Cricket’s Birthday Party, Big Pine (2011)
Paul Anderson, Skinning Raccoons, Big Pine (1979) Madison remains a rural, agricultural place, and outdoor sports are an expression of those practical skills and traditional values.
Along the Shatter Zone
I-26, at Buckner Gap (2007) For the last 40 years, and especially since the completion of I-26 in 2003, Madison County has been experiencing a demographic and cultural evolution.
Get Right with God, Marshall Bypass (1974) Madison County’s landscape is dotted with small country churches and other expressions of faith. At the same time, the county was nicknamed “Bloody Madison” after a Civil War massacre in 1863. It’s a moniker that stuck until just recently, when the county officially became “The Jewel of the Blue Ridge,” a much more tourism-friendly slogan.
Head Start Mother Reading to Her Son, Walnut (1980) Madison has statistically ranked among the poorest of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The War on Poverty brought many needed improvements to highways and access, health care, and education. But even with an influx of new people and new money, the county still ranks among the state’s poorest in per capita income.
Lionell Filiss and his daughter, Jemima, Big Pine (1983) Lionell and his wife Mary moved to the Big Laurel community in the early 1970s. They were native New Yorkers, college-educated, who came to Madison by way of Berkeley, California, and Central America. They raised a large family, birthing most of the children in their small cabin.
Benny at Troublesome Gap, Big Pine (1980)
The Day John and Laurie Moved from Big Pine (1981) Many young back-to-the-landers left jobs and families to live their dream of farming in the mountains. John and Laurie left Florida, moved to Madison County, and began growing tobacco and tomatoes. When both crops failed, they were forced to move to Asheville, and eventually Chapel Hill, where Laurie began working as a nurse and John entered a PhD program and a career in teaching.
Rhonda Chandler singing with her uncle, Joe Chandler, and her father, Charles Chandler, at Dellie’s House, Sodom (1978) House singings have been common events in Madison County throughout much of its history and continue to this day. Rhonda’s grandmother was noted ballad singer Inez Chandler, although Rhonda and her family sang more bluegrass and gospel.
Making Molasses at Eldon Henderson’s House, big pine (1978) There was an initial influx of young people to the county in the early to mid 1970s. Those “hippies” were indebted to the local community for teaching them the skills needed to survive in the mountains, but more importantly, for the friendship and acceptance that was offered.
Mike schlecter, Bull Rider, at the marshall rodeo (2012)
Ekho, Pawpaw (2013) Madison County’s independent-minded people, its history of self-sufficiency, and the relative isolation of place have always invited people looking to get off the grid. Ekho is part of a relatively new community of young people coming to the county—working, forming relationships, often staying—but bringing new energy and ideas with them.