Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Old Wikle Place

Old, abandoned houses - they capture my imagination. I love to wander through them, placing my hands on the walls......willing them to tell me their stories. All too often those stories remain hidden, but every so often I get lucky and am able find out more about them.  

Sometimes, I enjoy taking a drive out Needmore Road to take some pictures for a friend of mine, Edwin Ammons, who was born on Wiggins Creek and considers the area his home. He lives 2 hours away and has not been home for many years, but any glimpse he can get of his old stomping grounds is deeply meaningful to him. On this day, I drove further up Wiggins Creek than I have ever gone and happened upon an absolute treasure - the home you will see in the ensuing pictures. I shared these pictures with Ed and held my breath in anticipation that perhaps he could tell me something - and he delivered! I thought you'd enjoy what he had to say about this gorgeous place. 

The Jeff and Tiny Wikle home.
Photo by Wendy Meyers
"The old house is the Jeff Wikle place. Thomas Jefferson Wikle (1862 - 1950) and Haseltine "Tiny" Morgan (1869 - 1963) had lived there but he had died before I was born. Aunt Tiny had moved into town (maybe a nursing home) but I can remember her. She died in 1963. 

Jeff and "Tiny" Wikle, circa late 1940s
Source: Swain County Heritage Book
That place was really nice in comparison to others in the area at that time. It was built really well to have survived this long. I remember the living room, bedroom, the stairs and the loft bedrooms. I don't remember the kitchen but I remember the L-shaped back porch that the kitchen door opened out onto. And the long front porch.

Presumed to be the living room
Photo by Wendy Meyers
Stairs to the loft bedrooms. I love the seafoam green color.
Photo by Wendy Meyers
Loft bedroom on chimney wall.
Photo by Wendy Meyesr
Loft bedroom on front of home.
Photo by Wendy Meyers

Over the creek behind the house was the one and only three hole toilet I have ever seen. Two adult seats and one child's if memory serves me correctly. And there were hinged lids on them. 

The branch that runs behind the Wikle home.
Photo by Wendy Meyers

There was a road (probably the original) next to the bedroom end of the house and across it was a neat little workshop with anything and everything a farmer would need. A horse drawn mowing machine and a rake were parked there...the kind you only see as rusty decorations in front of peoples' lovely brick homes these days.

The Wikle home with view of the old road in front of it. 
Photo by Wendy Meyers

A little farther was a little branch that was spanned by a long flat rock. Where most people would have thrown down a log or two or just jumped across Uncle Jeff had made something that would potentially last for eons. The reason for the bridge is because the spring and spring house were up against the mountain where the modern road is. The spring house was as neat and well constructed as the rest of the place. Rock on the bottom where the water was and wood above. There was another smaller version of the rock bridge over the trickle of water that exited the spring. Good water it was! Travelers on the road above had a well used trail over the roadbank down to that little spring and there was always a dipper there. We didn't know about germs back then but fresh air and sunshine on both us and our drinking utensils would have eliminated the threat anyway."

Chimney of Wikle home
Photo by Wendy Meyers
Notes on the Wikles: Jeff Wikle was born in 1862 in Macon County, the son of Andrew Jesse Wikle and Sarah Ann Breedlove. Jesse Wikle enlisted in the Confederacy (the famed Thomas Legion) in 1862 and was never seen again. Jeff, his mother, his sister Arlecy, and brother Allen each went to their graves never knowing what had happened to him. His fate was not known to the family until the late 1960's, at which time it was discovered that he had been captured and transported to Fort Delaware, where he remained until his death in 1865 - less than a month prior to the end of the war. 

Jeff and Tiny married in 1884 when Tiny was but a young girl of 14 or 15 and their first child, Mose (named after Tiny's father), arrived the next year. They went on to raise a fine family of 10 - 6 boys and 4 girls. Jeff was a well-respected leader in his community and in fact served on the death penalty jury for the Ross French trial discussed in last week's blog article. 

 According to their biographer in the Swain County Heritage Book, Jeff and Tiny lived in this home for nearly the entirety of their married lives - over 65 years. 

Asheville Citizen-Times, 09 December 1981
Edwin Ammons
North Carolina Archives

Swain County Heritage Book


  1. You do good Wendy! Good, my friend!

    1. Couldn't do it without you, my very good friend. You help make history come alive for me.