Thursday, April 25, 2019

Fishing with a Preacher, By Mickey Brackett April 2019

          The largest body of water running through Golden Valley North Carolina is the First Broad River. This mountain stream meanders through the valley requiring several bridges that allow automobile traffic to flow uninterrupted across the river today.

          This river has provided opportunities for many activities such as swimming, church baptisms, car washing, farm animal watering holes, irrigation, gold panning, sand dredging, and fishing. As a young boy my brothers and neighbor friends would spend hours bank fishing for catfish into the night using only candle light. As children a hot summer Sunday afternoon swim was always a treat. Our hard-working daddy always treasured his Sunday afternoon naps. A swim in the river required daddy to take us and protect us from drowning. The trick was to wake him up early enough from his nap before chore time but not too early which would guarantee anger and no swimming in the river. Through the years the state or others have dredged river sand and piled it up along the river bank to be used by the highway department or others to spread on washed out roadbeds. Our family hauled many pickup loads of sand from these piles through the years to fill ruts and dips in the steep dirt driveway up to our house. The Golden Valley name comes from gold being found in the rivers and streams decades ago. People still pan or dredge for gold in the First Broad River today seeking gold nuggets or gold dust.
Up the Golden Valley Church Road past the Roy Fortune homeplace and before you reach the Cleveland (Cle) Rollins homeplace is a narrow turnoff into the river which our family always referred to this as the ford. In past generations before public highway bridges were built those traveling through Golden Valley would ford the river at this location. On the opposite side of the river is the farm known as the Creed Fortune homeplace. This farm was settled in the early 1700’s by my ancestors many of which are buried in the family cemetery on the farm. The old log cabin on the farm is still standing and is where my brother David and I were born in the early 1950’s during the time daddy was farming with help from the GI bill after WWII. I’m sure daddy and our ancestors crossed the river at the ford many times at the place where I fished with the preacher.
          Preacher Seay served First Broad Baptist church for several years when I was a young boy living in Golden Valley. His family lived in the church parsonage across from the church which was approximately a mile from the First Broad River ford place. The river always had cold water which was ideal for trout. The state wildlife department would stock the river yearly trying to establish a good population of river trout. Often the trout fishing season would start one day after the river was stocked with new trout. On season opening day fisherman would almost line the banks or be wading in the cold water easily catching these newly released fish. During one of these early fishing season days I had walked from home with my fishing gear and bait to fish at the ford. Being under age 16 a fishing license was not required. I found the fish and caught several trout which I hooked onto a stringer which was tied to a small tree on one end and the fish were lowered into the cold water on the other end. Later the fish would be taken home and eaten. Suddenly Preacher Seay walked up and wanted to do some fishing. The action had slowed in the spot I had caught the fish but I allowed him to stay there at the stringer and throw where I had just been fishing. I walked downstream and tried another hole. While baiting his hook between casts a North Carolina game warden walked up to the preacher and started talking. Realizing that he had no fishing license he had two choices. One, he could lay down the fishing rod and say those are not my fish on the end of that stringer and go home. Or two, cast the bait into the river and take the consequences.  Being a man of faith, he took choice number 2, the honest route, and cast the line into the water which immediately required the game warden’s request to see his fishing license. With no license in his pocket the game warden issued a violation ticket. The saddest part was he had caught no fish to lessen his troubles. I admired the preacher’s honesty and never forgot the lesson he taught on the river bank that day.

Oh Ruby, Don’t Take the Volkswagen to Town, By Mickey Brackett - April 2019

I was 16 and had my North Carolina driver’s license. Sharon Queen, my neighbor wanted to go to a Kenny Rogers’ concert at Garden Webb College 25 miles away. Her parents would not let her go unless going with a group. Sharon being a year younger than me did not have her driver’s license yet. Her parents would allow some one with a driver’s license drive the group in their Volkswagen beetle to the concert. They suggesting asking me to be the driver. I had never driven the VW and had driven manual transmission vehicles very little. My parents had a car with an automatic transmission so I had no way to practice. I agreed to go plus two others joined the troop and with dreams of hearing great music four of us got into the VW and off we went.
            The VW beetle was an unusual car with an air-cooled engine, a downward sloping front hood and smaller in size than most of the wide track, eight-cylinder cars driven by the majority of Americans in the 1960’s. The VW was imported from Germany and had been made since the 1940’s. All the VW’s had a 4-cylinder engine and four speed manual transmission. Four people was the most the car would seat comfortably.
            Most would agree that the hardest part of driving a manual transmission car is taking off on an incline without rolling backward and without stalling the engine. Our first intersection was where the Sunshine/Golden Valley road intersects with highway 226 at Butler’s Store (name back in the 1960’s). We had to go towards Shelby North Carolina which required starting uphill from the stop sign. I had to let the clutch out slowly while pressing the accelerator slightly and hopefully start up hill smoothly without killing the engine.  The VW clutch was not my friend this day. I tried 4-5 times to do this procedure and each time the engine stalled which required turning the ignition to restart the engine. The other three passengers were female making my inability more embarrassing. Luckily there were no other vehicles behind our vehicle impatiently waiting for this unskilled driver to get out of their way. If I could just start off on level ground or downhill all would be easier. After a few more unsuccessful attempts at clutch and gas pedal synchronization I decided to let the car roll backwards into the Butler’s Store parking lot. I turned the vehicle downhill which would have taken us down Highway 226 toward Marion. But just as the vehicle starts rolling downhill, I turn uphill sharply toward Shelby, shift through the four gears, and we were finally making progress getting to the concert. I was still dreading any intersections along our route where I might have to go through this embarrassing procedure again. Somehow, we made it to Gardener Webb College, parked the vehicle, and heard Kinney Rogers and the First Edition sing many songs including “Oh Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town”.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

GoldenValleyNC - Wildfire Report

Karen McCall - Sunshine, NC

I'm getting phone calls, email messages, text messages and Facebook messages. What's happening with the fire? Are you in harm's way? Is our property in jeopardy?

So far, we're OK. The Chestnut Knob, South Mountains fire has moved northeast and away from HWY 226. The Party Rock fire, aka the Lake Lure Fire is also moving away from us.

Right now the biggest problem we have is air quality. Today, I see blue in the sky for the first time in days. Yesterday evening I saw shadows on the ground. Enough sun was coming through to create shadows. We've been living in a gray twilight, smoke-filled, world with little light coming through. It looks like fog, but it burns your nose and makes your throat feel raw and after a couple of days the coughing starts. Today, I can't smell it in the house. This is good.

We're monitoring the fire, like you, online and on Facebook. We've had several dear sweet folks who are bringing water, snacks, and Gatorade to the Fire Department. Several of our firemen have been helping at Lake Lure. I understand the Forest Service is managing the fire at South Mountains State Park getting help from local fire departments as needed. Firefighters are deploying many different ways of turning the fire: setting back fires, bulldozing wide swaths of earth, flying in and dumping fire retardant, and dumping water from planes and helicopters. It's just like what you see out west.

There are many sources of news, I prefer to use the Forest Service site: The Chestnut Knob Fire  information is available here. And here's the one for the Party Rock Fire  A Google search will turn up dramatic pictures and many media reports. We wanted you to know that in this part of Rutherford County, we're breathing a little easier today.

We appreciate your concern. We thank you for your prayers. We need rain, and a lot of it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Amos Owens and The Cherry Mountain Fiasco

"In their isolated environments, they can raise little but corn, and being remote from railroads or commercial centres, the bread and butter problem requires that they make all they can of this cereal."

Cherry Mountain rises behind Calton Dairy in the Sunshine Community

 The Cherry Mountain Fiasco by Karen Day McCall

There are two sides to every story. This version of the story is presented courtesy of The Shotwell Papers, a three volume issue published in 1931 by the NC Historical Commission.

Six years after the civil war, in the midst of reconstruction, Southern folks had enough. The war had been lost, but the Yankees didn't go home. The North kept it's large thumb on the South and was mashing her flat. Our fallen leaders were in disgrace, not respected or trusted by the Union; every government post was filled by a loyal Union leader, regardless of competency. The "carpetbaggers" had arrived and were in positions of leadership. Many of them were common crooks. Times were tough. The Freeman's bureau and the Union League supported the Republican leaders and they were impossible to beat in local elections. Oddly, it was a Republican, H.H. Helper, who wrote in 1870, "One of the greatest evils affecting society in North Carolina may justly be set down to the incompetent and worthless State and Federal Officers now in power."

There was no need to seek justice in Judge Logan's court at Rutherfordton. There were so many false arrests and trials it made a mockery of the judicial system. It was common practice to arrest people at harvest time. People had crops in the field and were easy to coerce into making false statements. It was not unusual to be freed simply by agreeing to vote Republican. In fact, some twelve hundred cases were resolved in that manner. Man hunters, protected by the court, carried pockets full of blank warrants and filled them out at will. Since "sheriffs" were paid five dollars for each arrest, a lot of arrests were made. Some folks were arrested repeatedly. Conditions at the county jail were deplorable and overcrowding made it miserable, but at five dollars a head the sheriffs kept bringing in prisoners. The jailers were making some money too. As government employees they were given funds to operate the jail based on how many prisoners they had in it.

A large organization, the Ku Klux Klan, had risen up in the south as an avenger. It was a grass roots political weapon intended to restore power to the people, the white people. Yankees go home. In our area, owing to great distances and poor roads, National KKK delegates were rarely able to visit council meetings. The Klan riders in our area more closely resembled the Clans of the Highlands - all for one and one for all. The local boys were primed (with corn liquor) for trouble when a chance visit by Randolph Abbot Shotwell, on behalf of the Order, set them off. Shotwell, a Rutherfordton business man, had been asked by the Klan to take over this area. The local boys were making unauthorized night rides and had to be stopped. In retrospect, Shotwell, who did not agree to take over this area, regretted very much the ease with which he had agreed to come to Cherry Mountain.

For several weeks in June of each year there were gatherings at Cherry Mountain. This was due to Amos Owens, a distiller of some reputation, having plenty of Cherry Bounce on hand. Cherry Bounce was an alcoholic beverage.... Sometimes as many as 300 people gathered, usually on Thursdays and Saturdays during the cherry season. Many stories have been written about this including Joey Wessier's Cherry Bounce and Tony Earley's Jim the Boy. A one-hundred mile driving tour, "Cherry Bounce Trail" winds you around Rutherford County. Why, there are even recipes online, but I digress.

Now, you should bear in mind Randolph Shotwell didn't personally know the boys from this area and it's doubtful they knew him: he'd only been here three years and one of those three was spent in Asheville. Although he was a stranger, he arranged to come out to the gathering and meet with certain folks about the questionable night riding at the Saturday gathering on June tenth. Having done his duty, and consumed some of the famous beverage, he returned to town in merry spirits satisfied the matter was settled.

Meanwhile, back at the Cherry Bounce Festival, the idea got 'round that it was high time to ride on Rutherfordton and teach those uppity folks a thing or two. The first and for most target would be the unscrupulous Judge Logan, a worthy target surely. Among the others on the list for a visit was Judge Logan's son Bob. See, Bob was the only attorney who won cases regularly at Judge Logan's court. A defense attorney, Bob had never read law nor had he passed the bar. His qualifications were simple, he had a father on the bench. He had taken out a license to practice and it was common knowledge that if you hired Bob, and paid him well, you'd win your case. Not only did son Bob practice law, he was the editor of the Star, our local paper. It's offices were downstairs in the back of the courthouse. It was in close proximity to the Judges offices and the Judge controlled the paper as surely as if he'd written every word. Another target was Jeff Downey (Thomas Jefferson Downey) a fellow Klansman who lived near town. The brothers of the Order had a little bone to pick with him. Jeff's reputation was such that when he joined a number of fellow members threatened to quit rather than have any association with him. He had been seen hanging around the courthouse and the prosecutor Jim Justice, during Klan trials, and was suspected of being a turncoat. The boys had a little business to see to with Old "Puky" Biggerstaff too. He'd been spreading rumors about Klan activities. It was rather popular in those days to be unpopular with the Klan, and Biggerstaff had invented several stories about how he had been visited and persecuted. His vainly imagined and much talked about visitations were about to become a reality. Which brings us to James Justice. James or Jim Justice was the paid prosecutor for the county. Of late, he had been trying some Klan cases and advanced his Republican political career at every opportunity. He was often quoted in the paper and had recently, in a public speech at Burnt Chimneys (Forest City), said that "three fourths of the people in North Carolina ought to be in hell and the balance made slaves for life." When he was warned that this sort of talk might provoke certain folks, he lit into a tirade against the KKK, calling them "cowardly skunks" and said they wouldn't "dare come after him."

It appeared that there might be some business that needed tending and a Cherry Bounce Festival where a city slicker had ventured to share information and enlighten the ignorant populace created fertile ground. Some 54 men, twenty or so from Cherry Mountain and the Logan's Store communities, assembled at Burnt Chimneys at nearly eleven o'clock on Sunday, June 11, 1871 and rode on Rutherfordton. It was a wild night, a terrible storm blew in and drenched the group, never the less they were set on their course and they would not be turned back.

Sounds of the storm masked the noise of their arrival. A group was dispatched to Jim Justice's apartments to roust him, and roust him they did. He awakened to the sound of his door being broken down. His first thought was to flee, but there was no time. Telling his wife to lay still, he proceeded to go behind the bed, he testified that he was thinking of jumping from the second floor window. That's his story. Klansmen testified they drug him out from under the bed.... At any rate, they had him. The men who were sent after Biggerstaff missed him. He heard them coming and lit a shuck. Bob Logan fled, too, and his father was not in town at the time. Jeff Downey was visited by another party. The men argued over his punishment starting with 300 lashes. They reduced the whipping until it amounted to a few strokes of a pine branch, which absolutely infuriated Downey. He was invited to quit the Order and turn in his gear. Which he did. Thereafter, he became a star witness for the prosecution testifying at every opportunity.

Intimidation was the Klan's chief weapon and if Jim Justice described their disguises accurately from the witness stand, they were an imposing group of men.... After they entered his bedchamber they lit a candle. Jim could see their disguises plainly, he testified: ...disguised men looking more like one would imagine the devil to look than you could ever suppose [a] human being could fix themselves up to look. Some had disguises and strange fixings on their bodies. The greatest number had only a broad mask over their faces. These were of red with eyes bound with white and the nose white, and horns that stood up ten inches. Some had long white beards. Some had horns which were erect; others had horns which lopped over like mule's ears; and their caps ran up to a point with tassels. One had a red suit out and out: there were a number of stripes on each arm made of something bright, like silver lace. There was something round, of a circular form, on the breast of one of them, who stood right in front of me.

Justice was dragged outdoors in his nightshirt. Once out he began yelling for help and one of the men hit him in the head with a pistol. He lost consciousness and didn't remember the trip downstairs. The rain revived him and he was forced to accompany the men on foot to meet the larger party gathered on the outskirts of town. After being questioned and threatened with hanging he was told he must change his ways; they made him promise that he would. They told him to stop persecuting the Klan, that he should drop out of politics and behave himself. They asked him to meet with them later to tell where they might find Biggerstaff and Logan, and to swear he would forget about this night and keep the whole matter secret. He swore he would and they let him go.

Since they'd missed Bob, a strike against his office had been ordered. The men dumped boxes of type on the floor, broke a handle off the press and burned file copies of past issues.  They actually made torches out of them so they could see what they were doing. (all in all, about ten dollars worth of damages were done.)

Within days national headlines screamed of this outrage. A strike against a Federal Prosecutor? A raid on a Newspaper? National notoriety came to Rutherdfordton portraying her as a hot bed of KKK enthusiasts. Dragging a Federal Prosecutor out of bed was outrageous and newsworthy. The demolition of a newspaper (although they didn't miss a single issue) was headline producing and swept the nation, becoming a KKK attack on a Republican Paper. The Republican Party used the fiasco to attract national attention and remain in power.... Justice altered his testimony several times in order to make the attack seem more politically motivated then it was. In his initial testimony, they said, "Come out you damned rascal..." By the time he testified at Raleigh he'd remembered they actually said, "Come out you damned Radical..." (slang for Republican). Funny how things are remembered isn't it? It made for good press. Consequently, a strike by locals against the crooks in power was misconstrued in the media and in court until it had little if any resemblance to what it had been in the first place.... The Ku Klux Klan Act passed in 1871 declared secret societies illegal and allowed for Federal intervention. Federal troops were dispatched and some of the Klansmen were rounded up, even some who were not; including the pastor of First Broad Church, Rev. Berry Rollins, who was released without being charged.

A partial list of people who were arrested during the time Shotwell was in jail: Moses W. Simmons, Esq., Lafayette Eaves, Issac Padgett, N. Thorne, Esq., Henry Jenkins, Rev. Thos. J. Campbell, Capt. J. Crowell Camp, Wm. Edgerton, Jas. H. Sweezy, Bruce Morgan, Johnathan Whitesides, (one legged soldier), John Cooley, Daniel Martin, Thomas Liles, Wm. McEntyre, Mich McGroney, Gaither Philbeck, Erwin Philbeck, Wiley Walker, Esq., (70 years old), John Porter, Henry Green, Kinley Green, David Cochran, Wm. Teal, John Moore, Thos. Withrow, Julious Fortune, Doc. B. Fortune, Spencer R. Moore, John Doggett, Rufus Doggett, Saml. Whitesides, R.N. Robinson, Geo. H. Holland, Benj. Wall, W.H. Green, Esq., Capt. Jno. Nicholson, Alvin Johnson, David Scruggs, Wiley Spurlin, Thos. Harris, Calvin Teal, Jesse Gidney, James Green, J.E. Saunders, J.J. McDaniel, Ben Fortune, Ben Spurlin, Wm. McSwain, Wm. Hames, Cleveland Wood, Geo. B. Pruitt, A.W. Biggerstaff, Richd. Hardin, Wm. Ledbetter, J.M. Spurlin, John Hamrick, John Harris, J.C. Mode, Wm. Wilson, J.M. McDaniel, Tom Wood, F.C. James, Jas. Green, N.T. Thorn. Parties under bond: Dr. Romeo Hicks, D. Green, Alex. Bridgers, L. Hamrick, J.W. Hamrick, Geo. Hamrick, John Hamrick, W.T. Hill, Thos. Harris, S.B. Padgett, W.W. Bridges, A.P. Tisdale, W.S. Tisdale, W.S. Haynes, Wm. Haynes, J.O. Haynes, D.D. London, David Hoyle, Silvester Weaver, Thos. Edgerton, Jacob Surratt, W.C. Goforth, Posey Smart, Richard Smith, A. Gettys, Lawson Brooks, Richd. Hardin, Willis Owens, R.R. Biggerstaff, Joseph Fortune, Anderson Williams, Capt. W.D. Jones, Wellington N. Hicks, Jas. Goode, John Witherow, Jas. Hunt, John Hunt, L. Beam, Thos. Elliott, Wm. Burnett, Olin Carson, Thomas Toms, Scott Toms, M. Tucker, Ben Biggerstaff, Saml. Biggerstaff, W. DePriest, D.H. McCown, Jason Witherow, Stanley Haynes, Michael Grigg, Walter Grigg, Sam. Goforth, W.C. DePriest, Taylor Carson, Leander Toms, Amos Owens, Daniel Fortune, Barton Biggerstaff, Alfred Biggerstaff, Adolphus DePriest, Thos. Fortune.

"A Federal Grand Jury at Raleigh indicted 981 persons for alleged Ku Klux depredations; 37 were convicted including Randolph A. Shotwell, a democratic editor, who was sentenced to serve six years in a federal prison." Rutherfordton's "Grand Chief", Shotwell used his time in prison to write extensively. After serving two years he was pardoned by the governor.

Works Cited:
Hugh Talmage Leftler and Albert Ray Newsome. The History of a Southern State NORTH CAROLINA. University of Chapel Hill Press: 1979. 497.
Randolph Abbot Shotwell. The Shotwell Papers. Volume ll. The NC Historical Commission: 1931. Pp. 528 529 - Ibid., Pp. 395 396.  - Ibid., Pp. 406 407 - Ibid., 409. - Ibid., Pp. 416 417. - Ibid., Pp. 422. - Ibid., Pp. 563. - Ibid., Pp. 551 552. - Lefler and Newsome., North Carolina. 497 499.

More on the History of Amos Owens is presented here:

Our State Magazine

And a Favorite, must read local webpage and blog: Remember Cliffside

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Golden Valley NC is a lovely place to live

Life here is a little slower, a little sweeter, and a lot gentler than it is in the city. I get a little too laid back sometimes. I was sending a link to the blog to a friend who just bought a log cabin and noticed I haven't put anything up since May. I've been busy.

Ya'll know I'm in real estate, and since I started McCall's Real Estate I've just been wide open. First thing I had to order signs, then had to get some listings up, then had to start advertising for buyers, then started advertising on Zillow, Trulia, and before you knew it nearly two years had passed and I was still working on something. Logos, and print ads, and websites, oh my!

The latest, that's had me pinned down this week, besides writing contracts for buyers and sellers, is virtual tours. I've been doing slideshows all along, but recently had an opportunity to hire a photographer to do some aerial, drone, work. That was lovely, but you have to host that sort of thing somewhere, and I had to build another platform, and complying with MLS regulations is sort of tough, so it got kind of nuts. It worked out swell - McCall's Real Estate Tours

I've been updating the Facebook Page, that's easy enough to post to. GoldenValleyNC on Facebook and that's the easiest place to toss a quick note on things to do, places to visit, I love to share things in Day Trips. So, thanks for following along with us. I have a web designer coming over to who's going to set up something I can update myself. A guy called from Charlotte said everything on Golden Valley NC was 10 years old. True!

The reason everything on the site was ten years old is because I hired a web designer to build the site, and back in '05 they all wrote their own code. I don't write html and don't know squat about ftpuploaders and it was over my head. She quit and went to work in Rutherfordton and I had her to add a Blogger link and a Facebook Page link and that was how I've been updating. We have WordPress now, and I have a lot more experience and so I've hired a designer to build a WordPress site. Why? Tom Melton and Lucy Fortune Ellis and a lot of other people have shared bits and pieces of Golden Valley's history with me and I feel obliged to share it. They gave it to me to share, I was going to write a book, and I nearbout have written a book, but no one wants to publish a book about the History of Golden Valley, so I'll just share it online. I think when you get something you should give something. I picked up roadside trash with Laddie and Elsie Brackett one day and realized I'd be lots more help behind a keyboard than dead of a stroke in a side ditch. Let me tell you, they were both  30 years older than I am and they 'bout worked me into the ground!

I've got lots of pictures and stories and things we'll be putting up, a little along. Right now we're in the dreaming stage, trying to pick a theme that can grow with us. We're getting ready to launch, and I'll appreciate you sharing material to put on the site like you used to do, and we'll get with the program and get something up and running.

People ask and I have to tell them, no, I wasn't born here, but I got here as quickly as I could. This area has provided me with a swell place to raise my boys, George and Michael Day, and the Edison Queen Place was a sweet old home place to my family, too. We lived there for 16, nearly 17 years. We bought a house down the road in Sunshine, but we kept our acreage on the Fire Tower Road, and we'll be keeping a spot open in the valley for ourselves, you can count on it.

Share your stories! Karen