West Jefferson's Marble Statue - A Work of Art
Standing proudly at the corner of West Main Street and 2nd Avenue in downtown West Jefferson, the Pocahontas Statue is beloved by Ashe County citizens. The history behind this statue may be more than what meets the eye, and the Pocahontas Statue in West Jefferson has a twin over 600 miles to the north.
The statue originally commissioned in the early 1930s was to be a major piece for the Geneva Central Council in upstate New York. Original funding for the project came from Works Progress Administration.
As the sculptor, Jean Mackay, was nearing completion, she discovered a dark vein that ran across the statue’s upper body and face. No longer satisfied with the veined marble as the medium for the statue, the Georgia Marble Company replaced the piece of marble.
Once again, the sculptor started from scratch. The final statue, The Lady of Peace, completed in the late 1930s still stands in Geneva, NY.
The original veined marble work of art, still a world-class work of art with extra character, the story goes:
In 1939, Mr.W.B. Reeves of West Jefferson bought the unfinished statue from Georgia Marble Company and brought it to Ashe County. The statue sat on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and 1st. Street for many decades in amongst the tombstones at Ashe Memorial Works, owned by Mr. Reeves.
Upon the sale of Ashe Memorial Works, Dr. John Gamble of Lincolnton, North Carolina, a relative of Mr. Reeves, bought the statue of Pocahontas from the new owner of Ashe Memorial Works. According to a news article in Lincolnherald News Paper, Dr. Gamble placed the statue on his farm in Lincolnton County.
During the period that the statue was with Dr. Gamble, there were many individuals who tried to buy West Jefferson’s icon, “Pocahontas” and bring her home.
The Gamble Estate Agrees to Sell Pocahontas
Upon the death of Dr. Gamble, the Gamble family became open to selling the statue to the town of West Jefferson. In March 2016, with the negotiations completed Pocahontas was coming home.
Why Was she Called Pocahontas?
At the time Mr. Reeves brought the statue to West Jefferson, Ashe County locals endearingly dubbed the statue Pocahontas. She has been a staple piece of art over several decades, only having been away from downtown West Jefferson for a brief period.
No one in West Jefferson knows why the locals selected the name, Pocahontas. But she is a local icon.
As with her sister in Geneva, people would occasionally paint and decorate her, usually around Halloween. It was a tradition of high school graduates to place a brasserie on Pocahontas the night of their graduation.
The return of Pocahontas was a welcoming homecoming and well received by Ashe County locals.
Take a drive through downtown West Jefferson to see West Jefferson’s treasured Pocahontas for yourself! Visit her on her pedestal in the town’s Back Street Park.