Across the Ages: Our North Cove HistoryBlock Number: 118
On June 7, 2012, the day before their promotion ceremony, 42 sixth graders presented their gift to North Cove Elementary School, 401 American Thread Road, Block #118 on the McDowell Quilt Trail is entitled with the well-chosen name “Across the Ages: Our North Cove History”. The students raised the funds for the block, aided by the PTO and even a grandmother who donated plants for them to sell. They discussed several names for the block and decided on the title submitted by student Levi Russell. Plans are already in the making for next year’s gift to the school by the last of graduating sixth graders, as the new middle school will then be in operation.
The original school, known as Pitts School burned in the fall of 1922 and the Ashford and Woodlawn communities decided to combine for a more central school to serve the area. Ten acres was purchased, a school built and then donated to the county. In deterioration years later, a new North Cove Elementary was built and opened in 2004 at its present site.
Last year the graduating sixth grade students gifted a display case containing artifacts they had excavated in their archaeological dig of the dairy farm which previously existed on the present school’s property, once owned by the Greenlee family. Those findings included such things as pottery shards, bottle caps and bottles, toys, cow bones and even a frame of an old hand mirror, probably from the 1940’s - 60’s. Remnants of the now caved in milk house walls and the still standing silo, all built of river rock, can be seen from the school’s library. A popular swimming hole once known as Yancey Pond is now filled in. This year’s gift theme from the sixth graders includes the dairy farm, but goes much further back in the background of the property on which the school sits.
Charlotte Frye, the sixth grade teacher who spearheaded this year’s project, assisted by Janice Olson, the other 6th grade teacher, enthusiastically describes the rich history of this part of McDowell County. The Cherokee once occupied most of present western North Carolina with villages throughout the county however, as the early pioneer settlers moved in the area uprisings were common. Ms Frye encourages her students to recall history and imagine what countless activities and many battles that went on years ago all around their present modern school house.
Cathy’s Fort, was probably constructed around 1775 near the head of the Catawaba River and junction of North Fork and believed to be one of the first protective buildings for the white settlers in present McDowell County. It is recognized by a commemorative historical sign at the intersection of Highways 221, 226 and 226A: “Cathy’s Fort: A rondezvous for the North Carolina militia led by General Griffith Rutherford against the Cherokee in 1776”. The river, just a stone’s throw from the school was a major transportation conveyance and trading route to Morganton as well as to the west.
Today railroad tracks run right along practically the same route and a small graveyard nearby is believed to possibly be that of slaves from the period. Wofford’s Fort was another important military stockade outpost nearby, one of the last to be built on the frontier lands of present day McDowell County.
The students have learned that the very ground they walk on was first inhabited by the Indians, then the settlers who built forts nearby, then later it was home to a dairy farm and now is the site for their school. Thus, the quilt block received its name, displaying and capturing the history and memories of past ages. The school has approximately 300 students, its mascot is the lion and motto is PRIDE: “P”ractice responsibility, “R”espect myself, others and property, “I” am, I can, I will, “D”ecide to make good choices, “E”xcellence all the time.
The 6’ X 6’ block, was painted by volunteer Mike Lucas who was assisted on the installation scaffolding by school maintenance employee Roy Dennie, with quilt trail volunteer Alan Scholl the helping hand on the ground. The block may be seen at the back entrance of the school, off 221, and is centered between an entrance awning and corner of the building, facing northwest .
Each corner of the block represents the history of the site. Going clockwise, the first square, upper left, displays various shapes and colors of Indian arrowheads recalling the original inhabitants of the area. The second square, upper right side of the block, depicts a log fort with a flag in the top left portion representing the original 13 colonies. 12 stars surround a larger one in the middle, depictive of North Carolina. The lower right hand square is in remembrance of the dairy farm and silo built of river rock. The final portion of the block is of a school house, indicative of the current use of the land. The lower border of the entire block portrays river rock, much of which was used in the construction and beautification of the new school, a reminder of the dairy farm the previously utilized the property. The four squares of the block are separated by a blue and white North Star in the center, standing for “North” Cove.
Sukie O’Donnell, volunteer of the Quilt Trail, presented the Certificate of Authenticity to Principal Desarae Kirkpatrick, teacher Charlotte Frye and all the excited 6th grade students who worked so hard in establishing this meaningful and memorable landmark to their school. Don’t miss seeing this block and recalling the colorful and interesting history of our county