Just another day in western North Carolina - ghosts and an execution

This was the day I was going to meet someone that I had been exhanging mails with on the internet. I had arranged to meet Mrs. Charlotte Frye in the afternoon. We were both interested in genealogy though from different perspectives. She was interested in her ancestors, and I was interested in Tom Dooley! As the two subjects met, we started communicating. Tom Dooleys second cousin, Rufus Dula Horton, was her great great grandfather. She would bring her father who was the genealogy expert of the familiy. We were to meet at the Irish Rose at 2 pm, so I had all morning to explore more of the countryside.

The dining room at Irish Rose

Before that though, I had quite a challenge to overcome. Rose's breakfast! The German pancake I had ordered the day before was around 10 inches in diameter, half an inch thick and covered with slices of apples, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and very hot. I had also ordered toast and bacon, juice and coffee, and fresh fruit were already on my plate when I entered the dining room. I ate the fruit but had to give up halfway through the pancake, and never got to the toast. That was the last time I ordered the pancake for breakfast. It was simply too much for a man, who normally just eats one piece of toast for breakfast, and drink som apple juice.

I decided to spend the morning driving to Wilkesboro. Last year, when I was there I had tried with no luck to get hold of a map and a cd with driving instructions for a "Tom Dooley Historic Tour" and now I wanted to give it another try. I had located stop 7 and stop 9, so I knew that there was at least 9 stops along the tour, but I wanted to find out where the rest of the stops were. Maybe I could learn some more, by visiting the rest of the stops.

No luck but an explanation

Inside Chapel of Rest

I left town by US 321 North and some miles later I changed to NC 268. Shortly after turning on to 268 I visited the small Chapel of Rest, situated on a hillside next to the road. I started by walking around the old cemetery, taking pictures of among others the grave of Collet Leventhorpe, an Englishman who became a confederate Brigadier during the civil war. After my visit to the cemetery I entered the chapel. Inside it was mostly empty except for the pews and the alter, a simple, beautiful and quiet room. The chapel is said to be haunted (and so are the cemetery by the way) but I didn't meet any ghosts. On the floor is a stain of blood some says, and it can't be cleaned away. I don't know if that is true, but the stain is there all right. After my visit to the chapel, I spent some time outside, looking at the countryside, until it started to rain. Then I continued east on 268.

In Elkville I visited what was formerly known as Eller's Store, but now called Lackey's Store. Not really to buy anything, but to try to get an explanation for the many donkeys that I had noticed in the area on this years trip. Unfortunately I didn't quite catch the young lady's explanation. She spoke with a dialect, that I couldn't quite grasp, but a few days later I got the explanation. They were simply kept as a guard against coyotes, that were attacking cows or rather newborn calves. Before leaving the shop I bought a cup of coffee, then I took a detour north on Elk Creek Derby Road to Elk Baptist Church. Here I located the graves of Ann Melton's oldest daughter, Martha Jane and her husband, Edmund Columbus Allen, and took some pictures of the stone on the grave. Via Gladys Fork Road and Champion Road I returned to NC 268 and continued towards Wilkesboro.

One of many donkeys in the area around Ferguson

At the W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir Visitor Center I should be able to get the map and cd, I was looking for. Three years earlier, they claimed that they had never heard of either, so this time I had printed out a page from the internet, saying I could get it there. Unfortunately it didn't help much, but this time the staff at least knew what I was talking about. They told me, that there had been a map as well as a CD, but that they hadn't had it for years. So at least two homepages was not updated on this, Explore Caldwell (http://explorecaldwell.com/happy-valley) and Historic Happy Valley. The latter has now removed the information. As I had no luck in getting hold of the map and cd I decided to return to Lenoir.

Along the way I once more visited the Dula-Horton cemetery on Council Farm Drive. A lot of Dula's Horton's and their reletives are buried here, starting with Captain William Dula himself in 1835. Not all of the relatives are buried here though. Captain William and his brother, Bennett had 16 or 18 children between them, and they had two other siblings. Together the two brothers had had almost 100 grandchildren not to mention great grandchildren. Here the number exceeds 600 and comes close to 1,000 if the descendants of all four siblings are counted. This time I took pictures of all the stones with legible inscriptions, or at least I thought I did. I have realized that I still missed some, but maybe this year?

After that I returned to The Irish Rose. Nobody was home so I let myself in, got my tablet from my room and settled in the library, as I though it would be easier to hear arriving visitors from downstairs. After 15 minutes Rose returned, and then I chatted with her. When nobody had shown up at 2.15 I decided to check my mail, and found that I actually had a mail from Mrs. Frye, in which she cancelled our meeting as her 4 weeks old daughter had been ill all night, and she had to see a doctor. I replied to her, whishing her baby the best, and we will try to see, if we can meet during my visit in the summer of 2016.

As I was not having a visitor after all, I decided to go on another excursion.

A town, an execution, a mountain and a waterfall

The old Courthouse in Morganton with the Sam. J. Ervin statue.

My first goal was Morganton, county seat of Burke County, 16 miles south of Lenoir. Along the way I had to stop twice to take pictures of some signpost. First time was in Gamewell, where 5 signs within 100 feet or so all told me no to park, stop or stand. Next time was a few miles later where among a lot of commercial signs were six signs all advertising different houses of worship. But besides these stops I continued to straight Morganton. I found a place to park the car and walked around the historical downtown. The town center was charming with typical houses and nice street signs. I looked at the old courthouse (from 1835), now a museum. Outside the courthouse is a statue of Sam J.Ervin Jr., a former member of the U.S. Senate and chairman of the comittee that investigated the Watergate Scandal, that in the end led to President Nixon's resignation. Ervin was a lawyer and had his office in Morganton. Also outside the courthouse is a statue representing the soldiers from town, that were killed in the civil war.

In 1832, when the old courthouse was still under construction, Morganton was the scene of a trial (in an even older, wooden courthouse), that in 1833 led to the hanging of a young girl, Frances "Frankie" Stewart Silver for the murder of her husband just before Christmas 1831. Frankie had not yet turned 18 when she was exceuted. Nobody know exactly where the hanging took place, so I didn't look for it. Most agree though that it must have been rather close to the courthouse and jail. Legend will know, that Frankie was the first ever woman to be executed in North Carolina. It is not so though. She was not even the first in Burke County or Morganton, and even if only free, white woman are included, she was still not the first. But a song is written about it, and that has made it famous as the case is with Tom Dooley.

After my visit to Morganton I headed north on NC 181. In October 2013 I spent four hours one evening, looking for the mysterious Brown Mountain Lights, from a lookout on 181, and now I wanted to see the place in daylight, as I knew there should be a good view of even more mountains, like Hawkbill Mountain and Table Rock. Unfortunately once again I was out of luck. When I got to the lookout, everything was covered in fog, so I could see nothing but the outlook itself, and a short stretch of road. No mountains whatsoever. As the fog had gotten heavier and heavier on my way up the mountain, I was prepared, so I made up my mind just to continue north.

Linville River

10 miles further north I got to Linville Falls. I had been here a couple of times, but had never actually visited the falls. I was not at the visitor center, but at a parking lot a bit from there. A path led to the falls though, and a sign told me, that it was only 0.5 miles of walking. What the sign didn't tell was, that it was downhill all the way, but I discovered that for my self. When I got down to the river it was starting to get dark, and I was about the only one in that particilar area, so I just took some pictures and then started uphill. It was a little tough, being out of shape as I was, but I managed, and when I got up op the parking lot my car was the only one left, and it was now even darker. From the falls I continued north and northeast until I reached US 221. I followed that to Blowing Rock, making a few stops along the way to take pictures of small waterfalls at the roadside, until it got too dark to take pictures of anything. My gps told me that the trip from Linville Falls to Blowing Rock could be done in 44 minutes, but the higher I got in the mountains, the more foggy it got so it actually took 90 minutes. From Blowing Rock I took US 321 to Lenoir (31 minutes according to the gps), but it actually took a little over one hour because of the fog.

Back in Lenoir I visited a Wallmart to get some water for next days trip to Tennessee. I also managed to find a few things to bring home to my granddaughter, who was the only one to recieve presents after this trip. No I lie. Tim got some gummi worms that we always buy in USA, but can't be bought in Denmark. After the visit to Walmart I had dinner before returning to Rose a little after 9 pm.

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