Transcribed from The Transylvania Times, Brevard N.C. Monday, June 6, 2005-Page 3A
with permission from the author.
The True Story About The White Squirrels
By Barbara Mull Lang
Through the years I have read many articles about the origin of your white squirrels. Some of the articles contained untrue statements and this was very disturbing to me. I am writing this to you so that you have the true facts and story about your white squirrels.
I have heard the white squirrels have spread into neighboring communities and think that many years from now they may be in other cities around Brevard. Brevard can say the truth is that the white squirrels first began in Brevard, and this is the true story of how they began.
I, Barbara Mull, was born in a two-story house on the corner of Caldwell and King Streets. The Mull family lived there for many years until one by one the different families moved into their own house leaving my parents, W. Edgar and Annie Mull, grandfather, W.P. Mull, who everyone called Papa, and myself.
When I was around ten years old my Uncle Harry and Aunt Mary came home for Christmas and stayed with us since we had extra bedrooms. Uncle Harry had a cage with two white squirrels that he put in our living room.
He said his friend, Mr. M. Black, gave him the squirrels in return for his help capturing them in his pecan orchard located in Madison, Fl. Mr. Black said the squirrels escaped when a circus caravan that was involved in an accident. The circus moved on without the white squirrels.
One night one of the white squirrels somehow got out of the cage and was wildly running all over the living room. It jumped on the Christmas tree knocking several ornaments off, then on the fireplace mantle knocking off some decorations. Finally Uncle Harry caught it but the squirrel bit his finger causing it to bleed profusely.
I asked Uncle Harry if he was going to take the white squirrels up in the forest and let them go. He said no he didn’t want to do that. He was afraid they would not survive in the wild because of their white color. He said he was hoping he could find someone who wanted them and would take care of them. I said I would take care of them, and that I wanted them. He said he was hoping I would want them and gave them to me. However, my daddy said they could not stay in the house and built a large cage for them and placed it outside in the back yard.
The cage was built on legs to keep it off the ground and out of reach of dogs and cats. Inside the cage Daddy placed a section of a tree trunk with a limb. He enclosed the top area of the cage and placed some straw in it for a nice nest. My grandfather, Papa, enjoyed the squirrels and frequently fed them and changed their water before I got home from school.
My white squirrels had a patch of gray on their head and down their back. One had more gray than the other did. The squirrels were always very nervous when you put your hand in the cage and never became tame enough to hold or pet like a dog or cat. They would very cautiously come take a nut from your hand but grab it and run away. Sometimes they would bury the nut in the straw or sit on the tree limb and eat it.
As long as they were in the cage they never had any offspring. When I finished the seventh grade my daddy went to Kinston, N.C. to work. Papa said he would take care of my white squirrels for me and he went to live with his daughter Josephine Collins and her daughter, Dottie, on Johnson Street.
We moved the big cage with white squirrels to my aunt’s back yard on Johnson Street. My parents moved to Kinston, N.C. for a year then to Pensacola, Florida for a year.
One week when we came home to visit I went over to see my white squirrels and my cousin Dottie said she had some bad new to tell me. She said while Papa was feeding the squirrels one day he accidentally let one escape. She said the one left looked so lonely that Papa felt sorry for it and let it go also. I loved my grandfather so much I couldn’t be angry with him and I knew he didn’t do it on purpose. I was just so very concerned that my squirrels would get run over by a car or killed by some dog or cat.
I never dreamed that they would survive, but over the months and years I would have people tell me they saw one of my white squirrels on Maple Street and then other places. I enjoy seeing my white squirrels “great grand squirrels” when I come home. I was thankful when my cousin, Charlene’s husband, Volney Tinsley said Brevard had passed an ordinance protecting the white squirrels. And I am thankful the people of Brevard have come to love the white squirrels as I did and have adopted them as Brevard’s White Squirrels.
Yes, it is true the white squirrels began in Brevard and the first pair of white squirrels was mine.
Barbara Mull Lang’s family left Kinston and moved to Pensacola, Fla., where she met her future husband, Jim Lang. She eventually returned to Brevard, where she graduated from Brevard High School and then went on to become a registered nurse. She and Jim are now retired in Mobile, Ala., but her father, William Edgar Mull, still lives in Transylvania County. Her mother, Annie “Ann” Mull, passed away last year.
As for Transylvania’s original white squirrels, Mull gave them names that she thought were appropriate: Snowball and Snowflake. One of her pets, however, apparently had other ideas.
“Snowflake would sit on the limb in his cage and his tail would swish, swish, swish,” recalled Lang. “I said, ‘You don’t look like a Snowflake; you’re too frisky.” And so, the first two white squirrels to live in Brevard became known as Snowball and Frisky.