Yet another busy and great weekend - I love fall in western North Carolina. I got to spend Saturday in Old Salem, signing books at T. Bagge’s with Joe Mobley (Confederate Generals of North Carolina). We (my family) then spent the rest of the afternoon touring the town and visiting the shops. If you have not been to old Salem, you need to visit. It’s well worth the time and money. One story I will relate - we were standing on the porch of the old tavern reading the menu when my wife recognized a lady and her daughter whom we have not seen in 10 years. So, you never know who you will run into.
On Sunday, we were headed to the far western parts of North Carolina. Several weeks ago, I posted about raising money to purchase a replacement stone for Brig. Gen. John W. McElroy, the commander of the 1st Brigade, North Carolina Home Guard. Our local SCV Camp raised the funds, and purchased the stone, and we were off to install the marker. McElroy is buried in the Old Mother Cemetery in Robbinsville, Graham County. The stone was installed, and I had a chance to address those gathered with a few words concerning the life of this man. Thanks to the Col. John B. Palmer Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, for making this happen.
Interestingly enough, I got an email this morning from a McElroy researcher who said that all of my research was wrong - that John W. McElroy was in Arkansas in 1864. Oh well, I guess all the copies of letters I have between McElroy and Vance, written in 1864 about the conditions in western North Carolina, are incorrect....
“Me and my pards” were then off to Cherokee County - being so close, we decided to do a little more cemetery crawling. After about 45 minutes on the road, we arrived at the Hanging Dog Baptist Church Cemetery. Like the Old Mother Church Cemetery, this burial ground is rather large - over 1,000 graves. We came across the graves of numerous Confederate and a few Federals. The grave we were hunting was that of Montreville Ray, a Yancey County resident that served one year in the 16th North Carolina Troops. After serving one year (to the day), Ray deserted. In April 1864, he helped lead a raid on the town of Burnsville. Because he led the raid, some have claimed that Ray was a Unionist. However, there is no record that Ray ever joined the Union army. He was in the column often labeled "other."