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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

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Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

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Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Connie Regan-Blake’s 14th Annual Summer Storytelling Retreat & Adventure at StoryWindow Productions

July 14, 2019 at 10am to July 20, 2019 at 4pm
Come to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville for 7 days of story-listening & story-telling along with coaching, community & supportive exploration. This 14th annual workshop welcomes all levels of expertise, from beginner to experienced teller. Participants discover ways of being in the world that nurture your creative flow while developing skills to: Find, create, learn, and polish storiesEffectively integrate voice with image,…See More
Mar 2
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Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion

TWO NEW APPALACHIAN NOVELS

I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Reader: Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and in our minds,…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Jan 16
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Intermission

IntermissionHear audio by clicking mp3 attachment!(Part of poem, "Coalescence") I thought I might take a break at this point to look around,Now that I’m in the business of making things resound.It’s so nice to have the luxury of being carefree. If you stop and sit back and try to take in everything,It stuns you and you can’t focus on anythingUntil something crops up, and what…See More
Jan 16
Joan Henehan replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Coalescence
"It's an odyssey..."
Jan 8
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Coalescence

The Main Show: A Story Poem Cycle(formerly, Coalescence) (part of  Living Poem)The Main Show  Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and…See More
Dec 11, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Sultan's Dream

The Sultan’s Dream (Part of Living Poem) When it comes to walking, the jig’s up.No more fit lad sitting at the pub.No more flim-flam smiling with a limp. See how the legs totter and the torso leans.Do you know what a lame sultan dreams?Of reclining on a divan wearing pantaloons, Comparing his plight to a mountaineer’sNegotiating an icy bluff in a fierce wind,And then lounging in a tent to unwind. Which…See More
Nov 15, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Tale of Ononis

The Tale of Ononis by Rob Neufeld Part 1: The Making of a Celebrity ❧  Hare Begins His Tale  Ononis was my region’s name.People now call it Never-the-same.I’ll start with the day a delivery came. The package I got was a devil’s dare,Swaddled and knotted in Swamp Bloat hairAnd bearing, in red, one word: “Beware!” Bloats are creatures from the Land of Mud Pies,Wallowing in waste with tightly closed eyesUntil fears bring tears and the bleary bloats rise.   ❧  Hare’s Colleagues  I asked my boss,…See More
Nov 9, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Drop Your Troubles: A Solo Storytelling Performance with Connie Regan-Blake at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

December 1, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join this internationally renowned storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she transforms a packed theater into an intimate circle of friends with old-timey charm, wisdom, and humor. We’ll also welcome the Singer of  Stories, Donna Marie Todd, who will perform her original story, “The Amazing Zicafoose Sisters.” Connie’s last two shows at BMCA have sold…See More
Nov 6, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” The event will be hosted by the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, just a short drive from Asheville nestled in the picturesque mountains surrounding the area. Call the Center for advance tickets (828) 669-0930 or order…See More
Oct 28, 2018

Meet the 4th generation miller of a historic mill

by Rob Neufeld

PHOTO CAPTION: Triptych of Dellinger Mill and Jack Dellinger in his mill, showing the hopper, the 1859 waterwheel, bags of cornmeal, and the National Historic Place plaque.  Photos and composition by Henry Neufeld.

            I had written about Dellinger’s Mill in Hawk, near Bakersville, in April, when it had been closed for the season.

            Two Saturdays ago, I went back, while the water-powered grist mill was in operation; and its fourth family miller, octogenarian Jack Dellinger, was grinding corn.

            To open the sluice gate in the flume that fed the wheel, Jack lifted and repositioned 50-pound fieldstones and waterlogged wool shirts. 

            Water spilled into a metal wheel that had been designed by Hanover, Pa. fabricator John Fitz for Jack’s great-grandfather, Reuben Dellinger, in 1859.

            “Mr. Fitz made wood waterwheels up to 1855,” Jack said.  “One day, one of his friends asked him, ‘John, I understand they’re making steel waterwheels over in England.  When are you going to make one?’

            “And he scratched his head and he says, ‘I really don’t know, but if I do, I’m going to make one that lasts forever.’”

            “Well, it ain’t forever, but it’s 168 years old,” Jack said, referring to the one Fitz had made for Reuben.

            When Jack took on the restoration project—the mill was placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 1998—he called in a lot of experts, including a metallurgist.  The mill had become a mission.

            Jack had just retired from IBM, where in the late 1960s he’d been a computer programmer for Apollo 11. 

            His father, who’d died in 1955, had left him the mill and farm property, and it had sat idle a long time. 

            “You couldn’t even see it from the road,” Jack recounted.  “I crawled down through the brush, and I went out there and looked at that water wheel.  (It) was leaning on a 45° angle, and was three feet down in the ground.” The foundation had foundered, the sluice was sunk, and the mill dam had washed away.     

            “Son of a gun,” Jack had said to himself.  “I’d like to see that thing turn again.”

            Next thing, there’s the metallurgist.  “Let me take a look at this metal and see what you got,” he told Jack.

            “He climbed up there with his pocket knife,” Jack related, “took some scrapings, and he says, ‘Wow, you got real high-carbon steel, mixed with manganese, nickel and zinc, and two other metals I can’t identify without a microscope.’

            “With that combination of metal, you get the initial coating of rust on there, and it quits.”

            “Now,” Jack noted, “they have brought that back, and call it Corten.”

 

A line of millwrights

 

            Reuben Dellinger had moved with his father, Georg Heinrich “Henry” Dellinger, a first generation German-American, from Lincoln County to Three Mile, one mountain ridge east of Hawk, in 1840.

            Henry built a sawmill and a grist mill on Camp Creek, near his Three Mile place.  His sons learned the trade.  When Henry died, and then when Reuben’s mom, Katherine, followed four years later, Reuben and his wife, Mary Jane Coffey Dellinger, assumed operation of the mills. 

            One day, when Reuben was away, Mary Jane went to reattach a belt while the wheel was running because it takes less muscle to do it that way.

            A neighbor’s diary entry told what happened next.  Mary’s dress got caught around the shaft and she was mashed to death.

            Two years later, Reuben remarried, left that place of horror and moved to present-day Mitchell County, taking his Fitz waterwheel, pulleys, line shafts, cogwheels and millstones with him.

            He found a site where the river was right and the land was ripe for community.  He’d had to sled stone, metal, and wood, by winch or by cinch, over Cane Creek Mountain in a way not unlike the Fitz Company’s transportation of the equipment from Pennsylvania.

            “Mr. Fitz, knowing that the waterwheel weighs four tons” Jack related, “also knew he wouldn’t be able to ship it on a railroad car.  But it comes apart in eight 500-pound chunks,” and, in 1855, he sent it in segments to the railroad depot in Morganton, which was still 38 miles from Hawk as the crow flies.”

            Going down a hill on a mountain road, Jack explained, “you don’t use a wagon.  You use a sled.  In some real steep places, you route a logging chain around the sled to keep it from sliding.”  On such a trip, “you also have to carry feed for the animals.”

            I can’t pinpoint the year of Reuben’s relocation of the Three Mile mill.  Upon arriving in Hawk in 1861, he served in the militia guarding against Indians.  Neither he nor any of his children fought in the Civil War.

            But Reuben became a prominent citizen, serving on various committees, and beginning to develop his community’s first productive grist mill.

            There is a preponderance of German-Americans among early mill owners in Western North Carolina; and that is because they had come from families of millwrights and mill managers.

            The literature of millers in Germany is long and deep.  In the famous fool stories, the fool is the miller’s idle third son, who turns out to be the cleverest of all.  You can see his kinship with Jack of Appalachian fame.

            The Dutch also produced millers.  One descendant, Oliver Evans, modified mill technology and earned America’s third patent through Thomas Jefferson’s support.

             Evans also wrote the authoritative book, “The Young Mill-Wright and Miller’s Guide,” which Reuben probably had used; and a copy of which Jack Dellinger attained.

            When Reuben built his mill dam in 1865, he would have read: “There are several things to be considered, and dangers to be guarded against, in building mill-dams.”

            The advice related to various materials; obstruction on top and erosion at the bottom; allowance for freshets; distance from the mill; and making sure that “the pressure or force of the current will press (the dam’s) parts more firmly together.”

            For his dam location, Jack related, Reuben selected “the most narrow gap of Cane Creek where a rock cliff buttresses the south side of the dam and huge boulders buttress the north side.”

            Then the county came knocking and Reuben was appointed overseer of a crew to fix the road that ran past his mill site.  It was a historic road.  A century before, Daniel Boone had used it to take parties of settlers to new properties.

            Jack Dellinger had once asked his now departed neighbor, Jack English, “Who first settled Cane Creek?”

            Right off the top of his head, English replied, “Aaron Burleson.  He bought 600 acres, sight unseen, and guess who brought him up here in 1763?  Daniel Boone.”

            Burleson and Boone came from Bakersville to look at Burleson’s newly acquired land.  Boone stopped by a sycamore tree to relieve himself and, according to lore, that tree survives on the mill property.

            “I told that to a group of people,” Jack reported, “and one of them said he was a sign maker and said, ‘I’m going to make you a sign that says ‘Daniel Boone Peed Here.’’” 

            By 1870, Dellinger’s Mill was humming with the boom in mica mining.  The Hawk Mica Mine company dug tunnels nearby, and prospered for several years.

            Reuben’s farm grew to outdo Old McDonald’s nursery rhyme inventory.  Reuben had, on his farm, a grist mill, sawmill, apple house, molasses furnace, and cane mill in addition to chicken, sheep, goats, and most importantly, cattle, whom he fed asparagus hay in the German fashion.

            Dellinger’s Mill connects not only to water power and mountain community life, but also to an age of farm prosperity and mechanical genius.

            “At the end of every part (in Evans’ book) that’s describing how to make something,” Jack noted, Evans would say, “‘Any local blacksmith can fix this.’”

            Jack didn’t have a blacksmith.  He had to get help refashioning everything from a damsel (a handle that connects to the corn-feeding mechanism) to a Babbitt bearing (which supplies oil to a turning shaft).

            Today, he continues to run the grist mill and give tours; and he’s considering building a museum in the old apple house.  He has in three triplet grandchildren—Jack, Sabine and Milly Peta—believers in old world charm.

            For more information, visit www.dellingermill.com.

 

Rob Neufeld writes the weekly “Visiting Our Past” column for the Citizen-Times.  He is the author of books on history and literature, and manages the WNC book and heritage website, “The Read on WNC.”  Follow him on Twitter @WNC_chronicler; email him at RNeufeld@charter.net.

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