- [S106] The Mountain Press, 2 Apr 2012.
Upland Chronicles: Hand weaving an art long practiced by Moore family
Cora Ownby Morton weaving in her home.
Jane Morton Nolan holding a placemat she created on her loom.
Stella Nolan Lamon weaving in her home/studio.
By CARROLL McMAHAN
Early decorative arts of the Smoky Mountains were handmade quilts, hand-woven coverlets, split oak baskets and other “necessary” crafts once common to every remote household. Art was often the result of need.
Mountain people were self-reliant, making do with materials at hand such as growing flax and raising sheep for the carding, spinning and weaving of cloth for their clothing. While the men were busy crafting the cabins and making household implements and farming tools, the women usually wove cloth for clothing.
Miriam McCarter Moore and her husband, Moses Moore, lived and raised their children in a log cabin nestled in a hollow along King Branch. Carding wool, spinning it into yarn and then weaving it into clothes for her family, was among Miriam’s domestic duties. She knew the importance of family tradition and was diligent in teaching her daughter Sarah Ellen the art of hand weaving.
A combination of necessity and love of the craft compelled Sarah Ellen to continue hand weaving after she married James S. “Cager Jim” Ownby and moved to Cove Mountain. Cager Jim built a loom for Sarah Ellen, who soon discovered hand weaving was not only useful around the house but could be used as barter with local merchants for necessary household items.
When Sarah Ellen’s first daughter Cora was born, it was only natural that hand weaving would become a part of her life. Cora married Verless Morton and they lived on Cove Mountain with her parents.
As tourism began to flourish in Gatlinburg, Cora and her mother supplemented their income by selling products to area craft stores including the Arrowcraft Shop. Cora was grateful that the modest income enabled her to have a little extra money to spend on her children.
Following the death of her father Cora, along with her family and widowed mother, moved to the Glades Community. It was here that Cora’s daughter Jane developed her skills as a hand weaver.
Jane Morton married June Nolan in 1949. Jane and June were immortalized in “Riding to Newport,” a book written by their grandson, Donnie Lamon, after the death of June Nolan.
Knowing his maternal grandmother’s love for the written word, Donnie honored his grandparents by writing the book for her. Once everyone began reading the book they convinced him it should be published.
When Jane and June moved across the road from her parents, they took a loom that Jane’s mother and her grandmother had used. It was here that Jane and June continued the family tradition of hand weaving while raising five children.
When their daughter, Stella, decided to earn some money, Jane set up a loom for the 12-year-old and paid her 10 cents apiece to weave handles for tote bags. Jane also taught her daughter Hope how to weave.
In 1971, Stella married Rickie “Pete” Lamon. Continuing family tradition, Stella and Pete moved next door to her parents.
With her parents’ help, in 1983 Stella and Pete started Mountain Family Weaving across the street from the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge They moved to a shop in Dollywood in 1985.
“Weaving is just something that everyone in the family did,” said Stella. “I guess with me it just came naturally. Weaving can be very tedious at times especially as you set-up a complicated pattern through the harness, but it can also be very rewarding when you see the end product and know it contains so much family tradition.”
Feeling she needed to be more available for her children, Stella moved the business to her home in the Glades in 1988 and returned to supplying area craft shops. She still uses a big portion of her home in Sevierville as a weaving studio.
For the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2009, Stella’s sister Hope Reagan created limited edition table runners and placemats on a loom built by her great-grandfather.
Stella Lamon has honored her family legacy by sharing the hand weaving tradition with her daughter and granddaughter. That is seven generations in the same family who have practiced the art of hand weaving. The common thread linking the past and present is quality and skill.
— Carroll McMahan is the special projects facilitator for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce. The Upland Chronicles series celebrates the heritage and past of Sevier County. If you have suggestions for future topics, would like to submit a column or have comments; please contact Carroll McMahan at 453-6411 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or Ron Rader at 604-9161 or email to email@example.com.
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Name: V James Morton
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Event Type: Marriage
Event Date: 12 Dec 1923
Event Place: Blount, Tennessee, United States
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Spouse's Name: Cora Ownby
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Reference ID: see next entry
GS Film number: 2073868
Digital Folder Number: 004646470
Image Number: 02390