Addie on the route

Motoring through the Mountains - 1930s: Addie

Jackson County
Altitude: 2,255 feet

Dr. John R. Brinkley (1885 – 1942), who was born and raised in Jackson County, gained a reputation as a practitioner of eclectic medicine. While he became wealthy in the 1920s and 1930s from his medical practice, his methods were later widely discredited. In 1935 he purchased a residence in the East LaPorte community of Jackson County and in 1936 he bought a large tract of land on the Plott Balsam mountain range near the Addie community. The location was noted for the prominence of several high peaks in the range, as in this view of Black Rock from a 1937 report prepared for Dr. Brinkley on the economic potential of the area. The Blue Ridge Parkway now passes through the area.

In the March 19, 1936, issue of the Jackson County Journal, an editorial remarked on Brinkley’s flamboyant return to Jackson County on an inspection tour of his new properties:

“Dr. Brinkley Came Home”

“Dr. John R. Brinkley, as is his way, made a dramatic appearance in Sylva Sunday, and remained until Monday afternoon.”

“Dr. Brinkley, widely known as the radio medicine man, whose spectacular financial success with his sanitorium (sic) at Milford, Kansas, attracted the attention of the Kansas City Star, the American Medical Society, and the Federal Radio Commission, resulting in bitter controversy with those institutions and organizations, came near to being elected Governor of the State of Kansas, running independent, and probably would have been elected if his name had been printed on the ballot instead of having to be written in by the voters. Later he moved his sanitorium (sic) to Del Rio, Texas, and his broadcasting stations across the border in Mexico, where he continues to operate. He has been branded a quack and a faker, by his opponents, but he continues to get the attention and the patients, and today is an international figure.”

“A native of this county, born near Beta, and reared near Tuckaseigee, Dr. Brinkley is well known to many people here. He always had the reputation, among his teachers and schoolmates, as being unusually bright. He once carried the mail from Tuckaseigee to Sylva, and picked up telegraphy at the Sylva station while waiting for trains to arrive, so that he could mount his horse and return with the mail to the Forks of the River. He operated a tent show through this section. He went away, and returned to begin the practice of medicine in this county.”

“Sunday, after making a flight in his own airplane from Del Rio to Spartanburg, where his red Cadillac coupe was awaiting him, he hurried to Sylva, to inspect the Jack Wike farm, which he recently purchased, in the name of his son, and to look after the proper execution and registration of the transfer papers. With his coupe, painted a brilliant red, and his name, “Dr. John R. Brinkley, Del Rio, Texas,” painted on the rear, he immediately caught the eyes of the people here, and crowds gathered about him wherever he went.”

“He called upon some of his old acquaintances, went to the railway station, seated himself at his old key, and talked again with Parson Kincaid at Dillsboro, as he used to do, years ago.”

‘That was John Brinkley’s return to Sylva and Jackson county.”

“What he will do with his property here has not been disclosed, but that he will do something to attract attention is certain, for John Brinkley puts a touch of the spectacular to everything he does, and makes every move an advertisement for himself and his business. That being true, it is more than probably that Sylva and Jackson county will get a vast amount of free publicity, of one kind and another, . . . out of the fact that property here.”

The Jackson County Journal (Sylva, N.C.) newspaper, in its September 3, 1936 issue, ran an article about the purchase of the lands:

“Dr. Brinkley Buys Plott Balsam Range”

"Announcement has been made of the purchase of the 9,000 acres Davis tract of land in this county by Dr. John R. Brinkley, of Del Rio, Texas, and Milford, Kansas.”

"The lands include Black Rock, Waterrock Knob, and Yellow Face, three of the highest mountains in this entire area. It includes both sides of much of the Plott Balsam Range that towers above Sylva to altitudes well above 6,000 feet.”

“Dr. Brinkley states that he will immediately fence the entire boundary, institute a reforestation program in that portion of this land that has been cut over; and that he will restock the streams with trout and the forests with game, developing the property as a private game and fish preserve.”

“There has been much speculation here as to whether or not Dr. Brinkley will erect a hospital, a sanitarium, or a hotel on this property. It would be admirably adapted for either purpose. But, if he has any such plans, he has not divulged them.”

“Dr. Brinkley, who has attracted international attention with his hospital and his radio station, and when he jarred Kansas politics by almost being elected Governor, running as an independent with the voters writing his name in on the ticket, was born and reared in this county. As a boy he carried the mail from here to Tuckaseigee on horseback, and picked up telegraphy at the Sylva railway station, while waiting for the mail trains.”

“Last Spring, Dr. Brinkley bought the Jack Wike farm, near East LaPorte, and has had his agents gathering a crack herd of thoroughbred Hertford cattle on his pastures there.”

Addie in the 1890s  |  Addie in the 1910s

To the West: Beta


To the East: Willits

Return to the Map for the 1930s

Sources & Readings

  • Brock, Pope. Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam. New York: Crown Publishers, 2008.
  • Carson, Gerald. The Roguish World of Doctor Brinkley. New York: Rinehart, 1960.
  • “Dr. Brinkley Buys Plott Balsam Range.” Jackson County Journal (Sylva, N.C.), September 3, 1936.
  • “Dr. Brinkley Came Home.” Jackson County Journal (Sylva, N.C.), March 19, 1936.
  • Juhnke, Eric S. Quacks and Crusaders: The Fabulous Careers of John Brinkley, Norman Baker, and Harry Hoxsey. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 2002.
  • Lee, R. Alton. The Bizarre Careers of John R. Brinkley. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2002.
  • Williams, Max R., ed. The History of Jackson County. Sesquicentennial ed. Sylva, NC: Jackson County Historical Association, 2001.
  • Wood, Clement. The Life of a Man: A Biography of John R. Brinkley. Kansas City, [Kan.]: Goshorn Publishing, 1934.