Appalachia Place names

Hanging Dog – Cherokee County – NC


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.


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  • Reply
    Frances E Whiteman
    January 30, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    There is a FACEBOOK that you might like to know about.
    Facebook. Lovingood Family Reunion at Hanging Dog Missionary Baptist Church

    To join you need to share how you are connected to the Lovingood family

  • Reply
    Cheryl cate
    March 1, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    My mother was from hanging dog she was a Hooper, my grandmother was a lovingood. Over the years I have heard many stories of this place.

  • Reply
    Melinda Lovingood
    December 3, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    So Proud of my Family. My Lovingood ancesters also built the First Baptist Church in Hanging Dog as well. Check out the below additional information as well as the local Musuem that provides proof of the Lovingoods & Cherokee Indians rich history together.

    Water Powered 500 Pound Hammer / By Mark Hilton, October 20, 2016
    1. Water Powered 500 Pound Hammer Marker Inscription.
    Water powered
    500 pound hammer
    from Lovingood
    Bloomery Forge on
    Hangingdog Creek
    1840 — 1890
    Location. 35° 5.202′ N, 84° 1.986′ W. Marker is in Murphy, North Carolina, in Cherokee County. Marker is at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Alpine Street, on the right when traveling north on Peachtree Street. Located in front of the Cherokee County Historical Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 87 Peachtree Street, Murphy NC 28906, United States of America. Touch for directions.

    Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Nuya Saligugi (here, next to this marker); Unicoi Turnpike Trail (here, next to this marker); Cherokee Heritage Trails (a few steps from this marker); Prison Cell Door (a few steps from this marker); Cherokee War (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cherokee County Veterans Memorial (about 600 feet away); Trail of Tears (approx. 0.2 miles away); Murphy North Carolina Rail (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Murphy.

    Regarding Water Powered 500 Pound Hammer. The brown hematite

    By Mark Hilton, October 20, 2016
    2. The 500 Pound Hammer.
    ores of Cherokee County, which occur in the Cambrian rocks, were worked in forges as early as 1840, supplying the surrounding country with bar iron. The Lovingood Bloomery Forge, situated on Hanging Dog creek 2 miles above Fain forge, had two fires and one hammer, made in 1856, and supplied about 13 tons of bars.

    Categories. • Industry & Commerce •
    By Mark Hilton, October 20, 2016
    3. The 500 pound hammer in front of the Cherokee Historical Museum (next to flagpole).

    More. Search the internet for Water Powered 500 Pound Hammer.

    Credits. This page was last revised on September 8, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 8, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 68 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 8, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

    • Reply
      Christopher Michael Young
      June 11, 2021 at 11:21 am

      My name is Chris Young my aunt has been helping me track my genealogy her name is joertta barefield my grand parents are from hanging dog George Washington young and Anna whitener can you help me?

      • Reply
        June 13, 2021 at 6:26 am

        Christopher-I’m not familiar with your family. You might try contacting the Cherokee County Historical Museum in Murphy. They might be able to point you in the right direction 🙂

        • Reply
          April 29, 2022 at 10:41 pm

          Hey Tipper. My name is kala. I have been gifted with many of my great grandmas stories. I have tried to piece her history for many years.
          One story listed her cousins from Locust Grove and also Hanging Dog Town. Is there a way to list elders names or places. She was called Sak. I would appreciate any links you could forward me to.

          • Tipper
            April 30, 2022 at 5:15 pm

            Kala-so glad you have those wonderful stories!! Is the Hanging Dog in her story in Cherokee NC? If so the Cherokee County Museum might be able to help with more information 🙂

  • Reply
    June 3, 2018 at 4:12 am

    This is so bizarre, my husband just sneezed to which I replied, “scat there” and he was unaware of the phrase. Naturally I googled it, which led me to this site and this article link was in that post topic…my 5th great grandfather was George Washington Lovingood and I have wondered before about the name of the “Hanging Dog”Missionary Baptist which he pioneered…seems like a neat coincidence, but maybe that’s just me. Good to know the origin, especially since it seems much less macabre 🙂

    • Reply
      Larry Bledsoe
      January 1, 2020 at 6:58 pm

      Ok gw lovingood was mine also…trying to find some family

  • Reply
    Shirley Burns
    March 27, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    I love the story. I wonder sometimes how places get their names.We come your way usually about twice a year and I have always wondered how Granny Squirrel Gap got its name .

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    March 27, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    We have a Hanging Dog Rd here in North GA, but I doubt the story of the origin of it’s name is as good as the tale I just read. Like Shirl, I just took a visit to a place I have never seen and I was right there running along with Running Deer and Wolf.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    March 27, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    My Dad who was born in Unaka, always told us the story of Hanging Dog, which was much like Wanda’s story. I always loved hearing stories about back up in there.

  • Reply
    March 27, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    I got a friend who fishes the Backwaters, where Hiawassee or Valley River runs into the lake. He brought me several messes of Pike and he uses Plugs to catch “em on.

    Bill Younce, use to be an announcer at the Murphy Radio Station. He’s retired now, but he told the story of how “Hangin’ Dog” got it’s name. It’s similar to Wanda’s story. She did such a good job telling the story. Thanks! …Ken

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    March 27, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Legend has it that Nolin River near where I live got it’s name when a young man named Lynn slipped and fell in. Searchers looking for him would shout “No Lynn” as they looked for him.

  • Reply
    William Roy Pipes
    March 27, 2018 at 11:10 am

    In my novel, Hanging Dog , I used the following legend of how Hanging Dog got its name: “Once a young Cherokee Indian brave was hunting with his dog and a flash flood came upon them and they were separated. Later, when the young brave went back searching for his dog, he found him high up in a tree safely hanging in the branches.”

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    March 27, 2018 at 10:52 am

    The Indian story is a good one…..I will tell it to my many grandchildren….. I will make it live again and I will tell them the history of it….. Thanks Tipper!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 27, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Tip, I’ve wondered where Hanging Dog got it’s name, Thanks!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Wanda’s story momentarily took me to a time and place I have never visited. Regardless of how the name came about, I like it.

    • Reply
      Karen Bledsoe
      April 6, 2020 at 12:20 am

      You know Gus? Bledsoe?

      • Reply
        April 6, 2020 at 7:24 am

        Karen-I don’t know Gus

  • Reply
    March 27, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Thanks for helping a home bound senior visit so many interesting places and living vicariously in a world I dearly miss.
    You and your adjunct contributors lighten the in so many ways!
    Thanks again,

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 27, 2018 at 8:28 am

    You got me wondering so I hunted for a North Carolina gazatteer online. Turns out there is one and their story about the origin of ‘Hanging Dog’ is a terse version of Wanda’s story.

    I am intrigued by geographic place names. For one thing, they span all of ‘Euro-American history, including English versions of Native American names which pushes them even further back in time. Your locality of Wilson Hollow (whether or not it appears on the map) implies multiple generations of one family line living in the same vicinity. Family names got attached to a locality even if in later years they all moved away; further west in the 1800’s and maybe to industrial jobs in the 1900’s. But just as with the ‘Easter lilies’ there is a story of ‘those who went before’.

  • Reply
    March 27, 2018 at 7:56 am

    I have always heard the Indian story……..I believe it…….according to Margaret Freel’s “Our Heritage”, first published about 1956, the Lovingood family were among the first white settlers in Hanging Dog. They had a mill and I believe, an iron forge.

    • Reply
      Melinda Lovingood
      December 3, 2019 at 8:45 pm

      You are correct DON. My name is Melinda Lovingood. The Lovingoods did have an Iron Forge as we have a REALLY big stone monument to memorialize our contribution to Hanging Dog who worked along with the Cherokee Indians as well as build the First Baptist Church (Hanging Dog Baptist Church).

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paul
    March 27, 2018 at 6:09 am

    I enjoy hearing the stories behind the names of places. There are so many thst make you wonder just what happened. Wanda zstalvip is a great storyteller.

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