Saturday, October 3, 2015

Departed this Life (October 1915)

Between working full-time and raising 3 children, it's often difficult for me to find the time to write lengthy blog entries. As such, and in order to keep putting out information on Swain County, I've thought long and hard about what types of articles would be of interest to my readers, but take me a little less time (don't worry - the longer articles will still come!).  Today's blog is an example of one thought I had, that of profiling individuals who died in Swain County during the current month, any number of years ago.  For this particular entry, I chose 100 years.  I'd love some reader feedback at the bottom; is this article type one you'd like to see continue?

I hope you'll enjoy learning about some of the interesting Swain County individuals who departed this life in October 1915.

October 4th
William Franklin Garrett (born 1851), a 64 year-old lumber inspector at the time of his death, took his life by a shot to the head somewhere in the Oconlufty township.  He was born in the Jonathan Valley area of Haywood County, son of William Green Berry Garrett and Martha Jane Rodgers.  In 1877, he married Mollie Ophelia Thompson, and they had one known child: a daughter, Susan. He served as the postmaster of the Jonathan's Creek post office from1871 to 1877. He is buried in the Garrett Cemetery in Haywood County.  Click here for his memorial.

Champion Lumber Mill at Smokemont, date unknown (This may or may not have been the logging operation with which William Garrett was associated).  (Source: WCU Digital Collections.)

October 13th
Nancy (nee' Angel) Cunningham (born 1830), an 84 year-old widow, died of old age in the Almond area. She was born in Macon County and was the daughter of William Angel and Martha 'Pattie' Shepherd.  In 1856, she married James Mont Cunningham, with whom she had 4 known children:  William Avery, Robert Jefferson, Susannah, and Charles Thaddeus. Old deeds appear to indicate that the Cunninghams lived on the Little Tennessee River.  According to her death certificate, Nancy is buried in an unknown cemetery in the greater Ela area of Swain County.

Little Tennessee River in Swain County, 1937 - location unknown
(Source: WCU Digital Collections)
October 19th
Timmie Ross (both 17 Feb of the same year), a 7 month-old infant, died of 'pneumonia fever' at Stonery (near the location of the new Cherokee School on Big Cove Road).  He was born in Swain County and was the son of Adam 'Tewatley' Ross and Desdemonia Crowe.  At the time of his death, he had a sister, Katie.  Timmie is buried in an unmarked grave, in an unknown cemetery in the greater Big Cove area of Swain County.

Of tangential interest, Timmie's father was one of the Cherokee schooled for a time at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle Pennsylvania.  He ran away back to home in 1900, something he later came to regret as shown in the letter below.  Adam's file from the school may be viewed online here

Letter from Adam Ross to the Carlisle School (Source: Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center)

October 25th
Birch/Burch Messer (born 1893), a 22 year-old logger, died of bronchial pneumonia at Bushnell, attended by Dr. J.E.T. Welch, a prominent citizen of the area.  Birch was presumably born in the greater Dillsboro area of Jackson County and was the son of William Robert Messer and Nancy Avaline Parton.  He was single at the time of his death.  He is buried in the Locust Field Cemetery in Jackson County.  Click here for his memorial.
Coming into Bushnell, 1938 (Source: NARA)

October 25th
William 'Bill' Wildcat/Wild Cat (born in the early 1840s), a 75 year-old farmer, died of unknown causes somewhere in the Oconalufty township. As I am not a Cherokee historian, I cannot be certain of his lineage.  However, by matching US Census Records with Indian Census Rolls, he appears to have been the individual shown in the screen capture below from the 1899 Census for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. If my supposition is correct, he was married to a woman named Rebecca, and had 3 children living with him at the time: daughters Arline and Stetsey, and son Palneola (as best I can make out).  He is buried at a cemetery in the Birdtown area, presumably the Wildcat-Ben Cemetery, in an unmarked grave.

Source: 1899 Census - Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on

 October 28th
Pansy E. (nee' Case) Crisp (born 1895), a 20 year-old housewife, died of tuberculosis at Bryson City. Pansy was born in Swain County and was the daughter of Fidelia Gaston 'Jack' Case and Kansas Mary Jane Stallcup.  She was orphaned in 1905 upon the death of her mother (her father died in 1896), and was taken in to live with her maternal grandparents, Lucius Harvey and Maude Almarine Elizabeth Stallcup.  In 1913, she married Frederick Ira Crisp.  They had no known children together during their brief marriage. Pansy is buried at the Bryson City Cemetery.  Click here for her memorial.

Maude Almarine (Hall) Stallcup (left), grandmother of Pansy (Case) Crisp (right) on Pansy's wedding day.
Source: Larry Stallcup
These are the only individuals whose deaths were recorded via death certificates for October 1915 in Swain County.  However, as death certificates had been in use for a short time only, more often than not, deaths often went unrecorded.  There can be no doubt that there were many other Swain Countians who died in October 1915, some whom we can discover through their headstones, and others who lie in unmarked graves, their identity lost to history.

As always, I welcome and appreciate reader input.  Knowing of your interest in what I write enables me to remain enthusiastic about writing it!  Today, I'd love some reader feedback in the comments - is this article type one you'd like to see continue?

Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center
National Archives and Records Administration, TVA Files
Western Carolina University Digital Collections