New Appalachian Moments Blog Post!
By Scott Ballard
Just below the crest of the Blue Ridge…over on Three Mile Creek in what is now Avery County, North Carolina, Uncle Jake Carpenter lived for eighty-seven years. Born in 1833, he became very acquainted with every one of the scattered families in that mountain region.
From the time he was 10 years old until his death, Uncle Jake recorded with a brief note…every death in his community. His enlightening anecdotes on these individuals lend human and sometimes humorous interest to anyone wanting a glimpse into that time in history.
Jake just called this record his “jot ‘em down book” or his “Son of a gun” book… others have given it the more gruesome title of Jake’s Anthology of Death. But, whatever the title, Jake recorded 249 deaths over 77 years.
Most of the entries were pretty basic, like Lockey Oaks aged 80 died Jun 15 1872 wars a farmer & made brandy.
But for other entries ol Jake went into…more detail and THAT is when it got interesting…
1852 Charley Kiney age 72 died may 10, was farmer, lived on the mountain on Blue Ridge at Kiney Gap, Had four women, he was only married to one of them, the other three lived on the farm. All of the women went to the field to work, raising grain and corn and all went to the smokehouse where they butchered 75 to 80 hogs a year. The women…never complained about him having so many women, but in today’s time there would be hair pulled! There were 42 children who would all go preaching together and everybody got along smooth. He made brandy all of his life, never had any foes, got along with everyone…I knew him—Jacob Carpenter
Or this entry:
1875 Polly Wiseman age 75. She would take a spoon and dip water off cow manure to turn her milk into cheese…ok…ready for some science?
This is not fear-factor circa 1875… the truth is…using the enzymes from the stomach of a cow (what cheese makers call rennet) is really and truly how you begin culturing milk into cheese…more mozzarella anyone??? All the vegans in the audience are going, “Yep, that’s right, told ya!”
Jake’s last entry in his book was…that he took to his bed…where he died in 1920. To listen to the audio version, click below, and please like, share and comment!