Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Mr. Frank Bradley, publisher of The Sentinel newspapers on
Before he left our large gathering that day, he invited me to write a weekly column for The Union Sentinel. Having been told that I have a penchant for historical writing, he requested that I tell about significant people and events that have had a bearing in county and area history.
Considering an overriding title for the series, I thought about
how quickly the mountain customs, stories and ways of our forebears are
slipping away, buried in the mists of time. I
thought, too, about how the heavy mists of fogs of early morning in the
mountains shroud our views of the majestic peaks of the
Then comes the bright sunshine of mid-morning and the mists lift, burned away by the sun’s penetration. That little bit of philosophizing gave me my on-going title: “Through Mountain Mists.”
We have all heard stories from our grandparents of how these
valleys were settled in the early 1830s, and how our ancestors pursued
their visions of a better way of life. With
characteristic courage, they set out with meager possessions loaded in
covered wagons and moved from the counties of Wilkes and Buncombe in
No doubt they drove through dual mists: the literal mists of mornings laden with fog, but the more invasive mists of the unknown. And now, out of the mists of time, their stories are begging to be told.
They knew, to carve out a living for their families, they would have to undergird their dreams and determination with hard, back-breaking labor to clear the land, build cabins, raise crops, tame the wilderness, be self-sufficient in their own right, and help their neighbors across the nearest creek or over the next ridge.
When my ancestors came into
Can we blame our ancestors for this plight? I’ve thought much about the situation. We often dismiss actions by blaming any infractions of justice on “the times” in which we lived then. And so it was in the 1830s. The greed for gold and government intervention caused a general displacement of the native Americans and a rush of white settlers to claim the lands the Cherokee had cleared and tilled and which for so long had been their hunting grounds.
The mists of that hurt still linger, sometimes reechoed in long-muted tom-toms, seen in ancient and undecipherable carvings as those at Trackrock Gap, and falling like silken sounds in places named Choestoe, Arkaquah, Kiutuestia, Nottely and Enotah. The mists are there, blocking our understanding, rising over our beloved mountains like a dense shroud.
I invite you to explore with me some of these mists, to find in them the moisture for thought, the light of understanding. Perhaps we can all come to a greater appreciation of the forces that shaped our ancestors into solid, dependable, hard-working citizens who carved out a new way of life in the valleys and on the hillsides of our beloved mountains.
The threads of these characteristics have been passed to us through blood lines and by example. What was good and noble we can emulate. What was questionable, we can ponder and avoid. Journey with me.
By way of introduction of the author: Ethelene Dyer Jones was born in
c2003 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published
Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.
She may be reached at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail