Dicy McCullough: Visiting the Indian Mound in Montgomery County

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 28, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to speak for a senior luncheon at Anderson Grove Baptist Church in Albemarle. My cousin, Lois Dennis, attends that church and made the connections for the event.
The topic for my presentation was “My Journey as a Writer.” After speaking for about 45 minutes, I knew it was time to stop when the smells from the kitchen began to drift across the room. There’s nothing like good old Southern-style cooking, and that’s exactly what the ladies of the church had prepared.
I had peas, fried okra, mashed potatoes with gravy, meatloaf and a biscuit. At the end of the meal, a table in the corner overloaded with desserts called my name. Some of the choices were homemade cakes, pies and cobblers. I chose a big piece of chocolate pie with whipped cream and a slice of walnut cake. Are your taste buds excited yet?
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Lois had invited her brother, Billy Furr, to the luncheon as well. Lois, Billy and I are cousins because our moms were sisters. We enjoyed catching up on family news, while at the same time had fun chatting with everyone at our table. Billy’s been known to be the life of the party and didn’t disappoint that day. Even though he’s in his 80s, he still enjoys a good joke and has more energy than most youngsters.When we finished our meal, Billy asked if I’d like to ride to Montgomery County. Our family has roots there because our moms were born and raised near Mt Gilead. I hadn’t been there since I was 18 and had always wanted to go back to visit relatives and see the cemetery where my grandparents were buried.
Since I was already halfway to Mt Gilead from my house, anyway, I thought, why not? So, Billy, Lois, Catherine Thompson (a friend) and I hopped in Billy’s car and off we went. One of the first landmarks I remembered from the last time I made the trip was the long bridge across the Pee Dee River known as the Jim Garrison bridge. That bridge brings back special memories because the little café before the bridge was one of my dad’s favorite places to stop for hot dogs. Lois told me the name of that café had been Green Top. The building is still there, but somehow it seems smaller than I remember.
After crossing the bridge, we turned right onto Highway 73, which leads to Mt. Gilead. I knew the Town Creek Indian Mound was close by and asked if we could stop because I used to go there with my mom and dad. Billy was more than happy to accommodate the request. Soon I found myself walking the sacred grounds of the Pee Dee Indian Culture.
Walking into the gift shop, we were met by Rich Thompson, who is director for the site. He willingly answered any questions we had. He asked where we were from and what brought us to the Town Creek Indian Mound. “Mostly memories of long ago,” I said. I told him I live in Rowan County and used to visit as a little girl.
I also told him my grandfather, Gee Gardner, helped with the excavating of the Town Creek Indian Mound. Even though Grandpa died before I was born, Billy could recall seeing him at the Indian Mound, lying on his stomach, digging with a spoon. Thompson looked surprised, but intrigued.
He told us many of the artifacts collected over the years from previous archaeological digs are now housed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to be studied as time and money allow. I’m proud my grandfather had a part in preserving such a historical time and place. The Town Creek Indian Mound is now one of the most popular historic places to visit in North Carolina. There is no admission fee, but donations are appreciated.
I’m glad I took the drive with Billy to Montgomery County and can’t wait to go back another day. There wasn’t enough time to travel to all the places we wanted to see, but in the couple of hours we had, it was as if the voices of my ancestors spoke to me through what they left behind.
Perhaps knowing that, we all should be more careful of what we leave for those who follow us.
What about you? What will you leave behind?
Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Contact her at 704-278-4377.