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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
Nov 24
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
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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
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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
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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

Terrell Garren's new book: a definitive revision of Civil War history in WNC

Terrell Garren brings full accuracy to Civil War history

by Rob Neufeld


            Terrell Garren, novelist and local historian, has produced a work of scholarship that rocks the boat about the Civil War in this region, and then nails it down in its righted position.

            In 2006, he’d published a slim volume—“Mountain Myth: Unionism in Western North Carolina”—that laid out his thesis.

            Contrary to beliefs bred in the late 1860s, ingrained in families, and perpetuated in contemporary histories, Unionism was practically non-existent in the mountains by the summer of 1861.

            It wasn’t until the fall of 1863, he reveals, that locals enlisted in the Union Army, usually as deserters from the Confederate Army; and it wasn’t until after Appomattox that families claimed Unionist ties in order to get government benefits.

            “Not a single man from Henderson County joined the Union Army during the first two and a half years of the war,” Garren states in his new volume, “Measured in Blood: The Role of Henderson County, North Carolina in the American Civil War,” weighing in at 588 pages.

            In his talks, Garren gives the explanation.  “Slavery had been the main cause of the war,” he says, “but it wasn’t the reason most men fought.  Soldiers in any war are rarely aware of the politics behind their battles.” 

The nearly unanimous Confederate sentiment in the mountains, at the war’s start, had to do with homeland security.


The soldiers, one by one


            What “Measured in Blood” has motivated Garren to do is carefully consider the records and lives of each of over 2,000 Henderson County soldiers.  He’s precise about his criteria for inclusion: placement in the 1860 census; and in Henderson County regiments.

            He’s a quantifier as much as a story-teller, and highlights the sacrifices made in the horrifying war by assigning “sacrifice points” to each combatant based on wounds, sickness, death, presence in major battles, days in service, and time in prison.

            For example, there’s Private Ebenezer Henry Wheeler Girvin.

            He was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg; then ten months later at Spotsylvania Court House.  He went back to battle and was wounded in the Siege of Petersburg.  On April 19, 1865, hospital records note a gunshot wound to his head suffered at Farmville, Virginia.  By the end of the war, he was recuperating.

            Then there’s the mystery of John H. Carver.

            Carver, a private, was a member of the 1st N.C. Cavalry in J.E.B. Stuart’s Division.  Carver had fought in the Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Second Manassas, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg battles before his ghastly race at the battle at Auburn Mills, Virginia, Oct. 14, 1863.

            When Stuart found himself flanked on both sides of a wooded hill he’d occupied, he ordered Carver’s regiment to charge through a Union formation in order to allow Stuart to escape with his force around the Federal lines.

            Thirty men came out the other side of the charge alive.  One was Carver, who stayed on his saddle despite being hit seven times.  Listed as “severely wounded,” Carver was furloughed, and then put “on detached service” at his home in the Rugby community of Henderson County.

            In April, 1864, “something went terribly wrong,” Garren writes.  The muster roll for that period states that Carver was “killed while in arrest and attempting to escape.”

            Who killed him?  If it had been Confederates mistaking him for a deserter, why would his widow have applied for a Confederate claim for deceased soldiers?

            If Union men had killed him, why did the record indicate an arrest?  No record of an arrest has been found.

            Carver emerges as one of the ultimate sacrificers in Garren’s book.




            Another kind of mystery arises with Andrew J, Lanning, several of whose brothers served in the Confederate Army.

            Andrew, accompanied by his older brother, William, a wounded Confederate veteran, joined the 2nd N.C. Mounted Infantry (Union) in the fall of 1863 and received a bounty payment of $25 (another $75 to be paid later) on Oct. 1, 1863—that is, after Gettysburg.

            The infantry unit had been created to draw in Confederate deserters.  On Dec. 9, 1863, Lanning deserted it, never to return.  Or did he? 

            Someone named Andrew J. Lanning signed up with a new regiment, the 3rd N.C. Mounted Infantry, created by the notorious raider, Col. George W. Kirk, who inflated the bounty payment to $300.

            Oddly, the 2nd Infantry Andrew Lanning had dark eyes, hair, and complexion; was born in Henderson County; and was 20; whereas, the 3rd Infantry one was 18, had blue eyes and a fair complexion, and was born in Transylvania County, according to enlistment documents.

            The explanation, Garren says is that Kirk took kickback payments, and had to avoid Lanning being fingered as a deserter.  Lt. Col. J. Albert Smith made formal complaints about Kirk’s fraud.

            In his study, Garren backs up his summaries with spread sheets that allow readers to check his math.  He includes Union soldiers’ records and slaveholding statistics; and notes current controversies and battle and grave sites.

            “Measured in Blood” is dedicated to Barry Hollingsworth, a noted Henderson County Civil War genealogist, who passed away recently.



Measured in Blood: The Role of Henderson County, North Carolina in the American Civil War by Terrell T. Garren (self-published hardcover, printed by Daniels Graphics, Dec. 2012, 588 pages).  It is on sale in several local independent bookstores and at the Henderson County Heritage Museum



Visit Terrell Garren’s web page and blog on “The Read on WNC’ (, and communicate with him there.


Terrell Garren speaks about Measured in Blood at the Henderson County Heritage Museum in the Historic Courthouse, 2 p.m., Dec. 15 (696-4879); and in Moungtain Made, Grive Arcade, Asheville, 4:30 p.m., Dec. 15 (350-0307).



Terrell Garren checked out many battle sites, including this cliff called Rocky Face Ridge, where Henderson County soldiers had died in a battle against Gen. Sherman’s Army, May 7–13, 1864.

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