Bethel welcomes Pigeon Valley quilt block

By Evelyn M. Coltman | Jun 03, 2014
Courtesy of: Bethel Rural Community Org. Bethel Rural Community Organization's Historic Preservation Committee and membership dedicate the Pigeon Valley quilt block.

Bethel Rural Community Organization (BRCO) dedicated the Pigeon Valley Quilt Bock at its May 13 meeting at the historic Bethel Presbyterian Church, BRCO’s home base.

Lynn Collins, of the Tourism Development Authority, is the overseer of the Haywood County Quilt Trails program. Barbara and Martin Webster of the WNC Quilt Trails project designed the artwork utilizing quilt symbols suggested by BRCO’s Historic Preservation Committee members Frances Adamson, Susan Baxley, Ted Carr, Evelyn Coltman, Bill Holbrook, Carol Litchfield, La Nae McCracken, Bill Terrell and Ernestine Upchurch. During the dedication ceremony, Historic Preservation Committee members relayed the story behind the Pigeon Valley quilt block.

The Passenger Pigeon quilt symbol centers the design. Even though the bird became extinct in 1914, 100 years later it continues to weave its legacy in the Bethel community. The alternate name for Bethel is Pigeon Valley; the community is threaded by the Pigeon River and is bordered on its western side by Pigeon Gap.

The Bethel community’s original name, Sonoma — a Native American word meaning “valley of the moon” — is represented on the block by the Native American symbol for the moon in the upper right corner. Cherokee legend indicates that the moon nestled in the valley. The only remainder of the original name in the community is Sonoma Road, the street fronting Bethel Middle School.

The community’s second official name is Bethel. The name means “house of God” and comes from the numerous religious camp meetings that began in the area in the early to mid 1800s. The “house of God name” is represented in the chapel at the lower left, an appropriate symbol for BRCO since the organization’s home base is situated in the historic Bethel Presbyterian Church that was built in 1885.

Sunburst is another name distinctive to the area.  Sunburst is the name used by a 20th century logging village that was situated where Lake Logan is today. Peter G. Thompson, who started Champion Paper and Fiber Company, coined the name as he watched the early morning sun burst over Spruce Mountain. The Native American sun symbol is in the upper left corner.

The Forks of the River is located at Riverhouse Acres where the Pigeon River forks. The name was used by early Haywood County leader, Colonel Joseph Cathey, for the area near his mercantile that was situated near the current location of Pigeon Valley Rest Home/Silver Bluff Village. Forks of Pigeon is a name that has been found on early letters to the post office at Col. Cathey’s store.  The forked Pigeon River is symbolized in blue in the lower right section of the block.

Mountains, with recognizable names such as Cold Mountain, surround the Bethel community.  Charles Frazier’s book “Cold Mountain” told a story of Inman, a Bethel native. The mountains are situated at the upper center of the block.

Bethel has been a farming community for 10,000 years, dating to the time when Native Americans farmed the fertile soils. Farming still plays a prominent role in Bethel since numerous productive farms greet the inhabitants in every direction.

BRCO’s Farmland Preservation Committee has been instrumental in perpetuating farming and preserving farmlands, rural areas and wild lands in the Bethel community and in other parts of Haywood County. A barn is situated in the upper right section of the block and green farmland surrounds the barn.

Bethel Rural Community Organization joins Cruso and Fines Creek community organizations and dozens of other sites on the Haywood County Quilt Trail.

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