SEPTEMBER 2016:  We are moving on to stories from our Dysartsville neighbors! I have a couple already.

Lake Tahoma Steak House Marion, North Carolina

Lake Tahoma Steak House
Marion, North Carolina

ALSO, I am writing a book about the legacy of The Tahoma Steak House, a collection of stories about bear suppers, curb service at The Grill, a real service station that checked oil and tires for free, lodging in little rock cabins, breakfast or beer with neighbors, and trading guns, pottery or furniture with Pete Gibbs and his sons. Please share your memories of all that took place at the corner of US 70 and NC 80. Some of these events our children could never imagine. It was before the era of the interstate.


CHECK OUT THIS INCREDIBLE NEWS: My short story “The Mountain Top” is one of twenty stories included in the 20th Edition of THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2016.  Purchase from Amazon. See my author interview of Feb 22: http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com/2016/02/an-interview-with-two-best-american.html

My story "The Mountain Top" is included along with 19 other stories from writers such as Stephen King and Elmore Leonard

My story “The Mountain Top” is included along with 19 other stories from writers such as Stephen King and Elmore Leonard

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Episode #4: Learning Dysartsville

Few people in this community remember that a Dysartsville Post Office used to be next to a service station on the juncture of Highway 226 and Vein Mountain Road, where a large Boy Scout Camp sign is now posted. Of course that was back in the mid 19th century when Dysartsville was a destination for all the gold miners flocking into the area, and there was money for public buildings. Those days are long gone. Now our little community club suffers from lack of attention.

Even fewer people know that at the corner of Vein Mountain Road and Macedonia Church Loop, there was a log school built in 1888 and replaced in 1908 by a frame structure, operating until it burned in 1930. J.J. Sprouse of this blog’s Brackett Town Saga was instrumental in enhancing the financing of this early subscription school when the state tax only covered a school term for 3-4 months. Gretchen Griffith writes in her Lessons Learned on page 16 that “The earliest state supported schools were funded by a tax levied and collected by the sheriff of the county. Schools were built through the North Carolina  Literary Fund starting in 1825,” and the school year ran “as long as the money held out.” For instructing 20-30 children ranging in ages from 5-19, teachers received $15-$25 per month. Surely these angels of knowledge received extra gems in their heavenly crowns for their earthly  labor. According to pg 54 of Images of America, McDowell County, NC 1843-1943, compiled by James Lawton Haney and the McDowell County Historical Preservation Commission, Brackett Town was a progressive community and in 1909 became the first in the county to approve a school tax for public schools.

And how many of my neighbors knew that there were three schools on Vein Mountain Rd that were consolidated when the Dysartsville school was built on Trinity Church Loop?

One was the Macedonia School mentioned, and another one was located at the opposite end of Vein Mountain next to the cemetery on 226 across from the mythical service station. My friend Mary Sue Dillard remembers that when Elijah and Bill Blankenship bought the house, there was a second story which they removed. It had been a two story school for all grades.

Sandy Flat School in October of 2013

Sandy Flat School in October of 2013

The third school was Sandy Flat at the corner of Vein Mountain Rd. and Guffey Road. This building became Mary Sue’s home. The state was selling old school houses in 1930, and her granddaddy bought one so Mary Sue’s family could move here from Rutherford County. There were only four rooms, so they had to live in a house across the street (now just a burned out chimney) while daddy built on a dining room and kitchen. “He was never a carpenter, but if he wanted something or other, he done it.” He also made two rooms upstairs in that old Sandy Flat school, and Mary Sue’s mother boarded two school teachers, a man and woman who worked at the new Dysartsville School.

This was Depression time, and these folks had a can-do attitude.

At the same time, neighboring Glenwood community was also consolidating their smaller schools. A two-room public school had opened in 1904 with two teachers, Lafayette Bright and Bertie Crawford, according to Images of America. A third room was soon added, and in 1913 the rooms were partitioned to accommodate more students. In 1915 and annex was added, and in 1920 an eleven grade brick school was built.

See prior posts in the Brackett Town Saga about the adventures of the Sprouse school bus drivers, sixteen-year old students.

(The old Dysartsville School is now an assisted living facility because it was later consolidated into the Glenwood system in the 50s. The photo above was taken a few weeks before the power company demolished Sandy Flat.)


Copyright October 2016 Georgia Wilson


Posted in Dysartsville Saga | Leave a comment

Episode #3: Gold Plus

Gold Trommel

Gold Trommel

At Thermal City Gold Mine, you can pan for gold as seen in our last post. Or you can operate a small gold trommel (from the Dutch word for drum.) which can reprocess trainloads of dirt if you are up to it. But you have to do your own work like a real miner. This experience costs $60 for a bucket load of material in the hopper, a little over a ton. Owner Lloyd Nanney told me, “The customer feeds in the dirt that water washes down a flume into a rotating sieve. Anything larger than the holes in the drum goes right through and falls into a wheelbarrow to be rolled away. Anything smaller than the holes runs down into the sluice box that jigs back and forth. Probably when operated correctly it’s 98% efficient for anything less than a 50th of an inch.” Lloyd said they have rebuilt the machines, worn them out and rebuilt them again and again. They’re better than new.

High Banker

High Banker

Other equipment available to customers has no moving parts except for the pump. A scoop of material is dumped out behind the “high banker,” and a customer has 3 1/2 hours to run it, shovel into it, with water going into a stationary sluice box. There are two shifts scheduled daily, 9-12:30 and 1-4:30. (See their website http://www.thermalcitygoldmine.com) Lloyd tells me some people bring their own machine and just buy the dirt. “Back in the old days, there’d be 15 of ’em on a Saturday morning.”

Lloyd took me to the back of his property and pointed out a big pit where he had dug for ten years. Several years ago, he bought 39 more acres just to ensure they wouldn’t run out of dirt.

Thermal City Gold Mine sits on the county line across the street from Lloyd’s old homeplace. His brother Bruce runs a mechanic’s shop nearby. Lloyd recommends him, since he’s got “all the modern stuff, computers, four inside lifts, and one outside lift that I’ve had that big dump truck on.” The old house burned in 1957. Their father rebuilt it close enough to the same site so that he could use the same spring. Paul worked for the State, building roads for 37 years, and then went to work for Lloyd’s uncle Johnny Dowdle, almost 80 now, and did grade work on a dozer for ten years. “Then he came up here and hauled material for five years. He was a worker. I mean (he) wanted to work, run a machine. On toward the last his eyes got messed up, and he couldn’t see level.”

“My dad was not a talker, and I never knew about that copperhead thing.” (Chapter 41 of the Nanney Saga). But one day they did get to talking, and he told Lloyd a story that nobody else knew. In 1942, Paul and his granddaddy Perminter were “working in that field where the highway runs now, and he asked him about the ditch coming down the edge of a bank.” Paul knew it went up that valley, but it didn’t make sense to a 14 year old. Lloyd said, “Dad was told that the ditch was dug by the old gold miners, and it was explained to him that they went up that creek a good ways to get enough height and dug that ditch down here where that house trailer is now and built a flume across the river to their operation.” (Close to Lloyd’s ten year old pit.) They did all of that because they didn’t have the 5hp Brigg & Stratton pump. They were right there at the river, but they were 15′ higher than they needed to be.” So they dug for weeks and weeks to overcome the grade. And Lloyd knows that story was not unusual. “There was a long ditch line up here at Rhomtown that came down almost 18 miles. People didn’t back off for anything. There was no “we can’t get water”.” No excuses.

Easy Second Broad River, kin to French Broad and First Broad

Easy Second Broad River, kin to French Broad and First Broad

The campground at Thermal City Gem Mine has several RV’s spaced throughout a wooded area. The campground also has rentals available. Most of the people I saw on my tour were here long term, even yearly. Some come to relax as did one retired couple who have a very nice camper. They once lived on a 50′ boat and travelled the intra-coastal, and Great Lakes, etc. and now they have a peaceful spot on the Second Broad River. One guy comes up from South Carolina three times a week. Another is from PA.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

And some people enjoyed their stay here so much, their families wanted them to be forever remembered in a small memorial on site. Such as the Russian guy who came for several years with his wife. Another was a hippie guitar picker whose tribute reads: peace, love, music.

Truly these are satisfied customers. Not just looking for gold for extra cash. They are looking for lasting value.

Below is a photo of Lloyd by gemstones that have been mined at Thermal City. He is wearing the company T-shirt with the logo sketched by his cousin Ramona, Wade’s daughter.

Trophy stones at Thermal City Museum

Trophy stones at Thermal City Museum

If I have not written this well enough for you to understand, you will have to drop by Thermal City Gold Mine and talk to Lloyd. He will be happy to show you around and answer your questions. http://thermalcitygoldmine.com

The Nanneys are a great American family. It has been a pleasure getting to know them.




Copyright August 2016 Georgia Wilson





Posted in Dysartsville Saga, Nanney Saga | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Episode 2: The Only Game in Town

We are talking about Thermal City, really more of a community than a city, and Thermal City Gold Mine is a place for visitors to try their hand panning for gold. Or get more involved/or relaxed for the entire day or week. Some stay a year. Those who are interested in the way things were (like moi) will enjoy a conversation with the owner, Lloyd Nanney.

Lloyd learned something about gold mining from a couple who moved here in the 1970’s from California. “She had inherited a little piece of land way up Rock House Creek, two miles from a power pole, and they bought a little cabin that used to be part of Ridgecrest Assembly, and brought it down there and set up housekeeping.” They even gave Lloyd a pan that he kept for 21 years–until someone walked off with it.

When he was between jobs building hospitals in 1992, Lloyd answered a newspaper ad about starting a prospecting club. He had noticed that interest in mining was increasing on outdoor TV shows, and he had the family property calling his name. (See last post)

“When the blizzard of ’93 tore down a whole lot of trees, I cut ’em up and hauled them up here and had Whitey Morgan saw them, and I built that first room over there and started a business.” The original building is now an office and two bathrooms for his campground.

“We started the store, and I had a few little gold pans and such as that. We were just selling a few knick-knacks, and then a couple came up from Georgetown, SC, to camp here for awhile. One day they came to me and said , “We talked it over, and this is where we want to be.” And they stayed for ten years. While the wife handled communication and sales, the husband helped Lloyd “Doin’ whatever. Diggin’. We used to handle a lot more dirt than we do now. We’d dig up and stockpile thousands and thousands of tons of material a year.” He points to a large pile, “Right there is 250 tons, and I’ve got two more of those.”

First Stop: Office

First Stop: Office

Inside the main building today are things you might see in a museum. Gemstones and small collectibles. And Lloyd loves to talk history. “The last mining that was done anywhere in this area was mica mining in WWII. They tried to get the mica in as big a piece as they could because they could get more money per pound so they were real careful about getting it out. I had a great uncle who was mining mica during the war. That was The Thing. He told me they got a piece right above the creek below our property line, and they had to trim it just a little bit to get it to lay down in the bed of a two-horse wagon!” That is a huge piece of anything.

According to Marci Spencer in her book Pisgah National Forest, mica was one of the region’s most valuable resources. “Strong but lightweight and flexible and heat-resistant, with insulating and reflective qualities, mica served many purposes. Sheet mica has been used in electronics, optics, and store windows. Ground mica is a filler for drywall compounds and plastics, and an anti-sticking agent in rubbers, roofing, and automobile braking systems.

Outside Treasure

Outside Treasure

One day a friend of Lloyd’s called to announce that he had purchased all the equipment out of the old Tar Heel Mica Company in Avery County, in the mountains north of McDowell. It had been closed for years, but a new owner wanted to try his hand at making a winery, (A very popular endeavor in this area now that seems to be replacing Christmas tree farms) Bob wanted to know if Lloyd was interested. And he was. He took his big truck and trailer and headed up the mountain to “a dungeon, a horrible place to work.” There wasn’t a flush toilet in the county when it was in business, but also that was back when people didn’t go to a middle man. Direct sales. Lloyd was captivated by the history. “Thomas Edison came to that building. Henry Ford came to that building.” In the loft of one of the company’s structures, Lloyd saw the generator that made the very first electricity ever produced in Avery County. Also, he found a shaft that was driving the punch press that punched out pieces of mica. “It was bolted to the ceiling up there in 1903.” He was like a kid in a candy store, and brought a trailer load of stuff home to add to his museum. Big stuff. An outside museum.

Preservation of Industrial History

Preservation of Industrial History

Then he got a call from a friend who had retired and “moved to Yarnell, AZ, a neat little gold town south of Prescott.” He had tried for years to buy a 10 stamp mill from a lady in Virgilina, VA, and was finally successful. But now he needed help to transport it back to Lloyd’s place to store it. Lloyd drove over the NC border up to an old tobacco farm in Halifax County to look at it. That area was rich in copper at the turn of the 20th century, but gold and silver were mined at Red Bank Mining. Lloyd liked what he saw and later “rounded up a crew and took a loader and 2-3 trucks and trailers and such, and got half the load and the next weekend we went back and got the other half. Two weekends and eight truckloads.” Showing me his museum pieces, he said, “They made less than 30 of these machines in 1895 and 1896. And most of them probably went for the scrap metal drive for WWII. There is only one in the world that will run, and it stayed in NC at the Reed Gold Mine” where they have lots of parts and pieces. But Lloyd has the next biggest collection: cam shafts, mortar boxes, clutches with an 1888 date. This stuff is made to last. “There’s ten hammers. A hammer weighs somewhere between 750 and 1000 pounds, picks it up and drops it, picks it up and drops it. It’s neat.”

About his family property, Lloyd said, “For some reason or other, I’d got it in my head this was all mica mining. But it absolutely was not, because there is no mica mining in placer.”  Placer is a Spanish word meaning “alluvial sand.” So placer mining takes place in stream beds, alluvial deposits for minerals. And that is what Thermal City is all about.

The Canteen

The Canteen

Lloyd’s enthusiasm for mining has made his prospecting business a success. I asked him about a building with a huge exterior sign, “Nugget Café.” “Well, that’s where we eat. We spend so much time over here, we had to have a kitchen. And we also have get-togethers here ’cause we can fit 30 people in there. When things were hummin’ it wasn’t unusual to have 30 people for lunch. Once a month we do a potluck for the campers.”

Behind the office today, there are several guys panning in troughs filled with water. We jumped in a golf cart for a tour that I will share with you in the next post.

My grandsons in 2013 Panning for Gold at Thermal City Gem Mine

My grandsons in 2013 Panning for Gold at Thermal City Gem Mine



Copyright August 2016 Georgia Wilson

Posted in Dysartsville Saga, Nanney Saga | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Episode 1: Vein Mountain Road runs Nanney to Nanney

Thermal City Gold Mine

Thermal City Gold Mine

Since I have promised my near neighbors to include their stories in this blog, we must depart Nanneytown. However, we cannot cross the county line of McDowell and Rutherford without mentioning again the historical impact of gold mining in this area. Indeed, Thermal City Gold Mine owned by Wade’s nephew Lloyd Nanney, straddles the line, and the only way to get to Dysartsville from there is down a road named Vein Mountain. At the other end is Wade’s sister Ruby.

Miz Ruby Nanney's Peaceful Abode

Miz Ruby Nanney’s Peaceful Abode



I have already mentioned Vein Mountain Road because it runs under the railroad where the Sprouse ancestor rescued a young man along Baker Creek. See Part 7 of the Brackett Town series where this neighborhood tour began.)

After the stories from Brice Sprouse and his family, we listened to stories from Wade Nanney and his family which was so large that the tales started in Brackett Town in McDowell County, crossed the county line south into Rutherford, and came up Cove Road back into McDowell at Montford Cove. In 1839 some of the Nanneys helped to build Montford Cove Baptist Church and in 1840 some of them helped to build Round Hill Baptist Church on the eastern side of the mountain. Perhaps religious help was needed after gold was discovered. By 1832, according to http://goldfever.unctv.org/film, more than 50 mines were operating in NC, employing more than 25,000 people, an industry exceeded only by farming. Not everyone was sad when the hordes scuttled to the gold rush in California in 1849. The churches still stand strong.

Unifying the area in 1847, Pastor Perminter Morgan’s daughter Tempie of Montford Cove married Col. Amous Nanney of Round Hill in Dobbsville (later Crab Apple Gap, now Union Mills. See Chapter 10: Nanneytown) This strong religious vine continued over the centuries to weave its way through several family trees. (Chapter 22: The Bible Belt Tightens)

In Chapter 26 of the Nanney Saga, I wrote that Amous “purchased a tract of land along the main dirt road between Rutherfordton and Marion, the county seat of McDowell Co. It is now called NC Highway 221. Amous mined gold in the river bottom there near Vein Mountain in the years before the Civil War.” A handwritten deed of trust dated 1847, for 400 acres of worked-out mines sold on the courthouse steps for $20, is in the possession of Lloyd Nanney, the current owner of Thermal City Gold Mine. Very few families hang on to their property for such a long time. As I have mentioned before, the Nanneys can trace their roots back to an ancestral home in Wales.

A brief recap of my gold mining stories in the Brackett Town and Nanney Sagas: In the 1830’s and 1840’s, the rocky pastures northwest of Charlotte, NC, captivated the fantasy of the entire US. Gold was discovered. Newspapers told the world.

Jeweler Christopher Bechtler emigrated here from Germany with his son and nephew. They recognized the lucrative potential of helping miners transform their awkward pocketsful of gold nuggets into a uniform item for standard trade. A private Bechtler mint went into business and produced the first $1 gold coin in the U.S. Between 1831 and 1840, Bechtler minted $2 1/4 million dollars in currency. Unfortunately for them, the US government opened a mint in Charlotte in 1837, closer to the deep mines. And of course, the big dogs could afford the newer steam-powered machines. The Bechtler mine closed in 1849.

Also unfortunately for them, it is suspected Christopher and his son Augustus died because of their successful business. I talked with Lloyd Nanney, a local historian like his Uncle Wade. “The Bechtlers did not die rich. He had a mine, and he had some patents on some mining machines, but his business was minting gold. It amazes me that they were working for 2%. You brought him gold, and he turned it into coins, or he would melt it and make an ingot and stamp it as to its weight and its fineness, so you had a bar of gold. You knew what you had. (Minting coins) was a long drawn out process and the uncle was the main one. His son took over from him, and very probably (both) died from mercury poisoning. They also made jewelry and all kinds of stuff. We got here locally a pistol that they made, and we’ve just acquired a long gun, very ornate on top of the barrel, inlaid in gold.”

Lloyd was reminded by this conversation about a piano owned by the Weavers, his neighbors to the southwest. This family could trace their roots back to the early 1850’s, when they purchased fields where they mined gold for two generations and then leveled it off and farmed. “Pete Weaver just died here about maybe five years ago. When Pete was a hundred, he disappeared one day. Couldn’t find him, didn’t know where he was at, and they were getting kind of worried about him. He come driving in the driveway. He’d been to town and got his driver license! I think he was 104 when he died.”

One of these days I will have to do more research on this Weaver family and the Thermal City Hotel in their front yard. But I have to finish my Bechtler piano story. Lloyd said that he had always heard the Weavers had a Bechtler piano . “Of course, how could you tell? They didn’t carve any initials in it! But I went down and talked to him about it. It had been in the same room for maybe 70 years. An upright grand, a square thing, odd looking. He was very receptive to donating it to the Bechtler museum.” Lloyd talked with the museum people. “Would you have an interest in owning the original Bechtler piano?” But they didn’t really believe him. “So I brought one of the ladies up here, and she got serial numbers off it and researched it. It was made in 1840, and the Weavers had a story about who had it after the Bechtlers and who had it after them, and the Weavers had it ever since.” The piano now sits in probably the same room it occupied when new. One happy ending for the Bechtlers.

And for Thermal City Gold Mine?

Entry from Hiway 221

Entry from Hiway 221

We walk outside, and Lloyd points to the surrounding hills hovering over us, the Second Broad River murmuring to our left. “From the base of that hill over there (right) to the base of that hill on the other side of the river (left) is all stream bed material, all washed in here. Today, the floor of the valley is in a very slow process of building up but it’s been a whole lot higher than it is now. It’s been as high as the top of these hills.”

Ever doubtful, I say, “Really, when?”

“Eons. And it has eroded down to form this valley. Those hills are left because they are basically rock. Granite. This material is from upriver, and there are 33 gold veins that cross the valley up here just a little ways, and this material makes its way down during flood time, the only time it moves. The river’s been there, it’s been here, it’s been over there, it’s been all over the place in different channels.”

Early mining pit

Early mining pit

Lloyd points to a deep depression. “This is probably one of the 1880 pits. I spent a whole summer digging ditches and connecting all these pits and put live water in them. That one over there goes at right angle to the valley, and I’m pretty sure it’s a very early digging, 1830? And I think what they did was dig a ditch and located the places where the old river beds crossed that ditch and then they trenched those out and processed the material. Where the river beds flowed for a good while, that’s your richer material. See, nobody knows…photographs didn’t come in ’til the Civil War. There’s probably not a photograph made here before 1900. It was not a picturesque place.

“There are seven of these pits down here. I think Perminter did them, or possibly even Amous did some of them. I know Perminter in 1885 was using his drag pan and dragging out these pits and mining gold.” When Lloyd started a prospecting business here, “there was nothing here but billions of mosquitos.”

So why did he come?

I asked him.

“Because it just seemed like the thing to do.”

(Our next post will update you on the rest of the story.) Homework: http://thermalcitygoldmine.com


Copyright July 2016 Georgia Wilson


Posted in Brackett Town Saga, Dysartsville Saga, Nanney Saga | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Bear Alert in Dysartsville!

My last post borrowed a written account from the 1970’s, which included references to historical gold mining and the establishment of churches in the area. Religion and commerce–signs of civilization.

That Dysartsville Community Club report did not mention the wildlife that now fascinates those of us who moved here with citified roots. Perhaps it was just taken for granted that we would respect the animals who have roots here as we were moving in with them. For example, the black panther. A neighbor who is a professional painter has seen in his pasture the remains of a brutal kill of a deer whose back was broken. With the artist’s experience of studying and faithfully replicating wildlife scenes worldwide, he is certain that the killer was a cat, perhaps the infamous panther who mysteriously glides through our forest. I have had conversations with locals who have a family member who has seen the “painter,” but these are all third-hand sightings. And much disputed.

Yes, the forests are shrinking, and recently a private preserve was established adjacent to our neighborhood for the protection of thousands of acres, in addition to nearby South Mountain and the Pisgah Wilderness area. Hunting is forbidden on these properties, according to signs posted. However in March, my dog got her foot caught in a trap on an old logging road. Fortunately she was walking with my husband who had the strength to pry open the trap to release her. If I had been by myself, I would have had to leave her to find help. I will never walk there again. Especially since 100 yards later the experience was more traumatic. Her white hair, both short and long coats, stood straight out from her body, giving her a fierce appearance, and she lunged toward the bobcat in their path.

Usually timid in man’s presence, this bobcat was hissing and snarling. Mainly because his foot was caught in a spring loaded trap he was trying to escape. Our husky hit him square on, and they both tumbled over, his claws and sharp teeth barely missing her. No doubt re-evaluating her folly, the dog decided to respond to her owner’s command to retreat, and pranced to his side without a backward glance. Since it was impossible to release the poor bobcat without severe injury to himself, this former salesman had to rely on spreading the word when he emerged from the woods. He was assured the bobcat was being monitored. Whatever that means in hunter-speak.

Stealing My Carrots

Stealing My Carrots

This incident should have prepared me for the bear eating carrots and grapes in my garden last Monday. He was far enough away that I could safely stand on the deck and zoom in to get his photo. He left on the run when my grandson gave a shrill two-finger whistle. But still I was shocked the next morning when I opened my door at 7:00 am. A bear was walking across my yard, 20′ away. I can’t recall actually having a jaw dropping experience before this. Maybe it

Inspecting the Squash

Inspecting the Squash

was the time of day. Luckily I excel at walking backwards–right through the still open door into my house.

Trying to look as cuddly as Winnie the Pooh

Trying to look as cuddly as Winnie the Pooh

And this morning, there was one bedded down among the blueberry bushes which he had mutilated. He had to shimmy up a 10′ deer fence to get in, except where the fence came apart from the post on his last visit because he was so heavy. Most wildlife is timid, but the bears are getting too close. Not tame like deer, but confident like Godzilla.

A neighbor over the hill was aghast to see a black bear on his third story deck cleaning out the bird feeder. They’re not cute any more because they are no longer wary and feel comfortable in sharing our streets. I am reminded of a conversation I had with Brice Sprouse in 2013. He was a local farmer who said you had to plant more than you need so you could share crops with the wildlife. They were going to take it anyway. See Part 23: Sprouse Farm Changes under my Brackett Town series for Brice’s bear story. Actually I don’t mind sharing the crops except when the fences and bushes have to be repaired and replaced. Then it makes more sense to give up the garden and shop at the grocery store.

At least bears are visible, unlike the copperheads on our walking trails through the woods. And I am thankful the five foot rattlesnakes have left town.

Do I really want to see the legendary panther? Only on football helmets.


Copyright July 2016 Georgia Wilson

Posted in Dysartsville Saga | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Dysartsville History

Dysartsville Community Club 2014

Dysartsville Community Club 2014

I recently came across a treasure packed away in a box gathering dust in the Dysartsville Community Clubhouse. Although one scrapbook had several dates from 1955-1962, there was no date on this report, nor an author’s name. I intended to publish it as typed (in the font of an old Smith Corona). Remember those?

But then I found in a 1974 scrapbook a second history, also not signed. Many of the same words from the earlier report are  used, but there are additional quotes, so it seems that the first record was later rewritten. I will combine both histories to squeeze all the good out of the gift:

“The Vein Mountain area of McDowell County had its own “Goldrush” in 1829. Gold was discovered in Brindle Creek, in the southwestern corner of Burke County, [near the present boundary of Burke and McDowell, later called Vein Mountain] continued into Rutherford County and throughout the entire South Mtn region. A traveler in the South Mt. region reported “The great hordes of mining population have changed the face of the earth. Jamestown used to be a straggling place in a small valley, but has been turned topsy-turvey by the gold diggers, who utterly have ruined the beautiful valley for agricultural purposes.” It was also reported “that one stream in McDowell County had 3,000 miners at work in 1848, but was practically deserted by 1850.

Shelter in the mining camps was crude and consisted of wooden shanties of the flimsiest sort; some with only one room, others with one room and a lean-to, while others were little more than sheds. The procurement of food was difficult; wagon trains operated to sources of supply and provided the commonest staples at exhorbitant prices which were paid for with grains of gold. From 1835 to the turn of the century mining activities gradually declined as the stream deposits were combed, and the promise of rich strikes became disappointing. During this time many of the miners joined the Gold Rush to California. The last organized mining operation in McDowell County was on Huntsville Mt. under the direction of Col. J.C. Horton, and it was on this mountain that a five pound nugget was found.

Another interesting event took place on the Polly Bright farm. Little William Christy and his father Grayson Christy found a very pretty rock at the spring. They sold it for $60, and today the Christy diamond is in a museum.

Dysartsville, was known as Crossroads before a post office was established around the year 1860. The post office had its first location at the home of Mrs. Betsy Dysart, and for whom Dysartsville was named. The home of Mrs. Betsy Dysart was located where Mr. and Mrs. Elija Blankenship now live.

Several houses were built soon after the establishment of the post office. Mr. Dysart built a store, and the post office was moved to the store. Mr. Albert Higgins built a brick house about this same time, and it is still standing. [until the 60’s] Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Shepherd (then) occupied this home. Gamewell Burgess bought the property and tore it down. Hue used many of the handmade bricks for a new house and sold the rest. His daughter and family lived there until he was retired and could come here from Canton. After a few years, he sold to Eubert Jaynes, who lives there now (1974) and raises beef cattle, but still works in a mill.

The Dysartsville Baptist Church was organized May 2, 1857, with eleven charter members. A Presbyterian Church known as Drucilla Presbyterian Church was established soon afterwards close to where the First Baptist Church is located now. [Corner of Club House Drive and Hiway 226] At the time the Baptist Church was where their cemetery is. [On the hill across the street.] A small school was between the two churches. It contained two rooms, one room was made of logs, and the other planks. The Trinity Methodist Church was started around 1858, one mile from Dysartsville on the Bridgewater Road. It was later moved to the present location. [On Trinity Church Rd]. Several years later, Drucilla Presbyterian Church was moved about two miles from where it was on the Marion Road [226]. Soon after that was moved another church was started called the Hebron Presbyterian Church two miles south of Dysartsville on the Rutherfordton Road.

In March of 1965, the new Community Clubhouse was finished and dedicated, and all in the community were elated over it. We started out with a big fireplace, and an oil-burning heater, but this past year we put in all electric heat, and now the floors are warmer, and we do not have to turn it off in order to hear during a meeting. There are many meetings in the building all during the year. [1974]

Dysartsville is one of the oldest communities in the county, but it is one of the youngest. Due to the fact that this part of the county didn’t get electricity as soon as some of the other communities, some of the people moved out, and also there were no railroads.

In 1892 the school house was moved from its first location to the present one. The second building was a two story building with one room on each floor. Mr. J.R. Denton taught the first school in the new location with around 60 or 70 pupils. He received $20 a month, and he taught most any subject the pupils wanted. Their ages ranged from 5 to 21. In 1900, two teachers were added. The school burned in 1925, and the present one was completed in 1927. At the present there are 4 teachers, and 130 pupils.

From 1955 to 1965, the number of pupils decreased to about 60, and the school was closed, and all were taken in school buses to Glenwood School, about 10 miles away. The building stood vacant for several years, and recently has been sold to the Smith family who want to turn it into a music school. [1974]

The three farms which Mr. Jack Morris put together for a large farm and which is located mostly within the Loop road was sold to Rudolf Albert in 1955. Later he sold it to a corporation in 1966, and they bought it with the intention of putting in an 80 acre lake, a golf course and country club. So far nothing has happened. [1974]

Crawleys lived above their store

Crawleys lived above their store

[1974 report] We have two small stores in Dysartsville. The one owned by the Fortune brothers, the other operated by J.D. Fender. Both have gas stations along with the store.

Edna Crawley put in a Beauty Shop across from the little Crawley Store, and it is doing fine.” End of discovered histories.

For years known as Miss Betty's Diner, the place to start the day with your neighbors

For years known as Miss Betty’s Diner, the place to start the day with your neighbors

My Note: Today this home is next door to our mall (The Dollar General Store) and across the street the old shop is going strong as a Diner under new owners, offering a good basic breakfast and lunch to the community, but often referred to by the previous name of Miss Betty’s. It takes awhile for locals to adjust to change. Me, too.

If anyone has something to further enlighten me, please comment below. Or email me so I can share your story.




Posted in Dysartsville Saga | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Patriot Wreath for First American War

Although brothers fought brothers at the birth of this nation and later in the Civil War for its soul, I hope we will never have such violence here again. Sadly, this year’s political season  indicates a country still divided. On this Memorial Day weekend, the mention of selfless military service takes me back to the beginning, the fight for liberty on home soil.

Honoring James Greenlee Founding Father of Morganton, NC

Honoring James Greenlee
Founding Father of Morganton, NC

Last week in Morganton, NC, I visited the Quaker Meadows Pioneer Cemetery with a group of Daughters of the American Revolution to lay a wreath of remembrance on the tombstone which is inscribed: Here lies All That’s Mortal of James Greenlee Who departed this life November 8, 1813, Aged 73 years.

He was the son of James Greenlee and Mary Elizabeth McDowell who moved from England to Rockbridge, VA, to a new world of danger and freedom. When her husband fell ill and died in the summer of 1757, Mary raised the younger children with the help of her father, Ephraim McDowell.

James Greenlee, II, was born October 19th, 1740, in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley, now Rockbridge County, Virginia. He and his siblings were schooled by the first school of high grade west of the Blue Ridge, known as Augusta Academy later to evolve into Washington and Lee University.

According to http://www.burkesheriff.org/Greenlee.htm, as a child, James Greenlee, II, lived in a cabin in the great wilderness, “teeming with bears, wolves, deer and bands of hostile Indians. He would have been 15 years old when the French and Indian Wars erupted.

James and his sister Grace Greenlee Bowman and her husband John, and an unknown number of others, left VA for North Carolina on the Old Wagon Road. The group reached Moravian settlements at Salem where it is very probable that the VA pioneers were deterred from coming directly to Burke County because of Cherokee raids in the Catawba River Valley. During the summer of 1776, war tribes crossed the Blue Ridge and murdered and scalped 37 settlers.

Upon hearing this information, the Greenlees and Bowmans proceeded to the homes of their relatives (Aunt Margaret McDowell Mitchell) in South Carolina. Most likely it was on this trip to SC that James Greenlee fell in love with his first cousin, Mary Elizabeth Mitchell, who he soon married in Charleston. She was the daughter of James Mitchell and Margaret McDowell, Mary Greenlee’s sister. After learning that the Rowan militia had driven the Cherokees back, the Greenlees and Bowmans made their way to Burke County, NC.

The Greenlees built a family of eight children, all born in Morganton, NC, but Mary died when their youngest son was eight days old.

James M. Greenlee III – b. March 29, 1771 who married Mary Poteat; and Sarah Hoard Hunter (2nd wife)
Daughter who died at a young age
John Mitchell – born June 25th, 1775 and married his cousin, Mary Greenlee of Virginia
Margaret Greenlee – born January 14th 1778 and died young
William M. Greenlee – born May 19th, 1779 and died young
Samuel Greenlee*** – born January 26th, 1782-84 and married Minerva Keziah Sackett, d. 5-5-1848
Ephraim McDowell Greenlee – born February 22, 1786 and married to first wife Sarah Carr Shaw; and second wife Sarah Hallingsworth Brown
David Washington Greenlee – born January 28th, 1787, married Mary Howard McIntire, and purchased ‘The Glades’ in Marion, North Carolina, built in 1770.

It should be noted that James and his sister were the first Greenlees to settle in Burke County. While many families abandoned their homes in search of safety, the Greenlees and the McDowells stayed and persevered. James’ Uncle Col. John McDowell (his mother’s brother) was killed by Indians on Christmas Day. Another member of his family, Mrs. Estil, was captured and carried away by Indians, to be rescued by her brother, Col. Moffet.

On their arrival in Burke County, James Greenlee and John Bowman were entertained by relatives (McDowells at Quaker Meadow), and upon learning of their desire to settle in Burke, Gen. Charles McDowell took both men to see “a fine tract of land embracing the lower valley of Canoe Creek and fronting the Catawba River at the mouth of that stream.” Both men wanted to purchase the land and at the suggestion of Joseph McDowell, Sr., the question of ownership was settled by a wrestling match, which James Greenlee won. His land on Canoe Creek remained in possession of his heirs for hundreds of years, and is now occupied by the Mimosa Hills Country Club of Morganton.

James Greenlee’s land acquisition did not stop there. A little hamlet called “Alder Springs” grew in the hills south of the Catawba in full view of the Quaker Meadows home. The 230 acres later became the town of “Morgansborough,” now Morganton. James Greenlee owned all of the best lands about Morganton as well as land in Yancey County, Mitchell, Rutherford, McDowell County, and Memphis, Tennessee. In fact, James Greenlee, II, would become one of the largest land owners in Western NC and Tennessee.

His lands in Memphis were awarded to him for his services in the Revolutionary War. He also owned farms northwest of Marion, in Turkey Cove, and land on Catawba River, where his youngest son, David Washington Greenlee settled as the owner of a large plantation. During the Revolutionary War, when James fought with McDowell’s army at King’s Mountain and Cowpens, the Torries, under Gen. Patrick Ferguson, robbed him of his stock and grain and took off with a slave. But they could not steal his land, and his authority grew.

Greenlee was a well known businessman and land inspector in NC, and when the Morgan District was created in 1782, Greenlee was selected as one of the military auditors who was in charge of settling all debts that occurred during the war. During and after the Revolutionary period, Greenlee acquired hundreds of acres of land in Burke and Buncombe Counties, where he continued to be a cattle raiser and slave owner.

When Burke was established in 1777, the governing body of the County was manned by the Justice of the Peace, and around 1792, James Greenlee was appointed to that position. He also became Coroner of the county at the time of its creation and held that position for nineteen years. However, his duties did not cease there. He was a member of the NC Convention in 1788, which rejected the U.S. Constitution. (He did not serve in the second Constitutional Assembly the following year, which accepted.) He did serve as Burke County’s High Sheriff from 1780-1783. His son Ephraim was a Justice of Burke County Court in 1827.

James Greenlee was known to be a Whig in politics, a supporter of the Revolution, as well as an elder in the Quaker Meadows Presbyterian Church. James was listed as a trustee of the Morgan Academy which was the first formal educational institution in the county. James Greenlee died on November 8, 1813 and is buried at the Quaker Meadows Cemetery in Morganton, NC, near his sister and many other relatives.

Quaker Meadows Cemetery Gates

Quaker Meadows Cemetery Gates

There are many Patriots buried in this Burke County pioneer cemetery whose lives entwined with those in my neighboring county of McDowell. After his first wife died, James married Ruth Howard. The name of “Ruth Greenlee” became synonymous with McDowell County historic preservation in the 1900’s.

The family of “Hunting John” McDowell had been in America for two generations. He came from Virginia to the South Carolina area because of the French and Indian War and in the 1750’s lived around Burke County where other members of his family had settled at Quaker Meadows. In 1768 he received a land grant for 640 acres on the Catawba thirty miles west, and he built a log cabin which stood directly across the road from the present McDowell House, an area known as Pleasant Gardens. He is buried in a private cemetery along a Catawba River trail.

His daughter, Rachel, married John Carson who began acquiring land grants in 1778. The house he built here for his family with seven children is currently a beautifully maintained historic site in Marion. The property and house were later owned by Ephraim Greenlee who built a brick house on the property. I suspect this was Ephraim McDowell Greenlee from Burke County, son of James Greenlee, II.

When Rachel died, John Carson married in 1797 Mary Moffett McDowell, widow of Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens, and therefore the sister-in-law of his first wife. The two Joseph McDowells, one of Pleasant Gardens and one of Quaker Meadows, were apparently hard to keep separate during their lifetimes and since then as well. Both fought at King’s Mountain and were active in politics. To avoid confusion, they appended to their signatures the initials of their home. Joseph McDowell, Q.M., (Quaker Meadows) died in 1801. John and Mary Carson presented a writ of subpoena against his heirs in 1802. (From Carson House by Michael Hill).

Major Joseph McDowell who served in Griffith Rutherford’s campaign against the Cherokees is buried at the Quaker Meadows Pioneers’ Cemetery, laid to rest beside his elder brother Charles. They are the two McDowells who met under the Council Oak to rally the forces preceding the battle of King’s Mountain. There is a marker near the current A.J.’s Steakhouse in Morganton.

Colonel Alexander Erwin was a neighbor of the McDowells’ Quaker Meadows home. During the Kings Mountain campaign of 1780, Col. Erwin was away from his wife and six children fighting with the Burke militia when a party of Tories plundered his plantation, Cherryfields. His wife, Sarah, received a blow from a Tory saber. The gash across her head and shoulder contributed to her early death in 1785 at the age of 35. After the resolution of the war, Col. Erwin harbored deep resentment toward the Tories of Burke County. As first Clerk of Court, he was willing to allow Tory sympathizers to conduct business, but at the end of each day, he rode around the square warning all Tories to leave before sunset. He lived to be 79 and was laid to rest beside his wife near the cemetery gate. A chapter of the Sons of the Revolution was just started in Burke County and named The Colonel Alexander Erwin Chapter. It is rapidly growing.

A plaque reads: Quaker Meadows Cemetery honors the memory of the pioneers interred here who shared in the achievement of American Independence in the Revolution and in the founding of Burke County on the frontier.  June 1, 1777

The stones are made of limestone, easier to carve than granite, but they are disintegrating. DAR is working with the Preservation office in Asheville to save them and put them back together like a jigsaw puzzle. In Burnsville, June 4, there will be a program on cemetery preservation. June has been declared Cemetery Preservation month.

For this article I relied on spoken words at the wreath ceremony, http://www.burkesheriff.org/Greenlee.htm and The Carson House of Marion, NC, A Historical Research Project by Michael Hill


Copyright May 29, 2016 Georgia Wilson

Posted in McDowell County | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moving into a Changed World with Alice

What does a changed world mean to you? Loss of privilege, conveniences, freedom? Is there cautious optimism for an improved future?

Book I in A Changed World

Book I in A Changed World

In Alice Sabo’s trilogy, A CHANGED WORLD, a frightening scenario presents the danger of misplaced trust mixed with the daily challenges faced in rebuilding a community of strangers.

Like Stephen King’s The Stand, in which good vs evil after the devastating results of a plague, Sabo’s first two books LETHAL SEASONS and SCATTERED SEEDS explore details of survival.

Sabo is a compelling storyteller hosting a variety of interesting characters who establish relationships in unusual circumstances. Chapter 1 of Book II, SCATTERED SEEDS, begins with a quote from a chronicle that one of the main characters is writing, titled History of a Changed World:

“When the disease had run its course in the fall of Zero Year, we acted like a war had ended. The dead were buried in mass graves. World leaders declared a day of mourning. We met in public parks, singing hymns and holding hands. Those of us left alive were grieving and battered. We had survived a cataclysm of unknown proportions. And then, fools that we were, we tried to return to normal.”

Book II in A Changed World

Book II in A Changed World

Each chapter is introduced in the same way. Gradually the reader sees a larger picture revealed. This was an effective device because my mind could not process the enormous results of such a breakdown in civilization. (And I read the weighty uncut version of The Stand and the entire Left Behind series!)

Chapter 29: “We had to shake off our grief and fear and confusion to face the grim facts that we must work for our survival. Three years into it, there was no department or agency to bring us emergency supplies or direct us to safe housing. We had to wake up, look around ourselves, and start planning.”

Chapter 35: “Ten years in, many of the durable goods available in stores and abandoned homes were disintegrating.”

Chapter 66: “Each settlement becomes a tribe.”

So, I had questions for Alice Sabo, a writer friend from nearby Asheville, and she gave me intriguing answers:

1. Was there an event or news article that triggered thoughts along the path toward a story about a worldwide/national disaster?

Actually, it was in reaction to a couple of things. I read a post-apocalyptic novel in which people responded stupidly. I wanted to investigate the other side of that. What happens when smart people make good choices? A lot of books in the genre deal with the devastation but not the rebuilding. I don’t think all the survivors would be looting and killing for their food. I also wanted to deal with where climate change might take us a few decades down the road. In a world where camping could get you killed, safe structures become essential.

2. In the creation of a new community using the remnants of old resources, you describe  a vegetable garden grown on a former school ball field. The details include the comment that a blight on tomatoes would affect all members of the nightshade family. Are you sharing the practical experience of a gardener?

Alice in Wonder Garden Planting Slug-bait????

Alice in Wonder Garden
Planting Slug-bait????

I am. I have been an organic gardener for years. Living in NC has taught me a few new lessons. Previously, I hadn’t run into blight. The first few years here I simply figured it was a bad year for tomatoes. Then I researched the problem and found solutions. Even organic gardeners rely on some manufactured products. I don’t know what I would do without slug-bait!

3. I love the character of Nick, somewhat of a John Wayne hero, who volunteers for a dangerous undercover mission. His new friend Wisp cannot go with him but tracks him with extra-sensory powers. How would you describe this unique character who also has two brothers with unnatural skills?

Wisp came about because of some research I had done on feral children. He is genetically designed, as are his “brothers.” They spent their early years in a lab. I learned that children who reach a certain age without familial contacts can never develop them. So it made sense to me that if I wanted characters who could interact and develop relationships with each other, I needed a link. Wish was that link in their early life. At one point, his brother Kyle says of him, “He kept us human.” That will be further examined in later books.

4.How does Nick of the Changed World trilogy differ from your main character in the Asher Blaine mysteries? Do your characters take on unexpected traits as you write or do you have an established profile at the beginning that you slowly reveal?

Asher is always out of his depth, but he does what he thinks is right. Nick has no doubts about right and wrong and what he should do. Sometimes Nick might question an action, but he always chooses the high road. For Asher, he hasn’t a clue how to get to the high road, but manages to stumble on it in his own unique way. And yes, sometimes they surprise me with the things they do. But they are fully formed when I put them in a story. Sometimes I base them on an actor or a character I’ve come across, but they always change into their own individual personality.

5. I understand that you have experience as an accountant. Has an innate balanced approach influenced your plot development style? I am alluding to the left brain vs right brain theory, where the left brain is more analytical.

I’m a bookkeeper, which is much different than an accountant! I like working with numbers which might affect how I approach a plot. I am always learning my craft, and my plotting skills have changed as I pick up new tricks.

6. You are committed to coming out with Book III to end this tale. Do you have a disciplined schedule to keep you on track with your motivation and enthusiasm?

I plan to write every weekday. I keep a calendar specifically for my writing with my self-imposed deadlines on it. I plan about six months from start to publish for a book. I pick a publishing date and plan backwards from there with a little wiggle room. That way if I start falling behind in my daily word count, I know I need to pick up the slack to meet my goals.

Book 3 – SPECULATIONS – is scheduled to come out this fall. It will tie up most of the story lines for the brothers. I plan to write more books in this series.

Terrific! That is welcome news for your fans! Alice, thank you for sharing your time to respond to my questions. I wish you continued success in A CHANGED WORLD.

Keep up with Alice Sabo’s writing progress on her website and blog:




Posted in Guest | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Keeping it in the ‘Hood with a Bomber

Last week I reached out of the neighborhood to include an interview of a children’s book author who is in my writing group. This week, I share an interview with Sandra Warren, a neighbor who wrote a historical book with a phenomenal background that should interest all Patriots.

Sandra, you have a long history of writing experience with children’s books, biographies, and now a historical account that is an inspiration to future generations, We Bought a WWII Bomber. How did you come to realize this story was yours to write?

In 2012, at my high school reunion, I gave a presentation about the history of the school, which included the story of the Class of 1943’s participation in the “Buy a Bomber” program. The story ended with a newspaper article about another South High school alum who, with the help of former President Gerald R. Ford, found the bomber had been used for training and was dismantled in Columbus, Ohio.We Bought a WWII Bomber

While researching for my presentation, I became fascinated with what the Class of 1943 had accomplished. I decided the story would make a great middle-grade novel since it was instigated by an 8th grader. But first, I had to finish a novel I’d been working on for years.

In 2013, one of my high school classmates decided to find the training log for the bomber. Instead, he found the bomber listed on a 1944 report of stateside military plane crashes. The report said the bomber had crashed in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. My classmate ordered copies of that report and sent one to me.

When you found out the South High plane had crashed, were you tempted to give up the project?

Absolutely not! That’s the very thing that prompted more curiosity. Crashing tells a very different story than merely being dismantled. I needed to know what? where? when? and why? Then, as the investigation unfolded, things got more intriguing. How could a whole community forget that a WWII bomber crashed in their county? And since the field where the bomber came down had been sold to the Blue Ridge Parkway a few years after the crash, why weren’t national park historians made aware of this?

When I discovered that I live less than three hours from Meadows of Dan, Virginia, where the last flight of the bomber purchased by students from my high school ended, it was like a big sign flashing, “You’ve got to write this story!”

You must have interviewed many people for this project. How did you make contacts? Was that process different than writing your two biographical books?

The process for writing my latest book was completely different than writing the biographical books which were about two female Army Reserve nurses who served in the Persian Gulf War. In each biography I had a primary character that was still alive. I interviewed them, and they gave me easy access to their colleagues, friends and family members.

In my latest book, however, many of the key players were elderly or had already passed on. Interviewing older citizens has it’s challenges particularly when dealing with facts. Memories can fade over the years. For the Michigan high school side of the story, I was able to tap into a well-organized alumni association. Key folks in that association put me in contact with class members who were willing to share their memories.

Courtesy of Wikipedia by US Air Force @ www.nationalmuseum

Courtesy of Wikipedia by US Air Force @ http://www.nationalmuseum

Things got more complicated, however, when I started in on the Virginia side of the story. The biggest obstacle was that, no one, even members of the Patrick County Historical Society, seemed to remember anything about the military crash of a B-17 bomber that had occurred in their county on Oct. 1, 1944. I had to call the local radio stations and ask to be interviewed. I also sent letters to surrounding cities’ newspapers, giving a brief synopsis of the story and asked folks to please contact me if they had any memories to share. The people came out of the woodwork. Most were interviewed via the telephone. With permission, I recorded the conversations for future reference.

Was it difficult to organize your facts to make your time line chronological?

No! It was essential that this story be told as it happened, one thing after the other. The only chapters that really gave me pause were the ones dealing with the landing of the pilots after they bailed out of the bomber. The challenge was figuring out how to tell six different experiences all happening within the same timeframe and not be confusing.

I especially liked the details you included about life and times in that era, when everyone was affected by rationing. Because there were many campaigns to fund the war effort, your long list of contributors to the “Buy a Bomber” campaign was impressive.

Since publication last year, has your focus on this story encouraged discussion and more recollections from South High graduates and service members?

Everywhere I go and after every presentation folks share their most wonderful WWII memories. I’ve heard from South High alumni who participated in the program, and many remember selling the bonds and stamps and being at the dedication ceremony at the Kent County Airport. One gentleman proudly pointed out that he was one of the trombone players standing under the wing in the photos. A Virginia woman remembered seeing two of the pilots embrace after being reunited after the crash. It was the first time she’d seen grown men cry. Another Virginia woman insisted that I visit her home so she could show me where her father rescued the Captain. The stories go on and on. I’m collecting these stories to put on my website linked to an “After The Book” button.

Have the alumni of South High supported your efforts?

Oh my goodness YES! Right from the beginning, alumni got behind this project. One alum took up a collection at her place of business to help fund the photos and production costs. She raised over $1000 on behalf of the book. Alumni have also supported me by buying books and inviting me to give presentations. All this from alumni of a school that closed in 1968! The “Spirit” of South High is quite remarkable.

What was your most difficult challenge in writing this story?

Perhaps my most difficult challenge was getting it done in eight months. I started researching the story in mid-January 2015 and wanted a book in hand by September 9th, the Saturday after Labor Day. To meet that deadline, the book would have to be finished and headed to the printer by mid-July at the latest. I had made the decision to self-publish the book because I had been asked to speak at the South High School All-school Open House & Tour the week of Labor Day. I didn’t want to make that presentation without a book to share. A traditional publisher would not have been able to produce it that quickly.

Let me also say that I’ve never had so much fun writing anything in my life, and I can’t imagine another project that will give me as much joy.

What next?

Currently, I’m working on presentations and scheduling for the bomber book as well as trying to keep up with social media. Gone are the days when all a writer has to do is write.

With regards to writing, the middle-grade version of the bomber story is mulling around in my brain. When I figure out the angle I should be able to write it in a couple of days. In addition, the novel I mentioned finishing earlier still hasn’t found a publisher. I need to go through it one more time and get it out!

Thanks Sandra for sharing your busy time on this blog. Sandra will be autographing her books at two events this month: April 16 at Burke Country Library and April 22 & 23 at Blue Ridge Bookfest. (See notices at top on right column.) For more information about Sandra Warren: www.arliebooks.com For Presentations: arliebooksales@gmail.com


I’m so excited! I was just informed that my book, We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway is a finalist in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards! YAY!

Posted in Guest | Tagged , , | 6 Comments