HISTORY OF SEVEN DEVILS
Indian arrowheads can still be found in our windy saddle known as Alpine Meadows. We don’t know much about the original natives in this area, but we do know that on March 19, 1775, the government opened up all of the Grandfather Mountain lands for homesteading. This land became known as the Grandfather Community. The first known settler was Issac McClurd from Scotland, who originally settled in Lenoir, NC. There he received a grant for 2000 acres “at the head of the Watauga River”, which included our area. This occurred at approximately the same time that the famous Daniel Boone lived and hunted in Boone, NC.
Records exist showing that several families lived on our mountain during the next 150 years and the land was primarily used for farming. According to local folk, the lower end of the mountain became known as Mast Mountain and it produced good cabbage, potatoes, and tobacco. In fact, the present Town Hall location was a cabbage and potato patch. The upper end of the mountain was known as Valley Creek including a section known as Buckeye Hollar. This area was mainly used for raising cattle. High above the meadows were the predominant geographical features of the mountain, Hanging Rock, Four Diamond Ridge, and Hawksbill Rock, which were named in the early 1800’s.
Seven men on horseback braved an old wagon trail and observed these peaks one fortunate day in 1964. The four Reynolds brothers; Buck, Frank, Dan, and Herb, Ray Smith, George Hampton, and Gardner Gidley saw this magnificent mountain as something that should be shared by many. The L.A. Reynolds Industrial District of Winston-Salem, NC formed the Resort in 1965 and the founders were met with the challenge of naming the Resort.
At this time there was a rumor about an old man on the mountain who had seven sons “as mean as the devil”. People were heard commenting that in the winter the mountain was “as cold as the devils” or “as windy as the devil”. The founders wanted a catchy, unique name that would bring attention to the mountain. They noticed the repeated appearance of the number seven, including the seven predominant rocky peaks surrounding Valley Creek, as well as the many coincidental references to ”devils”. “Seven Devils” seemed to suggest a frivolous, mischievous resort where people could “experience the temptation of Seven Devils”.
The Resort flourished with a golf course, ski slope, lake, riding stables, campground, and more until it was sold in 1972. A year later the Resort was in financial trouble, which came to include a bankruptcy in 1976. During this period the Resort was kept going by the Resort Club, which was acting as a Property Owners Association. Mountain Realty Company of Greensboro, NC purchased the Resort and worked with the residents to have the Resort incorporated. This incorporation of the Town of Seven Devils on June 30, 1979 served to establish a firm economic base for the Resort. Growths accelerated between 1979 and 1986 and many improvements were made. ‘The Mountain Group’, headed by Robert Kent and Robert West, purchased the Resort from Chester Brown of Mountain Realty in 1980. Kent and West distributed the land among many individuals, which completed the transition from Resort to Resort Town. During this period the Town acknowledges that growth was inevitable and set forth to control its growth properly and retain its quaint resort character.
Today the Town has many accomplishments to be proud of; financial independence and stability, Comprehensive Zoning and Land Use Plans and Regulations, Town Ordinances, successful Tax Collections, beautification programs, a remodeled Town Hall, a very successful Police and Fire Department, a hard working Public Works Department, Town vehicles and equipment to help with daily improvements. The Town is also in the process of improving the water system and road system. Seven Devils is a thriving community with lots of amenities to offer the citizens.
The mountain was “colder than the seven devils” and those “devils” were my relatives! My grandmother, LuSycnthia Jane Winters was their aunt. Their father was William “Billy” N. Winters (1817-1904) and their mother was Elizabeth “Eliza” Shell (1820-1903). The seven “devils” were…
Albert Tipton (married Belle _____________)
Nelson or Nathaniel
Their sisters were:
Lily (married _____ Brookes)
Mary Jane (married Andrew Jackson Franklin)
Charlotte “Lottie” Elizabeth
This picture is of Martin W Winters and his family...
In the 1700’s, some Winters boys were hung for the murder of an Indian. Lily’s daughter once chased the law with a shotgun in Claiborne County. William (maybe a descendent) shot and killed his wife in Tazewell, TN after some of his co-workers teased him that she was seeing another man, because they knew he had a temper. He spent life in prison. It is said that even federal marshalls would not go near where the Winters boys lived.
William “Billy” was the son of John W. Winters of NC. John W. was the son of William Winter (born 1726 in Pennsylvania)