Recorded on January 1, 1974, by Dwight Childers at Bergie Shepherd Hobson’s house in Barnardsville, NC.
The Shepherd Family’s Move from Yancey County:
We moved here in l896. From Yancey county. They all . . . both sets of grandparents came at once. Well, now
these others are not married then. There’s none married here except Papa and, I guess, Uncle Gus.
Aunt Sophina--she died. And I’m named for her. She got thrown off of a horse when she was a young woman.
She didn’t die then, but it set up some kind of a . . . where she hurt herself. I guess she was younger [than Papa].
. . . I can remember it [moving], or I can’t remember all of it. It was a long . . . awful long journey, and just got
wore out . . . in wagons. I may have just heard ’em talk about it so much I thought I could remember it. Seems
like I remembered the night.
They [the men] had already come and made the arrangements. And the same people sold Grandpa Wesley his
place. They just traded. Jule Robinson lived in our cabin . . . up in the Penro [Hipps] cove.
Why the Shepherds Moved from Yancey County:
Well, the way I heard it, I guess I heard maybe Grandma, and Mama I know, I heard different ones in the family.
There was trouble. There was a . . . if I can think of the name now . . . Anyhow there was a family ‘t was real . .
. outlaw kind of . . . Andrew Austin, that was the name, and he made all kinds of threats and everything. He and
Uncle Elbert were the ones that had the trouble. They didn’t have any fight or anything, you know just threats and
Grandpa knew there was goin’ to be trouble.
You know how two young boys . . . just disliked each other and got in a . . . .
And wasn’t that strange that over that, the whole clan moved?
Back at that time it would take two or three days to get to Asheville and back. They’d bring loads of apples and
things ‘t they grew and take two, three days . . . muddy roads . . . to get from Yancey to Asheville and back. I
heard Papa talk about campin’ on the road. They’d take a lot of food, big boxes of food, and stay one night on the
way goin’ and one night on the way comin’ back, and then they might stay a night or two in Asheville because
they might not get rid of their [produce]. Several would come together you know.
First Home in Buncombe:
We had a log cabin up there where Mrs. Hipps [lives].
Papa and Mama moved there, and Grandma and Grandpa [John Wesley Shepherd] moved in a log cabin down
below the Uncle Fred Jack house, about half way in that bottom. There was an orchard there.
Some people called that the Redworm Hollow. And it was a little log cabin, we had a log barn, or stable, just a little
ways out from the house, and a spring in below, and a watering trough, a big long trough about as long as that
couch, I guess, and about that width, hewn out of a log, a poplar log, I think it was. And [we] watered the cattle
there, and we washed there, and had a battlin’ stick--have you seen a paddle?
And we had a big wash pot, and a big block.
Of course they’ve ditched out in there. It’s not the same. But there was a branch and some [water] from the
Stockton pasture went down through there. It was a pretty good stream of water went down through there.
The logs were hewn off, but not straight-hewn, like I want one. And it had just a rock fireplace, chimney. Just
one big room then, and then Papa built onto the back of it, a kitchen, and a little bedroom -- we slept back there
too, and had a porch, a front porch. It was a high front porch, all the way across. I remember Ruby rocked off of
that front porch in a rocking chair.
Births at that place:
Let’s see . . . Ivory, Harold, Floyd, Roy (he died when he was 13 - well they called it flux, but it was diarrhea, or
dysentery). . . and Ruby.
Moving to Bear Branch [now Hobson Branch]
Then we just moved over there [to Hobson Branch] and rented that place, [after] the Bradleys went to Atlanta,
Georgia, (the Bradleys were who we bought it from [later]). Well, we just rented; that was the bigger farm over
there. The Bradleys moved to Georgia, and we moved over there to rent the land; they had an orchard.
We moved over there and stayed about a couple of years I guess and they came home and we moved over into the
pasture in a little house and stayed until we got our crops fixed . . . all gathered. Then we went back over there to
our first home . . . and Zelma was born there, and then we moved back . . . bought the place (the Bradley place,
we called it) and sold . . . the Redworm Hollow place to John Comer Burnett. And then Inez was born there, Roy
was born there--Roy was next to Inez and then Georgia Lynn. Jeter was born at the Bradley place.
I never heard tell of tobacco then. They grew apples, corn, grain, and vegetables. I heard talk about bringin’
cabbage and loads of different things . . . I can’t remember any tobacco until I was practically grown. And then
Papa started . . . but it was cheap -- ten cents a pound. Had to raise acres and acres to amount to anything.
They’d bring a load of stuff to Asheville and exchange it for whatever they had to buy; coffee and salt, and cloth.
They made their own cloth until they moved over here [from Yancey]. They had big herds of sheep -- don’t call
them “herds” -- flocks of sheep. Anyway they sheared thhe sheep and got that wool and washed it, carded it -- I’
ve seen Grandma do that; she’d roll it up in little rolls, and then she’d take that roll and spin it on the spinning
wheel and make thread. And they had that loom that she wove it, and they would make the men’s clothes, too. It
was real fine [fabric]; they called it linsey. They would color it; they used roots and walnut hulls and everything.
After they came over here they dyed the thread and made the socks. Grandma and Mama brought enough wool to
make a lot of socks to last several years. She [Mama] would sit down and sew; she made the boys shirts [by
hand]. We didn’t have a sewin’ machine. Grandma had one; she brought it. Uncle Fred made a table out of it.
Took out the machine part and put planks over it and made a table.
Paternal Grandparents (Shepherd-Riddle):
Well, Grandpa Wesley was a very quiet, reserved man. He didn’t have much to say, but he was interesting. He
was unique. He didn’ talk much, but what he believed in he believed in. And he had a beard.
Grandma was . . . awfully good and industrious . . . She worked. And Grandpa took everything easy. He didn’t
get upset over nothing. But he was the head though. He was a good liver. He didn’t have plenty, but he always
made enough food to do ‘em.
And Grandma, she was the one who made the garden. She didn’t want anybody in the garden with a horse.
Grandma would have ‘em to plow her garden in the spring, harr’ it and lay it off. She didn’t want nobody in that
garden after that.
We didn’t see any bugs back then. Just used ashes if there were any.
[They lived] in a log house in that bottom down below the Fred Jack house. I can’t remember how many rooms
was in the house, or anything. But I can remember when they built the Fred Jack house and moved into it. They
had two rooms, both bedrooms, had a front porch not quite all the way across, and then they built a kitchen. They
went out of that house and then into the kitchen.
(I remember the Dillingham house -- I’ve stayed there many of a day -- up on the hill from Burnett Dillingham’s
now. They tore the top down and made it just one story. But they had a big house and had the kitchen way off
Grandma’s house had a porch coming out . . . come out on the porch and into the kitchen. It was a good-sized
kitchen. It had a door at the lower side and didn’t have any steps or anything, just the door there. Looks like they
would ‘a’ put windows, don’t it, but it had a door there. I’ve seen Grandma sit there in a chair many of a day, in
I can remember goin’ to that little church up there about where the little Stockton [Sophronia Stockton Hughey’s
store was] it’s not a store now . . . but it was right in below that. I went there as a child. This little building they
used as a church was about ten feet below that old store building [where Mr. and Mrs. Cook used to live] in that
little bottom. I don’t remember the name of the church. Now they came from Morgan Hill [Church]. They had a
Sunday School. I can’t remember a preacher. May not ‘a’ had one. When they organized Piney Church, I
remember the man’s name that built Piney – he was the main one; I guess they had others ‘t helped him – Tom
Kess. He was one-eyed and I know we were afraid of him. He was kind o’ ill-like. All the kids were afraid of him.
And I remember Troy [Shepherd?] was a little tiny thing. He climbed up in there, the frame. The Odd Fellows,
they had that hall up there.
Her Father (Henry Taylor Shepherd)
I know Papa was always the one that they ’d call on to do everything. When anybody would get sick, go after
Taylor. They thought if Taylor got there, it would be alright. He was the oldest one living there. Uncle Gus, he
went from place to place, went out west, all over. He was the wanderer. He wasn’t mean or anything; he just
wandered around. And Papa would always . . . .
Let’s see, there was Ernie, Winifred, and Wayne, and Pearl, there was four at that time, and they would come to
Grandma’s and stay, several . . maybe a month or so, and then they would go over to her parents in Yancey --
Pensecola, I think it was -- the Blankenships and stay with Aunt Sara’s people. And when they lived in a house,
when they had their own home, Uncle Gus would take a notion he had to get out and get work or something, just
to roam around, and Papa would go out with a team [of horses] and move [them] wherever they had to move.
But when any sickness would happen in the family, they’d go after Taylor, and he’d stay. And everybody in the
country . . . Papa just killed his self waitin’ on ‘em. He waited on Robert Maney over in Yancey. They said . . . I
heard Robert say that if Papa hadn’t come he wouldn’t have lived. Nat McLean was the doctor. He was the one
that got Papa.
Aunt Gennie and Aunt Lula
And Aunt Gennie. She was a strong-willed person, and Aunt Lula was just the opposite. Aunt Gennie would boss
Aunt Lula, but she thought the world of her. Aunt Lula never did marry. She died of cancer.
Aunt Gennie was like Grandma Matilda, and Aunt Lula was just like Grandpa, quiet and reserved.
Grandma was from down about Marshall. We wondered how they met, but it seems like that Aunt Gennie told me
that Grandma came back there to Yancey County to visit some of her relatives.
Well, that picture somebody has of Grandpa . . . he has his army suit on then. Yeah, he was in it. And he had his
Bible in his hand. I copied this from Aunt Lula’s Bible.
Ones Who Died Young
Oh, James W. was that first son of Grandma’s and Grandpa’s. They had a son that died young. He died July 20,
1871. I haven’t got here when he was born. And Uncle Walter died when he was a young man. Yeah, he was
younger than Aunt Lula. He was born November 9, 1881. I remember him, and Uncle Elmer, too. Uncle Elmer
took me to school the first time I started to school [at Morgan Hill]. We got there early, and he held me up to the
windows so I could see in the school house, and I thought oh what a big room it was, and then the seats. When I
looked at those seats, I thought it was like a . . . I don’t know what. And he and Oscar McClurd, they were about
the same age and were buddies (Pansy [McClurd] and I always stayed together) and we’d try to at lunch time . . .
to go with them you know . . .
Health and Disease
[Uncle Walter died of] Typhoid Fever. He and Uncle Elmer, too. There was just few weeks difference in their
Back at the time people didn’t pay any attention much to germs. A lot of people then . . . two or three of the
Buckner family died. Uncle Walter was the first one buried at Piney Mountain, and then Uncle Elmer died just
about a month after that. Uncle Walter died in1902. Uncle Elmer was thirteen and Uncle Walter must have been
about eighteen or maybe twenty. He was a young man. Let’s see, he was born in 1881 and died in 1902. He was
twenty-one. He was sick a pretty good while. You know Typhoid, it has to run its course. If you don’t get better,
you just linger ‘til the fever breaks. Doctor McLean was our doctor, but at that time – I didn’t remember Dr.
McLean -- it was another doctor.
Uncle Fred Jack -- did you hear the story about him breaking his leg? Well, now, he was young then. There was
an apple tree out a little ways fron that kitchen I was tellin’ you about. He climbed up in there-—he was makin’ his
dog a house, or something about a dog house, and he climbed up in there to get something to build it with maybe .
. . or I don’t know what. Anyway, he fell out of that apple tree and broke his leg. And it was a bad break; he
broke it down at his ankle. And they got ‘im a doctor – [wudn] any hospitals to take him to then -- and put his on
the table and Dr. McLean and Dr. John Gibbs, I believe was the doctor’s name, they sawed and tried to fix it but
didn’t fix it right, didn’t set it right. That’s what caused him to be such a bad cripple. Then it took almost blood
poisoning. He was always a bad cripple.
You know, a real doctor, or if they’d had hospitals; we didn’t know anything about hospitals. There wasn’t any in
I remember at the time, Papa stayed down there all the time. He suffered an awful lot. I don’t know what they
gave him to do that [surgery] – maybe they gave him whiskey – but they didn’t do it right. They thought he was
goin’ to lose it [his leg]. It gave him trouble all along. And I know that he said “Mama . . . .“ I’ve heard Uncle
Fred tell it, that Grandma went in and knelt beside of his bed and took his hand and they prayed that the Lord
would heal him. He got better. When anybody got sick, they had a siege of it back then.
I remember Grandpa got sick one time . . . he had . . . kidney [trouble] but he went to the hospital then; Papa
went to the hospital and stayed with him. They had a telephone at that time, one of those up on the wall, you
know. And we’d call in the morning and see how he was.
I guess it was that old Mission Hospital on Charlotte Street. That hospital was there for ages and ages and ages. I
remember . . . we had to take Ruby there once . . . for some little think . . . and she had an abscess and she had
to have surgery, and Papa went and stayed all the time she was there.
Georgia Lynn Shepherd died of flu at age of two.
Elmer Shepherd [her brother] died of croup at three years. That [Croup] is a respiratory trouble -- not like
pneumonia. They just choke, and back then they didn’t have any [medicine] . . . just [epicac].
Based on notes made by Dwight Childers during an interview with Bergie Shepherd Hobson at her house in
Barnardsville, NC, in 1974.
Maternal Grandparents: Mitchell Wilson Shepherd and Clerissa Arrowood Shepherd
He was Irish. Quick-tempered, jolly, and full of fun. He was muscular, low, fine-featured – just like his
They lived on Hobson Branch at Ivy Creek near H. R. Deaver’s place. They built H. R.’s present house. Then it
was a small house – just a kitchen and a bedroom.
They were big eaters – lots of pork, vegetables, and corn bread.
Their youngest son Bascombe was famous for eating coffee grounds.
Grandpa Mitchell would often say “Land sakes alive, Clercy.”
Grandma Clerissa was a small woman, a worrier, and rather negative. She had a little wisp of hair which she did
up in a knot. It always came down when she was shouting. She died of tuberculosis.
After Grandma Clerissa died he went to live with Aunt Rosetta and Uncle Horace Deaver. They lived in [what was
later] H. R. Deaver’s house. Grandpa had sold the house to Horace and Rosetta for his old-age keep.
That arrangement didn’t work out, because somehow he felt mistreated. He then moved in with his son Bascombe
up the road at [what was later] the Earl Fisher house.
Grandpa Mitchell died on a Sunday in May or June, not long after we came back from Winston. Floyd and Ruby
came from church and asked Grandpa Mitchell to come with them over to the Beachboard house to spend the
night with us. He looked up at the sky, saw clouds, and said he’d better stay at home to look after the tobacco
which had just been set out. That night there was an electric storm and a killing frost. He was found dead in the
He died of a heart attack.