Charles Lanman explored the Southern Appalachians in 1848 and compiled his accounts in Letters from the Allegheny Mountains. He wrote the following letter after arriving in Franklin in May 1848:
The river Nan-ti-ha-lah, or the Woman's Bosom, was so named on account of its undulating and narrow valley and its own intrinsic purity and loveliness. Upon this river is situated a rude but comfortable cabin, which is the only one the traveller meets with in going a distance of twenty miles. On first approaching this cabin, I noticed a couple of sweet little girls playing on the greensward before the door with a beautiful fawn, which was as tame as a lamb. This group, taken in connection with the wildness of the surrounding scene, gave me a most delightful feeling, the contrast was so strange and unexpected. The proprietor of the cabin owns about five thousand acres of land in this wilderness region, and is by profession a grazing farmer….
On questioning him with regard to the true character of the panther, he replied as follows: "I don't know much about this animal, but I have had one chance to study their nature which I can't forget. It was a very dark night, and I was belated on the western ridge, near the Big Laurel ravine. I was jogging along at a slow rate, when my horse made a terrible leap aside, and I saw directly in front of me one of the biggest of panthers. He soon uttered a shriek or scream (which sounded like a woman in distress) and got out of the way, so that I could pass along. Every bone in my horse's body trembled with fear, and I can tell you that my own feelings were pretty squally.”
“On my way was I still jogging, when the panther again made his appearance, just as he had before, and gave another of his infernal yells. I had no weapon with me, and I now thought I was a gone case. Again did the animal disappear, and again did I continue on my journey. I had not gone more than a hundred yards before I saw, on the upper side of the road, what looked like a couple of balls of fire, and just as I endeavored to urge my horse a little faster, another dreadful scream rang far down the valley. But, to make a long story short, this animal followed me until I got within a half a mile of my house, and, though he ran around me at least a dozen times, and uttered more than a dozen screams, he never touched me, and I got safely home. If you can gather any information from this adventure you are welcome to it; but all I know about the animal is this, that I hate him as I do the devil."
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