Back Story

The story of The Collection:
In the early 1890’s a girl was born in the mountains of North Carolina near the spring known as Dan Springs. Her mother and sister spun and wove linsey-woolsey and they with her father and brother farmed. Mary Lydia Tabor grew up up the hollow from the source of clean clear water, along the banks of Brush Creek. And counted the days until she could leave those Smoky Mountains behind. She eventually moved with her husband to south Georgia, to the town of Patterson, where they farmed, worked as railway agents in depots along the railroad tracks, and raised their family. In the mid 1930’s Mary Lydia Tabor Lewis talked her husband into building a summer house in those same Smoky Mountains, just up the road from Dan Springs. And ever after, she and her children, and then grandchildren, and then great grandchildren headed to the Tabor-Lewis mountain house for the summers. This Collection brings together various artistic efforts of grandchildren and sisters Donna Kay Schumaker Mercer and Catherine Sue Schumaker Tyler, and assorted relations.

Donna Mercer graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and holds a teaching credential from California State University Northridge. She has been teaching drawing, art history and graphic design at Cleveland High School in Los Angeles since 2002, incorporating the experiences of her first career in graphic design, where she created corporate identity and collateral materials, advertising and packaging. Her love for all forms of art inspire her students to explore their own creativity.  To visit her blog, go to

Cathy Tyler graduated from the College of William and Mary with a Bachelor of Science in Math. After a 30+ year career in Information Technology with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, she retired in 2005 and devoted herself to her longtime interests in textile art, quilting, watercolor, and nature crafts. She has taught classes for her church and community and enjoys helping others discover and stretch their creative abilities.  To view her blog, go to

The profit from the Collection goes to help maintain the Tabor Lewis Mountain House. A bit about the house:
The non-profit corporation, Tabor-Lewis Mountain House, Inc., operates, maintains, and holds title to the house and real property, known to the family as the Mountain House Property, for the use and enjoyment of the heirs of Mary Tabor Lewis. The property, located on Brush Creek in Swain County, North Carolina, has been in the Tabor family for over 150 years.

From a history of the house by Martha Louise Lewis Hudgins:
The Tabor-Lewis Mountain House was built as a summer home in 1934 from timber cut on the site and sawed into boards at a saw mill on the nearby creek. You can still see footprints on the ceiling where the workers stepped on the boards as they built the house. All of the windows, doors, bathroom fixtures, beds, rocking chairs, dining room chairs, original living room furniture and tin for the roof was purchased through Sears, Roebuck & Company catalog and delivered out from Bryson City. The house was built with wiring for electricity. However, power had not come through the area. The original plan was to generate electricity with a generator installed in the creek, but that didn’t work. So the family used a kerosene stove and kerosene lamps at night, and everyone went to bed early. Finally the power came and all were thrilled to have lights and an electric stove. The descendents of William Jesse Lewis and Mary Lydia Tabor Lewis, who planned and built the Mountain House, now number 70 or more.


4 responses to “Back Story

  1. Can you use a montage of mountain house photos for the header instead of the treeline? And maybe a photo of Grandmama or the men building the house?
    just a thought…

  2. Donna, I’m so pleased with the header montage you put together! I’m drooling now thinking of the blackberries we picked together last Summer! ct

  3. Karen Morgenstern

    Hi Cathy! I’m Donna’s friend whose daughter Madeleine is Devon’s best friend . We nearly visited you (my husband, twin sons Adam and Michael, and Madeleine) in ’04 when we were in Virginia. You sent us wonderful tips on visiting your area. Madeleine now lives in DC, as she is a student at GW (thankfully home with us for the summer!).

    Your website is beautiful. So glad I found out about it. I would love to return to Virginia, but until then I look forward to visiting you often online.

    Karen Morgenstern

    • Karen, So good to hear from you! GW is a beautiful campus – I remember visiting there with Donna and Devon on their college tour! All the best to Madeleine, and come on south next time you’re out. Meanwhile, glad to have you drop by cyber-ly. Cathy

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