Appalachia Civil War Letters

1915 Civil War Monument

Excerpt from the WCU Digital Collection - Taking the Train Sylva, NC

Excerpt from the WCU Digital Collection – Taking the Train Sylva, NC

On September 18, 1915, a crowd estimated at 3,000 people arrived in Sylva to attend the dedication of the Civil War monument, located prominently on the steps of the new Jackson County Courthouse. The size of the gathering was made possible in part due to the railway passenger service. The Jackson County Journal (Sylva, N.C.) newspaper observed in its September 24 issue that,

“The whole order of the day was surcharged with interest and thrill from beginning to end. Early in the forenoon the crowds began to gather and the streets of the little `gem of the mountains’ were alive and astir. Every train brought crowded coaches, and long processions of wagons, buggies, carriages and automobiles, flanked and re-inforced by riders on horseback, could be seen converging upon the capital city of the county.”

As seen in the photograph, the monument ’s supporters wanted to honor surviving veterans of the Civil War, whose numbers were diminishing yearly by 1915. At the time of the dedication, the Great War – World War I – had already raged in Europe for a year, and the United States’ involvement was barely a year and a half away. The ceremony also sought to celebrate the hopes for economic growth and an optimism for the future. The Jackson County Journal summed up the outlook by declaring that,

“. . . . the citizenship of Jackson County and of Sylva received new inspiration to look forward to the brighter and better days yet to dawn.”



*Source: Travel Western North Carolina Western Carolina University Digital Collection.

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  • Reply
    June 11, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Nice picture of Sylva having a big
    celebration of our Civil War heroes. My daddy would have been 5
    years old back then. Things were so
    much different, and folks cared
    deeply for each other. I wish it
    was like that today…Ken

  • Reply
    June 11, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I so appreciate the time, effort and honor you have put in to the Penland letters and local history of the Civil War era; and Don Casada’s, as well, for listing the comrades, family members and burials.(I was saving it to read when I had time.)
    I so enjoyed reading today about the CW monument, all those folks gathering at those high-to-the-sky steps there in Sylva- what an event!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    June 11, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Dear Tipper:
    Your post today was very meaninful to me. As a child, I stood in awe when my father (Dr. Homer H. Wike) took me to view this statue, when I was very, very young. That experience was my first insight to the horrors of WAR!
    Later in life I would listen by the radio for the news of WWII. Indeed there were many young men from Jackson County who gave their lives in that war.
    One first-hand experience I will never forget was the screams of a mother, when she received the news (telegram) about her son – that he had died in action. Her family lived across the bridge from our grocery store in Cullowhee. I was working in the store and heard her cries of sorry.
    Memories of those fine young men still bring tears to my eyes today. I knew almost all of them!
    With the utmost devotion:
    James Seymour Wike, Sr.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 11, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Tipper–I’m curious whether, in your background research connected with this event (incidentally, the timing was no accident–the was the 50th anniversary of the war’s end), you found information about the various N. C. regiments formed of men from WNC? I’m curious as to whether survivors of individual regiments got together as a part of the overall event?
    I do know that there was a somewhat similar event held by the survivors of the 26th North Carolina held that year. I’m writing off the top of my head and can’t remember whether the event took place in Waynesville or Hendersonville (it was not Asheville, although that was where the regiment was formed in 1861). However, I do know that the man who was in effect the “boots on the ground” leader of the 26th right up until the surrender at Appomattox (the remnant of the 26th was there), Colonel Henry Middleton Rutledge, attended. In fact, his old troopers gave him a commemorative sword on the occasion.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 11, 2015 at 7:25 am

    3000 is a lot of people to come together in the little country town in 1915! I wonder where they all stayed. I wonder if the monument is still there. Sometime when I’m going east I think I’ll drive through town and see.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Those who fought for our freedoms in and out of our country deserve to be recognized. Very interesting historical stuff!

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