Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway :: Brinegar Cabin

The grounds were neatly mowed. The garden was lying fallow. The cabin was locked. Peeking into the windows revealed nothing but empty spaces, except for a large object covered with a sheet. It was likely the loom used in demonstrations during the “prime” visitor season, summer.

The Brinegar Cabin, at milepost 238.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A placque at the top of the hill overlooking the cabin proclaims:
The Brinegars were not famous or rich, but they were important to their families and neighbors. In 1876 Martin Brinegar purchased this 125 acre farm from Henderson Crouse, Caroline Joines' uncle, for $200. Two years later Martin and Caroline were married; he was 21 and she was 16. there were many small communities close by where the Brinegars visited their families and friends, traded for supplies, and attended church and school.

Martin and Caroline first lived in a one-room cabin that was already here. Their three children – Alice, Sarah, and John – were born in that cabin. As the family grew Martin built the cabin that stands here now. Their last child, William, was born in this cabin, but died as an infant.

The Brinegars did all the usual work of living on a farm – raising crops and animals, preserving food, and cutting firewood. Martin also made shoes for his neighbors. He was a local justice of the peace and notary public, and for many years he served as clerk for the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Caroline made clothing for her family and augmented their income by gathering medicinal plants like bloodroot, snakeroot, and black cherry bark and selling them to nearby drug merchants.

In 1925 Martin was caught in a storm on his way home from church and died from pneumonia eight days later. He was 68. The state of North Carolina bought the Brinegar farm in 1935 to become part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Although Caroline had a lifetime tenure to stay in her home, she went to live with her daughter Sarah when it became too noisy here for her. Caroline died in 1943 when she was 82.

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