|Mrs. Mary Smathers
Morgan has for many years enjoyed the role of “hostess” at the Shook House
in Clyde, where church folk come from far and near to visit the room of the
first Methodist Meeting House in this area. It was here that Bishop Francis
Asbury conducted his first service in 1810.
|The Shook Home Holds Many
By Lura Wright
July 18, 1963
Mrs. Mary Smathers Morgan has no doubt been hostess to more churchmen –
Bishops, Ministers, official Laymen and other dignitaries than any other
person in Haywood County. She’s owner of the Shook House at Clyde, which has
in recent years, become a shrine to Bishop Francis Asbury, who “blazed the
trail” through the North Carolina Mountains for Methodism.
In this Stately old house, erected almost 200 years ago, is located the
small chapel in which Bishop Asbury conducted the first religious service in
1810. The chapel is located on the third floor and is now used mainly as a
storage room, yet it holds many memories of the past, and has been an
attraction for visitors through the years.
People, especially church folk, [missing text] summer season at Lake
Junaluska, and the tourist season. Mrs. Morgan recalls that in receipt
years, she has had as many as five bishops there at one time, but she is and
always has been a gracious hostess and enjoys sharing her knowledge of the
early historic days of Methodism, which has been handed down through her
family. She still refers to the room as the church.
Thee are not many “Shouting Methodists” these days she says, but in the
early days there would be singing and shouting in the “upper Room,” as
visitors were moved by the sacredness of the place.
Mrs. Morgan is the daughter of the late D.I.L. Smathers and Martha Suzanne
Killian Smathers. She was reared in this historic old house and for the most
part, [missing text]
After her marriage to the late John H. Morgan, she returned to the old home
place after the death of her mother, to live with her father, and the family
has remained there. Upon her father’s death she became the sole owner.
She is a staunch member of the Louisa Chapel Methodist church. If she has a
hobby, it is preserving old things – furniture, china, etc. She has moved
the organ, which is over 200 years old, from the upstairs chapel into her
living room, and it looks like new.
Among her old pieces of china is a small plate which bears the date of 1370.
Although it is discolored with age and broken she still prizes it, because
it was brought from Germany by her grandmother. She also has a large
quantity of china and crystal which she cherishes.
The house has also been kept in good repair. She has spent thousands of
dollars not to make it modern but to preserve it and make it more
comfortable to live in.
The original building was of logs and it was in this log house that the
first religious service was held. The logs are still there, but have been
covered with siding, although the inside of the chapel still has the wide
16-inch board floor and ceiling. An old desk, used as Clyde’s first post
office, is used as a p8ulpit, and a large Bible rests on it. One of the
ceiling boards has been completely removed. There were so many requests of
something from the chapel as a memento, that pieces of the board were carved
off by visitors, and finally Mr. Smathers gave the entire piece. A photo of
Bishop Asbury hands on the wall.
The former two-story log house has been enlarged to include a number of
rooms on two floors. The first floor has been remodeled and decorated, while
the second for the most part is in the original workmanship with doors of
hand-hewn materials put together with wooden pegs which served as nails in
Some have raised the question, “Why the Shook House.” The Shooks were the
first known owners of property which was acquired by Mr. Smathers who paid
$1700 for the 310 acre tract. At the time of his death when the property was
divided among the heirs the valuation of the property was listed at $35,000.
The Methodist Historical Society has done much in recent years to re-kindle
an interest in early Methodism in this area, and to publicize the Shook
House as a shrine to Bishop Asbury.
Mrs. Morgan is the mother of four children, two sons, Levi and Lawrence, who
live in Clyde. The daughters, Lucille, Mrs. Jesse Robinson, in Fayettefille,
and Ruth, wife of Lt. Ed Jones of the Highway Patrol in Raleigh. Mrs. Morgan
is proud of her heritage, and well she should be, and hopes the children who
will fall heir to her property will continue in the same tradition as their
ancestors so that their descendants too many enjoy the same heritage.