Jean Wells Huggins is a person who enjoys doing research, chasing after facts and information helpful for understanding a subject fully.

I first met Jean when she served as the chair for the Etowah High School Commemorative Marker celebration back in 2014. Since then, her efforts have focused on generating interest in the Etowah Heritage Committee. She has also contributed to the Education History Initiative and the Henderson County Walk of Fame.

Jean lost her husband early in her marriage and became a single parent to daughter, Glenda Huggins McCarson. Apparently, Jean’s efforts as parent were successful. Today, Glenda heads the Transylvania campus of Blue Ridge Community College.

Jean recently watched her grandson Cody graduate from Western Carolina University. Cody is now a teacher in the Transylvania School System. He teaches history. As a graduation gift, Jean gave him a library of books.

Jean believes in creating notebooks and scrapbooks on historical topics. A recent example of her work is the notebook that provides a record of every step in the Walk of Fame's two-year history, including minutes, nomination forms, nominee profiles and bylaws.

Much too often we are reluctant to take time to secure the paper trail that gives authority and provides historic record. Jean is eager to accept the challenge. She has also agreed to collect my Ridge Lines columns and place them in notebooks, with each column in a separate clear plastic covering.

Jean is a graduate of Etowah High School, Class of 1959. Her good friend, Dorothy Dalton Brown (husband: Richard) and she bonded on the basketball court. Their team won the county tournament in 1959. The two are determined that the Etowah Indians will be remembered and that the quality of education they experienced will be recorded accurately in the history of education in Henderson County.

It was Jean, Dorothy and another friend, Evelyn Sizemore, who filled over 600 “goodie pokes” for those attending the play “Unwrapping Local History” in 2016. No small undertaking.

Jean grew up on a dairy farm in Blantyre. She drove a tractor, pitched hay, and milked and fed the cows. Her summers were spent working the farm. She was never bored. Jean recalls how her mother taught her creative skills — crafts. Her mother would cut a pattern out of a newspaper and design clothing.

Jean remembers going to church, making homemade ice cream and walking to school. Somewhere along the way she learned to serve others.

Jean's family moved to Blantyre from Leicester in Buncombe County. My grandmother, Mary Rymer Orr, came from there also. Jean and I have said — more than once — that we are going to visit Leicester to discover a page of our family history.

If you visit Jean today at her home in Big Willow, you will spot the wheelbarrow, the colorful birdhouses, the flowers. If weather permits, you can sit outside and watch the bluebirds that fly overhead and enter their nest in one of the painted gourds. There's the cat Bob (a calico with no tail).

Jean plants flowers of many types, enjoying a newly opened blossom and pointing out the coloration in her hydrangea.

Today I visited with Jean Wells Huggins and we discussed topics of interest. Education topped the list. I am interested in pioneer teachers in the county. We discussed two of them today: Lee Gash and Benjamin Gullick. Where were the early schools and who were the teachers?

Another topic of interest is the Church of Gethsemane (remembered by marker only) and the multitalented John Wynne Jeudwine. I hope to write a column about this remarkable man.

Leslie Martino chairs the Etowah Heritage Committee. Jean Wells Huggins is a member. A visit to their website, etowahncheritage.org, will prove a valuable experience. Let your visit be my column for this week. The site is filled with information.

By visiting the website, you are able to honor the cemeteries and churches in the Etowah area. You can discover how Etowah got its name, that before there was an “Etowah” there was “Money.” You can hear first-hand from Pearl Gash how she served as postmaster, “a woman ahead of her time.”

You can learn about the murder of Henderson County's first sheriff, view the Orr cabin and learn how it was dismantled and shipped off to a destination many miles away.

Gerald Ledford provides the history of the railroad and the impact it had on the growth of the area. You can share the remembrances of Wanda Love and Richard Brown, and read the words of Eade Anderson from the speech he delivered at the commemorative marker celebration.

If you are not already familiar with places like Pleasant Grove, Beulah and Bowman's Bluff, you can learn about these pockets of county history. My grandfather grew up in Bowman's Bluff. It is a place filled with legend and mystery.