Cherokee County NC Place names

Granny Squirrel


A few weeks back a commenter asked if I knew the history of the name of Granny Squirrel in Andrews, NC. I emailed Blind Pig Reader Kenneth Roper since he lives in the area, but he didn’t know nor did any of his friends. Granny Squirrel is very close to Rhodo, the area that we talked about last week.

I had almost forgotten about Granny Squirrel when I stumbled upon the answer in Wanda Stalcup’s book “How I Saw Cherokee County”.

“In the early days when Indians lived throughout the lands, many places were named by them. They still bear these strange and beautiful names today. However, some of the names were not so musical. The area is called Granny Squirrel because an Indian woman by the name of squirrel lived there. As she grew old the crossing place in the ridge became know as Granny Squirrel Gap along with the creek.”

So there you have it, now we know how Granny Squirrel got it’s name.

Wanda is the Director of the Cherokee County Historical Museum. She knows more about the history of this area than anybody I know. A few years back she wrote a book “How I Saw Cherokee County”. The book is full of wonderful stories, customs, traditions, and language. If you’re ever in Murphy you can pick up one of her books at the museum.


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  • Reply
    John Crouch
    June 26, 2020 at 11:01 am

    In Thirteen Moons, she was an ancient fortune-telling medicine woman. I’m not sure if she was based on a real person or even a real myth.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 18, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Think about it for a minute and especially all the folks that live in those parts of Cherokee County. Granny Squirrel is the only name that fits. Nothin’ else would sound right…Not duck, not goose, not bird, not cow or bull or for goodness sakes heifer…What if it had been named “Lion, Tiger or Bear oh my”, as Dorothy said in the “Wizard of Oz”?…Yes, Granny Squirrel is the perfect and musical name as you’ve said…Thanks Tipper…I love all the mountain road names, town names and gap names, etc….

  • Reply
    April 18, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    “Mother Nature” (as I always called her) died yesterday and will be buried beside her 3 year old daughter, Robin, who died with when she was just a little thing. Barbara Bush was married for 73 years, and was respected by both parties. She will be missed!

    On a brighter note, I’m glad to know how Granny Squirrel got it’s name. I live at Topton, but Rhodo and Granny Squirrel are next to it. My shop is about 8 1/2 miles from home, but at the time, that was as far as 3-phase power went. And the creek that runs behind my shop and next to my garden is Worm Creek, probably an Indian name too because it winds thru the valley before emptying into Valley River.

    Daddy always was friends with Homer Wilson and when he was Pastor of Valleytown Baptist, he ran a Rivival and we went as often as we could. I have known both of his sons, Reid and David for years and one day Homer and his grandson came to my shop. I had told him about feeding Trout from my footlog earlier. Homer couldn’t see too good and he rared back and threw his nightcrawler way up in the trees. After his grandson caught 2 or 3, he turned around and said, “Mr. Roper, recon I should tell Grandpa he can’t catch Fish up in the trees?” …Ken

  • Reply
    Papaw Ammons
    April 18, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Didn’t there used to be a sign with a squirrel wearing granny glasses and an apron out there somewhere? Or is it just my imagination?

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 18, 2018 at 9:18 am

    There are so many stories behind the names; some funny, some tragic but each interesting. A person could just about write the history of a county by organizing place names in an estimated chronological order. Each era left its marks on the map, all the way up to the second-home-in-the mountains era with roads named Apache Trail or Sunset Lane. I guess in future there may be some Cell Tower Knobs sneak in (but I hope not).

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 18, 2018 at 7:04 am

    I drive through that area every time I go to Asheville and I never fail to look at that covered bridge and wonder how that name came to be. So, from now on when I drive through there I’ll think of the Cherokee woman named Squirrel.
    Tipper, you’ve become quite proficient ant ferreting out the secrets so these mountains!

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paul
    April 18, 2018 at 6:27 am

    Thank you, my jusband and I wondered about that very spot. Everytime k we went that was we talked about the odd name.

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