Talk With J. Mack Whitaker – June 24 1928

Fred O Scroggs

Fred O. Scroggs-photo provided by the John C. Campbell Folk School

From the JCCFS Archives – Fred O. Scroggs

J. Mack Whitaker

(Talk with J. Mack Whitaker, June 24, 1928.)

J. Mack Whitaker was born and raised on a farm near Andrews, N.C. Now 82 years old. Entered the Confederate Army at the age of 16, under his father, Stephen Whitaker. His father raised a Company on Valley River. Was made Captain of the Company. Later made Major. Surrendered to Col. Kirk at Franklin. The last in N.C. to surrender.

Stephen Whitaker came to Cherokee County from Buncombe County in 1838. Bought 160 acres of land at the Indian Land Sale. At his death he owned 22,000 acres. He was married in 1836.

James Whitaker, Grandfather of J. Mack Whitaker, was first Post Master in Buncombe County at Swannanoa. J. Mack has the original commission among his papers, dated 1818. James W. was first post master in Cherokee County, at Jamesville, later Valley town. It was named after Jas. Whitaker. It stood near where the Rev. Clay Whitaker now lives. Rossville Post Office was established later. It was above the present site of Marble, N. C., between two branches. It was established before Jamesville was changed to Valleytown. Valley Town was later changed to Andrews.

J. Mack W. says, Fort Delaney stood on his grandfather’s land, not far from where he, (J. Mack) now lives. Some of the logs are still there, in some other buildings. It was built about the same time as Fort Butlar at Murphy, Fort Hembree at Hayesville, Fort Montgomery at Robbinsville, and Fort Lindsey near Franklin.

“The forts were built out of logs with loop holes made so that guns could be ranged right and left. Large logs, with the ends sharpened were set up around the forts as a barricade.”

“Remember attending Commencement exercises, (then called Expositions), at the John O. Hicks school at Hayesville.” Visited his school one time while he was having a class in Astronomy. There were 19 boys and girls in the class. Hicks asked the question, “Who inhabits eternal space?” No one answered until he came to the last one in the class,-a girl. She answered, “The Deity.”

“Chief Junaluska lived just over the hill, South from here, (his present home) and across the creek, now called Junaluska Creek. He had an apple tree in his yard that we call the Junaluska Apple. I used to have one but it died. Fannie Walker has one now. She was the wife of Ruff Walker. Junaluska had two wives. He went west. Come back later and died about 1858. He fought with Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horse Shoe Bend. He was camped with his Indians in the bend of the river. At night, Junaluska swam the river and turned all the enemy’s canoes loose. Next day the enemy could not charge them. Junaluska done that. The state gave him 300 acres of land where Robbinsville now stands. He is buried on the same land. I hear the Daughters of the Confederacy have erected a monument to him. I have never seen it.”

J. Mack Whitaker, Page two.

Uncle J. Mack Whitaker, now has (June 24, 1928) hundreds and hundreds of papers that he has saven over a long period of years. Among them, the following:

Map of North Carolina printed under an Act of Congress in 1843. This map gives Fort Lindsey above Franklin, and Fort Montgomery at Robbinsville. This map does not give Clay and Graham Counties, as they were then part of Cherokee.
A map of the Town of Andrews, printed in 1890.
A commission from David Stone, 1807, appointing James Whitaker a Justice of the Peace.
A copy of the North Carolina Citizen, published Jan. 4, 1872.
A copy of the Atlanta Constitiution 1835.
A copy of the Southern Star, Atlanta Ga., 1888.
The Cherokee Herald, Murphy, N.C. 1875.
The Independent, Murphy, N.C. 1883.
The Murphy Bulletin, Murphy, N.C. 1885.
The Cherokee Advance, Murphy, N.C. 1891. Perry, Editor.
The Murphy Advance, Murphy, N.C. 1888.
Hundreds of other papers, commissions, etc.

Several thousand dollars in Confederate Currency, State Money, etc. Hundreds of old stamps, both used and un-used. Letters from numerous parties. Many of these old letters have no stamps on them. The fee is marked paid by the Post Master at the office of origin. Some of them from Raleigh are marked “Free.” Among his numerous letters is one address to Chief Junaluska at Jamesville, N.C. Most of these letters are not in an envelope. They were folded and sealed with sealing wax, with the address on the back.

Says there are some small Indian Mounds on the Morris Farm, below Andrews. Said he saw part of the large mound at Andrews opened. Nothing found. Said neighboring tribes helped build the mounds. That they brought dirt in baskets for many miles to go in the building of the mound.

Told where an Indian Blast furnace used to be, near the Maltby Talc Mine. Indians called it the Turkey Foot, from the shape of three hills jutting out like a Turkey Foot.

Told where Indians cut out stone pottery on the old Tillman Bryson place at Young Harris, Ga.


I hope you enjoyed Fred O’s talk with J. Mack Whitaker as much as I did! I’m so thankful Fred O had the forethought to talk to to folks and to write down what they told him. And I so hope all those papers J. Mack Whitaker had ended up in a museum or archive.



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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 17, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    Just so no one is confused, Valley River Baptist Church Cemetery and Valleytown Cemetery are not the same place. Valleytown Cemetery is on the east side of Andrews while Valley River is west of town near where Baker Furniture used to be. Valleytown is much larger but Valley River is older. Valley River Baptist Church is probably the oldest Baptist church in Cherokee county and one of the oldest in western North Carolina.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    I didn’t mean to mis-speak earlier when I called Andrews, Jamestown instead of Jamesville. Guess I was thinking of them Pilgrims.
    Sometimes it would pay me to proof-read a little before sending. I’ve always wondered about why they named towns, ‘ville’,like Robbinsville,Hendersonville, and
    Asheville, etc. Yet, Bryson got
    to be call a City…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 17, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    I find it interesting that J Mack Whitaker’s grandfather participated in the Indian removal and his mother was 3/8’s Cherokee.
    Another eyecatcher was the carrying of dirt in baskets for miles to build a mound. I liken it us sending representatives to Washington DC to build a government which many consider not much more than a mound of dirt.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    June 17, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    The POST was good. So much to learn and document for future generations! Wish I were a well informed historian! Your posts give me hope. Eva Nell

  • Reply
    June 17, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I so much enjoyed this discussion.
    I went to school and graduated at
    Andrews, never heard the name
    Jamestown mentioned. But there’s
    the Valleytown Baptist Church right behind IOI facility. (formerly The Lee Company and before that Berkshire Knitting Mill.)
    There was a couple of Whitiker’s
    that I went to school with. Daniel and Shirley were cousins.
    Daniel lives on Indian Land way
    up on Beaver Creek and he has
    cut more wood than anyone I know.
    Thanks for this knowledge of my

  • Reply
    June 17, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Oh goodness! I will do some research. We are Whitaker’s and my husband’s folks are are from North Carolina. Wonder if he is a cousin? So interesting to read all of this. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    June 17, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Tipper, this was a very interesting bit of history. I once studied the removal forts built in WNC and this adds even more material to what is known about them. Also, the part about Andrews first being called Jamesville then Valleytown helps us understand which place is being talked about in some of the old historical records. Many of the old names have been changed over the years. Bryson City used to be called Charleston. I am so glad some people had the foresight to keep these records.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    June 17, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Most interesting.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I love reading about past times, particularly the dramatic changes wrought in the southern mountains.I so appreciate those who preserved and recorded what they could.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 17, 2015 at 7:20 am

    It certainly gives a different perspective to hear the words straight from a participant. It gives view that you cannot get from a text book.
    I particularly liked the little girl’s response to who inhabits eternal space.

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