Terrapins in Appalachia
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Lingering Beauty from the Past

My life in appalachia - Smoky mountain national park 

I took the photo of the metal fence in Cataloochee several years ago. It surrounds one of the remote graveyards in the area. Every time I come across the photo on my computer I'm amazed by the simple beauty of the fence.

My mind wonders about who made it?

Did one man make it while others put it up or was the construction of the fence a group effort? Or maybe it was store bought? I wonder if the people who lived in Cataloochee were pleased when the fence was put up? If they felt like their loved ones who laid below the rough mountain soil were now protected with a sign of respect?

Amazing something of such simple beauty has lasted so long in the rugged mountains of Western North Carolina. 

If you're a new comer to the Blind Pig and The Acorn you can go here to see the video we filmed of the girls singing in the historic Little Cataloochee Baptist Church.

Tipper

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It IS beautiful, and it's sad that would totally escape some nowadays who would consider it an eyesore.
God bless.
RB
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There is an Old Cemetery near Lacey's Springs area I some time stop and eat lunch, one family has a iron fence around the area where the members of that family are buried. I noticed one day that half of it was missing, thieves had decided they could probable make a quick buck to support their habit, an old gentleman pulled up to see who I was, it was his families plot, he told me that it was well over a 100 yrs old and the fence had been there all these years, it saddens me some time to be living among such thoughtless, irresponsible, low life people, that would steal something from anyone but from a graveyard is so low. O yea he had his gun, and if I had of been one of those thieves, let's just say he told me he was in his 80's and done live longer than most and he didn't have much to loose.

When Daddy worked for the Park Service he went to Cataloochee every spring to clean off the trails and the graveyards and too do maintenance on the Churches and whatever buildings were still standing. They had to hike in and carry their equipment and supplies. They would camp there a week every year. Imagine spending a week there and getting paid for it. Of course they had to work all day with only hand tools but still the evenings and night must have made it worth it all. That was 45 years ago and I don't know how they do it now.
Daddy was a singer. Daddy worshiped in song. I am sure that all those many years ago he was in that same old Church where the Girls sang and I am sure that he couldn't have been there without busting out in song. And when he sang everybody there would sing. I can envision a worship service erupting there amongst a handful of mountain farmers trying to make a little bit to supplement their income. The next time you go there, when the chitter and chatter calm down and it gets real quiet, listen for them. They are still singing! Hear the voice that sings a little louder, a little bolder and with a little more heart? That would be my Daddy. Tell him you know his second son. Tell him I said Hey! Tell him I said I'll be home in a little while.

Miss Cindy got it just right! I love that fence -- and the sweet little graveyard it encloses. I have visited similar little cemeteries in East Texas. All wonderfully interesting and beautiful. The girls singing in that empty church is beautiful -- thanks for that link.

I can't see having to fence a graveyard. I think the punishment for desecrating a grave or vandalizing a graveyard should be your addition to it.
You are lucky the fence is there to photograph. It's a wonder visitors haven't cut it to pieces and carried it off as souvenirs.

What a great picture, for our mountain cemeteries to be secure !

Tipper,
I always loved your photo of the graveyard fence. It could certainly be a prize winner in a photo contest in my opinion...
I love old wrought iron gates, stone steps and old interesting fences surrounding cemeteries...Some in remote areas where only a handful of folks rest sometimes they are failing to the rust...Others in more well kept (mowed) small abandoned church graveyards usually kept by extended family members...
Gravestones also have changed thru the generations...one can see and learn a lot from a visit to the resting places.
The most wonderful thing would be to hear two girls voices singing out from the interior of a little white clapboard church....
Thanks Tipper,

Loved the old fence and the girls singing! Had a total knee replacement so I haven't been on P.C., for a while. Growing up I have been to many family cemeteries in MS, AL, TN and KY, It was a yearly trip to the one in MS. Always amazed me even as a little girl going with my grandmother to the top of a big hill. It was covered with white sand and I never saw grass growing up there. They kept it picked out I guess. Now the white sand is gone and it is all bare clay.

It looks like the type of wire fence my mom had around her yard. It was held in place with wooden fence posts, and needed to be painted periodically.

I am currently reading "Gratitude for Shoes" and today's post made me think of a comment Cleo Hicks Williams made in her book. She commented how people in their boats on the Lake (Nantahala in this case) never realize the untold stories that are buried underneath in the deep dark waters as they enjoy their day of play. I do love reading - and hearing in the case of the video of the girls at Cataloochee - about the people who lived here in the past. I can't say I wish to return to those times as I do enjoy most of today's conveniences, but it does make me have a greater love for this area along with a lot of respect for the people who lived here in the past and their descendants.

My extended family works hard to do auctions, raffles, and other fun raisers to keep about three ancestral cemeteries cleared and mowed. In one recently it was discovered the church was long gone, and the cemetery had 4 wheelers causing damage along with trees getting oversized and turning over some of the tombstones. Sadly, they have been tearing out the old fencing so they can more easily weed eat and clear.

Two of the cemeteries have stones from the 1800's so it is hard to tell how long the fence has been there. I feel once this generation is gone our old family cemetery will fall into disrepair. It is difficult to find workers who will clear them even when paid. Many descendants have moved out of the area, but I am encouraged by their willingness to send money to help with upkeep. Meanwhile my generation will persevere, and we will try to preserve these for future generations. It really saddens me to see how much time and effort ancestors put into fencing and tombstones, and now it is getting ripped out. However, it is so uplifting to see a descendant go reclaim and painstakingly repair an old homemade tombstone, and then post pictures on the FB cemetery site to show their efforts. There will always be those who care!

I'm not able to see the comments anymore!

Tipper,
I love the fact that you write about our mountain Cemeteries. Our friend Don wrote me about him and Susan moving to the homeplace in Bryson City. He and Susan take care of the Bryson Cemetery, and I know that must be a worthy challenge.

Hope you're feeling better. ...Ken

My wife found a piece of fence about 2 feet long exactly like that in an antique store. It is very rusted and weathered.
When she brought it home I asked her why in the world would she pay money for that? She said it kept catching her eye when she walked by. It now hangs on our wall and I am drawn to it as well.
I wonder where it came from and what did it surround?

Tipper: I have been to this beautiful site several times! But your post makes me want to just get in the car and drive back into the mountains for another visit!

THANKS VERY MUCH for keeping us focused on "PRECIOUS MEMORIES" and how they linger!

Eva Nell

Born in New Orleans, raised in Florida, I have known for years that I was somehow displaced and was meant to have spent my life among the mountains of Western Carolina.
My parents had a little part time home on Merchant Street in Asheville for about 30 years which was the true home of my heart. One time I asked my mom "how is it the mountains move me so deeply, they are just inanimate objects....". My mom replied "I think it's because the mountains are silent but they SHOUT the name of God". My mom hit the nail perfectly on the head, it all came together for me in the instant she spoke those words. I'm writing to thank you for this blog (if that's the right term). I feel I have come to know you and your family in a sense, I feel you are my friends because you "kin me". I love the photographs, the music, the stories, your heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping to nourish my soul through sharing your mountain life with me.

Yes, but it's just a fence! Oh no, it's so much more, it's history, beauty, skill, love, tradition, labor, and reverence. The old cemeteries were a thing of beauty embodying love and reverence in a way rarely seen now a days. There is a whole world of information in that little piece of fence from the past.

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