Appalachia Christmas

Christmas in Shooting Creek NC

shooting creek nc christmas 1900

The winter of 1900 had been an unusually bad one. A true story book picture of what a Christmas scene must be like. It seemed as though the bad weather kept roaring into the Shooting Creek Mountains day after day without ceasing. First the freezing rain came, piling up on the earth and timber causing the mountains to sound like a battle was taking place as the trees gave way to the awful weight of tons of accumulating ice. The snow had piled up at the Abraham Anderson cabin there in the Bethabera section of the county with little chance for folks to get any work done other than to break a trail to the barn to feed the animals and to find a decent pole of standing dry timber to fuel the fireplace.

Abraham hadn’t been able to get to the mill that was situated further down the valley to try to buy or trade for a turn of cornmeal so his new wife Mae could make their everyday cake of cornbread for their table. Fact was that if he had been able to get to the old tub mill he wouldn’t have been able to get any meal since the miller wasn’t there to do the grinding. The miller like everyone else in the settlement was shut down solid. Mae, the young bride, had worries that went a little deeper than those of Abraham. Although she was just a recent bride she felt an obligation to provide a good meal for their table as this was the tradition that was understood by most women of the time, young and old alike.

The old peddler, Mr. Bramlett, who came over their way from across the mountain in Georgia and who made his usual rounds every few months with his wagon and team, had not showed up because of the bad weather as well. The folks who depended on him to deliver their short grocery list of coffee, salt and other such items that they couldn’t produce on their small mountain farm were pretty much in the same shape as Abraham and Mae.

Finally the weather began to break sharing a bit of sunshine from time to time to perhaps shorten the life of the thick covering of snow. As night time slowly began to settle upon the valley Mae called to her husband and with a tone of sadness and some measure of defeat in her voice she told him to come and sit down at the table for a meager bite. With her call she explained that this was the last bite of anything in the house for them to eat. There was nothing else left in the house that she could cobble together to be made into another meal.

As they sat down at the table and started to eat their supper they both began to hear faint sounds coming up the cove. Could it be the gentle sounds of trace chains and the crunch of snow falling under the feet of a struggling team? As the sounds came closer, sure enough that was what they both were hearing. It had to be the peddler, Mr. Bramlett! As the sounds came closer, and finally stopped in the yard Abraham stepped out the door to greet this night traveler. A better Christmas gift could not be found on the earth than just to know that sitting outside their door was a wagon that held provisions enough to get them through the darkest and leanest winter that Abraham and his young wife Mae would ever have to endure.

This is a true story often relayed to me by my father many, many times. Abraham was my father’s uncle. My grandfather was married in 1899 there in Shooting Creek and Abraham was next down from him in age, so his marriage to Aunt Mae was very near this time. Aunt Mae and Abraham later moved over to Union County GA where they raised a large family. Uncle Abraham lived until 1957-58 and was taken back to be buried in the Bethabera Church Cemetery. Aunt Mae died in the middle sixties and was buried beside her husband a stones throw from their cabin there in the valley of their birth. My great-grandfather was Col. Bramlett, so not knowing the real name of the peddler I have substituted the Bramlett name. Artistic license??? You understand. –David Anderson


I hope you enjoyed David’s Christmas story as much as I did!


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  • Reply
    December 8, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I remember Christmas’ with plenty of snow… one or two, at least, without electricity…but there was always food. I love all these stories that reach back in to time-past…. These with Christmas and snow, and your taste of Appalachia are an extra joy to read. Many thanks.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 7, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    After going through a winter or so unprepared after we moved out here to the “country”, we learned quickly to prepare before winter…Back then we had a well that if the electric line “sneezed” in the cold, the power would fail and the pump would freeze up!…I had plenty of canned food and in an emergency canned meats, like Tuna, chicken and ham! Most of the time their was casseroles in the freezer it I could heat them thru.. Back then we had a working big fireplace and made sure we had plenty of wood cut for heat and if necessary cooking in the fireplace. We drew up water in cleaned gallon plastic milk bottles for use in cooking…If a especially hard storm of ice etc. was expected…we would fill up the bathtub with water to use for flushing and or giving the children “cat baths”…
    Doesn’t take long to learn some of these tricks…During the blizzard of ’93 our power was off for days…We closed down all the house except the living room, kitchen and bathroom…We camped out in the living room with lots of pallets and quilts…roasted hot dogs in the fireplace, etc. The kids loved it…
    Thanks Tipper for this post and story…

  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    December 7, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    I was very interested in the Shooting Creek, NC story as my Great, Great Grandfather John Moore is buried in Shooting Creek, NC. In fact I share that ancestor with your Casada contributors, one of whom kindly sent me a picture of his tombstone. I hope to get to see it in person next year including other Clay County connections with the Moore family where my Great Grandfather Norbonne was born (uncle to your Confederate soldier W.C. Penland and mentioned in one of his letters) and my grandfather Samuel Elisha Moore was born (b. 1861 d. 1941) was born. Great to read this story from that area from late 19th century. I’m sure my ancestors knew them.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    December 7, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Such a good story, so beautifully told by David. It adds to and furthers the best Christmas emotions. We are blessed to have Blind Pig and Tipper to provide a site for our Christmas thoughts and our mountain spirit. Write again, David. And, thank you again, Tipper. Merry Christmas to us all.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Thank you for this heartfelt true story.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I noticed Chitter and Chatter had another video on You Tube, explaining how Two Musical Chairs came about. I couldn’t watch it for any time much, cause a Sign (or Window) would come up saying they were having trouble in Jackson County. Guess I’ll have to wait till the Computer Folks fix the problem. The girls had other songs too. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 7, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I loved Mr. Anderson story and would like to read the rest of the book.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    I enjoyed David Anderson’s Christmas Story alot. My mama’s name was Mae. This Christmas Season is the most sentimental time of the year, daddy and mama taught me that.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Grateful to be living Now. Thinking about my Macon County and Cherokee county ancestors who probably suffered through that in 1900. Thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    December 7, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Since his date of death was uncertain, I did a check and this should help.
    Abraham Lincoln Anderson
    BIRTH 22 May 1864 Clay County, North Carolina, USA
    DEATH 28 Nov 1893 Shooting Creek, Clay County, North Carolina, USA
    BURIAL Bethabara Cemetery Hayesville, Clay County, North Carolina, USA
    MEMORIAL ID 52900780
    Father: Lazarus Anderson b: 20 JAN 1810 in Buncombe County, North Carolina
    Mother: Nancy “Granny Tote” Maney b: 18 SEP 1821 in Buncombe County, North Carolina
    Married: Tabitha Ann Hogsed b: 2 JUN 1869 in Clay County, North Carolina
    Married: 31 OCT 1886 in Clay County, North Carolina
    Olivia Anderson b: 28 NOV 1887 in Clay County, North Carolina
    James Tallie Anderson b: 27 MAR 1889
    George Washington “Tun” Anderson b: 10 JUN 1893 in Clay County, North Carolina

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 7, 2017 at 11:28 am

    David’s story reminds me of two of my wife and I’s adventures. The night the temperature fell to 18 degrees in Anderson County, TN in 1975 we ran out of fuel oil. And the last time the power went off here the temperature inside the house had fallen to about 40 on the afternoon of day three and we knew it would hit freezing overnight. Then we got power back.
    We tend to rely heavily on our modern technologies without even realizing it.

  • Reply
    Norma Downing
    December 7, 2017 at 10:55 am

    My first thought was “A Christmas miracle”
    We all owe our very existence to our ancestors who persevered through too many to count hardships over the years..
    God grant us the ability to be grateful for all we enjoy in today’s bountiful world~and to be less prone to complain about some inconvenience~ talking to myself for sure…
    Tipper and whole Wilson-Presley family…Extra thankful for sharing your lives and thoughts and music and love for your family and devotion to Appalachia and your blog family !
    All of us ‘out here’ are blessed daily when we click on Blind Pig !
    Merry Christmas from South Mississippi

  • Reply
    June Jolley
    December 7, 2017 at 10:26 am

    We take so much for granted these days…..

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    December 7, 2017 at 10:08 am

    A wonderful story! I breathed a long sigh of relief at the end.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 9:21 am

    That story makes me glad we have the technology to alert us of incoming weather that could cause emergency situations in this modern day and time. The ice storm that came through here in January of 2009 was the worst storm I have ever lived through. My brother couldn’t make it home after leaving his job in Louisville, so he came by here to stay a few days. While I had plenty of nonperishable food and enough firewood to last through the winter, we still got worried after the tenth day without electricity. Abraham and Mae had so much more to worry about as they faced starvation. Their Christmas story is still worth telling over a hundred years later.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Several years ago we had a stretch of ice and cold that would not break and made the roads treacherous. Buses were able to navigate the northern part of the county, but not the southern areas nearer the NC line, so all county schools stayed closed for four days. We just stayed indoors, kept the fireplace and tv going, watched the snow fall on the pond, and selected our meals from the chest freezer. Not a hardship at all. We even gained a few pounds as well! Next time I run to the Dollar General before a storm to get the staples, I’ll remember Abraham and Mae. We take so much for granted.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 7, 2017 at 8:13 am

    We are so lucky to know when bad weather is coming and have plenty of time to lay in provisions.
    I think with my freezer and cupboards I could probably survive for a few months.
    I hate to think how hard our forefathers
    had it, but if not for their perseverance we would not be here today.
    I feel guilty complaining about anything.
    We are so blessed.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 7, 2017 at 8:05 am

    I cannot imagine the hard times these people endured. Even in good weather. How many of us today could survive in such harsh conditions?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 7, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Wow, what a touching story…life was a lot harder then! I am able to go to town most days and pick up anything I need or want!

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