Watauga County Historical Society Collection


Watauga County Historical Society Collection


Watauga County Historical Society, Watauga County Times Past, Writings on Watauga


This collection consists of materials related to the publications of the Watauga County Historical Society (WCHS), a nonprofit historical organization first established in Boone, NC, in 1977.

The WCHS issued its first publication--Writings on Watauga, a bibliography of Watauga County-related sources compiled by Judy Cornett--in 1980.

From 1981 to 1992, the WCHS published the Watauga County Times Past journal in partnership with the History Department at Appalachian State University. This journal contained various articles of historical interest to the county and also provided updates on historical projects and programming within the county and surrounding areas. Early issues also occasionally updated Cornett's Writings on Watauga. Following the sudden death of Carl Ross (1931-1988), who had long served as the editor of Watauga County Times Past, the journal struggled to regain its footing. It ceased publication with its June 1992 issue.

Following Ross's death, many of the materials related to the Watauga County Historical Society--which had always been an organization independent of Appalachian State University but whose officers were often faculty at ASU--were boxed up and inadvertently placed in storage at ASU. The items in this collection were later rediscovered in 2005 and shifted from a filing cabinet (presumably in the History Department) to the Appalachian Collection.

Series 1 of this collection includes the single printing of Writings on Watauga as well as the full run of Watauga County Times Past.

Series 2 of this collection consists of various surviving source materials related to the publications of the WCHS, most notably the photographs shot and acquired for issues of Watauga County Times Past, although several historical images used in the journal are notably absent from the collection. Of particular note is a large collection of historic images--colloquially known as "Londie Castle's Treasure Box"--planned for use in a September 1986 issue that never materialized. 

Mary Londie Castle (1881-1978) was likely born in Bald Mountain Township in Watauga County, where her family was listed in the 1880 Census. The Castle family home was located in Aho, near the Friendship Methodist Church Cemetery. In 1949, vandals broke into the Castle home and scattered a large collection of historic images, some of them probably produced by Will Castle (1891-1970), a local photographer. What remained following the break-in was probably assembled by various members of the Castle and Matney families. Following Mary Londie Castle's death, the box of images passed down through several relatives and was finally documented in 1986. An article--really a student paper--by Jim O'Dell, which is included in Series 2, documents the background behind many of the images.

Series 3 includes various research materials and interviews gathered or completed for anticipated articles in Watauga County Times Past, including materials about N. B. Smithey and the Smithey Stores, interviews with James Hardin Councill and Alfred Adams, notes on the 1936 H. Lee Waters film of Boone, a list of post offices and postmasters of Watauga County, a pamphlet on the Old Buffalo Trail, and a research paper on the Civilian Conservation Corps in Watauga County.

Series 5 of the collection includes five images related to an article on various folk musicians of the county, including John Calvin "Lie-Hue" Younce, Stanley Hicks, and other members of the Hicks Family of Mast Gap.

Additional materials in this collection will be added as metadata revision is completed, including images of various Episcopal Churches in Watauga County and a study of the Horton Cemetery.

The Digital Watauga Project is grateful for and deeply appreciative of the support and assistance of Dr. Dane Ward, Dr. Mary Reichel, Dr. Fred Hay, Pam Mitchem, Adam Sheffield, and the staff of the Appalachian Collection at Appalachian State University's Belk Library in scanning the full run of publications and supporting research materials from the editorial files of the WCHS, which has been housed at ASU for many years.


Watauga County Historical Society




Appalachian Collection, Belk Library, Appalachian State University


Photographs, Negatives, Typescripts, Published Journals




Still Images, Publications

Spatial Coverage

Watauga County


Entire collection was originally the property of the Watauga County Historical Society but was rediscovered on the campus of Appalachian State University in 2005. It is presently housed in the Appalachian Collection at Belk Library, Appalachian State University.

Collection Items

Information Key for Images in Folder 2.6
Critical to understanding image Wat-His-2-33 to Wat-His-2-55, this information key appears to have been constructed by ASU Library staff, possibly on July 15, 2013, as suggested by the pencil notation at upper right of the first page. This document…

Family or School Group in Front of Frame Building
This odd outdoor portrait shows an array of young people--either students from a school or children of the adults in the image--posing in front of a frame building. Several of the girls hold papers in their hands. At far right is a young adult woman…

Family Portrait in Front of Frame House
This family portrait shows a group of seven people, probably family members, posing outside in front of a frame house with a brick chimney. At left are two women, apparently middle aged, dressed in matching plaid dresses. At center are three younger…

Group of Children and Adults in Roadbed
This image shows a group primarily consisting of children with a few adult women, possibly representing an unidentified school. The group is posed in what appears to be the middle of a roadbed with a stack of firewood and split rails visible in the…

Group of Children and Adults in Front of Schoolhouse, Second Image
Similar to Wat-His-2-51 and showing the same schoolhouse, this image shows a more tightly packed group of children and adults posed in front of a large, unidentified, frame building atop a hill. The wooden bell tower is visible to the right side of…

Group of Children and Adults in Front of Schoolhouse
This image shows a large group of adults and children posed in front of a large, unidentified, frame building atop a hill, probably a two-room schoolhouse. A wooden bell tower stands between the group and the building, slightly right of center. This…

Congregation of the Bethel View Church, Circa 1900--Duplicate
Duplicate of photo #8 in the Treasure Box, with a slighter wider view. The Bethel View Church as it appeared circa 1900, with the congregation gathered near the back of the church. Image was provided by Elzie Weaver. This photograph appeared in…

Congregation of the Friendship Methodist Church, Circa 1900--Duplicate
Duplicate of photo #5 in the Treasure Box. Congregation of the Friendship Methodist Church, circa 1900, posing at the rear of the church building. A gravestone can be seen in the left foreground. This photograph appeared in Folder 2.6 of the Watauga…

Castle, Miller, and Matney Family Members--Duplicate
Duplicate of photo #2 in the Treasure Box. L to R, William B. "Will" Castle, Rev. John Miller, Nancy Jane "Jennie" Matney Miller, Rev. James Patterson Matney, Mirah Wells Matney, Julia E. Matney Castle, Mary Londie Castle, Cordia J. "Cordie" Castle,…

Two Young Girls with Wagon
In this outdoor portrait, an unidentified, infant girl sits in a metal wagon with large, spoked wheels, while an older girl in a dark-colored dress stands to the right, holding the handle of the wagon. This photograph appeared in Folder 2.6 of the…
View all 94 items


Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>