Category Archives: Uncategorized

Amelia Earhart drops in

Posted by | November 14, 2016

Amelia Earhart in Anderson SCAmelia Earhart flew into the Anderson, SC airport in her Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogyro on November 14, 1931 and attracted over 1,000 spectators. Mayor G.T. McGregor and other city leaders met her at the airport. In May of that year, flying that plane, the thirty three year old had set a world altitude record of 18,415 feet.

In May the following year she flew across the Atlantic Ocean alone from Newfoundland to Ireland, the first woman to do so. In January of 1935 Earhart became the first person to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California. Then, in June 1937, Amelia Earhart tried to fly around the world in a Lockheed 10E Electra, and the newspapers were full of news of her journey. She vanished over the Pacific Ocean en route to New Guinea.

While to us it might seem that Earhart was engaged in flying stunts, she was, with other female flyers, crucial to making the American public ‘air minded’ and convincing them that aviation was no longer just for daredevils and supermen.

sources: South Carolina Postcards: Anderson County, by Howard Woody, Arcadia Publishing, 2003


Meeting her was the reason he drove all the way down there

Posted by | November 11, 2016

The mines started laying off workers. Julia Varga had two boarders that had to leave because they were laid off. They left crying, owed money, and with promise to pay they left. Her husband Paul was laid off too; money in the bank was going down fast. Julia and Paul decided to invest in a small farm. Two other friends were looking into getting farms, too.  Paul, Mr. Lavisco & Mr. Martin knew of a friend who left Berwind, WV for North Carolina years before for farming. The three of them left together for Castle Hayne, NC.

All three men invested in farms separately. Mr. Martin bought only land, near Burgaw, and decided to build his house. He did, but never moved into it because work had picked up by the time the house was finished. Paul moved down first. Mr. Lavisco about 6 months later.

Paul had bought a dog before leaving Berwind, a beautiful German Police named ‘Lindy.’ A very smart, loyal dog, which stayed by his daughter Helen’s side without being called along, especially appreciated when she had to go to a small store to get something.

They then moved to St. Helena, NC, a small community that was friendly and helpful. Paul bought a one-eyed mule that knew how to plow and cultivate better than he. He learned to love that mule and dog, and it was a sad day when he lost each of them, especially the dog, Lindy.

1940s aerial view of agricultural colony at St. Helena, near Wilmington, NC.


Helen worked hard on the farm, helping Mom & Dad (Julia & Paul); we all learned how to “truck farm.” First years were rough, but we all had lots of fun. Went to small church together on Sunday mornings and always a group going to the beach in summer, went for walks in groups, and had small parties. On Saturday nights (summer & winter) there were dances at the hall.

Paul bought a small truck from some “smart” salesman for $150, and an old cow he didn’t know how to get rid of. “It was a pleasure to see him and the salesman bicker. Dad was calm and so sure of himself,” according to Helen. The man left with a huff and puff. He didn’t like Paul’s offer, but Paul said, “he’ll be back.” Helen didn’t think so, but he did come back. He took Paul’s offer and walked away with the old cow and left them with the truck. Helen asked Dad, “Now who’s going to drive it?” and Paul answered “You!” And Helen did. Helen was 14 or 15 years old when she drove her first motor vehicle.

New people came down from Ohio by the name of Tokoly’s. Everybody would go to welcome newcomers, everyone was just friendly. One Sunday Paul asked Helen to drive him to visit them. Helen usually stayed in the truck. There were three young men there (Jimmy, Andy, and Steve Tokoly).

To Helen’s surprise a young girl about her age was also there and came out to the truck to talk to Helen. The young girl limped. She was visiting the Tokoly’s with her mother. She too, was from Ohio and had 4 older brothers and 1 older sister. The girls became friends. She explained to Helen she had polio. Her name was Margaret Jasper, sister of Jim.

Margaret would begin writing Jim about Helen in an attempt to “fix them up.” She would tell Helen about all her brothers, so Helen had no idea which one Margaret was trying to set her up with. Jim, on the other hand, was excited to meet Helen and would soon make a trip to meet this wonderful girl Margaret was writing about!

Saturday before Christmas 1932 or 1933 Jim and close friend Frank Batko drove Jim’s and his brother John’s Dodge from Yorkville, OH to St. Helena to visit Ma (Katie) Jasper and Margaret, 550 miles away driving. (Jim and John had bought the 1927 Dodge together for $75.00.) They arrived and had dinner at the Tokoly’s.

After dinner that evening, Ma, Margaret, Jim, and Frank visited the Barbely’s. Helen Varga, the Barbely’s step daughter, and Margaret, had become friends. The Jasper, Barbely, and Tokoly families were all Hungarian immigrants.

They didn’t visit long that evening because the guys were so tired from the drive. After meeting everybody, Jim felt like he needed to leave. Helen wasn’t too happy about this. At that first meeting, Helen wasn’t at all impressed with Jim because he was trying so hard to impress her. Jim had heard a lot about Helen in his letters from Margaret and meeting her was part of the reason he drove all the way down there in a $75 car!

written by John R. Jasper, Austin TX, 2004


First thing we got rid of were the oil lamps

Posted by | November 10, 2016

My dad worked most of his adult life at Coal, Feed and Lumber Company —hardware— in downtown Marshall, NC. He delivered products. I remember for many years, Coal, Feed sold a lot of coal, which was pretty prominent. Dad drove a truck delivering coal, and I can remember him coming home in the fall and winter after having spent all day in the basement loading coal, taking it out and unloading it. They didn’t have dump trucks or any kind of equipment to load that coal other than shovels. So, he shoveled a lot of coal.

At that time there were several independent coal haulers in this county. A lot of fellows had trucks that they drove to Kentucky and Virginia, and brought coal to this county that they delivered to homeowners. Coal was a pretty predominant heating fuel for a great number of years.

There was some wood burned, but the transition was not from wood to oil, it was from wood to coal to oil. [I remember as a child my dad getting home from work and being covered with coal.] Absolutely covered. Looking more like a coal miner than a delivery person for hardware.

[My mom was a] homemaker primarily. She worked for a short period of time at a store in Marshall. At a variety store—the National Five and Ten. When we lived above Marshall she did domestic work for some of the store owners that lived not far away. She would go in and do housecleaning and things of that nature for them.

kerosene lamp

We farmed a bit. We never had much of a farming operation. When we lived above Marshall, my dad and my dad’s brother and their father had a farm operation that included—in addition to tobacco—corn and some wheat and oats, and things of that nature.

We did not have electricity until I was about eight or nine years old. That was when we moved to Walnut Creek. That was basically [just] the lights. A little later on we were able to buy a refrigerator, and that was a marvelous thing to come into the house. The first thing we got rid of were the oil lamps; that was an event and a nice step up, but it wasn’t like we had televisions and all the conveniences that we have now. The next thing, as I said earlier, was getting that refrigerator and having a place to keep the milk cold other than the spring house. Other things just kind of came on gradually as we could afford them.

Jerry Plemmons
Marshall, NC
born 1938
November 10, 2000 interview


The largest open surface granite quarry in the world

Posted by | November 9, 2016

“The principal outcrops of granite in Surry County are found in the northern part of the county near the Virginia line in the vicinity of Mount Airy, the county seat. The granite is exposed in flat surfaced masses in rather an advanced stage of decay immediately to the north and south of Mount Airy where quarrying on an extensive scale has been conducted for some years.

“The North Carolina Granite Corporation’s Mount Airy quarries, located less than 1 mile northeast of Mount Airy, were opened in 1889, and the first shipment of stone from them was made in July 1890. The total shipment of granite from these quarries from 1890, when 135 carloads were shipped, to 1904 when 1,282 carloads were shipped, was 13,232 carloads.

North Carolina Granite Corporation, Mt Airy NC

“Quarrying is confined to a 40 acre tract of continuously exposed granite over the slope and top of a long hill which rises about 125 feet above the valley bottom. The company holds more than 1,200 acres additional of ground over which granite is exposed.

“Quarrying has extended over practically the entire 40 acre tract, the greatest depth of working being about 30 feet. The rock is a biotite granite of very light gray, nearly white color and medium grain. The biotite is not, except in one opening, equally distributed through the granite, but is entirely absent from some parts of it, is uniformly distributed through others, and shows a marked tendency to segregation in still other parts.

“Quartz feldspar areas of extreme whiteness, ranging from several inches to as many feet in diameter, in which biotite is entirely lacking or represented by only a few shreds, are common through the granite.

“This unequal distribution of the characterizing accessory (biotite) renders the granite in places less uniform in color than might be desirable for some purposes. The granite that has a uniform color is most pleasing in appearance and forms excellent and desirable stone for all uses except for monumental stock, for which the contrast of color between the cut and polished faces is not great enough.

“The company is adequately equipped with all the necessary machinery and appliances for quarrying and handling the stone. In 1905 a large stone cutting plant was erected. The stone is carried from the quarries to the railway cars by a system of inclined ways run by gravity. The limit in size of dimension stone is the capacity of the railroad cars. Blocks weighing 20 tons are reported to have been frequently shipped from the quarries.

North Carolina Granite Corporation, Mt Airy NC“The product is marketed over a large territory, chiefly in States south of New York. It is used for general building and paving purposes. The quarry waste is utilized for roofs on cotton mills, macadam on streets and roads, ballast along the railroads, and granolithic work.

“All the stone used in the dry dock at Newport News, VA and the concreting material used in the Fort Caswell fortifications, Cape Fear River, NC, came from the Mount Airy quarries.

“The method of quarrying the granite consists in drilling a hole about 3 inches in diameter perpendicular to the surface to a depth equal to the thickness of the stone desired, usually 5 to 7 feet, then firing a succession of light blasts.

“The operation is begun by discharging about one fourth of a pound of dynamite in the bottom of the hole; this small charge pulverizes the stone slightly and forms a small chamber. The tamping is then cleaned out and hole is recharged in the same manner; this time however, with about a handful of powder.

“Small charges of powder are exploded in the hole until a small seam has been started at the bottom extending parallel with the surface. To determine if this has been done a small steel rod bent at the lower end and sharpened to a point is passed up and down the hole until the crack is located. After the crack has once been started the charges are gradually increased until it extends a distance of 75 feet or more from the hole.

North Carolina Granite Corporation, Mt Airy NC

Aerial view of the North Carolina Granite Quarry, Mt Airy, NC.

“The use of explosives is then discontinued, and a watertight connection to the hole is made by fastening a piece of iron pipe in the hole with melted sulphur. To this connection is attached an ordinary force pump and water is pumped into the crevice formed by the explosives. The crevice is extended by continuous pumping for a few hours until finally it covers an area of perhaps 2 acres and the pressure finds vent by tearing the rock out to thin edges on the side of the hill.

“This method is used in the warmest weather when the surface of the rock is naturally somewhat expanded and more raised. It is very doubtful whether it could be employed during cold weather; experience shows that the hotter the weather the easier the work.

“Sheets of stone covering areas of 1 to 2 acres from 6 to 8 feet thick close to the hole are easily raised by this method. It is often found necessary to clean off a ledge of stone made in this manner before attempting to form or raise another sheet on the surface below. For this reason the quarry covers considerably more area than one having natural seams —horizontal sheeting.”

source: ‘Granites of Southeastern Atlantic States,’ in Bulletin – United States Geological Survey, Issue 426, 1910, pp. 148-151


A steam saw mill was then as much of a sight as a Barnum’s Big Show now

Posted by | November 8, 2016

In Grantsville district quite a number of water power mills were erected between the years 1835 ~ 1855, but there are now only two or three within the same limits. Steam power mills have taken their places.

In 1837, a man by the name of Williams, from Pennsylvania, built the first steam saw mill on the Red Run, two miles above the National Road.  He bought a splendid lot of 250 acres of pine from Daniel Durst, which was used in about three years with no profit to the proprietor.

A steam saw mill was then as much of a sight as a Barnum’s big show now.  The next mill of the kind was that of Kreeks, between the two Savages, about 1840.  In a few years the timber on the premises was cut and the mill entirely abandoned.  He was a merchant in Frostburg, and went into banking ~ issuing circulating notes of small denominations, commonly called shinplasters.  Considerable show and pretension, but no real success.

Garrett County MD sawmill

“Sawmills and logging companies threaten the remaining supply of timber in Garrett County, Maryland,” reads caption to this 1936 photo.

On the north side of the pike, in the same line or valley, Joshua Johnson built a fine mill in 1840.  Henry Brown was builder; it burnt, but was promptly rebuilt.  Johnson then lived in Frederick, and was proprietor of about 15,000 acres of Timberland in that vicinity.  The late Meshac Frost about the same time erected the Grove Mill, and his son William and Nelson Beall ran it till the adjacent timber was consumed.

Then Frost moved the mill down to the pike and conducted it on his own account upon a large basis for a number of years.  This place was in the Shades of death, so much noted for gloom and daring acts of villainy in the long ago past years.  Mr. F. went out of business in the war times, and still survives, living in a beautiful cottage in this once hideous valley.

J. H. Hoblitzell once ran a mill for a few years a mile west of the Johnson place.  The late Nelson Beall and his brother Richard were in former years actively engaged in the manufacture of lumber.  That excellent and useful man, the late C. M. Graham, was largely and profitably engaged in lumbering at different points in the lower part of the district.

As a general thing the business was not profitable, only there and there success rewarded hard labor and drudgery.  Operations in pine are considerably smaller than in recent years, but there is still sufficient timber in this part of the county for profitable business or investments for years to come.

Mr. P. Dorsey and the Messrs. Johnson are now actively engaged in the business.  The demand for lumber is on the growth, while the supply is shrinking.  There are in the southwest part of the county vast bodies of timber, especially of the Yough and North Branch, hardly touched.

Among the large owners in the former valley (for sale) are the McFerrans, of this city, (Cumberland) and Messrs. Witts of Pennsylvania and Ohio; and in the latter Mr. G. L. Wellington has recently purchased large and valuable timber tract as an investment, or sale, as circumstances may warrant.

Timberland capitalists are now purchasing lands in that favored part of the county with a view of entering largely in the manufacture of lumber.  They are experienced men from the lumber regions of Pennsylvania, and will bring with them the most modern labor saving facilities now in use.

These are the guarantees of profits in the lumber trade as now conducted.  Formerly the gains were lost in the antiquated and expensive manner of drawing logs to the mills.  Now at a well equipped saw mill the raw material is brought to the spot almost by science at greatly reduced cost, with no waste whatever; every part of the tree being utilized and made to pay tribute to the business.

Cut-over in Garrett County, MD; 1935.

Cut-over in Garrett County, MD; 1935.


Shingle making has always been treated as a branch of the timber business.   In early times they were made of oak wood, but 60 ~ 70 years ago it was discovered that white pine was more than a substitute, and much easier to work.  Since then all shingles have been made of pine.  In the beginning, entirely with drawing knife, but in latter years principally with the circular saw; but the knife is still used to some extent, and its product is by far the best and most durable.

Quite a number of people still make their living by shaving shingles, mostly from remnants of pine trees cut up for saw logs.  Hard material for roofing, such as tin and slate, are becoming unsatisfactory, after experiments of ten or twenty years, and shingles shaved in the old way are regaining their lost popularity.  There are now roofs in Garrett County forty to fifty years old in pretty good condition.  What other material can stand such tests?

“Brown’s Miscellaneous Writings,” by Jacob Brown, ‘prepared and written from 1880 to 1895’, Cumberland, Md.: Printed by J.J. Miller, 1896

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