Non-Fiction about Madison County, North Carolina


Wilma Dykeman

“Sound, flavorsome Americana.”——New York Times

“She describes in masterful detail…this rare region with its infinite variety of beauty, species, of life itself.”—Tennessee Historical Quarterly

The French Broad (1999)

Published as part of the Rivers of America series, this book includes not only the mountains that border the French Broad River (that flows through Madison County) but the mountain people and their stories. Beginning with the Cherokee and the pioneers, Dykeman continues through history telling of the Civil War (the brother v brother aspect), the Buncombe Turnpike Drovers’ Trail and the changes that take place in modern times. The account of Madison County Sheriff Jesse James Bailey provides the flavor of the moonshine raids. For the book at Amazon.

Dr. Harley Jolley

Regarded for years on end as the Parkway’s “historian.”

That Magnificent Army of Youth and Peace (2007)

A retired history professor from local Mars Hill College, Jolley presents a detailed study of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), created in 1933 to put young men from ages 18 to 25 to work. Their task was to restore land and the results of many of their efforts remain today. Jolley focuses on the CCC in North Carolina and included are pictures and accounts of the CCC Camp in Hot Springs as well as a recounting of camp life and their efforts in such well-known recreational resources as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The Blue Ridge Parkway (1969)

Even though the Parkway’s route skirts Madison County, this is a fascinating detailed description by local retired history professor Harley Jolley that is a story of the mountains that surround us. He recounts the construction as the workmen sculpt their way through rock creating a scenic highway in the 1930s and 40s. The book won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award when published and provides not only the story of the construction but of the politics behind the road’s creation.

Della Hazel Moore

“Ms. Moore “knows more about our town than anyone….” – a Hot Springs resident

Hot Springs of North Carolina (2002)

A native of Hot Springs, North Carolina, Ms. Moore tells the story of her home town (and that of her grandparents who lived there from 1881) in an informal manner. Her biography covers periods of growth of this small tourist town as well as periods of decline. This is a heartfelt picture of the residents of the town and their struggles that parallel the world outside.

Jacqueline Burgin Painter

“She has our everlasting gratitude for her commitment to keeping this remarkable story alive for generations”—Douglas Orr, President of Warren Wilson College

An Appalachian Medley: Hot Springs and the Gentry Family (2002)

Jacqueline Painter, a native of Hot Springs, North Carolina, chose the Gentry family for her extensive research to illustrate the cultural depth of the residents of this small mountain community. Jane Hicks Gentry is best known as the ballad singer from whom Cecil Sharp collected seventy ballads (the most from any one singer) in his quest to record the old ballads brought from England. But the Gentry family also displays many of the other cultural traits known to this area including quilting, instrument playing, and herbal medicine.

The German Invasion of Western North Carolina (1997)

Painter presents a little-known story about a German internment camp located in her native town of Hot Springs, North Carolina, during World War I. She makes use of the photographs of one of the camp residents to provide an extensive illustrated history of the camp. This book also shows the relationship between town residents and the German prisoners (which includes the crew of the world’s largest ship, the Vaterland) living among them.

The Season of Dorland-Bell (1987)

Painter’s father attended the school and later served as basketball coach at the school which was to evolve into Warren Wilson College. The original Dorland School was established as one of the Appalachian mission schools in Madison County. Using letters and interviews, Painter’s extensive research provides a detailed picture of this piece of the county’s history. In doing so, a snapshot of the culture and lifestyle of the late 1800s and early 1900s is revealed.

The Stackhouses of Appalachia (2006)

Painter is a master of detailed research and this recounting of the Stackhouse family in the Hot Springs area is no exception. The book and the extensive photographs provide a clear picture of what life was like in the rugged Appalachian Mountains in the post-Civil War period. Personal interviews, maps, illustrations and historical facts fill the pages to show the impact that this one famous Quaker family has had on Madison County and Western North Carolina.

Phillip Shaw Paludan

“Paludan has succeeded admirably in rooting a historically neglected topic in the lives of ordinary people.”–Frank L. Byrne, American Historical Review

Victims: A True Story of the Civil War (2004)

The mountains of Western North Carolina were sharply divided between the Union sympathizers and the Confederate supporters creating the Civil War stories of brother versus brother. And, there is no better example than that of the Shelton Laurel massacre in Madison County. Paludan presents the well-researched facts of the story but also examines the impact of the Civil War on small mountain communities.

Milton Ready

“Ready has taken his love of the history of North Carolina and focused it on local history..”

Mystical Madison: The History of a Mountain Region (2012)

A retired professor of history, Milton Ready has been drawn into the history of Madison County–his home county. After establishing its geographic places, he traces its colorful stories from colonial times through the Civil War, into the 20th Century and up to current day. Not only will you find stories about the legendary Bascom Lamar Lunsford, the Minstrel of Appalachia, but also some interesting tales of the Ponder brothers (Zeno and E.Y) and some of the other noted politicians from the area–such as Liston Ramsey. But, more heart-warming are the accounts of the struggles of the locals in both good and bad economic times. Rich in agricultural, musical, and historical heritage, the stories included present a comprehensive picture of this “mystical” place.

Betty N. Smith

“This book, beautifully researched and written…records a precious part of America’s music history and celebrates Appalachia’s contribution to the arts..”– Sharyn McCrumb

Jane Hicks Gentry: A Singer Among Singers (1998)

Betty Smith, a Madison County resident and herself a folksinger, brings to life Jane Hicks Gentry and her songs and tales. Gentry’s family tradition of singing and storytelling was what shaped her everyday life. When Cecil Sharp arrived in Hot Spring, North Carolina, Gentry was the ballad singer who provided more material than any other. This full biography won the North Carolina Society of Historians Award.

Jack Thomas

“a celebration of the people and places in Marshall, NC. … a well-rounded history of the place, a history that is well documented”– N.C. Historical Society

Traveling to Marshall (2011)

Jack Thomas served as pastor of the Marshall Baptist Church for a few years in the mid 1960s before a career as chaplain in the U.S. Army. His experience with soldiers in Vietnam was a “shattering” experience. In later years, he helped lead a movement for professional standards and licenses for massage therapists–his career after retiring from the army. This books is a short history of his life as one of the regular people who lived in Madison County during the mid to late 20th century.

Manly Wade Wellman

“…fascinating reading for everyone…a chronicle of a proud way of life and the glorious heritage…”– Ralph Roberts

The Kingdom of Madison (1971 & 2004)

After moving to North Carolina after World War II, Wellman—one of North Carolina’s greatest fiction writers—became fascinated by Appalachian history and especially that of small mountain communities. He used this as a backdrop for many of his novels –including the Silver John series in the Science Fiction genre. In this work of non-fiction, Wellman examines the effect that isolation of Madison County had on its perception by the rest of the state. He presents a fascinating history of the unique history, people and folkways of the area.

Featured Businesses in Madison County

Walnut Creek Gallery

2970 Walnut Creek Road Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 649-0568

Walnut Creek Gallery

Toops Photojournalist Services

774 Wilson Cove Branch Road Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 649-3276

Toops Photojournalist Services

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort

578 Valley View Circle Mars Hill, North Carolina 28754
(828) 689-4119

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort

The Berry Farm, LLC

2260 Revere Road Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 656-2056

The Berry Farm, LLC

Mosaic Gourmet

159 Bridge Street Hot Springs, North Carolina 28743

Mosaic Gourmet

French Broad Rafting and Ziplines

9800 Old US highway 25-70 Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(800) 570-7238

French Broad Rafting and Ziplines

Sweet Monkey Bakery & Cafe

133 South Main Street Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 649-2489

Sweet Monkey Bakery & Cafe

Sandy Bottom Trail Rides

1459 Caney Fork Road Marshall, North Carolina 28753
(828) 649-3464

Sandy Bottom Trail Rides

Hot Springs Rafting Company

22 U.S. 25 Hot Springs, North Carolina 28743
877 530-7238

Hot Springs Rafting Company

Little Creek Cafe

11660 U.S. 23 Mars Hill, 28754
(828) 689-2307

Little Creek Cafe

Madison County Tourism Development Authority

56 South Main Street
Mars Hill, NC 28754

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Local: (828) 680-9031

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Mailing Address: PO Box 1527
    Mars Hill, NC 28754