My grandmother (Ganny), Kate Eaves Montgomery (1876-1974), was raised in Rutherfordton, Polk County, North Carolina. Her father, John Baxter Eaves (1838-1900) had been a captain in the 50th N.C. Reg. Co. during the Civil War. He commanded Company I at the Battle of Averasboro (March 15-16, 1864) in an attempt to stop Sherman’s march through North Carolina.
After the war, Eaves became politically active. In the 1890s as chairman of the N.C. Republican Party, he bravely said, “the basis of Republicanism (is) the absolute freedom and equality of white and black” and suggested a five-year Republican moratorium on the word “nigger.”
Eaves was elected to the N.C. State Senate, then appointed by President Benjamin Harrison as the IRS tax collector in Polk County. He boldly assisted in the establishment of a Freedman’s Bureau School in Rutherfordton for which, along with his political affiliations, led to a KKK raid on his home.
As a North Carolina delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1888, Eaves met and befriended the Honorable Warner Miller (1838-1918) of New York. To honor his Yankee colleague, Eaves named his seventh child Warner Miller Eaves. Unfortunately, Warner lived less than a year.
Two years before his death, John Baxter Eaves received a patent (#598,500) for a Car Coupling device to improve railroad car connections. He must have been a real train fanatic.
Ganny attended Statesville N.C. Female College and was a piano teacher when she met John A. Montgomery (1877-1933) from Greeleyville, S.C., at a Presbyterian gathering at Chimney Rock. They were married in 1907 and soon had two sons, John Alexander (1908-1989) and Warner Miller (1914-1996), my father.
Linda and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary at the Esmeralda Inn in the shadows of Chimney Rock. Ganny always told me that her father, or maybe her grandfather, once owned Chimney Rock.....
Next Week: Lake Lure