Ben Enloe, circa late 1890s/early 1900s
Source: Laura Taylor
Frequent readers here know of my fondness for the Judson area, because I grew up about a mile from there. One of the most wealthy families in Judson was headed by William Aesoph 'Ace' Enloe. Readers are likely familiar with the Abram Enloe family as being among the early settlers of the Oconalufty Valley, relocating there from Puzzle Creek in Rutherford County sometime after 1810. Ace, one of Abram's grandsons, was born in the Oconalufty area in 1847 and likely lived in that greater area until sometime in the 1890's. He married Margaret Clarinda Conner, with whom (according to the 1910 census), he had 12 children.
William Aesoph 'Ace' and Clarinda (Conner) Enloe
Source: Laura Taylor
Ben, one of the 'middle' children, was born on June 9th, 1879. During his childhood, Ben would have been expected to contribute heavily to the family's day-to-day work: helping in the garden, gathering firewood, hauling water from the spring, feeding the livestock, and similar activities. His responsibilities would have increased as he grew older. The census records note that he was literate so he almost certainly attended school; an 1890 newspaper article noted that the Oconalufty school ran for 5 months out of the year. The Enloes probably also attended church at either the Oconalufty Baptist Church or at the Hughes Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church. Sometime in the late 1890's, Ace moved his family to the Judson area, purchasing the Amos Ashe property and mill. Ben probably had a role in running the mill prior to his departure from the area.
The Enloe Mill in Judson, circa 1910
Source: Great Smoky Mountains National Park archives
The Enloe Mill in Judson, circa 1909
Source: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Engineer and Fireman/Stoker on a tourist steam locomotive in Colorado
Source: The Durango Herald
A Southern Railway freight train near Black Mountain, circa early 1900s
Coming into view of Ben Enloe's work train, which was situated on a small bridge at the Fairview rail crossing, McGalliard realized that disaster was imminent and jumped clear in the nick of time. Unfortunately though, Ben and his flagman Erwin Pitts did not escape in time and were instantly killed upon the collision of the trains. Pitts' body, buried under tons of coal, was found rather quickly. However, Ben's badly scalded and mangled body, found buried underneath both the work train's engine and the coal, was not recovered until the following afternoon despite what were described as frantic efforts to find him. The wreckage of the trains was spread over a good distance along the track, and the work engine was said to be torn up such that it looked as if it was made of cardboard.
A coal train wreck, circa early 1900s
Source: Norfolk and Western Historical Society
Ben Enloe's death certificate
Probate records indicate that Ben had $500 (almost $11,000 in today's currency) to his name at the time of his death. His father, Ace, was the recipient of Ben's entire estate.
Signature of Ace Enloe on Ben Enloe's Probate Record
Tombstone of Ben Enloe in the Bryson City Cemetery
Source: Don Casada
I would like to recognize the significant contributions of Laura Taylor to this blog. Laura, a great-niece of Ben Enloe, has contributed significant family history and numerous photographs of the Enloe family that bring this blog entry, and especially Ben Enloe, to life.
The Asheville Citizen-Times, September 9, 1916
The Charlotte Observer, September 11, 1916
The Durango Herald
The High Point Enterprise, September 11, 1916
The Tennessean, September 1, 1890
Western Carolina University Special Collections