County North Carolina
Voting in North Carolina N.C. General Election Information
Graham County Sample Ballot Show me my Voter Information
ELLER COVE DAYS
By Marshall McClung
I spent many hours of my childhood days in Eller Cove. I grew upon nearby Atoah Creek, and when Bemis Hardwood Lumber Company built a logging road into Eller Cove from Atoah Gap, it opened up a "bicycle path" for several of us young boys including Billy Corbin, Jack Gregory, the Bridges, Ellers, and others. We would ride our bicycles up Atoah Creek through Atoah Gap and into the Little Snowbird watershed where Eller Cove began. Some of the braver or foolish boys would start some of the logging equipment and move it around. I didn't attempt that for fear I might wreck the equipment, but also I knew if my dad found out, the part of my anatomy that fitted onto the bicycle seat would also be "wrecked."
It didn't dawn on me at the time to wonder how Eller Cove got its name or what Ellers had actually lived in there. I became more interested in the history of the area upon learning the location of the graves of young children there.
The first Ellers in Graham County were two brothers, both ministers. In 1337, Rev. William H. Eller moved from Buncombe County to a section of Little Snowbird that was to become known as Eller Cove. The area of Buncombe County he had moved from was also known as Eller Cove in Reems Creek. He moved his wife Sarah Loucinda "Lou" Bradley and five children the some one hundred miles by covered wagon and built a log cabin in Eller Cove. His brother, Rev. John H. Eller came with his three children into Eller Cove and settled near a stream that is listed on the map as Eller Mill Creek. This would lead to speculation that the Eller brothers probably built a grist mill there for grinding corn. John's wife Cordella Ballard had died before the family moved to Graham County. All the "Atoah Ellers" are descended from these two brothers.
The Eller brothers worked in timber operations, farmed, and raised cattle. The Ellers were excellent hunters and fishermen, and both game and fish were plentiful in those days. Enough fish for a meal could be caught in short order from the nearby stream The Ellers were adept at bear hunting. I recall that that there was never a shortage of dogs at the Eller residences that I was around as a child. Most of them were "bear hounds."
A deciding factor for the move from Buncombe County to Graham County was the "fence law" that required all livestock to be fenced in instead of running "free range." If that was the case, it was a wise move as Graham County did not enact the fence law until 1932.
Ironically, it was probably the free range or livestock running free in the woods that brought about the deaths of some young children in Eller Cove. I came across a reference to the graves in some writing of Bob Barker who had markers erected for the graves. Wade Moody recalled that he and Dillard Moody were logging in the area, and Barker had them haul the grave markers to the location on a logging truck. The graves are on property now owned by "Bebo" Miller. Miller purchased some 900 acres in the area. He discovered the marker down by the logging road indicating the location of the cemetery on the ridge top above. The marker states "Cemetery 450 Yards, Steep Cllimb". The part about the steep climb is certainly correct. Miller searched for the graves several times before locating them. The graves are on top of a small ridge overlooking Eller Mill Creek. They were originally marked by small stones which give no names or dates. A marker erected at the graves by Barker states; "Mostly Infants Who Died of the Milk Sick Before 1916."
"Milk sickness" or "milk sick fever" as locals called it is caused by a plant known as white snakeroot. The plant grows in woodlands. It contains a toxin called tremetol. Milk sick is passed from the cow to humans through the milk. It was often fatal to infants and small children and even adults. During the nineteenth century in areas of the rural south there were instances of half a small community being wiped out by it. It is said that Abraham Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks died from milk sickness.
In addition to being ministers, the Eller brothers were gifted musically as are a lot of the Ellers. I recall several of the Ellers from Atoah singing and playing music in church. The elder son of John Eller, John Doke Eller taught singing schools and played the organ. John and William Eller founded Atoah Freewill Baptist Church as well as the Beaver Creek Freewill Baptist Church at Andrews.
Around 1900 or shortly thereafter, John and William Eller sold their property in Eller Cove. John moved to Cherokee County and became pastor of the Beaver Creek Church, while William served as pastor at the Atoah Church. John later returned to Graham County and purchased land on Atoah Creek where he lived until his death in 1919. William purchased property just outside Robbinsville that was to become known as Eller Branch. William continued to live there until his death in 1956. Both brothers are buried in the Metz Cemetery in the Atoah Community.
Agriculture Arts and Crafts Cherohala Skyway Cherokee Nation Churches
Education Election Information Emergency Services Family Resources Fontana Dam
Forestry Facts Genealogy General Information Government Health Care
Hiking/Camping History Local Color Library Map of Graham Co. Media
N.C. Forest Service Real Estate Swan Cabin Sheriff's Department Travel & Tourism
U.S.F.S. District HQ U.S. Forest Service Utility Services Weather Forecast Wildflowers
These pages are from the people of Graham County, North Carolina.
For additional information on Graham County Adventures
the Travel and Tourism Authority or
go to the Visitors Information Center of the Travel and Tourism Authority Webpage
or call 1-800-470-3790 or 828-479-3790 Fax 1-828-479-4733
This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina