of our first white settlers lived where the town of Robbinsville is now
located, and in the surrounding valleys. The settlements called Cheoah
Valley and Talulah Valley consisted mainly of a trading post, church, cemetery,
grist mills, post office, and farms located along the Cheoah and surrounding
valleys. The Post Office's name was changed to Fort Montgomery in
Chief Junaluska was granted 337 acres of land here in 1850 for his services
to the United States, and his children played with the children of our
early white settlers. In fact, the Chief and his family were friends
with, and visited with the family of Johnny and Elizabeth (Poll) Beck Hyde.
Johnny Hyde was said to have been one of the first three white men to settle
in the Cheoah Valley. It is said that when he moved here, over the
"Trail of Tears" road, it took six men to hold the wagon in the rugged
He said he was 53 years old in 1850, and owned 40 acres of land.
He had 14 head of cattle, four sheep, 35 hogs, 60 bushels of rye, 400 bushels
of corn, 200 lbs of potatoes, 100 lbs of butter, and 10 lbs of wool.
(1850 Agriculture Schedule.)
In 1860, his son Jason owned 20 acres, and another son William owned 30
Johnny Hyde first settled near the mouth of Long Creek and later moved
to the Fort Hill area. He lived on the road leading to the oldest
cemetery in this country where white settlers are known to be buried.
This graveyard, dating back to about 1840, is located just east of the
Old Mother Church Cemetery, down in a hollow, inside the Fort Hill Housing
Development. The 18 graves are marked only by rocks, with no names,
but a monument was erected a few years ago listing the names of the people
known to be buried there. Johnny Hyde's wife is one of them.
Johnny's son Jason, also lived near Fort Hill. Jason is said to have
donated some of the land for the Old Cemetery. He was a teacher,
and taught in the first church built in this county, which was also used
for a school. This building was erected by Johnny Hyde, his son Jason,
Mellie Wilson remembers her father showing her where the old spring was
located, that served the older church before the Old Mother Church was
Johnny Hyde moved to the old Rube Rogers' farm when he sold his land at
Robbinsville. He built a water mill there and that's how Hyde's Mill
Creek got its name.
His wife died of phlebitis after their daughter, Juletta, was born.
The ailment was called "milk leg" back then. She is buried in the
old cemetery on Fort Hill.
After Polly's death, Johnny remarried and moved to Bushnell in Swain County.
He was blind before he died at age 92.
Mellie told me the Hyde family history as follows: Four Hyde brothers
came on a boat from Liverpool, England. Their names were John, Benjamin,
William and Fidella (Albert). John settled in North Carolina, William
in Ohio, and Fidella in New York. Thelma Phillips says this John
was supposed to be the Graham County settler.
William and Fidella Hyde went back to England and accumulated great wealth.
They started back to the United States to take their families back to England
but drowned on the way. Mellie says that because the Hyde family
in America couldn't prove the number of their boat, they could not claim
One of the original Lord Proprietors was Edward Hyde, Earl of Claredon
(1609-1674). At this time the Carolinas extended as far as Florida
and the South Seas. His grandson Edward Hyde, was first cousin to
Queen Anne, then Queen of England. Edward Hyde became Governor of
N.C. May 9, 1712, but contracted Yellow Fever and died a few months later.
Tradition gives it that the name Edward has continued to be a favorite
of the Hydes to the present day. The Hydes who migrated to the mountains
of Western North Carolina are said to have descended from the family of
Mellie is the daughter of John Hyde and Josephine Davis Hyde. Her
grandfather, David E. Hyde, was a son of the old settler. David married
Margarette Crisp, sister of Joel L. Crisp.
John Brooks' wife, Frankie, and the McKeldreys are desc. from Johnny Hyde
I through his son John Aaron, Will Sherrill is the son of Amanda, another
dau. of John Aaron Hyde.
April 1982, Vol. III, #4, p. 82-50