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Is this the original Aaron Baptist Church?
Photo courtesy Michael Hardy

Originally published: 2012-05-24 13:00:35
Last modified: 2012-05-24 13:03:26

Our Avery County: Things I wish I knew

Michael Hardy / (

Being a historian is a very rewarding profession. Constant digging and research produces new information on the past. That information is then analyzed and compared with what is already known, and then communicated to people. 

There is, however, a downside. So often, I come across little bits and pieces of information that just don’t fit, or where more facts are lacking. 

Take for example the story of the Daniel Boone Motor Trail markers in Avery County. There were originally three here: Newland, Linville and Banner Elk. Information about the marker in Linville is adequate: I know where the marker was, where the remnants are and there is a postcard or two that actually show the marker. In contrast, no one knows much of anything about the marker in Newland or what happened to it; nor does there seem to be a photograph of it. For the marker in Banner Elk, which was on the grounds of Grace Hospital, there is a photograph, but that it is all. What happened to this marker? 

Recently, I set up a Facebook page entitled “Avery County History and Genealogy.” This page is a way for people to talk and share pieces of their past that are connected to Avery County. One of the members, Donald Greene, sent in a photograph supposedly taken in Montezuma. One of the ladies in the photograph is Matilda (Keever) Greene. However, no one to whom I have shown the photograph has ever seen the building. Is this a photograph of the original Aaron Baptist Church? The current building was built in the 1920s, so this photograph would date before then. 

Kawanha, a community below Grandfather Mountain, has also been known as Naomo. To date, the meaning of either moniker eludes me. 

Horton Cooper writes that Birchfield Creek was named “for a man who once lived near its mouth, engaged in the distributing of counterfeit money, before he moved to Old Fields of Toe, where he died of milk poison.” Since he moved to “Old Fields of Toe,” this would be prior to 1911-12, when the area became Newland. Who was this Birchfield? 

We here in Avery County are very proud of Williams YMCA. It is a great addition to the area. However, Williams YMCA is not the first YMCA in the area. There was another in the Crossnore area, in the 1910s or the 1920s. Does anyone have a photograph or additional information, like when it was built, and the years of operation? The remnants can still be seen off Dellinger Road.

Ever heard of the song “Old Troop Dog” by Grandpa Jones? The chorus goes: “Down in the hills of Carolina in a hunter’s paradise/Old Troop Dog is there tonight as sure as the wind does sigh/The coon, the bear, the catamount, still room these hills the same/In a little place call Carey’s Flats where a rock house bears his name.” Does that song refer to our Carey’s Flats? Where was/is the rock house? There is a Rock House Creek between the Gragg and Roseborough communities. Is this the one that inspired the song?

Being a Civil War scholar, I, of course have numerous questions surrounding that period of time. On several occasions, I have had folks ask me about details of a skirmish that took place in or near Miller’s Gap during the war years. It would seem all that is known is that there was some type of altercation in Miller’s Gap. There were a reported 30 to 40 men who worked at Cranberry Iron Mines during the war, yet I only know the names of two: Isaac English and George Dugger. Who were the others? Then there is the story of the bag(s) of silver being thrown into the pool of Elk Creek Falls. 

And there are a few place names on whose origin I would like more information: Loggy Gap, Elsie, Hale, Lineback and Scalley. How about Raiders Camp Creek? It starts in Avery County and crosses over into Caldwell County and eventually flows into Wilson’s Creek. Is the history of Raiders Camp Creek tied to the Civil War?

I could probably drone on and on about some of these mysteries, and many others. If you have information on these, please drop me a line and let’s get these pieces of Avery County’s past documented for future generations. You can contact me at ( Also, let me encourage you to check out the Facebook page. There is some great information-sharing going on. You can pose your own questions or share those interesting photographs.