Wise Woman, Appalachian Journey Book 4

Wise Woman e-bookIn the mid 1920s, Bessie Elliott and her husband Fletcher take in their six-year-old nephew John. They are determined to give him a warm and secure home on Stone Mountain, a place where he will feel loved and know he is always welcome.

Having a child brings many changes to their daily life and even more for John, but it isn’t long before he feels completely at home with his aunt and uncle. As he learns about the farm animals, the wildlife and plant life on the mountain, he grows into a young man Bessie and Fletch are proud to call their own.

But their life is not without turmoil. Bessie’s healing skills are put to the test when she and Doc Widby deal with an unknown and mysterious illness, one they have no idea how to treat. While doing their best to heal their patient, they run up against a new doctor in Black Mountain who is involved with the Eugenics movement, a program Bessie fiercely opposes. And Bessie and Fletch, along with the rest of their neighbors, are torn apart by a foe threatening the natural beauty of Stone Mountain.


Since this is the last book in our Appalachian Journey Series, we would like to dedicate it to our readers whose generosity, kindness and support have inspired us since the first book was published. You’ve stood behind us for four years, encouraging us to continue writing Great-aunt Bessie’s and Great-uncle Fletcher’s story. If it weren’t for all of you, there probably would have only been the one book, and we are truly grateful to each and every one of you and so glad we had the chance to meet you, whether it be in person or on the Internet. We feel so blessed to have the best readers in the world.

Also, as with all the other books in the series, this is for our dad Raymond Earl “John” Tillery, whose story we’ve included in this final book. We can never thank you enough, Daddy, for all the stories and anecdotes, the laughter and good times, the love and care you show us. Thanks for being such a wonderful father. We love you very, very much.

And to Great-aunt Bessie and Great-uncle Fletch, who gave Daddy the foundation to become the man he is. We are forever grateful for that and hope we’ve done justice to the incredible lives they lived on their beloved mountain.


One last time, we’d like to extend our gratitude to the following people:

First and foremost, our dad John Tillery, for sharing his stories of life on the mountain with his Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch. For those and so much else, we are blessed to have you for a father and we love you very much.

Our Uncle Ken, for also sharing stories of his life on the mountain with his mother, stepfather Boyd Elliott, Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletcher. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate your generosity in sharing those memories.

And of course, our Great-aunt Bessie and Great-uncle Fletcher for their kindness and generosity in giving our dad a home at a time in his life when he needed love. They were a blessing to him and to us, also.

Our cousin Jackie Burgin Painter, for sharing the story of our relative Frank Henderson, the first man from Madison County to be put to death in North Carolina’s electric chair. And for her help with other historical aspects of our books. Thanks, Jackie.

Our cover designer Kimberly Maxwell, for the beautiful covers of the last two books and the re-design of the first two. Kim, it’s been a joy to work with you and we’re so glad to have you in our corner.

Our husbands Steve French and Mike Hodges, who’ve stood behind us through the many long years it took to write this series. Once again, thanks for understanding our need for “alone time” and for the hard work at all the festivals and book signings. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, we love you.

Greg Miller, the current owner of our grandmother’s house and Camp Elliott, for allowing us to tour the camp as it now stands and for telling us the story of the rabbit on the water wheel in front of the house. Also, the painting on the back of this book of Stone Mountain Baptist Church by our dad and given to Grandma many years ago that was left in her house when she died. Thanks for keeping it safe for us, Greg.

And of course, our readers, who’ve encouraged and supported us through each and every book. We’re truly blessed to have you behind us. When all this started, we had planned on only writing one book, Whistling Woman, but your interest in learning more about our great-aunt and great-uncle persuaded us to write more. We are so grateful to all of you.

We’ve continued to use the same research books and online sites with each book but we do have a few print books that are new with this one:

“Chronicle of the Twentieth Century” Clifton Daniel, Editor in Chief

“Asleep, The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries” by Molly Caldwell Crosby

“Images of America Old Fort” by Kim Clark

And finally, a note to the many family members we’ve met online and off. The stories we’ve told in the books are the ones we grew up hearing from our dad and Uncle Ken, and in some cases from our grandmother and Aunt Bessie herself. We’ve tried to tell them as they were told to us but in some cases took the liberty to change certain elements to help the flow of the story and/or to enhance the plot.

Table of Contents

Chapter One – Summer 1924
If things get any better around here, I may have to hire someone to help me enjoy it.

Chapter Two – Summer 1924
As safe as a tick on a hound dog with a stiff neck.

Chapter Three – Summer 1924
He’s so confused he doesn’t know whether to scratch his watch or wind his backside.

Chapter Four – Fall 1924
I bought it for a song and you can sing it yourself.

Chapter Five – Fall 1924
Go whole hog.

Chapter Six – Fall 1924
Don’t let your mouth overload your tail.

Chapter Seven – Spring 1925
What in tarnation?

Chapter Eight – Summer 1925
Your face looks like it caught on fire and was put out by a bag of nickels.

Chapter Nine – Fall 1926
He’s so crooked you can’t tell from his tracks whether he’s coming or going.

Chapter Ten – Fall 1926
Don’t let the tail wag the dog.

Chapter Eleven – Summer 1927
Happy as a puppy with two tails.

Chapter Twelve – Summer 1927
He was mean enough to hunt bears with a hickory switch.

Chapter Thirteen – Fall 1927
Ain’t seen hide nor hair of him.

Chapter Fourteen – Summer 1928
You gonna have to relick that calf.

Chapter Fifteen – Fall 1928
If you don’t stop I’ll knock you in the head and tell God you died.

Chapter Sixteen – Fall 1928
Put wishes in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills up first.

Chapter Seventeen – Spring 1929
Either fish or cut bait.

Chapter Eighteen – Summer 1930
She’s feeling as low as a toad in a dry well.

Chapter Nineteen – 1930 and beyond
She’s got enough wrinkles to hold an eight-day rain.

Chapter Twenty –  Late Winter 1958
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saint. – Psalm 116: 15

Chapter Twenty-one – Winter 1970
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is in her soul. – Proverbs 31:26

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