Seeking former teachers at Asheville-Biltmore CollegeClark Adams, a member of the English faculty at Randolph Community College in Asheboro, is seeking information on the following list of faculty who are still living and may have taught when the college was "on the mountain" at Seely's Castle during the years 1949 - 1961. The college operated under that name from 1936 to 1969, when it was consolidated into the state university system. See UNCA Ramsey Library Special Collections'…See More
A nostalgic walk through 1930s Haw Creekby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: The Haw Creek School that replaced Bell’s church-funded school in the 1920s. I took a walk down Haw Creek Road the other day—in the year 1936—and I got to hear some folks talking. I wasn’t sure of my way around, so I…See More
Dr. Gordon McKinney and Dr. Steve Nash will describe and analyze the attempt to recreate the social, political and economic world after the Civil War in western North Carolina. Special emphasis will be placed on racial adjustment, improving transportation and the development of the Appalachian stereotype. Sponsored by the Western North Carolina Historical Association and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Open to the public, admission to members of WNCHA and OLLI is free. $5.00 for…See More
Connie Regan-Blake, renowned Appalachian storyteller, will perform “Taking a Leap: An Evening of Connie’s Stories” on Sunday June 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Hawk and Ivy Bed and Breakfast in Barnardsville, NC, twenty minutes north of Asheville. Persons interested in learning or developing the craft of storytelling can also attend a workshop entitled “Opening Doors: A Storytelling Workshop Exploring Memories” at 3:00-5:30. Workshop fee is $40 before June 21 and $55 after. Fee includes both events.…See More
St. John's Episcopal Church Women in Marion will host a book signing and reception in celebration of Julia Nunnally Duncan's new book Barefoot in the Snow. The event will be held at St. John's Parish House in the great hall during Coffee Hour (approximately 11:30 a.m.) on Sunday, June 23,and the public is cordially invited. See More
None of the "old timers" who live in this region who claim to have seen "painters" in the 1920's remember them as black. They are always "tawny" or "brown." Both the fellow who saw one crossing the highway in the morning fog in Cashiers and the Park Ranger who saw one in Linville, said the same thing. 'Tawny, brown with a long tail."
Well, Gary, my father (born 1906), grandfather, and great uncles who logged during the 1920s and 1930s (and earlier) in the logging camps from Rainbow Springs to Tellico Plains, TN, and for a while in northern Madison County (Spillcorn), said they saw black ones during those years, and they always called them "black painters." They also said the "black painters" had been mostly killed out by the time the largest logging operations were finished, along with the numerous dens of rattlesnakes. I think the interesting questions to be explored are whether those "black painters" were a mutant strain and whether they could or could not reproduce, i.e. were they "melanistic" and infertile as described by the Florida Panther Society? I think there is no question that recent sightings are of tawny or brownish coloration, and that they are certainly here now along with the bobcats, but I do wonder when the last black ones were seen.
By the way, we have a population of white ground squirrels (chipmunks) in our neighborhood that, in bright sunlight, reveal faint stripes along their sides resembling stripes of regular chipmunks. I nursed a hurt one for a while that was mauled by a neighbor's dog and took it to a vet who said it was not an albino. Also, there are more colonies of white squirrels now that are reproducing, the most famous being those lusty ones in Brevard, but also elsewhere throughout the country, including Burningtown in Macon County.
There is a little country store on the right side of the road between Marshall and Spillcorn that until a couple of years ago had a stuffed short-tailed tabby bobcat on display. We always stopped to see it, but the people working there now say they do not know what happened to it.
Perhaps, if we're lucky, some "black painter" DNA is still out there somewhere, reproducing, along with the short-tailed tabby bobcats and the long-tailed tawny catamounts. /Betty
There is a photograph of a "melanistic" black panther on the Big Cats Online website that you can google. I was unable to cut and paste the photo but here is the text:
[QUOTE] What is a Black Panther?
The term ‘Black Panther’ is quite often used in connection with large black cats - however there is no one distinct species of wild cat called a Black Panther. Over the years it has become used as a common name which can be applied to any large black coated cat. When you see a picture of a Black Panther it is most likely that you are looking at either a Leopard or possibly a Jaguar with Melanistic coloration.
The term Melanistic is derived from the word ‘melanin’, a dark coloured skin and hair pigment.
In cats, melanism results in the fur of the animal being very dark or black in colour. In many cases the usual markings of the animal can be faintly seen through the dark fur, especially at certain angles in bright sunlight. Melanism occurs because of a mutation or abnormality of one of the cats genes which is associated with coat coloration and markings. Melanism is hereditary, but is not necessarily passed directly from one generation to the next - it is therefore common to see ‘mixed’ litters with one black cub along side normally coloured brothers and sisters. Melanisim can also occur in other species of wild cat - black coated caracal, Geoffrey’s cat, margay, bobcat, ocelot, jaguarundi and serval have been noted in the smaller cats as well as occasional mention of the coloration in the larger lion, tiger and cougar.
Melanistic leopards are more commonly found in dense tropical rain forest of S.E Asia - here it is thought that the dark coloration acts as better camouflage in the low sun light conditions of the forest floor, giving the cat an advantage in hunting. If this is the case, it is also possible that a black leopard will also be at an advantage in being able to provide more food for its young and as a result the probability of the melanistic gene being transferred through the population will be greater. [END QUOTE]
There is a fairly detailed description of "painters" as they were encountered by Wilbur Zeigler and Ben Grosscup in their Heart of the Alleghanies journey through WNC (1883). Their encounters are in the Balsam Gap area of Jackson County and elsewhere. I also hear natives discuss the difference between "boomers" and ground squirrels. I believe one of Neal's interviews in "Mountain Talk" is with a mountain couple who comment on fried "boomers" as a desirable food.
OMG, Gary. Fried boomers? Hush yore mouth. (BTW, who is Neal in "Mountain Talk"?)
I'd never eat a little ole boomer (red squirrel with a skimpy-haired rat tail) or associate with anyone who did, but as a child I ate many of the big old gray squirrels (almost extinct now, but plentiful then and slowly making a come-back now) with squirrel gravy and biscuits. The yummiest part was poking my little finger into the skull cavities and maneuvering out the yummy brains (every bit as good as pork brains), which I know now is pure cholesterol, but that's another story.
I hesitate to admit this after Danita Stoudemire wrote an article about squirrel gravy for the Franklin Press last year and got crucified by outlander readership for cruelty to animals (outlanders who prefer to hunt their meat at Ingles and Bi-Lo and consider really weird hormone-and-metal-laden things a delicacy).
Anyway, my father (during the 1940s) used to bring in a toe-sack-full of big gray squirrels, and at the end of our feast, every plate would be encircled by squirrel skulls. Now I put out grains and try to protect the big grays.
As for the demise of the big old gray squirrels, the little red highly aggressive boomers have almost annihilated them by (get ready for this, Gary) castration. If you don't believe me, ask your favorite biologist at SMN. The interesting background on this (for me, anyway) is that my mother way back in the 1970s said the same thing--that she was finding our big old gray squirrels with their (privates) chewed off, just like old tomcats used to climb up in the barn loft and chew off the heads of our little kittens if we did not stay alert and protect them. (That is also another story, a story about birth blood that lends credence to the stories about animals having smelling abilities a thousandfold better than ours, smelling out pot and cancer and garbage cans and such. By the way, did you see that CNN video clip last week about the German Shepherd dog that went into Wal-Mart and snagged himself a big rawhide bone? So who's to say a panther wouldn't try to get into a place, down a chimney or whatever, when it smelled birth-blood.)
Well, anyway, where was I in my telling.....
Ground squirrels are chipmunks, and I do not eat them, because they, too, are like rats, although much cuter. /Betty
I have heard painter stories since I was a boy--mainly from my grandparents (from Camp Creek here in Jackson, and from Avery Counties). I have also long heard similar stories from friends who hunt or hike. Almost all have described a tawny brown animal, only two involved black panthers.
I have never seen one myself, but have seen tracks in the snow that were a lot bigger than those of any bobcat I've ever seen. They were on the crest of the Smokies crossing from Raven Fork into the Greenbrier section.
As for other wildlife, we have seen an incredible variety in our yard, or that of our neighbors. In the last 10 years there have been several bears, some deer, occasional coons, and a regular parade of foxes and bobcats. The latter are more common when the chipmunk population is healthy. All of this while living across the road from the campus of WCU.
Part of it is because we are crowding into the animals habitat with houses and other development. But part of it is the wildlife is getting a little more comfortable with us. Though that bear is getting a little too comfortable with you, Dot! When you think about, people used to spend more time outside around their houses and almost everyone had dogs. Today it is far more common to pull into your driveway and head directly into the house (where your dog is waiting) leaving your yard and the surrounding woods to any passing wildlife. Unfortunately, while wildlife is more comfortable passing through our yards, it is rare that there is enough food to sustain a wild population of anything larger than a squirrel.
I'm sure that the foxes, a bobcat and the wild turkeys that I have seen in the past year are all the victims our "crowding into the animals' habitat," since I haven't seen any of those animals before. One thing I do miss. The woods above my home used to have pheasants and grouse. I haven't seen those in forty years.
“Seeing panthers was like seeing the Loch Ness Monster, or pink elephants,” wrote Knoxville News Sentinel columnist Carson Brewer in his Jan. 5, 1978 piece about Great Smoky Mountain sightings. And so, we begin our exploration of Western North Carolina folklore with a subject that walks the shadowland between myth and actuality, between once upon a time and right now.
And we begin with one of the more noteworthy sightings—by four National Park Service employees in Cataloochee, 9 p.m., July 23, 1975. They’d seen a large, dark-gray, long-tailed cat bounding after a deer; and they found two sets of cat tracks: adult and child. It led Brewer to submit another panther story, and comment, “For fifteen years I’ve been writing about panthers. And for fifteen years people have been snickering at me.”
“’Brewer,’ somebody would say, ‘I see you’re pushing that wampus cat story again, Haw, haw, haw!’”
End of excerpt.
I'd love to find the best example of writing about panthers that approaches the mythical through pure natural history.
Jerol Davis of Fairview forwarded me a very persuasive e-mail with photos, proving that a large panther had been caught after being hit by a car in Jackson County. This is the message:
"Look at what James Snipe hit with his car on US-64 west of Cashiers in Jackson County . The panther was still alive but unable to move, so our neighbor called animal control and they came and put him down. A land owner had seen this one a week before dragging off a 320 lb steer. Our neighbor is an amateur taxidermist and he's going to stuff him.This one weighed 260 lbs. while most mature male panthers weigh 80 to 150 lbs. We had no idea they still roamed around here!"
I asked Jerol for some contact numbers and verification. In the meantime, I found a hoax alert on the Internet. Apparently, the cougar is from out west; and the photo and story have been showing up in many locations.
The article surmises: "Perhaps the first clue that this is a hoax would be the last name of the alleged motorist - Snipe. Anyone who was in the Boy Scouts in Carmi in the 1970s and 1980s has probably been snipe hunting - and learned a valuable lesson."
Check out Gulahiyi's blog "Ruminations from the Distant Hills" (http://gulahiyi.blogspot.com/) for January 2, 2009, which includes an 1845 story about panthers in the mountains of North Georgia and several engravings, one dating to 1795. Gulahiyi's blogs about WNC are always interesting because he includes references to cultural and natural history along with current investigations into crooked land developers and other environmental concerns. /Betty