Monday, January 25, 2016

Keeping Warm at Rocky Point Ferry

All of the books in the 'Little House' series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder are undoubtedly some of my all-time favorites, which I still pull out to re-read to this day.  Some of my favorite 'scenes' from these books describe the times when Pa would play his fiddle on cold winter nights, having his girls dance to warm themselves before retreating to their icy bedrooms.

I thought you'd enjoy a similar scene from the Rocky Point Ferry, which provided passage across the Little Tennessee River from Graham County to Swain County before the impounding of Cheoah Lake in 1919.  Enjoy!
Crossing the Little Tennessee River on the Rocky Point Ferry

"Nearly one mile below the mouth of Twenty Mile creek is Rocky Point ferry, presided over by that philosopher and musician, who is known far and near as Chris Linn. Chris lives just above the ferry, in a log cabin containing an entire room. The logs afford some resistance to the winds of winter that howl up and down the river, but the spaces between them afford none, and the wind goes shrieking through that cabin in a way to freeze the marrow in the bones of anyone but Chris Linn and his interesting family. Instead of allowing their marrow to freeze, they pile on the logs in the wide fireplace, and huddling around, let her howl. There are six or 7 children, the oldest being a beautiful girl of fifteen summers…There is no superabundance of clothing, even during summer, but that makes ‘no differ’ to Chris and his family. There is just one possible fly in the ointment of their contentment, and that is the breaking of fiddle and banjo strings. If those strings never broke the even tenor of their way would be uninterrupted. But banjo and fiddle strings will snap at times, and with them snaps happiness at that home. While the strings hold true and strong, the winds may howl and the river rage, but Chris with his fiddle and Miss Julia with her banjo defy them both with ‘jig chunes’ that would make an elephant dance for joy.  As Chris fiddles and Julia strums, the children dance before the fire, and ‘joy is unconfined’. The puncheon floor rocks and sags, the shadows play hide and seek with the ruddy firelight upon the cabin wall and the midnights of winter often find the inmates cutting the pigeon-wing and flinging the double shuffle with hearts as free as salvation."
'Bud Wuntz' in The Morning Post (Raleigh, NC), 16 August 1903
Chris and Matilda Mary Julia (nee' Farley') Lynn (probably circa 1910-1925)
Source: "Remembered Lives: A Narrative History of Our Family" by Duane Oliver
Notes to the reader who is interested in exploring further:
1.  Christopher (1860-1925) and Matilda Mary Julia 'Tilda' (nee' Farley) (1869 - 1946) Linn/Lynn lived in Graham County, where they operated the remote ferry for many years. Despite living in Graham County, they received their mail at the post office across the river in Fairfax, Swain County. They were the parents of at least 8 children (6 boys and 2 girls), and of these, at least two of their sons, Boyd and 'Gard' worked as loggers for the Ritter Lumber Company.
2. ' Bud Wuntz' was the pen name (for the newspaper) for John Preston Arthur (1851-1916), the author of "Western North Carolina, a History (1730-1913)" (available for free on Google Books, or $0.99 on Kindle), and "A History of Watauga County, North Carolina: with Sketches of Prominent Families" (also available for $0.99 on Kindle).
3. Please reach out to me directly via email if you'd like to read more about the Linn/Lynn family than I have included here.  I have the article in PDF form and will gladly send it along.
"Remembered Lives: A Narrative History of Our Family" by Duane Oliver.  Copyright 1993.
The Morning Post (Raleigh, NC), 16 August 1903 on