The people of Appalachia have always been self-reliant and developed a thriving craft culture from the skillful creation of objects they needed to survive and thrive. Skills such as weaving, quilting, knitting, and crocheting produced functional items such as blankets and clothing, but also provided an outlet for creative expression. Nancy Lavada Miller Fisher’s hook is no exception. The Transylvania County Library’s North Carolina Room received a generous donation of historic clothing items created by Transylvania County resident Nancy Fisher decades ago.
Born March 28, 1891 in the Transylvania County region of Quebec to Gideon and Mary Ann Henderson Miller, Fisher lived near Kim Miller Road in a house that still stands today. She attended the local two-room school in Quebec, but did not pursue formal education beyond that. She married Roland Thomas Fisher in 1909; their first child was born in 1910 and the last in 1932. She lived a long life entirely in Transylvania County and died on July 26, 1986.
Fisher was a practicing midwife and well versed in the use of native plants for medicine and health. She raised seven children and was an expert seamstress, able to look at a photo of a piece of clothing and create a pattern. His daughter Millie was even voted the best dressed in school thanks to Fisher’s ability to create elegant and crisp clothes. Fisher developed a repertoire of crochet stitches which she used to create the collection now archived in the NC Room. A dot pattern used for the pink dress in the collection appears to be original. It is a series of “crosses and columns” and gives a unique look to the room.
Looking closely at the details of the collection, one sees skillful use of ventilated sleeves, decorative trims, crocheted button covers, alternating color patterns and decorative elements that speak volumes about the talent of their designer. This exhibit will be on the second floor of the library just outside the North Carolina room, for the next few months for those wishing to visit. The photographs and information in this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by local history librarian Laura Sperry. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or (828) 884-1820.