A Blowing Rock author who died in 1908 has a new book out this
Mary Nelson Carter, author of “Phases of Life Where the Galax Grows” and founder of the
original Blowing Rock Lending Library, has had her second book, “A Fox in Paris,” published by
Infonouveau, an online book publisher.
“A Fox in Paris,” an unfinished manuscript at the
time of Carter’s death, was fleshed out by her great-great-grandson, Perry Vayo.
the text and added illustrations. Carter’s story is her fictional retelling of an old folk tale.
“As for how I found the manuscript, it was left to me in an old box of family items that had
been stored down in North Carolina for many years, on my great-aunt’s farm outside of Chapel Hill,”
said Vayo, from his home in Rochester, N.Y.
“As I was sifting through all the items, I found
an old envelope that had a stack of faded, handwritten pages inside. Those were the beginnings of ‘A
Fox in Paris,’” he said.
Whereas “Phases of Life Where the Galax Grows” is an historical
account of the lives of people living near Blowing Rock between the Civil War and the turn of the
century, “A Fox in Paris” is pure fiction aimed at younger readers.
“It is a timeless tale
of the triumph of the spirit,” said Vayo of “A Fox in Paris.” “We have broken some new technical
ground with the iPad version of this book, adding animation and interaction that not only enhances
the story, but also provides a learning experience, as well. It is truly a great new take on an old
Mary Nelson Carter
According to Vayo, Mary Nelson Carter was originally
from New England, the daughter of a Nantucket merchant shipping captain named John Bunker and an
The family lived first in New York City and then in Fairfield, Conn.
She married Dr. Charles Carter, a doctor in the Union Army, in New York in 1863.
After the Civil War, the Carters relocated to the Philadelphia area, where Charles
established a successful medical practice.
The Carters began to make regular forays to the
mountains of North Carolina, where they fell in love with Blowing Rock and its inhabitants.
When an epidemic hit the mountain region in the late 1870s, the Carters decided that the
doctor’s medical skills were needed more in Blowing Rock than in Philadelphia, and the couple moved
here full time.
While Charles Carter tended to the sick and injured, Mary Carter worked to
improve the literacy rate among her new mountain neighbors.
The Carters lived in Blowing
Rock until their deaths, Charles in 1898 and Mary in 1908.
“Mary Carter and her husband are
both remembered in Blowing Rock for their contributions to the community,” Vayo said. “In Mary’s
case, it was her long work fighting illiteracy in the region and the establishment of a free library
in a building they built right on the lawn beside their house, that secured her place in the town’s
Her ‘Lend-A-Hand Library,’ which she started, working with Rev. William Savage, the
Episcopal minister in Blowing Rock, slowly grew over the years, until, in 1928, long after her
death, it became the Blowing Rock Community and School Library.”
The Mary Nelson Carter
Memorial Lend-a-Hand Library at one time held more than 1,000 books. Its book borrowing service was
“free to mountaineers but visitors pay $1 per season.”
A publishing company called McClurg in
Chicago first published “Phases of Life Where the Galax Grows” in 1900. The book was part of a
series titled “North Carolina Sketches.”
Carter based her book on conversations with folks
who lived in the hills and hollows around Blowing Rock. Many of the stories feature the women of
Appalachia and their remembrances of life during and after the Civil War.
pictures of her interviewees and several of them now are featured in a newly republished edition of
“Phases of Life Where the Galax Grows.”
“The area was changing quickly and the old culture
was being pushed out by a wave of new residents, and she wanted to record as much as possible before
it was gone,” Vayo said.
‘A Fox in Paris’
Vayo described the storyline of “A Fox in
Paris” as: “On a sultry August day in the summer of 1836, a young boy from the countryside of
Bordeaux is abandoned to his fate on the streets of Paris, by his unscrupulous cousin.
from being the ‘City of Light,’ for the poor and the homeless, the city can be a dark and dangerous
place. For 11-year-old Lucien Lehun this is his new home.
“After the death of Lucien’s
well-to-do uncle, his cousin takes control of the family estate and decides to rid himself of his
new ward, and steal the inheritance left to Lucien. It is this selfish ambition that lands Lucien –
frightened, penniless, and alone – on the streets of Paris with only his treasured copy of ‘Robinson
Crusoe’ to call his own.
“As Lucien struggles to survive, it is the lessons learned from his
uncle, and the constant companionship of a very special dog that prove more valuable than money. The
little dog and the boy become an inseparable team, caring for each other through good times and bad,
like Crusoe and Man-Friday, in Lucien’s favorite book. By staying true to the values of generosity,
charity and optimism, instilled in him by his beloved uncle, they not only survive, but, thrive
against all odds.”
For more information on Mary Nelson Carter’s books, visit