Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville, N.C. Sunday, April 12, 1959
‘Granny’ Maney Recalls Hurricane Some 77 Years Ago
(transcribed from a photocopy of a clipping)
By GERRY KOONTZ
When Granny Maney was a spring chick of 21 years, away up at the head of Reems Creek, she was
baptized into membership of the little church that met at “Wagner’s school-house”.
The baptistry for Granny was a rippling pool in Reems Creek across from what is now Dan Haynes’
house—a pool Brown’s Chapel still uses for its baptizings, even though 67 years have gone by.
That was many years ago, and the little church, increased mightily in size, has long since moved from the
old school-house, and become a name in the valley — Brown’s Chapel Baptist Church.
As a matter of fact, that first little school-house the valley ever knew has re-located at least twice, with the
last and largest school building now being used as a community center.
The children from Beech’s hills and valleys attend consolidated classes in Weaverville these days, and
know little of the old days as Granny Maney recalls them.
Granny says Wagner’s school¬house was the only Baptist church they had back then a little log building
put up by Jake Wagner, wIth one door and home-made split-slab benches.
The Wagners owned all that bottom land down in there, (“I used to slip off from school and get me a
handful of them apples from out that bottom!” says Granny) and when he built a bigger house, Jake sold
the little log house.
Brother Joe Cordell, Uncle Jakie Patterson (“he was a mighty good old man!”), and T.K. Brown had a
hand in the church’s early days a-born¬in’.
¬Brown, for whom the church is named, is the father of Sheriff Lawrence Brown and Tom Brown over in
Asheville. He preached for years at the church.
Back to Granny Maney, though: Maggie Bradley was born and raised at the head of Reems Creek, in the
old Long House. That particular house, she tells us, was sure a strong ‘un, built to last out of hand¬hewn
logs, cut to fit so that no wind could get under where they were joined together and blow it down.
That reminded Granny of the big wind that came along when she was just a small girl— in 1882. It was
worse than a wind: it was a real hurricane—rare indeed for the hills and hol¬lows looked over by
protective mountains. The hurricane lifted that sturdy old log house up off its pillars so they had to jack it
up, but it couldn’t tear the house apart!
Granny laughs as she remembers Rhett ‘Arwood telling the drummers down at the store about the
“harrington”. Rhett lived uncomfortably close to Rattlesnake Knob — which is known to this day for its
abundant supply of rattlers of all sizes—and Granny says Rhett would often tell how she could sit on her
front porch amd “hear them rattlers a’singin’ on the hills—partic’lar if anything bothered ‘em. An’ when
that harrington come and threw them trees up by the roots all over the ridge, law me! Them rat¬tlers was a-
singin’ all over the place!”
She recalls her brother, Will Bradley, a teacher, writing it down on June 29, 1866, in the family Bible that
the tops of the mountains were still bare of leaves—“just as naked as a jay-bird!”
“I think that was the year of the big snow,” she says. “I mind how we had a tall board fence, six foot high,
out back, and that year, the snow was piled up even with the top of it! Our old yaller dog had him a big
time in the snow!”
That was back in the days when there were no fence laws, and everybody let their hogs and cattle roam
free. Granny says there were gangs of wild hogs bedded up on Huckleberry Ridge near a big cliff, and
some of her folks went up one day after the big snow to feed the hogs. They ran into tre¬mendous amounts
of wild tur¬keys up there; the snow was so deep, they couldn’t find food, and there were turkeys, alive
and dead, all around. The men shot all they could carry and took ‘em home, where the women-folk
prepared them prop¬erly.
“You know, wild turkeys live on wild onions, and they tasted that way! I hope I never see another wild
turkey’s long as I live!”
Granny married Lucius De¬vond Maney in the same house where Bertha Hensley lives now, just a hop
and a jump down the road from Granny’s present home. Johnny Gregg Chambers, the magistrate, married
(And that reminded Granny that the first magistrate ever lived in Buncombe County put up a log house—
hewn with broad axes—at Beech, and lived there for years.)
Mr. Maney ran the post-office, store, and black-smith shop at Beech for 37 years, and it’s his family that
Maney Branch Road is named for. The Maneys used to own nearly all the land up this cove, even up into
Granny Maney lives now with her son, Buren, and his family of three boys and three girls. And she loves
for grandson Phil and Lee to troop in of an evening with a gang of their buddies to sit around and listen to
her “booger tales”.
“Why, these boys don’t know nothin’ about what’s dangerous! Back when I was a-growin’ up, they was
all kinds of things a body had to look out for — rattlesnakes, bears — but I’d rather a-met a bear any day
than a mad dog! And we had mad dogs back then!”
Not long ago, Dr. Whitson of Mars Hill, trying to find the cause of one of her many ail-ments, asked her
how old she was.
“Sweet sixteen—plus!” she told him, and that is a favorite reply, if she doesn’t feel like telling her age.
“How many children have you had, Mrs. Maney?” he asked.
She told him, “Well, the chimley fell down and kilt all but 12!”
The doctor doubled up and rolled in the floor at that one, she says.
Seven of her children, Pansy, Sue, Betty, Eretha, Bob, Joe, and Buren have presented her with 37
grandchildren, but the total of great-grandchildren is constantly shifting so she can’t keep up with them at all!
Before long, Brown’s Chapel’s oldest living member, in point of years, and in service, should see her 88th
birthday. Granny says she’s getting forgetful now, but it’s hard to tell, if she is. Her mind is full of the past,
which she says is as clear as yesterday to her.
And she’s had a full life.