Contributing Works Tea Talk

Scotland = The Loch Ness Monster and The Wee Tea Company

by Mary Murkin

World-wide attention has been given to the Loch Ness Monster—-and rightly so! “Nessie” reportedly inhabits Loch Ness, a lake in the Scottish Highlands. This lake monster made its debut in the year of 565 AD when an Irish monk, Saint Columba, first sighted the beast and saw it go after an acquaintance of his in Loch Ness. More and more Nessie sightings have been recorded over the centuries. Concrete proof of its existence is slow in surfacing, but it doesn’t take away from the thrill of the thought of this creature being out there.

Another exciting discovery in Scotland, and with complete proof of its existence, that is making quite a splash (tea humor) in the tea world is a tea plantation owned by The Wee Tea Company. It was in 2011 that the plantation owners put down roots (a little more tea humor) in the foothills of the Scottish Highlands, Dalreoch in Highland Perthshire.

The Wee Tea Company owners, Derek Walker, 39, Tam O’Brann, 44, and Jamie Russell, 36, began their business as
specialist tea blenders—creating delicious luxury tea blends for a consumer to purchase. This was quite a successful business start………….but, it does not end there. These partners decided that they wanted to grow their own tea and began their tea plantation at Delreoch. This plantation is home to two thousand tea plants, which makes it one of the largest in Europe.

When talking of tea plantations, our minds conjure up images of Indian hillsides and Sri Lankan glens, but now we will be able to include sights of the Scottish Highland Perthshire. This Perthshire tea has its own distinctive flavor. It has a delicate and almost nutty flavor drawn from the local soil and water.

In March of 2015, just four years after starting their plantation, The Wee Tea Company took the tea world by storm! Their smoked white tea won the Gold Award at the Salon du The’ competition in Paris, France. This was an impressive achievement considering they were fending off famous tea names from plantations in China, India and Sri Lanka. This improbable award gives us all hope that nothing is impossible. Raise your cup of tea to Scotland and then, “Bottoms up!”

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC. Contact her at:

Contributing Works Stories

The Tale of a Talented Broomstraw

by Debra Vernon

My Saturdays are spent washing clothes and cleaning house. While bedecked in my little terry cloth robe over the
weekend, I proceeded to sweep the kitchen. Somehow I managed to trip over my own two feet and took a tumble to the floor. I felt a brief sting in my derrière at the time but gave it little thought. I picked myself up, determined there were no broken bones and started sweeping again. It was then I felt another stabbing pain in my right buttock. I rub my hand over the area and can feel something where there should be nothing. A quick trip to the bathroom and a mirror in hand reveals a broom straw embedded just under the skin of my right butt cheek! How in the world did it evolve from a normal broom straw to a hypodermic one in the nano-second it took me to fall upon the broom on my way to the floor? And how did it manage to wedge itself between my robe and body? This was a seriously talented broom straw! It had traveled places where no one had before! And I wanted it out! Then I had to ponder – should I just yank it out or try to gently pull on it? What would I do if I broke it off before getting it all out? Go to the ER
with a straw in my butt? Nope, not an option. Didn’t want to have to explain to the doc or the insurance company. So with a “grin and bear it” mentality, I took a deep breath and pulled out the offending particle. I’m glad to say I successfully removed all of it, and with very little bloodshed. But I do believe I will switch from a straw broom to a Swiffer. What can possibly go wrong with that, right?

Contributing Works Stories Yesteryear

Nicknames. Like it or not, most of us had one.

by W.T. Cox

What’s in a name?  Every person has one.  The folks from Randolph County are special, in that most people who grew up here have more than one name.  Almost everybody had a “nickname”.  These were names given to people and you were known for the most part by your NickName.  Many times, we recognize a person’s nickname and not know his real “birth” name.  Nick Names are special and are given for a variety of reasons.  Some glamorize a person or highlight a certain achievement.  Examples of this kind of nickname is “Slugger”, or “Hard Hitter”.  Other nicknames describe a person’s appearance, such as “Red”, “Freckles” or “Slim”.  There are even nicknames that are basically shortened versions of a person’s name, such as “Mit”, “Bob”, and “Ed” for Eddie.   Then there are the nicknames that are given for reasons unknown that seem less glamorous.  Examples of these are “Stump”, “Fat”, “Stick” and “Dub Dub”.   Also some nick names seem to be given for no reason at all.   For these, there seems not to be an explanation. 

One thing is certain:  No one ever gets to choose their nickname.    

My nickname growing up was “Dub Dub”.  I used to hate that name.  It seemed so demeaning, or sometimes like a tease.  But over time, I accepted it, and today when someone comes up to me and calls me “Dub”, it brings back memories of growing up here in Ramseur and many of the good times I shared with friends.   Just like most people, I did not have a choice as to what my nickname would be.  Mine goes way back to my first grade class in Ramseur School.  I was in Ms Pete Burgess’ first grade class.  As a six year old, I saw Ms. Burgess as a strict, no nonsense teacher, but one that we could tease… sort of like a female Sergeant Schultz. In our class, we had three “Tim’s” in there, and when the teacher would call on “Tim” to answer a question or to tell “sit down and behave”, all three of us would answer.  This seemed to irritate our teacher, so naturally we all did it every chance we got.  There was Tim Cranford, Tim Clarkston Cox and me… William Timothy Cox.   Sometimes we would do this just to spite Ms Burgess.  Most of the time, we knew which one of us she was referring to when she snapped “sit down and be quite”, but being the malicious little kids like we were, all of us would answer.  Eventually Ms Pete got tired of our mocking and came up with a solution.  She said, “for now own, when I call on Tim, I mean Tim Cranford and just him.  If I say Tim C, then that is you Timothy Clarkston, and from now on Mr. Cox, you will be Tim W.” I immediately protested saying that my name was not Tim W, but W Tim.  Ms Burgess would not listen to reason, and told me to shut up and sit down or I would experience her wrath (which could be considerable). When recess came and we were allowed on the playground, my classmates began to laugh and kid me about my new “name”..  “Tim W… Doubua.. Doubua…   Dub Dub”. Well, I did not like the nickname, but it stuck. I did not have a choice. That was 62 years ago, and some of my classmates still call me by that name.  Over the years, I have accepted it and actually like it now.   

Most people with nicknames can recall how their name came about, but some still don’t have a clue. One thing is for certain. We don’t have a choice of what we are called, but almost everyone had some kind of nickname growing up here. Below are just a few that I remember? There is also a list of nicknames I recall growing up, but cannot put a name to them. How many of these do you remember? 

Nick Names from the Eastern Randolph area:  

–Twink/ Larry Wright

–Tink/ Tim Wright

–Pickles/ Sally Tucker

–Doughbelly/ Mickey Simmons

–Flash/ Jerry Parks

–Pulpwood/ Danny Presswood

–Stick/ Ricky Horner

–Nose/ Hal Richardson

–Pig/ Bill Marley

–Mit/ Milton Brown

–Mushie/ Johnny Crutchfield 

–Measel/ Kenny Morgan

–Wolfee/ Jerry Wolfe

–DubDub/ Tim Cox

–Yellar/ Richard Garner

–Bubba/ Billy Whitten

–Chigger/ David Chriscoe

–Stump/ Larry Stout

–Noonie/ Robert Poe Tucker

–Blimp/ Bobby Johnson

–Porky/ Karl Ernst

–Skinny/ Joe Hodgin

–Boody/ Waylon Brown

–Mayor/ Steve Siler

–Moe/ Franklin Clyde  McAlister

–Son/ Charles Lane

–Prissy/ Janet Siler Booth

–Cube/ Don  Burgess

–Fat/ Ashley Goldston

–Nellie/ Carnell Goldston

–Ernie/ Earnell Watson

–Red/ Teresa Horner

–Red/ William York

–Happy/ Hampton Spivey

–Gouber/ Bob Graham

–Toad/ Craig Macon

–Toad/ Jerry Hopkins

–Pep/ Culpepper Watkins

–Toot/ Thursell Lineberry

–Pot/ Benny Flowers

–Dynomite/ Mike Brown

–Greenie/ Harris W Marley

–Cowboy/ Richard Garner

–Fish/ Wayne Salmon

–ET/ Claude Edgar Tucker

–Goat/ Billy York

–Jay Bird/ Millard Everette Hinson

–Stanjo/ Stan Brown

–Puddin/ Jaws Jeff Hoover

–Pierre/ Perry Stout

–Flea/ Keith Carmac

–Stop/ Danny Gallimore

–A-Boo/ Edna Nixon

–Hat/ Bobby Bower

–Fid/ James Coward

–Ott/ Arthur Gant Sr

–Little Ott/ Arthur Gant

–Ear/ Ronnie Campbell

–Cotton/ James Raines

–Donut/ Delano Welborn

–Hat/ Clarence Harris

–Bubby/ David Kenedy

–Bush/ Phillip Wright

–Bush/ David Craven

–Cactus/ Terry York

–Charm/ Bobby Burgess

–Soup/ Crain Campbell

–Little Armp/ David Staley
–Sharp Eye/ Jack Stout

–Rabbit/ Jeff Wright

–Measel/ Kenny Morgan

–Duffy/ Jerry Cox

–Tiny/ Frank Chamberlin

–Bunt/ Cletus Carmac 

–Soup/ Craig Campbell

–No Hit/ Wayne Burgess

–Ace/ AJ Kirkman

–Doc/ Robert Thomas

–Doc/ Robert Graham Sr.

Here is a list of NickNames from the Ramseur Area over the past 50 years.  Do you recognize any of these?  E-mail your answer to us and we will include them in the next issue of the “Bulletin”.  Send your answers to 






Hard Rock

Sharp Eye


Red Eye

Bad Eye





Short Jaw

Crooked jaw


Tall Man









One Arm









Short Legs






High Crown


New Grounder


Long Arm




High Gear



Wild Man

Dirty Jack







Double P


Big Daddy





























Duck Soc



















Contributing Works Stories

Is That A Tick?

by Debra Vernon

Here is something sure to entertain you for the evening. I call this little ditty “is that a tick on my nether regions”? After mowing and weed-eating my yard and my mom’s, I came into the house and immediately jumped in the shower. While lathering up, I thought I detected a little “bump” where there should be none. After getting out of the shower, I proceeded to investigate. “How,” I asked myself “can I even see the nether regions area to investigate?” I proceeded to put a mirror in my hand and propped one of my legs up onto the edge of the bathtub, intending to get a peek at the area where I felt the bump. As I’m tilting the magnifying mirror to and fro, the mirror itself falls out of the frame and breaks. I now have one leg in the air, little slivers of glass on the floor, and still the possibility of a tick munching on my nether regions. I lower the leg, clean up the glass and press on. Next up is trying to use the video option on my phone to see if there is a blood-sucking parasite located in the nether regions. I can only hope I deleted the video before it uploaded to the cloud, or I may be arrested tomorrow for indecency. After all this, no tick was found feasting on my nether regions – believe me when I say I looked closely! Now, this makes your evening seem much more serene and pleasant doesn’t it?


History of Ramseur

By Inez McMath

Inez McMath was a seventh grade student in Ramseur School when she compiled what is believed to be the first published history of Ramseur, North Carolina. Miss McMath’s essay was published in the April 28, 1918 edition of The Asheboro Bulletin and won first prize in that year’s Randolph County Schools Commencement contest for best paper on any historical subject relating to Randolph County. The text of Miss McMath’s paper is found below:

The town of Ramseur is situated in the central part of North Carolina and in the Eastern part of Randolph County, eight miles from Staley, twenty five miles from Star, and thirty miles from Greensboro. At the close of the Revolutionary War all the land in and around Ramseur was owned by William Allen and was kept in the Allen family until 1840. The town was started by the father of Hezekiah Allen, who died in 1899. None of his descendants are living, since his only son died a short while after he did. Mr. Allen and Henry Kivett built a saw mill along the river in 1840 and started a little town, naming it Allen’s Fall. After building the saw mill and finding the water power so valuable, they built a dam from logs sawed out in the mill. They ran the mill for ten years, during which time three dams were washed away. At that time there were only a few residences and a small school building. In 1850 Messrs. Henry Kivett, John Allen, Washington Brower, and David Kivett built a small cotton mill of only two rooms and about one third the present dimensions. After these settlers came, a store, which was managed by L.H. Foust, Sr., and eight more residences were built. Mr. Foust lived in one end of his store building, which stood where the grist mill now stands. When the cotton mill was built it was named Columbia Manufacturing Company, and the town was named Columbia. Henry Kivett was made the first mill superintendent. The building was heated by stoves and lighted by lamps in which lard was burned instead of kerosene. There were only six cards and 480 spindles. Later twenty four looms were put in on which they made 36 inch goods. Mr. James Whitehead was at that time selling agent.

The next managers of the mill were Messrs, Dennis Curtis and G. H, Makepeace.They made some improvements, among which was the building of a rock dam. They sold out to Mr. W. H. Watkins, the present manager, and others in 1879.

The dynamo was put in after Mr. Watkins came and water was supplemented by steam power. The spindles have increased from 480 to 11.280, and the looms from 24 to 344. The present dam was built in 1888.

There have been 14 superintendents, viz: Henry Kivett, Naland Cox, Elijah Whitney (during the war), G. H. Makepeace, A.W.E. Capel, T. L. Chisholm, W. F. Hurley, J. E. Cole, E. C. Watkins, Charles Randleman, 1. F. Craven, J. M. Whitehead, and E. J. Steed, the superintendent now acting. 

The bridge across the river was built in 1875. Before that time the people crossed the river in boats, or forded it.

There was no post office when Mr. Watkins came here. But, Dennis Curtis, a business man of the town, who lived in Franklinville, brought the mail to the people twice a week. Soon after Mr. Watkins came he sent in an application to the post office authorities for an office and it was granted.

The first post master was Mr. W. R. Burgess. The mail was often misplaced and sent to

Columbia, S.C., so under the influence of Mr. Watkins, the name was changed to Ramseur, in honor of General Stephen D. Ramscur, his Commander in the Civil war. At that time Mr. W. H. King walked and carried the mail from Staley to Ramseur once a day.

When Mr. Watkins first bought the mill the bunch yarn and warps were hauled to Greensboro to be shipped. After the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad was built from Mount Airy to Wilmington, the nearest shipping point was Staley. The railroad was graded from Climax to Ramseur in 1889, and was completed in 1890. It was built by the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad Company. The first conductor was Captain Overcash. The train made only one trip a day to Madison, a few miles beyond Greensboro, The Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad Company sold out to the Southern Railway System which owns it at present. The train now makes two trips to Greensboro every day except Sunday. Captain W. D. Lane is now conductor.

One among the first places of business was a tin shop operated by a Mr. Henley. He made in buckets, coffee pots, etc. The building stood South of the cemetery. Another place of business was a shop for carding wool, operated by Mr. D.B. Burgess, Sr. The wool was brought from the country, carded, and made into rolls, then spun on the old fashioned spinning wheel and woven on the old fashioned loom into blankets, jeans, and linsey-woolsey dress good.

The first furniture was made by hand by Silas Hopson. He made bed steads, bureaus, wardrobes, tables, and other things. The only furniture made by hand in town now is by Mr. J.T. Turner, The chair factory was built in 1889 by Mr. A. W.E. Capel, and was named Alberta Chair Works, in honor of his daughter, Miss Alberta Blanche Capel. The chairs were made ready for bottoms and then hauled to some of the houses and bottomed for three cents a chair. Then they were hauled back to the factory, varnished and sent to various parts of the State.

Messrs. Samuel and Reed Smitherman managed the first broom shop in the basement of the chair factory. This building was destroyed by fire. The chair factory was replaced by a furniture factory, which was burned in 1908. It was rebuilt on its present site and is the second finest in the State. They manufacture bed steads, wash stands, bureaus, etc. These are shipped to the various parts of the United States.

The broom shop is now owned by Messrs. A. H. Thomas and M. E. Johnson. Its

capacity is sixty dozen brooms per day, The Novelty Wood Works was built in 1900 by Messrs. W. A. Ward and J. A. Martin. It is now managed by Mr. J. W. Parks. They manufacture bobbins, picker sticks, etc. These are sent to mills over the Eastern part of the United States.

The Fleta Lumber Company was built in 1907 by Mr. W. II. Watkins, Jr., and Mr. J.D. York. The plant was named in honor of Mrs. Fleta Watkins Cole. Here they saw and dress lumber which is used for building purposes in this and neighboring towns. 

In 1880 there were no sidewalks, except a few feet of plank in the center of town. Since 1902 the town has grown with great rapidity. Improvement of streets have been carried on to such an extent that there are now several thousand feet of concrete sidewalks, built without issuing bonds, which can be said of but few towns of its size in the State.

The telephone system was installed by Mr. H. B. Moore in 1907. He had 32 telephones but today there are 296 in town and the surrounding country.

At present there are 17 stores, a cafe, meat market, and a flourishing bank in town. The bank is in a brick building which was built in 1907, with a post office building adjoining. The first cashier was Mr. E. R. Smith. Mr. G. M. Kimrey was the first postmaster in the new building.

The electric plant was installed in 1912 by Mr. W. H, Watkins. The power is not so great, but the streets are no longer dark. All of the churches and some of the residences are lighted with electricity. The roller mill was built the same year and it [sic] run by electricity, as is also the broom factory.

The first church was a Missionary Baptist Church, organized by Reverend W.C. Patterson, who died before the building was completed. So Reverend Lane Hutson was called as pastor. Every Sunday the people came from far and near to hold union Sunday School. A cemetery was started by the Baptist people, since the people of that denomination held preaching and Sunday School in an arbor. The first one to be buried was a Jones child. Reverend W. C. Patterson was also buried there. The cemetery was put under the care of the town in 1902. The Baptist building was built on its present site in 1890. It is situated on Liberty Street, being a large brick building, consisting of two Sunday School rooms and a large auditorium. Reverend W.O. Johnson is now pastor.

The M. E. Church was organized by Reverend Joseph Thomas in the old school building. A little later, in 1886, another building was erected on Liberty Street and Reverend Charles Phillips was first pastor.

The Church was built on its present site in 1896. It is situated on Main Street, being a large wooden building, consisting of four Sunday School rooms and a large auditorium. Reverend H. C. Byrum is now pastor.

The Christian Church was organized by Reverend M. H. Hurley. They have a nice wooden building near the cemetery, and Reverend T. E. White is now pastor.

The Holiness Church was organized a little later, and Reverend B. B. Bulla is now pastor.

The first physician was Dr. Holton, who was the only one [sic] in town. There are now three, Drs. C. S. Tate, S. W. Caddell, and F. C. Craven.

The Masonic Lodge was organized in 1885, and was called Marietta Lodge in honor of Mrs. Etta Watkins Craven. The Lodge Room is now in the School Building. There are several other secret orders which meet in the same hall, among them Red Men, Juniors, and Knights of Pythias.

The first school building was constructed in 1820, stood in front of the present school building. It was a square log building with only one door and a rock chimney, with a fireplace which was at least five feet wide. At this time they taught subscription school and people came from many miles around. The first teacher was Mr. Pealau, who was a cripple. He taught only a short while. The next teacher was Jessie Pugh, who taught three months subscription school with 26 on roll. There were four studies, reading, writing,arithmetic, and a very little history of North Carolina. Most of the time was spent on arithmetic, and those who could work the single rule of three were considered fine scholars. The children in those days had a verse which read like this, “Multiplication is vexation, division is as bad; the rule of three perplexes me and fractions run me mad”.

The present school building was constructed in 1890, a short distance North of the old school building. The building consisted of four classrooms and the Masonic Hall. Later two more class rooms were added, together with an auditorium which had an elevated floor and two drawing rooms. The rooms are constructed in accordance with the best theories of light, heat, and ventilation. The first principal was Prof. D. M. Weatherly, who had eight years experience teaching in the high schools and graded schools of North Carolina and Virginia. He then went to the University of Nashville, Peabody Normal College, Nashville, Tenn., and graduated in 1891. We owe much to him for what our town and school is today. The first music teacher was Miss Lily Stroud. Mr. William C. Hammer was at that time Superintendent of Public Instruction. None of the teachers have stayed with us over four years except Mr. Weatherly and our present principal, Prof. W. P. White, who is successfully carrying on the work begun by Mr. Weatherly.

The land around Ramseur is the best farming land in the country and many of the farmers have nice residences, automobiles, and telephones. The sand-clay roads have made the farms more valuable and will do much for the development of the town and surrounding country.

Contributing Works Stories

Defeated No More

By Debra Vernon

It’s early morning on a Monday as I write this to you.  I love the long days of summer when the sun rises early and sets late.  It provides a lot of hours of daylight to fill with either activity or rest.  I am a morning person.  I do not mind getting up early and enjoying the quiet time before the start of the day.  But if you expect much out of me after 9 pm, you’re certain to be disappointed, as I turn into a sleepy gremlin around that time!

I especially cherish this morning, as my outlook on life has improved from where it has been these last few weeks.  The long days of summer bring heat, and I don’t do well with heat, even in my air-conditioned world.  It causes me irritation and frustration, and there are times I let that fester and grow into a season of discontent.  Joy becomes reclusive during these times, and a smile is not as quick to show on my face.  The quiet I usually cherish becomes dismal due to no one to talk to.  And it sneaks up on me, hardly without notice, until something or someone mentions a change.  I was reminded of this on two separate occasions just yesterday: first at worship and then at prayer group.

During worship, a missionary our church has supported for years came to provide an update of their work in South Africa.  And a mighty work it is!  I am so enthralled and appreciative of those who pack up their family and their home and move to a land far away to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  There are hardships for sure, but evidence shows there are blessings unmeasured in following His will to go into the world and tell others of His love.  The speaker mentioned that people go through seasons; and challenged us to find our season and the purpose of it.  So, I took the challenge and reviewed my situation.  

My most recent season has been one of some mild physical ailments, work which has taxed the limits of my expertise and ability, and an unusual feeling of loneliness.  What’s up with that?  As I age, with a birthday this month, I guess some physical limitation is to be expected.  I am blessed to continue to work through the pandemic and into the recovery period, but the stress of trying to help all those who call upon me with their problems has stressed me out.  And then, though I speak with folks daily on the phone and some in person, the end of the day has me wondering, “did anyone think of me today”?  What is my purpose during this time I am in the valley instead of on the mountain top? 

I was still pondering this as I arrived for prayer group.  I almost did not go.  It was hot, I was tired even after a nap, and I just wanted to stay home.  Not exactly the picture of someone with a purpose in life, right?   As it turns out, the gathering was small.  Tis the season for summer vacations, so that attributed to some absences, and health issues to others.  But the ones that were there greeted me with a smile and a hearty hello as I arrived, and I was happy I had come.

Our prayer group is such a blessing to me, and others!  We share our hopes, dreams, hurts and frustrations.  In other words, these folks see me “warts and all” and still love me.  You cannot ask for more than that.  And it was there, as we met together and prayed for our families, our church, our community, and a host of other things we stormed the gates of heaven with, I became aware that satan was being vanquished.  For you see, I had allowed him to occupy my thoughts, and he did what he does best:  kill, steal, and destroy.  He was killing my desire to gather with other believers, stealing my time away from being in The Word and destroying my joy!

Well, let me tell you.  A great burden was lifted from me last night.  And I believe others felt it too.  Will I succumb to the valley again?  I can guarantee it.  Will I be able to lift myself out of it?  Only through the One that loves me like no other.  But with Him by my side, as well as my prayer buddies, I am defeated no more.   

Wealth of Our Community

Tony Williamson

One of the most talented artists to come from Randolph County is Tony Willimason.  He is a world class mandolin player and musician.  If you Google Tony Williamson, you will see a list of his many accomplishments and notice that he is almost always listed as a native of Chatham County. Chatham County is where Tony has lived for many years, but I remember him from my youth at Ramseur School and consider him as a Randolph County (Ramseur) native. Tony started school at Ramseur in the first grade, a year ahead of me in 1960, but we shared many of the same classes at Ramseur.  I remember in Ms.  Madge Caviness’s combined 5th and 6th grade class, Tony and I were rivals, always competing to see which one would outdo the other.  I especially remember a spelling contest where we were the two finalists, and Tony beat me for the honor of being champion. I was never practically good at spelling or English either for that matter. Tony has always excelled in whatever he chose to do. He was Randolph County finalist for the Morehead Scholarship in 1971 when he graduated from Eastern Randolph, and went on to earn the highest degree from UNC at Chapel Hill.  I lost track of Tony for a long time after graduation, but Tony and his brother Gary continued to make headlines in the bluegrass music community. Several years ago, the two Williamson brothers  came to our church, Parks Crossroads Christian, and performed some old time gospel tunes with Tony on his famous mandolin and Gary on Guitar.  He has lived an interesting and eventful  life, full of challenges and certainly many accomplishments.   

There is no doubt that Tony is smart, but  his talent for music, especially the mandolin, is extoridinar.  Along with his older brother Gary, the two became a sensation in the Bluegrass World. Currently Tony lives in Chatham County with his wife in a restored 19th century home and operates Mandolin Central , a company dedicated to finding, restoring and selling classic Mandolins.   

 David McCarty, a staff writer for Fretboard  Journal , Bluegrass Unlimited and Mandolin Magazine had this to say about Tony:

“Quite simply, what Tony Williamson doesn’t know about mandolin is probably not worth knowing.  As a player, collector, dealer, historian and mandolin community activist, Williamson has helped keep the mandolin’s great American legacy alive while uplifting and encouraging generations of modern players.  From bluegrass, to classical, pop and other forms, Tony Williamson is a national treasure”

Tony was a recipient of the 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award as a visionary musician, composer, musical instrument expert and teacher.  He has been performing and receiving awards for nearly 50 years and continues to perform live and travel internationally today.  

Tony was raised in rural Randolph County into a family of wood-workers and musicians.  His grandfather, Alfred, made his own musical instruments and inspired his grandchildren with his love of music and stringed instruments. Tony and his brother Gary won first place in the coveted “World Championship” at Union Grove, North Carolina in 1969 with their band The Bluegrass Gentlemen and were featured on the cover of Bluegrass Magazine.  In 1975, Tony went on the road with a touring band, the Bluegrass Alliance, whose alumni include Vince Gill, Sam Bush, and Tony Rice.  Afterward, he worked with a succession of bands that led him to the top of his field playing classical, jazz and folk music.  His credits include performances on stage and recordings with Alison Krauss, Chris Thile, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Bobby Hicks, Tony Rice, Vassar Clements, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Mike Marshall, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Don Stiernberg and Robie and Linda Williams of Prairie Home Companion fame.  In addition to the prestigious NC Heritage Award, his list of honors includes the IBMA recorded event of the year in 1994 and many on stage performances such as repeat performances at the Merlefest Festival, an annual music festival held in Wilkesboro, NC.

David Ryoko of the Chicago Tribune said back in 2001 that “Tony Williamson is among the finest mandolinist alive and his instrumental passages dazzle…. This is great music”.  Tony’s tours have included performances in almost every state in the US, as well as appearances in France, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, Peru, Canada and Italy.  He brings to stage a love of music, a deep connection to his North Carolina roots, an enthusiasm to take those roots to creative new realm and a wonderful knowledge of musical instruments and their history.  

Acoustic Musician Magazine wrote ”Mandolin Virtuoso Tony Williamson sure can play, and what he doesn’t know about mandolins, nobody does!”

*Courtesy:  Tony’s Bio on the Mandolin Central website.

Taken from Eastern Randolph Links 1971 Yearbook
Tony Williamson, 1960 Ramseur School 1st Grade
Tony with his beloved Lloyd Loar signed Master Mandolin.  For the past 4 decades, these two have been constantly together.
 (Photo by Sandra Katharine Davidson)

The following is a bio that was posted in 2014 by Bluegrass Bios.  


  • From Siler City, North Carolina.
  • Tony is a well-known mandolin virtuoso, with several solo projects to his credit.
  • Their grandfather was in Company B, 52nd Regiment of the North Carolina Troops who marched with General Lee up Seminary Ridge, July 3, 1863 in the Battle of Gettysburg. He survived.
  • First band: The Bluegrass Gentlemen (1970) which made the cover of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine.
  • Gary earned his Ph.D in educational research from Stanford University. He works full-time for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
  • Tony owns a musical instrument company called Mandolin Central.
  • 1977, Gary was a member of the Bluegrass Alliance.
  • 1978, Tony worked with the Richard Greene band.
  • 1989-1991, Tony was a member of the group ASH&W (He was the “W”).
  • 1994, Tony performed with a one-man show called “The Sound of the American Mandolin.” He has a degree in music from the University of North Carolina.
  • 1995, Tony and Gary formed a duo called The Williamson Brothers.
  • 1995, Tony released solo project “Across the Grain” (Plucked String).
  • 1996 , Tony released solo project “All for Naught” (Mandolin Central).
  • 1998, The Williamson Brothers released “My Rocky River Home” (Mandolin Central).
  • 1999, the Tony Williamson Trio released “Christmas at Doobie Shea” album (Doobie Shea).
  • 2000, released Let Us Cross Over the River album (Doobie Shea).
  • 2003, Tony released Sessions at McBain Mill album (Bonfire).
  • 2003, the Williamson Brothers released “Still Light of the Evening” album (WildChild).
  • 2011, Tony released “Lloyd Loar Mandolins” album (Mandolin Central).
  • 2013, The Williamson Brothers released”Bluegrass!” album (Flatt Mountain).
  • 2018, received the North Carolina Heritage Award.
Wealth of Our Community

Tommy Edwards

I was saddened to learn that Tommy Edwards, a much loved  traditional bluegrass musician and teacher, passed away on Saturday morning, May 22, 2021.  Tommy was an exceptional musician who will long be remembered by the people who knew him.   He was 75 years old and had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this year. I remember “Mr. Edwards” as a soft spoken, laid back history teacher during my 8th and 9th grade at Ramseur School.   Later I discovered that he was also one of the best bluegrass musicians and song writers in the business.   I am thankful to have seen him perform countless times, and to own many of his recordings.  His band, The Bluegrass Experience is regarded by many as one of the all time best Traditional Bluegrass Bands.  



July 20, 1945 – May 22, 2021

In North Carolina’s central Piedmont, as throughout the Old North State, Tommy Edwards was a bluegrass music legend. A founding member of The Bluegrass Experience, Edwards was a prolific songwriter and lightning-fast guitarist whose vigorous downstrokes imbued his songs with power and tone, earning him World Champion Guitarist trophies at the 1970 and ’71 Union Grove Fiddlers Convention.

Edwards passed away the morning of May 22, following a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 75. On Friday, May 21st, Governor Roy Cooper awarded Edwards the Order of the Longleaf Pine. The state’s highest honor is “awarded to persons for exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina.”

Edwards was born and raised in Siler City, NC., an hour south of Camp Springs, site of the late Carlton Haney’s famed bluegrass festivals. As a teen, Tommy worked in his father’s grocery store, where he honed the work ethic and relaxed social skills he would carry with him throughout his life. 

It was in Siler City that Edwards formed the Green Valley Ramblers with brothers Paul and Donald “Earl” Beane and future Blue Grass Boy, Jerry Stuart. In 1971, Edwards and the Beanes enlisted Thomas “Snuffy” Smith, Charles Lee Conard and “Fiddlin’” Al McCanless and formed The Bluegrass Experience, the award-winning combo celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Success came early, as the band was crowned World Champion Bluegrass Band at the 1972 Union Grove Festival. The championship brought invitations to perform at prestigious venues, including University of Chicago and Finland’s National Folk Festival. The band won its most ardent followers closer to home through their nine-year Thursday night engagement at Chapel Hill’s Cat’s Cradle from 1972 through ’81.

A 1970 graduate of East Carolina University and a U.S. Army veteran, Edwards taught history and coached sports for 30 years in the Chatham County School District. He blended his love of history and music into his songwriting, contributing five of 13 songs to his 2011 CD, “North Carolina: History, Mystery, Lore and More.” He also shared his passion with listeners on “Bluegrass Saturday Night,” the weekly broadcast he hosted for 16 years. His show featured classic and contemporary recordings as well as interviews with artists featured on his show. Tommy’s dedication to promoting and preserving North Carolina’s heritage was recognized by his induction into the prestigious North Caroliniana Society.

Edwards’ retirement from teaching allowed him the freedom to pursue his bluegrass obsession. He took full advantage, performing at street fairs, wedding receptions, music clubs, IBMA’s World of Bluegrass – anywhere and with anyone fortunate to accompany him on stage. Tommy’s solo albums feature such bluegrass luminaries as Bobby Hicks, Russell Johnson, Jim Mills, Matt Hooper, and Dewey Brown. His shows were nearly always attended by former students, their children or grandchildren. A true Southern gentleman, he was revered by all were fortunate to know him.

Almost any afternoon, Tommy could be found behind the counter of the antiques store he and his wife, Cindy, operated in downtown Pittsboro, a few blocks from their historic home. Folks would meander through, examining the diverse array of items along with vintage guitars, banjos, mandolins for sale or trade. Often as not, Tommy would be picking out a tune or holding an impromptu jam session with a friend or musician passing through town from one gig to the next.

To younger musicians, including Mandolin Orange’s Andrew Marlin and Chatham Rabbit’s Sarah McCombie, Tommy was mentor, friend, and musical partner. He was generous and patient, offering encouragement and complementing the musical savvy of his youthful friends.

Tommy is survived by his wife of 43 years, Cindy Edwards, and current Bluegrass Experience band mates, Stan Brown, Mike Aldridge, Keith Thomas, and Snuffy Smith. Truly original, Tommy leaves a legacy of friends, music, and memories North Carolina is not likely to experience again.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions  may be made to Chatham Arts Council, PO Box 418, Pittsboro, NC 27312 and Pinecone, PO Box 28534, Raleigh, NC 27611.

A public celebration of Tommy’s life will be held in June. Date, time and location to be determined.

–Intro by WT Cox, Obituary courtesy of Donaldson Funeral Home

Mr. Tom Edwards, Ramseur School Photo, 1970

Ramseur Area Civitan Awareness

If you have a desire to volunteer for community service, meet new people for fellowship and friendship, check out Ramseur Area Civitans.  Its members help where the needs arise, from collecting food for Ramseur Food Pantry, to volunteering at local community events, supporting area schools’ special needs classes, school reading incentive program, Boys and Girl Home of NC, and Special Olympics. The club welcomes new people that have a talent for fund-raising or a heart for community service. 

The Ramseur Area Civitan Club was chartered on July 27, 2010 and the club is going on its eleventh year of serving the community.  The club meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at Jordan Memorial Church in person or by on-line meetings utilizing Zoom.

Civitan is an organization of volunteer service clubs around the world and places a special emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities.  Civitan is one of the major supporters of Special Olympics on the local and state levels. Civitan clubs also fund and organize special camps, such as Victory Junction Camp in Randleman, and events for people with developmental disabilities. 

Ramseur Area is part of Area 5 East of North Carolina District West, visit District West Website at:

Membership in Civitan is open to anyone who is at least 18 years old and who wants to make a difference in the lives of those around them. To learn more about Civitan, visit

If interested in learning more about the club, contact Club President Norval Kraft at (561) 373-1398 or contact Club Secretary Merita Wall at or check out the Facebook page “Ramseur Area Civitans.”

Contributing Works

An Ode to the Single Mom on Father’s Day

I don’t think anyone ever plans on being a single parent.  On that much-anticipated wedding day, the future seems so bright and everyone thinks that surely, this was meant to be.  Time passes, and children often come along to bring additional blessings to your life.  Ah, the family unit is complete.  How much better can life be?

But sometimes, due to circumstances that can never be planned for, situations occur that break the union that wasn’t intended to be broken.  Sometimes death snatches a loved one away, and suddenly there is a void that will never be entirely filled again.  Other times, the love that was so strong at the beginning proves not fervent enough to endure those tough times that all marriages encounter.  And, there are also those who abandon marriage to pursue other interests or other people.  Whatever the cause, the cocoon of safety and assurance that once enveloped us is shattered, and life is never quite the same again.  

That’s where I found myself long ago, when my daughter had just turned 6, and was getting ready to graduate from kindergarten.  Suddenly, we weren’t your typical family unit anymore, just a mom and daughter wondering what in the world the future held for us.

Fortunately, due to God’s goodness, and a family that loved us more and more with each passing day, we grew together through the ensuing years.  Was it easy?  Gracious no.  Was it hard?  Heavens yes – both financially and emotionally!  But there were blessings to be found in every circumstance, and if we looked for them, we were sure to encounter them, tucked away in the most mundane moments of life.  So, this month, when we celebrate Father’s Day, I want to salute the single moms out there who fulfill the role of dad.

You know who you are:  the one trying your darnedest to fix the leak under the kitchen sink with just a pair of pliers.  Or the one looking under the hood of the car, trying to figure out just exactly where the air filter is, so that you can change it yourself, and not pay someone else to do it.  Or perhaps, while fixing that leaky toilet, you didn’t realize you had not turned the water connection off before proceeding to work your plumbing magic (though this did make for a good laugh for your daughter who is watching the fountain of youth spring up in your bathroom).  

And, since there is only one of you filling the role of two, you sometimes overbook yourself, and try to be in two places at one time, such as work and the school awards ceremony.  And, when the kids are sick, you can’t trade off with a spouse and say, “Honey, you take her to the doctor today; I did it last time”.  You also go into work sick, so that you can save your sick days for when the kids are sick.

You cash in some of your vacation time to buy them a computer, so they can have the opportunity to do better in school.  You stay up at night and figure out how your “in-come” relates to your “out-go” and then figure it again to see what must be paid now and what can wait.  You’re the one putting the bicycle together on Christmas eve to help Santa out.  You’re the one who helps with homework, dries the tears from the effects of young love gone wrong during science class and, in general, keeps the home fires burning.   You mow the lawn, service the car, clean the house, wash the clothes, cook the meals and anything else that needs to be done, as there is no one else to do it.  But there, among all the things that you do, lies the secret of happiness – giving the best you have for the best part of you, your child.  Someone once said, “I never knew that my heart could exist outside my body, until I had a child”.  Isn’t that the truth?

The values instilled in me as a child served me well during those lean years.  My own childhood was quite different, as I was blessed with a wonderful mom and dad, whose marriage lasted “until death do us part”.  This Father’s Day, I will stop to honor the memory of my dad, who left this earth way too soon.  It is because of him, and the many things I learned from him, that I have been able to fulfill the role of dad for my own daughter.

It’s on occasions like this that I realize how much has been accomplished over the years.  Remember the little skinny girl who graduated from kindergarten the year my husband left?  She matured into a very bright and wonderful young woman.  She knows the value of a dollar, that anything worth having is worth working hard for and that mom will always love her, no matter what.  She’s married to a fabulous man, which means I’ve gained a son.  And I now have three wonderful grandchildren, and this MiMi loves them with all of her heart and then some!  

Would I recommend rearing a child on your own, without the presence of both parents?  No.  But when faced with such a situation, I know it can be done.  So happy Father’s Day to the single mother who fills the role of dad, regardless of the reason.  You are to be commended on all you do to provide for and protect your family.  You are special, you are needed, and you are the one God has chosen to lead your family.  It’s quite the challenge, with disappointment and failure sure to come.  But, just as with any garden, you reap what you sow.  Keep on sowing lots of love, lots of patience, lots of kindness and lots of goodness and hopefully you will see your children grow up and provide a bountiful harvest you can be proud of.  That was my goal, and my harvest has been wonderful.