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Oral history is defined as the
collection and study of historical information using sound recordings of
interviews with people who have personal knowledge of past events

In the past oral tradition was used to preserve a record of history.  As printing methods developed and more people
were able to access print resources and read the sharing of oral traditions
faded.  Fortunately, that began to change
in the mid-1900s and today oral history is an integral part of historical research.

In the mid-1980s members of the local
Historic Preservation Commission (predecessor of today’s JHPC) undertook an
oral history project. 
Bosse, Dick Albyn, D.S. Winchester, and Ken Hay interviewed long-time residents
in their eighties and nineties “to record information about the colorful earlier days of the county to
preserve them for future generations.”  Later
Nilsa Lobdell, Betty Sherrill, and Mike Curtis took over the job of

Mrs. English’s boarding house, Willow Springs

Stories included
rowing up in Brevard and Rosman or on nearby farms; working at lumber
camps, the tannery, or Ecusta; serving in the military; and more.

Kathryn English Anderson recalled the days when her mother,
Lila Picklesimer English, operated a summer boarding house.  Four bedrooms on the third floor, six on the
second, and two on the main floor were rented to visitors who often stayed
through the entire summer.  Mrs. English
typically fed 24 people at each meal.  Rates
for room and board were $7-10 per week.

Burley White’s Store in Rosman.

A.P. Bell talked about Rosman businesses including
Silversteen’s tannery, extract plant and sawmill, and the three town stores.  There was White’s grocery store, Winchester’s
general store, and the company store which “sold everything, everything.”

The Oral
History Collection also includes interviews conducted by Joe Paxton and Frank
Guest, relating to the logging industry and railroads in Transylvania County.  Donald McCall shared stories of growing up in
the Pisgah National Forest, George Vanderbilt’s ranger houses, and working for
Gloucester Lumber.  McCall told about
counting 98 deer as he and a friend drove from the current Fish Hatchery
location to the forest entrance gates around 1937 or 1938.  Albert Lyday added more information about the
ranger houses, also known as Black Forest lodges and the National Forest
Service’s fawn rearing program.

In the 1930s and 1940s there was a U.S. fawn Rearing Station

in the Pink Beds area in the Pisgah National Forest.

Over a 20
year time span the memories of over 60 people were recorded.  One goal of the project was to transcribe the
interviews.  Renewed effects are underway
to do that work.  If you are interested
in volunteering to assist with this project please contact the Local History
Room staff at the Transylvania County Library.

Photographs 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.

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(828) 884-3151

212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712