Bethel Rural Community Organization’s (BRCO) vision statement includes the phrase, “Preserving Yesterday.” BRCO’s annual Pigeon Valley Award for Historic Preservation commemorates the importance of historic conservancy by honoring an individual who has been involved with preserving Bethel history.
The 2019 recipient, Cheryl Inman Haney, is deserving of the award for her 30-plus year endeavors to ensure that Bethel history would be researched, documented and used as an educational tool.
Haney’s journey as a researcher began in earnest when she was a teacher at Bethel Junior High School and sent 27 of her eighth-grade students to interview dozens of Bethel residents, research hundreds of leads, and write 161 sections for the book, Pigeon Valley. She and her students published the book in 1992, and BRCO republished it in 2008.
Haney was also a valued speaker during BRCO’s Cold Mountain Heritage Tours that received hundreds of visitors annually to Inman Chapel as one of the tour sites. Books 4,5, and 6 of Legends, Tales & History of Cold Mountain, written and produced by members of BRCO’s Historic Preservation Committee to accompany the tours, included articles by Haney.
She continues to research and educate with lectures about Inman family history at the annual reunions at the chapel.
Haney’s writing continued with the publication of her well-documented book about the Inman family: My People – History of a Mountain Family, for which BRCO nominated Haney for a state history award. Haney has also written articles for “The Universalist Herald.”
Her knowledge about Sunburst logging village was apparent when she and her sister, Phyllis Inman Barnette, were key speakers for BRCO’s Sunburst and Other Logging Operations in the Bethel and Cold Mountain Region DVD that is available through BRCO’s website: www.bethelrural.org, at Blue Ridge Books, Lake Logan Conference Center and Canton Area Historical Museum.
Haney’s most daunting historical achievement, perhaps, was writing the submittals for two state historical markers that reside in Bethel as a result of her efforts: Inman Chapel and Sunburst Village. These historical markers are notoriously difficult to secure, so the fact that Haney has been successful with two indicates the depth and success of her historical endeavors.