Appalachia Pap

The Pear Trees

The pear trees homeplace brasstown nc

All my life an old homeplace up the creek has been called The Pear Trees. No pears there in my lifetime, however there were pears there when Pap was a boy.

Pap's school picture

The settlement that was once up the creek lived large in Pap’s mind. The Stameys, Hickeys, and Robersons, were people Pap knew and had fond memories of.

I would sit spellbound as a little girl when Pap told me about the houses that used to be up the creek, the people who lived in them, and the cars, wagons, and sleds that used to come right down by our house when he was a boy.

While Pap could remember when most of the houses were inhabited, like the folks who kept their cow in the cellar, there were a few places that had already been deserted by the time Pap was old enough to tramp through the woods on his own.

One of the places is just beyond Steve’s house. Pap’s father told him a family of Cherokee Indians lived in the house that once stood there.

The other place was The Pear Trees. Pap said there were still a few outbuildings standing and maybe a portion of the house when he was a boy. He remembered one time his best friend LC and him were caught in a horrible storm and they took shelter in one of the old buildings till the storm blew itself on down the road.

Imagining a treasure trove of old glass bottles I asked him if there were still stuff in the house or buildings. He said no someone had taken anything of value, even taking some of the better wood to use for whatever building needs they might have had. Pap said “But I did find one treasure there, well a treasure to a overall wearing barefoot boy, I found a nickel laying in the top of the corncrib. Can’t even remember what I was doing or looking for but I laid my hand right on top of that nickel.”

What Pap remembers most is the bounty of fruit that could be gotten from the old homeplace. There were the pears that gave the site its common name in addition there were plums, apples, chinquapins, a sort of bush with edible things on it that reminded Pap of grapes but wasn’t, and there was a mulberry tree.

Pap said one time Harold Kernea, the Crisp boys and him climbed high up in the mulberry tree and ate to their hearts content. Well everyone but Pap ate to their hearts content. After eating for a while Pap noticed the mulberries had little mites on them and that turned his stomach from eating them.

I asked Pap if they harvested the fruit from the homeplace every summer. He said most every year Papaw and Mamaw would go get some or his grandmother, Big Grandma, would get him to go with her and help gather. Pap said any time he was going by the place during a fruiting time he’d take his shirt off and make a sack out of it and take his mother and Big Grandma back anything he happen to find that was ready to be picked.

Old chimney at homeplace

Old chimney at The Pear Trees

Today the only thing left at the The Pear Trees is remnants of the chimney, a portion of the rocked spring house and a few other piles of rocks left from clearing fields for new land. It’s a beautiful place with a good peaceful feeling about it.

Rocked spring at old homeplace

Rocked spring at The Pear Trees

My whole life I’ve wondered about the people who lived there. Having such a bountiful fruit garden makes them seem like they were well off. They certainly had an eye to the future, since many trees take years to finally produce the way you want them to. Yet they disappeared without a trace by the time Pap was harvesting the fruits of their labor. Not even a memory left to be passed down from Pap’s father or grandfather like the one about the Cherokee Indian family.


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  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    June 23, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    I can relate to your story, Tipper. I remember so many little farms down south around my grandparents old home place. My daddy would always tell me who lived in each little farm that we passed and sometimes someone was out hoeing the garden. By the time I was grown, all of those people were gone and as I would pass each old home place, it was as if I could still see that person out waving to us. They always waved to you, even if they didn’t know you. One of your commenters mentioned she saw Yellow Bells and other flowers still coming up on an old place. My mother always said Yellow Bells and I think she was referring to Forsythia. Neat to see those words again.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I completely agree with what my sister, Charline, said. Thanks for the pictures and the story, Tipper.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    I loved the journey to The Pears, and the pictures, with Pap as a guide when he had those adventures.
    And I loved the wonderful comments, too, about days gone by.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    June 22, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I always wonder about abandoned homes too. Did someone die? Why are they being left to fall into ruin, especially with so many homeless wandering our streets? Is someone paying taxes on them still? And if so, why not let someone who needs a home live in it just for the cost of keeping it maintained rather than letting it fall down into ruin?
    So many questions. No answers. It just seems a shame to let places fall to ruin.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 22, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    There were several old house sites above our old home on Wiggins Creek. My mother could remember when an Indian family lived in one of them. I can remember stacks of stones used as foundations and rotting log sills and joists still in place. Strangely enough there were no chimleys attached.
    One old homesite was below our house. It was the old Tom Southards Place. It had a chimley but only a small one that you could run a stovepipe into. The unique thing about that place was an outdoor stove about 20 feet from the house. The house was almost gone but the outdoor stove was still in good shape. It had two eyes like woodstoves have and a little chimley in the back. We couldn’t play around the house for fear of stepping on nails but we built fires in the stove and tried cooking.
    Just above our old house on the middle fork was a small house built of logs and chinked with concrete. It has stone pillars supporting it, huge stone steps in front and a big stone fireplace on the end. There were yellow bells flanking the steps and a row of daffodils in front of that. The house was finished inside entirely with tongue and grooved wormy chestnut. It had nice six over six windows with hidden counterweights so you didn’t have prop them open with a stick. It even had locks on the windows. It had a bathroom but no fixtures. It had a sink in the kitchen but no water to it and no drain leading out. It had cabinets built of the same wormy chestnut. The window and door facings were made of wormy chestnut as were all the baseboards, crown and corner moldings.
    The house was built in the early to mid ’40s. I don’t know who built it or what they intended to do with it (I never thought to ask my daddy) but I do know somebody had a lot of money in it. The strangest thing about the house was that nobody ever lived there. Somebody might have stayed there for a night or two because the fireplace had been used. Maybe coon or bear hunters warmed themselves there but nobody ever “lived” there. A house with nobody in it is has no cause to stand and will soon yield to the elements. In the mid 80’s Ray Dehart got permission to tear house down.
    When we divided up my father’s property sometime in the 1990’s, the surveyor discovered that the house had actually been on daddy’s place. It was long gone by then. My brother Harold now owns the footprint where the sad little house once waited for a family to make it a home.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Many years ago we went back to my great grandparents home place in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Whitley County Kentucky with my grandad. We found the old base of the chimney but not much else, with the exception of an iron frame that had framed in the cabins fireplace.
    Thanks for the great story Tipper.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    I’m impressed with the way you tell stories of the homeplace. Your compassion and love for what is and once was marks the soul of your character.
    At the homeplace where I live, there use to be a beautiful Apple Orchard. They’re all gone now, as the Pressley Girls sing “nothing lasts forever”, but when I was little, I can remember eating from the different trees. There was at least 15 trees at the top of our Cornfield and others spread at different places. A pear tree still exists near where I grew up and several Chinquapin trees Daddy planted in the early 60’s, all very much alive…Ken

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    June 22, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Tipper: Your recollections of earlier days bring back wonderful memories of my Sunday afternoon hikes with my father into the Cross Tie Holler in the Matheson Cove. I think your “OLD HOME PLACE HUNTER” would be a perfect title for my Dad. Thanks! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Nancy Schmidt
    June 22, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Especially nice were the photos you included in this piece. Your grandfather was surely a beautiful boy.
    Robert Frost poems sometimes talk about finding stone walls deep in reforested woods in New England. Such finds stir deep imagination and memory and shadows of history in most of us who love to ramble.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 22, 2016 at 11:07 am

    I am an Old Homeplace hunter to, looking for evidence of those who went before. But they always make me a little sad, wondering if the circumstances of their leaving were tragic or joyful. Undoubtedly some of them had the story of urban or suburban children that did not want to go back and live on a mountain farmstead. There are big parts of my life my children will not keep.
    Those old places are an object lesson that can cause some of us at least whose mind inclines that way to pause and reflect about what we will leave behind, what difference we have made, what might ought to have been different. In other words, the biblical injunction to ‘redeem the time’. I confess to not having as clear an idea of what the redemption of time is as I ought to or would like to. In the end, I think it comes out veryclose to “godliness with contentment is great gain.”

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    June 22, 2016 at 10:42 am

    You bring back so many memories to mind.My papaw
    Griffith s farm in Elliott County , KY had very little bottom
    land. Most of the farming was done on a large
    flat on top of a high hill. Papaw had an orchard there.
    I four wheeled back there recently to turkey hunt.
    The old barn is gone and all of the orchard except for one
    lone pair tree. There is an old graveyard back there and
    all of the headstones are field stones , no names, no dates.
    I guess i ‘ll never know who they were. My uncle , who
    probably would have known who they were, died last year
    he was 101 years old. Wished I would have asked.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    June 22, 2016 at 10:04 am

    My husband and I were walking on a walking trail in the Gorge and found traces of an old homestead. We love to explore and imagined what it must of been like to live in such a beautiful but rugged place. It is sad to see these places almost gone. I enjoyed your story.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 9:28 am

    My daughter just bought a farm and I couldn’t wait to go check it out. What’s left by the owners of so many years ago is simply fascinating. The rock lined walk path ends at a retaining wall with perfectly placed rocks that stretch several hundred feet. A set of steps divides the wall where I imagine a carriage parked on the landing below. The area is heavily lined with Easter flowers, but not a fruit tree in sight.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Nothing keeps me grounded better than studying the stories of those that went before us with all their many struggles and accomplishments. They left few remnants of their lives, but the ones that seem to mark their homes best are piles of rocks and little clumps of Daffodils found at deserted old home places. It can certainly take one away from all the rules, regulations, and political nonsense of the present day.
    Searching the web for tidbits of yesteryear on Ancestry and other such sites can sure fill a wintry day. I recall so many old but vivid names of people and places from childhood such as Will Church, Preacher Day, and Sherrod Branch. Using old census and other records, I am able to trace some of these older folks from birth to death along with discovering neighbor’s names. Names will jump out not heard since mentioned by my Grampa all those many years ago. If one is fortunate, there is sometimes still available somebody who can pass on an interesting story passed down to them.
    It is always nice to start the day with The Blind Pig, because there does seem to be something for everybody on here. I am constantly surprised that so many of your subjects seem to be my most favorite.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    June 22, 2016 at 8:59 am

    The Pear Trees may have succumbed to the “Fire Blight”, I had set out a couple of Bartlett Pear trees and they had just begun to bear and in one season the blight killed them. They looked like they had burned. I think there are more blights than there used to be like the blight which killed off the American Chestnuts which were abundant just a couple of generations ago but were wiped out by the blight which made it’s way into the mountains from China.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Wandering walks with a wondering mind is a good way to spend a day.
    -and I love that you talked about the “feel” of the place. Even when a person doesn’t know who or what has been there before, each place a body visits has its own sense of being; and if one is lucky, it will be a good place like The Pears and share with you peace, comfort, and inspiration.
    Thank you for letting us vicariously experience a moment there.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 8:40 am

    I spend a lot of my walking time in woods that have traces of earlier inhabitants. Sometimes there’s a hint from the trees or plants, but stonework is the most visible remaining feature. In my part of Massachusetts, there are many little stonework dams and raceways and such that must have been built for milling, some going back all the way to settlement times. Isn’t it a wonder that such knowledge and building skill must have been a common thing? And now there aren’t many people around that could do it, or even figure out how it was done in the first place.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    June 22, 2016 at 8:28 am

    It is good to remember things gone before us. They represent someone’s life that they worked and struggled for. Just a memory now. Proof that we should not take ourselves too seriously and enjoy every minute of our time. What seems so important today will be gone soon enough.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 22, 2016 at 7:02 am

    I love to prowl old places like that. There was an old similar place up the mountain behind my grandparents home. I had belonged to someone in my grand dads family. There was a cabin, spring house and root cellar, all falling apart. You could see where the garden had been and along the edge of the garden a couple of rhubarb plants that came beck every year and of course the daisies like you see around all old home places.
    I’m always fascinated by the empty old places like that. There is an energy there, I think it is an energy signature from the folks who lived there.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 22, 2016 at 5:52 am

    Like Pap, I love to 2ander in old abandon places. I tend to make up stories about the people who lived there and why they left. I get sad when thinking how a house that held so many people could just be left to crumble.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 22, 2016 at 5:52 am

    Like Pap, I love to 2ander in old abandon places. I tend to make up stories about the people who lived there and why they left. I get sad when thinking how a house that held so many people could just be left to crumble.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 22, 2016 at 5:52 am

    Like Pap, I love to 2ander in old abandon places. I tend to make up stories about the people who lived there and why they left. I get sad when thinking how a house that held so many people could just be left to crumble.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 22, 2016 at 5:52 am

    Like Pap, I love to 2ander in old abandon places. I tend to make up stories about the people who lived there and why they left. I get sad when thinking how a house that held so many people could just be left to crumble.

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