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Find all Morrises in:
 • Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery
 • Saluda
 • Polk County
 • North Carolina
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William Morris
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Birth: 1860
North Carolina, USA
Death: unknown
Saluda
Polk County
North Carolina, USA

Billy Morris, KEEPER OF THE FLAME.

The preservation of fire was an essential part of the life for early Western North Carolinians. Because fire was so hard to produce, early people kept a public fire going which was never allowed to die out. Neighbors would go to the fire-keeper to "borrow" fire, then pass it on to the next neighbor. Matches were not commonly available until WW I.

It is believed that for 164 years four generations of the Morris family kept a fire going in the Holbert's Cove area of Saluda, NC that has been called the oldest fire in the world. Billy Morris spent his whole life keeping the fire going.

The original chunk of wood was laid in 1780, Morris told writers in the 1930s and '40s. The Morris fire became so famous that Bill was asked to appear on a national radio show out of New York City and his story was written in newspapers across the country.

On that show Morris said, "I live alone in a little log cabin in the hills of Saluda, NC. I've got a little piece of ground, a cow, four pigs and a horse.

"The fire has to be handled with real skill and care. I cover it with ashes and during the day there's a softly glowing brand resting on a bed of red hot ashes, and it doesn't give off a bit of smoke.

"After the chores are done at night, I come and stir the fire 'til it's blazing, then I sit down before it ....and I can see my mother and father, my grandparents and my great-grandparents who started it burning. Sometimes I sit with my old fiddle and play to it."

One neighbor remembered Billy Morris and his big dog, Booker T. "Billy had a great big, beautiful dog named Booker T. The dog grieved itself to death for him while he was in New York [doing the show]." Another neighbor said that the dog actually did die from a broken heart while Billy was gone.

Another neighbor remembered: He was a peculiar old bachelor who wore overalls all the time and played a good ol'-time fiddle. The dog would bark while he played the fiddle. He was a good fiddler. I would stop just to hear him play the fiddle. It would tickle him to death and he would start laughing.

"Uncle Billy, he loaned people fire when theirs burnt out. People drove miles just to see the century-old fire. It tickled him to death to see 'em and would talk to 'em. He was just an old mountaineer. The loved that old fire and always kept his fiddle tuned. He was extra good.

On Saturdays and Sundays the road would be full of people to see the fire. He kept a little flat box with a slit in the top. People would give him money and bring him gifts.

Billy Morris died in 1944. A cousin took over the fire for a while, but local residents say it was only a short time after his death that the fire burned out.

A extra good legacy for an extra good man.

Adapted from an article in MOUNTAIN LIVING.
 
 
Burial:
Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery
Saluda
Polk County
North Carolina, USA
 
Created by: bplevi
Record added: Aug 29, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21245977
William Morris
Added by: bplevi
 
William Morris
Added by: bplevi
 
William Morris
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Steven L Hunt Sr
 
 
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For William.....
- Steve
 Added: Jan. 28, 2012
Independence Day USA.
- Annie Mc
 Added: Jul. 3, 2009
Today is a good day for an unknown Heavenly Birthday! Someone thought of you today!
- Annie Mc
 Added: Jun. 11, 2009
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