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Tense Franklin Banks and Marie White Bost Co-Authored Superlative Book about Prominent High Country and Toe River Valley Husband, Wife and their Descendants

By Tim Gardner

One of the best genealogical books published about a North Carolina High Country family and its descendants in general, and of the Toe River Valley region of Avery and Mitchell counties in particular, is Life’s Little Dash…The Life and Times of Alexander Wiseman.

Tense Franklin Banks and Marie White Bost, considered by many as two of the elite historians in the North Carolina Mountains, co-wrote the book. In fact, Banks serves on the Board of Directors of the Avery County Historical Museum and is the Board’s immediate past chairperson. Unquestionably, this joint book-writing project by Banks and Bost was a complex effort with a sterling result. 

Sadly, Bost passed away after a brave battle with cancer and did not see an actual copy of the published Life’s Little Dash…The Life and Times of Alexander Wiseman book.  However, her family was elated to know that it was on the way for publication at the time of her death.

Tense Franklin Banks

As Banks and Bost noted in the book’s foreword, some people consider cemeteries and tombstones as depressing and morbid.  Unfortunately, some may even consider them as dull and meaningless.  Those same people see a birthdate and a death date listed on the grave marker and likely think only of a beginning and an end.  But it is the “dash” between those dates that is all-important as how well the life of that person lived and a myriad of happenings that make up his or her lifetime is represented in that dash. And a study of such can be interesting and even fascinating.

This book is a study of the “little dash” for Alexander Wiseman and his wife, Delilah Fox Wiseman. Alexander, son of William and Lydia Wiseman, was born in 1802 at his father’s homeplace near the Toe River. He died there in 1877 at age 75.  Delilah was born in 1812.   She died in 1893 after raising twelve children with Williams and spending a lifetime in her husband’s family home. Alexander and Delilah had sixty grandchildren leading to a legion of descendants living in various states in America.  

Like Alexander and Delilah, they became great contributors to society, as the professional roles they filled include doctors, teachers, ministers, farmers and soldiers.  Some never married, but many did and had children.  Unfortunately, there were those who died young or at birth.  Their lives were also meaningful as they had a positive and lasting effect on the lives of various others.

Unlike many genealogical books and related publications centering on birth and death dates, Banks and Bost not only visited each of the homeplaces and gravesites of Alexander and Delilah’s twelve children, they also interviewed living relatives from each family.  Information they obtained from those visits to the homeplaces and interviews with those descendants gave the book a special intangible quality that enabled it to evolve into far more than just a genealogy account.  

Life’s “Little Dashes,” the stories of our ancestors should be viewed with the respect and reverence they have earned as it helps us not only realize the importance of, but also helps us to value our heritages with great pride and passion. Banks and Bost did a superlative job stressing those points in Life’s Little Dash…The Life and Times of Alexander Wiseman.

Filled with photographs, newspaper articles and images of original, historical documents, the book provides readers the ultimate insight into the time span when Alexander and Delilah Wiseman and their family lived and the effect on their descendants.  It truly brings to life the events that became the ‘little dashes’ of this Wiseman family—one of the Toe River Valley and the North Carolina High Country’s most prominent.

The Life’s Little Dash…The Life and Times of Alexander Wiseman book is 202 pages in length.  Its design was aptly done by Aaron Banks, son of Tense Franklin Banks. The book costs $30.00 (including tax) and can be obtained in person at the Avery County Historical Museum, located at 1829 Schulz Circle in Newland, or through mail order from the book’s editor, Vann Hammill, by logging online to: Books3byVanessa.com. The book as well as the many others offered at the museum would make wonderful Christmas gifts. Phone the Avery County Historical Museum at (828) 733-7111 for shipping prices for Life’s Little Dash…The Life and Times of Alexander Wiseman as well for the museum’s other books and their shipping fees. Banks can also be scheduled for book signings for this work and her latest release: The Story of Linville Falls, A Village, A People, A Wilderness through the museum or by email (bankstense@aol.com).

Marie White Bost