Appalachia Profiles of Mountain People

Making Ice in August

Library of Congress - c1907 PENNSYLVANIA--CONNEAUT LAKE
Library of Congress – c1907  PENNSYLVANIA–CONNEAUT LAKE 

Gov. Carringer describes event that happened in Graham County NC late 1800s written and documented by Fred O. Scroggs – Brasstown 1925

“Two men, staunch members of a Baptist Church on Yellow Creek, made a trip to Maryville, Tenn. to market their produce butter, eggs, herbs, chestnuts, chinquapins, deer hams, etc.

On their return they were telling something of the sights of the city, one of which they claimed they saw them making ice in August. This was repeated a few times around the country store and elsewhere until the Deacons decided something had to be done about this matter. So, they brought charges in the church against these two worthy members, charging them with lying.

On being brought to trial in the church, they did not deny their story, but made the church a proposition, that if they would select two more of their most reliable members to go with them to Maryville; they themselves to pay all expenses, and on return if these two faithful brethren did not report true facts etc., then the church could “church them.”

The four went to Maryville and later reported to the Deacons that they certainly were making ice in August. Whereupon a meeting of the members was called. The report was heard and by a unanimous vote all four were turned out of the church for lying.”


I recently read a fascinating article about the history of ice harvesting in Grit Magazine. I had no idea the use of ice for preserving foods went back so far in time.

This story, recorded by Fred O. long ago here in Brasstown, makes me smile for many reasons.

While the church members seem downright silly today, if you’d never seen a piece of ice other than during the wintertime, it really would be hard to believe you could buy it over the mountain in TN during the month of August.



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  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    August 3, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Thomas Jefferson had an extremely large and deep ice house at Monticello.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Good story, sound like a story Jerry Clower would have come up with.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I remember in the early 60’s that Bill Web, would bring large blocks of Ice to Hub Holloway’s Store. Those dopes were so good after that block of Ice was in the Coke box overnight. I was taught Driver’s Education by this man’s son, Sam Web and 20 years later, Sam taught my oldest girl Driver’s Education. Sam is still alive and I see him often at Ingles Grocery. He lives on Web Creek in Andrews. Such memories! …Ken

  • Reply
    August 2, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    I think in New England folks “always” harvested ice from ponds ad stored it in sawdust, in cellars or otherwise below ground. I may be wrong, but I thought it went way, way back. And funny timing for your post, Tipper, because I recently had a “conversation” with an Indian fellow on twitter about the history of seasonal ice harvesting and pre-refrigeration storage in India and in New England. We both learned something. And then another person joined in, to tell the person in India and the person in New England (that would be me) that in 1833 Frederic Tudor, the “Ice King” of Boston, used to SHIP ice harvested from Fresh Pond in Boston TO India – isn’t that amazing?

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    August 2, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    My Grandfather had an icehouse cut into the mountain. The exposed part was made of river rock and it had a wooden door. I have a pictures , somewhere, of men he hired to cut ice out Lake Logan with a crosscut saw. They then placed the blocks in the ice house surrounded by sawdust from the shop.
    And, what a treat when he took me in there about once a week to choose a cold Grapette, Brownie, or cola drink. You didn’t just have a ‘soft drink’ everyday back then. (My yankee cousins called them sodas.)
    They had a small refrigerator in the kitchen but it mostly held milk, butter and eggs and more important foods as well as the extra food in the ice house.
    The men in your photo had a bit easier way to cut the ‘CAKES’ of ice..??

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 2, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    All my life Bryson City had an ice plant. I think it was first in operation in the very early 1900’s. It was on the right between Nabors and where the Old Nabors used to be further up the Tuckasegee going east. At the mouth of Shepherds Creek. It might still be there.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2017 at 10:42 am

    I heard on the radio today that Mark Wilson is having a birthday. I think he’s the one that plays the Mandolin and chews that gum as he plays in the band. And this Saturday, the 5th, a favorite gal that we all adore will be celebrating her’s.
    When I was a kid, I remember the Red Marble Church turning out my two 1st cousins because a member saw them two girls wearing shorts at home. Their daddy was Pastor of the Church at that time. A long time ago, they preached hellfire and brimstone, but everyone has softened a lot since then. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 2, 2017 at 10:00 am

    I have no problem with the four gentlemen saying they saw ice making in Maryville, Tn in August. Ice making began in the mid 1800’s and was in full swing by the 1880’s. I do have a problem with them calling Maryville a city. Maryville has less than 30,000 people now. In 1890 the population was less than 2000. That is smaller than Icard, NC which has 2664 people but is only called a place by the Census Bureau.
    Of course there seems to be no rule about what is a city, town or just a place. If Bryson City can call itself a city then any place can be a city. I think I’ll name my back yard and call it a city. How does Leachfield City sound?
    Why would I call it Leachfield? Because the leach field for my septic system is back there. The only other thing back there is grass and I wouldn’t want to call it Grasstown. That might get it confused with Brasstown. I sure wouldn’t want people waking me up on New Years Eve want to see a possum drop.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 2, 2017 at 9:55 am

    There was a time when ice was made but I do not know the process. I believe it was the same concept as a home ice cream maker and used brine to ‘super chill’ to reach freezing. If I mistake not, there was an ice making company in Ellijay, GA. Until recent years there was a City Ice Company building here in Gainesville, GA. Ice may even at one time have been shipped from the north on the train but if so I expect only the wealthy enjoyed it.
    Thoreau in his book “Walden” tells the story of someone cutting and stacking a huge mound of ice on Walden pond that was never hauled away and took most of the summer to melt. That was in the 1840’s.

  • Reply
    August 2, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I don’t know about “making ice” in August, but I know my Dad’s family had ice as late as August for making ice cream in mid-east Kansas. They harvested it throughout the winter and put it in a double walled ice house in the trees on the shady side of a hill and stuffed the walls with hay/straw (they didn’t have a baler in the early days. I don’t recall hearing how they added hay to those walls but do recal Dad saying one of the chores he and his twin did was restuffing the walls. Grandma said that after they got electricity, they tore down the ice house which opened up a sunny patch where they grew the best strawberries. So many aspects to these stories that I wish I had had the wits to question when I was a little girl. . . .

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 2, 2017 at 7:38 am

    That’s pretty funny! I don’t understand why the church would care one way or the other about ice! LOL

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