Chatter and Chitter Heritage

We Walked Through History

Jonathan Creek NC

Friday found me and the girls high on a mountain slope in Haywood County, NC-near Jonathan Creek. The girl’s class had a field trip to the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center and I decided to tag along-boy am I glad I did.

The trip would have been fantastic if all we did was look at the views. I’ve never seen the leaves as pretty as they are this year. Maybe it’s the wet weather we’ve had this summer-whatever it is-the trees have put on their most vibrant attire for us to enjoy.

In addition to the beautiful landscape we got to learn about:

The ph level of the creek, how alkaline it is-and exactly what that means to the health of the water and its inhabitants.

The conductivity of the creek.

Purchase Knob

The kids even got to help take inventory of the creek-by catching salamanders.

Heirloom Apples

The highlight of the day came as we were hiking down to the creek. On the way our guide, Miss Emily, explained to us the park is having trouble with wild hogs tearing up the landscape and wooly adelgids attacking the Hemlock and Balsam trees. As we moved farther down the trail she told us there was an apple tree coming up on the right and we could help ourselves to an apple.

John Ferguson Cabin

The girls and I had already spotted a little cabin off in the distance-my mind quickly put 2 and 2 together. I ask Miss Emily-did the folks who lived in the cabin plant the apple trees? She said “yes they did about 1900 or so.” The apples were yummy and we enjoyed them as we continued on toward the cabin.

You know-me I got to thinking about those apple trees and how someone planted them a 100 years ago-and how amazing it was that I was eating an apple from one of those trees. As the trail curved closer to the cabin-I yelled at Chitter “hey we’re walking in history.” She stopped and looked at me like I was crazy for a moment-then she too realized we were. The folks who planted the trees and lived in the cabin-surely walked where we were walking on a daily basis. Neat.

Turns out-the John Love Ferguson cabin is the highest elevation historical cabin in all the smokies. Originally there were 2 small cabins on the site with a dog trot between them. Both were in disrepair-the best wood was salvaged from each-and this single cabin was built.

It wasn’t typical for farmers to build at this elevation-nearby Purchase Knob tops out at 5,086ft. But the Ferguson’s had a spring for water, the apple trees, their main crop of corn, and grassy areas for cattle to graze-so they were able to be self sufficient as most folks were in those days.

Appalachian Highlands Science Research Center

I’m such a history buff, that whenever I visit a place where I know folks-laughed, worked, played, cried, breathed-it seems if I’m still and quite I’ll catch a glimpse of them as they head to the spring house or up the trail to gather apples.

I wish I could tell you a story about the misty outline of a person I saw run around the cabin-it’d be perfect for my Spooky October series-but the voices I heard and the faces I saw near the cabin were only in my imagination.


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  • Reply
    laoi gaul-williams
    October 24, 2009 at 5:07 am

    oh i love that cabin! i have a thing for old shacks and cabins and have a few books about them.

  • Reply
    October 20, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    I enjoyed this piece. I just visited VA, and the Appalachia area where my family is from, as well as a childhood friend I grew up with in Texas. Sam, a blog friend, she said I would enjoy following you, so I signed up. I look forward to more…

  • Reply
    emily willey
    October 20, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Hi! I had a wonderful time on the FT also! What a beautiful place Purchase Knob and Haywood Co. are! I definitely want to go back. I loved the old cabin and always wonder about all of the life the cabin saw too.

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    October 19, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Hello Tipper, Chitter and Chatter. As an old teacher I know there are lots of ways to learn. I took courses in outdoor theaching and learning. It’s good that you all got to go on this field trip. Thanks for sharing it with us. The pictures made me feel that I was there.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2009 at 9:23 am

    how amazingly beautiful. thanks for the photos and story. we need to be like these folks and be a bit self sufficient these days!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Love those pictures! Especially the one looking through the window. And I also love visiting places such as this. Makes me wish I could close my eyes and see a glimpse into the past. What it was like in its day.

  • Reply
    Kat Billings
    October 19, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Love it–just love it. Thank you for letting us readers come along and enjoy your trip. Always enjoy looking at pics of places & hearing stories of bygone days. Thanks. Kat

  • Reply
    Janet Pressley
    October 19, 2009 at 3:01 am

    I have heard that the best colors in the fall come from the driest season – without rain – is this true. Nana

  • Reply
    October 19, 2009 at 12:40 am

    I feel the same as you do when it comes to old houses and cabins. I always want to know the history of the structure and of the family that lived there and what happened to them. The whole area where the cabin sits is just breath taking! It’s wonderful that the apple tree still lives on. Enjoyed this post so much. blessings,Kathleen

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    October 18, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Tipper: The trees were beautiful as was the cabin. It is so great to get the history of an area you are visiting. I would have really loved to be there for a visit.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Looks like you had a great trip. I would call that cabin home today. Love the fall colors!

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Tipper, I love places like this where we walk through history. I too am a history buff and can see the people in your imagination heading to the spring house or to the orchard to pick apples.
    Enjoyed my visit, as always. Have a great week.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    I love the old cabin. Our minds think alike, I’m always wondering what it was like long ago when I see old places like that. What life was like when they walked upon the same ground. By the way, I got my gifts in the mail-thank you, I love them.

  • Reply
    trisha too
    October 18, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    what a great tour–beautiful pics, and some history to go with it.
    history is my favorite subject right now!
    (woo, i’m at the shop, and commenting on Tipper’s blog! yay for me!!)

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    What a great trip for you and your girls. One you all will remember forever!
    I loved that cabin.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I’m glad you have a sense of history and appreciate the old things. I always had a strange feeling when I found flint arrowheads knowing that hundreds of years before some of my Indian ancestors had fashioned them. I also have walked in history and found a connection so strong I could almost imagine I was there. It’s carried through the years in the music too. Thanks, Pappy

  • Reply
    Rick M
    October 18, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    All I can say is just beauiful pictures. And the cabin that take me back to were my grandfather lived as a boy.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    What a cool trip. Thanks for taking us along. That cabin looks like one solid structure. And those apples–yum!

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    October 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Sounds like an awesome trip! The pictures are so gorgeous!

  • Reply
    jamie keener
    October 18, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Wow I could really feel the history in your experience, Tipper. I get that way when I visit old places. It’s like you can almost feel the presence of those who went before you long ago. Nice experience, great story.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 18, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    What a great trip! I’m afraid I must confess….I don’t know what a wooly adelgid is??
    I do know about wild hogs tearing up the ground. I’ve heard the Deer Hunter complaining about them tearing up the woods where he hunts for deer.
    I love the old historical places, especially churches. If I get real still in those places I can feel things from time gone by. We really are connected to all that has been.
    It is wonderful that you and the girls got to make the trip.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 18, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    The field trip description and pictures were wonderful! I’m glad you and the girls went and shared with us the beauty, boundlessness and bounty of the area. How wonderful that the old apple trees are still bearing!

  • Reply
    Jamie Barnett
    October 18, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I particularly enjoyed reading this. I taught Miss Emily and her brother Seth many years ago when I worked with her mom, Jennifer, at Peachtree Elementary. Emily is also a neighbor. I did not know about the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    October 18, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Your picture of Autumn is beautiful! Glad you went with the girls on this trip as I so enjoy your perspective on the old ways. And to get a ‘taste’ of history was the most special part. Thanks for sharing with us. xxoo

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 11:38 am

    What a great day. I would have enjoyed that so very much.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 11:26 am

    That cabin and the scenery you showed was very beautiful. Something I have dreamt about for some time.

  • Reply
    Beth W.
    October 18, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Beautiful. Buck & I have hiked in the nearby Cataloochee area. I remember seeing volunteer daylillies and other flowers from some earlier century’s cottage garden that continued to come up each year even though the people were long gone and only parts of a house foundation and chimney remained.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 9:47 am

    I am so happy to see that a cabin was preserved. Somehow, the ghosts of the past draw me and hold me to places like the one you visited. Sounds like every had a good time and learned something. Also, I couldn’t help but think of a darn good bluegrass group that comes from that area, Balsam Range. You can hear them here: [, on a show we saw last July!

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    October 18, 2009 at 9:24 am

    What a wonderful trip we camped near Johnathan Creek in Maggie Valley last year, wish I could have been there for the wonderful field trip..

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Wow, what a neat trip! I would have loved it, too!
    There are so few places like this left~I’m so glad that this one is being preserved for future generations to see and appreciate.
    Thanks so much for sharing this!
    (Hey, I’m able to post today!)

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 8:49 am

    You ought to frame that cabin picture…it is so pretty!
    Glad ya’ll enjoyed your trip!

  • Reply
    October 18, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Hi Tipper, I enjoyed this so much. I’m a history lover, too. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to visit lately, I have had some challenges to face, but am trusting the Lord for His help.
    Thank you for sharing your field trip. I love it Blessings, Annie

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    October 18, 2009 at 7:19 am

    You are right about history. We really need to appreciate how things got to be the way they are now like those apple trees.
    I am in Brevard, NC this weekend for the annual gathering of the Allison Family. The gathering on Saturday was at the Allison-Deaver House, the oldest frame home in Western NC and the oldest existing Allison home in America. Only this summer, I found out that this house was built my Benjamin Allison, my great-great-great-grandfather in 1815. As I walked through the house looking at the rough-sawn plank walls, I was surprised at the emotion that rose up in me. These old places are precious as evidence of our past and the way we lived, and this one is especially precious to me because of the family connection.

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