Saturday, August 16, 2008

#51 Southern Roots--the Mosteller Plantation

I can't resist. A little more of Yesterday and yesterday's post. Get ready for total self-indulgence, at least on the family-history level. (Come to to think of it, it's hard to come up with anything much more inherently self-indulgent than a personal Blog. Gotta watch it.) Anyway, the Mosteller clan first entered the American scene at the port of New Bern NC--a whole bunch in the 1740s and 50s from the Rhineland--probably all related. They were originally and eponymously winemakers; hence the name: Old High German most (put an umlaut over the "o" and purse your lips) ="fermenting grape juice," recognizable in the cognate Modern English "must" (a term I used all the time, in fact, as a homemade wine-maker in the 70s); and teller = "agent, maker, doer." This onomastic heritage is depicted in the family crest where we see, amongst other devices, one of the two guys in Renaissance outfits holding up a big bunch of purple grapes. After moving inland the Mostellers seemed to follow the eastern Appalachian piedmont over the next 100 years from North Carolina all the way down to North Alabama, probably at first trying to establish vineyards in these amenable regions. (They were on the right track, but it has been only recently that NC has come into it's own as a premier wine-growing venue.)

One of these stops was in the foothills of pre-Civil-War north Georgia (after Pres. Jackson kicked out the Cherokees), near a village later known as Adairsville, ironically named after an early Scottish settler and trading-poster, "Chief" Walter Adair, who married a Cherokee woman just before the horrific Trail of Tears event. The Mosteller holdings grew to considerable acreage and enterprise involving agriculture and forestry (hence the rather large number of slaves) and the milling of those various products. The "Mosteller Mills" brand of corn meal was made there up through the 1940s, before the whole homestead passed from the family. The millhouse still stands, wonderfully preserved, straddling a lovely millstream and pond near the main house. There was talk of a museum some while back, but I don't know. I think the town blew all its money on the Depot Museum, one of the sites of another great Civil War event, "The Great Locomotive Chase," commemorated in the Disney movie of the same name. Surely a "Sherman-slept-here" museum is worthy of equal billing. More of all this later.

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