Women's History Trail Franklin NC


Betty Warstler • 2024 Macon Matriarch


With the opening of the Women’s History Trailhead at Women’s History Park and the unveiling and dedication of “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” sculpture to the Town of Franklin, the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County/WHT continues their celebration of Women’s History Month by recognizing this year’s 7th Annual WHT Macon Matriarch, Betty Warstler.

On March 27, 2024, members of the Women’s History Trail (WHT) leadership and Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC) met at the home of Betty Warstler to present her with their annual award which aptly stated, “Certificate of Appreciation in recognition for your lifelong dedication to the people of Macon County through community service. With a heart for missions, a voice for the most vulnerable people in our society, and your many years of willingness to give selflessly to help others, you are the perfect choice for this year’s WHT Macon Matriarch Award.” Surrounded by family and friends, she shared stories of her time in Franklin, particularly mission-minded projects which were underway in her craft room. At almost 95 years old, Betty continues to work tirelessly to create items to benefit Franklin First United Methodist Church missions, especially their annual Bazaar in its 35th year! A notebook on the table logging records of her work tells her story: 4,771 hot mats, 91 grocery bags, 140 blessing banks, hundreds of children’s outfits for children in Honduras, and many more fabric, wood, and stained-glass items! Evidence of her talent, and late husband’s Harold handiwork, can be found throughout her home.


Women's History Trail Macon NC Matriarch Roberta Swank

Whether going on mission trips both abroad and in the US or using her creative skills to raise funds for projects, Betty’s life’s work has been focused on helping those in need. She is a member of Franklin First United Methodist Church (FUMC) and has served on many of the Church leadership committees throughout the years, particularly the Missions Ministry, until her declining health made it impossible to continue going on mission trips. Betty and Harold started stained-glass and woodworking groups at FUMC to encourage and help teach members how make items that could be sold to benefit church mission projects. More than three decades ago, (in 1988), she shared her ideas about raising money for missions to the Laura Jones UMW Circle of which she was a member. Together, their group worked to organize the first church-wide yard sale which later morphed into its annual bazaar. This flagship fundraiser held every July, is sponsored now by the entire congregation at Franklin’s FUMC and has grown leaps and bounds raising more than $700,000 to provide funds for local, regional, national, and global mission work. This year’s Bazaar will be held at the Macon County Fairgrounds on July 19 & 20!

Betty and her husband Harold (and children Brad, Pam and Kim) moved to Franklin in 1965 when he was appointed the Assistant Director of Macon Program for Progress. Harold started a self-housing program that was the forerunner of Habitat for Humanity here in Macon County and Betty, by working alongside Harold, was involved in this project. In addition, Betty supported Harold in the establishment of the county-wide Head Start Program and she worked with ladies in the community as part of the Homemaker Training Program, also started under Harold’s tenure as Director of MPP.

Together, Betty and Harold helped establish Maco Crafts in 1969, a non-profit craft co-op aimed to provide a venue for local crafters to earn a sustainable living. Maco Crafts Co-op allowed members to sell their wares, and this membership was under a juried invitation to maintain that high craft standards be reflected. In an article written by Danita Stoudemire for The Franklin Press on November 8, 2002, we learn: “It all started with their idea to show off the rich tradition of handmade crafts in our mountains, while at the same time help the low-income families supplement their income by giving them a market for their work. Betty managed Maco for the first three years without pay, then on a salary for seven more. While she managed the shop, she took advantage of every craft course offered in Franklin. She learned woodturning and weaving, took woodcarving, learned to do white oak chair bottoming, making her own splits from a log, and she also became a proficient quilter.”

In 2012, Betty and Harold wrote in a letter to the editor: “One of the many things we appreciate about living in Macon County is that most everyone seems to have a high degree of caring for each other. You can see and feel it when you enter a local business and find a donation jar on the counter for someone who has had an unfortunate experience.” This sign hangs in her craft room and is the mantra for how she portrays a life in service to others, “You don’t have to walk on water, it’s about how you walk on land.”

Betty’s work of helping those in need has come in many shapes using her varied talents throughout the years and she deserves this recognition as WHT Macon Matriarch for her important contributions to Macon County!