Affiliated Networks



Latest Activity

Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Spooks Branch, a human history story

Spooks Branch was a singular place in settlers’ loreby Rob NeufeldImportant editorial note:This is a significant historical story that is also, in parts, personal and controversial.  It is about a few families who settled a particular cove and played out their heroic and complex legacies in ways that interacted with place and time.  You don't read this kind of story much because people don't like to expose themselves or stir up trouble, even a little.  This caution makes history classes boring…See More
Dawn Trowell Jones updated their profile
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Nov 21
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Rise of Asheville by Marilyn Ball

History of the "Asheville 1000" and the 1970s renaissance                       Let’s not miss the history of Asheville’s renaissance, Marilyn Ball’s new book, “The Rise of Asheville,” advocates.            She’d come here in 1977, making her one of the advance guard of “artists, entrepreneurs, and off-the-grid…See More
Nov 20
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Century-ago woman's apple cake recipe

Mmm, them apples in Beaverdam coveIn 1972, Helen Nelon wrote about the traditions of old-time Spooks Branch, off Beaverdam Road.  Here's what she said about her use of apples in a cake.(The full story of Spooks Branch will appear soon.)There were apples for delicious cider cooled in the spring "dreem" (drain), apples for frying for cold winter days, and for special days there were dried apple sauce fruit cakes.These cakes were made of very thin, sweet dough with dried apple sauce spread between…See More
Nov 18
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Nov 16
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Dignity is the key to Richard Russo's inspiration

So funny, and yet so exposing--Richard Russo's geniusSnakes on the lane            In Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Empire Falls, the protagonist, Miles recalls the time his father, driving, had accelerated into a box on a highway.  “What if that box had been full of rocks?” Miles asks.  Unfazed, Max quizzes his son about what he would do about the box.  Max says he'd stop and look in it,  “What if it was full of rattlesnakes? “ his father asks.            The verbal match…See More
Nov 14
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Nov 13
Rob Neufeld commented on Mark de Castrique's video
Nov 12
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Humanize the history--especially with Civil War--writes acclaimed author

Writer illuminates tangled web of Civil Warby Rob Neufeld             David Madden has written a book, “The Tangled Web of the Civil War and Reconstruction,” that deserves special attention.            First, there’s Madden’s background.  In 1992, he founded the U.S. Civil War Center in New…See More
Nov 12
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Nov 11
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Nov 10
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Coming attraction--Singleton at Malaprop's & City Lights for Calloustown

George Singleton's latest collection of stories, Calloustown...features the folk who try to survive in a place that has little to offer besides a Finger Museum and a taxidermy petting zoo,It's funny, but also tragic and angry.  The review, "Love-hate humor cries in Calloustown," appears in the Asheville Citizen-Times, Sunday, 11/15/2015.  Singleton's at Malaprop’s Bookstore, 7 p.m., Wed., Nov. 18; and at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21.Here's an excerpt from the…See More
Nov 10
Lockie Hunter posted an event

Juniper Bends Quarterly Reading at DownTown Books & News

November 13, 2015 from 7pm to 8pm
Our very special Autumnal edition starts at 7PM and is sure to be a lively and vibrant set, with featured writers Randi Janelle, Tina FireWolf, Logan Parker, and Annabelle Crowe. Two of our readers have new books out, and as always there is wine flowing by donation. Hosts Lockie Hunter and Caroline Wilson look forward to seeing you there----remember, your wellbeing depends upon it.See More
Nov 9
Martha Arrowood Pelc posted a photo

Love and Mercy ~ Up On Roan Mountain

My family lived and loved up on Roan Mountain and in the surrounding mountain areas, and this is their story. It's woven into a tapestry that weaves down through the years, before the days of the Civil War and up to present day. They were…
Nov 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

It's All Relative--50 WNC women write about family

Family life as perceived by 50 WNC authorsby Rob Neufeld             If you have biases against small press books or anthologies of local writers’ work, I recommend you lay them aside and take a look at “It’s All Relative” (Stone Ivy Press), 52 stories and poems by 50 WNC women authors writing about family.           …See More
Nov 6

Unsung hero emerges in story of McDowell County integration

by Rob Neufeld


            When five  Old Fort black children—Richard and Norma Greenlee; Thomas Lowder; Audrey Logan; and Teresa Murphy—went to integrate Old Fort Elementary School, August 24, 1955, they stood alone.   Their three adult escorts had backed out, apparently, but Albert Joyner was watching from his window.

            “I wasn’t involved,” Joyner said.  “I came here from the eastern part of the state.  And if you weren’t born here, you were an outsider."   He had come in 1952 to work at the Oteen VA Hospital.                  

            But he says, “The Lord took my hand” that morning.  Joyner looked out his window and saw that the black adults who were supposed to escort the children weren’t there with them.  Joyner put on his best suit and went out to lead the children to the schoolhouse doors.

            “There wasn’t nothing but white,” Joyner recalled in an August 2009 interview with Kim Clark of the McDowell County Oral History Project.  Hundreds of white police officers and citizens thronged the approach.  The county school superintendent, Melvin Taylor, met Joyner on the steps.

            “Integration would not be begun this year,” Taylor said.  Yes, the Supreme Court had ruled that schools must be integrated “with all deliberate speed,” but the state legislature had directed schools to stay racially separate until issues could be worked out in court.

            In the meantime, young black children, whose school had been controversially demolished in 1950, were being transported to Marion.

            Black people had great reason to live in fear of white people, Joyner elaborated.  Two men who had intended to escort the children, but didn’t, were fired from their factory jobs.   Black men who, in the past, had bought new cars, had been fired for what was considered a transgression.. 

            “You get what they have,” Joyner said, referring to white folks, your employers told you, “‘We don’t need you.’”

            “You had to be under them,” Joyner added.  “Yeah, that’s how it was,” he said in a refrain.

            Whereas Joyner had a bank account in Pendleton, he couldn’t get one in McDowell County.  Black folks used the post office for banking, Joyner said.

            If a black person stepped out of line, Joyner related, “they’d have shot you in the foot, or something.  Nobody would have said anything, and if they had, they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.”

            Joyner learned from a man whose grass he cut that some black folks had offered to take care of Joyner for being a trouble-maker at the school.  “No, no need of doing that,” an official had responded.

            “That’s the way it was then,” Joyner intoned.

            When the black students’ case went to court, Joyner was the one who represented them, standing with their lawyer appeal after appeal.  It would take several years for McDowell County schools to be fully integrated.

            Not long after his initial stand, Joyner was taking his sister to the bus stop in Old Fort when, the oral history project reports,  a “white railroad worker, W.W. Arney, said some harsh words to Mr. Joyner and knocked him into the fountain.”

            “I got beat up bad,” Joyner said.  “The police came out there and asked, what did I try to start…I called the sheriff, and he said he’d be up there in the morning.  I said I might not need him then.  I might be dead…That’s what that place was.  They (African Americans) were scared.”

            The coda to this story inspired people at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast last month, when Buncombe County Commission Chair David Gantt related what he’d learned from his assistant, Ellen Pfirrmann, Oral History Project partner of Kim Clark.

            “In a touching postscript, years later,” Gantt said, “Mr. Arney was a patient at the VA Hospital.  And…his nurse was Albert Joyner. 

            “I didn’t get mad at nobody,” Joyner recalled. 

            Arney had lost his leg in a car accident, and “I treated him nice,” Joyner said.  One time, he asked Arney who it was who had tried to take those kids into the school—for Arney didn’t recognize him—and Arney said, “It’s nothing really important now.”

            The policeman who had been at the scene of the assault on Joyner also became a patient at the hospital.  Joyner took care of him on a number of occasions, often involving the messiest jobs. 

            Dying, the policeman wanted to give Joyner money, but Joyner declined.  “I want you to have it,” the sick man insisted.  “And I took it,” Joyner confessed.  “I didn’t know what he was thinking.”

            After the policeman’s death, Joyner went into a filling station, where he discovered that the policeman’s wife wanted to give him free gas.

            “His wife came out and said, ‘We’ll take no money from him,’” Joyner related.  “So I wouldn’t go there anymore.  It (the offering)  wasn’t obligated  to me.  The Lord took him,” meaning it was all in His hands.



To learn more about The McDowell County History Project go to  The project is looking to use the Joyner material to create an exhibit and archive that could be housed in the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro.  David Gantt will be make a presentation about Albert Joyner at Hill St. Baptist Church, Asheville, 10 a.m., Feb. 13, 2011.



“Look” magazine published the documentary photo (above) of Joyner with Richard Greenlee and Thomas Lowder, two of the five African American children trying to enter Old Fort Elementary School, Aug. 24, 1955.  The man with the cane is Col. Daniel Adams, a local inventor who supported the black community and sought redress for the destruction of its school.

Views: 291

Reply to This

© 2015   Created by Rob Neufeld.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service