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Nick the Hermit
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Nick the Hermit

Nick was born on December 26, 1851. By the time Nick was just three years old both his mother, Mary Heaton Grindstaff, and his father, Issac Grindstaff, died. Nick and his three siblings were left orphans. Nick lived with relatives until he was 21 years old. He was an active member of the Baptist church. At age 21 Nickís parentsí farm was divided into fourths for the children. Nick built a house on his fourth and began to farm the land. After five years of farming Nick sold his farm to E. S. Jordon and decided to go west.

Nick was robbed of everything he owned. He went to Benjamin Wilson in Missouri for help. Benjamin had moved to Missouri from Carter County. Benjamin sent Nick back home. After Nick return he lived with Mr. Jordan. He refused to stay with any of his relatives. After a while Nick decided to live on Iron Mountain. He went to the highest peak where Johnson and Carter Counties dividing line are and built a hut of logs and boards. Nick lived in this hut for more than 30 years. Nick stayed busy clearing land, building fences, and raising a garden. He gathered roots and herbs and traded them for supplies.

Nick defended himself with a barlow knife, an ax, and a hickory stick. Although Nick isolated himself and looked rugged from the many layers of old clothes and the long hair he wore, no one was afraid of him because of his kindness.

On July 21, 1923 Baxter McEwen went by to check on Nick. He found him dead on the bunk in his hut. His faithful dog had been keeping watch over his masterís dead body for the past three or four days. The dog had to be tied before men could carry out Nickís body for burial. Nick was buried on the mountain peak where he lived the last 30 years of his life. A gravestone was erected so passersby would remember Nick. Today the Appalachian Trail passes by the area. The Cherokee National Forest maintains the monument that marks Nickís burial site.