Women's History Trail Franklin NC


Macon Matriarchs • Franklin, NC


The Women's History Trail Project not only is generating the historical trail, working toward a sculpture to tell the stories of three women of Macon County but also to share stories of women who helped shape Macon County's History.

The Women’s History Trail (WHT) project of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC) adopted an activity in 2018 that continues each March as a part of Women’s History Month.

This annual celebratory event honors a special “WHT Macon Matriarch” and her role as trailblazer to help shape a better future for Macon County.

Discover the stories of the WHT Macon Matriarchs below.



Women's History Trail Macon NC Matriarchs


Macon Matriarch Honorees


2018 Macon Matriarch Margaret Ramsey

2018 • Margaret Ramsey

For her lifelong dedication to local heritage preservation and for supporting women and families of Macon County, the Women's History Trail, a project of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County, honored Margaret Ramsey with the first Macon Matriarch Award.

"Margaret is an unforgettable voice and champion for the betterment of our community", said Mary Polanski, co-chair of the Women's History Trail. The award was presented to Mrs. Ramsey on March 27, 2018.

» Read Margaret Ramsey's Story

2019 Macon Matriarch Sally Kesler

2019 • Sally Kesler

On March 19, 2019, Sally Kesler was recognized by the WHT for her lifelong dedication to the preservation of the cultural and natural heritage of Macon County.

She was recognized for being an unforgettable leader and resource of craft education, a champion of the area’s beautiful hiking trails and the greenway, and an esteemed artist and naturalist.

» Read Sally Kesler's Story

2020 Macon Matriarch Dorothy Crawford

2020 • Dorothy Crawford

On March 24, 2020, Dorothy Rose (Dot) Crawford was recognized as our latest WHT Macon Matriarch. For those of you who might not know Dot, she worked for the Department of Social Services starting in 1952 and was named director of that Department in 1959. Dot retired in 1984 but has continued to serve this community and our state through multiple committees and projects.

Dot is considered a trailblazer in that she was a woman who publicly advocated for others in a society that, in her younger years, was overwhelmingly male-dominated. She dedicated herself to helping local residents improve their lives, particularly the most vulnerable individuals who needed the most assistance. Mrs. Crawford turned 102 on April 24, 2020.

» Read Dorothy Crawford's Story

2021 Macon Matriarch Roberta Jefferson Swank

2021 • Roberta Jefferson Swank

FHAMC Chairperson Anne Hyder presented Roberta with a framed certificate that read: “Your dedication to the people of Macon County through community service, your excellent work ethic and your many years of willingness to help others earn you a perfect choice for this award. You exemplify the description of a ‘strong woman’ and we are proud to have you as a colleague! We honor you today with the annual Macon Matriarch Award.” Swank is a decendant of Thomas Jefferson's brother.

» Read Roberta Swank's Story

2022 Macon Matriarch Jesse Cabe

2022 • Jesse Downs Cabe

Jesse Cabe began her career as a school teacher, teaching home economics at Hayesville High School for two years and then at Franklin High School. In 1953 she was recruited to work with the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service (now called N.C. Cooperative Extension) through North Carolina State University. She began as an assistant for the 4-H clubs, but it was her time spent with homemakers for which she is most remembered. For more than 30 years, Jesse’s expertise in housing and house furnishings, human development, as well as all areas of family and consumer education, and volunteer recruitment and utilization, made her an invaluable resource for Maconians.

» Read Jesse Cabe's Story

2023 Macon Matriarch Sue Waldroop

2023 • Sue Waldroop

While working and raising a family, Waldroop earned a degree in social work from Western Carolina University, graduating summa cum laude in 1979. She worked for the Macon County Department of Social Services from 1965 to 1983. She then went to work for the N.C. Services for the Blind covering the five counties of Macon, Clay, Swain, Cherokee and Graham. She had some clients who lived on the Cherokee reservation and only spoke their native language, so she learned to speak some Cherokee.

She retired in 1994 but remained active serving several terms on the Macon County Planning Board, as chairman on the Macon County Board of Elections, and on the Macon County Democratic Party executive committee.

» Read Sue Waldroop's Story

2023 Macon Matriarch Sue Waldroop

2024 • Betty Warstler

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.

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!

» Read Betty Warstler's Story