Episode 14: Dear Editor

One of my “informants” supplied me with the following letters published in 1880 in the local news section of The Blue Ridge Blade, the newspaper of Morganton, county seat of neighboring Burke County. Remember McDowell had only been a county for 38 years at that time, so Dysartsville folks were comfortable with a foreign newspaper!!! All of these letters were sent from a gentleman named Victor; perhaps each community had their spokesman.


Letter #1 (February 14, 1880)

“Mr. Editor: I wish to say a few things about Dysartsville and the surroundings. There is one store at this place, one shoe shop, one blacksmith shop and a tannery. There are two churches (Baptist and Presbyterian) and a good school house. The Baptists are supplied by Elder F.H. Poston, of Cleaveland [sic] county. Not far off is a Methodist church–Rev. Mr. Little, pastor. Nearby are two flourishing saw and grist mills, and there are three other mills and a wool carder at no great distance. A few miles from Dysartsville are several other trading places. Dysartsville is situated in the gold regions and is a good place for trade. The gold mines still furnish the means for much trade, and large quantities of gold dust are sent to the mine from this section. I have been told that one man, a short time ago, sent off 1300 pennyweights. While other parts of the country are complaining about hard times and scarcity of money, this makes her own from the bowels of mother earth.”


Letter #2 (February 21, 1880)

“Mr. Editor: The gold production seems to be much more promising than usual. Mr. Jesse Fisher, with four hands, took up 101 dwts. and 10 grs. in one day last week, and it is reported that he has found a spring that actually boils up gold. Other mines promise well. Capt. J.C. Mills is mining extensively. A.B. Taylor has just opened a new mine. W.J. Walker and son are working a mine. Jerry Baling and John R. Kirksey are working a mine on Cane Creek, besides all these, there are various single handed miners who live from that source. The aggregate amounts to hundreds of dollars. There have been some large land sales near here recently. Mr. D. Beam, of Shelby, bought what is known as “Twitty Lands” on Cane Creek for $7000 or $7500.

“There are ten stores within six miles of Dysartsville. These stores sell (I suppose) about $15,000 worth of goods annually. Rev. J.R. Denton’s time is occupied in work, study, teaching his children and selling goods. His oldest son who is but 11 years old is about through Quackenbos’ Higher Arithmetic. His only daughter who is but 10 years of age is studying Quackenbos’ Practical Arithmetic.

“Miss Millie E. Taylor is teaching school at Dysartsville. Miss Agnes Dysart is teaching a [sic] Pinnacle. Miss J.M. Taylor is trying to make up a school at Cowen’s school house. Mr. W.H. Taylor, the well known farmer of Dysartsville, has just completed and moved into his new residence. Vance H. Cowen speaks of going to Texas. J.B. Landis is mining in Brackett-town [sic]. J.L. Cowen is keeping his merchant mill. J.B. Walker, alias “Doc” has recently opened a blacksmith shop near J.L. Cowen’s merchant mill. Chas. W. Laughridge has moved into his new home. Mr. Albert Higgins is storekeeper and ganger [sic] for a government still near Dysartsville. W. Jason Allen says he has the most Jack in this country. W.A. Laughridge has rented the Blanton farm and is living there. Henry Moore (colored) has the contract to cut the Muddy Creek canal. This is grain growing country as well as a good producing one. Society is in the main good and conveniences such as mills, shops, stores, etc., etc., abound.”

Letter #3 (April 28, 1880)

“Dear Editor: Having learned that “our Dysartsville letters” are inquired after by “the aged and the young,” I write again to give you the news of our township. Jonathan Walker, Esq., who was dispossessed a few weeks before McDowell Court, has, through the advice of Col. B.S. Gaither, taken possession of his premises again and has gone to work like a hero. He states that he has not eaten his dinner at his house since the 4th day of April, having his dinner brought to him in the fields. Neither does he unhitch his beast, but feeds him hitched and drives again as soon as he and his beast are done eating. Mr. Walker is the celebrated boot and shoemaker.

“Mr. H.H. Taylor says he wants 2,500 hens. His theory to make them profitable, is as follows: He says 2,500 hens will average 1,200 eggs per day, being 100 dozen, and at 8cts per dozen, would be $800. He thinks $3 per day will feed them, leaving him a net gain of $5 per day.

“John Rutherford Kirksey has commenced the study of Dentistry. Mrs. Kirksey and her daughters are the finest performers on the Piano in the country, and some of our young gentlemen seem to be very fond of good music, when there is a single performer.

“The Methodists have decided to move their house of worship up near Dysartsville, on Dr. Hogue’s land. J.D. Taylor was ordained in the office of Deacon in the Baptist church at Dysartsville on Saturday, the 10th day of April, by the laying on of the hands of Elder J.C. Grayson, J.R. Denton, and F.H. Poston. There are five houses of worship in Dysartsville Township: two Baptist; two Methodist, and one Presbyterian. There are three Baptist preachers, J.C. Grayson, J.R. Denton and W.H. McKinney. There is one lawyer, R.D. Wilson. One doctor, Daniel Hogue. Three Justices of the peace, A. Higgins, W.L. Morrison, and J.H. Patton.

Dinner on the Hoof

“There are seven corn mills, two flouring mills, and two saw mills. There are seven blacksmith shops and one wool carder. There are five stores, and good farms in abundance. The Muddy Creek bottoms are being cleared up again; and it is hoped, that this fertile region will once more produce a large yield of the staff of life.”

And that was Dysartsville in 1880 from the source.


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