Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Emaline's Painter

Here’s a panther tale...from very close to home.

What a beauty!

One of the pioneering families of the Cullowhee area used to own the land where I now live. Andrew and Pollie settled hereabouts in the 1840s and are buried on a hill nearby (a hill I can see without getting up from typing this).

Anyhow, their first child was a daughter named Emaline.

In the Jackson County Heritage Book, Ada Wall Lemmings wrote:

The small white lilies bloomed everywhere beside the Indian trail they were following, in the vast, untamed wilderness that was western North Carolina. The Indians called them Cullowhee, meaning white lily, in the Cherokee language.

[Emaline] would visit us and tell about her life as the daughter of one of the first settlers in that sparsely settled, remote, rugged area where they were miles from their closest neighbor. She told us what her father had said about the Cullowhee lilies. They were kept in our family and handed down, a living antique.

Aunt Emaline told us of the wild animals they shared the mountains with. One occasion she and her younger sister had been sent to a new ground far back in the dense woods, for a farming tool someone had left there. On their way home a huge, tawny colored cat leapt over their heads and landed in front of them.

They were too young to be afraid of it and tried to make friends.

It happened on these misty hills

Suddenly it leapt over their heads again. They turned around and kept trying to make friends. The cat disappeared in the woods as silently as it had come.

They rushed home to tell about the pretty cat. Only then, they knew they had met the dreaded mountain lion called “Painter” by the settlers and had miraculously survived without a scratch.

Emaline (1847 - 1933)

I would hope that if I ever encounter a "painter" in the woods around here, it would show me the same mercy...and give me enough time to grab the camera for a few shots!

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