‘We Make Our Own Jobs’

Published 10:15 am Friday, June 17, 2011

My friend Ron Mosseller and I share many interests and some reading material, mostly aviation books.

Willie Mills drawn by Ron Mosseller.

This time he brought me three copies of “The State” magazine with articles by his mother, Lillian Mills Mosseller, all illustrated with Ron’s pen and ink drawings.

The writing is living history well told, and the drawings are so colorful that you forget they are black lines on a white background.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We Make Our Own Jobs” is from the June 1987 issue and includes a photo of Ron (with lots of black hair) and his mom. The article is mostly about Sally Streadwick Cathey, who scoured the countryside of three states looking for handcrafted items.

With her husband, George, she opened the Blue Ridge Weavers shop in Tryon to market the crafts she found. I remember the shop well because they had a small area devoted to model airplane kits! I suppose they regarded them as a “craft.”

Ms. Mosseller also mentions the Valhalla Hand Weavers in the Valley. John Lawrence built the handlooms on which local ladies wove beautiful fabric goods. I had a box of their woolen neckties (every color!) that I wore for years because they always looked new – well, almost.

Saluda also comes into her article for its hooked rugs (she explains this process in detail) by Dora Arledge, wrought iron works by artist blacksmith Willie Stevenson and locally made rustic pine furniture sold there by one Kathy McCreary.

From the August 1975 issue we learn that her ancestor William Mills planted apple trees all over Our Area some 30 years before the Johnny Appleseed we read about in third grade.

“Where did he get the seed?”

“From an apple, of course.”

To which she comments, “I was afraid if I asked where Willie got the apple, she [the late Sadie Patton, Polk County historian] would retort that Eve gave it to him.”

In addition to more of Ron’s special drawings, there are several photographs: my favorite shows five shapely young ladies picking apples.

The July 1971 issue features “Sentimental Diet,” a fun article about dining too often on favorite foods associated with the persons who introduced her to them.

Among the many descriptions of gastric delights, designed to initiate copious drooling, she mentions her first meal taken in a Pullman dining car.

Remember the elegance of train travel in Pullman cars? In their heyday, owning your own Pullman car was a great status symbol. Imagine, you just arranged to have it hitched to the train of your choice and then boarded without a pat down.

Lillian Mills Mosseller is part of the historically significant Mills family that includes not only William, but Columbus and Ambrose.

The area around the intersection of Highways 108 and 9 was originally called Mills Springs, for William Mills and the two springs that supplied plenty of good water. A lazy postmaster is said to have “officially” removed the “s” from both words.

Dr. Columbus Mills had to petition the state legislature twice to get Polk County established, because the first authorization expired before squabbling local politicians could agree on the location of the county seat.

The legislature appointed non-local people the second time, and they selected the present town site. They named it Columbus for Dr. Mills, but the main thoroughfare was named for one of the five commissioners who formed the new county government.

The first Colonel Ambrose Mills was hanged after the battle of Kings Mountain, but his contemporary direct descendent goes by Ambrose Mills III even though he is one of many named Ambrose in the long line.

He rented a costume and presented a program about his famous ancestor to the Polk County Historical Association back when I was its president. I suggested that he’d better buy the uniform, because he would need it many more times due to the importance and excellence of his presentation.

Turns out I was right, and he did.