The Children of William R. Boggs (Robert) and Vergie Morris Boggs

John Wiley Boggs–Irene, Katherine
Frances Ann Boggs Shelton–Angela, Edward, Anita, Benjamin
Darlyne Joyce Boggs Brandon–Kimberly, Margaret, Steven
Carolyn Iola Boggs Clippard–Cynthia, Caroline
Robert Morris Boggs–Courtney
Rebecca Rena Boggs Barnes–Derek, Adrian
Richard William Boggs–Catherine, Anna Rebecca

All of the above named were born in North Carolina, except Frances, who is a native of Anderson County, Tennessee. Richard is a native of Gaston County, the others were born in Transylvania County, North Carolina.

It all started with a cute girl and a spontaneous picnic

In late July, 1928, I came to Stanley, North Carolina, to work for Mr. W.G. Hawley, in a typically hot and dry season. I had been working in logging in the Pisgah National Forest for several months, where it was wet and cool even in summer time! So it was quite a contrast to find myself in such a different environment, and it took some getting used to. We worked long hours, and put in six days a week, but that was before the 40 hour week had become the norm.

Week ends were a time to rest a little, and try to meet a few new friends, but at age 23 I did not have much trouble with either task. I owned a Model T Ford Touring Car at the time, and soon got to know some guys and gals who lived nearby. I met some girls who lived near where I was staying, and they asked me to go to a Homecoming at Mt. Zion Church on a Sunday in September, so I took them up on the invitation. There turned out to be four of them when the time came to pick up what I thought were to be two! Being a bit bashful, I hardly knew what to make of the situation, but I thought, what the heck, let’s just make the most of it!

So that’s what I did. One of the girls was a very cute kid that I had never seen before, and she did not seem to be as–how do you say–aggressive as some of the others, but I sure liked her attitude and her looks. The girls furnished food for a picnic lunch, but they decided not to stay at Mt. Zion, but go some place and have a little private picnic, which we did. It was quite a day, one I’ll never forget; for the cute little stranger was the girl I married about two years later!

I know two of the others are still living; one a widow of several years, the other is the wife of one of Uncle Bill Abernathy’s brothers. The fourth one married and left Stanley many years ago, and I’m not sure whether she’s still living.

There have been some good times and some not so good, but all things considered, life has not been too hard on us. We fuss a little now and then, but I am nearly 89 at this writing, and she is 82, so we must have done something right!

There are so many incidents in a lifetime of raising a family and trying to keep a roof over one’s head that to write it all down would take another lifetime! We managed to get our seven kids all through high school, some of them even got some technical schooling on their own; they are all married with families and several have grand kids of their own! And it really all started on that Sunday in September, 1928, on a spontaneous picnic! Long time ago, you say? Well, yes, it has been. But guys meeting girls, falling in love and raising families has been going on ever since Adam, so it is not so strange at all!

Civilian Conservation Corps

In the early days of the Great Depression when there was no work to be had, the government set up a scheme to give people temporary work. This scheme, called the Civilian Conservation Corps, was primarily for young men and was designed to get them off the street and into something useful.

I was lucky enough to get into the organization, even though I was married at the time. The first CCC camp organized in Transylvania County was at John Rock on Davidson River, and was mostly made up of young men from the towns and cities in the Piedmont section of North Carolina.

They were to build trails, roads, and improve the forest. I went in with a group of local men to act as “straw bosses” as most of the enlistees did not know a wheelbarrow from a pick ax, and they needed somebody to keep them from killing each other. There were two grades of bosses, called leader and assistant leader. The assistant was paid $33 per month, and the leader was paid $45 per month. I got lucky and was made leader after the first month in camp, so I did not do too badly, all things considered. Of course I had to stay in camp five nights per week, but at least there was money to buy groceries with for Vergie and baby John.

I was assigned the Timber Stand Improvement, and my boss was a forestry graduate from Ohio, whose name was Harold Wise. You can imagine the ribbing he took about his name, but he was a good guy and did not mind too much. He married in Brevard and when the camp broke up, moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and went in the lumber business.

In March 1934, I went to Tennessee to work for TVA and altogether, I lived there a little over two years. Our oldest daughter, Frances, was born in Anderson County while I was working at Norris Dam.

Over the years we have had two different daughters who lived in Tennessee; Joyce at Oak Ridge, and Rebecca in Knoxville. In fact, Rebecca lives in Knox County now, and has been there for about 20 years, while Joyce lives in Clemson, South Carolina.

Families grow up and scatter, get married and raise kids, and sometimes (seldom) get together and see all the new babies!

After a few years living in Transylvania County (after the Norris experience) we moved here to Alexis, and things have not been too bad for us, all things considered. Vergie and I are in fair health, and have a livable place to call home, so I guess we will make it!

This is in the Christmas season, and things are pretty quiet, but the weather is pretty cold. So put on more wood the wind blows shrill, but let it whistle as it will, we’ll have a merry Christmas still! Longfellow? Keats? Who wrote this? Well, never mind, I borrowed it anyway.

Move from Asheville to Transylvania County

There is one subject that I haven’t written on in this series of ramblings, and that is the story of my family moving from Asheville to Transylvania County.

The event took place when I was 17 months old, so of course I know only what I was told about it. It was March, 1907, and must have been cold weather. The house we moved into was four rooms with a hall, and four rooms that had been added as a lean-to. The house was the former home of one Dr. George Young, but he had sold and moved to Brevard. I am not certain, but think Dr. Young was postmaster at Brevard at one time, early in this century.

Dad bought the place from a Mr. Price, and it consisted of 100 acres, mostly wooded. The Young property had been divided into two parcels, the mountain place and the part we first bought. But in 1913, dad bought the rest of the property also, making a total of about 400 acres. The house dad built was cut from timber off this boundary, and we also sold quite a bit of timber and chestnut wood from it. In those days power lines and phone lines were strung on chestnut poles, and we furnished many poles to the local power and telephone companies. Also chestnut wood was used for making an extract which was used in tanning leather.

This is getting away from the story of moving from Asheville, but it is all part of my memories of growing up at Turkey Creek. A local farmer and land owner was administrator of the Young property, and in order to make a quick sale of the mountain part of the place he offered it to dad at a very low price. That was the summer of 1913, when I was eight years old, and I remember it quite well.

Just to rattle on, we kept the whole property until the mid ‘70s, when it was sold again to settle the Boggs Estate. So we do not have any property in Transylvania County, except what my sister Ruth owns, which she bought from mother in the 1940 era.

1992: Politics and economics

Well, here it is another year has passed, a year of many historical happenings. There was the Gulf War, which we half won (we did not take Hussein out), there was the reunification of Germany, the dissolution of the Soviet empire, which meant farewell to Gorbechev. And now the beginning of a political campaign for the 1992 Presidential election. Mr. Bush is off on a trip to the Far East, with a bunch of top dog industrial honchos of US industry, hoping to drum up some business.

We have been so lenient for so long to Oriental imports that they have taken it for granted that they own the American consumer. It will be hard to convince them otherwise, but it is high time we tried. We have allowed imported textile products to dominate our market, and also have, by default, let the Japanese gut the automotive industry, so our predicament is our own making.

It is not easy to place the blame, as so many segments of our system have been involved though politics the so-called practice of some of our industrialists moving their plants to what they call “off shore” operation. It adds up to a slow down on American business and a loss of jobs for many American workers.

This little essay shows that I am not much of a political observer, but one can get the drift of my meaning, anyway. There have been so many factors causing our business downturn that all the pundits in the world cannot separate them. It seems that all the so-called leaders are looking more to their own interests than to the good of the nation.

It is too cold to work outside today, and one soon gets bored staying in the house all the time, but I’ve got something like the flu, so I’ll just have to hang on, bored or not. There is so much junk on television that it makes me almost sick, so the only thing to do is leave the set turned off!

The first month of the year is almost gone and I have not got anything done! So be it! There will be another day, another year, and a new generation to keep things going. Some of my family have not been well recently, but they seem to be better now. Babies have a habit of getting sick at the most inconvenient times, but somehow they most always make it and get better. We have so many children in the family that I sometimes have trouble remembering their names!

1918: Spanish Influenza and the end of WWI

Today is November 11, 1991, the 73rd anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in World War I; a date to be remembered in history. The killing and destruction stopped, at least for awhile, and the Nations started almost immediately to rearm for another war. Simply put, it was history repeating itself. That is the way the human race does things.

My next oldest sister, Anna, had married a fellow named Jerry Orr, and he got called up in the draft, just one year after they were married. He was a strong, handsome young fellow, but like many of the young men of the day, he did not want to go to the war. But, when he was called, he, like most the fellows, reported for induction. The group he was in was ordered to catch a train in Brevard at 8 o’clock a.m. on the eleventh. There were thirty or more of them, and dad and I went to see them off. We went to Brevard, which was about five miles from where we lived, so we got up early since we had to walk to town. We got there in plenty of time for good-byes and well wishes. Just a few minutes before time for the train to pull out word came over the telegram that the armistice had been signed! The commander of the group held the men around for several hours before he could release them, because he had to get official permission to do it.

So I’ll remember that day all my life, because it was history, and because my brother-in-law was in it. You can imagine the joy of those country boys when they learned that they would not have to go!

My sister and Jerry lived in the house with his parents and all of their other children, which was not an ideal situation, but they were a close-knit family, and greatly depended on each other.

That winter was when the flu epidemic hit the country, and like most families, the Orr family got the flu. There was another boy in the family, named Charlie, and there were six girls, Minnie, Annie, Cora, Nettie, Emma, and Ada. The family was very poor, sanitation was, well, lacking. When it was all over, the mother, little Annie, and my sister Anna were dead. It was a tragic time, but could not have been prevented. The entire country was stricken, and thousands died. There weren’t many medicines then, except the very oldest basics, mostly aspirin. The onset of the flu, which was Spanish Influenza, was so vast it was called pandemic rather than epidemic, which is the word for such a vast incursion of any disease.

Our house did not get the flu except for dad, and his case was not too bad. He was around 55 years old at the time, but was in good health. How the rest of us got by is still a mystery, but we did, and it was a blessing. Many families, as the Orrs lost several members, but in our area, there were no others that I knew personally.

That winter turned out to be unusually cold, and with the flu and the cold there was much suffering. We had snow on the ground most all winter, and dad made us boys some snow sleds using oak barrel staves for runners. The width of the staves and the curvature made ideal sleds, as they were easy to ride on soft snow. We did not have much material wealth, but we managed to get by somehow. I guess there was school that year, but frankly I do not remember.

We were still using the old building up Turkey Creek for a school house and church; one room, a wood heater, the wide wide world for toilets! There was a chimney at the end of the building, but in my day it was not used, except as a flue for the heater. The older boys cut the wood (if they felt like it) and that was supposed to be the good old days!

Live and let live?

Things are at a standstill in my existence right now, and there’s not much to keep my mind occupied, or my hands busy. So that makes for a lot of boring days and time to pass. I just called my sister Ruth in Ocala, Florida, and she is in a pretty serious mess. Her husband is in a nursing home and is helpless, and she is pretty much alone. Her son lives in Mecklinburg County, but he is a heart patient himself, so he cannot help her.

There is always something to write about if one has the will to write. My will and my ability do not come together, so I do not write much (as a rule). I had a nice ride down into Georgia today with E.C. We went to a small textile town which appears to be suffering from the foreign competition in the Far East. I have never seen a town with so many boarded up buildings and look of general depression as that town. It is a beautiful part of the country, but has the unmistakable look of hard times.

The rule of “live and let live” is a great rule to live by, but when people a half a world away are allowed to destroy the livelihood of entire towns as seems to be the case here, “live and let live” has a hollow meaning.

The Kingdom Within

Well, another week has gone by, another Sunday and Monday, and we are still around. We had a nice visit with some friends at a family reunion on Sunday afternoon, and greatly enjoyed the fellowship, plus we had an old style singing. We did not eat lunch with them, but had a nice session of visitation, and sang some quartets besides the group singing.

The family’s name was Bradshaw, and there are some good singers in the group. I am not by any means a musician, nor can I sing very well, but I sure enjoy trying. I have been in a group called The Kingdom Within for about two years now, and we sing with the Church Choir leader. He is an accomplished musician and a good leader, and to me it is a very enjoyable experience to meet and sing with the group. We are all over 65 years old, and some of the people have really good voices.

There is no point in regretting what might have been, but it would have been nice if I could have kept up singing through the years. I think I’ll go through the coming season with the group, and after Christmas drop out.

The biggest thing I need is a lot of practice on this little Smith-Corona. Just when I think I am getting along pretty well I start making messes again. Oh, well, Rome was not built in a day, or was it?

Since I last used this thing I’ve been to a sing practice at First Baptist in Stanley, and had lunch in the church activity room. There was a good turnout, and we had some very instructive lessons from three different singing leaders from the area. We are to sing again next Thursday at Alexis, and I am looking forward to it. Then on November 18, we will go to Gaston Mall to sing at a Celebration with some other groups. It should be very interesting.

Gaston County and Norris Dam

The reason I came to Gaston County was to work for Mr. W. G. Hawley as a timber cutter. I had quit school, and had no training or education for any kind of employment other than labor, so whatever I could find was what I took for employment. I had worked a little as a carpenter, but there was very little building in Western North Carolina at that time, and frankly not much else to do. I worked for Mr. Hawley about four years, and met my wife and married there, but we moved back to Transylvania County before our first child was born. That was in 1932, and John was born on November 10 of that year.

I worked sort of catch as catch can for several years. We lived in East Tennessee for one spell. I was employed by TVA as a carpenter on Norris Dam, a flood control and power project on the Flint River, about 20 miles from Knoxville. Our daughter Frances was born there, in Anderson County, so she is a native of Tennessee. We went back to North Carolina in the spring of 1936, and in July of that year along came another little Boggs! Time has passed so fast, we get old before we know it, and kids grow up and start families of their own so quickly!

Things are always changing, of course. Time goes on whether we keep up or not. Our oldest son, John, has retired from the DuPont corporation after thirty some years in the X-ray manufacturing division near Brevard, but he is young enough to start another career! I hope he finds something to do that will keep him busy! I went on Social Security 22 years ago, and it seems only a few weeks.

Our youngest son, Richard, is employed by Duke Power Company, and has two children. John is 22 years older than Richard; John’s first child is older than Richard!

Memories of WWI

This is a story most people have never heard. Among the things I remember was an event, or rather a series of events, that took place during World War I. At that time blacks were not, as a general thing, used in combat, but were drafted into the military anyway. They were used in what was called “labor battalions.” They performed service and maintenance jobs for the military and were used for all kinds of menial tasks. The army bases used wood for fuel and heating, and supplying that wood was one of the tasks the black enlistees performed.

Sometime in 1918, a group of them were sent to the Davidson River watershed to cut wood for the bases in South Carolina and other nearby army installations. The Carr Lumber Company was cutting the timber in that area at the time, and had several miles of railway in the forest. That was before the day of dependable trucks, and the only practical way to get the timber out was by rail.

The “soldiers” went behind the logging crews and cut the slash for fuel; they had their own locomotive for hauling, since the lumber company needed their engines full time in their own operations

It was not a very efficient operation, but served a need, and gave the enlistees a way to fulfill their duties to their country.

When the operation first started, it was easier and cheaper to build bridges rather than cutting into mountains for roadbeds. So naturally there were many bridges over the streams, and when high water came (which is quite often in that part of North Carolina) many of the bridges were washed out. There came an unusually big flood while the black soldiers were on the Davidson River location and practically all of the railroad bridges were washed away, so in order for anything at all to be done, the black soldiers were used to rebuild the railway. They had quite a number of mules and grading equipment, and in record time had the railroad rebuilt. It was quite a novelty to us local boys to watch the way the black men worked, and though I was only 13 years old, I remember lots of things they did. They hauled gravel from our home place to the camps to use on the roads, as it was impossible to get around the camps for the mud.