2 September 2010

Angels Re-visited (again), Old Fort, North Carolina: Southern Literary Tour, Part Two: #8

At Old Fort Cemetery, in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, is another angel carved in Carrara, Italy, and bought by W. O. Wolfe for his monument shop in Asheville. But there is no argument of which I am aware about this angel being one of Thomas Wolfe's contested literary ones on which he modeled Look Homeward, Angel. Instead, though, is a story involving gambling.

The claim is that Samuel A. McCanless heavily beat W. O. Wolfe at a game of poker, as a result of which W. O. forfeited one of his angels. McCanless made use of this prize later when his wife Hattie died of a perforated appendix, although his second wife couldn't square her husband's general meanness with his apparent magnanimous behavior toward his first wife.

It was McCanless's niece Daintry Allison who revealed this information to Bob Terrill, a writer of the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Please click on the comment link below to read the correct story as told by Victoria Sherrill, the great-granddaughter of Samuel Alonzo McCanless and his second wife Geneva, (known as 'Peggy). I'm grateful to Victoria for her contribution and elucidation.

Addendum: As Victoria Sherrill didn't leave an email address, Joe Elliott of Asheville, NC, has sent me the following message:

'Note to Ms. Sherrill: I was born & raised in McDowell Co. where my family history goes back to the late 18th century. I'm currently working on a series of historical sketches about the county, thus the reason for wanting to get in touch with you. Hope to hear from you. Thank you.'


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Shaw,

Samuel Alonzo McCanless was my Great Grandfather. He won the angel in the card game, but his first wife, Hattie, was already dead. He had the angle placed over her grave, which did cause some conflict with his 2nd wife, my Great Grandmother. You see, Hattie and Geneva were sisters, and Geneva (called "Peggy") wasn't sure she was loved more than her sister. Another little known fact is that both Samuel and Geneva are buried with Hattie.


Victoria Sherrill

Dr Tony Shaw said...

Dear Victoria

Thank you very much for taking the trouble to give me this information, which is fascinating. This story really appealed to me, and it's very useful to be acquainted with the full facts of the matter.

I shall now put a little note at the end of my blog post encouraging readers to look at your comment. Many thanks again.

Best wishes