AUTHOR: Brenda Farthing Cooter
My Great-Great-grandfather, Joshua Winkler, was the son of John Winkler and Mary Pinion Pennell, born on Oct. 14, 1816 in Wilkes County, NC. Joshua’s maternal grandparents were Benj. Pennell and Elizabeth Judd.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Rowland Judd of England and Robin, a Cherokee woman (might have been named Moytoy, but I don’t have proof) who lived in Wilkes County, NC. Robin was the second wife of Rowland Judd.
On February 19, 1852, Joshua Winkler married Sarah Caroline Pearson in Wilkes County, NC.
Winkler first traveled through Watauga County during the Spring of 1859 while on his way to Kansas from Wilkes County, NC. His uncle, Joshua Pennell of Wilkes County, had freed the slaves he had owned and sent them to Kansas to live. Joshua Winkler was to travel there with them, purchase land for them, and help them get them settled in their new homes.
On January 1, 1862, Winkler returned to Watauga County and purchased 575 acres of land from Edmond Jones for $3,000. The land joined the D. B. Dougherty land and Hardin land at the entrance of the Appalachian State University and extended to the top of Deck Hill.
Joshua’s house, located at the foot of Deck Hill, was next to the only road to Blowing Rock. This road went straight up Deck Hill and followed Flat Top Rd. He kept a corral to house the livestock of travelers. Because the hill was so steep, he rented out extra teams to take heavily loaded wagons to the top. For those who did not rent Winkler’s extra teams, the alternative was to unload and “deck,” or stack, half a wagon’s load at the foot of the hill, take the remaining half to the top, deck it, then return to the foot of the hill, reload the other half, return to the top, and reload the first half—hence the name Deck Hill.
Joshua Winkler was a blacksmith and a farmer. He raised livestock and operated a grist and saw mill on Flannery’s Creek, known now as Winkler’s Creek. He furnished some of the lumber for the rebuilding of Watauga Academy. The Watauga County, NC Directory of 1883 lists Joshua Winkler as a principal farmer in the county. He was also listed as a flour and grist miller. The Southern Claims Commission, created by Congress in 1870, indicates that Joshua Winkler filed a $252 claim against the Union Army.
Joshua Winkler died on Aug. 6, 1896 in Boone, NC at the age of 80.