Jesse Bryson Stalcup (1860-1931) was born in the backcountry of western North Carolina in what later became Swain County. Born to Thomas Belew and Charity Jane Starnes Stalcup, the family lived near Whittier on Conley's Creek not far from a large Native American Cherokee population. Jesse grew up “with the Cherokee Indians as his playmates, spoke the Cherokee language,” and acquired the skills of a woodworker and millwright.
In 1881, while working in Haywood County, Jesse met and married Alice Florence Kelly (1862—1948), the daughter of Rufus Pierce and Dorothy Edmonston Kelly. Seven of their eight children were born in or near Waynesville, NC. The family moved briefly to Hiawassee, GA, before finally settling in Macon County, NC.
For the rest of his life, Jesse worked as a carpenter, millwright, and Baptist preacher until his death in 1931. He left evidence of his craftsmanship in the building of several western North Carolina churches and in the legacy of finely crafted household furniture, passed from family member to family member, for over a century.
- From “A Craftsman’s Legacy: The Furniture of Jesse Bryson Stalcup,”
by Suzanne Hill McDowell
The Artistry of Plain Style Furniture (Cullowhee: Mountain Heritage Center, 2008).