First Posted: 11/9/2009
The Surry County Historical Society meets throughout the year to discuss how to preserve the history of Surry County. Each November, the society holds an annual meeting in which the community can take part.
The annual meeting of the society will be held on Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m., and the general public is welcome to attend. The meeting will be held at Cross Creek Country Club. It is sponsored by the NC Humanities Council.
Each year, the Surry County Historical Society brings in a special speaker for the meeting. Emma Jean Tucker, vice president of the society, said, It provides information for people who are interested in the history of Surry County.
At this meeting, Dr. Charlotte Ross will provide a program titled Fallen Heroes: The Chestnut in Appalachian Life and Chestnut Trees Now.
In a press release, Ross said a triple whammy of outside forces came to Appalachia in the 1930s and 40s: the chestnut blight, Great Depression, and World War II. Ross will speak at the meeting on how the chestnut blight had a comparable influence on Appalachia as did the depression or war. She will talk about how the traditional mountain society flourished around the chestnut tree.
Ross has been the director of the Appalachian Regional Collection at Appalachian State University, president of the Council of Appalachian Women, and chairperson of the Appalachian Studies Conference. She is an adjunct professor at ASU and has a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.
Thatll be very interesting, said Linda Stanfield of Ross presentation. Stanfield is the chairperson for the meeting.
Stanfield said that chestnut trees were a vital part of Surry County before the blight killed them. Chestnut tree roots are still alive in Pilot Mountain, but the blight kills the new shoots that come up each year. Stanfield said 500 new blight-resistant chestnut trees have been secretly planted in North Carolina in hopes that the tree will once again become a part of the ecosystem.
She encourages people to come and learn about how chestnut trees affected Surry County and the surrounding area. Stanfield said, Its part of the heritage and history of this region. It tells us a little bit about our history and heritage.
Clayton Wells of Mount Airy remembered stories his grandfather told him about gathering chestnuts as a young man. Cassell York lived from 1879 to 1945 in North Carolina and Virginia. He told Wells that heavy rains or hurricane rains would come in September, called chestnut rains, which would wash piles of chestnuts to the base of mountains and hills. York would shovel the chestnuts into a wagon drawn by a team of horses then take them to market.
Claytons wife, Agnes, said, We had a lot (of chestnuts) before they all died out.
In addition to the seeing the program on chestnuts presented by Ross, meeting attendees will get to enjoy a meal and see the installation of new officers for the historical society. The incoming NC Storytelling Guild president will also attend the meeting with Ross.
The Surry County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization whose members meet every other month. Annual dues for the organization are $10 for an individual and $20 for a family, and Tucker and Stanfield encouraged people to join. The main goal of the society is to preserve the history of Surry County and interpret it to the community.
Tucker said, Its important to preserve the past and share that with younger people … They need to know their history.
To register for the meeting or learn more about the society, call Tucker at 789-4304. People need to register by Friday to attend the annual meeting. The cost is $20. Tucker said this covers the cost of the meal; the event is not a fundraiser.
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or 719-1952.