Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mystery of History

This chimney stands in the middle of the woods completely overgrown now by trees.  The stone monolith stands near one of the oldest roads running across the land that surrounds us.  They say it was an old postal road that ran from the western side of Orange County into Chapel Hill.  I think it likely passed the mill that once stood on Morgan Creek downstream from here.  What I do believe is that many a wagon and cart traveled that road over time, most likely in the 1800's and the wheels and rains wore a rut in the earth 8 feet deep or more in places.  Now it's a green moss and fern lined track. Like the chimney- I don't know when that road went out of use, but most likely it was back in the early 1900's.

I like to visit the chimney now and then during the winter.  I wander around it imagining who might have lived there, how old it is, what happened and how long ago.  Did it burn?  Most likely, there is no sign of any other part of the structure.  Just stones that formed the foundation, all buried under a foot or more of pine needles.  h
Here you can see them piled in the fireplace.

I wonder if the second story was added later, the tiny upstairs fireplace and the top of the chimney made of bricks, did they come later?  It's a massive structure that anchored what was a cabin measuring no more than 16 by 20.  The hilltop all around the site is covered with periwinkle (vinca minor) in its usual invasive fashion it has spread slowly but deliberately out from the house site only being kept in check by the shade and heavy pine needles that cover the ground.

I would love to do an excavation around the cabin site to see what I might unearth, if anything.  What must it have been like to live there, 4 or 5 miles from town, in that tiny cabin, possibly no neighbors for several miles and scratch out an existence off the land? I can only imagine.  Whoever built that chimney certainly built it to last and it has stood now for 10 or 15 decades or more.  I've pondered researching the history of that parcel of land back in time, but its tricky to figure out how I might actually do that successfully.  Any suggestions?

4 comments:

C Kay said...

We too visited the old chimney a few weeks ago. It is a beauty. Also would love to know the history of this land . . .

Randy Emmitt said...

Maria,
Ask Mark Chilton at http://piedmontwanderings.blogspot.com/ he might be able to help.

Maria Hitt said...

Thanks for the tip Randy- I know Mark has really studied the history of the area

Gwen said...

Looking at the old chimney maks me sad.....