Brasstown Is Famous

fairy crosses
When I was in elementary school, my softball coach told me and his daughter that we should be happy we lived in Brasstown-cause it was famous. He went on to explain the John C. Campbell Folk School made our community famous world wide. “Why” he said, “I was on an airplane one time and the person beside me asked where I was from. I said Brasstown.” And they said “Oh where the folk school is.”

In more recent years-Brasstown’s fame has been added to by Clay Logan and his annual Possum Drop. But there is one other reason Brasstown is famous-we have fairy crosses.

Back last fall the girls went on a special fairy cross hunting field trip from school. They each came back with a pocket full of fairy crosses-some more obvious crosses than others.

hunting for fairy crosses
I was about the same age as the girls the first time I saw a fairy cross. Someone on Pap’s gas route gave him 2, and he brought them home to me.

The Cherokee Legend that surrounds the rocks goes something like this: The Little People of Cherokee Folklore were dancing in celebration in Brasstown-when a messenger interrupted their party to tell them about the Crucifixion.ย When the Little People heard the sad tale of woe-they began to cry. As their tears rolled down their faces and dripped to the Earth-they formed the Fairy Crosses.

Kinda funny-but all 3 of Brasstown’s famous monikers are within sight of each other.

Ever found a fairy cross?



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  • Reply
    Lynn Turner
    February 21, 2011 at 12:03 am

    I grew up in Fannin County in the very northern part of Georgia. We had fairy crosses there also. There was only one small area of the county where you could find them. I was told as a kid that you could only find in our county somewhere in Switzerland. Guess that wasn’t true since you have them in Brasstown. They’re neat little stones, especially when you find the nearly perfect ones.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    February 15, 2011 at 9:33 am

    In 1942, Ben Robertson (one of my heros) wrote in his classic southern book, Red Hills and Cotton: “In Carolina we have little cross-shaped stones that were dropped by the angles who brought to America the news of the Crucifixion.”
    My research has them as the mineral Staurolite, usually brown or black. I have a few I picked up in Brasstown.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    February 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Love rocks myself. And Brasstown is famous because YOU live there. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Hey Tipper,
    Hope you and the family had a Happy Valentine’s Day…..

  • Reply
    February 14, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I’ve never found one before, but I have heard of them. There is a state park in Virginia that has them.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    February 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I found mine at The Silver Armadillo in Asheville ๐Ÿ˜‰ — and I wrote about them in The Day of Small Things. Yes, indeed, Brasstown is famous!

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson (USA)
    February 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    What a great legend. Sounds like a whole bunch of cultures coming together in this story.

  • Reply
    [email protected] Rural Journal
    February 14, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Never heard of this tale — but I’m so glad you shared it with us. Not many rocks around here — but I’ll be looking for the fairy crosses, just in case! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    We are a family of rock picker- uppers…We have even bought a few boulders. In years to come I wonder if some “rock hound” will ponder how the different minerals got in this one place, especially when there is only one or two of a kind!…LOL
    I come by it naturally…having looked over ever small rock and seashell in Moms estate. Two accidently got tossed. There was something, that she thought was interesting in every piece she toted home. I remember seeing one of these fairy crosses one time, probably at Moms..It may still be in never, never land somewhere…
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    February 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t know if I ever heard of
    fairy crosses, but I enjoyed
    reading about them. And the John C. Cambell Folk School sure is a
    blessing to our region.
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and
    your family…Ken

  • Reply
    February 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Love your story, and no I never heard of them before. Will be on the look out for them! I leaned something today, YEA!!!!!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I have never found one myself, but I have seen plenty. Brasstown is a wonderful place, when my husband and I were looking for a place in the area that is where we wanted to go, but we were not lucky enough to find anything there.

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    February 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I have a collection of the mineral tourmaline (fairy crosses). Some of them came from your area, outside of Ducktown. When I was in graduate school studying geology, I went everywhere searching for rocks and minerals. Some of them have almost perfect crosses because of the arrangement of atoms…however, I like your story better!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 14, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Not familiar with Fairy Crosses but I love those kinds of stories and choose to believe every one of them. When I believe….my life is more interesting!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I’ve never heard of a fairy cross, but you can bet I’ll be on the lookout for them now!

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    February 14, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Good morning, Tipper.
    I tell everyone that Brasstown is the cultural center of North Carolina. (grin)
    A dozen or so years ago, Mom and I went to Brasstown to dig some fairy crosses. We found quite a few and took them to the museum in Murphy. Mom gave the fairy crosses to them to give to visitors. I think I still have one that we dug that day.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Never have seen a fairy cross but have heard of them. Must be the minerals in the soil that causes it to look like that. Interesting reading.

  • Reply
    February 14, 2011 at 8:02 am

    How neat! I’ve never seen them before. I love the little story about them too. Happy Valentines Day Tipper.

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