Appalachian people have always been self-reliant and have developed a thriving craft culture from the skillful creation of items they needed to survive and thrive. Skills like weaving, quilting, knitting, and crochet produced functional items like blankets and clothing, but were also an outlet for creative expression. The crochet of Nancy Lavada Miller Fisher is no exception. The North Carolina Room in the Transylvania County Library has been given a generous donation of historic clothing items that were created by lifelong Transylvania County resident Nancy many decades ago.
Born on March 28, 1891 in the Quebec area of Transylvania County to Gideon and Mary Ann Henderson Miller, Nancy lived near Kim Miller Road in a house that still stands today. She attended the local two-room school in Quebec but did not continue her formal education beyond. She married Roland Thomas Fisher in 1909; their first child was born in 1910 and the last in 1932. She lived a long life entirely in Transylvania County and passed away July 26, 1986.
Nancy was a practicing midwife and was knowledgeable about using native plants for medicine and health. She raised seven children and was an expert seamstress, able to look at a picture of an article of clothing and create a pattern. Her daughter Millie was even voted the best-dressed at school thanks to Nancy’s ability to create stylish and flawless clothing. Nancy developed a repertoire of crochet stitches that she utilized to create the collection now archived in the NC Room. One pattern of stitches used for the pink dress in the collection seems to be original. It is a series of “crosses and columns” and gives a unique look to the piece.
Looking closely at the details of the collection, one sees skillful use of vented sleeves, decorative edging, crocheted button covers, alternating color patterns, and decorative elements that all speak volumes about the talent of their maker. This display will be on the second floor of the Library just outside of the North Carolina Room, for the next several months for those who would like to visit. Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History Librarian Laura Sperry. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.