert L. Taylor, ex-governor of Tennessee. This gentleman not only keeps first-class accommodations, but, being a professional artist and photographer, he invites his guest to patronage in that line, and offers for sale a stock of beautiful views photographed from the most interesting mountain objects.
Two miles south of Elk Park is the summit of Hump Mountain, five thousand five hundred and forty-one feet above the level of the sea, 111 while the same distance north of the town the beautiful Falls of Elk have a clear leap of sixty-three feet into a deep, seething caldron.
Eight miles northeast from our present railroad landing, by way of a new and beautiful mountain road, is,—
Fair Banner Elk, the Highland flower,
With warbling birds in many a bower,
And valleys sweet with new mown hay,
And pastured hills where cattle lay.
Its laughing cascades foaming white.
Its speckled trout in waters bright;
O’er dallying pools and dancing nooks
The sportsman plies the feathered hooks.
Here are no hotels, but at the farm-house of Mrs. Patsey H. Witmore, the combined storehouse and dwelling of R. L. Lowe, Esq., and at the author’s Shonnyhaw cottage, tourists are invited to spring beds, and to tables heavily laden with such food as roasted mutton, yeast bread, biscuits and corn bread, unskimmed sweet milk, and sour milk just from the churn, coffee, fried or boiled swine’s ham, buckwheat cakes and maple syrup, fresh butter, chicken and eggs, vegetables, honey, jellies, jams, preserves, pickles, speckled trout, and, last of all, turnip salad, of which the Irishman said “that he had come all 112 the way from ‘Auld Ireland,’ just to eat broad grass like a cow.”
For board on Banner Elk the terms are one dollar a day, six dollars a week, and twenty dollars a month.
Standing around this sequestered valley in reposing grandeur, and representing the corners of a triangle, are three mountain princes, viz., the Hanging Rock, the Sugar, and the Beech, all of which are more than five thousand feet above the level of the sea.
The overtopping Beech is crowned with an imposing pinnacle, which, being cleft in the centre, presents a double front, of which one side is called the Roc’s Egg, because it is supposed to resemble the egg of the roc, the monstrous bird of Arabian mythology.
Looking half a mile west from this hard-shelled production of the mythical species, the tall Rider’s Rock rises before the observer, and presents him with the exquisite picture of a horse and rider embroidered of ferns and lichens upon its face.
The entire mountain, with his cliffs and pinnacles, faces the south, and ever casts his adamantine smile upon the emerald valley of Banner Elk and its tributary, shy Shonnyhaw; while, looking still beyond through the vista between 113 the Sugar and the Hanging Rock, he beholds the great evergreen Grandfather bulging his cap of clouds to the sun.
From the very summit of the Beech, the land sloping northward was rendered bald in 1890 by the use of two axes, of which one was wielded by the writer of this little volume, while the other was manned by a Baltimore bard, who signs his name “Chuckey Joe.”
The spot thus divested of trees is grown over with an indigenous grass of such a profuse and lustrous green that the sight-seer can scarcely refrain from lying down and rolling on the cosey carpet beneath him.
So majestic are the rocks of the Beech, and so glorious the panorama which they command, that Chuckey Joe, who named the Rider’s Rock and the Roc’s Egg, and assisted in creating the Bald of the Beech, has seen fit to poetize as follows:
That I’m as “old as the hills,” every one must confess;
Being a “mountain,” you see, I could hardly be less;
But, somehow, yonder “Grandfather,” say what I will,
In spite of my “ages,” “gets the age on me,” still.114
Yet we grew up together: when the Record begins,
Some score thousand years back, we were brothers and twins;
He stuck to the “Blue Ridge,” and I to the “Stone;”
And if he claims the “Linville,” why the “Elk” is my own.
True legions of “Low-landers” pray at his shrine,
Whilst only rare Ramblers offer incense at mine;
Yet these “Summer-ers” claim to be civilized folk
With a passion for “peaks,” but that’s surely a joke;
For if “culture” they long for in fact, not in fun,—
Let them note,—I’ve ten farms to the Grandfather’s one;
And if corn, clover, and cabbages, buckwheat and beans,
Ain’t “culture,” just explain what the hull of it means?
But as I said sooner, “Inconsistency’s cheap!”
If you’ve ever been wool’d yourself—don’t laugh at sheep.
You-uns claim culture, and polish, and taste, and sich “stuff,”
Yet you worship the “Grandad” for being a “rough.”
I can’t for the life of me (and my life is long),
See why the “Grandfather” should have the whole throng
Lauding “Him” to the skies, whilst the “Beech,” though begotten
In Brotherhood with him, seems almost forgotten.
I’ve been puzzling my pate (’tis no soft one, you bet!),
Why the “G. F.,” you see, should become such a pet;
No doubt “Kelsey’s curves” up his slopes air big help,
But if he is a “lion,” the “Big Beech” is no whelp.
If he has his “Balsams,” I have samples as good
As on Yonahlossee’s top ever have stood;115
And his “Knuckles” could never knock down my “Roc’s Egg,”
Nor his “Raven Rock” lower my “Rider” one peg.
That a Mountain his own “faults” should oft overlook
Is quite logical (vid. any Geo-logical book);
Nor could you expect any “Bump” of my size
To “lie low” when even “The Hump,” humps his-self for the prize.
I can play a “bluff game” as my “pinnacles” tell,
And fifty-five hundred feet is (I swear it) a “swell;”
But what sot me back when the “Boss Bumps” were called,
Was, they thought me a mere “Boy” because I warn’t “bald.”
There are acres of much bigger balds, say the Finical,
But I’m sure you’d discover “fine points” on my “Pinnacle;”
Gray crags, with a few laurel clumps, or an ash;
And belted round these, like an emerald sash,
A greensward, where my choicest “Rhododendron Vaseyi”
Can flaunt their fair flowers to the sun and the sky:
And “Rain-roosts” I have, too;—you could hardly find better ones
To keep dry your “dry goods” if you won’t all be “wetter ’uns.”
Now I hope you-uns ’ill visit my lately born “Bald:”
It ’tain’t like the “Blood Camp’s,” a mere “fire scall’d,”
Nor like “the Humps” “deadening.”
Though thickening, you saw
Leagues of leafage from “Poga” to shy “Shonnyhaw”116
In woodlands extending; just—drop up; let your eyes
See my bonny bare “Bald” spread itself to the skies,
Like a garden from Eden just recently snatched,
And with all of the “latest improvements attached.”
See! from “cloud-land’s” white walls on the dark “Rainy Roan”
To where the “Black’s” “Mitchell” as monarch enthrone;
Nay, further,—to where “Craggy’s” far tilted crest,
And dim “Yeates” and domed “Ogle” shine pale in the west.
From “Chimney-top” over fair Tennessee’s lines
To where “White Top’s” long “bald” like a scimitar shines;
From “Iron,” less distant, rising softly by inches
Beyond Abingdon look where the gate of the “Clinch” is!
From the “Snake” and the “Elk,” and the “Bluff’s” dimmer blue,
To “Blowing Rock’s” crags, and Boone almost in view!
Mark the “Devil’s Claw” under the bold “Hanging Rock,”
And the “Cloven Cliff’s” crags, that seem almost to mock
The “Grandfather,” jutting up Under his “Nose.”
(Ah! when he “catches cold,” you can look out for “blows!”)
Then see “Flat Top,” “Sugar’s” bluff, and the “Needles” not far,
And the “Table’s” dark cliff and the “Hawkbill’s” dim scar.117
Yonder’s “Jonas’ Bald Ground,” and the “North Cove” slopes there
With his marble cliffs under the wild, “Winding Stair.”
Far distant, lifting southward his faded blue cap,
See “Old Bald,” once the “Shaky” of “Hickory-Nut Gap;”
Nay,—even beyond these, blue as some distant Zion,
Mark “Saludas” soft slopes ’neath the blue tent of “Tryon.”
From the “Clinch” to where “Chuckey” and “Tennessee” meet,
There lies a broad, beautiful world at your feet;
Extending from where eastward rises “Pilot’s” dim crest
To the “Cumberlands” fading afar in the west.
No fairer land surely than this, where the hills
Are feathered with forests and braided with rills!
See! under us “Shonnyhaw” dances and dallies,
And “Elk” in white arms holds a score of my valleys.
Oh, come! from my laurel-crown’d throne, feast your eyes
On the greenest of lands, ’neath the bluest of skies!
Where “Enohla’s” white cascades flash out like a mist,
There are blooms to be cull’d—there are maids to be kissed:
And “Banner’s Elk” bravely and broadly extends
A summery Welcome to hosts of warm friends.
Seenoyahs, or the Mountains of Night, are “The Blacks.”
The Great Estetoe Mountain is in the Vulgate, “Bright’s Yaller.”118
Kaunayrock (Panther Skin, Tusc.) is White Top, Virga.
Yonahlossee (the Passing Bear) is the Grandfather Mountain.
Yanassa (Buffalo) is the Iron Mountain Range, long and unlovely.
The Wahaw are the South Mountains, south of Morganton. North Carolina.
Chotah is the “Bluff of the Peak” or Cloven Cliff.
Wanteska (Level Land) is Flat Top of Linville.
Kullahsayja (Sugar) is Sugar Mountain of Banner’s Elk, North Carolina.
Zehleeka is the French Broad River.
Yonawayah (Bear Paw) is the Hanging Rock of Banner’s Elk.
Klonteska (Pheasant) is Big Beech of Banner’s Elk.
The Sakonegas (Blue) is the Blue Ridge Range.
Skolanetta is the Hump, near Cranberry, North Carolina.
Ottaray is the Cherokee (now obsolete) name of old for their Highlands in North Carolina.
The Eseeola Mountains, follow the left bank of the Linville River, south of Linville City, ending with Short Off, below the Table.
Between Elk Park and the Cranberry mines the stem-winder stops to let passengers off at the Cranberry Hotel, a perfect gem of a house, which Mr. Wallace Hahn, the proprietor, keeps in the style of a delightful country home.119
Along its approaches and around its copious verandas the most beautiful flowers are clumped and clustered upon a verdant lawn, while the commodious apartments within are furnished with every modern convenience, and the dining-hall is rich with the aromatic contents of plenty’s horn.
At the mines you can get a square meal for fifty cents, and a day’s board and lodging for one dollar and fifty cents, at the Mitchell House.
Persons who stop at Cranberry to see the inexhaustible deposit of magnetic ore and its surrounding objects of interest, will lose the jewel of their sojourn if they fail to visit Colonel C. H. Nimson’s Bellevue farm, three miles distant, on top of Fork Mountain, where the splendor of the prospect is all that the name suggests,—
“And harmless shepherds tune their pipes to love,
And Amaryllis sounds in ev’ry grove.”
Mr. S. T. Kelsey, the general manager of the Linville Improvement Co., is at once a philosopher and engineer, a botanist and a scholar. His neatly-proportioned person is a little smaller than that of the average man, and from beneath his brim peeps, in cunning brilliancy, a pair of 120 small, keen, penetrating, expressive blue eyes, which everybody takes for black until they are otherwise informed.
His long beard, that would do honor to the days of Moses, falling gracefully upon his bosom, is clean and white as the snow. His hair is of a solid, rich, glossy cream color, while a few black streamers in his moustache, interspersing the white, are his only souvenir filaments of middle life.
These hoary locks, on a head of only sixty summers, evince a life of the most stirring activity both in body and mind, and still he possesses the sprightliness and energy of the most enterprising man of thirty.
This gentleman has placed such a sterling stamp upon his section of the country by laying out and building the most elegant drives in the Highlands, that Chuckey Joe has passed upon him the most magnanimous pun we ever heard,—he calls him “The Colossus of Rhodes.”
One of Mr. Kelsey’s roads, leading from Cranberry, twelve miles eastward, to Linville, is utilized by a daily hack from the latter place, and, as the wheels drone along and you have your fish-basket on your back and your spouse by your side, the old road, which the new one often crosses, looks like the deserted trail of a savage 121 tribe that had fled before civilization to an unmolested hunting-ground.
Six miles on the way you come to the “Old Fields of Toe,” an ante-rebellion muster-ground, where you cross the Toe River. The name Toe, as here applied, originated as follows:
Estetoe, a chief’s daughter, was engaged to a young man of the tribe, and, when her father objected to the marriage, she drowned herself in the clear stream, which the Indians afterwards called by her name; but the whites, being too lazy to hinge their tongues upon the silvery accents, changed the euphonious word to Toe, which can mean no more than one of those miserable corn-bearing extremities that had all the rhetoric frozen out of them before the discovery of Columbus.
Leaving the banks of the Estetoe, four miles further takes you to Montezuma, the “preacher’s Mecca,” where the sacred dust of a revolutionary soldier, whose name was Gragg, sleeps in the town cemetery; and Mr. John Carpenter will give you a square dinner, an oblong supper, a good bed, and a breakfast fashioned after any geometrical figure within the annals of the higher mathematics, all for one dollar.
Two miles beyond Montezuma you roll into Linville, where Mr. Thomas F. Parker, President 122 of the Linville Improvement Co., has a number of elegant cottages, whose exquisite paintings and architectural designs thoroughly compensate the beautiful forest for that part of its destruction which gives them room.
But the most commodious building in the town is Eseeola Inn, a chimney-topped, shingle-gabled, and edifice, where the summer nights are rendered comfortable by the blazing logs of many open fire-places, and the days are cheerful with a health-giving tide of sweet air that floats through the balanced windows and gives “back the invalid the rose to his cheek.” Opposite the office on the first floor is a large music-room, which is beautifully finished in native hard woods, lighted with brilliant chandeliers, ornamented with a sweet-toned piano, and, having a floor as hard as lignumvitæ and as slick as a peeled onion, furnishes the finest facilities for tripping the fantastic toe.
When your feet have grown tired of waltzing, Morpheus folds you in his peaceful arms and lays you where the ease of spring-beds and the soft touches of downy pillows give the weary rest.
Three thousand years ago Solomon said: “There is nothing new under the sun;” but if he could come back to this world and engage 123 board at Eseeola Inn, he would find that something new has been invented; for he could hollow “halloo” in a telephone and receive an answer from a social-minded fellow in the telephone office over at Cranberry, and he could chalk his cue and try his luck on a billiard-ball, like which no rotary object ever revolutionized across a rectangular game-table in the city of Jerusalem.
This splendid building has hot and cold baths, smoking and reception rooms, broad stairways of easy ascent, carpeted rooms and hall-ways, marble-topped office counters, extensive piazzas for promenades, and a beautiful dining-room, whose sumptuary ingatherings are guaranteed by the proprietors to be equal, if not superior, to those of any other house in the mountains of North Carolina.
Such is the variety and flavor of the food that, when you place your foot on the threshold of the masticating department, your nasal proboscis is greeted with the aroma of roasted mutton or beef, and the alimentary pupils of your orbicular instruments are fixed upon large slabs of comb honey, consisting of the gathered sweets from mountain flowers, and rivalling in delicacy the nectar of the gods.
Among the delicious dishes of Eseeola’s tables 124 is pure maple syrup, manufactured from maple orchards on the Company’s lands, and those popular mountain batter-cakes, made from that peculiarly-shaped grain, about which a lady recently interrogated a gentleman, as follows:
“Kind sir,” said she, “do you know how buckwheat came into this country?”
“No, madam,” replied the man; “but I will thank you for any information you may give me on that point.”
“Well, sir,” said the lady, “I will tell you. It came into this country three-cornered.”
Mr. James T. Skiles, former popular manager of Luray Inn, Virginia, solicits patronage at Eseeola, at the rates of two dollars a day, ten dollars a week, and thirty-two dollars a month.
An object of great attraction, only one mile from Linville, is Mr. Harlan P. Kelsey’s expansive nursery of native ornamental plants, shrubs, and trees, and when you visit this manifold collection from the universal garden of nature, you will be surprised that our American parks, cemeteries, and lawns have been stuffed with costly foreign importations, while the beautiful orchids, ferns, blooming vines, flowering shrubs, perennial herbs, aquatic and bog plants, and evergreen and deciduous trees of the Southern 125 Alleghany Mountains have, until recently, been almost entirely excluded.
From this beautiful plantation of shrubs, plants, and infant trees, Mr. George H. Vanderbilt has purchased thousands of the hardy ornamentals that adorn his magnificent estate near Asheville; while gardens and boulevards in England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Belgium, and other foreign countries, are now variegated with American flora from this new and highly commendable enterprise upon the banks of the jubilant Linville.
Mr. E. S. Rand has truthfully said: “We do not appreciate our American flora, and have shut our eyes to the richness that lies all around us. In England, a crowning glory of horticultural exhibition is the show of American plants; and we in America don’t know what they are.”
Twelve miles down the stream, from Eseeola, passing the Highland Nursery and the beautiful farm and mansion of George R. Watkins, is Linville Falls, where comfortable board can be had at the house of Mr. Theodore Franklin at twenty-five cents a meal, or one dollar a day.
From Linville, it is twenty miles east to Blowing Rock, which is not only one of the most 126 popular summer resorts in the South, but also a handsome town, two miles long, on the very crest of the Blue Ridge; and if more of the buildings were painted white, it would be a modern Alba Longa.
Mr. S. T. Kelsey, the Colossus of Rhodes, has recently connected these two places by the grandest drive in the State, which, being chiselled out of the rocks along the south side of the Grandfather Mountain, cost multiplied thousands of dollars. Its finish is as smooth as the rim of a chariot-wheel, while the region through which it passes is as rugged as if Vulcan’s mighty anvils had been thrown from the throttle of a volcano and lodged on the mountain-side. High up the imposing crags the eye is directed into great dark holes and hollows that Sol’s rays have never penetrated; but in the opposite direction, the expansive view is extended far into the blue haze of the sunny South.
About midway between Blowing Rock and Linville, where the daily hack from the latter place crosses Green Mountain Creek, a beautiful fall, twelve feet high, is so close on the upper side as to throw spray upon the dry-goods of the passers-by, while immediately below the road, the stream has a leap that is more than twice as high as the first, and 127 equally enhanced in the other features of its attractions.
Five miles from Linville, and just above the elegant highway where it is crossed by a tumbling creek, is the Leaning Rock, about one hundred feet high, consisting of three truncated blocks of stone set one upon another, the first tapering gradually upward from its broad, square base to fit the bottom of the second, and the top of the second being patterned in like manner to the bottom of the third. Up and down through the centre of the crowning section is a rent, and at the point where its lower extremity touches the top of the middle division is a little soil formed by the mixture of lodged leaves and disintegrated rock, and supporting a flourishing bunch of rhododendrons, which, in July, hangs out its scarlet flora like a beautiful bouquet upon the bosom of a Colossus.
The great Appian Way, leading from Rome by way of Naples to , was probably not more interesting than the Yonahlossee Road. Statius called that ancient thoroughfare the Regina Viarum, which, being of the Latin tongue, means Queen of Roads. It was projected and partly built, B.C. 312, by Appius Claudius, the author of the famous dictum, “Every one is the architect of his own fortune.” Its width was 128 from fourteen to eighteen feet, and the large, well-fitted stones with which it was laid looked up through the flying wheels of Titus’s chariot and saw Vesuvius shoot his fires at the stars and pour down the cinders under which Pompeii slept for two thousand years in the peaceful arms of the dead.
High over the Regina Viarum were the inverted images of ships reflected from the fluorescent waters of the Mediterranean, and sailing on the fleecy waves of the sky. Even the beautiful islands of that sea were apparently inverted above the horizon, presenting the observer with the tinted images of trees with their tops downward, mountains projecting from the sky, fat cattle grazing upon the verdure of the heavens, and the contending armies of different nations and creeds intrenching themselves in the clouds.
Such were the wonders of earth, sea, and sky as seen from the “Queen of Roads;” such the exquisite glimpses from which Cicero caught the glorious inspiration that filled Rome with eloquence, and the world with classic recollections. But with the fall of the Western Empire, the Regina Viarum went to decay, and, during the many centuries that have since elapsed, the Yonahlossee Road, around the south side of 129 the great evergreen Grandfather, is one of the few public highways that have again associated the ease and elegance of travel with the most ecstatic delights of the mind and heart.
Three miles from Linville, that beautiful branch of the Yonahlosse, designated in the “Ballad of the Beech” as “Kelsey’s Curves,” turns to the left, and winds back and forth up crags and through huckleberry balds, the distance of one and a half miles to the hard knuckles of the great Grandfather, which being at the end of one of his uplifted arms is often gloved in a cloud.
From this beautiful view, a foot-way leads eastward, more than a mile, to the highest peak of the mountain, where it will be met, at an early day, by a splendid bridle-path constructed from a favorable point on the Yonahlossee Road.
Four miles from Linville, and one mile beyond the bifurcation of Kelsey’s Curves with the main line, the “Alpen Way” branch, two miles in length, turns to the right and, crossing Beacon Heights, continues to the summit of Grandmother Mountain, which we have heretofore called the Queen Consort of the reigning Grandfather.
The Princess, Beacon Heights, standing near the king and queen, extends to each a hand of 130 filial love, and ever looks upon the father with tearful eyes, like a Christian daughter endeavoring to persuade her hard-hearted parent to repentance. But the queen, having despaired of softening the immovable monarch, glances at his frowns with resignation, and directs the attention of her guests to the beautiful wardrobe of the princess, and invites them to the horticultural displays of her own royal gardens.
The two beautiful roads which we have mentioned as departing from the Yonahlossee, the one to the left and the other to the right, are like twin sisters straying from their mother, by her consent, and returning with myriads of flowers to adorn the maternal palace of love.
From these splendid drives, which have been built at greater cost than any others of the same length in the South, aged persons, and those otherwise unable to endure the fatigue of climbing, can sit in the carriage, at elevations of over five thousand feet above the level of the sea, and enjoy as fine views as any region in the eastern half of America affords.
Chuckey Joe, in “The Ballad of the Beech,” calls a shelving rock a “rain-roost,” because under these persons often perch themselves in times of rain. On the fifteen-thousand-acre tract of mountain land, owned and improved by 131 the Linville Improvement Company, there is a number of delightful “rain-roosts,” and where nature left too long a distance between any two of them, it has been divided by a rustic shelter, as a protection against the hazard of sudden showers.
Those who have been ducked by the aid of a cloud instead of a minister, can readily realize the great comfort that these sheds must add to a summer resort, for it has been no uncommon thing, in Western North Carolina, to see a party come in from a mountain clamber as wet as drowned rats, with their garments flapped about them, and their persons so stooped over, to conceal their faces from view until they could get to their rooms, that it was impossible for an observer to tell which end of an individual was up.
At Linville, where the august drive along the side of the Grandfather is met by the beautiful road from Cranberry, the Western Carolina Stage-Coach Company have, among their many handsome conveyances, an elegant Concord stage called the Awahili, which, being of the Indian vernacular, means Eagle; and when this is drawn back and forth, along the Yonahlosse Road, by six splendid bays prancing between ornamental mazes of laurel and pine, passing mirthful falls 132 and crossing streams like “liquid silver,” the passengers are met by new and beautiful objects of entertainment at every revolution of the flying wheels that bear them onward to the sumptuous entertainments of Blowing Rock, or to the cheerful accommodations of Eseeola’s brilliant halls.
In winter, the snowfall at Linville is lighter and more gentle, and the climate less cold and damp, than that of the Northern States; in spring, the blooming dog-wood and service trees hang out their white curtains as flags of truce in a green tasselled army of innumerable trees; in summer, leagues of the most beautiful leafage that ever waved to Æolian breezes stretch across and far beyond the company’s broad estate, and in autumn, the monarch of gentle decay walks through the land with a many colored garment, robbing the leaves of their verdure and painting on them a thousand tints more brilliant than the Tyrian dye; while to these beauties of nature the company have added all art and enterprise in order to induce pleasure- and health-seekers to purchase homes of peace and gladness within their beautiful domain.
All around this infant metropolis of the Highlands are flowers for the botanist, rocks for the geologist, trout for the angler, landscapes for the 133 artist, sublimity for the poet, recreation for the tired business man, invigoration for the weak, ease for the old, and for the young, beautiful retreats, where Cupid wields the subduing power of his golden dart and sends his victims into the royal presence of Hymen, presiding beneath his crown of sweet marjoram.
From Linville to Blowing Rock there is a choice of ways. If you want to take it leisurely and catch trout as you go, you will loiter up the stream, for the distance of four miles, to Linville Gap, where a beautifully pinnacled mountain on the left is Dunvegan, which Chuckey Joe, in “The Ballad of the Beech,” calls “Cloven Cliffs.”
It is now less than a mile down the gurgling brooks of the Watauga to Grandfather Hotel and post-office, a white house nestling so near the evergreens that the sweet odor of the balsams is wafted in at the doors, and, sweeping through the commodious hall-ways, cures hay-fever and bronchitis, and prolongs the lives of consumptives.
About fifty yards in front of the building, at the foot of a declivity, flows the prattling infant Watauga, teeming with speckled beauties, and 134 although most of them, at this point, are too small for the osier basket, yet plenty of nice ones are found, only a mile below, where crystal tributaries have swollen the stream.
Along the opposite bank, from the hotel, is a narrow strip of bottom, about twenty yards wide, from whose farther side rises a precipitous hill, so profusely grown over with rhododendrons, that in the blooming season, from about June 20 to August 10, it presents the veranda-sitting tourist with a perfect wilderness of the gayest flowers.
This is the blooming base of the great evergreen Grandfather, whose highest point, only three miles away, and just a few degrees south of the zenith, is reached by a winding path that passes by the coldest perennial spring, isolated from perpetual snow, in the United States; its highest temperature being only forty-two degrees.
The neighborhood of Banner Elk, which is five miles northwest, is reached by a rough road that is being made better, while one mile in the rear of the hotel Dunvegan rears its head so high as to obscure the North star, and can be surmounted only by an almost pathless clamber through its rocky defiles.
All mountain ramblers concede that Grandfather Hotel is a well-kept house, in a most 135 delightful spot, and watered by the best spring in the Highlands.
It is said that a drummer once dined at a hotel where the dinner was brought to him in side plates, and, after he had eaten it all up, he said to the waiter, “Well, I have enjoyed your samples very much, so you will please bring in the dinner.” But Mr. J. Ervin Calloway, the proprietor of Grandfather, and his good wife Josephine, do not bring the meals in mussel-shell dishes; they put plenty of roasted mutton, smothered chicken, buckwheat cakes and maple syrup, unskimmed milk and lots of other good things, in capacious vessels on the table, and then tell you that “fingers were made before forks, and, that if you would rather use them than the tri-pronged instrument, to just crack your whip.”
All classes of persons, except those in search of gayety, can spend a week or a month as pleasantly at Grandfather as at any other house in the mountains, and will get as much for the price, which is fifty cents for single meals, one dollar and a quarter a day, seven dollars a week, and twenty-five dollars a month.
From Grandfather, your objective point is Shull’s Mills, six miles down the Watauga, and 136 as you travel along a good road between blooming buckwheat on one side, and waving corn on the other, you pass the village of Foscoe, where birds of good omen have always flitted through the skies of William H. Calloway, and arrive at your destination, where J. C. Shull, Esq., who has a splendid wife and two charming daughters, and lives in a nice unpainted farm-house, surrounded by a grassy lawn, will give you nice country board at fifty cents a day, three dollars a week, or ten dollars a month.
Around Esquire Shull’s, in the Watauga and its tributaries, is good trout fishing; and it was here that a man, who thought himself wise, once said to a lad, who was casting his line upon the waters, “, art thou trying to decoy the piscatorial tribe with a bicurved barb on which thou hast affixed a dainty allurement?”
“No, sir,” replied the lad; “I’m fishing.”
At Shull’s Mills, the tourist leaves the banks of the beautiful Watauga and winds the rising curves of a turnpike-road for the distance of seven miles to Blowing Rock, where all classes of board, from comfortable to fancy, can be had at pro rata prices; and prancing steeds and flying phætons are always ready at the stables of Henkels and Craig, or at those of Abernethy and Yance.137
From Blowing Rock, a turnpike-road leads twenty miles down the south side of the Blue Ridge to Lenoir, the terminus of the Chester and Lenoir narrow-gauge railroad, which connects with the Western North Carolina at Hickory, the Carolina Central at Lincolnton, the Piedmont air-line at Gastonia, and the Charleston, Cincinnati and Chicago at Yorkville.
The same gentlemen who keep liveries at Blowing Rock have at Lenoir also splendid stables for the immediate accommodation of those who are skyward bound.
Eight miles north of Blowing Rock and connected with it by a good road is Boone, the county-seat of Watauga, where board that is good enough for a king can be had at W. L. Bryan’s Hotel, or at the hotel of T. J. Coffey and Brothers, at the rates of twenty-five cents for single meals, one dollar a day, six dollars a week, and twenty dollars a month.
In a bottom, not far from the court-house, Daniel Boone, for whom the place is named, once had a cabin, and the pile of stones that still marks the place of his chimney, together with the location and name of the town, has furnished 138 the “Bard of the Highlands” with sufficient material for the following elegant poem:—
Among Watauga’s fertile hills,
Where music flows from crystal rills,
And health is victor o’er disease,
And vigor lurks in ev’ry breeze,
And all the forests and the fields
A growth of richest verdure yields,
And fruits and flowers profusely grow;
A land where milk and honey flow.
Mountains promiscuous, heaped and piled,
And landscapes wrapt in grandeur wild,
And beauty lingers all around
And reigns in majesty profound.
Within this mountain solitude
There stands a village, small and rude,
Hard by the base of Howard’s Knob,
A mountain prince, a proud nabob,
Whose rocky bluffs forever frown
With dread severeness on the town,
As independent, bold, and free
As promontory on the sea.
This mountain wears a look austere,
But should excite no hate or fear;
He has a mission, noble, grand,
Born more to serve than to command;
And owns a mission more to shield
Than arbitrary power to wield;
He courts our rapture and delight,
And not suspicion or our fright.139
So many blessings from him flow,
We crown him friend and not a foe;
He guards the town as kind and mild
As the fond mother guards her child;
And when the town is wrapt in sleep,
His nightly vigils faithful keep,
And holds communion with the stars,
And talks with Venus and with Mars,
And fain would shield from ev’ry harm.
He checks the fury of the storm,
And tempts the thunderbolt to lurch
And spare the steeple of the church,
And waste all its electric fires
On his defiant rocky spires;
And all may quench their raging thirst
Where fountains from his bosom burst,
And roll through various gorges down
And waters furnish for the town.
This mountain sage is old in age
And has a fame for hist’ry’s page;
He is as old as Eden’s lawn,
And he beheld Creation’s dawn.
Man’s life is like the flower or grass,
But he lives on while ages pass;
A thousand years ago he saw
The planets roll with perfect law,
And on his head the stars did shed
Their light, and, from her Eastern bed,
The moon rose up and made her bow,
And smiled the same as she does now.
He notes the actions of mankind,
Whether for good or bad inclined;
He saw depart a savage race,
And saw another take its place.140
A hundred years or more ago
The Indian bent his deadly bow,
The well-aimed arrow quickly sped,
A deer did bound and then was dead.
No village then, no glittering spires,
The stars looked down on Indian fires;
No golden fields, no Sabbath bells,
The hills echoed with savage yells,
The red man owned the vast domain
From mountain crag to fertile plain;
He thought his title was in fee,
And oh, how happy, wild, and free!
But stop, O savage! stop and think;
You’re standing on destruction’s brink;
Let all your hopes be turned to fears
And deep despair instead of cheers.
“The die is cast,” your fate is sealed;
What dreadful foe is that concealed
In yonder copse? with flashing eyes
And heart that knows no compromise;
With such a bold, determined look
That death he could undaunted brook;
An iron purpose that fairly mocks
A thousand savage tomahawks.
Oh, savage, now thy woe bewail,
For Daniel Boone is on thy trail,
A hero, grand, immortal, brave,
Whose fame grows brighter from the grave.
A hardy yeoman, warrior bold,
Enduring heat, defying cold,
Before whose awe-inspiring tread
The savage further westward fled
Towards the sunset’s russet glow,
To bend again his deadly bow;141
A woodsman, artful, cunning, keen,
A foe could see, himself unseen,
And win a battle in retreat,
And bring out victory from defeat.
Nor Roman arm was e’er so strong,
Nor Spartan valor set in song,
That could eclipse our hero grand
Who gave us this, our Switzerland.
This John the Baptist sought a place
For the great Anglo-Saxon race;
And soon the land was occupied
By civilization’s rushing tide.
What meed of praise could be too great
Our hero’s name to celebrate?
What honors could our race confer
Too great for such a pioneer?
What village would not, boasting, claim
To wear the mighty hero’s name?
And such is ours, ’mid babbling rills,
Among Watauga’s fertile hills,
Where crags and stars communicate
The highest court-house in the State.
What sacred memories hover ’round
This solitary spot of ground,
Where stood the flue of Daniel’s tent;
A pile of stones, now heaped and blent,
Some of them taken rough, unhewn,
That laid the corner-stone of Boone,
And others, from the ashes swept,
Are now by relic-seekers kept;
And still a mound of stones remain
Upon a richly-studded plain.
Seven miles west of Boone, eight miles east of Banner Elk, and twelve miles northwest of Blowing Rock is Valle Crucis (Vale of the Cross), where there is bass-fishing in the Watauga, and the Mary Etta Falls of Dutch Creek have a leap of eighty feet into a foaming pool, that is bordered with an evergreen selvage of laurel and pine.
At this place, the hospitable H. Taylor and his descendants have built handsome estates on the ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey, which flourished under Bishop Ives in about 1845, and fell with his apostasy to Rome in 1852.
The name, Valle Crucis, is said to have been suggested by the fact that two mountain tributaries, flowing towards each other and emptying into Dutch Creek below the falls, form a cross with that crystal stream, in the centre of the beautiful valley where the Abbey was located.
A large rustic arm-chair, made and occupied by the devout William West Skiles during his missionary work at Valle Crucis, now sits in the front piazza of Mr. C. D. Taylor, and shoots up its fabric of rhododendrons and calmia boughs in the most beautiful style of the Gothic architecture.143
The very best rural board can be had at Valle Crucis, at reasonable country prices, with D. F. Baird, Sheriff of Watauga County, who lives in a commodious white house, where the air without blossoms with the odor of plenty’s horn, and the within is adorned with a cheerful wife and three rose-lipped daughters of joy.
the elegant cottage of Nat. W. Taylor
[If this name seems familiar, it may be because we’ve seen it in at least two picture credits (“from a photograph by Nat. W. Taylor”). Perhaps wisely, Nat left politics to his brothers.]
Robert L. Taylor, ex-governor of Tennessee
[Call him the once and future governor. He served from 1887 to 1891—two consecutive two-year terms—and would come back for one more term in 1897-99. Brother Alf finally got his turn in 1921.]
THE BALLAD OF THE “BEECH.”
[Move over, James McIntyre. Your “Ode on the Mammoth Cheese” has a rival for the title of Worst Poem Ever.]
[Not the Bard of the Highlands but Tooke’s Pantheon again—Part II, Chapter XI, about Pan—this time cribbing from Lucretius rather than Ovid.]
the most magnanimous pun we ever heard,—he calls him “The Colossus of Rhodes.”
[It’s only a pun if you spell it “Colossus of Roads”, but our author seems to miss the point—twice.]
like a beautiful bouquet upon the bosom of a Colossus
[Like, say, the one at Rhodes?]
The great Appian Way
[This digression can obviously not be blamed on Tooke’s Pantheon—but I can’t help but suspect the author lifted it all, near-verbatim, from somewhere.]
from Rome by way of Naples to Brundusium
owned and improved by the Linville Improvement Company
[Recursion, anyone? If the Linville Improvement Company does it, it is by definition an improvement.]
the coldest perennial spring, isolated from perpetual snow, in the United States; its highest temperature being only forty-two degrees
[If this description seems familiar, it is because the author used it in Chapter II, pretty exactly 100 pages ago:
“the coldest perennial spring, isolated from perpetual snow, in the United States. Its highest temperature is 42°”.]
Adolescens, art thou trying to decoy
Valle Crucis Abbey, which flourished under Bishop Ives in about 1845, and fell with his apostasy to Rome in 1852
[It is not every day that a man’s conversion to Catholicism results in the downfall of an abbey. As it happens, the real story may be even more interesting. Levi Silliman Ives was the bishop of North Carolina—at that time, all one Episcopal diocese. William West Skiles we have already met.]
In December 1842, Bishop Ives sent a priest to begin the Episcopal ministry in Valle Crucis. During the next 10 years, land was purchased, simple buildings were constructed to start the Mission School, and the Society of the Holy Cross, the first monastic order since the English Reformation in the 1500s, was formed. Ives sent William West Skiles to Valle Crucis to supervise the farming operation. Skiles was ordained a Deacon in 1847 and was instrumental in building St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1862.
. . .
Brother Skiles died in December of 1862 and the work of the church declined rapidly.
Bishop Ives . . . hired an experienced farmer to run his farm operation, William West Skiles. Mr. Skiles became invaluable to Bishop Ives and the local people. In August 1847, he was ordained as a Deacon and took monastic orders in the Society of the Holy Cross. However, many in the Anglican Church of that time thought that this society was too “Roman,” and forced Bishop Ives to disband his order in 1852. The Bishop then left for Europe, where he resigned as Bishop and converted to Roman Catholicism.
Brother Skiles took over the work in the valley and became the doctor, lawyer, farmer, and priest to the people here. He built St. John's Church. He died only four months after its dedication, on December 8, 1862.
[Reading between the lines, Bishop Ives was backed into a corner by his congregants, leading inevitably to: “You think I’m too Catholic for you? OK, fine, I’ll be Catholic.”]
The very best rural board can be had . . . with D. F. Baird, Sheriff of Watauga County
[Edmund Pearson tells us sorrowfully that in the 1907 edition, D. F. Baird’s “rural board” is no more:
“The very best rural board can be had at Valle Crucis with Mr. F. P. Mast, who lives in a handsome house on the thoroughfare to Blowing Rock . . . .” Something, perhaps the embarrassing rush of patronage, following the first edition of The Balsam Groves, has caused the Sheriff to withdraw his name from the book, and devote himself to his legal duties.
In fact, by 1907 D. F. Baird was no longer sheriff of Watauga County. It seems to have been a tiring job, generally turning over every four or six years. Like many of his colleagues, Baird ended up serving twice, for two terms each: 1882–1886 and 1890–1894. If D. F. was David Franklin Baird (1835–1919), no less than three of his children—two daughters and a son—married Masts, possibly even the children of Finlay Patterson Mast. So the board-and-lodgings handoff may have been perfectly amicable. The family was big enough to have its own cemetery; there are still Bairds in the area, although cursory research suggests that they now operate on the other side of the law.]
[The following sketch of the history of André Michaux’s career is condensed from the memoir prepared by Professor Charles S. Sargent, of Brooklyn, Massachusetts, as an introduction to the journal published by the American Philosophical Society at Philadelphia.]
The younger Michaux, in the year 1824, presented to the American Philosophical Society the manuscript diary kept by his father during his travels in America. The first parts had been unfortunately lost in the wreck of the vessel in which Michaux returned to France from America, and no record is preserved of his travels in this country from the time of his arrival in New York in October, 1785, until his first visit to South Carolina in 1787.
The first notice of the journal which appeared in this country is found in a paper, by Professor Asa Gray, entitled “Notes of a Botanical Excursion to the Mountains of North Carolina,” published in the American Journal of Science, in 1841. This brief extract, together with a 145 more detailed account of those parts of Michaux’s document which relate to Canada, published in 1863, by the Abbé Ovide Brunet, directed the attention of botanists to this record of the travels of one of the most interesting and picturesque figures in the annals of botanical discovery in America, and for many years the feeling has existed among them that the journal which furnishes an important chapter in the history of the development of American botany should be published. The American Philosophical Society having shared in these views, a copy of the manuscript has been placed in my hands for publication. It is now printed as Michaux wrote it, by the light of his lonely camp-fires, during brief moments snatched from short hours of repose, in the midst of hardships and often surrounded with dangers. The character of the man appears in this record of his daily life, and any attempt to correct or extend his words would destroy their individuality and diminish the historical value of his diary.
The journal is something more than a mere diary of travel and botanical discovery. The information which it contains in regard to various plants first detected by Michaux is valuable even now, and his remarks upon the condition of the remote settlements which he visited in the 146 course of his are interesting and often amusing. They record the impressions of a man of unusual intelligence—a traveller in many lands, who had learned by long practice to use his eyes to good advantage, and to write down only what he saw.
He was the first botanist who ever travelled extensively in this country, although it must not be forgotten that John and William Bartram, his predecessors by several years in the same field, did much to prepare the way for his wider and more detailed explorations. The first connected and systematic work upon the flora of North America was based largely upon his collections, and bears the impress of his name, while it was by his efforts that many American plants were first made known in the gardens of Europe.
Michaux was born at Salory, in the neighborhood of Versailles, on March 7, 1746, and early became interested in the cultivation and study of plants. He left Paris, in 1782, for Aleppo and Bagdad, and, after travelling extensively and mastering the Persian language, he returned to Paris early in 1785, bringing with him a valuable herbarium, and a large collection of seeds.
At this time the French government was 147 anxious to introduce into the royal plantations the most valuable trees of eastern North America, and Michaux was selected for this undertaking. He was instructed to explore the territory of the United States, to gather seeds of trees, shrubs, and other plants, and to establish a nursery near New York for their reception, and afterwards to send them to France, where they were to be planted in the Park of Rambouillet. He was directed also to send game birds from America, with a view to their introduction into the plantations of American trees.
Michaux, accompanied by his son, then fifteen years old, arrived in New York in October, 1785. Here, during two years, he made his principal residence, established a nursery, of which all trace has how disappeared, and making a number of short botanical journeys into New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The fruits of these preliminary explorations, including twelve boxes of seeds, five thousand seedling trees, and a number of live partridges, were sent to Paris at the end of the first year.
Michaux’s first visit to South Carolina was made in September, 1786. He found Charleston a more suitable place for his nurseries, and made that city his headquarters during the rest of his stay in America. Michaux’s journeys in this 148 country after his establishment in Charleston, cover the territory of North America from Hudson’s Bay to Indian River, in Florida, and from the Bahama Islands to the banks of the Mississippi River.
In 1788 he was called upon by the minister of the French Republic, lately arrived in New York, to proceed to Kentucky, to execute some business growing out of the relations between France and Spain with regard to the transfer of Louisiana. This political journey, and a second made into the far West, occupied long intervals of Michaux’s time, covering a period of about seven years, at the end of which he returned finally to Charleston in the spring of 1796. His nurseries were in a most flourishing condition; they were stocked with the rarest American plants collected during years of labor and hardship; and with many of those plants of the old world which Michaux was first to introduce into the United States. The tallow tree (Stillingia sebifera), now often cultivated and somewhat naturalized in the Southern States, and the beautiful Albizzia Julibrissin, were first planted in the United States by him. He first taught the settlers in the Alleghany Mountains the value of the Ginseng, and showed them how to prepare it for the Chinese market,—a service 149 which gained for him a membership in the exclusive Agricultural Society of Charleston.
His movements for several years had been impeded and the success of his journeys interfered with by the lack of financial support from the French government, and Michaux found, on his return to South Carolina, that his resources were entirely exhausted. An obscure botanical traveller, almost forgotten in a distant land, had little hope of recognition from Paris during the closing years of the last century, and it was now evident that he could depend no longer on support and assistance from France. He determined, therefore, rather than sell the trees which he longed to see flourishing on French soil, to return to Paris.
Michaux sailed from Charleston on the 13th of August, 1796. The voyage was tempestuous; and on the 18th of September the vessel was wrecked on the coast of Holland, where the crew and passengers, worn out by exposure and fatigue, would have perished but for the assistance of the inhabitants of the little village of Egmont. Michaux fastened himself to a piece of plank, and was finally washed ashore unconscious, and more dead than alive. His baggage was lost; but his precious packages of plants, which were stored in the hold of the vessel, were 150 saved, though saturated with salt water. He remained in Egmont for several weeks, to regain his strength and to dry and rearrange his plants, and did not reach Paris until January. He was received with great distinction and kindness by the botanists of the Museum, but a bitter disappointment awaited him. An insignificant number only of the six thousand trees which he had sent to France during the eleven years he had passed in America remained alive. The storms of the Revolution and of the Empire had swept through the nurseries of Rambouillet, and Michaux’s American trees were destroyed or hopelessly scattered.
This was the greatest disappointment of his life, but he was not discouraged. His longings were to return to America, but the French government would not supply the necessary means, and on the 18th of October, 1800, he sailed with Baudin on his voyage of discovery to New Holland; and on the 19th of February, the following year, the expedition reached the Isle of France. Here, after a stay of six months, in which Michaux made his first acquaintance with the vegetation of the real tropics, he left the party for the purpose of exploring the island of Madagascar, which seemed to offer a more useful field than New Holland for his labors.151
He landed on the east coast, and at once set about laying out a garden, in which he hoped to establish, provisionally, the plants he intended to bring back from his journeys in the interior. Impatient of the delays caused by the indolence of the natives he had employed to prepare the ground, Michaux, in spite of the warnings of persons familiar with the danger of exposure and over-exertion under a tropical sun, insisted upon working himself day after day. He was soon prostrated with fever, but his vigorous constitution and indomitable will enabled him to resist the attack, and his health being partly restored at the end of four months, he was ready to start for the mountains. His preparations were all made, but on the eve of his departure, late in November, 1802, he was attacked again with fever and died suddenly. He was only fifty-six years old, still in the prime of life, and possessed of all his powers when his useful career was thus suddenly brought to an end.152
[The Journal of André Michaux from the time he passed Charlotte, on his way to the mountains of Western North Carolina, until he returned to Charleston, from which point he had started.]
July 22.—Passed through Charlotte in Mecklenburg. Red clay soil; quartz rocks; clear waters formerly: the waters have the color of dead leaves or dry tobacco. Vegetation, red-oaks, black-oaks, and white-oaks, etc. Actea spicata. . . . Slept six miles from Tuck-a-Segee ford.
July 23.—Passed through Ben Smith, twenty miles from Charlotte. Two or three miles before arriving there saw the Magnolia tomentoso-glauca fol. cordatis longiorib. Slept six miles from B. Smith.
July 24.—Passed through Lincoln and dined with Reinhart. Calamus aromaticus. Slept at the old shoemaker’s.
July 25.—Came to Henry Watner, now Robertson.
July 26.—Arrived at Morganton, Burke Court-House, thirty miles from Robertson. Frutex Calycantha facies, etc.153
July 27.—Stayed at Morganton on account of the rain and swollen creeks which could not be passed except by swimming.
July 28.—Remained at Morganton.
July 29.—Left Morganton, and slept at John Rutherford’s, near whose house I went over a bridge across Muddy Creek.
July 30.—Came back into the usual road, which leads to Turkey Cove, and arrived at the house of a man named Ainsworth.
July 31.—Herborized on the Linville high mountains, southeast of Ainsworth’s residence; and on the rocks and mountains denuded of trees collected a little shrub (Leiophyllum buxifolium).
August 1.—Herborized on mountains of very rich soil, situated to the northeast. Measured a tulip-tree twenty-three French feet in circumference.
August 2.—Herborized towards the mountains to the northward.
August 3.—Herborized among Cyperoides and other aquatic plants.
August 4.—Prepared for the journey to the Black Mountain.
August 5.—Deferred the journey on account of the lack of provisions.
August 6.—Set out and reached the place called Crab-tree.154
August 7.—Herborized on the mountains in vicinity of Crab-tree.
August 9.—Continued my herborizations.
August 10.—Arrived at the foot of Black Mountain.
August 11.—Arrived on the —— side of Black Mountain. (Among the plants collected he names “fox-grapes, fruit good to eat.”)
August 12.—Returned from the mountain.
August 13.—Arrived at the house of Mr. Ainsworth.
August 14.—A thick fog made it difficult to explore the high mountains. Herborized in the valleys.
August 16.—Journeyed towards the Yellow Mountain and Roun (Roan) Mountain. Reached Towe (Toe) River, Bright’s Settlement. The principal inhabitants of this place are Davinport, Wiseman. Collected herbs: Azalea coccinea, lutea, flava, alba, and rosea; all these varieties of the Azalea nudiflora are found in this region.
August 17.—Agreed with a hunter (Davinport) to go to the mountains.
August 18.—Herborized and described several plants.155
August 19.—Started to go towards the high mountains.
August 20.—Herborized in the mountains.
August 21.—Reached the summit of Roun (Roan) Mountain; found in abundance a small shrub with boxwood-like leaves which I formerly designated as Leiophyllum buxifolium, but the capsule of which has three cells and opens at the top.*
August 22.—Reached the summit of the Yellow Mountain.
August 23.—Returned to Davinport’s house.
August 24.—Put my collections in order.
August 26.—Started for Grandfather Mountain, the most elevated of all those which form the chain of the Alleghanies and the Appalachians.
August 27.—Reached the foot of the highest mountain.
August 28.—Climbed as far as the rocks.
August 29.—Continued my herborizations.
August 30.—Climbed to the summit of the highest mountain of all North America, and, 156 with my companion and guide, sang the Marseillaise Hymn, and cried, “Long live America and the French Republic! long live Liberty! etc.” Le 30 Monté au sommet de la plus haute montagne de toute l’Am. Sept. et avec mon compagnon Guide, chanté l’hymne des Marseillois et crié Vive l’Amérique et la Républiq. Française, Vive la Liberté, etc., etc.
August 31.—Rain all day. Stayed in camp.
September 1.—Came back to the house of my guide Davinport.
September 2.—Rain. Herborized.
September 3.—Arranged my collections.
September 4.—The same work.
September 5.—Started for Table Mount.
September 6.—Visited the cliffs of the mountain Hock-bill (Hawk-bill) and of Table Mountain. These mountains are very barren, and the new shrub (Leiophyllum) is the only rare plant found there. It is there in abundance. Slept at a distance of six miles, at Park’s.
September 7.—Started for Burke Court-House or Morganton. Slept at the house of General MacDowal. Saw near his house Spirea tomentosa in abundance. From Burke to John Wagely’s house, about twelve miles. From John Wagely’s to Thomas Young’s, ———. From Thomas Young’s to Davinport’s, eight miles.157
September 8.—Arrived at Burke Court-House or Morganton. Visited Colonel Avery and stayed at his house.
September 9.—Started in the evening from Morganton; slept three miles distant from it. Met an inhabitant of Stateborough, Mr. Atkinson, who invited me to his house.
September 10.—Reached Robertson, thirty miles from Morganton.
September 11.—Slept at Reinhart’s, Lincoln Court-House, fifteen miles from Robertson.
September 12.—Started for Yadkin River and Salsbury. Slept at Catawba Spring, eighteen miles from Lincoln.
September 13.—Went to Betty’s Ford on the Catawba River, twenty miles from Lincoln. Slept at a farm eight miles before coming to Salsbury, where the three roads from Philadelphia, from Charleston, and from Kentucky meet.
September 14.—Passed through Salsbury, a town of better appearance than the other towns of North Carolina. Fifty miles from Lincoln to Salsbury. Continued my way to Fayetteville; crossed Yadkin River and slept fourteen miles from Salsebury.
September 15.—Passed several creeks and low, but very stony hills.158
September 16.—Part of the road very stony. Saw the Magnol. acuminata florib. luteis: Collinsonia tuberosa. Came then upon sandy ground. Slept at the house of Martin, store-keeper.
September 17.—Continued my way across the sand-hills.
September 18.—Reached a place six miles from Fayetteville. Lost my two horses.
September 19 and 20.—Employed these two days in searching for my horses.
September 21.—Found one of the two and . . .
September 22.—Arrived again at Fayetteville, formerly Cross Creek. The river Cape Fear flows past that town. Saw in my herborizations swamps which surround the town. Cupressus disticha, thyoides, often together.
September 23.—Started from Fayetteville after having had the satisfaction to read the news, arrived the evening before, from Philadelphia, concerning the glorious victories of the Republic. Slept at the house of the old (?) MacCay, fifteen miles from Fayetteville on the road from Salisbury.
September 24.—Took the road from Charleston on the left and passed Drowned Creek at MacLawchland bridge. But the more direct route from Fayetteville to Charleston is by way of Widow Campbell Bridge, forty (?) miles from 159 Fayetteville. From Widow Campbell Bridge to Gum Swamp, ten miles from the line that separates North Carolina and South Carolina.
September 25.—Passed through Gum Swamp and slept eight miles from Fayetteville. Saw the Cupressus thyoides and the Cupressus disticha in several swamps. Saw the Andromeda Wilmingt. in abundance in all the swamps. Liquidambar peregrinum, etc. Two miles from Gum Swamp we reach South Carolina.
September 26.—Passed through Long Bluff, a small hamlet, two miles south of the river Big Pedée, seventy-four miles from Fayetteville.
September 27.—Passed through Black Swamp, twenty-two miles from Long Bluff. Col. Benton, twelve miles from L. Bluff. Black Creek, ten miles from L. Bl. Jefferis Creek ten miles from L. Bl.
September 28.—Passed Lynch’s Creek, forty miles from L. Bl.
September 29.—Passed Black River, thirty miles from Lynch Creek. A certain Lorry keeps the ferry of Black River.
September 30.—Arrived at Maurice Ferry, on the Santee River, fifteen miles from Black River, and twenty miles from Monk’s Corner. The passage of the ferry was dangerous, and I was obliged to go to Lenew Ferry. It is twenty-five 160 miles from Maurice Ferry to Lenew or Lenew’s Ferry.
October 1.—Left Lenew’s Ferry and passed through Strawberry’s Ferry, twenty-five miles from Lenew’s Ferry, and twenty-eight miles from Charleston. Reached the dwelling-house near Ten M. House.
October 2.—Left for Charleston.
* It is strange that Michaux did not mention the abundance of this shrub growing on the bare rocks of Grandfather Mountain.161
|Blowing Rock, highest town in the State||4,090|
|Boone, highest Court-House in the State||3,250|
|Grandfather Hotel and Post-Office, nearest to summit of Grandfather Mountain||4,050|
|Valle Crucis, neighborhood and Post-Office||2,726|
|Shull’s Mills, neighborhood and Post-Office||2,917|
|Cook’s Gap, of the Blue Ridge||3,307|
|Sugar Mountain, Mitchell County||5,228|
|Watauga, Mitchell, and Caldwell Counties||5,987|
|Dunvegan, bluff of Rough Enough Ridge, near Grandfather||4,924|
|162 Howard’s Knob, overlooking Boone||4,451|
|Bald of Rich Mountain||5,300|
|Pine Orchard Mountain, near Elk Knob||4,800|
|Riddle’s Knob, near Elk Knob||4,800|
|Flat-Top, near Blowing Rock||4,537|
|Hump Mountain, near Elk Park||5,541|
|Bellevue Farm, on top of Fork Mountain||4,650|
|Cranberry Gap, between Cranberry Creek and Toe (Estetoe) River||3,650|
|Toe (Estetoe) River, at Old Fields of Toe||3,650|
|Miller Gap, Blue Ridge||3,733|
|Sugar Mountain, near the Watauga line and overlooking Banner Elk||5,228|
|Eighteen miles of Yonahlossee Road, between Linville and Blowing Rock, from 4,000 to||5,000|
|163 Linville Gap, Blue Ridge, head of Watauga and Linville Rivers||4,100|
|McCanless Gap, Blue Ridge, between Banner Elk and Linville||4,191|
|White-Top Mountain, across the Virginia line||5,678|
|Little Grandfather Mountain||3,783|
|Deep Gap, of the Blue Ridge||3,105|
|Hibriten Mountain, near Lenoir||2,242|
|Linville Mountain, south end||3,766|
|Short-Off Mountain, north summit||3,105|
|Table Rock Mountain||3,918|
|Junction of Flat Creek with Swannanoa River||2,250|
|Joseph Stepp’s house||2,368|
|Lower Mountain house, Jesse Stepp’s floor of piazza||2,770|
|W. Patton’s cabins, end of carriage road||3,244|
|Resting Place, brook behind last log-cabin||3,955|
|Upper Mountain, house||5,246|
|Ascending to Toe River Gap, passage, main branch above Stepp’s||3,902|
|Toe River Gap, between Potato Top and High Pinnacle||5,188|
|High Pinnacle, of Blue Ridge||5,701|
|Rocky Knob’s south peak||5,306|
|Big Spring, on Rocky Knob||5,080|
|Stepp’s Gap, the cabin||6,103|
|Mt. Hallback, or Sugarloaf||6,403|
|Black Dome, or Mitchell’s high peak||6,707|
|Balsam Cone, Guyot of State maps||6,671|
|Black Brother, Sandoz of State maps||6,619|
|Rocky Trail Gap||6,382|
|Dear Mount, North Point||6,233|
|Long Ridge, South Point||6,208|
|Bowlen’s Pyramid, North End||6,348|
|Green Ponds, at Tom Wilson’s highest house||3,222|
|Tom Wilson’s new house||3,110|
|Wheeler’s, opposite Big Ivy Gap||2,942|
|Cat-tail with Caney River||2,873|
|Sandofor Gap, or Low Gap, summit of road||3,176|
|Burnsville, Court-House Square||2,840|
|Green Mountain, near Burnsville, highest point||4,340|
|Summit of the road from Burnsville to Toe River||3,139|
|Toe River Ford, on the road from Burnsville to Roan Mountain||2,131|
|Brigg’s house, foot of the Roan Mountain, valley of Little Rock Creek||2,757|
|Yellow Spot, above Brigg’s||5,158|
|Little Yellow Mount, highest||5,196|
|The Cold Spring, summit of Roan||6,132|
|Grassy Ridge Ball, northeast continuation of Roan Mountain||6,230|
|Roan High Bluff||6,296|
|Roan High Knob||6,313|
|South Toe River Ford||2,532|
|Toe River Ford, near Autrey’s||2,547|
|North Toe River Ford, below Childsville||2,652|
|Blue Ridge, head of Brushy Creek||3,425|
|Linville River Ford, below head of Brushy Creek||3,297|
|Linville River, at Piercy’s||3,607|
|Head-waters of Linville and Watauga River, foot of Grandfather Mountain||4,100|
|Grandfather Mountain, summit||5,987|
|Watauga River, at Shull’s mill-pond||2,917|
|Egypt Cove, at Proffit’s||3,320|
|Wolf’s Camp Gap||4,359|
|Bald Mountain, summit||5,550|
|Dillingham’s house, below Yeates’s Knob, or Big Butte||2,568|
|Junction of the three forks||2,276|
|Solomon Carter’s house||2,215|
|Stocksville, at Black Stock’s||2,216|
|Mouth of Ivy River, by railroad survey||1,684|
|Sulphur Springs, the spring||2,092|
|Hominy Cove, at Solomon Davies’s||2,542|
|Little West Pisgah||4,724|
|Forks of Pigeon, at Colonel Cathey’s||2,701|
|East fork of Pigeon, at Captain T. Lenoir’s||2,855|
|Sulphur Spring, Richland Valley, at James R. G. Love’s||2,716|
|Mr. Hill’s farm, on Crab Tree Creek||2,714|
|Crab Tree Creek, below Hill’s||2,524|
|Richland, between Richland Creek and the west fork of Pigeon Creek, and at E. Medford’s||2,938|
|E. Medford’s farm, foot of Lickston’s Mountain||3,000|
|Deep Pigeon Gap||4,907|
|Cold Spring Mountain||5,915|
|Double Spring Mountain||6,380|
|Richland Balsam, or Cancy Fork Balsam Divide||6,425|
|Spruce Ridge Top||6,076|
|Westener Bald, north peak||5,414|
|Enos Plott’s farm, north foot of chain||3,002|
|Old Field Mountain||5,100|
|Enos Plott’s Balsam, first Balsam, north end||6,097|
|Jones’s Balsam, north point||6,223|
|Rock Stand Knob||6,002|
|Amos Plott’s Balsam, or Great Divide||6,278|
|White Rock Ridge||5,528|
|169 Panther Knob||5,359|
|Road Gap, head of Scott’s Creek||3,357|
|John Brown’s farm||3,049|
|John Love’s farm||2,226|
|Tuckaseege River, mill, below Webster, near the road to Quallatown||2,004|
|Junction of Savannah Creek||2,001|
|Junction of Scott’s Creek||1,977|
|Quallatown, main store||1,979|
|Soco River, ford to Oconaluftee||1,990|
|Soco Gap, road summit||4,341|
|Amos Plott’s farm, on Pigeon||3,084|
|Oconaluftee River, junction, Bradley Fork||2,203|
|Robert Collins’s highest house||2,500|
|Junction of Raven’s and Straight Fork||2,476|
|Junction of Bunch’s Creek||2,379|
|The Pillar, head of Straight Fork of Oconaluftee River||6,255|
|170 Tricorner Knob||6,188|
|Mt. Guyot, so named by Mr. Buckley, in common||6,636|
|The True Brother, highest or central peak||5,907|
|Top of Richland Ridge||5,492|
|Righthand, or New Gap||5,096|
|Central Peak, or Mt. Lecompte||6,612|
|West Peak, or Mt. Curtis||6,568|
|North Peak, or Mt. Stafford||6,535|
|Alum Cave Creek, junction with Little Pigeon River||3,848|
|171 Clingman’s Dome||6,660|
|Big Stone Mountain||5,614|
|Big Cherry Gap||4,838|
|Forney Ridge Peak||5,087|
|The Great Bald’s central peak||4,922|
|Tennessee River, at Hardin’s||899|
|Hill House Mountain, summit road to Montvale Springs||2,452|
|Montvale Springs, Tennessee||1,293|
|Marshall Court-House, Madison County||1,647|
|Warm Springs, “ “||1,325|
|Bear Wallow Mountain, “ “||4,638|
|Panel Rock Station, Tennessee line||1,264|
|Franklin Court-House,||Macon County||2,241|
|Burning Town Bald,||” ”||5,103|
|Rocky Bald,||” ”||5,822|
|Pickens’s Nose,||” ”||4,910|
|172 Hendersonville Court-House,||Henderson County||2,167|
|Bear Wallow Mountain,||” ”||4,233|
|Bear Wallow Gap,||” ”||3,465|
|Bald Mountain (or Pinnacle),||” ”||3,834|
|Miller Mountain,||” ”||3,889|
|Sugarloaf Mountain,||” ”||3,973|
|Columbus Court-House,||Polk County||1,145|
|Tryon Mountain,||” ”||3,237|
|Tryon Station,||” ”||764|
|Brevard Court-House,||Transylvania County||2,195|
|Hymen’s Knob,||” ”||6,084|
|Devil’s Court-House,||” ”||6,049|
|Cæsar’s Head,||South Carolina||3,223|
|Hayesville Court-House,||Clay County||——|
|Tusquitta Bald,||” ”||5,314|
|Medlock Bald,||” ”||5,258|
|Standing Indian (Mountain)||“ “||5,495|
|Chunky Gal “||“ “||4,985|
|Robinsville Court-House,||Graham County||——|
|Joanna Bald,||” ”||4,743|
|McDaniel Bald,||” ”||4,653|
|Tatham’s Gap,||” ”||3,639|
|Cheowah, maximum,||” ”||4,996|
|Murphy Court-House,||Cherokee County||1,614|
|Winfrey Gap,||” ”||3,493|
|Knoahetah Mountain||“ “||4,498|
|Highest summit east of the Mississippi, Mitchell’s Peak, in North Carolina||6,707|
|Highest mountain in New England, Mount Washington, in New Hampshire||6,286|
Among the peaks jointly possessed by Western North Carolina and East Tennessee there are twenty-three which surpass Mount Washington in height. In addition to these, there are twenty-three other mountains which exceed six thousand feet, but fall short of Mount Washington; and there are still seventy-nine others which exceed five thousand feet, many of them closely approximating six thousand.
Area of North Carolina, 52,286 square miles.
Land surface, 48,666 square miles.
Water surface, 3,620 square miles.
Northern boundary, eastern end, lat. 36° 33’ 15”.
Easternmost point, Chickamicomico, long. 75° 27’ 12”.
Southernmost point, Smith’s Island, lat. 33° 49’ 55”.
Western boundary, long. 18° 42’ 20”.
Extreme length, 503¼ miles.
Extreme breadth, 187½ miles.
Length of coast line, 314 miles.
Latitude of Raleigh, 35° 47’.
Longitude of Raleigh, 78° 38’ 5”.
Longitude of Raleigh, from Washington, 1° 37’ 57”.
Altitude of Raleigh, 365 feet.
Average elevation of State, 640 feet.
Population, in 1890, 1,617,947.
Number of counties, 96.174
The variation in 1875 (and 1825) was 3° west in Currituck; 3° east in Cherokee.
The zero left Roanoke Island, its eastern limit, in 1790; passed Newbern in 1850, Raleigh in 1870, Fayetteville in 1875, Greensboro in 1880.
The variation increases west 3½ minutes a year. Direction of magnetic meridian N. 23° W. Motion west five miles a year.
All place names (“Salsbury”) are spelled as printed. But it must be said that André Michaux’s English spelling was better than Brillat-Savarin’s.
Professor Charles S. Sargent, of Brooklyn, Massachusetts
[Brookline, of course. Those Northern towns all look alike. Botanist Charles Sprague Sargent (1841–1927) was the first director of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum; it is characteristic of our Baedeker that the professor is identified by his family home rather than by his academic affiliation.]
in the course of his wonderings
[Error for “wanderings”, but it was too perfect to change.]
He left . . . Aleppo and Bagdad, and, after travelling extensively and mastering the Persian language
[I hope his travels took him beyond Aleppo (Syria) and Baghdad (Iraq), where Arabic would have been more useful.]
In 1788 he was called upon by the minister of the French Republic, lately arrived in New York
[By TARDIS, one assumes.]
the expedition reached the Isle of France
[Mauritius, not Paris.]
twenty-three French feet in circumference
[Since French feet were bigger—at least when used as a unit of measurement—that’s twenty-four and a half Imperial feet.]
[Footnote] It is strange that Michaux did not mention the abundance of this shrub growing on the bare rocks of Grandfather Mountain.
[I think this is Dugger’s footnote. Besides, by the time Michaux arrives at Grandfather Mountain—almost a week in the future—he’ll have other plants to get excited about.]
the highest mountain of all North America
[Give or take 15,000 feet. But the highest peaks east of the Mississippi really are in this region, clustered along the Tennessee-North Carolina sector of the Appalachies.]
Le 30 Monté au sommet
[Is the translator afraid we won’t believe him in English?]
Fifty miles from Lincoln to Salsbury.
[Are the italics meant to express surprise? Today, Lincolnton and Salisbury are almost exactly fifty miles apart by the most direct route. Other routes—possibly including the ones available to Shepherd Dugger—are 70 miles or more.]
Found one of the two and . . .
[And . . .?]
Widow Campbell Bridge
[Query: Who was widow Campbell, and what did she do to get a bridge named after her? The same question applies to Betty on the previous page
Gum Swamp, ten miles from the line that separates North Carolina and South Carolina . . . Two miles from Gum Swamp we reach South Carolina.
[I do not undertand this geography. Did Michaux slog through eight miles of swamp in a single day?]
I am fairly certain that none of the listed elevations coincide with current figures. Divergences range up to several hundred feet.
Cat-tail Fork, junction with Caney River
text has Fork,junction without space
Negro Mountain . . . Mulatto Mountain
[Negro Mountain is now Mount Jefferson; Mulatto Mountain is still waiting for a suitable name. Incidentally, Ashe County is nowhere near Asheville, though both were named after the same person. Of Mount Jefferson, one source says:
Before the revolution, Mount Jefferson was known as Panther Mountain, perhaps because of a legend that tells of a panther that attacked and killed a child there. Area residents gave the mountain other names until 1952 when Mount Jefferson received its official name.]
Mitchell’s Peak 6,707 . . . Mount Washington 6,286 . . . Difference 421
[Mount Mitchell currently measures 6,684 ft., while that damyankee Mount Washington is a little higher than Dugger’s figure, at 6,288 ft. So North Carolina is still the winner—but only by 396ft.]
Elisha Mitchell, D.D., was born in Washington, Litchfield County, Connecticut, on the 19th of August, 1793.
He graduated at Yale College in 1813, was appointed to the chair of mathematics in the University of North Carolina in 1817, and, after rendering thirty-nine and a half years of the most valuable service in the scientific departments of that institution, he perished the 27th of June, 1857, in the sixty-fourth year of his age, and was buried in Asheville the 10th of the following July. “But at the earnest solicitation of many friends, and especially of the mountain men of Yancey, his family allowed his body to be removed and deposited on the top of Mt. Mitchell. This was done on the 16th of June, 1858. There he shall rest till the judgment 176 day in a mausoleum such as no other man has ever had. Reared by the hands of Omnipotence, it was assigned to him by those to whom it was given thus to express their esteem, and it was consecrated by the lips of eloquence warmed by affection, amidst the rites of our holy religion. Before him lies the North Carolina he loved so well and served so faithfully. From his lofty couch its hills and valleys melt into its plains as they stretch away to the shores of the eastern ocean, whence the dawn of the last day stealing quietly westward, as it lights the mountain-tops first, shall awake him earliest to hear the greeting of
‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”
Messrs. Editors,—Having spent a week at the scene of this memorable calamity, in search of the body of Dr. Mitchell, and assisting in its removal after it was found, I have been requested by sundry citizens to give to the public a sketch of the deplorable event. In accordance with their request, I now take my pen to give you all I know of the accident, which has caused so much sorrowful excitement in this region, and which I doubt not will unnerve the public feeling to its centre throughout the State when the sad tidings shall be generally known.177
It is known to all who have felt interested in our State geography, that there lately sprung up a dispute between the Hon. T. L. Clingman and Dr. Mitchell, in regard to one of the high peaks of the Black Mountain put down in Cook’s map as Mt. Clingman. The former alleging that he was first to measure and ascertain its superior height to any other point on the range, and the latter gentleman asserting that he was on that same peak and measured it in the year 1844. After several letters, pro and con, through the newspapers, Dr. Mitchell announced last fall his intention of visiting the mountains again for the purpose of remeasuring the peak in dispute, taking the statements of some gentlemen who had acted as his guides on his former visits, etc. Sometime since, about the middle of June, I think, he came up, in company with his son Chas. A. Mitchell, his daughter, and a servant boy, established his headquarters at Jesse Stepp’s, at the foot of the mountain, and began the laborious task of ascertaining the height of the highest peak by an instrumental survey, which, as the former admeasurements were only barometrical, would fix its altitude with perfect accuracy. He had proceeded with his work near two weeks, and had reached to some quarter of a mile above Mr. Wm. Patton’s Mountain House, by Saturday evening, half-past two o’clock, the 27th of June, at which time he quit work and told his son that he was going to cross the mountain to the settlement on Caney River for the purpose of seeing Mr. Thomas Wilson, Wm. Riddle, and I believe another Mr. Wilson, who had guided him up to the top on a former visit. He promised to return to the Mountain House on Monday at noon. There was no one with him. This was the last time he was ever seen alive. On Monday his son repaired to the Mountain 178 House to meet his father, but he did not come. Tuesday the same thing occurred, and though considerable uneasiness was felt for his safety, yet there were so many ways to account for his delay that it was scarcely thought necessary to alarm the neighborhood; but when Wednesday night came and brought no token of him, his son and Mr. John Stepp immediately started on Thursday morning to Caney River in search of him. On arriving at Mr. Thos. Wilson’s, what was their astonishment and dismay to learn that he had neither been seen nor heard of in that settlement! They immediately returned to Mr. , the alarm was given, and before sundown on Friday evening companies of the hardy mountaineers from the North Fork of the Swannanoa were on their way up the mountain. The writer, happening to be present on a visit to the Black, joined the first company that went up. About eighteen persons camped at the Mountain House that evening, and continued accessions were made to our party during the night, by the good citizens of that neighborhood, who turned out at the call of humanity as fast as they heard the alarm, some from their fields, some from working on the road, and all without a moment’s hesitation. Early on Saturday morning our party under the command of Mr. Fred. Burnett and his sons, all experienced hunters, and Jesse Stepp and others who were familiar with the mountains, struck out for the main top, and began the search by scouring the woods on the left hand or Caney River side of the trail that runs along the top. We continued on this way to the highest peak without discovering any traces whatever of his passage, when our company became so scattered into small parties that no further systematic search could be made that day. But directly in our rear as we came up the 179 mountain was Mr. Eldridge Burnett with some more of his neighbors, who had come from their houses that morning; and hearing a report that Dr. Mitchell had expressed his intention of striking a bee-line from the top for the without following the blazed trail way to Caney River, they searched for signs in that direction, and soon found a trail in the soft moss and fern that was believed to have been made by him, and followed it until it came to the first fork of Caney, where it was lost. Nothing doubting but they were on his track, and that he had continued down the stream, they went several miles along the beat of the river, over inconceivably rough and dangerous ground, until dark, when they threw themselves upon the earth and rested till morning. Mr. Stepp, Mr. Fred. Burnett and others made their way to Wilson’s on Caney River to join the company that was coming up from the Yancey side, and the writer and many others returned, gloomy and disappointed to the Mountain House. Thus ended the first day’s search. During almost the entire day the rain had poured down steadily, the air was cold and chilling, the thermometer indicating about forty-four degrees at noon, whilst the heavy clouds wrapped the whole mountain in such a dense fog that it was impossible to see any distance before us. It seemed as if the genii of those vast mountain solitudes were angered at our unwonted intrusion, and had invoked the Storm-God to enshroud in deeper gloom the sad and mysterious fate of their noble victim.
Sabbath morning came, but its holy stillness and sacred associations were all unregarded, and the party camping in the Mountain House, now largely augmented by constant arrivals from the settlements, plunged again into the gloomy forest of gigantic firs, and filing through 180 the dark and deep gorges struck far down into the wilds of Caney River. Mr. Eldridge Burnett’s party returned about two o’clock, bringing no tidings and seeing no further trace whatever of the wanderer’s footsteps. Still later in the day Messrs. Fred. Burnett and Jesse Stepp and party returned with some twelve or fifteen of the citizens of Caney River, having traversed a large scope of country and finding still no trace of the lost one. The rain still continued to pour down, and the gloomy and ill-omened fog still continued to wrap the mountain’s brow in its rayless and opaque shroud. Just before dark the remaining party came in, unsuccessful, tired, hungry, and soaking with water. A general gloom now overspread the countenances of all, as the awful and almost undeniable fact was proclaimed that Dr. Mitchell was surely dead, and our only object in making the search would be to rescue his mortal remains from the wild beasts and give them Christian sepulture! It could not be possible, we thought, that he was alive, for cold, and hunger, and fatigue, if nothing worse had happened to him, would ere this have destroyed him. Alas! we reasoned too well. By this time the alarm had spread far and near, and many citizens of Asheville and other parts of the country were flocking to the mountains to assist in the search for one so universally beloved and respected. On Monday the company numbered some sixty men. New routes were projected, new ground of search proposed, and the hunt conducted throughout the day with renewed energy and determination, but still without avail. On Tuesday the company of Buncombe men separated into three squads and took different routes, whilst Mr. Thomas Wilson and his neighbors from Caney River, took a still more distant route, by going to the top of the highest peak 181 and searching down towards the Cat-tail fork of the river. They were led to take this route by the suggestion of Mr. Wilson, that Dr. Mitchell had gone up that way in his visit to the high peak in 1844, and that perhaps he had undertaken to go down by the same route. They accordingly struck out for that point, and turning to the left to strike down the mountain in the prairie near the top, at the very spot where it is alleged that the Doctor entered it thirteen years ago, they instantly perceived the impression of feet upon the yielding turf, pointing down the mountain in the direction indicated of his former route. After tracing it some distance with that unerring woodcraft which is so wonderful to all but the close observing hunter, they became convinced that it was his trail and sent a messenger back some five miles to inform the Buncombe men, and telling them to hurry on as fast as they could. The writer with Mr. Charles Mitchell and many others were in a deep valley on the head-waters of another fork of the river, when the blast of a horn and the firing of guns on a distant peak, made us aware that some discovery was made. Hurrying with breathless haste up the steep mountain side in the direction of the guns we soon came up and found the greater part of our company watching for us, with the news that the Yancey company were upon the trail we had been so earnestly seeking so many days. After a brief consultation, two or three of our party returned to the Mountain House for provisions, and the balance of us started as fast as we could travel along the main top towards our Yancey friends, and reached the high peak just before dark. Here we camped in a small cabin built by Mr. Jesse Stepp, ate a hasty supper and threw ourselves upon the floor, without covering, to rest.182
About one o’clock in the night, just as the writer was about closing his eyes in troubled and uneasy slumber, a loud halloo was heard from the high bluff that looms over the cabin. It was answered from within, and in a moment every sleeper was upon his feet. Mr. Jesse Stepp, Capt. Robert Patton and others, then came down and told us that the body was found. Mournfully then indeed those hardy sons of the mountain seated themselves around the smouldering cabin-fire, and on the trunks of the fallen firs, and then, in the light of a glorious full moon, whose rays pencilled the dark damp forest with liquid silver, seven thousand feet above the tide-washed sands of the Atlantic, the melancholy tale was told. Many a heart was stilled with sadness as the awful truth was disclosed, and many a rough face glittered with a tear in the refulgent moonlight as it looked upon the marble pallor and statue-stillness of the stricken and bereaved son, and thought of those far away whom this sudden evil would so deeply afflict.
It was as they expected. The deceased had undertaken to go the same route to the settlements which he had formerly gone. They traced him rapidly down the precipices of the mountain, until they reached the stream (the Cat-tail fork), found his traces going down it—following on a hundred yards or so, they came to a rushing cataract some forty feet high, saw his footprints trying to climb around the edge of the yawning precipice, saw the moss torn up by the outstretched hand, and then—the solid, impressionless granite refused to tell more of his fate. But clambering hastily to the bottom of the roaring abyss, they found a basin worn out of the solid rock by the frenzied torrent, at least fourteen feet deep, filled with clear and crystal waters cold and pure as the winter snow that generates them. 183 At the bottom of this basin, quietly reposing, with outstretched arms, lay the mortal remains of the Rev. Elisha Mitchell, D.D., the good, the great, the wise, the simple-minded, the pure of heart, the instructor of youth, the disciple of knowledge and the preacher of Christianity! Oh what friend to science and virtue, what youth among all the thousands that have listened to his teachings, what friend that has ever taken him by the hand, can think of this wild and awful scene unmoved by the humanity of tears! can think of those gigantic pyramidal firs, whose interlocking branches shut out the light of heaven, the many-hued rhododendronss that freight the air with their perfume and lean weepingly over the waters, that crystal stream leaping down the great granites and hastening from the majestic presence of the mighty peak above, whilst in the deep pool below, where the weary waters rest but a single moment, lies the inanimate body of his dear friend and preceptor, apparently listening to the mighty requiem of the cataract! Truly “Man knoweth not his time, and the sons of men are entrapped in the evil, when it cometh suddenly upon them.”
Upon consultation it was thought best to let the body remain in the water until all arrangements were completed for its removal and interment; judging rightly that the cold and pure waters would better preserve it, than it could be kept in any other way. At daylight a number of hands went to cutting out a trail from the top of the mountain to where the body lay, a distance of three miles, whilst others went to Asheville to make the necessary arrangements. Word was also sent to the coroner of Yancey, and to the citizens generally to come and assist us in raising the body on Wednesday morning. At that time a large number of persons assembled at 184 Mr. Jesse Stepp’s and set out for the spot, bearing the coffin upon our shoulders up the dreary steeps. We had gone near ten miles in this way and had just turned down from the high peak towards the river, when we were met by Mr. Coroner Ayers, and about fifty of the citizens of Yancey, coming up with the body. They had got impatient at our delay, and enveloping the body in a sheet and fastening it securely upon a long pole, laid it upon the shoulders of ten men and started up the mountain. And now became manifest the strength and hardihood of those noble mountaineers. For three miles above them the precipitous granites and steep mountain sides forbade almost the ascent of an unincumbered man, which was rendered doubly difficult by great trunks of trees, and the thick and tangled laurel which blocked up the way. The load was near two hundred and fifty pounds and only two men could carry at once. But nothing daunted by the fearful exertion before them, they step boldly up the way, fresh hands stepped in every few moments, all struggling without intermission and eager to assist in the work of humanity. Anon they would come to a place at which it was impossible for the bearers to proceed, and then they would form a line by taking each other’s hands, the uppermost man grasping a tree and with shouts of encouragement heave up by main strength. In this way, after indescribably toiling for some hours, they reached the spot. Here was afforded another instance of the great affection and regard in which the deceased was held by all. These bold and hardy men desired to have the body buried there, and contended for it long and earnestly. They said that he had first made known the superior height of their glorious mountain and noised their fame almost throughout the Union, that he had died whilst contending 185 for his right to that loftiest of all the Atlantic mountains, on which we then stood, and they desired to place his remains right there, and at no other spot. It would indeed have been an appropriate resting-place for him, and greatly was it wished for by the whole country, before its being told them that his family wanted his remains brought down. They reluctantly yielded, and the Buncombe men proceeded to bring the body slowly down the valley of the Swannanoa. Before leaving the top, the writer took down the names of all present, and will ask you to publish them to the world, as men who have done honor to our common humanity by their generous and disinterested conduct on this melancholy occasion. I am no flatterer, Messrs. Editors, but I must confess that the labor which these mountain men expended and the sacrifice they so willingly and cheerfully made, is worthy of all praise and admiration. May God reward their kindness. I feel sure, the numerous friends and pupils of the dear deceased would rather read the list of these men’s names than the “ayes and nays” of any Congressional vote that has been recorded in many a day.
Nathaniel B. Ray, I. M. Broyles, Joseph Shephard, Washington Broyles, Henry Wheeler, Thomas Wilson, Jas. M. Ray, D. W. Burleson, G. B. Silvers, J. O. Griffith, E. Williams, A. D. Allen, A. L. Ray, Thomas D. Wilson, E. A. Pyatt, D. W. Howard, W. M. Astin, James H. Riddle, Dr. W. Crumley, G. D. Ray, Burton Austin, James Allen, Henry Ray, T. L. Randolph, John McPeters, W. B. Creasman, S. J. Nanney, Samuel Ray, E. W. Boren, Rev. W. C. Bowman, J. W. Bailey, Thomas Silvers, Jr., Thomas Calloway, Henry Allen, J. L. Gibbs, 186 Jesse Ray, James Hensley, Robert Riddle, W. D. Williams, J. D. Young, William Rolen, G. W. Wilson, John Rogers, James Allen, Jr., J. W. Ayres, J. F. Presnell, E. A. Rumple, W. J. Hensley, D. H. Silvers, R. Don Wilson, Jas. Calloway.
S. C. Lambert, William Burnett, R. H. Burnett, R. J. Fortune, Ephraim Glass, J. H. Bartlett, B. F. Fortune, A. N. Alexander, James Gaines, J. E. Ellison, John F. Bartlett, F. F. Bartlett, Elijah Kearly, E. Clayton, A. Burgin, Jesse Stepp, D. F. Summey, T. J. Corpning, Harris Ellison, T. B. Boyd, A. J. Linsdey, Joshua Stepp, William Powers, R. P. Lambert, Tisdale Stepp, Daniel Burnett, Thaddeus C. Coleman, A. F. Harris, W. C. Fortune, Fletcher Fortune, Capt. Robert Patton, Cooper, servant of Wm. Patton, John, servant of Fletcher Fortune, Esq.
A. J. Emerson, Chatham County, A. E. Rhodes, Jones County, H. H. Young, and Moses Dent, Franklin County; all students of Wake Forest College.
This list does not comprise all who assisted in the search, as, much to my regret, I did not take a list of any but those present at the removal of the body. I believe, however, that the names of all are recorded on the register of Mr. Patton’s Mountain House, where the friends of Dr. Mitchell can see them when they visit (as I have no doubt many will) the scene of his death.
This ends my brief sketch of this melancholy affair. As to my eulogy upon Dr. Mitchell’s character I feel myself unequal to the task. I trust that it will be appropriately pronounced by some one of his learned and 187 devoted fellow laborers of the University. My feeble pen could add nothing to his moral and intellectual stature. I will only say that I loved him as sincerely as any one in the State. I am gratified to be able to state that unusual kindness and respect was exhibited by every citizen of the country throughout the whole transaction.
Z. B. Vance.
Elisha Mitchell (1793–1858) is another of North Carolina’s Big Names. Mount Mitchell, formerly Black Dome, was renamed in his honor in 1882. The part of the chapter in quotation marks is from a work published in Chapel Hill immediately after Mitchell’s death.
It would be pleasing to learn that this chapter’s villain, the Honorable Thomas Lanier Clingman, subsequently changed his name and entered a monastery. But no such luck: barred from politics after 1865, he remained active in North Carolina geology and meteorology until his death in 1897.
the chair of mathematics in the University of North Carolina
[Where did our author get “mathematics”? Mitchell taught chemistry, mineralogy and geology.]
They immediately returned to Mr. Stepp’s,
striking a bee-line from the top for the settlements
text has settements
in the light of a glorious full moon
[I am sorry to say . . . that the writer’s memory is spot-on. In 1857 the moon was full on Tuesday, 7 July.]
noised their fame almost throughout the Union
[Reminder: 1861 is several years in the future.]
all students of Wake Forest College
[Trivia: Wake Forest University prides itself on being—pay close attention now—“the South’s first major private university to integrate” (in 1962). That’s quite a lot of modifiers. Not-so-major universities include Kentucky’s Berea College, which was integrated (and coeducational) from its inception in 1855 until a 1904 state law—upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court—forced them to become segregated. And then there’s Vanderbilt Law School, which integrated in 1956. But maybe postgraduate programs don’t count.]
Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain
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In the heart of the beautiful Grandfather Mountain region, 3807 feet above sea, has
On its grounds, removed from the Inn, are
TENNIS AND ARCHERY COURTS,
BILLIARDS AND BOWLING,
A CHILDREN’S PLAY-ROOM.
NOBLE ROADS penetrate for many miles, unrivalled scenery, and rugged mountain climbs invite the more venturesome.
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A PLENTIFUL LIVERY.
For Illustrated Circular, address
E. P. HOLCOMBE, Secretary,
Linville, Mitchell County, N. C.
(See illustration facing page 122.)
In July 1894, the entire Editor’s Page of the Ladies’ Home Journal (vol. 11, no. 8, pg. 12) was given over to The Balsam Groves.
THE ability to write a book that is altogether enjoyable on account of its uniqueness is not given to many people—in fact, it is a gift bestowed upon very few. A few evenings ago, however, such a book was brought to my attention, and it seemed to me it would be simple injustice to allow such a volume the obscurity which its author evidently intended for it. For that reason it occurred to me that a departure from the form which this page of The Ladies’ Home Journal has usually assumed, if devoted to a consideration of this unique story, would be pardoned.
THIS book might fall into oblivion because of the fact that it has not received publication through the channels to which we are accustomed to look for our reading. It bears no publisher’s name, and has no price. It is held above mere and sordid monetary value. It has been issued by its author, Mr. Sheperd [sic] M. Dugger, who resides at Banner Elk, North Carolina, and from him alone, evidently, can this book be had. Nor am I in the least reluctant to give this free advertisement to Mr. Dugger’s book. Both the book and the author are fully entitled to it. The book deserves it because it is unique, in that it may be said to have had no predecessor and probably it will be without a successor. The author is entitled to it because he has allowed no thought of remuneration to trouble him. His object is a higher one. He has called it “The Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain,” and says that it is “a tale of the Western North Carolina mountains,” having for its sole purpose the dissemination of a better knowledge of “a section of country which, until recently, has been almost unknown and obscure,” but yet “is rich in ore, hills, water, mountains, landscapes,” and the like. In short, the book is intended to serve as an advertisement for that section of North Carolina in which Mr. Dugger has his habitation. He wants people to come there, and fearing that his photograph, which he kindly gives us as a frontispiece, may not be a sufficient credential for his respectability, he proceeds to tell his readers that he
“was cradled in the loving arms of maternal toil in one of the first rude log cabins constructed in the morning and evening shadows of the beautiful mountains with which I have grown up in love, and every scene described is as familiar to me as were the blooming vines in which the humming-birds nestled around the home of my childhood.”
So much for Mr. Dugger.
It is really when he gets down to work in the “love story” with which he opens his book, and which he says is “founded on facts,” that we get to know him, become drawn to him, as it were, and feel that we are reading the burning words of a wonderful and marvelous writer.
“MISS LIDIE MEAKS” is the soul-filling name which Mr. Dugger has given to his heroine, and without any waste of time or space he sets about to describe her on the fourth page of his book:
“She was a beautiful young lady. She was a medium-sized, elegant figure, wearing a neatly-fitted traveling dress of black alpaca. Her raven black hair, copious both in length and volume, and figured like a deep river rippled by the wind, was parted in the middle centre and combed smoothly down, ornamenting her pink temples with a flowing tracery that passed round to its modillion windings on a graceful crown. Her mouth was set with pearls, adorned with elastic rubies and tuned with minstrel lays, while her nose gracefully concealed its own umbrage, and her eyes imparted a radiant glow to the azure of the sky. Jewels of plain gold were about her ears and her tapering strawberry hands, and a golden chain, attached to a time-keeper of the same material, sparkled on an elegantly rounded bosom that was destined to be pushed forward by sighs, as the reader will in due time observe. Modest, benevolent, and mild in manners, she was probably the fairest of North Carolina’s daughters.”
THE two “gentlemen of North Carolina” who figure most prominently in his “romance” seem to please Mr. Dugger immensely—almost as much as does “Miss Lidie Meaks.” The first “gentleman,” he says, is a hunter, “Mr. Rollingbumb,” and him he eloquently portrays:
“His face was round, with great facilities for a beard, though, like Julius Caesar, he never wore one. His high forehead was half obscured by a brimless ’coon-skin cap, having the beautifully-ringed tail of the animal attached to the hinder part, where it hung down his back and rolled to and fro at the will of a gentle breeze. He wore a Turkey-red blouse, in native parlance, ‘hunting shirt,’ the same being drawn close about him by the long corners, which were tied together in front just below the waistband of his homespun pants. Such was the development of hair about his chest and shoulders that it grew up and hung out over his shirt collar in black profusion like a fringe.”
Mr. Dugger stops long enough to say of this character that “he will be hailed with delight by thousands of mountaineers who will recognize it as the likeness of a familiar friend.”
The other “gentleman” of the story is “Charlie”; he is the real hero, Mr. Dugger tells us, of his story, and upon him he simply spareth himself not:
“He was a tall, commanding man, with a gracefully-flowing mustache, aquiline nose, evenly-set teeth, mobile chin, high forehead, and the elongated corners of his dark brown eyes stretched away under dark brows around fair temples, from which beautiful black hairs retreated above his ears.”
NOW it is not at all strange, from this description, that when “Miss Lidie Meaks,” while wandering in the North Carolina mountains, meets “Charlie” that she should instantaneously recognize him as her lover of four years ago, and to whom she was betrothed, but from whom she had been parted, as Mr. Dugger tells us, “by several redundant upheavals of anger and sea-tossed passions of fury.” A meeting, after these years of separation, and under those circumstances, would naturally be dramatic, and it is:
“‘Ah,’ said Charlie, ‘it cost me four years in a foreign land to travel to the frigid zone of my heart, where the snows that ended the summer of love were lighted only by the flitting meteors of the borealis race. But your unexpected presence here to-day, which I could not avoid, has placed that icy region again under the burning sun of the tropics. Already the snows have gone, and their place is occupied by the water-lily, perfumed with the spices and the cloves, and spreading its sweet petals upon my bosom. How can you drive such love as mine from its mortal habitation and leave my bosom empty with all but wondering pain? My heart is thirsty, and you are its living fountain. Let me drink and water a desert that will soon flourish with the green baytree and the balm of Gilead.’
“‘Oh, God,’ she cried, ‘pardon the weakness of woman,’ and burying her face in his bosom, her lachrymal lakes overflowed and anointed his garments with drops that were to him the myrrh of the soul. ‘It is pursuit,’ she said, ‘and not possession, that man enjoys, and now, therefore, the tender regard you have for me is ready to be cremated upon the pyre of my broken spirit, and nothing but an urn of ashes left to its memory.’
“‘Never,’ replied Charlie, ‘never until God Himself is buried, and the dark marble of oblivion erected for His tombstone, shall my person or my angel forsake Lidie Meaks.’
“When Charlie had thus avowed his eternal love and his lady had confessed her devotion their friends had gone far out of sight up the mountain,”
—a graceful act of consideration upon the part of friends which would naturally appeal very strongly to such a nature as was that of “Charlie’s.”
IT is perfectly easy to believe that after such a declaration that those twin souls should seek “that quiet silence” which Mr. Dugger tells us “speaks louder than the thunders” of blissful joy. “Miss Lidie Meaks” “felt especially resigned to ‘Charlie,’” we are told, and then her faithful chronicler kindly lays open these two trusting hearts for us:
“Lidie found in the recent resignation of her heart visions of roses blooming about the door of her future mansion, with humming-birds nestling in the vines, and the voice of him she loved falling upon her ears like apples of gold in the acoustic halls of peace. And how changed seemed the fortunes of him by her side, who but an hour ago was whirling in the storm that had blown him to despair. Yet all in his bosom was not peace. Even the narrow rulings of destiny gave him pain, for had he not been delayed by the rain of a single day, he would never have won the diadem of his soul. ‘Oh, great Jehovah!’ thought he, ‘can my happiness be real, or am I dreaming? If I am in the deceitful arms of Morpheus may I never awake to sustain the regrets of my fancy; or if I have fallen from some high cliff, where, bleeding with unconscious wounds, my dying hour is sweetened with these visions, may that hour last, and the red current flow throughout the countless ages of eternity.’
“His muse was here broken by a gentle female voice that said,’ What cold wave of silence is passing over your brain?
“‘I was tracing the wilds through which I came,’ was the reply.
“These words were the prelude to a low, sweet, musical conversation, ornamented with smiles and softened by the tenderest emotions of the human heart.
“No one to eavesdrop was near, and the trembling ferns could never blab the touching story; but the envying Echo, who steals the pathos from all sweet words and returns only the hollow bones of speech, deserves our notice.”
NEXT to his descriptions of his characters Mr. Dugger seems to feel particularly at home when he can describe a bit of Carolinian landscape. “He likes to do this,” he says, and to prove what he says he gives us just a touch of his power:
“On the opposite side of the grassy track was a cozy carpet of horizontal turf that led back to a hill of equal green, which, being a part of the same enclosure, swept down and blended into the level that terminated its descent.”
Mr. Dugger also likes “modillions.” He gave some of these to the windings of “Miss Lidie Meaks’” temples, and in order that he may not be considered guilty of partiality, he also bestows some “modillions” to a house which “Charlie” and “Miss Lidie Meaks” meet:
“Directly before them, and about the centre of the large enclosure, arose, as if by magic, an elegant white mansion. Of its two fronts one overlooked the rolling sward that divided it from the river on the south, while the other caught in the modillions of its Corinthian entablature the first kisses of the rising sun.”
There is only one character in the book who has failed to win Mr. Dugger’s admiration, and this is a “Mr. Skipper.” Fearing that his readers may think his prejudice against this character may be founded on personal grounds, Mr. Dugger is at pains to tell us why he does not like “Mr. Skipper”:
“He leaned his stupendous form against one of the supporting columns that stood nearest the steps. His great wide mouth swung open like a fly-trap made of two clapboards, and his knees extended quite up to the sides of his flat head, while resting on a round of the chair below were two massive feet, whose hard bottoms, seared by long and severe exposure, bade everlasting defiance to the chestnut burr and the thorn.”
Of course “Charlie” naturally thought
“that a rusty pair of number sixteen feet, supporting a form of proportionate size and bearing, would be unwelcome visitors between the lily-white sheets of Mrs. Salmer’s sleeping apartments.”
And so, Mr. Dugger tells us, “Charlie” prepared “a resting place for ‘Skipper’ by spreading a tent below the house by the laughing river,” and to this “private abiding place” the tabooed member of the “400” of North Carolina’s mountains was conducted, which was, of course, highly proper.
NOW it is only natural that when a man has been separated from his sweetheart for “four bitter years,” and meets her again, that “the fire in his soul fairly flames with love,” as Mr. Dugger says, and that he should want to marry the girl and without delay. Nothing is more natural, and the soul of “Charlie” was filled with this natural feeling. And so one evening, “after a beautiful supper of savory dishes,” he turns his talk with the beautiful “Miss Lidie Meaks” in that line of thought in the following manner:
“‘Look toward those willows by the rippling stream,’ began Charlie, ‘and see how the glow-worms and fire-flies streak and spangle the twilight.’
“‘I was just asking myself,’ replied Lidie, ‘whether or not our lives would end so beautifully as the closing of this day.’
“‘Only those who live after us can tell the solution of that problem,’ softly said Charlie. ’Useful lives and beautiful days often have endings quite as different from the zenith of their glory; and the changes that take place in the skies of a single day may elegantly illustrate the human career. For instance, I have seen the sun burn his way through twelve hours of ethereal blue, and then set in a cloud that soon obscured the sky with darkness and gloom, and the red lightning, darting its fiery shuttle through the loom of thunder, wove a curtain that mantled the earth in terror and death. Then I have seen days that were dark and dreary, when the bellowing thunder drove the wild beast to his shelter in the rocks, and the pelting rain thrown by the angry hand of the storm demolished the crops of the land and left the sinewy hands of toil empty with hunger and pain. Then the clouds drifted away, and Sol impressed his goodnight kisses upon the mountain-tops in token that he would rise from a saffron bed on the morrow. Again, there has been many a succession of beautiful days, accompanied by as many glorious eves, when Venus and the moon, contesting for the prize of beauty, hung their golden scale in the west to weigh the admiration that each received from the world, and the chestnut sunshine that painted the blooming fields was broken only by gentle showers that struck not the earth with madness, but gave it a warm kiss, from whose loving impress there sprang up a beautiful robe of green.”
NATURALLY, no young lady with any feeling or sentiment could resist such a peroration of language and thought, and “Miss Lidie Meaks” fell under their spell, Mr. Dugger tells us. For a while the young lady was speechless, and then:
“When she had recovered her sense of admiration she said:
“‘What a profusion of beautiful words you utter, Charlie. You have painted three pictures of human life from the cradle to the grave. May our lot be neither the first nor the second, but let it be like the continuation of beautiful days. May our lives be a season of perpetual sunshine to the heart, when the mind neither reverts to the past, nor reaches to the future, but is content with the pleasures of the present: and if tears must come may they fall in the prepared soil and ripen the fruits of the soul; and at the end we will not contest for the prize, but will be content to share alike the glories of the world to come.’”
This loving and soulful appreciation of his words warmed the heart of “Charlie.” It was his chance, and he seized it:
“‘You have a tenderness about you, my dear Lidie, and a nobleness of heart which I never heard expressed before. Your sweet words, dropping like vocal roses from the gardens of language, heighten, if possible, the joy of the thought that you are soon to be mine. Your silvery accents, to which the trickling streamlet beside us plays a sweet accompaniment, tell me to rob life no longer of the bliss for which I sigh; and now as you have no parents’ consent to obtain, no sisters to invite, but only a lone brother far in the West, I propose that our nuptials be performed at the great falls to-morrow.’
“Lidie remaining silent for a time, heaved a sigh and then said, ‘I fear that Prudence would censure my acceptance, for I am in the far-off mountains, without a wedding garment, or even a few friends to celebrate the occasion.’”
But real, genuine love laughs at such little things as the lack of a wedding garment—especially with such a man as “Charlie,” and, without even pausing for thought, “so natural did language and ideas come to his fertile mind,” he suggested:
“‘The foaming falls will lend you from their white spray a queenly robe, the benign woods will deck it with flowers more gorgeous than the artist can paint, and the harmonious melody produced by the combined musical agents of flood and forest will do honor to the occasion.’”
Now it isn’t every young man who could have thought of that, but “Charlie” was a rare young man. “And ‘Miss Lidie Meaks’ was immediately won,” we are told. Quite natural!
YET is Mr. Dugger most unwilling that the beautiful “Miss Lidie Meaks” should so quickly be transformed from maid to wife, not at least until he has had one more chance to tell us how she looked as a bride. So he tells us again that:
“Her form was cast in neat proportion’s mould. Her queenly hands, tapering and fair as the lily, were gloved with a pair of red mitts of her own knitting, which exposed the ends of the fingers and the first joints of the thumbs.
“Her golden hair was like a shower of primrose petals falling, and her cheeks were finished with the artistic touches of Aurora’s rosy hand. Her eyes were like the corolla leaves of the blue-veined violet, her nose was a posy to her face, and her pearly teeth sparkled with nectarean dew. ‘She was a flower born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air.’”
By this point Bok may have been in a hurry to reach the end of the romance. Careful readers will remember that the golden-haired lady is not Miss Lidie Meaks, but Miss Ada Clark, introduced in the final chapter.
UPON the wedding Mr. Dugger, of course, likes to dwell. It was picturesque, held as it was “in the mountains,” and naturally the mind of the author was most receptive to its surroundings:
“The country gentlemen, having leaned their rifles against the cliff, stood with their women folks, anxiously awaiting the expected event. In due time the bride and groom, attended by Colonel and Mrs. Salmer, were arrayed for marriage.
“Their backs were in the neighborhood of the guns, while their faces were toward the great pouring column, whose white wings and boiling pedestal sent forth a breeze that set all the near flora and other equally movable objects in motion—bush, weed and flower, as well as ribbons, tresses, whiskers and mustaches, and even the leaves of the minister’s book were all dancing to the wind of the falls. As the Rev. Mr. Skiles composed the fluttering pages beneath his thumbs, he drew so near and spoke so loud, in order to be heard above the roar of the waters, that his manner elsewhere would have been suitable only to those who were partially deaf. The charming bride, with dove-like eyes, looked steadily upon the minister; and, as he proceeded with the beautiful Episcopal service, there never was a bliss more wild and warm and boundless than that which thrilled her heart.”
Weddings have a most uncomfortable manner of being interrupted in some instances, however, and that of “Miss Lidie Meaks” was destined so to be. For when the officiating clergyman reached that always-profound and suspense-full portion of the ceremony where the world is challenged to give reason why the contracting parties shall not be bound in holy wedlock, a former lover of “Miss Lidie Meaks” suddenly appears and files a caveat. Of course, excitement is immediately at white heat, and the bride swoons—as brides should under such circumstances. But “Miss Lidie Meaks” is an exceptional girl, and so she swoons in a manner unlike that adopted by any other woman before her. Even amid the prevailing excitement, Mr. Dugger cannot resist holding forth once more over the rare beauty of his heroine as she lies in the arms of “Charlie.” But in a few moments the interruptor to the marriage ceremony is disposed of, and the way in which he quickly mounts his horse and flies is told in a manner worthy of this book.
AFTER the marriage there was, of course, a wedding breakfast, and this would, under ordinary circumstances, have doubtless called forth Mr. Dugger’s special powers of description. But the tabooed and repugnant “Mr. Skipper” has in some way wandered from the tent by “the laughing river” so considerately prepared for him by “Charlie,” and his presence spoils the breakfast for our author. But he is equal even to this disappointment:
“The dinner was taken to a convenient spot, where a number of large rocks laid round in circular form, and spread within their circumference on the cloths in which it had been folded.
“Skipper having now remained with his older friends, looked on from a distance, as if uncertain as to how near the food his welcome extended; but when Charlie observed his doubtful attitude, he took him by the arm and seated him on a bowlder, suitable to his size, within the circle. His valuable service to Charlie, and the wound upon his great toe having elicited general sympathy, Mrs. Salmer helped him to the first round, as she did the rest, and then bade all wait upon themselves.
“Under the cloths, in the comer nearest to Skipper, was a flat rock that so pressed its bosom against the white covering as to form a neat little elevation, which was occupied by a large, highly-flavored cake, of a rich, yellowish cast, the same being cut from the centre to every second or third convolution that ornamented its circumference.
“When Skipper had quickly gulped down what had been given him, he took a piece of cake, when Mrs. Salmer, looking upon him with a degree of allowance, thought, ‘Poor, ignorant fellow, he doesn’t know which end of the meal to begin at.’
“The Adam’s-apple on Skipper’s neck had not played up and down more than twice, when he seized a second piece of the rich composition, and then a third; and the lady in charge, becoming alarmed lest none should be left for the rest, laid a drum-stick on a biscuit, and said:
“‘Here, Mr. Potter’ (calling his surname), ‘have this nice chicken and biscuit.’
“‘Oh, no,’ said he; ‘eat that yerself; this punkin bread’s good enough fur me.’
“Those who had previously suppressed their hilarity at Skipper’s mistakes were now unable to conceal their glee, and all burst into such explosions of laughter that great mouthfuls of masticated bread and butter flew up against the surrounding rocks like showers of shot from a fowling-piece.”
There is something in the latter part of this description that should please even the most radical believers of realism in fiction. But Mr. Dugger quickly turns from the realistic to the ideal:
“Charlie settled with his lovely wife in the city of Raleigh, where he had formerly resided, and the murmurs heard in that family were like the voice of a sunlit tide embracing the tinted shells of the shore in love.”
And then, to save the reader from enduring any lingering doubt of the fact that he has reached his conclusion, and can do no more for “Charlie” and the beautiful “Miss Lidie Meaks,” he prints at the bottom of his page:
“THE END OF THE STORY.”
In Chapter III, Shepherd Dugger apparently needed some filler, so he inserted several pages from a standard textbook—quite possibly one that he had used himself as a schoolteacher. A few more lines are quoted, for no particular reason, in Chapter VII.
Pantheum Mythicum was originally written by François Pomey (1618–1673). The common name “Tooke’s Pantheon” refers to the translation by Andrew Tooke (1673–1732) under the name Pantheon. But like so many schoolbooks, the whole thing was originally cribbed from assorted classical sources. Shepherd Dugger’s selection comes from Part II, Chapter XXIV, on Nymphs, which began life as book III, lines 337-434 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Here from pgs. 188-191 of the 1833 Baltimore edition:
Echo was formerly a nymph, though nothing of her but her voice remains now, and even when she was alive, she was so far deprived of her speech, that she could only repeat the last words of those sentences which she heard:
“Corpus adhuc Echo, non vox erat; et tamen usum
Garrula non alium; quam nunc habet, oris habebat;
Reddere de multis ut verba novissima posset.”
She was a nymph, though only now a sound;
Yet of her tongue no other use was found,
Than now she has; which never could be more,
Than to repeat what she had heard before.
Juno inflicted this punishment on her for her talkativeness: for when, prompted by her jealousy, she came down to discover Jupiter among the nymphs, Echo detained her very long with her tedious discourses, that the nymphs might have an opportunity to escape, and hide themselves:
“Fecerat hoc Juno, quia cum deprendere posset
Sub Jove sæpe suo nymphas in monte jacentes,
Illa deam longo prudens sermone tenebat,
Dum fugerent nymphae.”
This change impatient Juno’s anger wrought,
Who, when her Jove she o’er the mountains sought,
Was oft by Echo’s tedious tales misled,
Till the shy nymphs to caves and grotto’s fled.
This Echo by chance met Narcissus rambling in the woods; and she so admired his beauty that she fell in love with him: she discovered her love to him, courted him, followed and embraced him, but he broke from her embraces, and hastily fled from her sight: upon which the despised nymph hid herself in the woods, and pined away with grief, so that every part of her but her voice was consumed, and her bones were turned into stones.
“Vox tantum, atque ossa supersunt;
Vox manet: ossa ferunt lapidis traxisse figuram;
Inde latet sylvis, nulloque in monte videtur,
Omnibus auditur: sonus est qui vivit in illa.”
Her flesh consumes and moulders with despair,
And all her body’s juice is turn’d to air;
So wond’rous are the effects of restless pain,
That nothing but her voice and boiies remain;
Nay, e’en the very bones at last are gone,
And metamorphos’d to a thoughtless stone;
Yet still the voice does in the woods survive,
The form’s departed, but the sound’s alive.
Narcissus met with as bad a fate: for though he would neither love others, nor admit of their love, yet he fell so deeply in love with his own beauty, that the love of himself proved his ruin. His thirst led him to a fountain, whose waters were clear and bright as silver:
“Fons erat illimis nitidis argenteus undis.”
There was by chance a living fountain near,
Whose unpolluted channel ran so clear,
That it seem’d liquid silver.
When he stooped to drink, he saw his own image, he stayed gazing at it, insomuch that he fell passionately in love with it. A little water only separated him from his beloved object:
“Exigua prohibetur aqua”——
A little drop of water does remove
And keep him from the object of his love.
He continued a long time admiring this beloved picture, before he discovered what it was that he so passionately adored; but at length the unhappy creature perceived, that the torture he suffered was from the love of his own self:
“Flammas, inquit, moveoque, feroque:
Quod cupio mecum est: inopem me copia fecit.
O utinam a nostro secedere corpore possem!
Votum in amante novum est, vellem quod amamus abesset.”
My love does vainly on myself return,
And fans the cruel flame with which I burn.
The thing desir’d I still about me bore,
And too much plenty has confirm’d me poor.
Oh, that I from my much-lov’d self could go;
A strange request, yet would to God ’twere so.’
In a word, his passion conquered him, and the power of love was greater than he could resist, so that, by degrees, he wasted away and consumed, and at last, by the favour of the gods, was turned into a daffodil, a flower called by his own name.
The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.