Buncombe County, North Carolina: Looking for family while stalked by a bear, Asheville

Photo: Nadia K. Orton, August 17, 2019. All rights reserved.

I’m pressed by deadlines this week, but a random newspaper snippet, uncovered last night, reminded me of a weird incident from a year ago. I was in Asheville, and anxious to inspect these headstones, located in a historically African American cemetery. I was looking for a maternal ancestor, who was born and raised in Henderson County, North Carolina. Minutes after I left this section, a 200+ pound black bear emerged from the trees that border the property, and thoroughly sniffed around where I’d crouched to get this picture. A family member in the car spotted the bear first, and moved up slowly, about a foot, to get my attention. This cemetery is located In the middle of a residential, African American neighborhood, and it was three-thirty in the afternoon.

A bear.

I’m still here because I used the car as a block, quickly got back inside, and locked the doors (don’t ask). The bear must’ve been very hungry, and desperate, to be in a densely populated area, in broad daylight, looking for food. At the time, I don’t remember thinking anything, I simply reacted. Strangely, I’m seriously rattled now, just thinking about it. I thought I was prepared for all things cemetery-oriented, including never going anywhere without my snake boots, ten-foot snake tongs, waders, chaps, DEET,…the works. I didn’t anticipate needing bear spray while looking for ancestors. It serves as a great reminder: never explore any cemetery alone! Always have a partner. More in a bit…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: