Rosa Pendleton Chiles:

Professor, Writer, and Archivist 

 Down Among the Crackers
Rosa Pendleton Chiles, born in Virginia in 1866, was one of Reinhardt College's first teachers as well as an accomplished writer and archivist.
 
In 1892, Chiles came to Waleska and served as an instructor of English Language and Literature at Reinhardt. She also taught French and worked as the librarian at Reinhardt until 1896. 
 
In 1900, Chiles published a novel, Down Among the Crackers, set mostly in Waleska and on Pine Log Mountain. The novel explores the early days of Reinhardt, the Appalachian community around Pine Log Mountain, and the local moonshine industry. 
 
Chiles later relocated to Washington, D. C., and worked as a clerk and indexer for the Office of Naval Records and Library.  She was a vocal advocate for the creation of the National Archives.                             

He Whom Thou Lovest Is Sick

In 1903, Chiles published her book-length poem, He Whom Thou Lovest is Sick. The poem is dedicated to the memory of her mother, "the thought of whose marvelous strength and patience in long suffering, when surcease came, left the only fragrance in the heart of a child, and yet yields fragrance in the heart of a woman."
 
Beginning in 1910, she began publishing articles on a wide variety of topics in popular magazines:
 

Courtesy of Dr. Kenneth Wheeler.

Photo from William M. Brewer, “Moonshining in Georgia,” Cosmopolitan 12 June 1897.

"The Cracker"
Chiles had a very stereotypical view of the Appalachian people of Pine Log Mountain, referring to them as “crackers.” The word “cracker” had been used since the 18th century to refer to the pioneers of Scots-Irish descent who settled in the mountains and flatlands of the Southern states, especially Georgia.
 
Chiles centered the plot of Down Among the Crackers around the moonshine industry, writing, “The crackers are a quiet, harmless people unless you antagonize the whiskey traffic; moonshiners and their confederates are desperate.”
 
Elsewhere in the book, she writes that the “crackers” were “not industrious as a rule. They were farmers and gold-washers and saloon-keepers and distillers.”
 
Chiles seemed to believe there was gold in the creeks around Pine Log, although the closest documented gold mines were at Allatoona Creek and Sixes.
Revenuers Destroying a Mash Tub
In the novel Down Among the Crackers, the stills around Pine Log Mountain are on the land of a wealthy businessman who hired workers to make the moonshine
while keeping his own identity secret. Chiles writes:  
 
“They mentioned the secret meetings of still-keepers, their constant guard against attack; and further stated that the principal distilleries were owned by one of the most influential and strongest men in the county, and that any man attempting to interfere with them would incur his hatred and feel his power.” 

Photo from William M. Brewer, “Moonshining in Georgia,” Cosmopolitan 12 June 1897.

Photo courtesy of Cherokee County Historical Society.

Moonshine Still in the Woods
Stills were hidden in the woods all around Pine Log Mountain, always near a creek because they needed a water source. Many ruins of stills can still be found along the creeks today.
 
In the novel Down Among the Crackers, the President of Reinhardt College and his friend Mr. Ramla try to tamp down the moonshine business in the area. The President tells Mr. Ramla:
 
“Win the esteem and affection of the distillers. Do not let them know that you know they are moonshiners. Persuade them to come to church, and it may be that we can gradually break up the traffic.”
 
Chiles based many of her characters on real people. One prominent moonshiner, whom Chiles calls McCabe, was based on a real moonshiner named Jim McCoy, who had been repeatedly caught by revenuers. In the book, McCabe does change his ways and helps Mr. Ramla bring an end to the moonshine trade.

© 2023 by Marian Dean. Proudly created with Wix.com