Memorable Mountain People - Two Mountain Women

Two incidents in the lives of local women illustrate the courage of the pioneers of both genders. Life was incredibly different in the mountains in the early days. It was much harder, and it took incredible determination to even survive. Just imagine this winter if you lived in an uninsulated cabin with only an old-fashioned fireplace for heat.

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Franky Davis lived on Three-Mile Creek in what is now Avery County in those pioneer days. We don't known much about her life, unfortunately, really just this one incident. She had gone to a sugar camp, a place in the woods where the sap of the maple trees was boiled down to make syrup. It was only a mile from her cabin, and a calf had followed her.

Then darkness fell. Out in the woods, she could hear: a wolf pack. The wolves were after the calf, and, in those days, the loss of any livestock could spell disaster. Franky was alone, but she wasn't about to give up - or give up her calf. The wolves would try to rush the fire, but she was always there, throwing fire brands at them and chasing them off. All night, without a break, she fought off the wolf pack. When daylight came, they finally left and she, and the calf, could go home. Her nephew, Jacob Carpenter, put it well when he wrote in her obituary that "She must have had nerve to fight wolves all night.

Peggy Clawson lived in the Todd area in the 1830s. She was very colorful, to put it mildly. Her husband William found underneath the bed a good place to hide when their arguments turned serious and Three Forks Baptist Church once excommunicated her for beating her son. This was not a woman to mess with, as a bear found out one Saturday.

Peggy was out making maple sugar early that morning, not far from Todd. Suddenly, a dog chased a bear into the New River right by her. Not wanting to take any chances with the bear coming after her, Peggy ran to a canoe that was beached nearby and paddled out to where the bear was swimming in a deep hole in the river. Then she took the paddle and held the bear underwater until he drowned! She was finished with all this in time to walk over to Old Fields Baptist Church, in time for the morning service.

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