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Our grandparents’ farm in Anson County was a wondrous place for my siblings and me, just as it was for our numerous cousins and other relatives who lived in that area of western North Carolina.
The Anson County landscape with its rolling hills, fields of corn and milo, the rocky-red soil, the forests, Richardson Creek and other features provided many opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking and just exploring in the forest.
Our grandparents’ farm was way out in the country on a winding gravel road, and only two houses were visible from the front porch. Also visible was our grandfather’s pigpen, located across the road from the house near the woods that went back to Richardson Creek.
Wildcat Hill was way back in the woods and could not be seen from the road in front of the house.
We children had heard adults talk about Wildcat Hill from the time we were small. My sisters and I never saw it, but our brother did, and so did most of our 15 cousins, all of whom lived fairly near the area.
Those who did get back there on occasion explain what Wildcat Hill was like. They tell me they used to go through the field all the way to the woods and suddenly come to a big rocky cliff on the banks of Richardson Creek. It was an unusually high cliff in what was mostly rolling hill country. One cousin told me he felt as though he were in the mountains when he was there.
My relatives go on to say that there was a V-formation in the rocky cliff and that there was a series of holes bored into the rock, all in a row some feet above the creek. People in the area believe Native Americans from way back bored the holes in the rock and that the purpose of the holes was somewhat of a mystery.
Some say the holes were used as a place to hang their poles for catching fish in the creek below. One of my cousins tells me his father had always been told that the 4 or 5- inch holes were used to hold logs that served as a platform to build what were thought to be two-story huts that hung out over the creek.
There must have been other accounts through the years as to the purpose of those holes in the rock.
Everyone I know who has seen Wildcat Hill said the cliff was steep and treacherous and a little out of place for that area of the state.
My cousin also tells me that family members who went out coon hunting at night in that area said the hunting dogs would go through the woods looking for coons and would come back with scratches all over their bodies and that they had been attacked by wildcats, probably bobcats, that lived in the woods. None of my living relatives know who named the place Wildcat Hill or when it was so named.
In our family archive there is a picture of our parents taken at Wildcat Hill not long after they were married. They are perched precariously on the cliff, Daddy with his arm around Mother’s waist and Mother hanging on to a tree limb and looking a little nervous.
I always wanted to get back to Richardson Creek and check Wildcat Hill out for myself. When I recently thought about getting together a group of relatives who were up to making a trip back to the area, I changed my mind after my sister-in-law said that wild pigs were up there and maybe bobcats as well.
The Wildcat Hill lore is still discussed in our family. I might have to rely on my brother and male cousins to continue to paint a verbal picture of the site.
And I always have the picture of Mother and Daddy perched on the cliff, hanging on for dear life.
I will probably never know who took that precious picture.
Sanda Baucom Hight is retired from Wilson County Schools after serving as an English teacher and is currently a substitute teacher in Wilson County. Her column focuses on the charms of home, school and country life.