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Archiver > MESSER > 2001-06 > 0992188021

From: "Brenda Messer" <>
Subject: [Messer] Fredrick "Uncle Fed" Messer, Haywood County, NC
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2001 11:47:01 -0400


Here is an article that was written in the Charlotte Daily Observer, November 21, 1901 about Uncle Fed Messer of Haywood County, NC. I also have an article that was printed when he died, which includes most of this article plus some additional information. I also have pictures of Uncle Fed.


Brenda Messer



H. E. C. Bryant

Charlotte Daily Observer

Charlotte, North Carolina Newspaper, November 24, 1901

What Was Seen on a Trip by Delwood, Down Jonathan's Creek to Pigeon River - Fine Farms and Substantial Homes - A Stream Full of Ducks and Geese - A Wild and Attractive Route - A Meek Eyed Boy on a Mule Causes Fear to Creep Over a Poor Devil - An Agent of Uncle Sam, 65 Years Old, Walks 22 Miles a Day - Fred Messer, The Centenarian - He Has Passed 100 Mile Posts.

Special to The Observer.

Waynesville, Nov. 23. - Mr. Frederick Messer, of Haywood county, was born in Lincoln, on the South Fork, on the 12th day of August, 1792. This makes him over 109 years old. I rode out to see "Uncle Fred" one day last week. He lives with his "girl baby," Susan, who is past 58 herself. They own a farm home on a small tributary to Pigeon river, 21 miles north of here. Later, I shall write a detailed account of what I learned from the old man and his daughter, but in this story, will tell of what I saw on the way to their dwelling place.

Haywood county is ont of the garden spots of western North Carolina. The lands are fertile and rich, the people upright, strong and intelligent; the climate invigorating, and the scenery beautiful.

Last Thursday morning, when I rode out of Waynesville, mounted on Topsy. The best saddle horse in the town, the air was crisp and cold. The sun had not yet come in sight and the smoke that rolled out of the chimneys was thick and heavy, from newly kindled fires.

With my back to the town, my nose pointed to the north, to the Tennessee line. The weather was fair and fine. I could not have desired a more delightful day. The first hour of the ride was most interesting. The farmers along the way were beginning work. The cows and the sheep were leaving the barns and the chickens, the turkeys and guineas their roosting place. The rattling of the cow-bells abd the clatter of the chickens made the whole country side merry.

I went two miles without meeting or passing a living creature in the road. The first animal to come into my path was a black and white tom cat. I saw him far away trotting along the edge of a piece of timber land. He was evidently late in returning home after a nocturnal prowl, for he move rapidly without ever halting. Soon he came into the road in front of me and hurried on toward a barnyard fence where he turned in. This is where he belonged.

The little town of Dellwood, is four miles out from Waynesville. It is situated on the banks of Jonathan's creek. I met two farmers and inquired about the distance to "old man Fred Messer's." They knew him as did ererybody else. I was told that the road to his home went down Jonathan's creek to Pigeon river and that the distance was 13 miles from Dellwood. Topsy soon covered the mile or more to Delwood. He was splendid form and went at a peart running-walk, or fox-trot, that was both graceful and easy.

At Delwod, I asked a merchant, or at least, I took him to be that, how far it was to Fred Messer's. He said that it could not be less than 20 miles, an it was more likely to be 22. I was up against the guessers from that time on.


Neither Mecklenburg nor any other county in North Carolina can show more fine farms and more attractive homes in a rural section than I saw on the road here from to the end of the twelth mile of Jonathan's creek. The valley lands are well adapted t corn, other grains and grasses. Hundreds of cattle range on the mountain sides. I saw ninety head of fine young steers and heifers in one pasture. The Devon cow seems to be the most popular breed with the Haywood farmers. They are red in color and hardy, can stand the cold winters and climb the hills better than other kinds. Large droves of sheep were seen in several fields. At one place the flock was so high up on a mountain that the sheep looked like white stumps. The creek and river was full of ducks and geese. All of them were tame. I had never seen so many ducks anywhere else.

The farmers of Haywood do not only have good stock, but they live in comfortable, substantial and attractive homes. Two-thirds of the dwelling houses between here and Cove creek are two stories high and painted white. They are pretty and generally located at the foot of a mountain and looking over tracts of level bottom land.


Lumber is bringing a good price now and most of the persons met that morning were on the way to Waynesville with wagons loaded with plank and squares. Much of it was being hauled about 25 miles. The big loads were draws by four horses driven by white men. I did not see a single negro wagoner.


Shady Grove is the home of a church and a new school building. It is hard by Jonathan's Creek. The school house would do credit to any village. It is a double decker, large and roomy. As to why the builders selected the site that they did for it, I am not able to figure out. It is on the very top most point of the highest hill in that region. Then, too, the hill is small. A boy could jump out the front or back door, a window on wither side; cut three summersaults, roll a quarter of a mile and land in the creek. If a pupil attends there regularly for a single session, his or her legs must develop into muscular giants. But I have learned that the people who are building this school house have voted a special tax on themselves. It is in Jonathan's township, one of the best rural districts in the State. A good teacher will be employed and the school started off in creditable fashion.


Soon after passing Shady Grove, I came to the home of a well0to-do farmer, that is, if outside appearances indicate his circumstances. It was time to ask about the road and distance. The opportunity presented itself. A mountain girl of about 17 summers and her country sweetheart were by the roadside. He had come from his home across the creek and perched himself upon the pasture fence where he pretended to watch the hogs eat their breakfast corn. She had finished milking the cows and stood near her beau with her elbows resting upon a stump. She looked a perfect picture. Maud Muller could not have looked sweeter. She had her sleeves rolled and her plump, fat arms shone in the morning sun. Her woolen top-skirt [not sure of this word, hard to read] was pinned back with a safety pin, and her strong - dainty ankles plainly visible. She wore a red jacket above her waist, and her head was bare and her cheeks rosy.

Before I rode up the boy had whispered something soft and confidential in her ear and she flushed. The young chap must have been delighted with the result for when I asked how far it was to Fred Messer's he promptly answered:

"Oh, it is but eight mile." The girl acquiesced. That was a rosy view. I was about to take fresh courage, but after having gone a mile further and reached Cove creek. I was advised by a stripling of a boy that I had 12 miles to go then. I do not know which one was nearest to the right figure. I so thoroughly enjoyed the trip that distance made but little distance. However, I was not long in going to wherever old man Fred, lives.


Cove creek is an interesting place. Mr. D. M. Cagle has a store and a mill there. He is 12 miles out from Waynesville and is at the forks of two roads that lead into mountain sections proper. It is there that many of the mountaineers do their trading.

The mill at Cove creek is an old time one and is force to run by water falling in boxes on a big wheel. I saw several, but much smaller ones, further up in the mountains. Ten bushels of corn a day does well.

It was here that I saw the first mountain sled. It was pulled by a small horse and loaded with turkeys - three large gobblers.


At Cove creek I turned to the right and followed close to the west bank of Jonathan's creek. From this time on I did not see good houses but my eyes feasted on scenery that is wild, romantic and beautiful. The waters of the creek kept me company. At one place it glided peacefully, noiselessly, even lazily over a smooth and level bottom and at another went hurrying, tumbling and cavorting over rocks and cataracts, breaking into beautiful snow-white mist. Sometimes it scurried behind a wilderness of laurel, ivey and hemlock, and agian passed through open fields in full view of man and beast.


I did not feel the least bit lonesome until I entered a thick bit of woodland along Pigeon river, immediately below the mouth of Jonathan's creek. There the way was so narrow and the country so rugged that I could not but think of the dear friends I had left behind. But I had faith in Topsy. He was fleet footed for I had tried him. At a signal he was off like a shot. I was looking for "buggers" when a queer meek-eyed boy stumbled into the road ahead of me on a mean, cheap looking mule. He turned his animal toward me and rode so close that his knee flung in mine. The only harness the mule wore was a bridle made of rope. I had to stop my horse or be carried off. I thought my time had come. The stranger was evidently looking for trouble. Grabbing me by the leg in a familiar way he said: "Hello, p-a-r-dner," (with the accent on the pard). "Where you gwyne" You's a stranger in dese parts?"

It was up to me. "Yes, sorter," I answered.

"Well, is you lost anything,or does you want to hire anybody?" That was the blow that hurt. I hastened to declare that I had lost nothing and did not care to hire anyone at present, but might later.

"Well den what in the devil is you doin' way out in dese parts?'

By this time my knee was loose and Topsy took me out of sight before the boy could turn his stubborn beast. But after all, since I am out of that section, I don't believe the boy meant any harm.


I lost my way and drifted to a nearby house, which proved to be Teague, a post office. There an agent of Uncle Sam set me right. I failed to learn the name of that kind man but he walks from Jonathan's Creek to Teague and back, a distance of over 22 miles six days each week. He is passed 65.


Uncle Fred lives near Teague. I had no trouble in finding his home. I saw him and took dinner at his table. He talked freely and frankly. I shall tell of him in another story.

H. E. C. B.

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