Monday, September 28, 2009

The Ghosts Of Gardeners Past

I drove into the wilderness of the nearby national park and ran smack dab into history. If I have my bearings right, often questionable in these hills, the mountain on the right horizon is the same Mt. Sterling I see from the deck at home. I can see it and I can drive towards it on steep, twisting and a great deal of gravel roads. It is hard to fathom what it was like to travel that short of a distance not so long ago. Where I went wasn't easy to get to now.

Many who arrived to this remote valley never left.

Bad blogger did not write down this family's name. I thought it was going to show up in the picture. This handsome group helped settled a remote southern Appalachian valley, one of the last parts of the east to be settled by white immigrants.

The story of two communities that reached just over 1200 before they were bought out to create a part of a national park lives on in the few remaining and restored structures.

A historic hoe was called the most used tool in the valley. Carol did you get to see a hoe at the farm house you went to?

I went to see and be in the wilderness. It was there. I saw it and went for a long walk in it. That is not what resonated with me though.

Imagining the lives, many of them quite short, of a people who walked into the wilderness to make a home for generations captured my attention.

A remnant of wallpaper clung to the ceiling.

Surely a gardener lived in this house in Big Cataloochee.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Those hoes show how difficult it was for them to work the soil. They look almost primative. It is no wonder most of them lived such short lives. What a beautiful part of the world. I can see why they were drawn to it.

Les said...

I love the Smokies and have been there several times. I always thought how crazy it was to have to run the gauntlet of Cherokee and Gatlinburg to get into or out of the park. Have you been watching PBS for Ken Burns' National Parks?

Carol Murdock said...

That's the George Caldwell family.
If you are a reader, there are some great books out from his decendents. Hattie Caldwell Davis had written two great non-fiction books about growing up in this valley and Wayne Caldwell wrote a fiction novel called Cataloochee that was a bestseller last year. The Elk there are just magnificent aren't they?

Christopher C. NC said...

Lisa all those tools were hand made, at least the wood parts. The cemetaries showed the high infant mortality of the time and the early deaths of many young adults. More of Cataloochee to follow.

Les I will give Cherokee high marks for at least being a tidy barrage of commercialism. There was no litter and it looked to have some kind of design code to the assault to the senses. Nearby Maggie Valley is a long ugly commercail strip. Haven't made it to Gatlinburg, but if it is like Pigeon Forge than it must be gawd awful. Going to Cataloochee avoids all that. You enter through a rural back road on the north side.

Christopher C. NC said...

Thank you for that info Carol. I tried to see if I could find that picture online unsuccessfully. I will need to check out those books. I would very much be interested to read them. I noticed three similar names while there, Coldwell, Caldwell and Calwell.

Christopher C. NC said...

And Les, yes I have been watching the new Ken Burn series though I have not seen the part on the Smokies yet, just a documentary on George Masa. That may have been what promted me to go to Cataloochee instead of Max Patch again on a determined to have day in the woods.

Gail said...

Whenever we visit the area I can't help but wonder about the harsh life of early settlers. We generally prefer to enter the park via the Townsend side, but since they built the Governor's road who knows what commercialism has wrought! gail

Siria said...

Hello Christopher! You finally made it over to Cataloochee. We love it there, and I too am amazed at how those families lived there, so very remote from civilization. We were over there one day and suddenly the fog rolled in. It was not easy trying to drive home over that windy narrow road. I never realized it is Mt. Sterling that you see from your porch. How amazing! I have most of the books that Carol speaks about and would be more than happy to loan them to you if you are interested. As for Gatlinburg, if you haven't been, don't bother going. Except for riding over there to go see Cades Cove which is much larger than Cataloochee and another special place in the park!

Lola said...

It's very interesting to learn about the people that lived in the mtns early on. It makes one think about how hard a life they had. I do love the mtns.
If you go from Cherokee across the mtn you can get to Cades Cove without going through Gatlinburg. In the cemetery of one of the churches is buried the Gregory from which Gregory's Bald was named. See why I love them.
By the way you can travel the one way road out of the Cove into {I believe Maryville}. It is a nice drive but dirt road.
BTW you haven't lost anything by not going there. Unless you want to go to Ober Gatlinburg a ski tramway. You are above the trees so you can look down.

Les said...

Next time I go, I will look for that entrance.

Christopher C. NC said...

Gail Cades Cove is on my list of places to visit. I have looked at the map to see how to avoid Gatlinburg.

Siria that road would be very freaky in the fog. I would love to borrow those books that carol mentioned. There are bound to be some snowy days ahead perfect for reading.

Lola and Les, the park is huge and has a lot of small side roads and entrances away from the main crowds. There is another on the north side, my side of the park, Big Creek I think that has a hike I want to do.

Annie in Austin said...

Carol probably guessed I'd be unable to resist looking up US Census records for the tombstone...not considered a primary source, but maybe something in here is useful or interesting to you, Christopher:

The stone appears to say "Elizabeth Hannah, born 1804, died Feb 15, 1901".

On the 1850 census for Haywood County are Evan & Elizabeth Hanah - he's a 44-yr old farmer, she's 38. Mary, John, Benjamin, William, Sarah, Logan, Alexander, Joseph,Arminda, Elizer, Rosanah, Boshan? and Lila stairstep from age 20 down to 6 months.

On the 1860 census there is an Evan age 53 and an Elizabeth age 49 of Haywood, NC, PO Jonathan's Creek, registered with last name of "Hanner". This census does not list relationships, just a large extended family, ages from 26 down to 1. Names are Rebeca, Eliza, Rosana, Delila, Judia, Logan, Alexander, Barsheba, Amanda, Joseph, John, Dellard, Mary, Benjamin, Mary, Miles and John.

In 1870 an Elizabeth Hannah lives in Cattaloocha, post office Jonathan's Creek, Haywood County, NC with a 65-yr old farmer named Evan Hannah and four younger females - guessing 3 daughters and a grandchild since this census also doesn't list relationships. Hannah's age is listed as 60.

Next is an Elizabeth Hannah on the 1880 US census for Cataloochie, Haywood County, a widow with occupation listed as "midwifery". The index says age 75, but the microfilmed image looks more like 78 to me. There's a fairly large extended family listed, mainly women and children.

Finally, on the 1900 census an Elizabeth Hannah is registered with her 65-yr old son and his wife. She's listed as turning 100 in the census year, born May 1800 and no longer has an occupation listed.

Also, an Evan Hannah married an Elizabeth Noland on April 30, 1829 in Haywood County according to records at the County Court in Waynesville.

From researching my own family I learned how flexible census age records can be - and even primary records like death certificates may not help. My Great-grandmother Elizabeth had many birthday parties on March 17th, but it's still a mystery what year she was born.

I don't know if Cattalocha actually changed into Cataloochie or if that's just the way the census takers wrote it down. Any idea?

Also, if rather than enhance the past, the names and numbers ruin the mystery for you, just say so and I won't do it again ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Christopher C. NC said...

Have at it Annie. It is interesting to me. For your pleasure and research there will be more old tombstones coming up.

The brochure I picked up mentions Evan Hannah as possibly the first settler in Cataloochee, a name that slowly evolved from the Cherokee name, Gada lutsi. It does not mention his wife's name, but talks of his son John. The Hannah's lived in Little Cataloochee on the other side of Noland mountain from Big Cataloochee.

Jonathan Creek is the valley on the other side of the mountain from Cataloochee and the access point to get in.

I think you have definitely found the right Hannah's in your census search. There was an old census report in one display. I could not easily read the fancy cursive writing style and only glanced at it.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Wow, I didn't know you could investigate an old tombstone like Annie did. Good job Annie. I think it is very interesting.

marc hannah said...

I have always been interested in my family history,where they came from. My line goes estle/nick/mack/john j/evan/ then a possible alexander.And an even more possible joseph Hannah. How did the Hannah's get to maggie valley and from where? would love to figure out when they came to america and from where.Ireland,scotland.????

Christopher C. NC said...

Hi Marc. How nice to hear from a descendant of the Hannahs. Have you checked out the North Carolina History room at the main library. They have a lot of Haywood County history info it seems.

There is also this site Haywood County Genealogy Society

Maybe Annie is on the case.

Annie in Austin said...

Christopher & Marc,

Most of the records I can access are old census records. The 1850 one I wrote about said North Carolina was the place of birth for Evan Hanah. I checked the earlier 1840 & 1830 censuses for Haywood & can see a few men whose names are close to Hanna (eg Hana) but those census years only name the head of a household with a ledger count of males & females in columns by age groups. There are no names, ages or countries of origin, or place of birth.

I'd hoped you could get a copy of the original marriage license but the site linked by Christopher says a lot of records were destroyed by fire. You might luck out and yours would be among the records that escaped. Good luck with going to the library to speak to a genealogical volunteer.


Christopher C. NC said...

Wow. That was fast Annie.

It might also be possible if Marc can determine what church the Evan Hannah family went to before going into Cataloochee valley that the church records could be of help.

Stone, Haywood County said...

I know I am very late to this page, but stumbled across it on a genealogical search. The Elizabeth Hannah gravemarker in the picture is my wife's great-grandmother, Evan her g-grandfather. I really appreciate finding the pic, we didn't have one of it. There is a wealth of history to the Hannah clan in Haywood Co, most of which is difficult to trace due to lack of reliable records [and folks not tellin the truth on things *wink*]

I'd recommend another book, the infamous story of "Nance Dude" [wife of Dude Hannah]. Called the "Legend of Nance Dude", its written by Maurice Stanley.