The community of Hanging Dog is located below Murphy which is the county seat of Cherokee County, NC. A few folks believe the last battle of the Civil War was fought in the vicinity of Hanging Dog.
There are several stories which tell the meaning behind the unique community name. I’ll share two of the most common with you today.
One tale claims bear hunters set traps only to return and find one of their dogs had gotten in a trap and somehow hung itself while trying to escape.
The other story is the more interesting one and is connected to the Cherokee people.
Local Historian Wanda Stalcup can tell the story much better than I can so I’ll let her.
“Late in a tragic winter of suffering while there was still ice in the streams and snow on the mountainsides, Running Deer, a Cherokee and his dog, Wolf, started out one morning on their daily hunt. Wolf was soon chasing a deer, which he attempted in vain to steer through a gap where Running Deer lay in wait with his bow and flint-tipped arrows. The big buck that Wolf was chasing would provide for many days if it could be brought down.
Time and again, Wolf tried to maneuver the big buck through the gap. By mid-morning a heavy winter rain began to fall and the already swollen stream began rising. Although the rain continued through the day, Wolf never left the chase, pursuing the buck around the great cove. Finally, when dusk was fast approaching, Wolf ran the buck through the gap where Running Deer had patiently waited with his bow and arrow standing on ready. Running Deer pulled back his bow and let an arrow fly straight and true, striking the deer but missing the heart. Badly wounded, the buck broke the main stream, which flowed from east to west thorough the valley. Wolf continued in hot pursuit. Running Deer, almost as swift, followed close behind and arrived at the creek just in time to see the buck crawling up the bank on the other side.
A moment later, Running Deer spotted Wolf, who was dangling from a mass of jammed logs, debris and grapevines in the middle of the stream. His entanglement was so severe he was in imminent danger of drowning. Running Deer shouted encouragement to Wolf as he plunged in the icy flood waters, fought his way to the dog and released him. The two swam to the bank and resumed the chase of the wounded buck, which was soon captured in a clump of laurel bushes.
Running Deer was so thankful he was able to save Wolf that he expressed his gratitude the next day by inviting all of his Cherokee neighbors to share in a community feast, where there was much rejoicing. Forever after, the Cherokee (and the white settlers who followed) called the stream that had almost claimed Wolf’s life Hanging Dog Creek. Later on, the entire surrounding community was named Hanging Dog in memory of this event involving a Cherokee and his beloved dog, named Wolf. ”
I hoped you enjoyed Wanda’s story of how the community of Hanging Dog got it’s name.