Living History-McNeal’s Crossing

By the time the vanloads of Appalachian Service Project volunteers rolled into Historic McNeal’s Crossing Tuesday evening, the smell of cabbage and potatoes, along with the sweet smell of cornbread, all cooking over an open fire was already filling the air. The workers were taking a well-deserved break from their labors of the week helping to renovate a home here in Knox County.

David and Betty Cornett have been hosting the Civil War live history program for many years. Tuesday was the last of seven weekly programs they put on for travelers every summer. This evening the Cornetts were joined by their granddaughter, Miranda, and friends Larry Sharp and Clayton Hill.

The visitors were given first-hand experience on how to make a rope from scratch. David Cornett tried to show them how to make fire out of flint; however, the humidity in the air refused to cooperate, so without a skip, David showed them how quickly the material in his hands could catch fire using a hot coal from the fire.

Although everyone knew to expect a pop from the long rife; they were nevertheless taken by surprise when the unexpected blast of the rifle turned out to be much louder than they expected. No one was more surprised than Lindsay Wright, a 17-year-old volunteer from Hollands United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C., as she was the lucky volunteer that got to shoot the rifle.

The crowning thrill of the evening was when each of the anxious visitors got the chance to throw a real tomahawk at a target. Thirty-five people and 71 throws later, Sam Spivey, 19, from St. Andrews Church in Garner, N.C., finally hit the target, and was rewarded with massive cheers and applause from everyone in the group. Before the group left, they were treated to a taste of freshly cooked cabbage, potatoes and cornbread.