‘The Stories of Green River Cove’

Published 1:25 pm Friday, August 6, 2010

Beauford Arledge, 84, remembers the Green River Cove in the early 1900s like few others still alive.

Now he has gathered his memories in a book.

Looking back some 80 years, I remember more of the happenings in this time period than all the rest put together, he writes in the introduction to The Stories of Green River Cove.

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Beauford Arledge was born in the cove in 1926, the son of Harrison Arledge and Dora Bishop. After they married in 1921, they moved to the lower end of the cove where they lived for 30 years and raised four children.

Beauford spent his first 23 years there, before leaving to serve with the 95th Infantry Division in Belgium, Holland, and Germany. He fought through the Battle of the Bulge.

As a new century dawned, he started thinking about writing down his memories of the time before the war.

In passing the old home place, I realized that it wont be long before no one ever knows who lived here, he wrote.

The old house is gone now… The land we farmed is now grown up in trees. The rocks from the old chimneys that we got our heat from are gone they have been hauled away. The old maple tree that stood over the spring has fallen across the spring; only the log is left. Today only a memory is left; a story needs to be written for future generations.

The book was almost a generation nine years in the making, said Arledges daughter, Susan Howell.

It was a calling for her dad, Howell said. A seventy-five year old man with a formal education through grade eight determined to write and publish stories of the place, people, and events that shaped the first 21years of his life.

To accomplish this nine-year task, he toiled for hours, often late at night when he said a story would not allow him to sleep, struggling in front of a computer to learn how to use a word processing program that would allow him to record his strong memories, Howell recalled.

He learned to use a word processor and pecked it out, she said, sometimes not sleeping until a memory consuming him at the moment was put into the processor.

Arledges grandchildren were not yet away at college and were always on call for technical assistance.

Basically, if it were not for the computer, I never would have written the book, Arledge said in an interview this week. On the computer, it is an easy matter to erase and redo. If you get words spelled somewhere in the ballpark, the computer will spell them for you.

Arledges wife, Helen, was his primary spell checker, and he wondered at how she put up with the constant spelling questions for nine years.

Well, were still under the same roof, Helen Arledge joked.

Arledge spent his career as an electrician, working for Southern Mercerizing for 16 years before going out on his own. He was able to put his two children through college.

There have been a lot of changes in the area, Arledge said, sitting in his living room on Silver Creek Road. In his youth, he said, he couldnt have imagined the Green River Cove area would ever even have power. There was only one telephone nearby, and that was at the Mill Spring School. You had to hike through the country to get there.

Some people say they would like to go back to the old days, Arledge said. I wouldnt care for that. When you are born in it, it is all you know. But people think as if those times were better times than they were. I enjoy the time we live in.

Now, thanks to his book, people today will understand better the way their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents lived.

Arledges have lived in the area for about 175 years, Beauford Arledge recalled, most of them tracing their roots back to the Green River Cove. His book includes a hand drawn map of the cove from Fish Top Falls to Lake Adger, from the mountain ridges back down to Holbert Cove Road. It shows where all the creeks, roads, trails, paths, cemeteries, churches, schools and post offices were once located.

To make the map, Arledge drove back and forth through the cove, clocking the miles on his odometer to get everything just right and to scale.

My father is about the only one who could recreate that map now, Howell said. My uncle Hugh looked it over and said, ‘Yeah, thats how I remember it.’ A lot of that would be lost.

The old Arledge cemetery, across the river on a ridge in what is now N.C. Wildlife Commission gamelands, saw its last burial in 1884, probably Martha Alewine Arledge, Arledge writes. Since then, most of the area families have used the Silver Creek Baptist Church cemetery. Arledge spent about two years sketching the Silver Creek cemetery, taking down names and tracking down the names of those with unmarked graves.

We are still not sure where all the old graves are, he wrote.

Arledge advises his readers in the introduction that he, will only be able to tell a few stories that have been passed down. But those few stories fill 154 pages.

Throughout the book, Arledge describes the sights and sounds and daily life of his familys life in the early days of Polk County. Arledge recalls the school on Chigger Ridge, where his mother attended, another where Silver Creek Church stands today and one on Brights Creek. Churches were built within walking distance. Walking was the most popular way of traveling.

For people coming longer distances, mostly Tennesseans headed to Columbia, a good trade city, or the port at Charleston, they came through the mountains on Deep Gap Road.

I have heard it said that they would make molasses, put it in a 55-gallon barrel and roll it to market, Arledge writes.

Drovers headed from Tennessee to the horse traders and big cotton farms in South Carolina, where there was a big demand for horse and mules. There were lots of mules and horses raised in Tennessee in these times, he recalls.

Traveling from Tennessee to South Carolina took days or even weeks. They would have camp sites along the roads. This was a time to meet other travelers, a good place for traders. Most of them would depend on buying feed for their animals from farmers along the way.

Crossing the river was a problem. Four crossings had to be made to get from Silver Creek Church to Saluda on the old wagon road. Rocky shoals were chosen, so as to have shallow water and a solid bottom. Wagons could roll over the large rocks, and even then the water would come nearly over the backs of the mules or horses being used, Arledge writes.

It was too deep for cars, unless the river was way down. A bridge was eventually built on the upper end of the cove for cars.

Now cars whiz past the wooded gamelands on paved roads, most carrying passengers unaware of the busy community that once thrived there.

Arledge had lots of help writing his book. He makes special acknowledgments to Hugh Arledge, Grace Metcalf, Nelma Jackson, his daughter, Susan Arledge Howell, and his wife, Helen.

Al Creasy of the Polk County Historical Association provided the editing. A copy of the book has been placed at the Polk County Historical Association museum in Columbus.

Arledge first ordered 50 copies and, after selling out, re-ordered 50 more. So far, he has sold about 70 copies, he said.

I am so proud of this remarkable accomplishment by my father whom I have always appreciated as very resourceful and smart man, Howell said. He is now 84 years old and the family is enjoying with him the excitement and rewards of others who are reading and enjoying his book.

The Tryon Daily Bulletin will be sharing many of Arledges stories in upcoming editions. If you would like to purchase a copy of Stories of the Green River Cove and read the entire book for yourself, call Howell at 894-3724.