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GRAHAM COUNTY HISTORIC SITES
By Marshall McClung
The Stewart Cabin located on Big Santeetlah Creek is part of a larger log cabin that was originally built about one-half mile downstream and closer to the creek than where it now stands. A flood in July, 1895 changed the course of Big Santeetlah Creek, flooded the log cabin, and destroyed a water powered corn grinding mill. After the flood, the cabin was dismantled and rebuilt on its present site.
James Stewart and his wife Catherine Ashe were born in central North Carolina. Prior to the 1850 census, they moved to Union County, Georgia, and later to Monroe County, Tennessee. They lived there for four years and moved to Graham County in 1876. Graham County had only been founded for four years at this time.
Their children were all born in Georgia and Tennessee. All of the children except the two oldest - David and Ann, moved with them to Graham County.
After the death of James and Catherine Stewart, their children sold the land to Gennett Lumber Company and moved away. Sometime after the death of the parents, half the original cabin was torn down. The property later sold and Tom Patton moved into the cabin and made whiskey nearby for many years. As a result, some locals may refer to the cabin as the "Patton Cabin". Today, the cabin is owned by the U.S Forest Service and is on the National Historic Register. The land surrounding the cabin is part of the Nantahala National Forest.
Many descendants of James and Catherine Stewart now live in Graham County and elsewhere and hold an annual family reunion at the cabin.
Swan Cabin and surrounding Swan Meadows is located in the Wolf Laurel section of Big Santeetlah. They are named for the Swan family who migrated to the Unicoi Mountains from Pennsylvania in 1890. John Swan obtained title to three 100 acre tracts of land, and he along with his wife and eight children settled into this area. Mrs. Roscoe Ledgerwood (Harriett Swan), one of their daughters died in 1970 at age 89. She recalled carrying in the family belongings and a few necessities such as cornshuck mattresses, cooking pots, and a stove on pack horses.
Through the years, portions of the original tract of land were deeded to the Swan heirs or sold. The present Swan Cabin was built by Frank Swan in 1931 and was moved to its present location later. The cabin is a one and one half story log structure with three rooms on the lower floor, and a loft on the upper floor. Heating is provided by a wood stove. Sleeping facilities consist of single and double bunk frames. They are strung with ropes to accommodate sleeping bags. Restroom facilities consist of a nearby pit toilet. Drinking water may be obtained at a spring 1/4 mile from the cabin. The water is not tested or treated.
The cabin may be rented. For reservations and other information, contact the U.S Forest Service in Robbinsville, N.C. at 828-479-6431.
WRITING ON THE ROCK HOOPER BALD
On Hooper Bald a mountain peak rising over a mile in elevation in Graham County there is a large rock that has some unusual writing on it. As far back as anyone can remember or has heard of it, the writing has been there. Generation after generation of Graham County folks, especially the "old timers" recall seeing the writing when they were small children accompanying their fathers and grandfathers to Hooper Bald. They say their fathers and grandfathers told them of seeing the writing when they were small children.
People wondered who did the writing which appears to be chiseled into the stone. Some thought the writing was Spanish and attributed it to DeSoto who is said to have passed through this area in search of gold.
In 1988, Marshall Mcclung sent a photo of the writing to the Mcclung Museum at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee. Jeff Chapman of the Museum said that the inscription on the rock "PREDARMS CASADA, SEP. 1615", is probably of Spanish origin, and says that in effect that the person was claiming Hooper Bald as his own, was staking a claim, and would defend it to the point of bearing arms. The date, 1615, does not correspond to the time that DeSoto was supposed to be in this area. The writing is thought to have come from a band of renegade soldiers who had deserted DeSoto's army and struck out on their own in search of gold.
There is other writing on the rock beneath the surface of the soil, but it is difficult to make out.
BIG HUCKLEBERRY KNOB GRAVE
On Big Huckleberry Knob, the highest point in Graham County at 5,560 feet in elevation there is a grave marked by a metal cross. A copper plate engraving on a small block of anchored concrete at the grave tells the story:
December 11, 1899, a bitter, cold day with snow and fog. Andy Sherman and Paul O'Neil from Mill Haul, Pennsylvania, employed by the Heifer Lumber Company, left the mouth of Sycamore Creek on the Tellico River bound for Robbinsville.
September 6, 1900: Forrest Denton who was deer hunting with others found their bodies 3/4 mile from the present grave site on a small stream, then unnamed, but now known as Dead Man's Run. Apparently they missed the trail down Hooper Ridge between Hooper Bald and Horse Pen Gap. A jug containing whiskey was found near their bodies. The sheriff and coroner were summoned and an inquest was held. The jury found that both men were frozen to death while lost and intoxicated. The jury directed that O'Neil's skeleton be give to Dr. Robert J. Orr as a medical exhibit, while the remains of Sherman, badly mangled by wild animals were buried in an unmarked grave on Big Huckleberry Knob.
This copper plate telling the story was erected by Robert B. Barker of Andrews, N C. who made it a point to mark many graves in western North Carolina, and erecting monuments that tell their stories. The metal cross was added many years later by a group from Andrews who come to the area every year.
In early 1988, the Heartland Series became interested in the story and sent a film crew to Big Huckleberry Knob and filmed a short story entitled "Dead Man's Run" It was shown on national television in February, 1988, on CBS Television Station WBIR from Knoxville, Tennessee.
JOYCE KILMER MEMORIAL FOREST
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is located on Little Santeetlah Creek and is part of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Area within the Nantahala National Forest. It is administered by the U.S. Forest Service. It was dedicated July 30, 1936 as a living monument to the memory of soldier and poet Joyce Kilmer who was killed in action in W.W.I. A bronze plaque mounted on a large boulder within the forest tells his story.
Like the surrounding Wilderness, this 3,800 acre Memorial Forest is maintained in its primitive and natural state. There are huge trees many of them hundreds of years old as much as 20 feet around the base and more than 100 feet high.
The Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail provides loop trails up to two miles in distance for viewing the large trees and the memorial plaque.
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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