Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina: A Guidebook (Literary Trails of North Carolina)

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Georgann Eubanks is a writer, teacher, and consultant to nonprofit groups across the country. For more information about Georgann Eubanks, visit the Author Page. Eubanks's research is exhaustive but never exhausting, for her prose is clear-eyed and crisp and her attention to writers who have not gotten their due is especially enlightening. This book is an invaluable resource to all of us, but especially to those who assume that the only culture east of Interstate 95 is agriculture.

Permissions Information. Subsidiary Rights Information. Media Inquiries. North Carolina. Home Close. And we hope and believe you will. He studied for a year at Duke and then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to focus on creative writing. As a graduate student at Harvard he met Robert Frost, who became a lifelong mentor and friend. Frost recommended Eaton for a fellowship at Bread Loaf a long-running summer writing program in Vermont , where Eaton met poets William Carlos Williams and Archibald MacLeish, who also became lifelong friends.

He died in Chapel Hill at the age of eighty-nine. His boyhood home is at Buena Vista Road, fronted by a white picket fence. He was brought up to shoot more rabbits Than any boy in Davie County; Carolina is both rich and poor of bounty— Papa kept a gun trained on his sensual habits. When he became the Mayor of his town, He hunted better, and, so I thought, demeaned Me, holding furry corpses while he cleaned— I still have dreams of bloody rabbits hanging down. Harsh smell of dung in their little bodies, A sound of shot against the pan— I never liked the work but still can Eat jugged hare with friends who euphemize.

Devotions in those days were absolute— Papa saw me as both myth and tool: Someone, steady as a god, must blood the Golden Rule And show how strong men differ from the brute. Paxton Davis, who was nine years younger than Eaton, lived around the corner at Arbor Road and later at Oaklawn, also nearby. Davis would go on to write for the Winston-Salem Journal and teach journalism at Washington and Lee University for twenty-three years. In his memoir he recollects the Winston of his boyhood—the foods, sports, holiday celebrations, popular culture, and religious practices—and his own coming-of-age as the privileged son of a lifelong Reynolds division manager.

Davis even claims to remember the day in October when Charles Lindbergh flew over the city in the Spirit of St. Davis would have been two at the time, but his memory is accurate. Lindbergh had completed his record-breaking transatlantic flight to Paris that spring, a journey that began at a Long Island airfield owned by R. Reynolds Jr. Winston smelled pleasantly of tobacco most of the time and some said it smelled of money, too; and the Reynolds legend extended to the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company, which stood symbolically, symbiotically across Courthouse Square from the Reynolds skyscraper, to which it unarguably owed its prosperity.

By the s, Winston-Salem was home to the largest tobacco manufacturing plant in the world, and it was in this era of extraordinary local prosperity that Mississippi writer Elizabeth Spencer chose to set her best-known work, The Light in the Piazza, a novella about Margaret and Clara Johnson, the wife and daughter of a Winston-Salem tobacco executive, who go to Italy on holiday.

Spencer, who ultimately settled in Chapel Hill in the s, witnessed her popular novella also take the form of a film starring Olivia de Havilland and Yvette Mimieux and, later, a Broadway musical. Spencer told interviewer D. Martin that she gave her American characters the hometown of Winston-Salem to avoid having her kinsfolk and neighbors in Mississippi and Alabama try to guess if the characters were based on actual people in those states. Take a left onto First Street, which meanders toward the center of the city alongside the freeway on your right.

There was a man named Herman Stovall who worked at the West End Shell, where Evers and his family would stop for fuel and air and little Cokes with peanuts poured into the bottle. Herman was a bent, thin, wispy man, a skeletal bumpkin with a crew cut and big red ears. Evers would take the soda caps home in a paper sack and scratch off the cork on their undersides, trying to win a free pop or a five-dollar bill.

Frank Borden Hanes, whose mountain novel-in-verse is considered in volume 1 of Literary Trails, has been a generous benefactor to the collections in the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Hanes has made possible a number of extraordinary purchases, including the papers of Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Note the Stevens Center on the corner of Fourth and Marshall. Just down the block at North Marshall is the Sawtooth Center for the Visual Arts, also a venue for literary gatherings. Continue east on Fourth. Cross Cherry Street. A bit farther up Liberty Street, though no landmark on Glenn Avenue remains to commemorate it, was the shop where William E.

This well-preserved Moravian settlement is home to the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and an extraordinary library and research facility housed in the Frank L. African Americans had a significant presence among the Moravian faithful. Some were slaves; others were hired as free workers. Many spoke German and English.

Today, some three-quarters of the Moravian faithful worldwide are people of color, largely due to evangelical efforts beginning in the eighteenth century in Africa, South America, and the West Indies. Writer and scholar Adelaide Fries, born in Salem in , dedicated her life to assembling and preserving the Moravian archives here.

Her best-known work, The Road to Salem , is a translation of an autobiography by Anna Catharina Ernst, who arrived at Bethabara in , lived an arduous life of service, and survived four husbands. Like so many Winston-Salem writers to follow, Boner pursued a career in journalism. He served as literary editor of New York World and near the end of his life, in poor health, was a proofreader at the Government Printing Office in Washington.

His poems in the collection Whispering Pines survive today in part because of their reissue by the late John F. Blair, the Winston-Salem publisher who selected the book to be the first produced by his press in Note the walls, The steps, the windows, and the carven doors. Degenerate now are those once stately halls, With alien footsteps on their pillaged floors.

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Breathless is the story of a girl who represents those who rebelled Writers tend to be people who have a knack for putting into words what they are seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting. Regan, Executive Director, N. Among the many books that have been written in this college town over the years, one local volume deserves first mention. Along the way, Georgann Eubanks brings to life the state's rich literary heritage as she explores these writers' connection to place and reveals the region's vibrant local culture.

Forlorn, forlorn! There is no sadder thing In all the world than a forsaken home About which vestiges of grandeur cling. But so it is, and even noble Rome Is Rome no more; her meager remnant totters— Cast-iron, paint, asphaltum, and globe-trotters. Old Salem sits adjacent to Salem Academy and College, the oldest continuously operating educational institution for girls and women in the country. The college added a creative writing major in , and its Center for Women Writers regularly brings authors from across the country to read and conduct workshops for students and the community.

The center sponsors three national literary awards in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. As an unusual institution within the University of North Carolina system, UNCSA serves high school, college, and graduate-level students through its conservatory programs in dance, drama, music, filmmaking, and theatrical design and production.

Students also take academic classes in the liberal arts as they prepare for professional careers in their disciplines. Literary travelers with children may especially enjoy a stroll through the outdoor movie set in the middle of campus, which re-creates a street scene, complete with a movie marquee, a Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop, and other familiar WinstonSalem storefronts. For more information, see. Exit the campus on the side opposite from where you entered and turn left on Waughtown Street.

Take Waughtown back toward town. The campus will be particularly appealing to visitors with an interest in visual art and representations of stories from the African Diaspora. The Diggs Gallery presents rotating exhibitions from Africa and by African American artists and serves as a gathering spot for a range of campus programs related to history, storytelling, and literature. Return to Martin Luther King Jr.

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Drive and turn left, heading south toward our last stop on this tour, a nostalgic landmark that is often pictured in books of twentieth-century Americana and described in a novel by Greensboro writer Brad Barkley. This place, it turned out, was an old Shell filling station, with two glasstopped gas pumps, regular and high-test, looming tall and rusty, and an old oil pit filled in with weedy dirt.

The station itself was made of poured concrete, shaped to look like a giant scallop shell. You know, Shell and shell, an advertising gimmick. This is the last one in the country. We peered in through the dusty window of the door cut in the middle of the shell, the inside cramped by a small desk, a chair with a broken seat, a metal rack meant to hold motor oil or snack foods.

On the desk was the ghost tracing of an old cash register outlined in heavy dust. Norton, , Barkley has also written, with Heather Helper, two young adult novels set elsewhere. To see the outstanding retro-landmark, continue south on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to its end at Waughtown Street and turn left. The next major crossroad is Peachtree Street.

Turn right and the enormous shell is in the next block, on the left at East Sprague Street. Winston-Salem residents from all walks of life come here to read, study, and relax. For the literary visitor, the North Carolina collection is a valuable cache of rare volumes of poetry and prose. A lecture series and rotating exhibitions are the primary programs of the center, open Tuesdays through Fridays and most Saturdays. This large, freestanding shop just north of the freeway I Business is on the east side of town.

It stocks books by many other African American writers and celebratory gifts. Shakespeare and Company Bookshop Le Select Cafe North Main Street, Kernersville Housed in the basement of an old furniture factory building in the heart of downtown Kernersville a few miles east of Winston-Salem , this bookstore offers regular readings by local authors, exotic pastries, an in-store book club, and a large inventory of classic literature and books by regional writers.

Smith, Hardin E. Taliaferro, Mark Twain, Amy Wallace, Irving Wallace, Lynn York This tour features a somewhat odd assortment of storied sites that have led to a number of works of popular fiction and prizewinning nonfiction. Writers in these parts have been inspired by colorful characters from the countryside and by a wealth of ghost tales and freakish incidents of murder.

This quiet village, with its fine art gallery, winery, and many historic homes, also has the distinction of having been home to Burea Jefferson Savage, business partner to adventure novelist Jack London Call of the Wild during the Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska. Savage, born near Pinnacle in Stokes County in , set off for Alaska in the last decade of the nineteenth century and staked a number of claims. He returned to Stokes County to marry a local woman in His wife once recalled to relatives that she knew all the characters upon whom London had based his Alaska books. Mount Airy th Pk Pilot Mountain Elkin 52 Lawson Graves 65 Bethania 52 Winston-Salem farmer, and one-time mayor of Germanton until he was gored by a bull and died on the family farm.

Watch for Brook Cove Road on the right, in less than a mile. Turn right and then take an immediate left on a narrow gravel private drive and follow it to the end. Before you is Browder Cemetery, a small graveyard that holds the remains resulting from one of the saddest stories of domestic violence ever committed in North Carolina—the Christmas Day massacre of the Lawson family in Tobacco farmer Charlie Lawson killed his wife, his six youngest children, and then himself. It was an event that continues to reverberate throughout Stokes County. The incident scandalized the state and led to three books, a documentary film, and at least five classic ballads, one of which reached the top of the charts in Bruce Jones and Trudy J.

Smith, was the first complete account of this story, which sold 13, copies before becoming a rare commodity. As grim as the story is, perhaps equally dark are the ways in which the human urge toward voyeurism played out after the tragedy. Some 5, people reportedly attended the funeral of the victims. As late as the s, the Lawson house and farm further down Brook Cove Road was still being visited by curious tourists. At one point, a family member sold refreshments and souvenir pictures and charged admission to the crime scene.

The crib of the youngest child, bloody sheets and all, went on tour as a side show at local carnivals. For a time, rumors circulated that the family had been murdered by the notorious John Dillinger, though he could not have committed the crime from his jail cell in Indiana, where he was at the time. By , however, he was out of prison, robbing banks again. That winter, Dillinger came through North Carolina with his gang to visit the site of the Lawson murder.

The members of the Dillinger group each paid their 25 cents admission and took the tour, and then Dillinger left a note in the front door of the Lawson house taunting the local law officer, who did not recognize him as he passed through. The Lawson family is buried near the middle of the cemetery. Arthur lived only to the age of thirty-two. His grave is nearby, separate from the others.

In ten miles, where 8 joins NC 89, bear left. Here the county library and courthouse both on the right side of the highway rest on grounds that once hosted a settlement of Native Americans whose many legends about the curative waters of nearby springs at Vade Mecum and the sacred Saura Mountains are part of the lore of the county.

Continue north on NC 89 to the intersection with NC and turn left. Six and a half acres brought a hundred and forty dollars at six cents a pound. But there were some, he said, only bought a half, a quarter cent a pound. One old man from Stokes County crated up a bunch of chickens to bring with him. Daddy asked the man from Stokes was he going to raise tobacco next year. Follow until it meets US 52 and turn right. Turn right and follow East Main into town. Readers of the novel will not be surprised to learn that Pilot Mountain is full of sites that inspired York.

The author says she was guided less by the literal map of streets and houses than the landscape of her memory. The space is now occupied by a tanning salon. It is indeed a tiny shop on the left side of Main, seemingly swallowed up by the parking lot that surrounds it. From here, the tour heads to the top of the mountain from which the town takes its name. Turn left and follow to US 52 and head south. The access road ascends the mountain and ends at a parking area just below the pinnacles. From the parking area you can hike to the top of Little Pinnacle, where on a clear day you can see Hanging Rock State Park to the east and Winston-Salem to the southeast.

The level, mile-long Jomeokee Trail—so named for the Native American word meaning pilot or guide—circles the knob. There is another opportunity to hike at the bottom of the mountain near the entrance where the river section of the park provides a five-mile southward meander through the woods to the Yadkin River Trail.

The sun becomes a thin and setting line. A lone tobacco plant moves thorny underbrush aside, poking through. The smell of money no longer dances in the wind. Forgo the I bypass to the west. It later became the playhouse where he first practiced his craft. Today the building serves as headquarters for the Surry Arts Council and its enormously popular Mayberry Days festival, held annually during the last week in September. The public library is across the street. Though P. Barnum first made them famous, many writers have since been intrigued by their remarkable story.

Even Mark Twain, in a sketch published in , uses Chang and Eng for an absurdist riff on the challenge of two personalities physically joined but with opposing temperaments, particularly in matters of religion and the consumption of alcohol: The Twins always go to bed at the same time; but Chang usually gets up about an hour before his brother.

By an understanding between themselves, Chang does all the in-door work and Eng runs all the errands. However, Chang always goes along. More than two decades later, two novels published about a year apart each take on the point of view of one of the twins. At the age of seventeen, Chang and Eng sailed for Europe, consigned by their mother to an opium trader for the sum of pounds. Their fame quickly spread, and soon the brothers found themselves in the company of royalty and members of high society, who regarded them as fascinating curiosities of nature.

The brothers eventually signed a contract with P. The twins were twenty-three when they gave up the circus and settled in Wilkes County, North Carolina. There they married sisters—daughters of a local judge. The brothers helped finance the building of the church and cemetery here. I think back on that time fondly. We all still lived in the house at Mount Airy then, Addy and Sallie making out as best they could, the children always underfoot. What sweet days those were.

Cross US 52 and continue away from downtown. Watch for Walmart on the left and then turn left at the next available turn lane onto Old In two miles you will pass over I The White Plains Baptist Church is just beyond the overpass. The cemetery is on a dramatic hill in back of the older church building, and the Bunker gravesite is immediately adjacent to the church. Chang and Eng financed the building of the church and the establishment of the cemetery. Backtrack to US and turn left toward Dobson to continue the tour.

Literary North Carolina: Stagville Plantation, Lee Smith and Connie Rose Porter

Watch for signs along directing visitors to various wineries. You can pick up maps and a calendar of events including music and other special festivities from most any vintner and chart your own tour of the vineyards dotted across the region. Grab a picnic, sample some wines, seek your own muse, and enjoy this poem by Joseph Mills, a member of the faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Old , which veers off to the right as you approach, is the most direct route into town. Martin Clark delivers both a thriller and a meditation on class privilege in his first novel. Rockford Road crosses over the bypass and continues through the countryside. The land drops sharply on either side of the road just before you reach the beautifully maintained Rockford Methodist Church, built in A little farther down the hill on the right is the Rockford General Store with its broad, tinroofed front porch and red benches set out for travelers to rest. According to the Rockford storekeeper, Renegar, who lives nearby in East Bend, often trades tales with local historian Frances Casstevens, a writer who also makes her home nearby in the pristine village of Huntsville.

As of , Casstevens had published seven volumes about the Civil War, its notable figures from Yadkin, and its impact on the region, including a book about the staunch abolitionist Edward Wild, who trained African soldiers for the Union Army. Former North Carolina legislator Daniel W.

Half a dozen structures in Rockford are on the National Register of Historic Places and date back to the eighteenth century. The Grant Burris Hotel, established in , hosted all three. It burned in , but its four chimneys still stand directly across the road from the general store. Hardin E. He was a little stoopshouldered, and moved quickly and with great ease.

His face was quite paradoxical, wearing both a vinegar and pleasant appearance. His eyes were black, small, and restless, indicating quick perception, particularly of the ridiculous. They did not take the papers; the sound of the stage bugle never echoed through their hills and mountains. If a man went twenty miles from home, he might expect on his return to be quizzed not a little.

Expectation was on tiptoe. Dick returned, and was asked the news. I gits right inter it, like a homminny-bird humming-bird inter a tech-me-not flower. Talliafero ,. At the bottom of the hill, the road turns sharply to the right and runs alongside a broad and shallow stretch of the Yadkin. A bridge soon crosses the river. Approaching eighty with a solid backstroke, her eyes closed, as though calmly pulling the river downstream. He treads water, head bobbing like an apple in a tub, Mao in the Yangtze. Do their eyes still meet across the water as they once did? Swimming through trees and moon-burnt clouds, as if.

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From the picnic area south of Rockford, continue southeast on Rockford Road, which soon turns sharply to the right straight ahead is Richmond Hill Church Road. Stay on Rockford Road for two miles to the little crossroads of Nebo and turn right on NC 67, which runs through historic Boonville and becomes Main Street in the town of Jonesville.

Elkin, the larger of these two towns that straddle the banks of the Yadkin, sits high on the far side in Surry County. On the south side, Jonesville is in Yadkin County. He was the son of a fundamentalist Baptist preacher and a mother with cultural interests. Hayes went on to Wake Forest College, eventually serving as editor of Esquire magazine for nearly a decade, beginning in The reporters sometimes even took the liberty of firstperson narration, thus becoming characters in their own articles—then considered a violation of journalistic standards in reporting news.

After beating out his rival from Duke University, Clay Felker, for the top editorial spot at the magazine, Hayes also took enormous design risks, including controversial for the s depictions of boxer Sonny Liston as Santa for a Christmas issue, a photo in profile of Richard Nixon with makeup being applied to his face, and a portrait of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali as Saint Sebastian with faux arrows piercing his torso above his signature silk boxing trunks.

The formula worked. Circulation skyrocketed to nearly a million readers, and the magazine enjoyed nearly a decade of record revenues. Late in life he wrote two books on ecology and had nearly completed a biography of Fossey when he was afflicted by a brain tumor that led to his death in at the age of sixty-two. But from this elevated vantage I look up to vaster points of blue and brass that still outnumber human aspirations: suspended in the sphere of all and nothing, in darkness not flat but enfolding, deep, the flood tide of cosmos seeps through to drench this speck of presence, to lap 44 TH E WEST ER N P I EDM ON T at woods, fields, farms and rise to fill these dark adapted eyes.

Proceed from the bridge to the concrete stairway down to Main Street. This local institution is shoulder to shoulder with the headquarters for the Brushy Mountain Winery and the Reeves Theater, built in Elkin native Cicely McCulloch who owns the bookstore and her childhood friend Robin Turner are leading a three-county effort to restore the seat facility for local arts events. It is outfitted with wireless Internet access and has extensive genealogical materials.

But we begin at Cooleemee Plantation, a tract of 1, acres with four miles of frontage on the Yadkin River south of tour 3 Tanglewood, an estate that has been placed into a conservation trust. Though visitors are discouraged, the plantation has two significant literary connections. At US 64, turn left. In a little more than two miles you will cross a wide bridge over the Yadkin River. Pull over and look southwest to see the edge of the Cooleemee Plantation, once commemorated by a state historic marker along this stretch of highway but now unmarked.

Inn W. Rockwell In 29 To Gold Hill St. Stephens Church Rd.

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Lordly and gleaming, it stood atop a knoll not far from the Yadkin River in North Carolina, at the end of a gravel road that snaked through a pine forest. I emerged from the woods to see the house set on a pedestal of terraced gardens, painted a brilliant white, and guarded by a pair of magnificent trees, a flamboyant maple and a stately Southern magnolia.

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I approached it from below, like a supplicant. Tall and heavyset, with a great wave of white hair breaking across his head, Judge Peter Wilson Hairston made an imposing figure as he stood in the doorway of Cooleemee Plantation—the very image of the Old South aristocrat. He wore a bathrobe and slippers—he had been, he explained, polishing the silver—but that did not in the least diminish the gravity of his presence.

From the doorway boomed a powerful, resonant voice—truly the voice of a judge. The voice was a great gift, an instrument worthy of an actor, the perfect instrument, as I would find, for telling the old stories of the plantation across a candlelit dining table, with tumblers of bourbon within easy reach. My name is spelled Hairston, but it is pronounced Harston. The Hairston clan, he wrote, is likely the largest family in the United States because the white Hairstons, at the peak of their land holdings, owned forty plantations and some 10, enslaved people, who also bore the family surname.

Long ago, the Davie County Hairstons gave up the practice of sharecropping that followed emancipation. In , Judge Peter Wilson Hairston described in the passage above and his wife abandoned successful careers in Washington to come home and save the historic property from ruin. Hairston opened a small law practice in Mocksville and was later appointed to the bench by Governor Jim Hunt.

Squire Hairston, an African American elder whose grandfather had been a slave on the plantation, gave the keynote address. Unfortunately, racial tensions in North Carolina at the time made a National Guard detachment necessary for security at such an openly biracial event. A year later, five demonstrators were gunned down at an anti-Klan rally in Greensboro.

In his biography, Wiencek follows the family saga up to the moment when, a number of years after the Cooleemee reunion, at another family gathering in Greensboro, black members of the Hairston clan confronted the judge with the grief and anger they harbored about the heritage of slavery. The words spoken stung all parties, but the conversations and efforts at reconciliation have continued as all the Hairstons—some connected by blood, others by purchase, and some by both—wrestled with the ongoing fallout.

He died in at the age of ninety-three. His son still manages the property. When his parents divorced they sold the land, and it became a trailer park and dump site. Unable to return to that property, Hart visited the Cooleemee Plantation and began to imagine setting his novel there.

The river is my earliest memory. Everything that shaped me happened near that river. I lost my mother in sight of it, fell in love on its banks. I could smell it on the day my father drove me out. Mistakes can be undone, wrongs righted. His thriller begins with the return of a prodigal son, Adam Chase, to Rowan County. But because of his checkered past Chase soon finds himself a potential suspect in a murder. Hart says that trips to local vineyards also helped inspire his novel. From this scenic view of the Yadkin, backtrack on 64 and head west toward Mocksville.

According to writer Robert Morgan, Daniel Boone was sixteen when his father, Squire Boone, became increasingly disenchanted with the Quaker community in Pennsylvania where the family lived. Squire stopped attending church meetings because he resented the opprobrium of the Friends when his older son, Israel, married a non-Quaker. Perhaps just as important, Squire had heard tales of beautiful lands to the south in Virginia and North Carolina that could be had cheap. The Yadkin and its feeder creeks moved fast enough to turn gristmills and saw mills.

The bottomlands and meadows offered unsurpassed soil for farming, and the higher ground was ideal for grazing. The soil along the river and tributary creeks of the Yadkin Valley was a rainbow of colors and textures. Near the streams, the ground, once cleared of roots and exposed to the sun, was a black alluvial powder, a mixture of silt and sand and rotted vegetation perfect for growing watermelons and corn, crops favored by loose, damp soil.

In a rainy season streams sometimes overflowed and left standing pools in the hot sun that scalded the roots of species such as beans. Farther from the river, on gently rising land that rarely flooded, the topsoil was rich brown, the color of dark roast coffee. Stiffer than the loam along the river, the dirt was still loose when plowed, with glittering bits of quartz and mica among its crumbs and sugary lumps. Among the brown cortex of soil were patches of silver clay drawn up by the plow, and yellow splotches of oxide-rich subsoil were exposed by cultivation or erosion, as well as beds and bands of red clay.

As legend has it, the Boones lived in a cave for a time on the opposite side of the Yadkin not far from Cooleemee Plantation. Historical records also suggest that Squire and Sarah Boone and their children spent time on Elisha Creek and then obtained acres on the west side of Mocksville, near Bear Creek. Not long after coming to North Carolina, young Daniel Boone met a neighbor, Rebecca Bryan, and married her in in a ceremony conducted by his father, who had by then become a local magistrate.

Daniel and Rebecca lived there off and on for a decade.

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Robert Morgan conveys the toil and also the dangers posed to the settlers by native Sapona Indians, who did not always appreciate the white interlopers. It has been said that Boone had the temperament of an artist, that he was a poet of the woods, the hunt, the exploration of mysteries beyond the next ridge.

Boone was described by the early biographer Timothy Flint as essentially a poet. He was an acute observer, studying the signs and weather and the Natives, and he felt an ancient kinship with the forest. He loved contemplation and solitude, yet was a good companion on the trail, popular with neighbors, fellow hunters, and scouts. The Indians seemed to be in awe of him At Main Street, turn right and go two blocks to reach the town square.

Take a stroll and enjoy the historic architecture. Turn left and stay on 64 when veers north. Helper was born here in , in what is now a renovated private residence that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Boone land holdings in this area are also noted by a state historical marker 0.

Hinton Helper was an antebellum farmer who believed that slavery was a disaster for poor white growers like himself. He had no love for the blacks. He simply wanted to rid the South of all slaves, to transport them to countries outside the United States. He also argued that a vigorous literature could not be maintained under such a system. One abolitionist, a Quaker book vendor in Guilford, was arrested and jailed for selling multiple copies. Meanwhile, the Republican Party reportedly distributed some , copies nationwide.

He never returned to North Carolina but went on to serve in the U. State Department in South America and to write several more books, each more exaggerated in their declarations of white supremacy and advocacy for the deportation of persons of color from the United States. This strip development unceremoniously flanks the old cemetery where Squire and Sarah Boone are buried.

Their graves are toward the back, beyond an iron fence in an area surrounded by a low stacked-rock wall. The gravestones are so old that they have been framed in brick for protection. In recent years, Cooleemee citizens have worked hard as a community to document and preserve their textile heritage and share it with visitors. Ahead on the left, at the corner of Church Street and surrounded by a chain-link fence, is the Cooleemee Mill Town Museum , open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10 to 4. This homegrown institution occupies the expansive Zachary-Holt House and presents a fascinating collection of everyday artifacts, photographs, quotations from oral histories, and other publications related to the mill in Cooleemee, which was established here at the very beginning of the twentieth century.

Jim Rumley, a former textile worker, has compiled an extensive coffee-table volume, published in by the Cooleemee Historical Association. McDaniel was an eye-witness and told it to a young Dorie Pierce who was known to soak up all river lore. As the mill, the dam, and the houses were being built, the whole area was one giant construction site. Sometime around , timbers were being cut and hauled from the Rowan side of the river to Cooleemee.

An old Black man, whose name has vanished in time, had a beloved bull ox and was hard at work at the Shoals. His ox slipped on the rocks and went down into a swirling pool of water. The witness said that the old man loved that bull ox so much that he nearly went down with it and was spared a similar fate only because onlookers pulled him away. The bull was never seen again. Signs direct you to the Bullhole Riverpark, which is down a well-maintained gravel road. There are bathrooms, a covered picnic pavilion, canoe access, and walking trails alongside this airy stretch of the river.

Return on north to Cooleemee. Historian Hugh T. Lefler was born in on a farm near here and went to high school in Cooleemee before attending Duke University then Trinity College. He coauthored several volumes on state history, which were widely used during his lifetime as texts for elementary, high school, and college students. Continue north on back to the intersection with and turn right south. Follow for 9. Watch for signs to Catawba College. Squire Boone, in his role as a local official, helped lay out the streets in town, according to biographer Robert Morgan.

The town is also chockablock with historic churches, graveyards, and homes that figured in the Civil War. Salisbury is the birthplace of Cheerwine, the cherry-flavored, regional soft drink invented in Publishing under the pen name of Christian Reid, she wrote more than forty light romances in the s and a play celebrating the Confederacy entitled Under the Southern Cross.

Proceeds from the play were used to underwrite a monument to Jefferson Davis. Today the author is commemorated by a historical marker on South Main Street, an engraved granite book set in the front yard of the Rowan Public Library, and in an exhibit of memorabilia from her life in the Rowan Historical Museum. Her gravesite is ahead on this tour.

Catawba is a private liberal arts institution that was originally established in the town of Newton in Catawba County in but moved here in Wilkinson of Newton. Hart recommends the place for breakfast or barbecue. The country club district of Salisbury more or less begins where Mahaley becomes Confederate Avenue.

The economic expansion of the fifties and sixties made Gustaf Pavlak a rich man, along with several dozen Lake Elm families who bought into the initial stock issue for Pavlak Equipment. It was made of white brick, custom manufactured using a rare clay found only in the Appalachian mountains. Corriher, who is a local playwright and actor in addition to his administrative and teaching role at Catawba College, was born in nearby China Grove.

Likewise, his protagonist, John Pavlak, just happens to serve on the staff of a local college. Another literary landmark in this neighborhood is found at the corner of Club Drive and Confederate. The white house on Club Drive set on the hill overlooking City Park is where John Hart says he imagined the main character of his first novel, Jackson Workman Pickens, living unhappily with his wife.

It also happens to be the house where Hart grew up. Truth be told, I disliked the house; it was too big, too visible. I rattled in it like a quarter in a tin can. But I always liked to sit there at the end of the day. It was warm in the sun. I could see the park, the oak trees made music of the wind. I would try not to think about choices or the past.

It was a place for emptiness, for absolution, and rarely was it mine alone. Hart was born in Durham, the grandson of the late Deryl Hart, a Duke surgeon and later president of the university from to John, who spent much of his youth in Salisbury, followed the family norm by beginning at Davidson College as a premed student but changed his major to French literature after studying abroad in France.

His mother had been a French teacher. Hart then took graduate degrees in law and accounting and worked for a time as a banker, a stockbroker, and an attorney before quitting to write full time. As Club curves left, go straight ahead on West Miller Street. North Jackson Street, proceed ahead with a short jog to the right on Miller. Then take the next right on North Church Street and follow it seven blocks. Note the restored Grimes Mill on your right just before you cross the railroad tracks.

The area was later separated by a fence and then a sturdy granite wall so as not to connect with an adjacent graveyard for white people. During the first half of the twentieth century, vandals violated this African American cemetery—bodies were disinterred and the historic grave markers disappeared. Artist Maggie Smith and landscape architect Sam Reynolds designed the public art installation. The wall drops lower and lower with each powerful phrase: I kneeled by the graves of my parents.

The garden is a pleasant spot, with bronze busts of writers Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, and William Shakespeare set among formal, boxwood-lined walkways. Pioneering writer Margaret Walker taught at Livingstone from to and again from to Her volume of poetry, For My People, is a collection of ballads, sonnets, and free verse that draw recognizable portraits of people from many walks of life. When it earned the Yale Younger Poets Award, it was the first time such a prestigious national award had gone to an African American female.

For the cramped bewildered years we went to school to learn to know the reasons why and the answers to and the people who and the places where and the days when, in memory of the bitter hours when we discovered we were black and poor and small and different and nobody cared and nobody wondered and nobody understood;. Her groundbreaking novel Jubilee is the tale of an enslaved family during and after the Civil War.

Jubilee generated significant literary consideration and debate, so much so that Walker wrote a book in explaining how she devised the novel and dismissing claims that the book only confirmed the romanticized South of Gone with the Wind, even if told from an African American perspective. Walker later helped Wright in his research for Native Son.

In , Walker sued author Alex Haley, alleging that his book Roots infringed upon her copyright to Jubilee, but the case was dismissed. Return on West Monroe Street toward downtown. In another six blocks, the cemetery will be on the right. Enter the gates and follow the paved drive straight ahead and up a knoll. A Salisbury pink granite bench, a commemorative stone, and a large Celtic cross sit inside the wall.

The yew tree? The crow did what crows do: perched on a headstone, cawed now and again, let the sun extract the purple hidden in its wing. It hopped to another grave, watched me watching it, then cocked its head away. I could see only one eye, exact as a rifle sight. What did the dead see? The roots of the yew tree inching toward them?

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The still earth filled with failed crocuses never opening a passage to the sky? The familiar made strange, my cousin an alien, mouth in her forehead, blank spread of skin where she ought to be kissed. Could I still loop my arm inside her arm and walk along the beach? Maybe the dead see us like this: upside down, combing what we should be shoeing, smirking when we should be crying, laughing at all the wrong parts.

The downtown district is the final stop in Salisbury. From the cemetery entrance, turn left on South Main Street and drive nearly up to the intersection with Innes Street and look for on-street parking. Take a stroll. The North Carolina Transportation Museum is here. Call for details. And, finally, if you spend the night in Salisbury or allow some extra time for touring, consider driving down to Gold Hill, just fourteen miles south on US 52 East Innes Street. Watch for signs to Historic Gold Hill and turn right across the railroad tracks.

Hedra drinking early morning coffee on her porch, sagging in her heavybottomed chair, her speculative, almost vicious eyes, unwaving hand, on up the clattering road beside the train line, fine dust trailing in a low red cloud. As the din of Gold Hill fell away behind them, the ruined hills gave way to woods and then to farms, and woods again, and farms.

The day turned warm, the sky bright blue. Eugenia pulled the blanket off her knees and tossed it behind her in the cart. For his part, Tom is determined to find freedom and ends up enlisting in the Union Army. Scott provides a vivid portrait of the hardships of secession in Piedmont North Carolina and of the terrors of the escalating war. Today, historic Gold Hill may at first seem a little hokey with its plank sidewalks, old streetlamps, rustic benches, and storefronts, which might have been built for the set of a Hollywood western, but the mining village also has an authentic old post office, a rock jailhouse, and a handsome green space for outdoor performances.

The Davie County Library also supports a branch in Cooleemee. The Literary Bookpost South Main Street, Salisbury This friendly bookshop, home to three cats on the day we visited, is a great supporter of regional writers. The shop hosts frequent readings and signings. Rowan Public Library West Fisher Street, Salisbury As befitting a town with such a long history, this library has an unusually large collection of local materials related to history and genealogy, in the Edith M.

Clark Room upstairs. A fabulous digital archive of local postcards is part of the online collection. Along the front limit of the large yard ran a busy highway which—for several centuries—I could not grow old enough to cross. In back, the lot became a garden and fruit orchard before it stopped at the end of railroad tracks where I was not allowed to play.

Twice a day the last surviving steam engine in that part of the state puffed slowly by toward Taylorsville, and twice a day I stood at the limits of a honeysuckle bank to wave to the engineer. Sometimes he put out a hand the size of my head, and waggled the fingers inside his striped denim glove. On both sides of our old-fashioned house lived oldfashioned couples who trained roses over white arbors, and were forever setting seedbeds between us like barriers.

I had no brothers and no sisters. Most of the girls I knew at school lived close together in a cluster of brick cottages, miles away from an old house in a bypassed part of town. Kelly St. Troutman Mitchell Community College 77 St. Ave ulbe 21 End E. M st We 64 St. Iredell Ave. I made society ladies from kitchen matches—impaled grapes for their heads, inverted morning-glory blooms for ball-gown skirts.

An apple tree became a team of horses, its crooked limbs saddled with old newspapers and bridled with lengths of clothesline. Doris learned to read by the age of four, and in her isolation as an only child she took to books. From love of reading I thought that would be the best thing in the world to do—to make books. Making good use of her early gift for the essay, Doris Waugh began publishing a column in the Statesville Daily Record in high school.

Betts helped to support their partnership by returning to journalism, leaving college midstream so that Lowry could finish school in his native South Carolina. The collection was reissued by LSU Press in Lowry and Doris Betts soon began their family and relocated to Chapel Hill, where Lowry went to law school, and then to Sanford, where he began his law practice. Betts wrote her first novel, Tall Houses in Winter , followed by The Scarlet Thread , set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and depicting the dramatic changes brought to a small town in North Carolina by the textile industry.

Follow Broad Street west toward downtown Statesville. This handsome route is lined on both sides by mature pin oaks, which form a shady canopy in summer. Soon Broad widens to a boulevard. Statesville has preserved a great many Queen Anne and Neoclassical homes in the four historic districts surrounding the business district, which are worth exploring.

To see the house where Betts lived as a teenager still a private residence , continue on Broad to the entrance to the Mitchell Community College campus. Men were not admitted to study here until Turn right on Mulberry Street, the birthplace of writer Theodore Taylor, a longtime California resident who has written more than two dozen popular young adult books and another dozen novels in a long career that has included many years in Hollywood. Taylor still proudly claims his North Carolina roots. The house is the fifth on the left, flanked by a large hemlock on the right and a mature dogwood on the left.

Veterans often commissioned Gay to write and publicly recite his verses for town celebrations such as those held in this cemetery. Gay is also reportedly the author of the first poetry book written in North Carolina. Contemporary poet and novelist Joseph Bathanti has written a number of poems about the sites, landscapes, and people in Iredell County, including this cemetery. His work was conceived in the eleven years he served on the faculty of Mitchell Community College. Continue downhill and go through a railroad underpass; the road then climbs sharply.

The Statesville depot is on your left. Ahead, we venture into the countryside, where the steady pursuit of dairy and livestock farming has remained viable. In fact, Iredell County has the largest population of dairy cattle in North Carolina. Large tracts of open space have served farmers here for centuries. Among the fine old plantings and volunteers on the rural byways are cedars that still delineate property lines and flank livestock fences, though more and more housing developments associated with regional growth spawned by Charlotte and nearby Lake Norman are transforming the rural scenery.

Buckner, a contemporary of Doris Betts, has taught creative writing at every level from kindergarten through graduate school. She retired in after twenty-eight years on the faculty of Peace College in Raleigh. Never paid or asked permission. Lord, why would he? When Hoover was still making promises, who would have laid down a cherished dollar for something to toss away after just a week? The girls would help him string the lights, then wind cellophane garlands through the greenery. Altogether, it was some kind of pretty. Then later, hoisting trees got to be beyond me.

The children, when they come, never complain. Look at it shine! But I still miss the scent of cedar. As you come into Troutman proper, divided by what used to be a railroad track and now returned to green space and a sidewalk that runs the length of town, look for signs to Duke Power State Park, to the right. Follow the signs, and in less than 1. Sherrill attended Mitchell Community College, where, he is proud to claim, he earned a diploma in welding and also studied creative writing with Joseph Bathanti. As Benny Poteat surveys the world from a dizzying height, he witnesses a shocking event: That day, as with countless days before it, from two hundred feet up, the Carolina Piedmont spread out degrees around him, county bleeding into county: dogwood, pitch pine, and red-dirt hills for mile after mile.

It was spring, wet and fecund. Benny Poteat had been climbing towers, legally, since he was fifteen years old, and fifteen years later he still loved the struggle between the late-March winds and the rigid metal framework he buckled himself to Monday through Thursday, weather permitting, well into winter. He was rarely prepared for the extraordinary. From this point forward, life gets much more complicated for Benny as he seeks out the family of the drowned girl but cannot bring himself to tell them what he saw from the tower.

More than sixty racing teams are headquartered in the vicinity. The best known is Dale Earnhardt, Inc. It may come as a surprise that auto racing has been pursued in fiction and nonfiction by at least two prominent female novelists from North Carolina. She won both national and North Carolina honors for her five semiautobiographical novels published from to All are set in North Carolina.

Wilkinson ventured into the world of nonfiction in , driven by her fascination with auto racing. He arrives in his white racing suit as an apparition on the side of the road in Mooresville ready to change her flat tire—a scene McCrumb writes as an event of biblical or Elvisean proportions. His short-story collection, The Imaginary Lives of Mechanical Men, has a comic tale of two misfits who work in a florist shop and deliver funeral arrangements to churches up and down NC Mooresville is also the landscape for the novels of Judith Minthorn Stacy.

Born in Michigan and married right out of high school, Stacy is the working mother of four children. Various jobs have contributed to her capacity as a fiction writer and humor columnist. Her fictional town of Poplar Grove bears a sure resemblance to Mooresville. The Dixie Burger in the novels might well be the spectacularly retro What-a-Burger Drive-In, which you will see across the railroad tracks on your way out of Mooresville. Within seconds there are rolling hills, dotted with clover.

Cattle graze on the hillside. She rolls down her window. The air is sweet and thick. She can feel it on her skin. The plant, at North Broad Street, is on the right side of the railroad tracks as you are headed south.

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This concluding volume of the Literary Trails of North Carolina trilogy takes readers into an ancient land of pale sand, dense forests, and expansive bays. Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina: A Guidebook (Literary Trails of North Carolina). +. Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont: A Guidebook (North.

According to writer Ann Wicker, a Mooresville native who now lives and writes in Charlotte, Deluxe is a rich, old-fashioned concoction that has been manufactured here since and is only sold locally in restaurants and grocery stores. You can also buy it retail at the plant on weekdays from 7 to 5. Among the many books that have been written in this college town over the years, one local volume deserves first mention. Ralph W. Johnson and his father, Walter, were among the most successful businessmen in Davidson throughout the twentieth century.

In it he describes life in the African American community here when Jim Crow laws were in full force. Ralph Johnson opened his first barbershop when he was sixteen and continued in the business for fifty years, employing as many as seven African American barbers at any given time.

In his memoir, Johnson delivers a stunning picture of the era, his remarkable entrepreneurship in light of the times, and his controversial dance with white power during segregation. He recounts how he was surprised and hurt when he became the subject of protests by Davidson students in the late s, because his barber shop had always exclusively served white customers during regular business hours. White Davidson students demanded that Johnson serve black customers on an equal basis.

The ensuing tensions caused Johnson to close his shop for good in He waited nearly thirty years to publish his side of the story. He also deeded his real estate holdings to the college, asking that they be used as affordable housing for lower income families to counter rising real estate values in town. Among many other literary lights that have come through these parts was novelist and Virginia native William Styron, who began his college education here in Styron wrote for the school newspaper and literary magazine, but his college career was interrupted when he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps and left campus before his eighteenth birthday.

Following a summer of officer training in , Styron transferred to Duke University to study with the legendary William Blackburn discussed later in this volume. Tennessee native Charles Wright graduated from Davidson in with a degree in history, but he claims that his poetic muse did not arrive until after his departure for military service in Italy. A strong creative writing curriculum and faculty have continued to produce a raft of books by Davidson grads in more recent decades. Poet and novelist Alan Michael Parker directs the program in creative writing and is also a core faculty member in the Queens University low-residency MFA program in Charlotte.

Anthony Abbott, much-beloved faculty member and longtime head of the Davidson English department, is retired but continues to teach a few writing courses each year. In his poetry collection The Man Who. Monday morning he sat at his desk, sheer joy crinkling in his eyes, lectures to write, books to read, students to talk to long into the lazy afternoons of fall, the crisp mornings of winter, when his boots would crunch the first footprints into the new snow, into the soft mornings of spring when the yellow forsythia came and then the burst of the azaleas pink and white below his high window.

Now he sits on the shore and fishes with the arid plain before and behind.