Friday, August 26, 2011

Dental Care in Golden Valley

Avery Towery and Doctor Cleveland McClure Peeler brings dental care to Golden Valley. A true story written by Elizabeth Whisenant Towery.

Dental Care in Golden Valley

Every one that needed a tooth pulled went to Uncle Avery Towery’s. Even if they had quite a bit of their home made whiskey in them, Uncle Ave still gave them a straight-backed chair that he had ‘sort of’ re-enforced to sit in The patient could hold onto the bottom rounds of the chair and brace themselves when Avery pulled their tooth.
If you ever took notice to the older ‘straight ‘chairs they were built smaller and not as high off the floor. A lot of the men that went to Uncle Avery Towery’s house for a tooth to be pulled were tall, lanky and about ‘three sheets in the wind ‘and a site to see sprawled out in that little low chair of Uncle Avery’s.

Every one called the man Uncle Ave whether he was related to them or not. However I think most could tell you some way that they were indeed related. Ave lived on the right side of Brier Creek Road just above where Jim Deviney today has a lake. Only the road separated Uncle Avery’s house from Big Brier Creek. Uncle Avery or Ave is what the Higgins Towery children called the man that pulled teeth and although he was kindred he was not their uncle.

Uncle Ave took care of the tooth pulling for all of his family, friends and the community for many years with a pair of ordinary pliers. At about the close of Avery’s career ,a young doctor Cleveland McClure Peeler began a practice in the front room of the Elijah Monroe Jones home. He came by Higgins Towery’s house one day and stopped his horse and while still seated in his buggy he asks Higgins daughter Cleo, if she would like a ride?

Cleo said ‘she had heard her Pa speak of the young doctor but she didn’t know him so she answered him saying , ‘I’ll just walk but I thank you for asking me.‘ The young doctor then said,‘ you aren’t afraid to ride with your kin folk are you‘? He went on to tell her how they were related and with that she climbed in the buggy and road with him.

(The doctors explanation of kinship will be found below although I found it in my research as Cleo had forgotten what he had told here that day on the road.)

After that introduction of the doctor every time he passed their house and he saw any one of the family walking along the road he stopped and they road with him.

Elijah Jones and his brother Hampton had swapped home places. It was about a mile from Higgin’s home to where Elijah lived ,so many times Cleo was grateful for the ride

The Towery’s and the doctor became good friends. He soon became their dentist. Cleo had gold fillings in her teeth that McClure put there while carrying on his profession in the front room of the Elijah Jones house. She still had them when she died at the age of ninety years old.

Until Doctor Peeler came there was no dental care for the people here in Golden Valley. Uncle Avery wasn’t a dentist he only pulled teeth. About the closest thing they had for dental care was going into the woods and finding a Birch Tree twig. They cut young twigs from the tree and chewed the ends to form what they called a ‘tooth brush,’ then with their Sweet Dental Snuff they would brush their teeth. No cleanings, no fillings, nothing to do but get the tooth pulled when it began to hurt. That was the extent of the dental care.

When snuff was put up and sold in glass containers they saved their ‘snuff glasses’ to use for drinking glasses at the table. The snuff glass came with a tin top or cap and the yellow paper labeling with black lettering was glued to hold the cap on. When the top was removed the glass had a smooth edge.

I still have one of the glasses and I sampled the product once. But NOW THAT is a whole new story and I’ll tell it someday.

Note: I have tried to use the words and the language that was used in telling the story to me. I first heard it in the 1950’s and have copied and rewritten this from a handwritten page of a note pad dated September 9,1968.

Source :Cleo Towery. Written April 18,2003.

Note:1-Avery Towery and Higgins Towery were third cousins.

2- McClure Peeler and Cleo Towery’s mother Alice Jones Towery. were third cousins.

3- Elijah and Hamp (Hampton) Jones were second cousins of Cleo Towery’s mother Alice Jones Towery.

Source : My personal research.

Note: 1- Cleo Towery’s Great Grand mother Elizabeth S. Hunt Waters and McClure Peeler's great grandmother Nancy Hunt Carpenter were sisters. That made Cleo and McClure third cousins.

Note.2- In 1968 Joseph Cletus Walker and his mother Nettie obtained 52 acres of land on Little Briar Creek and Big Briar Creek. Beginning at a stake in Briar Creek below Avery Towery’s Mill, and runs with Avery Towery’s land. The corner of Avery Towery's land on the waters of Little Brier Creek, where his grist mill stood was joined by Muskmelon and Mr. Deviney, and was located just below the old schoolhouse the corner later became the land of Noah Dempst Walker and his wife Genettie ’ Nettie ‘Davis Walker. Then the wife Nettie and son Joe Cletus Walker owned it.

Elizabeth Towery October 31,2002.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Community Newsletter August 2011

Buy a cookbook, read a short story, see community announcements, hook up with us on the internet and more, here's your link to the August Community Newsletter:

The Golden Valley Community Club was chartered in 1952. For more on this and other community happenings, please see .

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gold in Them Hills aka How Golden Valley got its name

by KD McCall

So much has been written about North Carolina gold reference material is easy to come by. Maps and gold pans are still available in retail stores. One map, the Big Ten, depicts the entire Golden Valley area under a solid gold blob. And with reason, for I expect you can find gold dust in many of the creeks. You might pick up a nugget or flake on a woodland path, in a logging road, or an old dirt drive. These days, unless you have professional mining equipment, it's scarcely worth the trouble to work a creek. It can take a day to find a dollar's worth of dust, and a dollar doesn't go as far as it used to. But at one time the gold in our area profoundly affected the quality of life.

In a 1924 issue of the Salt Lake Mining Review Don Maguire, a "veteran mining engineer from Ogden," said before the discovery of gold:

"...the inhabitants were wretchedly poor. To quote the vernacular, they were simply "poor as rats." A patch of cultivated red, reluctant soil afforded every family each year a few bushels of Indian corn, a limited crop of potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots and cabbage. One or two horses, a yoke of oxen, perhaps a dozen sheep, and a few razor-backed hogs, with the associated usual number of chickens, ducks and geese, made up the live stock wealth of the average family of these mountain regions in the old halcyon days."

Don Maguire had a way with words. I've condensed his five page version, at a great loss, but basically here's his version of the story.

It happened that a fellow, Samuel Martin, a thirty nine or forty year old stranger to these parts, was going home to Connecticut. He'd shipped out as a sailor from Grey Town, Nicaragua, and had landed on the Alabama coast. He'd spent part of his life as a sailor and part of it as a miner. He'd been working in the gold fields in Nicaragua and, after sailing to Alabama, planned to walk home. He expected it would take about three months, more or less.
By the time he reached Brindle Creek his shoes were in "dire need of repair", so when he saw Bob Anderson's shoe repair sign he stopped. The cobbler welcomed him, inspected the shoes and said he could do the job in about three hours, for two bits. Since it was nearly dinner time he added an invitation to dine at no extra charge. The traveler said that was satisfactory, so the shoemaker sat down to the job and his entire family, consisting of one boy, four girls and Mrs. Anderson, were soon busy preparing dinner, while Samuel Martin walked out in his stocking feet into the yard fronting the mud-daubed cabin of the shoe maker.

As Samuel puttered about the yard he began to notice the country round about. The red hills and knolls reminded him of the Central and South American mine fields. On closer inspection the gravel he saw in the cabin chinking looked like gold-bearing gravel. Curious he inspected the cabin more closely finding "slate, granite, and rusty looking quartz" in the chimney. These common things meant nothing to the Anderson's, but Samuel was fresh from the mining fields and they meant a great deal to him. A chunk of mud-daubing was loose and about to fall off so he took hold of it and pulled it off to get a better look. Hummm.

Mrs. Anderson called the men to dinner and he took a last look at the low hills and flats about the countryside, noting "the reddish, light brown gravely surface." Hummm.

During supper after the family was seated and after he had a chance to tell them about his mining experience, according to Maguire, he said: Mr. Anderson, do you know that I believe it might be possible that you have ground around here that would produce gold if a little work was done; and if you will put in your time with me today and tomorrow --after my shoes are repaired --I will begin the work of finding out if there is any gold on your place. After supper, the entire group gathered outside of the cabin to watch Martin wash some of the clay from the cabin. In the bottom of the pan after all the swirling was done there, in a little three inch string, was gold. At that time it was worth about twenty-five cents. Four more pans of dirt from the cabin were washed and each yielded from twenty-five cents to a dollar’s worth of fine gold dust.

When Martin asked where they got their house daubing clay, Anderson told him it had come from the creek bank. The excited group hurried to the creek and Martin ran down ten more pans. Each one produced gold. Martin guessed the fifteen pans he'd tested produced about nine dollars worth. He struck a deal to partner with Anderson agreeing to stay for six months and to teach the family to mine for half of the mining profits.

Says Maguire: "It had been a most eventful day for those present and also for the state of North
Carolina, if not the United States of America, for on that day gold was first
discovered in the territory over which the Stars and Stripes waved."

Within weeks a prominent mining camp has grown up in the vicinity of the Anderson home. Brindletown. Travelers on Highway 64, between Rutherfordton and Morganton, might take note of the Brindletown fire department. The community exists to this day.

Which brings me to the Valley, well within the mining region. Mining brought hordes of people into the area. Several mines went into operation, a number of schools were built, and two post offices sprang up to serve the community. The Golden branch lent it's name to the Valley, hence we have Golden Valley.

New methods of extracting the gold were being constantly tested. The rocker and long Tom (sluice-box) increased the yields. The rocker was a "crude invention usually powered by women or children," reports Theresa Thomas in THE STATE.

January 25, 1936: The sand was washed through a system of wooden troughs, called rockers or cradles, where quicksilver caught a portion of the gold. The cradles were nothing more or less then hollowed-out logs, usually four in number, set upon a frame of other and smaller logs, and joined together in such a manner that a person standing upon the small platform on the center ones was able to rock all of them. It worked on somewhat the same principle as the tread mill except that instead of moving continually forward, one stepped from side to side. Although crude extracting methods captured only twenty-five percent of the gold, leaving seventy-five percent to wash down the creek, people were getting rich. Land prices soared and poor mountaineers sold homesteads for prices that seemed fabulous. A few slaves were brought in to work the mine fields.

At that time, gold dust was traded at a dollar per pennyweight, but a lot of dust was lost during the trades. This posed a problem. The nearest mint was in Philadelphia.(see end note) It took months to have coins minted, but the government could not be convinced to build a mint in the mining region.

Berry Bright Freeman, a local author, writes that Christopher Bechtler of Rutherford County posed a solution. Bechtler was a first rate German born jeweler. He proposed to coin gold into two and one-half, and five-dollar gold pieces. Like a miller he would accept a portion of the dust in exchange for his labor. A deal was struck.

An Old Time Advertisement -- North Carolina Spectator Rutherfordton, NC August 27, 1831

To Gold Miners and Others:

"The undersigned having coined a great quantity of N. Carolina gold into pieces of
$2.50 and $5.00 value, of 20 carats fine and being well prepared to increase the
business to any extent, is established 3 1/2 miles on the road leading from
Rutherfordton toJeanstown, invites the attention of miners in South Carolina and
Georgia as well as N. Carolina to the advantage which would result from having the
product of their mines coined or made into ingots bearing their just value rather then
disposing of it in it's fluxed state, without an assay and therefore liable to produce an
improper value: gold in a fluxed state of 22 and 23 carats is generally sold for 84
cents, consequently an actual saving of 6 cents per dwt. in the bank, whereas it's
intrinsic value, if coined, is 90 to 94 cents, consequently an actual saving of 6 cents
per dwt. will be made by having it coined after paying all the expenses of coining,
etc. Should encouragement be given, new dies will be made especially for stamping
South Carolina and Georgia gold.
"He would also make here known the plan which he has adopted and will pursue; on
receiving a bar of fluxed gold to be coined, the same will be divided, a portion
assayed (by a fire ordeal) for the purpose of ascertaining it's exact fineness, and he
will be accountable for the amount of the value of the whole so ascertained --at the
same time returning to the owner 1/2 dwt. of each assay, which he may keep for his
own satisfaction or for the purpose of having it assayed elsewhere to find it's value,
that no deception of fraud may be practiced, and, in case there should be, that he
might have the means of detecting the same --for all which he holds himself
responsible. The following are his prices: for fluxing 400dwts, or less $1.00; for
assaying (by a fire ordeal) 1000dwts, or less $1.00; for coining 2 and 1/2%. When
the gold is to be coined no charge is made for the assay."

(Signed) C. Bechtler. Bechtler’s mint occupied two sites, one behind what is now the Rutherford County
Courthouse at W. Sixth Street and N. Washington, (see *end note) and another on Highway 221. Memorial placards mark the sites.

Several newspaper articles appear in the book by Berry Bright Freeman, Bechtler's Gold. One tells a little about him and how much gold he minted: The Charlotte News, November 6, 1935.

"The Money Maker: Christopher Bechtler of Germany, a foreign immigrant who never became a citizen, was granted permission by the U.S. Government to MAKE HIS OWN MONEY! His private mint was located at Rutherfordton, N.C., and he coined $2,241,840.50 in gold pieces.

"Just how much gold was actually minted? This has been a topic of debate for many years. The question being -- if he coined that much gold, where is it? Since the coins were minted privately, the US treasury was unable to record and consequently unable to substantiate the amount. However, it is a fact that Christopher Bechtler operated a mint in Rutherfordton from 1831 and passed the business to his son, August, who operated the facility from 1842 until his death. Another family member Christopher Jr. took over and operated the mint until the mid 1840s."

"The effect of a gold discovery," says Maguire, "in any country, if such a discovery is of importance, is truly wonderful."

And the gold found here was of some importance.

The aftermath?
None of the folks who got rich during the mining boom kept their fortunes. They lived lives of feast and
famine. When they found gold they feasted, when it was gone they famished.

The Anderson's? According to Maguire, all together, the Anderson's earned $39,500 from their venture. They lived very well for a while. Bob purchased a small plantation and four Negroes, paying half down for the plantation. He financed the Negroes. Within five years he was flat broke. "His son, Jackson, took to drinking, gambling, horseracing, and went to the devil completely."

Within eleven years of the Brindletown strike, Bob, his wife, and his daughter, Rachael, were dead, leaving the remaining girls, Jane and Matilda to die in the county poor house. Maguire concludes, " so often perishes the glory of this world."

Samuel Martin was a true rags to riches story. He ended up staying not six, but eight months and earned
$18,473.50 for his trouble. After buying horses, a wagon, camping gear, blankets, a gun, and some clothing, he departed. He was last seen driving his team of horses north.

When the Gold Rush hit California in 1849 the largest part of the miners and their families left the Golden community and hurried out west to get rich.

* * * * Author's Notes:

For more and current information please contact the great folks at the GPAA they'll help you get started on a Gold Adventure of your own.
The library at Isothermal Community College at Spindale Campus has a Bechtler gold coin and a Bechtler pistol is (at the time of this writing) on display in the Old Tryon Room.

There are many stories in circulation concerning the discovery of gold in Rutherford County, this story is only one of them. The Isothermal Community College and the Burke County libraries have a wealth of information stored in their vertical files, for research see: Gold and: Mining, Minerals and Resources.

And I have often wondered if the first Gold was found here in 1828 why was there a mint at Philadelphia? Can anyone tell me about that, I'd surely like to know.

And yes, we do know about the Reed Gold Mine they say Gold was found there first.

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Karen D. McCall, and I am a REALTOR with United Country -- Country Lanes Real Estate. At the time of this writing the *house where part of the Bechtler Operation was located, in Rutherfordton, is for sale. If you're interested, give me a call. You may visit my community real estate website at: