Settlers began moving into the valleys and mountains along
the North Fork of the French Broad River in the early 1800s. Among the early settlers were members of the
Bracken, Dunn, Galloway, Kitchen and McCall families.
Robert and John McCall were sons of Samuel McCall. Samuel McCall had settled his young family in
the area around Cedar Rock, south of the current Fish Hatchery around
1803. Although Samuel McCall later moved
the family west into Jackson County his oldest sons stayed in what would become
Robert bought property along Shoal Creek and John purchased
property along the North Fork in the 1820s.
Like the other early settlers the McCalls were farmers. They planted vegetables and fruit trees,
raised cattle, hunted the forest lands and fished the numerous streams around
them while raising large families.
According to McCall family histories Robert married Rachel
Glazener, daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Owen Glazener, in 1824 and they had
13 children. John married Elizabeth Glazner,
daughter of Abraham and Mary Ester Beasley Glazner, in 1827. John and Elizabeth had 12 children.
John and Elizabeth McCall’s oldest son, Bill operated a
grist mill on the North Fork of the French Broad River for many years. The mill, constructed of round saddle-notched
logs, is near the confluence of Shoal Creek and the North Fork. It has been restored and is located behind
the Camp at Living Waters.
Macedonia Baptist Church was established in 1844 by members
of the Bracken, Galloway, Glazner, Kitchen,
McCall, Owen and Whitmire families who petitioned the Cathey’s Creek Church to
hold church meetings closer to home.
Shoal Creek Baptist Church was organized in September 1867,
although their first church building was not constructed until 1901. The current church was built in 1964, with an
addition in 1983.
The first post office, established in 1875, was named for
the balsam grove surrounding it on property owned by the Galloways. William Galloway was the first postmaster.
In the early to mid 1900s Joseph Silversteen’s Gloucester
Lumber Company logged throughout the area.
Railroad lines ran up Gloucester Gap and near Devil’s Courthouse to haul
the timber back to Rosman. Many farmers
in the community also worked for Gloucester Lumber.
Balsam Grove continues to be an active community today with
a new Community Center, a Fire Department, a post office, Shoal Creek Baptist
Church and McCall’s Grocery & Gas.
Next week’s “Picturing the Past” article will continue the
history of the Balsam Grove area, featuring Dr. Gaine Cannon’s Albert
Schweitzer Memorial Hospital and the people who helped build it.
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit
the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about
our history and see additional photographs.
For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or 828-884-3151 X242.