Hitty Namesakes: The Walker Sisters

Walker Sisters Cabin - pano

Hitty sisters I recently carved made a trip hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The Hitty sisters, wood dolls, share the heritage of Methitabel, (“Hitty” for short) a carved doll starring in the Newberry winning book Hitty, Her First Hundred Years.

While I enjoy carving the dolls, the detailed tiny clothes are fashioned by my Aunt Elizabeth.

The Hitty sisters, carved from butternut wood,  ultimately found their identity in the Smokies.

One day friends and I hiked in Little Greenbriar Cove from Metcalf Bottoms picnic area to the Little Greenbriar School.

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Enroute to the Walker Sisters’ Cabin.

Then we continued on to the Walker Sisters’ Cabin.  When I’d introduced my friend Kay to the carved wood sister-dolls I’d brought along for a photo shoot she asked, “What are their names?”

I didn’t know.

“Well,” Kay was emphatic.  “We need to figure out their names on this hike.”

Our next destination was the Walker Sisters’ Cabin.

As a surprise, Kay had brought us a copy of Bonnie Trentham Myers’ “The Walker Sisters: Spirited Women of the Smokies.”

One of the few published books on the Walker Sisters.

Bonnie Myers’ mother had been a friend of the Walker sisters and Myers had visited their cabin and interviewed the sisters.

Myers also conducted research on life of the people who lived in the late 1800s and into the 1900s in what became the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Kay and I read stories of the Walker sisters as we sat on the porch.

We decided then that the Hitty Twins had found their home. Their names — in honor of two  Walker sisters became Hettie and Louisa.

Hettie and Louisa were two of the seven Walker sisters.

Hitty Louisa (L) and Hitty Hetty on the porch at the Walker Sisters’ Cabin.

They also had three brothers. Six of the Walker sisters worked the 122-acre farm as their parents and grandparents had until the last of the sisters died in 1964.

We were captivated by the  creativity, resourcefulness and courage of the Walker sisters.

They grew almost all of their own food, including wheat, potatoes, lettuce, radishes, corn and beans.

They raised cows, sheep, chickens and hogs. They milked the cows and churned butter. They could slaughter a hog and cure its meat. They had bee hives.

Hitty Hetty (left) and Hitty Louisa sitting on the Walker Sisters’ porch with icehouse in background

They had more than 100 apple trees, with more than 20 varieties of apples. Almost every meal included apples of some kind – applesauce, apple jelly, apple pies or apple butter. They made apple cider vinegar that they used for household cooking and cleaning.

They sheared the sheep, spun wool on the five spinning wheels in the cabin, and made their clothing and blankets.

And they stood up to the National Park Service. In the 1930s when the Park Service purchased land to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Walker

Hitty Dolls at the base of the large hemlock outside Walker Sisters’ Cabin

sisters refused to sell their land.
Louisa, the poet of the sisters, even wrote a poem about how aggressive the Park Service was in trying to take their land.

In 1941, the Walker Sisters sold their land to the Park Service for $4,750. The Park Service made an agreement with the Walker Sisters that let them continue to live on their land throughout their lives.

The Hitty Walker sisters could come to live with you.

 

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