Tales of David Greer, the Hermit on Bald Mountain
From Letters from the Alleghany Mountains by Charles Lanman (1849. “I now write from a log cabin on the Catawba River, and in one of its most beautiful valleys. My ride from Asheville to Burnsville, a distance of over forty miles, was unattended by a single interesting incident, and afforded only one mountain prospect that caused me to rein in my horse. But the prospect alluded to embraced the entire outline of Bald Mountain, which, being one of the loftiest in this section of the country, and particularly barren, presented a magnificient appearance. On the extreme summit of this mountain is a very large and intensely cold spring of water, and in its immediate vicinity a small cave and ruins of a log cabin, which are associated with a singular being named David Greer, who once made this upper world his home. He first appeared in this country about fifty years ago; his native land, the story of his birth, and his early history, were alike unknown. Soon after his arrival among the mountains, he fell desperately in love with the daughter of a farmer, but his suit was rejected by the maiden, and strenuously opposed by all her friends. Soon after this disappointment the lover suddenly disappeared, and was subsequently found residing on Bold Mountain in the cave already mentioned. Here he lived the life of a literary recluse, and is said to have written a 140 page singular work upon religion, and another which purported to be a treatise on human government. In the latter production he proclaimed himself the sole proprietor of Bald Mountain, and made it known to the world that all who should ever become his neighbors must submit to the laws he had himself enacted. The prominent actions of his life were few and far between but particularly infamous. The first that brought him into notice was as follows: A few years after it was ascertained that he had taken possession of the mountain, the authorities of the county sent a messenger to Greer, and demanded a poll-tax of seventy-five cents. The hermit said he would attend to it the next court-day, and his word was accepted. On the day in question Greer punctually made his appearance, but, instead of paying over the money, he pelted the windows of the court-house with stones, and drove the judges, lawyers, and clients all out of the village, and then, with rifle in hand, returned to his mountain dwelling. For months after this event he amused himself by mutilating all the cattle which he happened to discover on what he called his domain, and it is said was in his habit of trying the power of his rifle by shooting down upon the plantations of his neights.” Note: Bald Mountain is in Craig County, Virginia. More genealogy and historical stories.