Cooleemee students take a step back in time while learning economics

Published 12:53 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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By KC Smith

Cooleemee Correspondent

COOLEEMEE – A chilly morning at RiverPark set the scene for students from Cooleemee Elementary School to learn about economics.

Sandra Ferrell, president of the Cooleemee Historical Association, greeted the students as they came off the school bus.  John Chandler, volunteer, presented the children with a warm welcome also and gave a quick synopsis about the journey they were about to take.

Joey Shore, volunteer, walked with the students to each era while interjecting his own experiences going to the “Bull Hole,” the long-time fishing and swimming spot on the South Yadkin River.

Showing the students a sassafras sampling he pulled up from the ground, he pulled back the soft bark, and impressed many by saying he made tea out of it for allergies.

The setting was the 17th Century by the babbling waters of the river.

Johnny Brown, volunteer, talked about how the Indians roamed and lived on the hills there, how they made weapons, arrows and why it was important to settle high from the water.

The table was displayed with plants, fish, handmade drills, rocks with concave indentions that allowed corn or medicinal herbs to be ground..

Traveling up the hill from the dam they ran into Mr. Trexler, (Sandra Ferrell), who ran the grist mill and they learned why it was important to the people.  Learning to barter and bringing corn they grew to have  ground into cornmeal were vital lessons of this time period.

Walking by the beautiful three oaks hill toward the 19th Century is a stunning walk.  The hill reminds me of the Sound of Music film but is been  called 3 Oaks Hill because at the top were three oaks, but only two remain from a lightning strike.

Reactions from the students are always interesting when they learn the boys were paid more than the girls in the cotton mill and they did the same amount of hours. Vice President of the CHA, Teresa Bivins, (Mama), was dressed in circa attire including long dress, field bonnet and apron. She  was glad to hold her hand out to receive all but 25 cents of their earned money.

The 25 cents allowed the children to buy a pickle, crackers, cheese  and a peppermint stick.

When asked about what stands out in their mind about what they learned, Max Hall said: “ I would say like how the Indians and people helped each other, cause like that many people don’t help homeless people now. Back in the day they helped each other and traded for stuff and would help their friends when kids got sick and stuff.”   

Thank you CHA for continuing all the things you do to teach children about their heritage.  It takes time and organization to do what you do and it pays off because adults still talk about what they learned on these special trips.

Feel free to contact me at,, or call 336.250.1133. I would love to hear from you.