Title: Oral History Interview with Zeno Ponder, March 22, 1974. Interview A-0326.
Interviewer: Finger, William
Interviewee: Ponder, Zeno
Subjects: North Carolina--Politics and government
Abstract: Zeno Ponder helped rebuild the Democratic Party in western North Carolina in the 1950s and is considered one of the most respected and influential leaders of Madison County. The interview begins with his descriptions of his family heritage in the mountains and of local Democratic and Republican traditions. Like many in the region at the time, his father and brother supported the Union during the Civil War. Ponder recounts going to small schools during the Depression and attending Mars Hill College. He also recalls the local employment situation during the Depression and during World War II. He and his wife trained as chemists, but he decided to return to Madison to farm. He became involved in county political organization by teaching in a GI training program following World War II. Working on his brother's run for sheriff solidified Ponder's loyalty to the Democratic Party. The latter portion of the interview describes the growth of Ponder's farm and personal wealth and unique aspects of the political culture in the North Carolina mountains. It ends with his description of the 360-degree mountain view from his living room.