Watauga County Historical Society Collection
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.