Cline McClure loved old-time gospel music. He had volume and didn’t need a microphone when he led songs at the singing conventions held in our old courthouse in Hayesville.
As a child, Carroll McClure attended the singing conventions with his parents. Cline and Pearl parked him on the front pew so they could see him. He recalls Cline liked the songs that got up and moved.
Cline and Pearl were popular gospel singers. They sang in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. They were invited to big singings across the region. Cline also taught some shape-note music classes.
He directed the choir at Myers Chapel United Methodist Church for many years. Pearl sang alto and played the piano by ear. She could not read music.
They grew up in Clay County and attended Hayesville School. Cline was on the championship football team in high school.
Cline attended Western Carolina University and became an educator. He taught school at Fires Creek and stayed with Harley Hicks.
He and Pearl got married in 1930. They had three children: Carroll McClure, Harold McClure, and Donna Crawford.
Pearl loved to cook and people enjoyed eating with her and Cline at their house. She had a big meal everyday that included meat, three vegetables, biscuits, cornbread, and she would even bake a cake. Each day she fed her family and four or five work hands.
She also helped Cline run a country store. It had groceries and livestock feed. Frank Bradley recalls as a child going to the store and the gristmill Cline ran on Saturday.
According to Carroll, Cline operated a hammer and gristmill on Saturday. The ears of corn were hammered to make feed for cattle. It went through the gristmill to make cornmeal.
“It was a big thing on Saturday,” says Carroll. “Wagons and pickups were lined up 15 deep to grind corn at the mill.”
Besides operating the gristmill and country store, Cline farmed. Carroll helped him and recalls that his father was a major dairy farmer. “We had the largest dairy herd in this area,” says Carroll.
Cline also went into the poultry business. He was a progressive farmer and had a large irrigation system for the pasture.
Although Cline worked hard on the farm, he always had time to talk with folks. He had a great personality and never met a stranger.
Whenever he went to town, Pearl would say, “There’s no telling when he will come back home.”
Cline’s outgoing personality was one reason he was elected Clay County Clerk of Superior Court in 1938 and 1942. Everyone liked him. His son, Harold McClure, also served as Clerk of Superior Court from 1986 to 2010.
Quail hunting was also one of Cline’s interests. “I still remember his bird dog, Bill,” says Carroll. “The dog was a white pointer and he loved to hunt with him.”
Finally, Cline McClure was a splendid song leader and progressive farmer in Clay County. When he passed away in 1984, Pearl continued to bless people with her gift of singing.
She and a group sang at nursing homes and visited shut-ins. Their beautiful voices lifted elderly and sick people. The singers included Pearl, Evelyn Groves, Ray Swaims, Horace McClure, and Phyllis Barnard sometimes went with them.
Pearl was 100 in November, 2011. According to Carroll, she likes to watch the Gaithers on television. When they perform the old hymns, she sings with them and remembers the words. They are implanted in her mind. That’s the power of gospel songs.
by: Brenda Kay Ledford