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Dani Rebecca King Jones/N.C. (16) RE: Rebecca King Jones/N.C. 10 May 05

Here's an article I found on the community. It was a couple of years ago, but might give you some clues: seems like the park ranger involved could help. Or I bet you might could interest Clyde Edgerton!

Good luck.


The Umstead News - Grand opening unveils exhibit on pre-park history and natural resources
by Jean Spooner

Park supporters and officials on July 20 cut the ribbon to open the William B. Umstead State Park Visitor Center's new permanent exhibit hall.

The exhibit hall features a tribute to the people who lived in the Park area prior to the Park's establishment in 1934. It highlights their stories about the Park's cultural history and provides an overview of the natural resources in the Park.
The exhibit illustrates how the Park came into being through the reclamation of exhausted farmland. By the 1930's the soils were so eroded that they could not even support subsistence farming. The area became the Crabtree Creek Recreational and Demonstration Area, and was sold to the State of North Carolina in 1945 for the price of $1. Eventually, the barren soil was transformed into the dynamic forest that we enjoy today.

The dedication ceremony featured several speakers, as well as former Park residents and their descendants.
"This exhibit is a celebration of the past, enjoyment of the present, and the need to protect the future because there are many more stories to be told," said Park Superintendent Martha Woods.

Superintendent of State Parks Lewis Ledford pointed out the value of preserving the Park's past.
"Cultural history is important to be told and shared with current and future generations," he said. Lewis also mentioned the 'legendary moonshine stills' that were once common in the area. One of the two cakes made by Ranger Keith Nealson highlighted a replica moonshine still, the other a Park map with trails and water resources.

Many former Park area residents and their descendents attended the dedication, including: Truma Warren Edgerton and son (& famous author) Clyde Edgerton, Jean Stanfield (Haley family member), Agatha King Johnson, Betty Ann Coble (Warren family), and Margaret King. There were also three generations of the Grissom family present: Joseph Grissom; his wife, Martha; his son Steve Grissom and daughter-in-law Vicky with granddaughter, Elisabeth. Joseph lived in the Park as a boy. Joseph Grissom's father and grandfather ran the Company Mill. Arturo Steely came from Minnesota to celebrate his mother's (Mercedes Steely) 1936 MS thesis (from UNC-Chapel Hill) which illustrated folk songs and lifestyles of the Ebenezer Community. Said Steve Grissom: "The families were very impressed and moved at the professional quality and personal nature of the exhibit."

Research for the exhibit contents was largely done by Ranger Erik Nygard, and Umstead Coalition members Tom Weber and Garth Hamilton. The interviews and research that Weber compiled for his book "Stories In Stone" provided a basis for the cultural history portion of the exhibit from the late 1890's and early 1900's. The history of the Park prior to the mid-1800's was researched by Garth Hamilton (note: Garth will be our guest speaker and hike leader for the Umstead Coalition's September 22 picnic). A large note of gratitude goes to the families and descendents of Park area residents that shared their many stories to make this exhibit possible

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