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Ashe County Oral History

Collection of interviews with notable Ashe County residents

94 years old at the time of the interview, Jess Eller recalls the details of the Will Banks hanging, his career working for the highways and railroad, and lore surrounding the Devil's Stairs. Jess Eller's sister, Gertrude Waddell, is featured in a separate interview.

Part 1

1:01 Birthdate

1:30 Description of the Will Banks hanging


Part 2

1:21 Working for the State

2:25 Building the railroad

6:20 Marriage

7:44 Early farming

10:30 Early roads

13:18 Prison labor


Part 3

1:10 Railroad related accidents

5:50 Origin of Devil’s Stairs

12:55 Managing convicts


Part 4

:45 Temperament of convicts

6:05 Fields Absher murder

8:50 Devil’s Stairs stories

11:10 reflections on change