‘Best pleased man you ever did see’
Merle Weaver, of Ellijay, was looking through some old newspaper clippings recently when a few of them grabbed her attention. In October of 1959 — 58 years ago this month — reporter Andrew Sparks of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution Magazine paid a trip to Bucktown, an eastern outpost of Gilmer County. There he spent some time with Henry Weaver, a mountain man if there ever was one.
Merle Weaver said she is related to Henry Weaver on her father’s side of the family.
A photo of Henry Weaver when he was 87 years old appears in the magazine. He stands in front of a stone wall, in overalls, a denim jacket and a worn felt hat, his right hand resting on a walking cane and his left arm cradling a broken-down shotgun. The caption states Weaver keeps his gun loaded because, as he explains, “An empty one is a dangerous thing.”
Sparks said to get to Weaver’s cabin — which Merle says is still standing today (see accompanying photo) — a traveler must “twist and turn on a road that corkscrews its way through the woods and clings for dear life to the side of a mountain.”
“It’s 15 miles to Ellijay and 20 to Dawsonville — the road’s just crookeder to Dawsonville,” Weaver explained to Sparks about his home in the shadow of Springer Mountain near Penitentiary Cove.
As the postmaster of Bucktown, Weaver was paid “three or four dollars a month sometimes, and sometimes less,” he revealed in the magazine article.
“What I got was the full amount of the stamps I cancelled and I done a heap of the writing myself,” Weaver said. “Later on, I started buying fur hides and sending them to Minneapolis, Minn., and shipping apples from my orchard by mail. I could afford to do it because it didn’t cost me nothing, since I got the cancellations.
“They don’t run post offices that way any more.”
Weaver and his wife, Lizzie, met at an associational meeting of Turniptown Baptist Church, 10 miles away, according to the magazine. They got “hitched up” in Dawsonville, and on New Year’s Day of 1959 they had been married 60 years. Henry split the logs for the cabin and made the shingles on the roof by “riving boards.” He also tanned leather to make shoes for both he and his wife.
“Folks used to make everything they had in Bucktown,” he said.
Bees gum hid the brandy
That included liquid refreshments.
“They made pure corn whiskey and peach and apple brandy,” Weaver told Sparks. “I never did make none myself ... but I sold some once to a U.S. solicitor. I had to go to Atlanta and witness against a feller and the solicitor asked me if I didn’t come from Bucktown where they made all that good brandy.
“He asked me if I couldn’t get him a gallon and said he’d send a man home with me to bring it back. I told him it would be $5 and he was the best pleased man you ever did see. I already had it at home. I kept bees and when one hive of them died, I just set a gallon inside the bee gum. People are are afraid of bees and nobody bothered my brandy.”
Weaver called Bucktown “just a district, it ain’t no town a-tall. My grandfather, France Cochran, named it.”
“There were a sight of wolves here once, and there’s a place called Wolf Pen Gap near here where they had a pen about the time of the (Civil) War,” Weaver said. “They dug a hole down in the ground and covered it over and put a dog in it. Just a common dog. The wolves would fall in the pen trying to get the dog and couldn’t get out. Sometimes they’d get three or four.
“Ain’t a wolf in this country now. But the old foundation of the pen may be there still, on this side of Nimblewill Gap.”
Paul Mooney of Mooney’s Country Store on Old Bucktown Road — at the three-way stop and bridge at Roy Road — helped a reporter find the old Henry Weaver homestead.
“There was actually three Henry Weavers,” said Mooney, 85. “There was Henry Weaver, ‘Post’ Henry Weaver and Seany’ or ‘Sheany’ Henry Weaver. There’s things that went on, and people around here, that are not going on any more. There’s somebody coming by here every day wanting to know something about the (Bucktown) community.
“I guess I’m the only one left from those days.”
Mooney said he and his wife, Ethel, have been married 63 years.