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LONG HUNGRY AREA - LONG ON TALES
By Marshall McClung
The Long Hungry area of Graham County like many other areas has a storied history. I had heard some of these stories or "tales" years ago, while others surfaced more recently. Several readers of the Graham Star contacted me with interesting information relating to Long Hungry after the story about "Old Lady Weatherman" was published. As time passes, much is lost and much is "added" to stories. Some of the stories are undoubtedly true, the others; well, you the reader must decide.
There are at least two different stories as to how Long Hungry got its name. One is that some hunters were stranded there by high water until their food ran out, and they were hungry a long time. Another story tells that the area got its name from a gold prospector who searched in the area so long for gold that his grubstake ran out. When he emerged from the woods gaunt and lean, he was asked how he was; his reply, "I've been a long time hungry." There may be some factual basis to this version. A.W. Tucker, a consulting mining engineer, from Salisbury, N.C. did contract mineral research for the U.S. Forest Service in Graham County in 1917. He reports finding evidence of gold mining in this area. He mentions finding gold mining at 'The Old Carver Place", thought to possibly be the Long Hungry area as the Carvers lived there. He mentions gold being found in other nearby areas such as where Teoatlah Branch joins West Buffalo Creek.
One of the earliest mentions of the white man living at Long Hungry is that of Andrew Colvard inthe1800's, The Carvers were in this area at an early time also. -W.M. "Dock" Carver is credited with providing land for the Carver Cemetery and was in the area at least by the mid to late 1800's.
It is about the Carver family that some of the early stories originated. Tom Lawson Carver and his wife Mandy are buried in the lower section of Long Hungry Branch. He reportedly told family members not to sell or "bother" his land as he would return in the year 2000 to claim it. Did he return? It is said that sometimes late at night, down by the lake, you can hear him pull his boat up out of the water and hear the chain he used to tie up the boat "just a clanking away." In the vicinity of his grave, it is said campers have fled the area in terror in the middle of the night when they heard what sounded like a team of logging horses with their trace chains jingling bearing down them.
One of the more chilling stones involves a man coming upon people burying something at night in the cemetery. Many years ago, livestock ran free in our woodlands as this was "free range." Cattle and hogs grew flit on the mast, especially the American chestnut which was plentiful here before the Chestnut Blight struck. A man was returning at dusk from checking on his livestock. As he neared the Carver Cemetery on Long Hungry, he heard two men talking in a low voice. In those days, most men went armed, and it was not a long time from the "bushwhacking days" we have spoken of in other stories. As he crept near to the two men, he saw they were digging a hole. A small box rested nearby upon the ground. The men buried the box and left. Curiosity got the best of him, so he dug the box up and opened it. Much to his horror, it contained the body of a newborn infant. The man began walking several miles to Robbinsville to report his find to the sheriff He had recognized the men, and told the sheriff who they were. Upon being questioned by the sheriff, the men readily admitted they had buried the baby. They told the sheriff that the infant had been still born and that they were poor and could not afford a funeral or proper burial. The grief stricken mother apparently backed their story up and no charges were pressed against the unfortunate family.
In more modem times, campers reported being surprised one night on Long Hungry when a Cherokee Indian dressed in buckskin pants but no shirt or shoes appeared out of the night, leaped across their campfire and disappeared into the night giving war whoops. Fishermen on nearby Santeetlah Lake have reported seeing low flying aircraft at night come in low and drop objects into the water. Shortly thereafter, a high powered boat would appear on the scene and retrieve the dropped object. Drug smugglers, the fishermen concluded. Blackberry pickers have come upon marijuana patches. No doubt, the area has had its share of moonshine stills also.
A few years ago, a mysterious explosion in a fire built by campers injured one man and "scared the dickens" out of the rest who thought someone had thrown a bomb at them. They had built a fire in an old discarded washing machine tub, and it is thought that the heat had built up pressure in the lining surrounding the tub causing it to explode.
Well, readers, which are "true stories" and which are "tales"? I dare not venture an opinion, but I found them interesting, hope you do too.
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