Asheville Daily Gazette Tuesday October 23, 1900

Brasstown 1900

Bad road from Murphy to Brasstown
Asheville Daily Gazette Tuesday October 23, 1900

We made a trip to Brasstown last week, the first time in twelve years, and we trust and we hope the last time until this road to Hayesville is put in better condition to the mouth of Brasstown creek. This is a very important road, for that very afternoon we met a dozen wagons on their way to Murphy with produce. We never fully realized until this trip the awful condition of the road.
-Murphy Scout


Pap’s Daddy and Mother worked as sharecroppers on a farm along the road the old article describes. When I read it I was reminded of one of the many stories Pap told me about living on the banks of the Hiwassee River not far below the mouth of Brasstown Creek.

As is the way with many large families, Pap’s Uncle Wayne was just a few years older than he was. One day Pap’s Grandpa Benjamin sent Wayne to town with a wagon load of watermelons to sell. Being a young boy, Wayne’s only thought was to get the job over and done with-so he sold the watermelons way too cheap.

The melons sold like hot-cakes and before Pap knew it they were¬†headed home on the road that wound along by the river. Wayne’s desire to be done quickly was short lived once he had to answer to his step-father Benjamin. Pap was too little to be held accountable for the loss of money, but he never forgot the wagon ride with Wayne and the watermelons.


p.s. A big Thank You to Don Casada for sending me the article!

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  • Reply
    September 7, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Almost 50 years before I was born, the roads around Cherokee County was a mess. Big
    Fist Nelson’s oldest daughter, Elsie Layle, owned a restaurant in Andrews. I’m sure many of you have eaten there many times, but she had pictures of early times in her restaurant. I’ve seen pictures of Topton when her daddy was pulling wagons stuck in the mud with a team of oxen. Big Fist (John Nelson) was in WW1 and he was a good man. My brother and I pulled him off the RR tracks more than once to keep him from getting cut to pieces by the evening train. Sometimes he passed out from drinking too much…perhaps it was something from his memory of the War…Ken

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    September 7, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Collins Road is the name of the road by the old homeplace where I grew up in Choestoe, Union County (Blairsville, county seat town) over in Georgia. As a child, I can remember Daddy taking his mule to pull stalled cars out of the mud of that then dirt road. And, even before I was born, he “hired out” himself and his mule team and grading pan (maybe not the right name for it) to work on grading the road over Neal Gap from Blairsville, GA to Cleveland, Ga. That first paved road through our community opened in 1925. But it was years and years later before Choestoe Road by my old homeplace was paved. Mud and mules and motorized traffic all had their heyday on rutted country roads.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 7, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Just goin’ from Asheville to Knoxville in a rickety old Packard across Hot Springs mountain, wuz skeery enough for me! I always thought that someone would sure nuff have to sing “Down in the Valley” for me at my funeral one day when the car went over! HA
    Thanks for this post and sharing,

  • Reply
    William Roy Pipes
    September 7, 2016 at 8:34 am

    I remember my father talking about a time when each family had to do so much public road work. The road work had a name. Perhaps one of your Blind Pig readers will remember.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 7, 2016 at 8:34 am

    In his book “Walden” Thoreau writes about how the arrival of the railroad had made everyone much more time conscious. If I recall correctly, he wrote that to think in ‘railroad time is the latest fashion.’ And in one of the Foxfire books the person being interviewed said. “Now if you can’t go to Atlanta and back in a day, by G___, you’re behind.”
    I think the pace of our lives, unless consciously resisted, tends to be about as fast as what is possible. Back in the day when speed was dictated by human or animal power, how much was possible was a much less number of things in a day’s time. Probably the trip to Murphy and back in a wagon and selling watermelons in between was an all day endeavour and nothing else was planned. The great change in the speed of life makes it difficult to really get inside historic conditions. We don’t even know how to re-scale our thinking. For example, how many know now how much land on average one man with a grubbing hoe could grub in a day?
    The bad roads in the back country was a common theme in US history from around 1730 or so all the way up to the Appalachian Regional Commission in the 1960’s. There are a few places where as many as three road alignments can be located. One of them is Cumberland Gap. There are two or three old algnments up to the gap but now the road goes through a tunnel under it.

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    September 7, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Hey Tipper: It was many years ago that we went by horse drawn wagon from the Matheson Cove all the way to Murphy. Daddy was very careful but also nervous on those blind long curves in the road. And we could sense his anxiety . It was exciting but mighty good to get on that dirt road going back into the Cove.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 7, 2016 at 7:18 am

    I drive from Brasstown to Murphy almost every day. I make the trip quickly and easily. It’s hard to imagine doing it in a wagon on a dirt road. Everything we do is quicker now. We move faster with automobiles on good roads, we cook faster with electric stoves. We heat and cool our homes with the flip of a switch. Makes me wonder what life will be like a hundred years from now, or even 50 years from now.
    Thanks Don, for the perspective.

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