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Full text of "BLUE RIDGE COUNTRY"

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JThe BlueJRidge Country is the land of the Con 
and the Blue Ridge hilji 



ughout America Jean Thomas is known fi 
e of the mountain people and their wa> 
:t stenographer in the mountains of Ke: 
tucky, accompanying the Circuit Judge and lawye 
from one court to another, in a jolt wagon, lor 
before the days of improved highways, she acquire 
from the mountainpeople,thg. name of Traipsij 



In Blue Ridge Country she has written a boc 
1 which is the fruit of years of intimate acquaintanc 

[with the land and its people. I 






BLUE RIDGE COUN TRY 



:A M ir:i CA^ :F;OL K w A YS 

* * * * / *"**** 

dked Jlpy; I^sjtf NE CALDWELL 



COUNTRY by Edwin Corle 

PINON COUNTRY by Haniel Long 

SHORT GRASS COUNTRY by Stanley Vestal 

OZARK COUNTRY by Otto Ernest Rayburn 

SLUE RIDGE COUNTRY by Jean Thomas 

In Preparation 

PALMETTO COUNTRY by Stetson Kennedy 

MORMON COUNTRY by Wallace Stegner 

HIGH BORDER COUNTRY by Eric Thane 

Books by JEAN THOMAS 

DEVIL S DITTIES 
THE TRAIPSIN* WOMAN 

THE SINGIN FIDDLER OF LOST HOPE HOLLOW 
BALLAD MAKIN* IN THE MOUNTAINS OF KENTUCKY 

BIG SANDY 
THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT 

THE SINGIN GATHERIN*-In collaboration with Joseph A. 
Leeder, Professor of Music, Ohio State University 



THOMAS 



"^// rights reserved* including 
the right to reproduce this book 
or portions thereof in aity form. 



SPRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



To My Brother 
DOCTOR GEORGE G. BELL 

A once itinerant "Tooth Dentist" 

who became the first Republican county judge 

in more than a quarter of a century 

at the mouth of Big Sandy 

and whose unique sentences have become legendary 
throughout the Blue Ridge 



: APPALACHIAN RITUAL 

Emerald nobility 
Reaching to the sky, 
Makes the eye a ruler 
Fit to measure by. 

In the spring an ecstasy 
Lies upon the hills- 
Purpling with new red-buds, 
Ruffling colored frills. 

Make an early ritual 
For the mountain side; 
Pine and beech are spectators, 
White dogwood a bride. 

Give a pair of ivory birch 
For a wedding gift, 
All the mountain side a church 
Where wild flowers sift 



Velvet carpet-petals down 
To the edge of hill and town, 
Showing wild-grape fringes through 
Opal cloud-thrones dropped from blue. 

Now the summer like a queen 
Does her mountain home in green; 
With a season for a bier 
Some old majesty lies here. 

Autumn gold is swift and fleet 
With a wing upon the feet, 
Rushing toward a winter breath 
Pausing for immaculate death. 

In such economic bliss 
And a swift parenthesis 
In immortal mountain trails, 
There are resurrection tales. 

All the while the mountains know 
Sudden death is never so. 

Rachel Mack Wilson 



Contents 



jr. The Country and th& People 3 

THE LAND 3 

THE PEOPLE 1O 

BLAZING THE TRAIL l6 

THE MOUNTAINEER 40 

2,. Land of Feuds and Stills 46 

HATFIELDS AND MG COYS 46 

PEACEMAKER 55 

TAKING SIDES 73 

MARTIN-TOLLIVER TROUBLES 91 

FAMILY HONOR 105 

3. Products of the Soil 1 1 % 

TIMBER 112 

WOMAN S WORK 1 1 7 

4. Tradition 122 

PHILOMEL WHIFFET S SINGING SCHOOL 122 

RIDDLES AND FORTUNES 135 

THE INFARE WEDDING 151 

5. Religious Customs 155 

FUNERALIZING 155 

OLD CHRISTMAS 158 

FOOT-WASHING 1 6 1 

NEW LIGHT 164 



Contents 



6. Superstition 168 

BIG SANDY RIVER l68 

WATER WITCH 169 

MARRYING ON HORSEBACK I*J2 

DEATH CROWN 1*7 7 

A WHITE FEATHER 178 

7. Legend 180 

CROCKETT S HOLLOW 1 80 

THE SILVER TOMAHAWK l86 

BLACK CAT 189 

THE DEER WOMAN AND THE FAWN 1Q4 

GHOST OF DEVIL ANSE 1Q9 

THE WINKING CORPSE 2Og 

THE HOUSE WITH THE GREEN GABLES 205 

8. Singing on the Mountain Side 210 

OF LAND AND RIVER 2 1O 

FEUD 2l6 

LEGEND 2 1 8 

TRAGEDY 228 

PATRIOT 239 

9. Reclaiming the Wilderness 248 

VANISHING FEUDIST 248 

SILVER MOON TAVERN 250 

BLOOMING STILLS 255 

LEARNING 258 

MOUNTAIN MEN 269 

COAL 273 

PUBLIC WORKS 274 

BACK TO THE FARM 283 

VALLEY OF PARKS gOl 
WHEN -SINGING COMES IN, FIGHTING GOES 

OUT 317 

VANISHING TRAIL 337 

Index 331 



BLUE RIDGE COUNTRY 



1. The Country and the People 



THE LAND 

HIGH mountain walls and bridgeless streams ma 
rooned the people of the Blue Ridge for centuries, 
shut them off from the outside world so that they lost step 
with the onward march of civilization. A forgotten people 
until yesterday, unlettered, content to wrest a meager liv 
ing from the grudging soil, they built for themselves a 
nation within a nation. By their very isolation, they have 
preserved much of the best that is America. They have 
held safe and unchanged the simple beauty o the song of 
their fathers, the unsullied speech, the simple ideals and 
traditions, staunch religious faith, love of freedom, courage 
and fearlessness. Above all they have maintained a spirit 
of independence and self-reliance that is unsurpassed any 
where in these United States of America. They are a hardy 
race. The wilderness, the pure air, the rugged outdoor life 
have made them so: a people in whom the Anglo-Saxon 
strain has retained its purest line. , 

The Blue Ridge Country comprises much of Appa- 
lachia, happily called from the great chain that runs along 
the Atlantic coast from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the 
Gulf of Mexico. It is a well-watered region having numer 
ous streams and rivers throughout, being drained by the 
Cumberland and Tennessee as well as by smaller, though 

3 



Blue Ridge Country 



equally well-known, rivers Big Sandy in northeastern 
Kentucky, which flows into the Ohio, and the Yadkin in 
North Carolina, which eventually reaches the Atlantic 
Ocean. 

In general the region includes three parallel chains, the 
Cumberlands, Alleghenies, and Blue Ridge. Like a giant 
backbone the Blue Ridge, beginning in the southwest por 
tion of Old Virginia, continues northeasterly, holding to 
gether along its mountainous vertebrae some eight south 
ern states; northeastern Kentucky, all of West Virginia, 
the eastern part of Tennessee, western North Carolina, the 
four northwestern counties of South Carolina, and strag 
gling foothills in northern Georgia and northeastern Ala 
bama. The broad valley of the Tennessee River separates 
the mountain system on the west from the Cumberland 
Plateau which is an extension of the West Virginia and 
Kentucky roughs. 

Throughout its vast course the Blue Ridge is not cut by 
a single river. A narrow rampart, it rises abruptly on its 
eastern side south of the Potomac to a height of some two 
thousand feet, cutting Virginia into eastern and western, 
and descends as abruptly on the west to the Shenandoah 
Valley, Similar in topography in its rough, broken steep 
ness to the Alleghenies across the valley, it consists of a 
multitude of saddles or dividing ridges many of which 
attain an elevation of six thousand feet. As it extends 
south, rising from the Piedmont Plateau, it grows higher. 
In North Carolina alone there are twenty-one peaks that 
exceed Mt. Washington s six thousand feet in New Hamp 
shire. Contiguous to the Blue Ridge there is another chain 
between the states of North Carolina and Tennessee, 
which to Carolina mountaineers is still the Alleghenies. 
However, the United States Geological Survey has another 



The Country and the People 



name for it the Unakas. It is higher as a whole than the 
Blue Ridge to which it is joined by transverse ranges with 
such names as Beech and Balsam and a sprinkling of In 
dian names Cowee, Nantahala, Tusquitee. It differs, too, 
in physical aspect. Instead of being in orderly parallel 
tiers the entire system, unlike the Blue Ridge, is cut by 
many rivers; the Nolichucky, French Broad, Pigeon, Little 
Tennessee, Hiawassee. The parts so formed by the divid 
ing rivers are also named: Iron, Northern Unaka, Bald, 
Great Smoky, Southern Unaka or Unicoi. Though many 
of its summits exceed six thousand feet, the chain itself 
dwindles to foothills by the time it reaches Georgia and 
crosses into Alabama. 

If you flew high over the vast domain of the Blue Ridge, 
you would view a country of contrasting physical features: 
river and cascade, rapids and waterfall, peak and plateau, 
valley and ridge. Its surface is rougher, its trails steeper, 
the descents deeper, and there are more of them to the 
mile than anywhere else in the United States. 

The southern mountaineer has to travel many steep, 
rocky roads to get to any level land, so closely are the 
mountains of Appalachia crowded together. It is the geog 
raphy of their country that has helped to keep our high- 
landers so isolated all these years. 

This region has the finest body of hardwood timber in 
the United States. Black walnut is so plentiful and so easy 
for the carpenter to work that this wood has been used 
freely for gunstocks and furniture, and even in barns, 
fences, and porches. 

White and yellow poplars grow sometimes six to nine 
feet in diameter. "Wide enough for a marrying couple, 
their waiters, and the elder to stand on," a mountaineer 
will say, pointing out a tree stump left smooth by the cross- 



Blue Ridge Country 



cut saw. The trunks are sixty to seventy feet to the first 
limb. Chestnuts are even wider, though sometimes not so 
tall. White oaks grow to enormous size. Besides pine, and 
the trees common generally to our country, these southern 
mountain forests are filled with buckeye, gum, basswood, 
cucumber, sourwood, persimmon, lynn. The growth is so 
heavy that there are few bare rocks or naked cliffs. Even 
the "bald" peculiar to the region which is sometimes 
found on the crown of a mountain belies its name, for it 
is covered with grassnot of the useless sage type either, 
but an excellent grass on which sheep might "use" if they 
chose to climb so high. 

The lover of beauty .finds delight in these mountains 
from the first daintiness of spring on through the glorious 
blaze of wonder that is fall in the Blue Ridge. Beginning 
with the tan fluff of the beeches, the red flowering of ma 
ples, the feathery white blooms of the "sands," on through 
the redbud s gaiety and the white dogwood s stark purity, 
all is loveliness. The enchantment continues in the flame 
of azaleas, which is followed by the waxy pink of the 
laurel and the superb glory of the rhododendron. These 
have scarcely vanished before the coves are golden with 
the fragrance of grape blossom. 

The beauty of the woodland is a paradise for birds. 
Early in the spring the spotted thrush wings its way 
through leafy boughs. The cardinal in his bright red coat 
stays the year round. Neither snow nor winter wind dulls 
his plumage or stills his song. His mate, in somber green, 
sings too, but he, unmindful of southern chivalry, attacks 
her furiously when she bursts into song; ornithologists 
explain that jealousy prompts the ungallant act. The 
oriole singing lustily in the spring would seem conscious 
of his coat of orange and black. These are the heraldic 



The Country and the People 



colors worn by the servants of Lord Baltimore. The night 
ingale and the whippoorwill sing unpretentiously in the 
quiet of eventide. The blackbird makes up for his somber 
dress in good deeds. He destroys insects on leaf and bark. 
The eagle still finds a haven of safety in giant trees and 
hollowed trunks. 

There is neither tarantula nor scorpion to be feared in 
the Blue Ridge; the harmless lizard is called scorpion by 
the mountaineer. Nor are there lalge poisonous reptiles. 
There are snakes of lesser caliber, but only rattlers and 
copperheads among them are venomous. The highlander 
is not bedeviled by biting ants but there are fleas and flies 
in abundance though no mosquitoes, thanks to the absence 
of stagnant pools and lakes. There are no large lakes as in 
the eastern section of the United States and few small ones 
though the country has numerous cascades, rapids, and 
waterfalls. 

The Blue Ridge is a well-watered region, and character 
istic of the country are the innumerable springs which 
form creeks and small streams. A mild and bracing cli 
mate results from these physical features. The rapidity 
with which the streams rise and their swiftness, together 
with almost constant breezes in the mountains, reduce 
the humidity so prevalent in the southern lowlands. Al 
though the rainfall is greater than anywhere else in the 
United States, except Florida, the sudden fall in the 
topography of the watercourses brings quick drainage. 
The sun may be scorching hot in an unprotected corn 
patch on a hillside, yet it is cool in the shade. And, as in 
California and the north woods, a blanket is needed at 
night. The climate is contrasting, being coldest in the 
highlands where the temperature is almost as low as that 



8 Blue Ridge Country 

of northern Maine. Yet nowhere in the United States is 
it warmer than in the lowlands of the Blue Ridge. 

In the highlands, carboniferous rocks produce a sandy 
loam which is responsible for the vast timber growth there. 
Throughout it is rich in minerals, coal, iron, and even 
gold, which has been mined in Georgia. In some sections 
there are fertile undulating uplands contrasting with the 
quagmired bottoms and rocky uplands of other parts of 
the Blue Ridge. There are high and uninviting quaternary 
bluffs that lure only the eye. It was the fertile valleys with 
their rich limestone soil producing abundant cane that 
first proved irresistible to the immigrants of Europe and 
lured them farther inland from the Atlantic seaboard. 

Long before man came with ax and arrow the wilder 
ness of the Blue Ridge teemed with wild animal life. The 
bones of mastodon and mammoth remained to attest their 
supremacy over an uninhabited land thousands upon 
thousands of years ago. Then, following the prehistoric 
and glacial period, more recent fauna buffalo, elk, deer, 
bear, and wolf made paths through the forest from salt 
lick to refreshing spring. These salt licks that had been 
deposited by a receding ocean centuries before came to 
have names. Big Bone Lick located in what today is Boone 
County, Kentucky, was one of the greatest and oldest ani 
mal rendezvous in North America, geologists claim. It took 
its name doubtless from the variety of bones of prehistoric 
and later fauna found imbedded in the salty quagmire. 

Man, like beast, sought both salt and water. Following 
the animal trails came the mound builder. But when he 
vanished, leaving his earthen house and the crude utensils 
that filled his simple needs for the mound builder was 
not a warrior there was but little of his tradition from 
which to reconstruct his life and customs. 



The Country and the People 



A century passed before the Indian in his trek through 
the wilderness followed the path of buffalo and deer. Came 
the Shawnee, Cherokee, and Chickasaw to fight and hunt. 
To the Indian the Blue Ridge was a favorite hunting 
ground with its forests and rolling plains, while the fer 
tile valleys with thick canebrakes offered bread in abun 
dance. Sometimes these primeval trails which they fol 
lowed took their names from the purpose they served. For 
instance, the Athiamiowee trail was, in the Miami dialect, 
the Path of the Armed Ones or the Armed Path and be 
came known as the Warrior s Path. It was the most di 
rect line of communication between the Shawnees and the 
Cherokees, passing due south across the eastern part of 
the Cuttawa country (Kentucky) from the mouth of the 
Sciotha (Scioto) to the head of the Cherokee (Tennessee). 
Another trail was called Old Buffalo Path, another Lime 
stone because of the soil. Then there was a Shawnee Trail 
named for the tribe that traversed it. 

The Indian was happy and content with his hunting 
ground and the fertile fields. The streams he converted 
to his use for journeys by canoe. He had his primitive 
stone plow to till the soil and his stone mill for grinding 
grain. The fur of animals provided warm robes, the 
tanned hides gave him moccasins. Tribal traditions were 
pursued unmolested, though at times the tribes engaged 
in warfare. Each tribe buried its dead in its own way and 
when a tribe wearied of one location it moved on. Unlike 
the mound builders, the Indian had a picture language 
and he delighted to record it in cuttings on rocks and 
trees. He would peel the bark from the bole of a tree and 
with a sharp stone instrument carve deep into the wood 
figures of feather-decked chieftains, of drums, arrows, wild 
beasts. And having carved these symbols of the life about 



10 Blue Ridge Country 

him, depicting scenes of the hunt and battle and conflict, 
he covered the carving with paint fashioned in Jhis crude 
way from the colored earth on the mountain side. The 
warrior like his picture language vanished in time from 
the Blue Ridge. But not his trails. 

These trails, the path of buffalo and deer and the lines 
of communication between the tribes, finally marked the 
course of explorer, hunter, and settler. As each in turn 
made his way to the wilderness he was glad indeed to find 
paths awaiting his footsteps. The scene was set for a rugged 
race. They came and stayed. 

THE PEOPLE 

The men and women who came to settle this region 
were a stalwart race, the men usually six feet in height, 
the women gaunt and prolific. They were descendants of 
English, Scotch, and Scotch-Irish who landed along the 
Atlantic coast at the close of the sixteenth century around 
*635, when the oppression of rulers drove them from 
England, Scotland, and Ireland. Some were impelled by 
love of religious freedom, while others sought political 
liberty in the new world. Their migration to America 
really started with a project, a project that had its begin 
ning in Ireland as far back as 1610. It was called the Eng 
lish invasion of Ireland. King after king in England had 
sent colonists to the Emerald Isle and naturally the native 
sons resented their coming. Good Queen Bess in turn con 
tinued with the project and tried to keep peace between 
the invaders and the invaded by donating lands there to 
court favorites. But the bickerings went on. It was not 
until after Elizabeth s death that King James I of England 
worked out a better project-temporarily at least. He sent 



The Country and the People 11 

sturdy, stubborn, tenacious Scots to Ulster; their natures 
made of them better fighters than the Irish upon whose 
lands they had been transplanted. But even though it was 
English rulers who had "planted" them there the Scots 
were soon put to all sorts of trials and persecution. They 
resented heartily the King s levy of tax upon the poteen 
which they had learned to make from their adopted Irish 
brothers. Resentment grew to hatred of excise laws, hatred 
of authority that would enforce any such laws. These 
burned deep in the breast of the Scotch-Irish, so deep that 
they live to this day in the hearts of their descendants in 
the southern mountains. 

So political strife, resentment toward governmental au 
thority, hatred toward individuals acting for the rulers 
developed into feuds. In some such way the making of 
poteen and feuds were linked hand-in-hand long before 
the Anglo-Celtic and Anglo-Saxon set foot in the wilder 
ness of America. 

They were pawns of the Crown, used to suppress the 
uprisings of the Irish Catholics and in turn themselves 
even more unfairly treated by the Crown. They could not 
these Presbyterians worship as they chose; rather the 
place and form was set by the State. Their ships were 
barred from foreign trade, even with America; they were 
forbidden to ship products or cattle back to England, 
though after the Great Fire of London, Ireland generously 
sent thousands of head of cattle to London. Barred then 
from engaging in profitable cattle trade, they turned to 
growing wool. This too was defeated by prohibitive du 
ties, and when Ireland undertook to engage in producing 
linen, England thwarted that industry too. They were 
forbidden to possess arms, they were expelled from the 
militia, and what with incessantly being called upon to 



12 Blue Ridge Country 

pay tithes, added rents, and cess they had little left to 
call their own, little to show for their labors. Then adding 
insult to injury, the Crown declared illegitimate the chil 
dren born of a marriage performed by the ministers of 
these Presbyterians, so that such offspring could not legally 
inherit the lands of their parents. 

Oppressed and persecuted for a century they could 
bear it no longer; these transplanted Scotch-Irish (as 
America came to call them) turned their faces to the new 
world. 

The massacres of 1641 sent them across the uncharted 
seas in great numbers. And to stimulate and spur their 
continued migration to America these "adventurers" and 
"planters" were offered land in Maryland by Lord ; Balti- 
more-three thousand acres for every thirty persons 
brought into the state, with the provision of "free liberty 
of religion/ But Pennsylvania offered a heartier welcome 
and "genuine religious liberty" besides. 

Oppression and unfairness continued to grow in Ire 
land. Protestants there had never owned outright the land 
which they struggled to clear and cultivate. Moreover 
they toiled without pay. Protest availed them little. And 
the straw that broke the camel s back was laid on in the 
form of rent by Lord Donegal. In 1717 when their leases 
had expired in County Antrim, they found themselves 
in a worse predicament than ever. Their rents were 
doubled and trebled. Now, to hand over more than two 
thirds of what they had after all the other taxes that had 
been imposed upon them left them with little or nothing. 
How was a man to pay the added rent? Pay or get out! de 
manded Lord Donegal. Eviction from the lands which 
their toil had developeda wasteland converted into fer 
tile productive fieldsstirred these Scotch-Irish to fury. 



The Country and the People 13 

They didn t sit and tweedle their thumbs. Not the Scotch- 
Irish. 

In 1719, just two years after the Antrim Eviction, thirty 
thousand more Protestants left Ulster for America. They 
continued to come for the next half century, settling in 
various parts of our land. There was a goodly settlement 
in the Virginia Valley of Scotch-Irish. You d know by their 
names Grigsby, Caruthers, Crawford, and McCuen. 

As early as 1728 a sturdy Scot from Ulster, by name 
Alexander Breckinridge, was settled in the Shenandoah 
Valley, though later he was to be carried with the tide of 
emigration that led to Kentucky. 

Naturally, first come first served so the settlers who 
arrived first on the scene chose for themselves the more 
accessible and fertile lands, the valleys and rich limestone 
belts at the foot of the Blue Ridge and the Alleghenies. 
The Proprietors of Pennsylvania, who had settled on vast 
tracts, were prevailed upon by the incoming Scotch-Irish 
to sell them parts of their lands. The newcomers argued 
that it was "contrary to the laws of God and nature that 
so much land should lie idle when Christians wanted it 
to labor on and raise their bread." But that wasn t the 
only reason the Scotch -Irish had. There were other things 
in the back of their heads. A burnt child fears the fire. 
Their unhappy experience in Ulster had taught them a 
bitter lesson and one they should never forget, not even 
to the third and fourth generation. They would not be 
renters! Hadn t they been tricked out of land in Ulster? 
They would not rent! They would buy outright. And buy 
they did from the Proprietors at a nominal figure. Nor 
were the Pennsylvanians blind to the fact that the new 
comers were good fighters and that they could act as a 
barrier against Indian attacks on the settlement s fringe. 



14 Blue Ridge Country 

There was still a fly in the ointment for the Scotch-Irish. 
That was the Proprietors* exacting from them an annual 
payment of a few cents per acre. It wasn t so much the 
amount that irked the newcomers as the legal hold on 
their land it gave the Proprietors. They objected stoutly 
and didn t give up their protest until their perseverance 
put an end to the system of "quitrents." 

This cautious characteristic persists to this day with the 
mountaineer and can be traced back to the persecution 
of his forbears in Ulster. Mountaineers in Kentucky re 
fused point-blank to accept fruit trees offered them gratis 
by a legislator in 1913, fearing it would give the state a 
hold on their land. 

But to get back to the settling of the Blue Ridge Coun 
try. 

When political and religious refugees continued to 
come to America in such vast shoals they found the settle 
ments along the Atlantic coast already well occupied by 
Huguenots who had been driven from France, by Quakers, 
Puritans, and Catholics from England, Palatine Germans 
escaping the scourge of the Thirty Years War. Here too 
were Dunkers, Mennonites, Moravians from Holland and 
Germany. Among them also were followers of Cromwell 
who had fled the vengeance of Charles II, Scots of the 
Highlands who could not be loyal to the Stuarts and at 
the same time friends to King George. 

The Scotch-Irish among the newcomers wanted land of 
their own independence. Above all independence. So 
they drifted down the coast to the western fringe of settle 
ment and established themselves in the foothills east of the 
Blue Ridge in what is now the Carolinas. Migration might 
just as well have moved west from Virginia and across the 
Alleghenies. However, not only did the mountains them- 



The Country and the People 15 

selves present an impenetrable barrier, but settlers were 
forbidden to cross by "proclamation of the authorities" 
on account of the hostility of the Indians on the west of 
the mountain range. Then too there were inviting fertile 
valleys on this eastern side o the Blue Ridge, where they 
might dwell, 

But these newcomers, at least the Scotch-Irish among 
them, were not primarily men who wanted to till the soil. 
They were not by nature farmers like the Germans in 
Pennsylvania. And they did not intend to become under 
lings of their more prosperous predecessors and neighbors 
who had already taken root in the valleys and who had 
set up projects to further their own gains. Furthermore, 
being younger in the new world they were more adven 
turous. The wilderness with its hunting and exploring 
beckoned. And so they pressed on deeper into the moun 
tains. There was s always more room the higher up they 
climbed. And as they moved on they carried along with 
them, as a surging stream gathers up the life along its 
course, a sprinkling of all the various denominations 
whose lives they touched among the settlements along the 
coast. 

In that day many men were so eager for freedom and 
a chance to get a fresh start that before sailing, through 
the enterprises set up by shipowners and emigration 
agents, they bound themselves by written indentures to 
work for a certain period of time. These persons were 
called Indents. Their labor was sold, so that in reality 
they were little more than slaves. When finally they had 
worked out their time they had earned their freedom, and 
were called Redemptioners. The practice of selling Re- 
demptioners continued until the year 1820, all of forty- 
four years after "Honest" John Hart had signed his name 



16 Blue Ridge Country 

to the Declaration of Independence. It is said that a 
lineal descendant of Emperor Maximilian was so bound 
in Georgia. 

Many were imposed upon in another way. Their bag 
gage and possessions were often confiscated and even 
though friends waited on this side ready to pay their 
passage, innocent men and women were duped into sale. 
Then there were the so-called convicts among the 
pioneers of the Blue Ridge. It must be remembered that 
in those days offense constituting crime was often a mere 
triviality. Men were imprisoned for debt; even so they 
were labeled convicts. But, as Dr. James Watt Raine as 
sures us in his The Land of Saddle-Bags, the few such 
convicts who were sent by English judges to America 
could scarcely have produced the five million or more 
people who today are known as southern mountain people. 
Widely different though they were in blood, speech, 
and customs, there was an underlying similarity in the 
nature of these pioneers. It was their love of independ 
ence. Independence that impelled them to give up the 
security of civilization to brave the perils of uncharted 
seas, the hazards of warfare with hostile Indians, to seek 
homes in an untamed wilderness. 

BLAZING THE TRAIL 

Sometimes a single explorer went ahead of the rest with 
a few friendly Indians to accompany him. If not he went 
alone, tramping into the forest, living in a rough shack, 
suffering untold hardship through bitter winter months. 
For weeks when he had neither meal nor flour he lived 
on meat alone deer and bear. It was the stories of valu 
able furs and the vast quantities of them which trickled 



The Country and the People 17 

back to the settlements that lured others to follow. Hun 
ters and trappers came bringing their families. The stories 
of furs and the promise of greater possessions to be had 
in the wilderness grew and so did the number of adven 
turers. They began to form little settlements and their 
coming crowded before them the earlier hunter or trapper 
who wanted always the field to himself. 

In the meantime settlers in the Valley of Virginia were 
growing more smug and prosperous. They wanted to in 
vest part of their earnings. They wanted to set up other 
undertakings. So they began sending out expeditions into 
the wilderness with the intention of trading with the In 
dians and possibly of securing lands for settlers. 

As early as 1673 young Gabriel Arthur had set out on 
an expedition for his master Colonel Abraham Wood of 
Virginia with a small party. Through the Valley of Vir 
ginia went the young adventurer, taking the well-defined 
Warrior s Path; he followed watercourses and gaps that 
cut through high mountain walls, down the Holston River 
through Tennessee, through the "great gap" into the Cut- 
tawa country. Finally separated from his companions, the 
lad lost all count of time. Even if he had had a calendar 
tucked away in the pocket of his deerskin coat, however, 
it would have done him no good for he could neither read 
nor write. Weeks and months passed. Winter came. Finally 
after many adventures young Arthur started on the long 
journey back to Virginia. As he drew near Colonel Wood s 
home he heard merriment within and the voice of his 
master wishing his household a merry Christmas. Not till 
then did the young adventurer know how long he had 
been away. 

With the master and the household and the friends who 
had gathered to celebrate and offer thanks at the Yuletide 



18 Blue Ridge Country 

season, with all listening eagerly, young Gabriel Arthur, 
though unable to bring back any written record, told 
many a stirring tale. A swig of wine may have spurred 
the telling of how he had been captured by the Shawnees 
(in Ohio), of how he had been surrounded by a wild, 
shouting tribe who tied him to a stake and were about 
to put a flaming torch to his feet when he thought of a 
way to save his life. They were charmed with the gun he 
carried, and the shiny knife at his belt. If they d set him 
free he promised to bring them many, many knives and 
guns. Once young Gabriel made his escape he didn t in 
tend to be caught napping again. He painted his fair face 
with wild berry juice, and color from bark and herbs. 
After much wandering he found himself with friendly 
Cherokees in the upper Tennessee Valley. They were so 
friendly, in fact, that a couple of them accompanied him 
on his return to Virginia. He returned along other water 
coursesby way of the Rockcastle and Kentucky Rivers. 
He crossed the Big Sandy the Indians called it Chat- 
terawha and Totteroy. He got out of their canoe at a 
point where the Totteroy flows into the Ohio and stood 
on the bank and looked about at the far-off hills. So it 
was young Gabriel Arthur who was the first white man 
to set foot in Kentucky, and that at the mouth of the Big 
Sandy. 

Young Gabriel s tales traveled far. Soon others, fired 
with the spirit of adventure, were turning to the wilder 
ness. Nor was adventure the only spur. Investors as well 
as hunters and trappers saw promise of profits in Far 
Appalachia. Cartographers were put to work. A glimpse 
at. their drawings shows interesting and similar observa 
tions. 

In 1697 Louis Hennepin s map indicated the territory 



The Country and the People 19 

south of the Great Lakes, including the southern Appa 
lachians and extending as far west as the Mississippi River 
and a route which passed through a "gap across the Appa 
lachians to the Atlantic seaboard/ Later the map of a 
Frenchman named Delisle labeled the great continental 
path leading to the Carolinas "Route que les Francois," 
Successive maps all showed the passing over the Cumber 
land Mountain at the great wind gap, indicating portages 
and villages of the Chaouanona (Shawnees) in the river 
valleys. Lewis Evans map in 1755 of "The Middle British 
Colonies in America J shows the courses o the Totteroy 
(Big Sandy River) and of the Kentucky River. Thomas 
Hutchins in 1788, who became a Captain in the 6oth 
Royal American Regiment of Foot, was appointed Geog 
rapher General under General Nathanael Greene and had 
unusual opportunity to observe geographically the vast 
wilderness beyond the Alleghenies. On his map the Ken 
tucky River (where Boone was to establish a fort) was 
called the Cuttawa, the Green River was the Buffalo, the 
Cumberland was indicated as Shawanoe, and , the Ten 
nessee was the Cherokee. Though there were numerous 
trails in the Cumberland plateau, the Geographer Gen 
eral indicated only one, the Warrior s Path which he 
called the "Path to the Cuttawa Country." He too showed 
the Gap in the "Ouasioto" Mountains leading to the 
Cuttawa Country. 

With the increase of map-making, more projects were 
launched. There were large colonizing schemes to induce 
settlement along the frontier, but colonizing was not the 
only idea in the heads of the wealthy Virginia investors. 
They were not unmindful of the riches in furs to be 
garnered in the Blue Ridge. In this connection Dr. 
Thomas Walker s expedition for the Loyal Land Company 



20 Blue Ridge Country 

in 1750 was important. Dr. Walker, an Englishman, was 
sent into what is now Kentucky where the company had 
a grant of "eight hundred thousand acres." A man could 
buy fifty acres for five shillings sterling, the doctor ex 
plained. He was not only a physician but a surveyor as 
well, and primarily the purpose of these early expeditions 
was suweying to lay out the boundaries of the land to 
be sold to incoming settlers. Such an expedition was com 
posed usually of some six or eight men each equipped 
with horse, dog, and gun. Fortunately the doctor-surveyor 
was not illiterate like young Gabriel Arthur. Walker set 
down an interesting account of the expedition which was 
especially glowing from the trader s point of view. In their 
four months in the wilderness the Walker expedition 
killed, aside from buffalo, wild geese, and turkeys, fifty- 
three bears and twenty deer. And the doctor added that 
they could have trebled the number. Walker followed the 
Warrior s Path as young Gabriel Arthur had more than 
seventy years before. The rivers they crossed, as well as 
the places on the way which were sometimes no more than 
salt licks, bore Indian names. But when Dr. Walker 
reached the great barrier between Kentucky and Virginia 
he was so deeply moved by the vastness and grandeur of 
the mountains that he called his companions about him. 
"It is worthy of a noble name," said Dr. Walker. "Let us 
call it Cumberland for our Duke in far-off England." 
When the expedition reached the gap that permitted them 
to pass through into the Cuttawa country he cried ex 
ultantly, "This too shall be named for our Duke." So 
Cumberland Gap it became and the mountain known to 
pioneers as Laurel Mountain became instead Cumberland 
Mountain. 
The doctor-surveyor could not know that one day he 



ne ^.ouniry ana me reopie 



would be hailed as "the first white man in Cumberland 
Gap" by those sturdy settlers who were to follow his 
course. When Dr. Walker reached the Indians Totteroy 
River, or rather the two forks that combine to make it, 
he called the stream to the right, which touched West 
Virginia soil, Louisa or Levisa for the wife of the Duke 
of Cumberland. 

This leader of the expedition of the Loyal Land Com 
pany jotted down much that he saw. There was the amaz 
ing "burning spring" that shot up right out of the earth, 
its flame so brilliant the doctor could read his map by 
the glow at a distance of several miles. Apparently he was 
not concerned with the cause but rather with the effect 
of the burning spring. He saw the painted picture lan 
guage of the Indians on mountain side and tree trunk. 

Dr. Walker returned on a second expedition in 1758, 
but he gained only partial knowledge of the wilderness 
land. However, the mountain he named determined the 
course of the trail which was to be laid out by Daniel 
Boone, and the gap through which he passed became the 
gateway for thousands of horizon-seekers. 

Their coming was not without hazard. 

The southern Indians resented the invasion of their 
hunting ground by the English. The French-Indians in 
cited by the French settlers in the Mississippi Valley who 
wanted the wealth of fur-bearing animals for themselves, 
began to swoop down on the settlements of the English- 
speaking people along the frontier, massacring them by 
the hundreds. 

The Assembly in Philadelphia turned a deaf ear to the 
frontiersmen s plea for help, so the Scotch-Irish, accus 
tomed to fighting for their rights, organized companies of 
Rangers to defend themselves against the attacks of the 



22 Blue Ridge Country 

Indians. With continued massacre of their people their 
desperation grew. If they could have no voice in govern 
mental matters in Pennsylvania and could expect no pro 
tection from that source against the warring Indians, they 
could move on. They did. On down the Valley of Virginia 
they came into Carolina. They built their little cabins, 
planted crops, and by 1764 had laid out two townships, 
one of which, Mecklenburg, figured in an important way 
in America s independence. 

As each settlement became more thickly settled the 
more venturesome spirits pressed on into the mountains. 
And as they moved forward, clearing forests and planting 
ground for their bread, they dislodged hunters and trap 
pers who had preceded them. For all of them there was 
always the troublesome Indian to be reckoned with. A 
cunning warrior, he pounced upon the newcomer at most 
unexpected times. To maintain a measure of safety the 
pioneer began to build block houses and forts along the 
watercourses traveled by the Indians. Fur-trading posts 
were set up by the Crown but even when the Indian 
seemed satisfied with the exchange he might take prisoner 
a trader or explorer and subject him to torture, or even 
put him to death. The homes of settlers were objects of 
constant attack. It would take white men of more cun 
ning than the Indian to deal with him: fearless and daring 
fighters. 

About the time Dr. Walker had started on his expedi 
tion in 1755, a family living in Pennsylvania packed up 
their belongings and moved down into the Valley of Vir 
ginia. There were the father, his sons, and his brothers. 
They hadn t stayed long in Rockingham County, barely 
long enough to raise a crop, when they moved again. This 
time they journeyed on down to the valley of the Yadkin 



The Country and the People 23 

River in North Carolina and there they stayed. All but one 
sonDaniel Boone, a lad of eighteen. Even as a boy he 
had roamed the woods alone, and once was lost for days. 
When his father and friends found him, guided by a 
stream of smoke rising in the distance, Daniel wasn t in 
tears. Instead, seated on the pelt of a wild animal he had 
killed and roasting a piece of its meat at the fire, he was 
whistling gaily. He had made for himself a crude shelter 
of branches and pelts. It was useless to chide his son, the 
older Boone found out. So he saved his ,breath and let 
Daniel roam at his will. Soon the boy was exploring and 
hunting farther and farther into the mountains. 

On one such venture the young hunter alone "cilled 
a bar" and left the record of his feat carved with his hunt 
ing knife upon a tree. His imagination was fired with the 
tales of warfare about him, of the courage and independ 
ence of the men who dwelt far up in the mountains. He 
knew of the heroism of George Washington who, four 
years after the Boones left Pennsylvania, had led a com 
pany of mountain men against the French. He had heard 
the stories of how Washington had been driven back with 
his mountain men at Great Meadows. Boone longed to 
be in the thick of the fray. So in 1755, when General 
Braddock came to "punish the French for their insolence" 
and Washington accompanied him with one hundred 
mountain men from North Carolina, Daniel Boone, for 
all his youth, was among themas brave a fighter and as 
skilled a shot as the best. 

This was high adventure for young Daniel. It spurred 
him to further daring, and he set out on more and more 
distant explorations. Each time he returned from his trips 
with marvelous tales of what he had seen, of unbelievable 
numbers of buffalo and deer and wild beasts he had en- 



24 Blue Ridge Country 

countered. He always had an audience. No one listened 
with greater eagerness than the pretty dark-eyed daughter 
of the Bryans who were neighbors to the Boones. Daniel 
was still a young man, only twenty-three, when in 1755 
he married Rebecca Bryan. They had five sons and four 
daughters. Rebecca stayed home and took care of the 
children, while her adventurous husband continued to 
rove and hunt on long expeditions. 

Neighbors gossiped, even in a pioneer settlement. They 
said Daniel wasn t nice to Rebecca, going away all the 
time on such long hunting trips. They even talked to 
Rebecca about her careless husband. But Rebecca paid 
little heed, though she may have chided him in private 
for returning so tattered. Sometimes his hunting coat, 
which was a loose frock with a cape made from dressed 
deerskin, would literally be tied together when he re 
turned. Even the fringe which Rebecca had painstakingly 
cut to trim his leggings and coat had been left hanging 
on jagged rocks and underbrush through which he had 
dragged himself. His coonskin cap, with the bushy brush 
of it hanging down on his neck, was sometimes a sorry 
sight. One can hear Rebecca asking, as the hunter removed 
his outer garments, "Were there no creeks on your jour 
ney?" His leather belt he hung upon a wall peg after he 
had oiled it with bear grease. His tomahawk which he 
always wore on the right side, and the hunting knife which 
he carried on the left with his powder horn and bullet 
pouch, he laid carefully aside. He inspected his trusty 
flintlock rifle. ... He had slept under cliffs, wrapped in 
his buffalo blanket with his dog, with leaves and brush 
for a pillow. His thick club of hair had not been untied 
in weeks. The chute bark with which it was fastened was 
full of chinks. There was something worse. "What are 



The Country and the People 25 

you scratching for?" Rebecca would pause from stirring 
the kettle at the hearth, to survey her husband who was 
digging his fingers into his scalp. "Lice!" gasped Rebecca. 
Instead of jowering, she would give him a good scrubbing, 
comb out his matted hair, and clean him up generally and 
thoroughly. 

Daniel was a restless soul. And every time he returned 
home he was more restless. So the Boones moved from 
place to place and each time others went along with them. 
Daniel had a knack of leadership, but no sooner would 
everyone be settled around him than he d pack up and go 
to another place. Daniel couldn t be crowded. He had to 
have elbow room no matter where he had to go to get it. 

In the twenty-five years he spent in North Carolina 
Boone cleared ground, cut timber, and built a home many 
times and all the while he continued to hunt and explore. 

Finally returning from one of his long expeditions he 
told glowing tales of another country he had found. Bears 
were so thick, and deer, it would take a crew of men to 
help him kill them and salvage the rich hides. He per 
suaded Rebecca to come along with him and bring the 
children. Once more Rebecca packed up their few worldly 
goods, while Daniel made sure his guns were well oiled, 
his hunting knife whetted, his dogs fit for the journey 
they meant as much to Boone as wife and children, gossips 
said and the family started for a new home. 

This time, in 1760, they went far from the Yadkin 
into the Watauga country of Tennessee. He crossed the 
Blue Ridge and the Unakas, and settled in what was then 
western North Carolina, now eastern Tennessee. That 
year he led a company as far westward as Abingdon, Vir 
ginia. But no sooner were they settled than Daniel up 
and left to go deeper into the forest. 



26 Blue Ridge Country 

Not only was he a great hunter, he was a good advance 
agent. Soon, through his glowing accounts, the fame of 
the country spread far, even to Pennsylvania and Virginia. 
Hunters came to join him. Some stayed with him wher 
ever he went. It was through his leadership that the first 
permanent settlement was made in Tennessee in 1768. 

But to go back a year. In 1767 Boone worked his way 
over the Big Sandy Trail in the country which Dr. Walker 
had seen back in 1750. Daniel lived alone in a crude hut 
on a fork of the Big Sandy River, close to a salt lick, you 
may be sure, for he had to have salt to season the wild 
meat which was his only food. He too saw the burning 
spring that had helped Dr. Walker to scrutinize his maps 
at night. In 1768 he entered Kentucky through Cumber 
land Gap and traversed the Warrior s Path. From Pilot 
Knob he viewed the Great Meadow. That would be some 
thing more to tell about when he got back home. 

Though his neighbors may have considered him a 
shiftless fellow concerned only with hunting and explor 
ing, a fellow who was ever moving from pillar to post, 
his very first visit to Watauga was not without significance. 

It was the way of the wilderness that settlers followed 
the first hunters, and Boone with his companions had 
been in Watauga first in 1760. Eight years afterward a 
few families had followed the hunters 1 trail for good rea 
son. 

Things had been going miserably for immigrants in 
North Carolina. The situation was fast reaching a des 
perate point. Some of the oppressed were for violence if 
that was needed to obtain justice in the courts. Others 
reasoned that there was a better way out. Why not move 
away in a body? The wilderness of the Blue Ridge beck 
oned. It was under Virginia rule and perhaps life would 



The Country and the People 27 

not be so hard there. Because of Indian treaties the lands 
had been surveyed in those rugged western reaches and 
could be legally leased or even purchased. The more level 
headed mountain people reasoned in this way: Why not 
send one of their number on ahead to look over the re 
gion, negotiate for boundaries, and stake them out for 
families who decided to take up their abode there? A 
Scotch-Irishman named James Robertson took upon him 
self this task. 

During this period of unrest in North Carolina, Boone 
had returned with Rebecca and the children to Watauga 
where they found others to welcome them. If indeed 
Daniel needed a welcome or wanted it. Again he cleared 
a piece of ground and built a log house. But the smoke 
no sooner curled up from the chimney than scores of 
Scotch-Irish from North Carolina, who could no longer 
bear the injustice of government officials, began to crowd 
into the valley around him. This irked Daniel, for he 
loved the freedom of the wilds. "I ve got to have elbow 
room/ he complained to Rebecca, "I know a place" 

The Scotch-Irish, however, stayed on in Watauga. 

They had had enough of injustice and were glad to 
escape a country where the more prosperous were making 
life hard for the less fortunate immigrants who continued 
to come down the Virginia Valley, and the mountain peo 
ple who settled in the rugged western part of the state. 
Like their Scotch-Irish brothers in Pennsylvania, they had 
determined to find a remedy. They remembered how the 
Rangers in the Pennsylvania border settlements had been 
forced to take matters in their own hands to protect life 
and home, and they organized their protective band called 
the Regulators. If armed force was needed, they meant to 
use it. They found the Governor as indifferent to their 



28 Blue Ridge Country 

appeals for fairness as the Pennsylvania Assembly had 
been to the Rangers protests. If North Carolina s Gover 
nor had been a man of cool and fair judgment, the tragedy 
of Alamance might have been averted. On the other hand, 
the first decisive step toward American independence 
might have been lost, or at least delayed. 

In ironic response to the pleas of the Regulators, the 
Governor of North Carolina summoned a force of one 
thousand militia men and led them into the western set 
tlements. At the end of the day, May 16, 1771, two hun 
dred and fifty of the two thousand Regulators who had 
gathered with their rifles at Alamance when they heard 
of the coming of the militia, lay dead. The living were 
forced to retreat. 

If Robertson had planned his return it could not have 
come at a more auspicious moment. His neighbors had 
been sorely tried. They eagerly welcomed words of a bet 
ter land in which to live, and sixteen families followed 
their leader to the Watauga country. 

Things loomed dark for the new settlers for a time. It 
turned out that the lands staked out for them were neither 
in Virginia nor Carolina. Indeed Robertson and his neigh 
bors found themselves quite "outside the boundaries of 
civilized government." 

The Scotch-Irish had not forgotten Ulster, and they 
lost no time in making a treaty with the Indians upon 
whose territory they really were. They drew up leases, and 
some of the seventeen families even purchased part of the 
land. 

Soon the ax was ringing in the forest. A cluster of cabins 
sprang up. Another settlement was established and before 
long thousands came to join the seventeen families who 
had followed James Robertson. So long as there had been 



The Country and the People 29 

only a handful of neighbors the problem of government 
did not present itself. The level-headed thinkers of the 
group again put their heads together and pondered well. 
Now that they had burned their bridges behind them they 
must make firm the rock upon which they built. Above 
all they must stand united, with hearts and hands to 
gether for the well-being of all. To that end they formed 
an Association, the Watauga Association they called it, 
and adopted a constitution (1772) by which to live. It was 
"the first ever adopted by a community of American-born 
freemen," says Theodore Roosevelt in The Winning of 
the West. 

If Daniel Boone had been a man to glow with pride he 
might well have done so over the outcome of that first 
hunting trip he made to the Watauga country. But Daniel 
was a hunter, an adventurer, an explorer who loved above 
all else space. He didn t like being crowded by a lot of 
neighbors. So again in 1773, calling his little family around 
the fireside one night, he told them he meant to pull up 
stakes and move on. They had only been there four years 
which was a brief time considering the laborious journey 
they d had to get there, the hardships of life, of clearing 
ground and taking root again. However, if Rebecca offered 
protest it was overcome. Daniel had a way with him. Per 
haps she even helped her husband convince members of 
her family that it was the thing to do. Her folks, the 
Bryans, told others. The word passed around the family 
circle until forty of the Bryans had decided they d join 
Daniel and Rebecca. Boone sold his home. Why bother 
with it! He d probably never be back there to live, for 
this time Daniel and Rebecca, with their children, the 
Bryans, and Captain William Russell, were going on a 
long journey. They were headed for Kentucky. Daniel 



30 Blue Ridge Country 

had told them some fine and promising yarns about his 
lone expedition to that far-off country. 

The way wasn t easy. Following watercourses, fording 
swollen streams, picking their way over rocks and loose 
boulders, through mud and sand. Besides there was the 
constant dread of the Indian. Their fears were confirmed 
before they reached Cumberland Gap. While they were 
still in Powell Valley a band of Indians attacked Boone s 
party. The women huddled together in terror while the 
men seized their guns. 

But for all his skill as a marksman, Daniel Boone could 
not stay the hand of the Indian whose arrow pierced the 
heart of his oldest son. There was another grave in the 
wilderness and the disheartened party returned to the 
Watauga country. This time, however, Boone settled in 
the Clinch Valley. 

The Indians continued on a rampage. Consequently 
it was nearly two years before Boone started again for 
Kentucky. This time he gained his goal, though at first 
he did not take Rebecca and his family. He meant to 
make a safe place for them to live. 

These were times to try men s souls. Everywhere man 
yearned for freedom. About this time a young Scotch- 
Irishman in Virginia astounded his hearers by a speech 
he made at St. John s Church in Richmond. When the 
zealous patriot cried, "Give me liberty, or give me death/ 
the fervor and eloquence of his voice echoed down the 
valleys. It re-echoed through the mountains. That young 
orator, "Patrick Henry, and his Scotch-Irish brethren from 
the western Counties carried and held Virginia for Inde 
pendence/ it has been said. 

There was unity in thought and purpose among the 
Scotch-Irish whether they lived in highland or lowland 



The Country and the People 31 

and their purpose was to gain freedom and independence. 
A bond of feeling that could not have existed among the 
Dutch of New York, the Puritans of New England, the 
English of Virginia, even if they had not been so widely 
separated geographically. Moreover, the isolation of the 
Scotch-Irish in the wilderness, though it cut them off from 
voice in the government or protection by it, made them 
self-reliant people. They had had enough of royal govern 
ment. Added to this was their natural hatred of British 
aggression, distaste for the unfairness of those in political 
power from whom they were so far removed by miles and 
mountains. They thought for themselves and acted accord 
ingly. Their individualism marked them for leadership 
that was readily followed by others who also had known 
persecution: the Palatine Germans, the Dutch, and the 
Huguenots. They had another strong ally in the English 
who had come from Virginia to settle in the mountains 
and whose traditions of resolute action added to the moun 
taineer s spirit of independence. The flame of agitation 
was fanned by the unfairness of government officials in 
the lowlands. The mountain people had long since looked 
to their own protection and their Scotch-Irish nature per 
sisted in resentment of unfairness from authority of any 
source. This spirit prevailed among the incoming settlers 
in Carolina. There was dissatisfaction between them and 
the planters, the men of means and influence who with 
unfair taxation and injustice persecuted the less prosper 
ous newcomers. Discontent grew and brought on events 
that were forerunners of the expansive militant movement 
that came in American life. 

First was the Declaration of Abingdon, Virginia, in 
January, 1775. Daniel Boone had led an expedition there 
sixteen years earlier and may have planted the seed in 



32 Blue Ridge Country 

the minds of those who stayed on, while he went on to 
Kentucky. Title to much of the land which embraced 
Kentucky was claimed by the Cherokees. England still 
claimed the right to any territory in America and the 
war s beginnings left the whole thing in doubt. England 
might even make void Virginia s titles if she were so in 
clined. In the midst of these doubts and disputed claims 
several North Carolina gentlemen, including Richard 
Henderson and Nathaniel Hart, in the spring of 1775 
formed themselves into the Transylvania Company for 
the purpose o acquiring title to the territory of Kentucky 
from the Cherokees. They meant to operate on a great 
scale, to establish an independent empire here in the "ex 
pansive West." They looked about for a man to help them. 
They didn t have to look long. 

There was Daniel Boone. He had a background. He d 
scouted all over the country. He d fought with Washing 
ton against the French when he was only in his teens. He 
was a fearless fellow; he knew how to deal with the In 
dian. So the Transylvania Company employed Daniel as 
their representative to negotiate with the Cherokees. The 
council met at Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga, a tribu 
tary of the Holston River. There the Cherokees ceded to 
the company for "ten thousand pounds, all the vast tract 
of land lying between the Ohio and Cumberland rivers, 
and west and south of the Kentucky." This region was 
called Transylvania. 

So, just six years after his first hunting trip to Kentucky, 
Boone began to colonize it and that in flat defiance of the 
British government. He thumbed his nose too at a menac 
ing proclamation of North Carolina s royal governor. 

Now that the land was acquired by the Transylvania 
Company -they would have to charter a course leading to 



The Country and the People 33 

and through it for prospective settlers. For theirs was a 
"land and improvement company." Again Daniel Boone 
was employed. This time his task was to open a path 
through the wilderness. 

With ax and tomahawk, with fighting and tribulations, 
he blazed the trail from Holston River to the mouth of 
Otter Creek on the Kentucky River. "Boone s Trace/ 
they called it, connecting with the Warrior s Path and its 
extensions into eastern Tennessee and western North 
Carolina through Cumberland Gap and even beyond. It 
became the Wilderness Trail or Wilderness Road. It was 
the first through course from the mother state of Vir 
ginia to the West. 

In spite of the purchase of land from the Indian, in 
spite of all the treaties of peace, the cunning warrior per 
sisted in attack upon the white men, in massacre of women 
and children, in capture of hunter and trapper. 

Daniel Boone and his men had to safeguard their fami 
lies and the future of their company. They set about 
building a fort. As for Boone, he felt himself "an instru 
ment ordained to settle the wilderness. * No hardship was 
too great, no sorrow too deep to deter him in his mission 
of "pioneering and subduing the wilderness for the habi 
tation of civilized men." 

After two years of hardship and toil a fort was built on 
the banks of the Kentucky River. It consisted of cabins 
of roughhewn logs surrounded by a stockade. Over this 
crude fort, in one cabin of which Boone and Rebecca lived 
with their family, a flag was raised on May 23, 1775. It 
marked a new and independent nation called Transyl 
vania. 

Only a week after the flag-raising in Kentucky the peo 
ple of Mecklenburg, which had been established only 



34 Blue Ridge Country 

eleven years, made another step toward independence. 
On May 31, 1775, the Mecklenburg Resolutions were 
adopted in North Carolina. 

In the meantime the Revolution had begun and moun 
tain men were first to join Washington against the British 
in the forces of Morgan s Riflemen and Nelson s Rifle 
men. Their skill with firearms, their fearlessness, made 
them invaluable to Washington. "It was their quality of 
cool courage and personal independence/ said Raine, 
"that won the battles o Kings Mountain and Cowpens 
and drove Lord Cornwallis to his surrender at Yorktown." 

Each movement toward independence in Tennessee, 
Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina had been under 
the leadership of mountain men and the accomplishment 
of their several declarations paved the way for the more 
widespread Continental Declaration of Independence at 
Philadelphia, July 4, 1776. 

It echoed around the world, but Daniel Boone, that 
young rebel, didn t even hear of it until the following 
August. Whereupon the fearless hunter with the abandon 
of a happy lad danced a jig around the bonfire inside the 
stockade. It could have been an Elizabethan jig, ironically 
enough, for the Boones were English. Daniel tossed his 
coonskin cap into the air again and again and let out a 
war whoop that brought the terrified Rebecca hurrying 
to the cabin door, a whoop that pierced the silence of the 
forest beyond. 

By the time the Declaration was signed the mountain 
people constituted one sixth of the settlement of the 
United States. 

As for Daniel Boone, twenty-five years had passed since 
he, a boy of sixteen, had left Pennsylvania with his father 
and brothers. He was forty-one years old when he set up 



The Country and the People 



housekeeping at Boonesborough where the fort stood on 
the banks of the Kentucky. Never in all his life had he 
been quite so settled. Daniel had acquired title to lands 
from the Transylvania Company and things looked prom 
ising. Rebecca too must have been happy in their security. 
The children could safely play inside the stockade even 
if they did squabble with the neighbors children. Rebecca 
must have sung a ballad betimes as she cooked venison 
or wild turkey at the hearth, or swept the floor with her 
rived oak broom. For Daniel could whittle a broom for 
her while he sat meditating aloud on his past adventures. 
Daniel was satisfied. Rebecca could see that. Now with the 
colony established in the wilderness Daniel Boone had 
realized the dream of his life. 

In the thirteen years Boone lived in Kentucky he con 
tinued to hunt and trap and explore. He took others along 
with him on his various expeditions. In January, 1778, 
with a party of thirty men he went to make salt at Blue 
Lick. He knew the places to go for he had found them 
previously by following the path of buffalo, deer, and 
bear that had gone there to lick salt. Boone and his men 
threw up rough shelters for themselves. Soon the kettles 
were boiling, the salt was made. They were in the midst 
of preparations to pack up their belongings and load the 
salt into bags when Daniel s keen ears caught the sound 
of moccasined feet in the underbrush nearby. Suddenly 
as if they had popped up out of the ground a band of In 
dians pounced upon the white men. All but three of 
Boone s party were captured. They escaped and after hid 
ing the kettles took the salt back to the stockade. Daniel 
and two of his companions were borne off to Detroit. 

Boone was a wary fellow, so he pretended to be quite 
contented with his lot and the Indians were so pleased 



36 Blue Ridge Country 

with him they adopted him as a son into their tribe. He 
would have looked a fright to Rebecca for the Indians 
cropped his hair close to the scalp save a tuft on the top 
of his head which was bedecked with trinkets shells, 
teeth of wild animals, feathers. The women dressed him 
up in this fashion, first taking him to the river and giving 
him a thorough scrubbing "to take out his white blood." 
Then they painted his face with colors as bright as those 
of any chieftain in the tribe. Daniel was a good actor. He 
pretended to be highly pleased, but he was only awaiting 
the chance to escape. One day there was quite a stir in 
the camp. Daniel observed many new faces among the 
warriors. They talked and gesticulated excitedly, and 
Boone soon gathered the purpose of the powwow. 
"They re going on the warpath/ Daniel said to himself, 
and to my notion they re headed toward our stockade." 
While they continued to harangue among themselves 
Daniel stealthily made his escape. He covered the inter 
vening one hundred and sixty miles in five days. 

The Indians didn t carry out their plan to attack the 
fort until some weeks later and when they did march 
into view they were led by Captain Duquesne of the Eng 
lish Army. 

The siege lasted for nine days but the veteran riflemen 
of the fort, under Boone J s skillful direction, gained the 
day with only a loss of three or four men, while many of 
the four hundred Indians fell. 

There were many other battles with the Indians who 
crossed the Ohio into Kentucky, and though Boone was 
always in the thick of the fray he came out uninjured. 

And then misfortune came in another way. 

Things had looked fair enough in the beginning when 
the Transylvania Company sold boundaries of land to 



The Country and the People 37 

settlers, with Colonel Henderson, a bright lawyer who had 
once been appointed Associate Chief Justice, to look after 
the legal side of the transactions. The company asked only 
thirteen and one third cents per acre for the land for one 
year and an added half cent per acre quitrent to begin in 
1780. At such a low rate it was possible for a man to pur 
chase a boundary of six hundred acres. When Daniel 
talked it over with Rebecca they concluded he would not 
be overreaching himself to invest in such an acreage. 

The Transylvania Company did a land-office business. 
By December of the first year after Colonel Henderson 
opened up his office for business in Boonesborough 
560,000 acres were sold. That was all right for the com 
pany, but what of the purchaser? What with the squabbles 
and disputes concerning title between Indian and settler, 
English and French, Boone like others soon found himself 
with not a leg to stand on. He had bought "wildcat" land. 
Land-sharks cleaned him out. 

At the age of fifty-four, in 1788, Daniel had to start 
all over again. With Rebecca at his side and a larger 
family he moved on. 

Boone had scouted through the West Virginia country 
long before, when he had passed a solitary winter in a 
hut on the Big Sandy. So now once more he turned in 
that direction, pressing on until he reached the mouth 
of the Great Kanawha River. He lived from place to 
place in the Kanawha country, following his old pursuits 
of hunting and trapping, and as usual absented himself 
from his fireside for long days at a stretch. But Rebecca 
was used to his ways. She looked after the family, cooked 
and mended. When Daniel returned home Rebecca al 
ways cleaned him up again before he started on another 
hunting trip. 



38 Blue Ridge Country 

Eleven years passed without a word being said about 
land titles. Then one day Daniel found himself facing the 
same situation that had robbed him of his acres in Ken 
tucky. A man of sixty-five, and with a family of seven, 
three boys and four girls two of their boys had been 
killed in battle with the Indians Daniel, though still a 
fearless hunter, didn t want to be bothered with squabbles 
over land titles. He told Rebecca there was an easier way 
around. There were places outside of the jurisdiction of 
the United States altogether. "We don t have to be be 
holden to anyone/ he said boastfully. 

Pioneer women followed their men. So once more 
Rebecca made ready for the journey. She mended gar 
ments; she gathered up their few cooking utensils and 
the furry hides that were their blankets. She tied some of 
her choice things in her apron. That she d carry right on 
her arm. The boys helped their father make ready the 
great cumbersome cart that was to carry their possessions. 
When all was in readiness Daniel pulled on his coonskin 
cap and whistling up his dogs he started off resolutely 
ahead of his family. 

On and on they went until they reached Spanish terri 
tory beyond the Mississippi in Upper Louisiana. There 
at Charette (fifty miles west of St. Louis) Daniel Boone 
remained for a score of years, still hunting and trapping. 

Even after Rebecca died he stayed on in the log cabin 
that had been their home for so long. An old man of 
seventy-eight he was, with many a sorrow to look back 
upon. For him the trail had been a "bloody one," Daniel 
often reflected. He had seen two of his boys fall under 
the tomahawk, and his brothers too. He had seen Re 
becca s grief and terror at bloodshed; her anxiety in the 
lonely life of the wilderness. He had seen her despair 



The Country and the People 39 

when the very ground in which they had taken root was 
torn from under their feet. He had known the suffering 
of winter winds, the desolation of the forest. He had 
suffered innumerable hardships. All these things he lived 
again as he sat alone in the house where Rebecca had 
died. 

But the spirit of the hunter still burned in the old 
man s bosom at the age of eighty-five. Even then he was 
all for shouldering his gun once more and setting out 
with an Indian lad to explore the Rockies. His son per 
suaded him to give up the thought. "You re too old, Pa. 
If you fall over a cliff your bones would be broke to 
smithereens. Come and live with me. My house is safe. 
It s all built of stone. The Indians can t burn down a stone 
house." After much bickering Daniel finally heeded his 
son and went to live with him. He died there in 1822. 

The fort which he so proudly built and valiantly de 
fended continues to bear his name, being one of at least 
thirty localities in the United States which take their 
name from the first pioneer of the great valley of the 
Mississippi. His body lies in a little cemetery in Ken 
tucky s capital. A humble grave, though as you stand be 
side it you feel the spirit of the great hunter hovering near. 
A courageous explorer in leather breeches and coonskin 
cap blazed the trail through an unbroken wilderness to 
help build America. 

At length through Cumberland Gap following Boone s 
Wilderness Trail came the ancestors of David Crockett, 
Samuel Houston, John C. Calhoun, "Stonewall" Jackson, 
and Abraham Lincoln. The Boones and Lincolns had 
been neighbors back in Pennsylvania in one of the most 
German settlements. Yet both families themselves were 
English. 



40 Blue Ridge Country 



THE MOUNTAINEER 

Difficulties of communication are enough to explain 
the isolation of mountaineers. For long years, even until 
yesterday, the only roads were the beds of tortuous and 
rockstrewn watercourses that were dry when you started 
at sunup and were suddenly transformed by a downpour 
to swollen, turbulent streams, perilous even to ford. 

But for all that, in 1803 there were a million settlers 
in the southern highlands. Hardships of life there might 
have shaken a man s faith but not his love of the country. 
In Kentucky alone in 1834 there were 500 pensioners of 
the Revolution. And when the guns roared at the opening 
of the Civil War, the southern highlanders sent 180,000 
riflemen to the Union Army. 

An isolated people drops easily into illiteracy. Cut off 
as the mountain men were from the outside world, they 
knew little of what was going on beyond their mountain 
walls. Even if newspapers had found their way to the 
mountaineer s cabin they would have been of little use 
to men who could not read. On the other hand, had the 
mountain men known of the great westward movement 
toward the plains few of them could have joined the cara 
vans. The mountaineer had no money because he had no 
way to produce money. For that reason he could not even 
reach the nearest lowlands. Even if he had moved down 
into the lowlands he could not hope to own land but 
would only have fallen once more into the unbearable 
state of his forbears in Ulster that of tenant, or menial, 
with proprietors and bosses to harass his life. This peril 
alone was enough, aside from the lack of money, to make 
the highlander shrink from the society of the lowlands. 



The Country and the People 41 

The few who straggled down were glad enough to return 
to the cloister of the mountains. Besides the mountaineer 
didn t like the climate or the water down there. The 
sparkling, cool mountain brook, the constant breeze and 
bracing air were much more to his liking. Indeed the cli 
mate has had its effect upon the mountaineer, not only 
upon his physical beinghe is tall and stalwart; few moun 
tain men are dwarfed but the bracing air enables him 
to toil for long days in the open. He can walk or hoe 
corn on an almost perpendicular corn patch from day 
light till dark. He is patient and is never in a hurry. Time 
means nothing to him. Down in the Unakas a mountaineer 
once had a cataract removed from the right eye. The sur 
geon told him to return in a couple months when it 
would be safe to operate upon the other eye. Twenty 
years elapsed before the fellow returned to the doctor s 
office; when he was chided for the delay he answered un 
concernedly, "I lowed twas no use to be in a hurry about 
it." 

Yet for all their seeming indifference the people of the 
Blue Ridge, who locked their offspring generation after 
generation in mountain fastnesses that have barred the 
world, have kept alive and fresh in memory the unwritten 
song, the speech, the tradition of their Anglo-Saxon and 
Anglo-Celtic ancestors. 

Down through the centuries the blood and traditions of 
the pioneers have carried, creating a stalwart, a fearless 
people. Hidden away in the high crannies of the Blue 
Ridge they have come to be known as Mountaineers, 
Southern Highlanders, Appalachian Mountaineers, and 
Southern Mountaineers. But if you should ask a name o 
any of the old folk of the Blue Ridge country they doubt 
less will tell you, "We are mountain people." Never hill- 



42 Blue Ridge Country 

billies! A hill-billy, the true mountain man or woman 
would have you know, is one born of the mountains who 
has got above his raising, ashamed to own his origin, one 
who holds his own mountain people up for scorn and 
ridicule. To mountain folk the word hill-billy is a slur 
of the worst sort. A slur that has caused murder. 

They recognize no caste in the Blue Ridge Country. 
They are hospitable beyond measure, I have come to know 
in my long years of roaming through the mountains, 
first as court stenographer in isolated courts, then as 
ballad collector. I have never entered a mountain home 
throughout the Blue Ridge, no matter how humble the 
fare, where man, woman, or child offered apology for 
anything, their surroundings or the food and hospitality 
given to the stranger under their roof. "You re welcome 
to what we ve got," is the invariable greeting though 
the bed be a crude shuck tick shared with the children of 
the family, the fare cornbread and sorghum. 

As a child I used to go to the cabin home of one of my 
father s kinsmen, a man who could neither read nor write, 
though he knew his Bible from cover to cover and could 
cite accurately chapter and verse of any text from which 
he chose to preach. There was but one room in his house 
of logs with its lean-to kitchen of rough planks, but never 
did I hear father s kinsman or his wife offer any word of 
excuse for anything. When it was time for victuals his 
wife, with all the graciousness of nobility, would stand 
behind her guests, while her man, seated at the head of 
the table, head bowed reverently, offered thanks. Then, 
lifting his head, he would fling wide his open palms in 
hospitality, "Thar hit is afore you. Take holt and eat all 
you re a-mind to!" And turning to his wife, "Marthie! 
watch their plates!" My great-aunt kept a vigilant eye on 



The Country and the People 43 

us as she walked around the table inviting us to partake, 
"Hure, have more of the snaps. Holp yourself to the ham 
meat. Take another piece of cornbread. Ton my word, 
you re pickin like a wren. Eat hearty!" she urged, while 
above our heads she swished the fly-brush, a branch from 
the lilac bush in summer, otherwise a fringed paper at 
tached to a stick. 

They learned through necessity to put to use the things 
at hand, made their own crude implements to clear and 
break the stubborn soil; they learned to do without. 

Their poteen (whiskey) craft, handed down by their 
Scotch-Irish ancestors, survives today in what outlanders 
term moonshining. Resentment against taxation of home 
made whiskey survives too. The mountaineer reasons I ve 
heard them frequently in court that the land is his, that 
he "heired it from his Pa, same as him from hisn," that 
he plants him some bread without no tax. Why can t he 
make whiskey from his corn without paying tax? 

As for killing in the Blue Ridge Country. In my pro 
fession of court stenographer I have reported many trials 
for killing and almost invariably my sympathy has been 
with the slayer. Usually he admits that he had it to do 
either for a real or fancied wrong, or for a slur to his 
womenfolks. I ve never known of gangsters, fingermen, 
or paid killers in the Blue Ridge Country. 

With an inherent love of music, handed down from the 
wandering minstrels of Shakespeare s time, and with a 
wealth of ballads stored up in their heads and hearts, they 
found in these a joyful expression. Even the children, like 
their elders, can turn a hand to fashion a make-believe 
whistle of beech or maple, although they may never know 
that in so doing they are making an imitation of the Re 
corder upon which Queen Elizabeth herself was a skilled 



44 Blue Ridge Country 

performer. Little Chad at the head of Raccoon Hollow 
will cut two corn stalks about the length of his small 
arms and earnestly proceed to make music by sawing one 
across the other, singing happily: 

Corn stalk fiddle and shoe-string bow, 
Best old fiddle in the country, oh! 

not knowing that Haydn, the child, likewise sawed one 
stick upon another in imitation of playing the fiddle. And 
there s Little Babe of Lonesome Creek who delights in a 
gourd banjo. His grandsir, finding a straight, long-necked 
gourd among those clustered on the vine over kitchen- 
house door, fashioned it into a banjo for the least one. 
Cut it flat on one side, did the old man, scooped out the 
seed, then covered the opening with a bit of brown paper 
made fast with flour paste, strung it with cat gut. And 
there, bless you, as fine a banjo as ever a body would want 
to pick. 

They are neighborly in the Blue Ridge Country. They 
ask no favor of any man. Yet the road is never too rough, 
the way too far, for one neighbor to go to the aid of 
another in time of sickness or death. I knew a little boy 
who was dangerously sick with a strange ailment that 
primitive home remedies could not heaL Neighbor boys 
made a slide, a quilt tied to two strong saplings, and car 
ried their little friend some ten miles over a rough moun 
tain footpath to the nearest wagon road. There, placing 
him in a jolt wagon, the bed of which had been filled with 
hay to ease his suffering in jolting over the rough creek- 
bed road, they continued the journey on for thirty miles 
to the wayside railroad station where the cars bore the 
afflicted child on to town and the hospital. 



The Country and the People 45 

A feud is the name given to their family quarrels by 
the level-landers. Mountain people never use the word. 
They say war or troubles. Their clannishness was inherited 
from their Scotch ancestors, and the wild, rugged moun 
tains lent themselves perfectly to warfare among the clans. 
They had lived apart so long, protected from invasion and 
interference by their high mountain walls, that they 
learned to settle their own differences in their own way. 
They knew no law but the gun. If John warned his neigh 
bor Mark that Mark s dog was killing his sheep and the 
neighbor did nothing about it, John settled the matter 
forthwith by shooting the dog. Families took sides. The 
flame was fanned. The feud grew. 

However, in time of disaster, with grim faces and will 
ing hands, they come to the aid of an unfortunate neigh 
bor. Once when a terrible flood caused Troublesome to 
overflow its banks, carrying everything in its raging course, 
I saw a team of mules, the only means of support of a 
widowed mother of a dozen children, swept away. She 
hired the team to neighbors and thus earned a meager liv 
ing. I remember the despair of that white, drawn face as 
the widow looked on helplessly at the destruction. Not a 
word did she speak. But before darkness the next day 
neighbor men far and wide, and none of them were pros 
perous, chipped in from their small hoards and got another 
team for the woman. 



2. Land of Feuds and Stills 



HATFIELDS AND McCovs 

WHEN Dr. Walker, the Englishman, the first white 
man in Cumberland Gap, followed the course of 
Russell Fork out o Virginia into Kentucky back in 1750, 
he came upon a wooded point of land shaped like a tri 
angle which was skirted by two forks of tepid water. The 
one to the left, as he faced westward, this English explorer 
called Levisa after the wife of the Duke of Cumberland. 

Generations later a lovely mountain girl wore the name 
he had given the stream and she became the wife of the 
leader of a blood feud in the country where he set up his 
hut. It was a blood feud and a war of revenge that lasted 
more than forty years, the gruesome details of which have 
echoed around the world, cost scores of lives, and struck 
terror to the hearts of women and innocent children for 
several decades. 

Devil Anse Hatfield, the leader of his clan, himself told 
me much of the story when I lived on Main Island Creek 
in Logan County, West Virginia, and on Tug Fork of the 
Big Sandy River. His wife Levicy she who had been 
Levicy Chafin did not spell her name as the name of the 
stream was spelled though she pronounced it the same 
way. It was a story that began with the killing of Harmon 
McCoy in 1863 by Devil Anse, who was a fearless fighter, 

46 



Land of Feuds and Stills 47 

a. captain in a body of the Rebel forces known as the 
Logan Wildcats. Later, when Jonse Hatfield, the leader s 
oldest boy, grew to young manhood, he set eyes upon 
Rosanna McCoy, old Randall s daughter, and loved her at 
sight. But Devil Anse, because of the hatred he bore Ro- 
sanna s father, wouldn t permit his son to marry a McCoy. 
Rosanna loved Jonse madly. And he, swept away with 
wild, youthful passion, determined to have her. He did, 
though not in lawful wedlock. 

Quarrels and bickerings between the sides sprang up at 
the slightest provocation. Even a dispute over the owner 
ship of a hog resulted in another killing. Old Randall 
grew more bitter as time went on, what with Rosanna the 
mother of an illegitimate child and Jonse, even though he 
lived *with her under his father s own roof, being-faithless 
to the girl. And when, after the McCoys stabbed Ellison 
Hatfield to death, Devil Anse avenged his brother s death 
by inciting his clan to slay Randall s three boys, Little 
Randall, Tolbert and Phemer, the leader of the McCoys 
vowed he d not rest until he wiped out the last one of the 
other clan. 

There were killings from ambush, open killings, threats, 
house-burnings. Once the McCoys had outtricked Devil 
Anse and had stolen his favorite son Jonse away while he 
was courting Rosanna. They meant to riddle him with 
bullets. But the Hatfields got word of it. Rosanna had be 
trayed her own family, so the McCoys felt, for the love of 
Jonse. The Hatfields came galloping along the road by 
moonlight, surrounded the McCoys, demanded the release 
of the prisoner, young Jonse, and even made a McCoy dust 
young Hatfield s boots. 

When the law tried to interfere, Devil Anse built a 
drawbridge to span the creek beside which his house 



48 Blue Ridge Country 

stood, stationed a bevy of armed Hatfields around his 
place, and ruled his clan like a czar, directing their every 
deed. 

The bloody feud did not end until 1920, after Sid Hat- 
field on Tug Fork, which with Levisa forms Big Sandy, 
had shot to death some nine men led by Baldwin-Felts 
detectives. They had killed Mayor Testerrnan of the vil 
lage of Matewan. And when they came to arrest Sid on 
what he termed a trumped-up charge he reached for his 
gun. Sid, then chief of police of Matewan, West Virginia, 
had been accused of opposing labor unions among the coal 
miners and the coming of the detectives was the result. 
Though Hatfields and McCoys were both miners and coal 
operators, the killing of the detectives by Sid had no direct 
bearing upon the early differences between the clans. But 
the wholesale killing on the streets of Matewan in 1920 
marked the end of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. 

Devil Anse lived to see peace between his family and 
the McCoys. 

Through thick and thin Levicy Chafin Hatfield stood 
by her man, though she pleaded with him to give up the 
strife. 

They waged their blood battles on Levisa Fork and 
Tug, on Blackberry and Grapevine, creeks that were tribu 
taries to the waters that swelled the Big Sandy as they 
flowed down through the mountains of West Virginia and 
Kentucky, emptying at last into the Ohio. 

Levicy bore her mate thirteen children and died a few 
years after 1921 when the old clansman had passed to the 
beyond. There was not even a bullet mark on the old 
clansman. He died a natural death, mountain kinsmen 
will tell you proudly. He was buried with much pomp, 



Land of Feuds and Stills 49 

as pomp goes in the mountains, on Main Island Creek of 
West Virginia, in the family burying ground. 

I knew Devil Anse and "Aunt" Levicy quite well. For, 
long centuries after my illustrious kinsman had returned 
to Merrie England to report upon his expedition for the 
Loyal Land Company in the Blue Ridge, I followed the 
same course he had blazed out of Virginia into the moun 
tains of Kentucky and West Virginia. I lived for a number 
of years on Levisa Fork and Tug Fork and on Main Island 
Creek in West Virginia, where my nearest neighbors and 
best friends were Hatfields and, strangely enough, McCoys. 

One day Devil Anse stopped at my house out of a down 
pour of rain and a$ he sat looking out of the open door 
he fell to talking of another rainy day many years before. 
"This puts me in the mind of the time I had to go away 
on business down to the mouth of Big Sandy," he said in 
his slow, even tones. All the time his eagle eyes were fixed 
on me. "I had to go down to the mouth of Big Sandy," 
he repeated, "on some business of my own. A man has a 
right to protect his family," he interrupted himself and 
arched a brow. "Anyway there come an awful rainstorm 
and creeks busted over their banks till I couldn t ford 
em not even on Queen, as high-spirited a nag as any man 
ever straddled. But she balked that day seeing the creeks 
full of trees pulled up by the roots and even carcasses of 
calves and fowls. Queen just nat erly rared back on her 
haunches and wouldn t budge. Couldn t coax nor flog her 
to wade into the water. A feller come ridin up on a shiny 
black mare. Black and shiny as I ever saw and its neck 
straight as a fiddle bow. He said the waters looked too 
treacherous and turned and rode off over the mountain, 
his black hair drippin wet on his shoulders. Anyway there 
I was held back another day and night till that master tide 



50 " Blue Ridge Country 

swept on down to the Big Waters [the Ohio]. When I got 
home my little girls Rosie and Nancy come runnin down 
the road to meet me. Tappy, look! what a strange man 
give us! Rosie held out her hand and there was a siFer 
dollar in it and Nancy brought her hand from behind 
her and openin her fist she had a sil er dollar too and 
little Lizbeth she come runnin to show me what she had. 
Another sil er dollar, bless you. This strange man were 
most powerful free-hearted/ sez I, gettin off of Queen. I 
throwed the bridle over the fence rail and went on up to 
the house, packin my saddle pockets over my arm and my 
gun and cartridge belt over my shoulder. My little girls 
come troopin behind. Their Ma stood waitin in the door 
twistin the end of her apron like she ever did when she 
was warried. Captain Anderson! sez she, that were her 
pet name for me, I ve been nigh in a franzy. I lowed sure 
you and Queen had been washed plum down in the flood. 
Here, let me have them soppin clothes and them muddy 
boots/ Levicy was the workinest woman you ever saw. 
Washed and scoured till my garmints looked like new. 
And after I d got on clean dry clothes such a feast she set 
before me. Ton my word, it made me feel right sheepish. 
A body would think, Levicy/ sez I, that I were the 
Prodigal Son come home/ She spoke right up. See here, 
Anderson Hatfield, I won t have you handlin no such talk 
about the sire of my little girls/ sez she, spoonin the sweet 
potatoes on my plate, and smilin so tender and good on 
me. Then my little girls gathered round to see what I d 
fetched them. There was store candy and a pretty hair 
ribbon for each one that I taken out of the saddle pockets. 
And a gold breast pin for Levicy. Never saw a woman so 
pleased in my life. 1 don t aim to hold it back just to wear 
to meetin / sez she. And she didn t. From then on she 



Land of Feuds and Stills 51 

wore that gold breast pin every day of her life. Said she 
meant to be buried with it. Well, ginst my little girls had 
et their candy and plaited each other s hair and tied on 
their new ribbons they hovered around me again to show 
their sil er the strange man had give them. Captain An 
derson/ sez Levicy, he was handsome built and set his 
saddle proud and fearless. But not half so proud and fear 
less as you. Nor were he half so handsome/ I could feel 
her hand on my shoulder a-quiverin* a little grain like 
Levicy s hand ever did when she was plum happy. Then 
she went on to tell as she washed the dishes and Nancy 
and Rosie dried them and Lizbeth packed them off to the 
cupboard, about the strange man. He laid powerful ad 
miration on our little girls. Levicy was wipin off the oil 
cloth on the table with her soapy dish rag. He had them 
line up in a row to see which was tallest, whilst I set him 
a snack. "Shut your eyes/ sez he, "and open your mouth." 
They did, and bless you, Captain Anderson, what did he 
do but put a siFer dollar in their mouth each one/ By 
this time Nancy and Rosie and Lizbeth had finished the 
dishes and they come hoverin round my knee again whilst 
I cleaned and polished my gun. Each one holdin* proud 
their sil er dollar, turnin it this way and that, rubbin it 
on their dress sleeve to make the eagle shine. Just then, 
Jonse, my oldest boy, come gallopin up the road on 
Prince, his little sorrel. He never stopped till he got right 
to the kitchen-house door. The chickens made a scatter- 
mint before him. Pa! he shouted out, throwin* Prince s 
bridle out of his hand and jumpin down to the ground. 
They ve caught him! Robbed the bank at Charleston! 
Levicy was drying the tin dishpan. She starred at Jonse 
and so did I. Caught who?* sez I. Jesse James* brother, 
Frank! It was him that was here. Him that Ma fed t other 



52 Blue Ridge Country 

day. Him that give Nancy and Rosie and Lizbeth a sil er 
dollar! Levicy dropped the dishpan and retched a hand 
to the table. Mistress Levicy Chafin Hatfield! sez I, never 
again can I leave this house in peace. A man s family s not 
safe with such scalawags prowlin the country! " 

Then Devil Anse went on with the rest of the story. 

Devil Anse, the leader of the Hatfield clan whose very 
name struck terror to the hearts of people, and Jesse James 
brother Frank, highwayman and bank robber, had met on 
a mountain road, each unaware of the other s identity, 
each intent on his own business. Captain Anderson had 
gone down to the mouth of Big Sandy, the county seat, 
Catlettsburg, Kentucky, to buy ammunition with which 
to annihilate the McCoys. That story too the outside world 
heard afterward, for the clans met on Blackberry Creek 
and engaged in battle for several hours with dead and 
dying from both sides on the fieldor rather in the bushes. 

Whatever else has been attributed to Devil Anse he 
liked to prank as well as anyone. He took particular glee 
in telling the following story to me, his eagle eyes twin 
kling: 

"One day a tin peddler come with his pack of shiny cook 
vessels in a shiny black oilcloth poke on his back. The 
fellow wore red-topped bodts and a red flannel shirt, for 
all it was summer. His breeches had more patches than a 
scarecrow and his big felt hat had seen its best days too. 
He kept at Levicy to buy his wares but she was one that 
didn t favor shiny tinware. It rustes out," she told the 
peddler. Nohow I ve got plenty of iron cook vessels. All 
the time the old peddler was trying to wheedle and coax 
her into buying something, a quart cup, a milk bucket, a 
dishpan, a washpan. I was inside in the sitting room rest 
ing myself on the sofa. I could hear the peddler outside 



Land of Feuds and Stills 53 

on the stoop, bickering and haranguing at Levicy to buy. 
Finally I got my fill of it and I tiptoed out through the 
kitchen-house, my gun over my shoulder. I went to the 
barn lot and turned loose Buck, a young bull we had that 
I d been aimin to swop Jim Vance. I give Buck one good 
wollop across the rump with the pain o my hand. He 
kicked up his heels and rushed forward, me close behind 
with my gun. The peddler took one look at Buck, so it 
peered to me, and Buck took one look at the peddler, low 
ered his head and charged. The peddler let out a war 
whoop and flew down the hillside like a thousand hornets 
had lit on him. The pack fell from his back and there was 
a scattennint of tinware from top to bottom of that hill. 
Buck shook his head and snorted. His eyes bugged outten 
the sockets. I couldn t tell if he was ragin mad at the shiny 
tin cook vessels that was tanglin his hoofs, or if it was the 
red shirt and red-topped boots of the peddler that riled 
Buck. Nohow Buck ducked his head again and bellowed, 
caught a shiny quart cup on each horn and a couple wash- 
pans on his forefeet and kept right on down the hill. By 
this time the tin peddler had scooted up a tall tree quick 
as a squirrel and there he set on a limb. Buck was ragin* 
and chargin in circles around that tree. That bull was 
riled plum to a franzy and that tin peddler was yaller as 
a punkin. Skeert out of his wits. Come on down, you pore 
critter! sez I. But he just opened his mouth and couldn t 
say a word, just a dry croak like a frog bein* swallored in 
sudden quicksand. Come on down/ I coaxed, 111 quile 
Buck down till he s peaceable as a kitten/ 

"But the peddler just starred at me and shivered on the 
limb like a sparrow bird freezin of a winter time in the 
snow. Ill tend to Buck!* I promised him. Come on down! 
And to put his mind at ease I up with my rifle-gun, shot 



54 Blue Ridge Country 

the quart tin cups offen Buck s horns and the washpans 
offen his front hoofs. "Now get back to the barn where you 
belong and behave yourself! 7 I sez to Buck and he scam 
pered back up the hill as frolicsome as a lamb, pickin his 
way careful like as a Jenny Wren through that scattermint 
of tinware. 

"The peddler was still shiverin on the tree limb over 
head and his eyes buggin out worser n Buck s had when 
he ketched first sight of the feller s red shirt and the shiny 
tinware. Buck s gone/ I sez to him coaxin like. Tou don t 
need to be skeert of him no more! T-t-tain t B-b-buck! 
the feller s teeth chattered. It s you, D-d-evil A-a-nse! 
With that he drapped off the limb down to the ground at 
my feet. Swoonded dead away!" 

Devil Anse Hatfield chuckled heartily. " T-t-ain t Buck! 
B-b-uck/ sez he when he ketched his wind and revived up. 
It s you D-d-evil Anse! " 

The rest of the story Captain Anderson himself would 
never tell but Aunt Levicy told me how he packed the tin 
peddler back up the hill to the house on his shoulder and 
had her cook him a big dinner of fried chicken and corn- 
bread; how he gave the peddler a couple greenbacks that 
made him plum paralyzed with pleasure and surprise; 
and how he had Jonse take the peddler back to the county 
seat, the peddler riding behind Jonse on Queen, where he 
bought a new supply of tinware and went on his way. 

Except for such interludes of pranking, doubtless Aunt 
Levicy and old Randall s wife, Sarah McCoy, could never 
have survived the ordeal of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. 

The women of both households lived days of torture, 
ever watchful of the approaching enemy. They spent sleep 
less nights of anguish, knowing too well the sound of gun 
shot, the cry of terror that meant another outbreak of the 



Land of Feuds and Stills 55 

clans. And when the cross grew too heavy even for their 
stoic shoulders to bear they ventured unbeknownst to 
their menfolks to the Good Shepherd of the Hills to beg 
his intercession, his prayers for peace. 

PEACEMAKER 

Autumn had painted the wooded hillside bright scarlet, 
golden brown, vivid orange, and yellow that shone in the 
late September sunlight like a giant canvas beyond the 
rambling farmhouse at the head of Garrett s Fork o Big 
Creek where dwelt the Good Shepherd of the Hills, Wil 
liam Dyke Garrett and his gentle wife. Here in Logan 
County in the heart of the rugged West Virginia country, 
Uncle Dyke and Aunt Sallie lived in the selfsame place for 
all of seventy years. Sallie Smith, she was, of Crawley s 
Creek, a few miles away, before she wed the young rebel 
of the Logan Wildcats. That was away back in 1867, 
February igth, to be exact. He was twenty, she in her 
teens. He had been born and grew to young manhood in a 
cabin only a stone s throw from where he and Miss Sallie, 
as he always called her, went to housekeeping. As for their 
neighbors, there wasn t a person in the whole countryside 
that didn t love Sallie Garrett, nor one that didn t revere 
the kindly Apostle of the Book. So long had Dyke Garrett 
traveled up and down the valley comforting the sick, pray 
ing with the dying, funeralizing the dead, 

I had heard him preach in various places through the 
West Virginia hills. 

"Hello, Uncle Dyke!" I called from the roadside one 
autumn day in 1936. 

"Howdy! and welcome!" he replied cheerily, rising at 
once from his straight chair and taking his place in the 



56 Blue Ridge Country 

door. His wife stepped nimbly to his side, for all her 
ninety-odd years, and echoed the husband s greeting. 

It is the way of the mountains. 

I lifted the wood latch on the gate and went up the 
white-pebbled path. Flower-bordered it was, with brilliant 
scarlet sage, purple bachelor buttons, golden glow. There 
was pretty-by-night, too, though their snow-white blossoms 
were closed tight in the bud for it was not yet sundown; 
only in the twilight and by night did the buds bloom out. 
That s why they wear the name Pretty-by-Night," moun-" 
tain folk will tell you. There were clusters of varicolored 
seven sisters lifting up their bright petals. Moss, some call 
it in the mountains. There were bright cockscomb and in 
a swamp corner of the foreyard a great bunch of cat-o - 
nine tails straight as corn stalks. 

Tall, erect stood the Good Shepherd of the Hills, fully 
six feet three in his boots, his white patriarchal beard 
pillowed on his breast. The blue-veined hands rested upon 
the back of his chair as he gazed at me from friendly eyes. 
Aunt Sallie, a slight bird-like little creature, reached 
scarcely to his shoulder. Her black sateen dress with fitted 
basque and full skirt was set off with a white apron edged 
with crocheted lace. The small knot of silver hair atop her 
head was held in place with an old-fashioned tucking 
comb. About her stooped shoulders was a knitted cape of 
black yarn. 

"Take a chair/ invited Uncle Dyke when I reached the 
porch, waving me to a low stool. "Miss Sallie al lus favors 
the rocker yonder on account the high back eases her 
shoulders. She s not quite as peert as she was back in 1867." 

"It took a bit of strength to tame Dyke and I had it to 
do." She addressed me rather than her husband. "He was 



Land of Feuds and Stills 57 

give up to be the wildest young man in the country when 
he came back from the Home War." 

The Civil War having been ended for some two years 
and the young private of the Logan Wildcats having been 
tamed, he became converted to religion. Thereupon he 
began to preach the Gospel. 

But never in all the years of his ministry from 1867 to 
1938, when failing health took him from the pulpit, did 
Uncle Dyke Garrett receive a penny for preaching. He 
never had a salary. William Dyke Garrett got his living 
from the rugged little hillside farm that he tended with 
his own hands. 

"Before I was converted to religion/ he said, straight 
ening in his chair, "I played the fiddle and many a time 
went to square dances. But once I got the Spirit in here," 
placing a wrinkled hand upon his breast"! gave up 
frolic tunes and played only religious music. There are 
other ways for folks to get together and enjoy themselves 
without dancing. Now there s the Big Meeting! Every year 
on the first Sunday of September folks come from far and 
near here to Big Creek and bring their basket dinner." 

"Dyke started it many a year ago," Aune Sallie inter 
posed with prideful glance at her mate. 

Again he took up the story. "After we ve spread our 
basket dinner out on the grass all under the trees we have 
hymn-singing and" 

"Dyke reads from the Scripture and preaches a spell." 
Aunt Sallie meant that nothing should be left out. Nor 
did the old man chide her. 

"Many a one has been converted at the Big Meeting" 
his eyes glowed "and nothing will stop it but the end of 
time. They ll have the Big Meeting every year long after 
I m gone. I m certain of that." 



58 Blue Ridge Country 

Presently his thoughts looped back to his wedding to 
Sallie Smith. "Our infare-wedding lasted three days. The 
first day at Sallie s, the second day at Pa s house, and the 
third right here in our own home. That was the way in 
those times. And I got so gleeful I fiddled and danced at 
the same time! That ll be seventy-one year come February 
of the year nineteen thirty-seven." Slowly he rolled his 
thumbs one around the other, then he stroked his long 
beard, eyes turned inward upon his thoughts. "Well, sir, 
if I should get married one hundred times I d marry Miss 
Sallie Smith every time. We ve traveled a long way to 
gether and we ve had but few harsh words/ 

His mate lifted faded eyes to his. "Dyke, it was generally 
my fault/ she said contritely, "but I was bound to scold 
when you d get careless about your own self. I vow/ the 
little old lady turned to me, "he took no thought of his 
health nor his life nor limb. There was nothing he feared- 
man nor beast nor weather. In the early days there were 
no roads in this country and he rode horseback from one 
church to another through the wilderness. In the dead of 
night I ve known him to get up out of bed and go with a 
troubled neighbor who had come for him to pray with the 
dying." 

Uncle Dyke chuckled softly. Sometimes they were not 
as near death as I thought. Once I remember John Law- 
ton came from way over in Hart County. His wife was at 
the point of death, he said. She had lived a mighty sorry 
life had Dessie Lawton." 

"Parted John and his wife!" piped Aunt Sallie, "and 
that poor girl went to her grave worshiping the ground 
John Lawton walked on; hoping he d come back to her. 
Dyke claims there s ever hope for them that repent, so 
when John brought word that Dessie wanted to make her 



Land of Feuds and Stills 59 

peace with the Lord before she died, Dyke said nothin 
could stay him. So off he rode behind John to pray over 
that trollop!" Aunt Sallie s eyes blazed. "They forded the 
creek no tellin how many times. They got chilled to the 
bone. When they got there Dyke stumbled into the house 
as fast as his cold, stiff legs could pack him, fell on his 
knees longside Dessie s bed and begun to pray with all 
his might. Then he tried to sing a hymn, but still never 
a word nor a moan out of Dessie, covered over from head 
to foot in the bed. Directly John reached over to lay a 
hand on her shoulder. Dessie, honey/ he coaxed, Brother 
Dyke Garrett s come to pray with you! He shook the heap 
of covers. And bless you, what they thought was Dessie 
turned out to be a feather bolster. John snatched back the 
covers. The bed was empty except for that long feather 
bolster that strumpet had covered over lengthwise of the 
bed. Coine to find out Dessie had sent John snipe huntin , 
so to speak, and she skipped out with a timber cruiser. 
Dyke was laid up for all of a week; took a deep cold on his 
chest from riding home in his wet clothes." 

The old preacher smiled at the memory. "Could have 
been worse, like John Lawton said that night. Dessie s got 
principle! said he. She could a-took my poke of seed corn, 
but there it is a-hangin from the rafters. And she could 
a-took my savin s/ With that John Lawton pried a stone 
out of the hearth with the toe of his boot. Underneath it 
lay a little heap of silver coins. John blinked at it a mo 
ment. There it is. Dessie s shorely got principle. No two 
ways about it/ He shifted the stone back to place, tilted 
back in his chair, and patting his foot began to whistle a 
rakish tune. He was still whistling as I rode off into the 
bitter night/ 

There was another time Dyke recalled when old Granny 



60 Blue Ridge Country 

Partlow sent word that she couldn t hold out against the 
Lord no longer. Granny was nearing eighty and for thirty 
of her years she had sat a helpless cripple in a chair. At the 
birth o her seventeenth child, paralysis had overtaken 
Deborah, wife of Obadiah Partlow, rendering her useless 
to her spouse and their numerous offspring. She had pro 
tested bitterly, saying right out that it wasn t fair and that 
so long as the affliction was upon her she meant to ask no 
favor of the Lord. Deborah Partlow was through with 
prayer and Scripture and Meeting, though in health never 
had been there a more pious creature than Obadiah Part- 
low s wife. Neighbor folk saw her wither and pine through 
the years. A grim figure, she sat day in and day out in her 
chair wherever it was placed. Lifeless from the waist down, 
using her hands a little to peel potatoes or string beans, 
though so slow and laborious were the movements of the 
stiff fingers her children and Obadiah said they d rather 
do any task themselves than to give it to her. At last she 
had become an old woman, shriveled, grim, still bitter 
about her fate. 

No one was more surprised than Uncle Dyke Garrett 
when she sent for him. 

"Granny Partlow craved baptism," Uncle Dyke remem 
bered the story as clearly as though it had happened but 
yesterday. "The ice was all of a foot thick in the creek but 
men cut it with ax and maddock, spade and saw. It had 
to be a big opening to make room for Deborah Partlow 
and her chair. Though her children and grandchildren 
and old Obadiah protested It ll kill youl You ll be stone 
dead before night! Granny had her way. Nor would she 
put on her bonnet or shawl. Resolute, she sat straight in 
her chair as neighbor men packed her through the snow 
to the creek. The women standing on the bank wept and 



Land of Feuds and Stills 61 

wailed till they couldn t sing a hymn, It ll kill Granny 
Partlow! they cried." 

Uncle Dyke was silent a long moment. "No one could 
ever rightly say how it come about. But the minute my 
two helpers brought the old woman up out of the icy 
waters she leaped out of her chair and took off up the 
bank for home, fleet as a patridge, through snow up to 
her knees, holding up her petticoats with both hands as 
she flew along. Lived to be a hundred and three. Hoed 
corn the day she died of sunstroke." The Good Shepherd 
of the Hills sighed contentedly. "Deborah Partlow bein 
baptized under ice brought a heap of converts to religion/ 

"But that baptizin caused me no end of anxiety," Aunt 
Sallie took up the story. "That day when Dyke went out 
to saddle old Beck the snow was plum up to his boot tops. 
The mountains were white all around and the creek froze 
in a sheet of ice. But go Dyke would. I wropt his muffler 
twice around his neck, got his yarn mittens and pulse 
warmers too and throwed a sheep hide over the top of his 
wood saddle and one under it to ease the nag s back. He 
had wooden stirrups too. Made the whole thing himself. 
I dreaded to see Dyke ride off that winter s day for there 
was a sharp wind that come down out of the hollow and 
froze even the breath of him on his long black beard till 
it looked white white as it is today. I watched him ride 
off. Heard the nag s feet crunching in the snow. All of 
three full days and nights he was gone, for at best the road 
to Hart County was rough and hard to travel. In the mean 
time come a blizzard. Not a soul passed this way, so I got 
no word of Dyke. I conjured a thousand thoughts in my 
mind. Maybe he d met the same fate of old man Frasher 
who fell over a cliff in a blinding snowstorm. Maybe the 
nag had stumbled and sent Dyke headlong over some steep 



62 Blue Ridge Country 

ridge. The children, we had several then, could see I was 
troubled, though I tried to hide it. Finally on the third 
night I had put our babes to bed and was sitting by the 
fire too troubled to sleep. I had about give up hope of see 
ing Dyke alive again. It was in the dead of night I heard 
a voice. It sounded strange and far off, calling Hallo! 
Hallo! , more like a pitiful moan it was. I lighted a pine 
stick at the hearth and hurried as best I could through the 
snow to where the voice was coming from. I stumbled 
once and fell over a stump and the pine torch fell from 
my hand. It sputtered in the snow and nearly went out 
before I could pull myself up to my feet. And all the time 
the voice seemed to be getting farther away. But it wasn t. 
It was just getting weaker. In a few more steps I come on 
the nag deep in a snowdrift up to its shanks and there 
slumped over in the saddle was Dyke. His feet were froze 
fast in the stirrups. He was numb and nigh speechless. 
I wropt my shawl around him and hurried back to the 
house, heated the fire poker red hot and with it I thawed 
Dyke Garrett s boots loose from them wooden stirrups." 
Aunt Sallie sighed. "Of course no mortal can tell when 
salvation will take holt on their heart but after Granny 
Partlow s baptizing and Dyke having to be thawed out of 
his stirrups I was powerful thankful when the Spirit de 
scended on a sinner in fair weather." 

"It s not always womenfolks like Granny Partlow who 
are slow to open their heart to the Spirit. Now take Cap 
tain Anderson! 

"In his home there never lived a more free-hearted man. 
Loved to have folks come and stay as long as they liked. 
Once I recall a man came to the county seat in court week. 
He was making tintypes and charged a few cents for them. 
Captain Anderson had his picture made and was so pleased 



Land of Feuds and Stills 63 

with it he coaxed the fellow to go home with him so that 
he could get a tintype o Levicy and the children. He 
never stopped until he had ten dollars worth of tintypes 
and then he didn t want the fellow to leave. But he did. 
Finally settled over on Beaver. His name was Jerome 
Bailey and he died a rich man and always said he got his 
start with the ten dollars he earned making tintypes for 
Captain Anderson Hatfield." 

Uncle Dyke reflected a long moment. "There s good in 
all of us no matter how wicked we may seem to others. 
And down deep in the heart of me I knew my Captain 
would one day open his heart to salvation." 

Anyone could tell you how the Good Shepherd of the 
Hills through the long years had pleaded and prayed with 
Devil Anse to forsake the thorny path, even far back when 
they returned from the Home War. Already the Captain 
of the Wildcats had made a notch on his gunstock by 
killing Harmon McCoy in 1863. He was already the leader 
of his clan. And all the time Uncle Dyke kept pleading 
with his comrade to give up sin. But not until Uncle Dyke 
Garrett had preached and prayed for nearly fifty years and 
Devil Anse too had become an old man did he admit the 
error of his way. Not until then were the patience, faith, 
and hope of Uncle Dyke rewarded. 

"It was one of the happiest days of my life/ he told me, 
"when Captain Anderson took my hand. Sitting right here 
we were together. It was in the falling weather. These hills 
all around about were a blaze of glory, like they are today. 
And here sat Captain Anderson, in this very rocking chair 
where Miss Sallie is sitting now. We were alone. Miss 
Sallie was busy with her posies down yonder near the gate. 
Dyke/ says the Captain of the Logan Wildcats, in a voice 
so soft I could scarce hear, Tve come into the light! I crave 



64 Blue Ridge Country 

to own my God and Redeemer. I long to go down into 
the waters of baptism and be washed spotless of my trans 
gressions/ I could not move hand or foot. My tongue clove 
to the roof of my mouth. Captain Anderson gripped the 
arms of the rocker there as if to steady himself. A man who 
had tracked mountain lion and bear, panther and cata 
mount. I could see the face of him, that old daredeviltry 
vanish away and on his countenance a childlike look of 
repentance. It took a heap o courage for Captain Ander 
son to admit his transgressions even to me, his lifelong 
friend. But I always knew that down deep in the heart of 
him there was good and that his hour would come when 
he d fall upon his knees before the Master and say, Here 
I am, forgive me Lord, a poor sinner! But when the 
words fell from his trembling lips I could not even cry 
out in rejoicing, Thank God! , like I always aimed to do 
when my comrade should come within the fold. I sat with 
my jaws locked, my tongue stilled. Captain Anderson 
spoke again. Dyke/ sez he, brother Dyke . . . I could 
feel my heart pounding like it would burst out of my 
breast. Brother Dyke/ he repeated the words slowly, 
pleadingly, ain t you aimin to give me the hand of fel 
lowship? Then, still unable to utter a word, I reached out 
my hand and my comrade seized it, gripped it tight. There 
we sat looking at each other and so Miss Sallie found us 
as she came up the path there with her arms filled with 
posies, golden glow, and scarlet sage, and snow-white 
pretty-by-night just burst into bloom for it was sundown. 
Men! said she, at last you re brothers in the faith! I know 
it. Ah! I d know it from the look of peace on the faces of 
the two of you, even if I did not witness the sign of your 
hands clasped in fellowship! The next Sabbath day, it fell 
like on the third Sunday of the month, we witnessed the 



Land of Feuds and Stills 65 

baptism of a once proud and desperate rebel. A rebel 
against the Master! The baptism of him and six of his 
sons as well who had not before received salvation/ 

Swiftly the word passed along the creeks and through 
the quiet hollows. "Devil Anse has come through!" There 
was great rejoicing throughout the West Virginia hills, 
indeed throughout the southern mountains. Not only the 
leader of the Hatfields, but six of his sons, had "got re 
ligion" and "craved baptism." Hundreds flocked from out 
the hollows of West Virginia and Kentucky to witness the 
Hatfield baptizing. 

That was another autumn day only a few years ago as 
time goes. 

The sun was sinking behind the mountain, casting long 
shadows on the waters of Island Creek when the Good 
Shepherd of the Hills moved slowly down the bank to the 
water s edge. Behind him followed his old friend, no 
longer the emboldened Devil Anse with fire in his eagle 
eye, but a meek, a silent, penitent figure. The autumn 
breeze stirred his snow-white hair, his scant gray beard. 
Upon his breast the old clansman held respectfully his 
wide-brimmed felt as he walked with head uplifted in sup 
plication. Behind him followed his six sons. Jonse came 
first, Jonse, who had loved pretty Rosanna McCoy, reck 
less Jonse, who like his father had slain he alone knew 
how many of the other side. Then came Cap, Ellas, Joseph, 
Troy, Robert. 

Slowly and with steady stride Uncle Dyke walked into 
the water. Up to the waist he stood holding the frayed 
Bible in his extended right hand. "Except ye shall repent 
and go into the waters of baptism ye shall perish. But if 
ye -repent and accept salvation, though your sins be as 
scarlet they shall be washed whiter than snow," the voice 



66 Blue Ridge Country 

of the Good Shepherd of the Hills drifted down the 
valley. 

"Amen!" intoned the trembling voice of Devil Anse. 

"Amen!" echoed the six sons grouped about their aged 
sire. 

Then Aunt Levicy, wife of the grim clansman, began 
singing in a quavering voice: 

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound 
That saved a wretch like me; 
I once was lost, but now I m found, 
Was blind, but now I see. 

The wives and daughters, mothers, sisters, and sweet 
hearts of McCoys took up the doleful strain: 

Twos grace that taught my heart to fear, 
And grace my fears relieved; 
How precious did that grace appear 
The hour I first believed. 

"Hit s our sign of peace!" shouted old Aunt Emmie 
McCoy clapping her palsied hands high above her head, 
"the sign of peace twixt us and t other side!" Whereupon 
Young Emmie McCoy, still in her teens, who had loved 
Little Sid Hatfield since their first day at school on Mate 
Creek, threw her arms about his sister and cried, "Can t 
no one keep me and Little Sid apart from this day on." 

"Amen!" the voice of Devil Anse led the solemn chant. 
"Amen! God be praised!" 

Jonse, the first-born of the Hatfields, bowed his head 
and his deep-throated "Amen! God be praised!" echoed 
down the valley. Then Cap and Troy, Tennis, Elias, Joe, 
Willis, and the rest joined in. All eyes turned toward 



Land of Feuds and Stills 67 

Jonse. He who had loved pretty Rosanna McCoy when he 
was a lad, she a shy little miss. 

Many at the baptizing remembered the first meeting of 
the two star-crossed lovers one autumn day long ago on 
Blackberry Creek. The day when young Randall and ToK 
bert, her brothers, were there. Old folks remembered too 
the time when Devil Anse had slain Harmon McCoy. But 
that was long ago and forgiven. "Let bygones be bygones, * 
Levicy had pleaded with her mate, and Sarah, wife of Old 
Randall, did likewise with her spouse. But only Levicy, of 
the two sorely tried women, had survived to witness the 
answer to her prayerspeace between the households with 
the baptism of Devil Anse and his six sons. 

As one by one they went down into the waters of bap 
tism, it was the voice of Levicy Chafin Hatfield that led 
in that best-loved hymn tune of the mountains: 

On Jordan s stormy banks I stand and cast a wistful eye 

Toward Canaan s fair and happy land where my posses 
sions lie. 

I m bound for the Promised Land, I m bound for the 
Promised Land. 

Oh! who will come and go with me, I m bound for the 
Promised Land. 

The hills gave back the echo of their song. 

It was a day of rejoicing. 

As for Uncle Dyke Garrett he continued to journey up 
and down the broad valley and through the hills, preach 
ing the Gospel of repentance, forgiveness, salvation. Above 
all he told of the baptism of Captain Anderson and his six 
boys. 

From the very first Dyke Garrett was more than a 
preacher. 



68 Blue Ridge Country 

Along lonely creeks into quiet hollows he went to pray 
at the bedside of the dying, to comfort the bereft, to re 
joice with the penitent. In the early days he was the only 
visitor beyond the family s own blood kin, so remote were 
the homes of the settlers one from the other. Like a breath 
from the outside world were Uncle Dyke s words of cheer, 
while to him they in the lonely cabins were indeed voices 
crying out in the wilderness. Nor did flood nor storm, his 
own discomfort and hardship deter him. Winter and sum 
mer, through storm and wind, he rode bearing the good 
tidings to the people of the West Virginia ruggeds. 

And now here he sat this autumn day in 1937, alert and 
happy for all his ninety-six years. Bless you, he even talked 
of fighting! 

"If anyone jumped on these United States without a 
good cause," he declared vehemently, "I d fight for my 
country" Uncle Dyke didn t quibble his words. "That is 
to say if Uncle Sam would take me. Me and my sword!" 
Again he faltered, adding reflectively, "But after all the 
Bible is the better weapon. With it I can conquer all 
things." 

Slowly he arose from his chair and Aunt Sallie and I 
did likewise. 

"Come," he invited, "I want you to see for yourself 
where I ve baptized many a one that has come to me." He 
pointed to a pool in the creek beyond the house where he 
had made a small dam. As we stood together it was on the 
tip of my tongue to ask how many couples he had bap 
tized, how many he had married. Abruptly with the un 
canny sense of the mountaineer he lifted the questions out 
of my mind, though it could have been because so many 
others had asked the same things. "I ve never kept count 
of the wedding ceremonies I have performed, nor of the 



Land of Feuds and Stills 69 

baptisms/ he said thoughtfully. "I have always felt that 
if it was the Lord s work I was doing, He would keep the 
count." 

You didn t have to ask Uncle Dyke Garrett either which 
were the happiest days of his long life. You d know from 
the look he bestowed upon his frail mate that his supreme 
happy hour was when he married Miss Sallie Smith. "My 
wedding day," he was saying as if the question had been 
asked, "that was the happiest day of my whole life. And 
next to that comes the day when the Lord chose me to 
administer baptism to Captain Anderson and his six boys. 
Such hours as these are a taste of heaven upon earth." His 
voice was hushed with solemnity. His brimming eyes were 
lifted to the hills. "Though it was a day of sorrow I am 
grateful that it also fell to my lot to preach the funeral 
of my lifelong friend Captain Anderson. Most of all 
though, my heart rejoiced because Captain Anderson had 
become like a little child, meek and penitent, worthy to 
enter the fold." 

Uncle Dyke sat silent a long time. His wrinkled hands 
cupped bony knees. "It brought peace to Levicy s troubled 
heart." His eyes grew misty with unshed tears. "I see her 
now as she lay so peaceful in her shroud and on her bosom 
the gold breast pin she prized so much that Captain An 
derson brought her the time he was stormbound, when 
he met that scalawag brother of Jesse James. She loved 
posies did Levicy and every springtime we take some to 
her grave, me and Miss Sallie." 

At this, Miss Sallie, slipping her small hand through the 
bend of his arm, led the way down the flower-bordered 
path. "Posies are the brightness of a body s days," she said 
softly. "You can t just set them out and they ll bloom big. 
You have to work with them. Posies and human creatures 



70 Blue Ridge Country 

are a heap alike. Sometimes they have to be pampered. 
Like Dyke here/ she smiled up at her aged mate. "I had 
to understand his ways, else I d never have tamed him/ 
she persisted. "He s the last surviving one of his company 
the Logan Wildcats." Aunt Sallie s blue eyes lighted with 
pride. "I like to think of him outlasting me too." 

I d remember them always as they stood there in the 
sunset with the golden glow and scarlet sage and the snow- 
white pretty-by-night all about thern^ the two smiling con 
tentedly as I waved them good-by far down at the bend 
of the road. 

It was the last time I ever saw Uncle Dyke alive. The 
next May 1938 he died. I was gratified that it fell to my 
lot to attend his funeral. And what a worthy eulogy the 
Reverend John McNeely, whom Uncle Dyke always re 
ferred to as "my son in the Gospel/ preached, taking for 
his text "My servant, Moses, is dead," a text that the two 
had agreed upon long before the Good Shepherd of the 
Hills passed away. 

That day when the sermon was ended the great throng 
that filled the valley and the hillsides, gathering about the 
baptismal pool he himself had fashioned, sang Uncle 
Dyke s favorite hymn. Their voices blending like the notes 
of a giant organ swelled and filled the deep valley? 

Like a star in the morning in its beauty, 
Like the sun is the Bible to my soul. 
Shining clear on the way of life and beauty, 
As I hasten on my journey to the goal. 

Tis a lamp in the wilderness of sorrow, 
3 Tis a light on the weary pilgrim s way, 
It will guide to the bright eternal morrow, 
Shining more and more unto the Perfect Day. 



Land of Feuds and Stills 71 

Tis the voice of a friend forever near me, 
In the toil and the battle here below, 
In the gloom of the valley, it shall cheer me, 
Till the glory of the kingdom I shall know. 

I shall stand in its glory and its beauty, 
Till the earth and the heavens pass away, 
Ever telling the wondrous, blessed story 
Of the loving Lamb, the only living way. 

Uncle Dyke chose also his own grave site in the family 
burying ground overlooking the house where he d lived 
seventy-one years. Often he had visited the spot and picked 
out the place beside him where Miss Sallie should be laid 
to rest. His life had ended almost where it began. The 
house in which he was born stands only a few miles from 
that in which he died. 

"He built this house his own self/ Aunt Sallie quietly 
reiterated that evening as some of us lingered to comfort 
her. "We came here to Big Creek soon as we married 
We ve lived here seventy-one year." Through brimming 
eyes she gazed toward the new-made grave. "We traveled 
a long way together, me and Dyke" a sob shook the frail 
little body "and now, I m goin to be mighty lonesome." 

Big Meeting is still carried on just as Uncle Dyke 
wished it. 

In September, 1940, I went again to mingle with the 
hundreds who show their reverence for the Good Shep 
herd of the Hills by keeping fresh in memory his teaching 
through their prayers and hymns at the Big Meeting each 
autumn. And here again a worthy follower of Uncle Dyke 
Garrett eulogized his deeds and mourned his loss. And 
close by, for all her ninety-two years, his beloved Miss 
Sallie, with a trembling hand on the arm of a kinsman, 



72 Blue Ridge Country 

listened intently while those who knew and loved him 
extolled her lost mate. 

And now Miss Sallie is gone too. She died on July 28, 
1941, at the age of ninety-three and loving hands place 
mountain flowers on her grave and that of Levicy Hatfield 
far across the mountain. 

TAKING SIDES 

Some took sides in the feuds that have been carried on 
throughout the Blue Ridge Country and thereby got 
themselves enthralled, while others, more tactful, man 
aged to keep aloof and remain friends with the bellig 
erents. 

There s Uncle Chunk Craft on Millstone Creek in 
Letcher County. Enoch is his real name. There s nothing 
he likes better than to tell of the days when he was one 
of Morgan s raiders. Then, when he was only twenty-two, 
that was in 1864, Uncle Chunk slept in a cornfield near 
Greenville, Tennessee, the very night General John Hunt 
Morgan, who had taken shelter in a house a couple of 
miles away, was betrayed by the woman of the house and 
shot to death by Unionists. 

"We were tuckered out/ he said, "had tramped through 
rain and mud and finally rolled in our blankets, if we 
were lucky enough to have one, and fell asleep wherever 
it was. I burrowed in with a comrade. But we didn t get 
much rest. For, first thing you know, seemed I d just dozed 
off, someone come shoutin through the cornfield that the 
General had been killed. We shouldered our muskets and 
stumbled off through the field, grumbling and growling 
that we d tend to th ones that had betrayed him. But even 
if the woman had been found I reckon we d a-shunned 



Land of Feuds and Stills 73 

killin her. There s a heap that goes on in war that a man 
don t like to think on/ 

Uncle Chunk was proud to own, however, that he saw 
hard fighting through Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky 
and was glad enough when the war was ended. He came 
back, married Polly Ann Caudill, and settled down in 
Letcher. It wasn t long until another war started. This 
time between his neighbors. But with all the carryings-on 
between John Wright and Clabe Jones in the adjoining 
counties of Floyd and Knott, Enoch Craft managed to stay 
friends with both sides. Whichever side happened to round 
in at his home, hungry and footsore from scouting in the 
woods for the other faction, found a welcome at Uncle 
Chunk s and plenty to eat. "Fill up the kittle, Polly Ann," 
he d call to his wife, as he went on digging potatoes. "Here 
comes some of John Wright s crew." Or, "Put on the 
beans, I see Clabe Jones s men comin !" 

And fill up the kettle Polly Ann did. 

After the belligerents had eaten their fill, Uncle Chunk 
would try to reason with them to let the troubles drop. 
"A man thinks better on a full gut than a empty one," he 
argued. And at last, through his help, the Clabe Jones- 
John Wright feud ended. 

In Bloody Breathitt in 1886, Willie Sewell was shot 
from ambush while making molasses on Frozen Creek. 
That started feeling, for Willie had lots of kinfolks. He 
himself was not without sin, for he had killed Jerry South. 
The Souths were related to the Cockrells. But when Willie 
Sewell, who was a half-brother of Jim and Elbert Hargis, 
was shot the trouble, which became the Hargis-Cockrell 
feud, really began. 

A quarter of a century after one of the most famous of 



74 Blue Ridge Country 

Kentucky mountain trials when Curt Jett was tried for 
the assassination of James B. Marcum and James Cock- 
rell the trouble was revived with the killing of Clay Wat- 
kins by Chester Fugate. This uprising, it was said, started 
when Sewell Fugate was defeated by Clay Watkins for the 
office of chairman of the county Board of Education. 
Chester quarreled with Clay over a petty debt. Three years 
before that time Amos, cousin of Chester, had shot and 
killed Deputy Sheriff Green Watkins, brother of Clay. 
When an enraged posse found Amos they filled him with 
bullets. Sixty years before, Hen Kilburn, grandfather of 
Chester Fugate, was taken from the county jail in Jackson 
and lynched for killing a man. It was the first time such 
a lynching had occurred at the county seat. 

On Christmas morning in 1929, Chester Fugate was 
taken from the same jail and shot to death, but not in the 
courthouse yard. The posse took him out to a farm some 
miles away. That was the second lynching in Bloody 
Breathitt. There was a heavy snow on the ground, making 
a soft carpet for the swiftly moving feet of the mob num 
bering more than a score, as they hurried their victim 
away. Before entering Fugate s cell, they had bound the 
jailer, S. L. Combs, to make sure of no interference from 
that source. 

Some miles from the county seat they stopped in a 
thicket on a farm. 

That morning farmer Jones got up before daylight and 
with lantern on arm went out to milk the cows and feed 
the stock. He halted suddenly in the unbeaten snow for 
from a nearby thicket came a strange sound. At first the 
farmer thought it the moaning of a trapped animal. Hold 
ing the lantern overhead he stumbled on a few yards to 
find Chester Fugate in a pool of blood that stained the 



Land of Feuds and Stills 75 

snow all about the crumpled figure. Bleeding profusely 
from thirteen gunshot wounds, Chester survived long 
enough to give the names of at least six of his assailants. 

It was another outbreak in the Hargis-Cockrell feud. 

Five of the men in the mob surrendered. They were 
bound over and released on bail. All were kin of Clay 
Watkins: Samuel J. was his brother, L. K. Rice his son- 
in-law, Allie Watkins his son, and Earl and Bent Howard 
were his nephews. The men signed their own bonds to 
gether with Jack Howard, uncle of Bent and Earl. The 
name of Elbert Hargis was also affixed to the bonds. The 
sixth man named by Chester Fugate before he died was 
Lee Watkins, a cousin of Clay, who said he would sur 
render. 

The trouble went back more than a quarter of a cen 
tury when Curtis Jett his friends called him Curt and 
others assassinated James B. Marcum and James Cockrell. 
Curt was a nephew of county Judge James Hargis, who 
was said by some to be the master mind behind the mur 
ders. 

The state militia was called out to preserve order dur 
ing the trial. 

Things had been turbulent in Breathitt before. Back in 
1878 Judge William Randall fled the bench after the slay 
ing of county Judge John Burnett and his wife. However, 
the commencement of the Hargis-Cockrell feud in 1899 
was over a contested election of county officers. The Fu- 
sionists or Republicans declared their men the winners, 
while the Democrats were equally certain of triumph. 
James Hargis was the Democrats candidate for county 
judge, Ed Callahan for sheriff. 

The leading law firm in all of eastern Kentucky at the 
time was that of James B. Marcum and O. H. Pollard, but 



76 Blue Ridge Country 

when the election contest arose, the men dissolved part 
nership. Marcum represented the Republican contestants, 
his former partner looked to the affairs of the Democrats. 
Until this time Marcum had been a close personal friend 
as well as legal adviser to James Hargis. 

Depositions for the contestants were being taken in 
Marcum s office when the two lawyers almost came to 
blows over Pollard s cross-examination of a witness, with 
Hargis and Callahan sitting close by. Harsh words were 
uttered and pistols drawn, and Hargis, Callahan, and Pol 
lard were ordered from Marcum s office. When warrants 
were issued for them and Marcum also by police Judge 
T. P. Cardwell, Marcum appeared in court and paid a fine 
of twenty dollars. But Jim Hargis refused to be tried by 
Cardwell the two men had been bad friends for some 
time. Then, instead of attempting alone the arrest of 
. Hargis, the town marshal of Jackson, Tom Cockrell, called 
on his brother Jim to lend a hand. 

It is said that when Tom went to arrest Hargis the 
latter refused to surrender, drawing his gun. But Tom 
covered Jim Hargis first. Whereupon Hargis s friend, Ed 
Callahan, who was close, covered Tom Cockrell and in 
the bat of an eye Jim Cockrell, his brother, covered Cal 
lahan. Seeing that the Cockrells had the best of them, both 
Jim Hargis and Ed Callahan surrendered. That incident 
passed without bloodshed and Marcum himself sent word 
to police Judge Cardwell that he didn t want to prosecute 
Hargis and asked that the case be dismissed, as it was. 

That same year there was a school election. 

"Marcum flew in a rage," said Hargis, "when I accused 
him of trying to vote a minor and he pulled his pistol on 
ine but did not shoot." 

Though that difference was also patched up, the fami- 



Land of Feuds and Stills 77 

lies began taking sides in the many quarrels that followed. 
Accusations were made first by one side, then the other. 
Marcum accused Callahan of killing his uncle, and Cal- 
lahan in turn charged that his father had been slain by 
Marcum s uncle. 

In July, 1902, the flames of the feud were fanned to 
white heat. 

Tom Cockrell, a minor, fought a pistol duel with Ben 
Hargis, Jim s brother, in a blind tiger, leaving Ben dead 
upon the floor. Tom was defended by his kinsman, J. B. 
Marcum, without fee. Tom s guardian, Dr. B. D. Cox, one 
of the leading physicians in Jackson, was married to a 
Cardwell whose family belonged to the Cockrell clan. 

It was not long after Ben Hargis s death that his brother 
John, "Tige," was slain by Jerry Cardwell. Jerry claimed 
that it was in the exercise of his duty as train detective. 

"Tige was disorderly," Jerry said, "when I tried to ar 
rest him." 

Anyway pistols were fired; Jerry was only wounded but 
Tige was killed. His death was followed shortly by that of 
Jim Hargis s half-brother. The shot came from ambush 
one night while he was making sorghum at his home, and 
no one knew who fired it. 

On another night not long thereafter, Dr. Cox, who was 
guardian of the minor Tom Cockrell and the other Cock 
rell children, was hurrying along the streets of Jackson 
to the bedside of a patient. 

When the doctor reached the corner across from the 
courthouse and in almost direct line with Judge Hargis s 
stable, he dropped with a bullet through the heart. An 
other shot was fired at close range and lodged in the doc 
tor s body. 

The evidence disclosed that at the time of the shoot* 



78 Blue Ridge Country 

ing Judge Hargis and Ed Callahan were standing together 
in the rear of Hargis s stable from which direction the 
shots came. The Cockrells stated that Dr. Cox had been 
slain because of his family relationship with them and be 
cause of his participation in the defense of young Tom 
Cockrell, his ward. 

The story of Dr. Cox s death was still on many lips when 
Curt Jett, who was Sheriff Ed Callahan s deputy, met Jim 
Cockrell in the dining room of the Arlington Hotel where 
they engaged in a quarrel and exchange of bullets. Neither 
was injured, but -bad feeling continued between them. 

Sometime during the morning of July 28, 1902, Curt 
and a couple of friends concealed themselves in the court 
house. At noon that day, in broad daylight, Jim Cockrell 
was shot dead on the street from a second-story window 
of the building. Across the way, from, a second-story win 
dow of Hargis s store, Judge Jim Hargis and Sheriff Ed 
Callahan saw the shooting. 

Jim Cockrell had assisted his brother, the town mar 
shal, in arresting Jim Hargis and was the recognized 
leader of the Cockrell faction. He had spared no effort 
in obtaining evidence in his brother s behalf when young 
Tom was tried for killing Ben Hargis in the blind tiger. 

Under cover of darkness Curt Jett and his companions 
were spirited away from the courthouse on horseback and 
no arrests were made. 

In the meantime the trial of young Tom Cockrell for 
killing Ben Hargis was moved to Campton, but Judge Jim 
Hargis and his brother, Senator Alex Hargis, declared that 
they d never reach Campton alive if they should go there 
to prosecute young Tom. So the case was dismissed. "Our 
enemies would kill us somewhere along the mountain 
road," the Hargises declared. 



Land of Feuds and Stills 79 

Jim Hargis loved his wife and children. He idolized his 
son Beach, who spent his days hanging around his father s 
store and squandering money that the doting parent sup 
plied. 

Up to November 9, 1902, according to information sup 
plied by J. B. Marcum, there had been thirty persons 
killed in Breathitt County as a result of the feeling be 
tween the factions and to quote Marcum s own words, 
"the Lord only knows how many wounded." 

After Marcum s assassination on May 4, 1903, his widow 
wrote the Lexington Herald that there had been thirty- 
eight homicides in Breathitt County during the time 
James Hargis presided as county judge. J. B. Marcum and 
his wife both had known for a long time that he was a 
marked man. Indeed, ever since he had represented the 
Fusionists in contesting the election of Jim Hargis as 
county judge, it was an open secret that Marcum would 
meet his doom sooner or later. Added to this was the 
animosity aroused on the Hargis side by Marcum s defense 
of young Tom Cockrell for killing Jim Hargis s brother 
Ben. 

Marcum made an affidavit which he filed in the 
Breathitt Circuit Court declaring that he was marked for 
death. Others substantiated his statement by swearing to 
various plots that had been concocted to assassinate him. 
As a matter of feet while the feeling was raging high in 
the contest case he was a prisoner in his own home for 
seventy-two days, afraid to step out on his own porch. To 
protect himself against bullets he had a barricade built 
joining the rear of his house with a small yard. Whenever 
he left his home, which was seldom, he was accompanied 
by his wife and he carried one of his small children. 

Once he went to Washington and stayed a month. It 



80 Blue Ridge Country 

was during that time that his friend Dr. Cox was assassi 
nated. A client of Marcum s by the name of Mose Feltner 
came to his home to acquaint the lawyer with a plot 
against his life. Mose told how he had been given thirty- 
five dollars to commit the deed and a shotgun for the pur 
pose. He also took Marcum to a woods and showed where 
four Winchester rifles had been concealed by him and his 
three companions. The guns, Mose said, were kept there 
during the day but were carried at night so that if he or 
his companions met Marcum they were prepared to kill 
him. The plot, so Mose declared, was to entice Marcum to 
his office on some pretext or other. Mose was to waylay him 
and pull the trigger. Mose went further. He told Marcum 
that the county officials had promised him immunity from 
punishment if he would carry out the plot and kill Mar 
cum. When at last the election contest furore had quieted 
down Marcum concluded it was safe to venture forth to 
his law office and resume his practice. 

On the morning of May 4th he had gone to the court 
house to file some papers in the case. He lingered for a 
while in the corridor to greet this one and that, then 
walked slowly through the corridor toward the front door. 
From where he stood talking with a friend, Benjamin 
Ewen, Marcum could see across the street Judge James 
Hargis and Sheriff Ed Callahan sitting in rocking chairs 
in front of Hargis s store. When the shots were fired that 
killed Marcum neither Hargis nor Callahan stirred. Their 
view was uninterrupted when the lifeless body plunged 
forward. They remained seated in their rocking chairs, 
looking neither to right nor to left. They made no effort 
to find out who did the shooting. 

"My God! they have killed me!" cried Marcum as bul- 



Land of Feuds and Stills 81 

lets struck through the spine and skull and he lunged for 
ward dead. 

Curt Jett, tall and angular with red hair and deep-set 
blue eyes, a man of many escapades, was convicted of the 
murder and sent to the penitentiary for life. The evidence 
of Captain B. J. Ewen, with whom Marcum was talking 
when shot, disclosed that Tom White, one of the con 
spirators, walked past Marcum glaring at him to attract 
his attention. As he did so Curt in the rear of the hallway 
of the courthouse fired the shots. Curt Jett s mother was 
a sister to Judge Hargis, and Curt, though only twenty- 
four at the time, was a deputy under Ed Callahan. 

Nine years later on the morning of May 4, 1912, Ed 
Callahan, while sitting in his store at Crockettsville, a vil 
lage some twenty-five miles from Jackson, the county seat, 
was killed. Callahan too was a marked man and knew it. 
Connecting his house and the store he had built a stockade 
to insure his safety as he passed from one to the other. 
There was a telephone on the wall near the back window 
of the store and he had just hung up the receiver after 
talking to a neighbor when two bullets in quick succes 
sion whizzed through the window from somewhere across 
the creek. One entered Callahan s breast, the other his 
thigh. Members of his family rushed to his side and car 
ried him, sheltered by the stockade, to his home where 
he died. 

The old law of Moses, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for 
a tooth" still prevailed. 

It is estimated that from 1902, when the Hargis-Cockrell 
feud started over an election contest, to 1912, more than 
one hundred men had lost their lives. 

Like the feuds of Scotland, those of the southern moun 
tains usually found kin standing by kin, but sometimes 



82 Blue Ridge Country 

they quarreled and killed each other. In the Hargis-Cock- 
rell feud, Marcum s sister was the wife of Alex Hargis. 
Curt Jett s mother was a half-sister to Alex and Jim Hargis. 
His father was a brother of the mother of the Cockrells, 
Tom and Jim. Yet Curt was openly accused of killing Jim 
Cockrell. Dr. Cox, who was slain early in the fray, was the 
guardian of young Tom Cockrell and Mrs. Cox was a 
sister of the police judge of Jackson, T. P. Cardwell, Jr., 
who was in office when he issued warrants for Marcum, 
Jim Hargis, and Ed Callahan when they had quarreled in 
Pollard s law office at the time depositions were being 
taken in the election contest. 

Though Curt Jett, Mose Feltner, John Abner, and John 
Smith confessed to the assassination of J. B. Marcum, say 
ing Jim Hargis and Ed Callahan planned the crime, 
Hargis and Callahan protested innocence. Even so Mar 
cum s widow got a judgment for $8000 against the two 
for killing her husband. After John Smith confessed and 
was dismissed he turned bitterly against Hargis and Calla 
han and their faction and was suspected of attempting to 
assassinate Callahan a year before the deed was accom 
plished. 

Around the store of Judge James Hargis conversation 
turned often to the troubles. If a woman came in to buy 
a can of baking powder she looked stealthily about before 
gossiping with another. If a man entered to buy a plug of 
tobacco or a poke of nails to mend a barn or fence, his 
swift eye swept the faces of customers and loiterers and 
presently he d sidle off to one side and talk with some of 
his friends. 

Young Beach Hargis, upon whom, his father doted, 
heard this talk. He knew of the feeling of the different 
ones connected with the trouble. It was talked not only 



Land of Feuds and Stills 83 

around the store but in the Hargis home. When the father 
wasn t about Beach and his mother mulled it over. Beach 
never was a lad to work. "Why should I?" he argued. "Pa s 
got plenty. And I aim to get what s coming to me while 
the old man s living." 

If the father protested that Beach was squandering too 
much money, the mother shielded her son and wheedled 
Jim Hargis into giving him more. 

"He s been pampered too much, Louellen/ Judge Har 
gis often remonstrated with his wife. "Should we spare 
the rod and spoil the child?" And sometimes Evylee, 
Beach s sister, would plead with her father to forgive 
Beach once again for drunkenness and waywardness. 
Evylee had been away to school at Oxford University in 
Ohio near Cincinnati. She loved the nice things of life, 
particularly learning. Judge Hargis was an indulgent 
father. He wanted his children to have the best, both in 
education and dress. He wanted his boy Beach to go 
through college. But Beach had no v fondness for book- 
learning or fine clothes. 

"I ve give up trying to do anything with him, Louellen/ 
said Jim Hargis to his wife one day when they were to 
gether in the sitting room of their home. "Look yonder 
there he goes." He pointed a condemning finger at Beach 
reeling drunk along the sidewalk. 

"Don t fret, Pa/* Mrs. Hargis pleaded with her hus 
band. "He s young. He ll mend his ways. Don t forsake 
him/ 

That was the day before the homicide. 

Next day Beach was still drunk. He swaggered into the 
store, leered about for his father, and not seeing him 
stumbled on past the racks where the guns lay, past the 
shelves laden with cartridges and shells, on into the rear 



84 Blue Ridge Country 

room where coffins were lined in a somber row. Judge 
Hargis kept a general store that carried in stock most any 
thing you could call for from baking soda and beeswax to 
plows, guns and coffins. Beach didn t notice the black- 
covered coffins or the guns. He stumbled along to a cor 
ner of the wareroom where he slumped on a keg of nails. 
There he sat a while mumbling to himself. His eyes were 
bloodshot, his face swollen from a fall or a fight. "The 
old man punched me in the jaw/ he kept repeating, "and 
ni-ni-" 

Frightened clerks hurried past him in waiting upon 
customers. No one tried to listen or understand. Beach 
kept on mumbling. After a while he staggered out again. 
Later that same day he went to a barber shop for a shave 
and haircut. Suddenly he raised up from the chair and 
leering toward the street muttered at a man passing, "I 
thought that was the old man going yonder." It was not 
Judge Hargis, the barber assured Beach, so the drunken 
fellow settled back in the chair and the barber proceeded 
to lather his face. 

. Beach s sister, who was married to Dr. Hogg, often took 
her drunken brother in. 

"Evylee s got no right to harbor Beach," Judge Hargis 
complained to his wife. "He s tore up our home and he 
will do the same for Evylee and her husband and for Dr. 
Hogg s business too. He s a plum vagabond and spoiled. 
And put on top of that whiskey, and a gun in his hand, 
the Lord only knows what that boy will do." 

Out of one scrape into another, in jail and out, Beach 
Hargis went his way. The mother pleading with the father 
to forgive him and let him have another chance. The sis 
ter pleaded with Beach to quit drinking and carousing. 

On the lyth day of February, 1908, Beach, still maudlin 



Land of Feuds and Stills 85 

drtink, went again into his father s store. He didn t look 
at the guns in the racks this time. He glanced toward the 
wareroom where the black coffins stood in a row on 
wooden horses. "I m looking for the old man," he mut 
tered to a clerk. Then he reeled toward the counter and 
asked the clerk to give him a pistol. The clerk refused, 
saying he could not take a pistol out of stock, but added, 
"Your Pa s pistol is yonder in his desk drawer. You can 
take that." 

Beach helped himself. 

In the meantime Judge Hargis had come into the store 
just as Beach, with the pistol concealed in his shirt, went 
out, 

In the drugstore of his brother-in-law, Dr. Hogg, Beach 
terrorized customers and the proprietor by pointing his 
pistol around promiscuously. He reeled out of the place 
without firing, however, and went back to his father s 
store. Someone later said all he had been drinking was a 
bottle of Brown s Bitters. 

From where Judge Hargis stood in one part of the 
double storeroom he could see Beach sitting cross-legged 
in a chair near the front door. Beach spat on his shoe 
and slowly whetted his pocket knife, scowling sullenly 
now and then in his father s direction. He clicked the 
blade of his knife shut and slipped it into his pocket and 
sat with his arms dangling at his sides, head slumped on 
his breast. 

A customer came in and asked Judge Hargis, "Where s 
Beach?" 

The father pointed to the son. "There he is. I 
have done all I can for him and I cannot go about him 
or have anything to do with him." Then Judge Hargis 
repeated that Beach was destroying his business and would 



86 Blue Ridge Country 

do the same with Dr. Hogg s business if Evylee kept on 
harboring him. 

Not a word was spoken between father and son. But 
as Jim Hargis walked in his direction, Beach pulled him 
self up out of his chair, stepped around behind the spool 
case that stood on the end of the counter, leered at his 
father and moved toward him. Beach came within three 
feet of his father. The next thing they were grappling. 

Terrified bystanders and clerks heard the report of five 
pistol shots. All five of the shots lodged in Jim Hargis s 
body. By this time the two men were on the floor. The 
father holding the son down with one arm, lifted in his 
right the smoking pistol. "He has shot me all to pieces," 
gasped Judge Hargis as he handed the pistol to a by 
stander. He died in a few minutes. 

Loyal to her unfortunate son, Louellen, the widow of 
Judge Hargis, set about to get the ablest lawyers in the 
state to defend him. Will Young, matchless orator of 
Rowan County, was not able to clear Beach on the first 
trial. On the second, however, aided by the legal skill of 
Governor William O. Bradley, D. B. Redwine, J. J. C. 
Bach, Sam H. Kash, and Thomas L. Cope, Beach was 
sentenced to the penitentiary for life instead of the gal 
lows. 

As the years went by the mother continued to plead 
for her son s freedom. Time and again she made the jour 
ney to Frankfort to beg mercy of the governor. Weary 
and sad she lingered outside the door of the mansion. She 
hovered close to the entrance of the chief executive s suite 
in the capitol, pleading by look, if word was denied her. 
Finally the governor pardoned Beach Hargis, because, it 
was said, His Excellency could no longer bear the sight 



L,and of Feuds and Stills 87 

of the heartbroken mother. Beach was pardoned on prom 
ise of good behavior. 

But scarcely was he back in Breathitt County when 
pistol shots were heard again. He rode out to the farm of 
relatives a few miles from Jackson and when the women 
folk spied him galloping up the lane they took to the 
attic in terror. Beach, reeling drunk, staggered into the 
dining room where the table was set for dinner. There 
was a platter of fried chicken, another of hot biscuits. He 
shot all the biscuits off the plate, threw the chicken out 
the door and didn t stop till he had riddled every dish on 
the table. 

The womenfolk up in the attic, with fingers to ears, 
stared white and trembling at each other. Finally one 
of the girls reached out of the small window up under 
the eaves and, with the aid of a branch from the cherry 
tree close by, caught hold of the rope on the farm belL 
Once the rope was in her hand she pulled it quickly again 
and again. The clanging of the bell brought the men from 
the fields but as they approached on the run through the 
cornfield and potato patch, Beach threw a leg over his 
horse and galloped away, shooting into the air. 

He continued on the rampage. Out of one scrape into 
another. 

His mother died of a broken heart. She had done all 
she could for her son but Beach Hargis went his reckless 
way. 

He was sent to prison a second time, for the safety of 
all concerned, but he escaped about the time of the World 
War. No one has seen hide or hair of him since then. 
There have been many conjectures as to his whereabouts 
but no one really knows what has come of Judge Jim 
Hargis s slayer. 



Blue Ridge Country 



There is a fine State College in Morehead, Rowan 
County, Kentucky, where Judge Will Young, whose elo 
quence saved Beach from the gallows, lived and died. On 
the college campus there is a Hargis Hall, named for 
Thomas F. Hargis, a Democrat and captain in the Con 
federate Army, and a relative of the reckless Beach. 

As for Beach s cousin, Curt Jett, accused of murder, 
rape, and even the betrayal of a pretty mountain girl, 
convicted of the slaying of J. B. Marcum, he was pardoned 
from the penitentiary, got religion, and was, the last heard 
from, preaching the gospel through the mountains of 
Kentucky. 

For all the shedding of blood of kith and kin in the 
Hargis-Cockrell feud, when our country was plunged into 
the World War, Bloody Breathitt had no draft quota be 
cause so many of her valiant sons hastened to volunteer. 

Although many of the feuds in the Blue Ridge grew 
out of elections, they were not prompted by ambition, for 
the offices contested were not high ones like that of sena 
tor or congressman. Frequently they were lesser posts such 
as that of sheriff or jailer or school-board trustee. When 
the strife finally led to assassination the motive usually 
was the desire for safety. The one feared had to be re 
moved by death. 

One famous feud, however, was started over the posses 
sion of a wife s kitchen apron. 

Tom Dillam s wife left him and one day passing his 
farm she spied a woman working in the field wearing one 
of her aprons. Mrs. Dillam flew into a rage, climbed the 
rail fence, and deliberately snatched the apron off the 
other woman. Tom went after her to the home of his 
father-in-law, John Bohn, to recover the apron. He 



Land of Feuds and Stills 89 

quarreled with his wife and instantly killed Bohn who 
tried to interfere. 

As the quarrels continued and the years went by, Dillam 
incited his relatives and friends and armed them as well. 
He finally had behind him a band of outlaws. In 1885, 
about the time the Martin-Tolliver feud in Rowan County 
was at its height, Mrs. Dillam s brother William had a 
dispute over timber with her estranged husband s brother 
George. Bohn killed Dillam but as he ran for shelter he 
himself was slain by two other brothers of Dillam, Sam 
and Curt. 

As the feeling grew others were drawn into the fray. 
Brothers opposed brothers. The Dillams* sister was mar 
ried to Lem Buffum, and because of Buffum s friendship 
with the Bohns he was hated by the Dillams. 

There was a dance one Christmas night at which two 
of the Dillam band were slain by Buffum. From then on 
Sam Dillam dogged the steps of Lem Buffum who 
finally killed his tormentor. This so enraged the Dillam 
band they started a reign of terror. They were openly out 
to get any Buffum sympathizer. They riddled their homes 
with bullets, burned barns, waylaid the sympathizers and 
shot them to death without warning. Once a friend of the 
Buffums , Jack Smith, when the Buffum home was be 
sieged, rushed in and carried out the aged mother of Lem. 
He bore her down to the river and leaping into a skiff 
rowed the old woman safely to the other side. On his re 
turn the Dillams shot him to death from ambush. 

In such a high-handed fashion did they carry on their 
warfare that they made bold to seize Jake Kimbrell, a 
Buffum friend, at a dance. While some of the Dillam band 
held their prisoner f-ast other members of the crew shot 
him to death. 



90 Blue Ridge Country 

Their utter cruelty finally caused even some of their 
own faction to withdraw from the feud. Tom Dillam s 
brother Ab said outright that if they wanted to go on 
hunting Lem Buffum and terrorizing the country they d 
have to do it without him. Lem s sister was married to 
Ab s son Jesse. One day in his absence they set upon Ab s 
house and shot it as full of holes as a sieve. 

Women and children were no longer safe and the citi 
zens decided something had to be done for protection. 
They asked the governor for troops. His refusal was bol 
stered by the alibi that first it was the duty of the sheriff 
of the county to attempt to capture the murderers. Then 
the judge of the county called for fifty militiamen. Instead 
of that number only fifteen came to restore law and order. 
But even before they arrived on the scene a lad on horse 
back saw them coming and galloped off to inform the 
outlaws who took to the woods. 

With seven of the sheriff s men left to guard the home 
and family of Jesse Dilliam, Jesse and several others sought 
safety in a log house some distance away. However, before 
they could reach the log house one of their number was 
killed, one fled and the rest managed to escape into a 
nearby thicket. 

When circuit court convened soon afterward the Dillam 
brothers, Tom and Curt, were arrested. Tom, having been 
released on a $5000 bail, was going toward the court 
house one day with his lawyer. Following close behind 
was Tom s lieutenant and another friend. On the way 
they passed the house where their wounded victims were 
staying and when within range of the place the outlaws 
drew their pistols. They did not know that Lem Buffum 
and his friends had been warned and were waiting for this 
moment. Suddenly a volley of bullets was poured upon 



L.and of Feuds and Stills 91 

the outlaws. Sixteen of the well-aimed shots had pierced 
Tom Dillam s body. 

Hatred and lust for murder had by this time gone deep 
into the heart of Tom s son who became the leader of the 
band. If anyone opposed him in anything, he knew but 
one way to take care of the opposition and that by the gun. 
He gave one of the Dillam band twenty dollars and a gun 
to slay a rival. Tom s brother Curt was finally released 
on bail but it was not long until his bullet-torn body was 
found in the woods. 

Fear on the part of those who had testified against the 
outlaw in his trial impelled the removal for all time of 
the cause of fear. The universe breathed easier after Tom s 
brother Curt was under the sod. 

MARTIN-TOLUVER TROUBLES 

Troubles brewed around elections and courts. 

Some years previously when the Talliaferro families 
changed their abode from Old Virginia to settle in Mor 
gan County, Kentucky, it wasn t long until their name 
also was changed. Their neighbors found the name Tallia 
ferro difficult to speak and they began to shorten the 
syllables to something that sounded like Tolliver. So Tolli- 
ver it was from then on. 

Craig Tolliver s father became a prosperous fanner but 
with his prosperity came quarrels with a neighbor and 
finally a lawsuit. Tolliver was successful in the litigation 
which incensed his neighbors. One night as he lay asleep 
in his bed the irate neighbors stealthily entered the house 
and shot him dead before the eyes of his fourteen-year-old 
son, Craig. 

This early sight of high-handed murder embittered the 



92 Blue Ridge Country 

boy who at once began to carry a gun and drink and lead 
a life of lawlessness. 

In about 1880 he moved to Rowan County which be 
came the scene of one of the bloodiest of Kentucky feuds, 
that of the Martins and Tollivers. Craig was the leader of 
his side. Gaunt and wiry, he stood six feet in his boots. 
His long drooping mustache was a sandy color like his 
goatee. His eyes, a light blue, were shifty and piercing, 
eyes that had the look of a snake charming a bird* In ap 
pearance Craig was a typical desperado. He swaggered 
about with gun at belt, a whiskey bottle on his hip. 

At this time the secret ballot had not yet been insti 
tuted. Not only was the name of the voter called out but 
his choice as well. With the open ballot a man who bought 
votes knew how they were cast. Bribery and whiskey, both 
of which were plentiful and freely dispensed at voting 
time, went hand-in-hand with fights and corruption. 

The stage was set for bloody feud in Rowan County by 
the time Cook Humphrey in 1884 ran for sheriff of the 
county on the Republican ticket against S. B. Gooden, 
Democrat * 

That election day in August a group of men gathered 
in the courthouse yard at Morehead, the county seat, dis 
cussing the returns in heated tones. 

Gooden lived in the town while his opponent lived 
about seven miles away on his father s farm. 

"Cook Humphrey won by twelve votes," someone 
called out. At that a quarrel started. Fists were flying in 
the air. William Trumbo, kin of John Martin s wife who 
was Lucy Trumbo, made a remark to a man by the name 
of Price. And the next thing they were in a wrangle. There 
were Tollivers and Martins present as well as friends of 
both families and soon all of them were engaged in the 



Land of Feuds and Stills 93 * 

controversy. Someone struck John Martin, supposedly 
with the butt of a gun, knocking out a front tooth and 
badly cutting his head. His blood stained the courthouse 
steps. As he scrambled to his feet cursing vengeance against 
John Day and Floyd Tolliver for wounding him, he drew 
his pistol and others did likewise. 

The next moment Sol Bradley, the father of seven chil 
dren, lay dead with a bullet through his brain. Young Ad 
Sizemore caught a bullet in the neck. 

There was a dispute as to whether John Martin or Floyd 
Tolliver had killed Sol Bradley, who was a friend and 
partisan of Cook Humphrey. It was never decided who 
did the killing. But it started the Martin-Tolliver troubles. 

The wounding of Ad Sizemore was generally laid to 
Sheriff John Day. 

Forthwith the factions organized and armed themselves. 
There were Martins, Sizemores, and Humphrey on one 
side, Days and Tollivers on the other side. 

John Martin, the son of Ben, lived not far from his 
father on Christy Creek, a few miles from Morehead. His 
brothers, Will and Dave, resided nearby. They had a sister, 
Sue, who was as fearless as the menfolks of her family. 
She resented bitterly the treatment of the Martins by the 
other side. Sue lived at home with her father and mother. 

The Tollivers were more widely scattered. Floyd lived 
in Rowan, Marion and Craig in Morgan County, their 
cousins Bud, Jay, and Wiley lived in Elliott County. 

Their clansmen, all Democrats, including Tom Allen 
Day and his brothers Mitch, Boone, and John, also Mace 
Keeton, Jeff and Alvin Bowling, James Oxley, and Bob 
Messer lived in Rowan County. 

The Martins, Logans, and Matt Carey, the county clerk, 
all Republicans and friends of Cook Humphrey, newly 



94 Blue Ridge Country 

elected sheriff, resented the killing of Sol Bradley, an in 
nocent bystander. 

There had been whisperings of threats laid to both 
sides. "As soon as the leaves put out good, I aim to get 
Floyd," Martin is reported to have said. Similar mutter- 
ings were reported to have been uttered by Tolliver. "Ill 
bide my time till the brush gets green; then I aim to have 
a reckoning. That Logan outfit, well-wishers of the Mar 
tins, are getting too uppity." 

It was Fentley Muse who told a tale-bearer that no good 
could come of such things and urged that all keep peace. 
But peace bonds were violated as fast as they were made. 
Pledges by Craig Tolliver to leave the county for good 
and all were broken. 

There was more tale-bearing. There were those who, 
according to John Martin s son Ben, later a World War 
hero, made the bullets for others to shoot, including one, 
a doctor, whom I knew well in later years. Ben Martin said 
of him angrily, "He filled more graves than any other man 
in Rowan County and yet he himself never fired a shot." 
Ben s aged mother, Mrs. Lucy Trumbo Martin, reiterated 
this often to me when I sat beside her on the porch of the 
old Cottage Hotel on Railroad Street in Morehead where 
much of the shooting took place. Indeed the old hostelry 
had been the scene of one of the fiercest gun battles be 
tween the Martins and Tollivers. It faced the Central Hotel 
across the tracks. The Gait House, the name by which the 
Carey combined boarding house and grocery-saloon was 
known during the Rowan County troubles, stood some 
distance away across the road from the courthouse. 

It was a bleak day in December, 1884, following the 
August election in Rowan County when John Martin was 
struck on the head, that he and his wife Lucy and two of 



Land of Feuds and Stills 95, 

their small children climbed into their jolt wagon out on 
Christy Creek and rode into town. While his wife and 
the children went to do some trading at a general store 
down the road, John met Sam Gooden, John Day, and 
Floyd Tolliver. Words passed between Martin and Tolli- 
ver after which John went into Carey s saloon. As he stood 
at the bar Floyd Tolliver came up and repeated what he 
had said to Martin outside something to the effect that 
Martin had been wanting to bulldoze him. Martin denied 
the charge but Tolliver repeated, "Yes, by God, you have, 
and I am not going to permit it." To which Martin an 
swered, "If you must have a fight, I am ready for you." 
At this Floyd put his hand in his pocket. Martin, thinking, 
so his wife and son told me, that Floyd Tolliver was about 
to draw his gun, drew his own in self-defense. Though 
Martin was quicker on the trigger than Tolliver, who 
now had his gun out of the holster, Martin did not have 
time to get his weapon completely out of his pocket. He 
shot through it, killing Floyd Tolliver almost instantly. 
"Boys," Floyd managed to gasp, turning his eyes toward 
friends who rushed into the bar, "remember what you 
swore to do. You said you would kill him and you must 
keep your word." 

Martin gave himself up to the law. By this time a mob, 
friends of both sides, had gathered around and Martin 
was hurried, half dragged, across the road to the jail be 
hind the courthouse. 

In order to protect the prisoner from violence he was 
taken to the Winchester, Kentucky, jail next day. But he 
had been there only six days when a band of five men 
presented themselves to the jailer with an order, appar 
ently signed by the proper authorities, commanding Mar* 
tin s return to Rowan County. He pleaded with the jailer 



96 Blue Ridge Country 

not to surrender him. "It is only a plot to kill me," he 
cried 

That day Martin s wife had been to see him in his cell. 
She took him some cornbread and a clean shirt and socks. 
Little did she dream when she got on the train to return 
to Morehead that night that her husband sat handcuffed 
in the baggage coach ahead. Around the prisoner stood 
his five captors: Alvin Bowling, Edward and Milt Evans, 
a man named Hall, and another by the name of Eastman. 

When the train was within five miles of the county seat 
of Rowan, at a village called Farmers, it was boarded by 
several masked men who rushed into the baggage car and 
shot John Martin, helpless and handcuffed, to death. 

"They ve killed him!" Lucy Trumbo Martin screamed 
at the sound of the first shot, though until that moment 
she had not known her husband was on the train. "I knew 
they had killed John," she told her friends at the time and 
often afterward. 

When the train bearing John Martin s bullet-torn body 
reached Morehead he was carried, still breathing, into the 
old Central Hotel where he died that night. In the mean 
time his distracted wife had sent for their children and 
her mother who was staying with the family on the farm 
on Christy Creek. An old darky who had long lived at the 
county seat mounted his half-blind mule and rode out 
along the lonely creek that cold winter night to carry the 
sad tidings to the Martin household. He also rode ahead 
of them on the journey back with the corpse of John Mar 
tin later that same night. 

"Hesh!" Granny Trumbo warned the children huddled 
in the bed of the wagon as it rumbled along the creek 
bed road, "Hesh! no telling who s hid in the bresh to 
kill us." The children sobbed fearfully. Ben, the older 



Land of Feuds and Stitts 97 

of the two small boys, sat dry-eyed. His small hands sought 
those of his father cold in death and still in irons. "Pa, 
they didn t give you no chance," he murmured bitterly. 
"You were helpless as a trapped deer. They didn t give 
you no chance." 

It wasn t a cry of revenge but of heartbreak, one that 
the mother and the other children would remember al 
ways. And Granny Trumbo, sitting bravely erect on the 
board seat of the wagon beside her widowed daughter, 
gripped the reins and urged the weary team onward along 
the frozen road, keeping close behind the silent horseman 
ahead. 

In March of the following year another of the Martin 
side, Stewart Bumgartner, a deputy sheriff of Cook Hum 
phrey, was shot from ambush as he rode along the road 
some six miles from Morehead. 

A month later Taylor Young, county attorney of Rowan, 
was shot in the shoulder as he rode along another lonely 
road in the county. Though Young heartily disclaimed 
any connection with either side, he was accused by the 
Martins of being a well-wisher of the Tollivers. Again, 
as in the Bumgartner case, no arrests were made. How 
ever, when Ed Pierce was convicted some time later of 
highway robbery and jailed in Montgomery County, he 
confessed to waylaying Taylor Young but put the blame 
of the actual shooting on Ben Rayburn. Pierce said it was 
plotted by Sheriff Humphrey who assured him and Ray- 
burn of all the whiskey they could drink and two dollars 
a day while they were watching for Young; when they had 
killed him they were to receive two hundred and fifty 
dollars. 

After that, one Sunday morning, Craig Tolliver, who 
was town marshal of Morehead, accompanied by a half 



98 Blue Ridge Country 

dozen men, went to the home of old Ben Martin, father 
of John. Craig told Mrs. Martin that he had warrants 
for the arrest of Cook Humphrey and Ben Rayburn. At 
first she said the two were not there, that only her daugh 
ters, Sue, Annie, little Rena, and a married daughter, Mrs. 
Richmond Tussey, were in the house. It was a fact; her 
husband and her two sons, Will and Dave, whose lives had 
been threatened, had gone to Kansas. 

The Tollivers, however, were not to be deceived. They 
had seen Cook Humphrey, carrying his gun, enter the 
Martin house the evening before. The house, a two-story 
frame with the old part of logs stood at the foot of a hill 
about thirty feet from the road. Tolliver s band, includ 
ing Mark Keeton, Jeff Bowling, Tom Allen Day, John 
and Boone Day, Mitch and Jim Oxley, and Bob Messer, 
were well armed. They demanded that Humphrey and 
Rayburn surrender, saying they had warrants for their ar 
rest for the attempted assassination of Taylor Young. The 
two men asked to see the warrants and when the docu 
ments of arrest were not forthcoming they flatly refused 
to surrender. Then Craig Tolliver stationed his crew in 
the bushes all around the Martin house. Watching his 
chance he finally slipped inside and up the narrow stair 
way. Humphrey spied him, rushed forward and striking 
his gun discharged it in Craig s face. Craig fell backward. 
Wiping the blood from forehead and cheeks he hurried 
out into the yard. 

Sue Martin dashed past him headed toward town for 
help. But no sooner did she reach the county seat than 
she was arrested and put in jail. Craig and his crew were 
still surrounding the Martin house, and finally one of 
them called out that if Rayburn and Humphrey did not 
surrender they would burn the place down. It was known 



Land of Feuds and Stills 99 

that Tom Allen Day was one of the best marksmen in the 
county, so Mrs. Martin, in an effort to help Rayburn and 
Humphrey escape, ran toward the barn where Day was 
ambushed. He had his gun uplifted and leveled at the 
fleeing men. Mrs. Martin struck the gun upward and the 
shots went wild. But the rest of the Tolliver crew poured 
lead toward the two men. Rayburn was slain but Hum 
phrey escaped. Knowing he still held on to his Winchester 
the Tollivers feared to go into the brush after him. 

The body of Rayburn lay all night where it fell. Friends 
feared to approach it. The next day, however, they piled 
fence rails about the corpse to keep hogs from destroying 
it. 

At dusk that day the Tolliver crew set fire to the Martin 
house and burned it to the ground. The women escaped, 
seeking shelter under a tree. Mrs. Martin s married daugh 
ter, Mrs. Tussey, was carried out with her young babe. 
Another of the Martin girls went to Morehead to see Sue, 
and she too was arrested and put in jail. 

The militia was called out, arriving on the following 
day. The Martin girls were promptly released. Sue had 
revenge in her heart for the insult and humiliation of false 
arrest. 

Later while the Tollivers were barricaded in a hotel 
down near the railroad tracks in Morehead a plump roast 
turkey was sent in for their dinner. They wondered whose 
generosity had prompted the act. But on sniffing the well- 
roasted fowl they began to suspect a trick. Upon examina 
tion it was found that the turkey contained enough arsenic 
to kill a dozen men. Sue Martin was suspected but nothing 
was done about it. There was not sufficient evidence to 
warrant arrest. 

No sooner had the militia been removed from More- 



100 Blue Ridge Country 

head than the Tollivers set upon the Gait House where 
Cook Humphrey, Howard Logan, Mat Carey, and others 
were staying. There wasn t a windowpane left in the place 
when they finished. The doors were splintered to smither 
eens. In the midst of the fusillade of bullets Cook Hum 
phrey grabbed up a hymn book from the organ in the 
musty parlor, held it over his heart, and thereby saved 
his life. A bullet lodged in the thick leather cover of the 
book. 

Things quieted down for some months and Craig Tolli- 
ver vowed he was through with the trouble. "I m a quiet, 
peaceable man," he went about saying, "and the citizens 
ought to encourage my good behavior by electing me 
police judge." But when he set out canvassing for votes he 
carried a Winchester. The other candidates forthwith 
dropped out of the race, leaving Craig the only one on the 
ticket. 

When Boone Logan stepped up to the voting booth 
Craig was close enough to hear what was said. The elec 
tion officer told Boone who was running and the latter 
expressed himself in no uncertain terms. He said he d 
rather vote for the worst man in the county than for Craig 
Tolliver. 

Boone Logan was a well-educated, peaceable citizen and 
practiced law in Morehead. 

Not long after Craig Tolliver was elected police judge 
he contrived to have two younger brothers of Boone Logan 
arrested on a charge of kukluxing. Marshal Manning and 
twelve men repaired to the Logan home two miles from 
Morehead. The father, Dr. Logan, prevailed upon his 
young sons to surrender and Tolliver agreed that the boys 
would be taken to town and given a fair trial. But they 
had walked scarcely ten feet from the house when the 



Land of Feuds and Stills 101 

Tolliver posse shot the boys to death and trampled the 
bullet-torn faces into the earth and rode on to town. 

The motive behind the murder of the innocent Logan 
boys was that Craig Tolliver knew they would be chief 
witnesses for their father, who was charged by Tolliver 
with having conspired to kill Judge Cole. Craig decided 
that the best way out was to end the lives of Dr. Logan s 
sons. No sooner had this been accomplished than Tolliver 
sent word to Boone Logan to get out of the county. 

Boone got out of the county. He went to Frankfort to 
seek aid and counsel of the governor. But Governor Knott 
said that the state had done all it could for the relief of 
the citizens of Rowan County. Logan then turned to 
Hiram Pigman, who had had trouble with Craig Tolliver, 
and together they solicited the support of Sheriff Hogg 
in securing the aid of one hundred and fifty of the county s 
best citizens in bringing the Tollivers to justice. As a 
means to that end Boone Logan went to Cincinnati where 
he purchased a supply of Winchester rifles. 

Those who didn t have a Winchester shouldered mus 
kets, shotguns, and other firearms. Warrants of arrest 
against the Tollivers on charges of murder, arson, and 
various other crimes and misdemeanors were issued and 
the date set for the arrest of the men was June 22, 1887. 

Early that morning before daybreak more than one hun 
dred armed men in the posse were stationed in groups at 
seven different points outside of Morehead. 

Craig Tolliver was apprehensive so he walked out of his 
saloon he operated two at the time and called his clan 
together at the American Hotel. There they lay in wait 
and presently one of the crew saw a man named Byron 
going down the street. They knew Byron to be a member 
of the posse. They fired on him and he took to his heels 



102 Blue Ridge Country 

with the Tollivers in pursuit. One of their number, Bud 
Tolliver, fell with a bullet in his knee. He crept off in the 
weeds for safety. 

The Logan posse, in order to identify themselves and 
avoid their own bullets, were fighting bareheaded. The 
Tollivers seeing this threw away their hats which helped 
a couple of their number to escape. "The two Mannings 
never did stop running until they got entirely out of the 
state," so the story went. So quickly did the posse increase 
they seemed fairly to spring out of the ground. 

The Tollivers now retreated to the Central Hotel but 
they soon fled the place when the posse pelted the old 
hostelry with bullets. 

Jay Tolliver was killed a short distance away, on the 
hill beyond Triplett Creek, and Craig was dropped by a 
bullet in the leg when he was crossing the railroad. The 
tracks separated the Cottage Hotel and the Central Hotel 
both of which were in sight of the Gait House, also known 
as the Carey House, where Floyd Tolliver had been killed 
by John Martin during the preceding December. 

As marksmen the posse surpassed the Tollivers in this 
street battle for only one of their number was wounded 
and that was Bud Madden. He was shot by "Kate" Tolli 
ver, a boy scarcely fourteen years old. Young "Kate," or 
Gal, as he was sometimes called, was as fearless as a moun 
tain lion. Never once did he ran for shelter during the 
shooting. And when his uncle Craig lay dying of seventeen 
bullet wounds the boy went to him, removed his watch 
and pocketbook, then crawled away under the Central 
Hotel where he remained until darkness when he made 
his way to the woods. 

The battle was waged for more than two hours. The 
posse was determined to clear the scene of Tollivers. 



Land of Feuds and Stills 103 

They found Bud unable to crawl out from his hiding 
place in the weeds. He asked no mercy, nor was mercy 
granted. A gun was placed close to Bud s head. His brains 
were blown out. Another of the Tolliver clan, Hiram 
Cooper, thought to conceal himself in a wardrobe in Allie 
Young s room in the Central Hotel. (Allie was the son of 
Taylor Young whose life had been attempted.) But 
Cooper, like Bud, was shown no mercy. He was dragged 
out into the middle of the floor to meet Bud s fate. 

The bodies of the Tollivers were gathered up, Jay s 
from the hillside beyond Triplett Creek, Bud s from the 
weeds where he had crawled to hide, Craig s from where 
it lay near the railroad tracks, and that of their confeder 
ate, Hiram Cooper, from beside the wardrobe wherein 
he had tried to hide. The bullet-riddled bodies were 
washed and laid out in a row in the musty sitting room 
of the old American House. This last office for the dead 
was performed by members of the posse. 

While the corpses still lay cold in the quiet sitting room, 
a short distance away in the courthouse there was a spirited 
gathering of stern and earnest men. Their leader, Boone 
Logan, whose young brothers had been brutally slain by 
the Tollivers, arose and addressed the crowd. 

When the last word of his grave speech had been uttered 
the men silently drew up a resolution which read in part 
as follows: 

"If anyone is arrested for this day s work we will re 
assemble and punish to the death any man who offers the 
molestation." 

Coffins for the four bodies that lay in shrouds in the 
old hotel were brought from Lexington. The remains of 
the Tollivers, Craig, Jay, and Bud, were hauled to Elliott 
County for burial, while that of Hiram Cooper was re- 



104 Blue Ridge Country 

moved by his friends to the family burying ground in the 
outskirts of Rowan County. 

The death of these four men brought the total number 
slain in the Martin-Tolliver feud to twenty-one. 

Tragedy stalked two of the crew who had been con 
nected with the killing of John Martin while he sat hand 
cuffed in the baggage coach: Jeff Bowling killed his father- 
in-law in Ohio and was hanged for the crime; Alvin killed 
the town marshal of Mt. Sterling, not many miles from 
Morehead, and was sent to the penitentiary for twenty-one 
years. 

Although Craig Tolliver lived by the sword and died 
by it, there was no record to be found that he ever actually 
killed a man. Rather he was credited with plotting the 
deeds, molding the bullets for others to fire. 

The life of Allie Young, the son of the prosecuting at 
torney, Taylor Young, whose life had been attempted, was 
saved because on the day of the street battle he was in 
Mt. Sterling in an adjoining county. 

One old woman who witnessed the open battle that day 
on Railroad Street became raving insane. And Liza, Jay 
Tolliver s wife, fled in dismay across the mountain never 
to return. 

Marion, brother of Craig, had no hand whatever in the 
trouble. He lived his days in peace within sight of the 
county seat of Rowan tending his farm and looking after 
his household. If his kinfolk had heeded him there never 
would have been a Rowan County war which put a blot 
upon the community that took years to erase. 



Land of Feuds and Stills 105 

FAMILY HONOR 

Looking down on a clear day from a bald on Dug Down 
Mountain you can see the valley far below. The bald is 
sometimes called the sods where the trees can t grow be 
cause of high winds. This particular spot is called Foley 
Sods after the Foleys who have lived here in the Dug 
Down Mountains for generations. Looking closer from the 
high, green bald you can see far below in the edge of a 
dilapidated orchard a lorn grave. Overrun with ivy and 
thorns it is enclosed with a wire fence, sagging and rusty 
and held together here and there with crooked sticks and 
broken staves. 

Ben Foley s grave it is, anyone whom you happen to 
meet along the way will tell you, but your informant will 
say no more. If you have the time and inclination to fol 
low the footpath on around toward a cliff to the right you 
may come upon old Jorde Foley sitting near on a log as 
if keeping watch over the place. The old fellow will ap 
praise you from head to foot and either he will be glum, 
like the person you have passed on the way, or he will in 
vite you to rest a while. Then presently he falls into easy 
conversation and before you are aware you have learned 
much about Ben and Jorde Foley too. 

It wasn t that Jorde had any objection to what Ben, his 
son, was doing, but it was the things that happened when 
Ben brought home his bride from Cartersville that caused 
Jorde to speak his mind. This day he went back to the 
beginning of things. 

"I ve been makin all my life right here in these Dug 
Down Mountains alongside this clift," he said. "It s my 
land, my crop. And I ve a right to do with my corn what 
ever I m a mind to. And Cynthie, my wife, many s the time 



106 Blue Ridge Country 

she taken turns with me breakin* up the mash, packin 
the wood to keep the fire under the still. We ve set by 
waitin for the run off. And Ben, our boy, he learnt from 
watchin us how to make good whiskey, from the time he 
was a little codger. Sometimes Cynthie would keep an eye 
out for the law. But we hated that part of it worser n pizen. 
We were in our rights and had no call to be treated like 
thieves in the night. Pa made whiskey right here in these 
Dug Down Mountains same as his n before him, out of 
corn he raised on his own place and in them days there 
wasn t ever the spyin eyes of the law snoopin around." 
Jorde rolled his walking staff between his rough hands 
and looked away. "Sometimes I d change places with 
Cynthie whilst she tended the fire. We made good 
whiskey/ he said neither boastfully nor modestly. "We 
sold it for an honest price. That s the way we learnt Ben 
to do. But, hi crackies, what takes my hide and taller is 
when a son o mine turns out yaller. I never raised my boy 
for no chicanery." Old Jorde s voice raised in indignation. 
However, when he spoke again there was a note of toler 
ance even pity in his tone. 

"Ben would never a done it only for that Jezebel he 
married down to Cartersville and brought home here to 
the mountains. Effie, like Delilah that made mock of her 
man Samson, was the cause of it all. Ben just nat erly 
couldn t make whiskey fast enough to give that woman all 
her cravin s and now you see where it got my poor boy. A 
man s a right," said the old fellow in deadly earnest, "to 
marry a girl he s growed up with stead of tryin to get 
above his raisin . See where it got my poor boy," he re 
peated. The troubled eyes sought the neglected grave in 
the scrubby orchard far below. 

There was no marker, not even a rough stone from the 



Land of Feuds and Stills 107 

mountain side at head or foot like on the other Foley 
graves in the Foley burying ground on the brow of the 
MIL Only the sagging fence enclosed Ben s resting place. 
"It was hard to do/ old Jorde said grimly, "but it had to 
be so s no other Foley will follow Ben s course." 

With that he slowly arose and led the way to a pile of 
soot-covered stones. 

"Now close here was where the thumpin* keg stood/ 
he began to indicate positions, "and yonder the still. * 

There was nothing but charred remnants of staves and 
rusty hoops left of the barrel through which the copper 
worm had run, while the copper still itself was reduced 
to a battered heap. The worm and the thumping keg and 
all the essentials for making whiskey leaped into a living 
scene, however, when Jorde Foley got to telling of the days 
when he and Cynthie and young Ben, peaceable and con 
tented, earned a meager living at the craft. 

"Set your still right about here/ Jorde hovered over 
the remnants of the stone furnace, "and you break your 
mash once in so often. A man s got to know when it is 
working right. The weather has a heap to do with it fer 
menting. Sometimes it takes longer than other times. No, 
you don t stir it with a stick but a long wooden fork. I ve 
whittled many a one." He retrieved from the pile of stone 
what was left of the stirring fork. "Have it long so you 
can retch far all around the barrel," he said, measuring 
the fork against his own height. With unconcealed pride 
he explained the various steps of making corn whiskey 
in his own primitive way. He told how the thumping keg 
in which it was aged was first carefully charred inside to 
add a tempting flavor, and how the barrel in which the 
commeal and malt were placed was made of clean staves 
of oak or chestnut, or whatever wood was at hand. The 



108 Blue Ridge Country 

wood was cut green and when the mash began to work 
the liquid caused the staves to swell and thus make the 
barrel leak-proof. 

Never once in his explanation did Jorde Foley say 
moonshine, or shine, or mountain dew. 

"Whiskey, pure corn whiskey/* he repeated, "when it is 
treated right won t harm no one. And when a body sees 
the first singlin come treaklin out the worm, cooled by 
the cold water that this worm is quiled in," he indicated 
the location of the barrel, "somehow there s a heap of 
satisfaction in it. Seeing that clear whiskey, clear as a 
mountain stream come treaklin into the tin bucket or jug 
that is settin there to ketch it, it makes a man plum proud 
over his labors." 

Jorde looked inward upon his thoughts. "Many a time 
me and Cynthie would take a full bucket to a neighbor s 
when there was a frolic, set it in the middle of the table 
with a gourd dipper in it, and let everyone help hisself to 
a drink. Why, there was no harm in whiskey in my young 
day. And us people up here didn t know or need no other 
medicine." 

In the bat of an eye Jorde Foley explained how pure 
corn whiskey had cured cases of croup, saved mothers in 
childbirth, cured children of spasms and worms, and saved 
the life of many a man bitten by a copperhead or suffering 
from sunstroke. Once I saw Brock Pennington stob Bill 
Tanned in the calf of the leg with a pitchfork. Bill he bled 
like a stuck hog and we grabbed up a jug of whiskey and 
poured it on his leg. Stopped the blood! No how," Jorde 
was off on another defense, "land up here and in lots of 
places in these mountains is not fitten to farm so we have 
allus made whiskey of it after exceptin out enough for 
our bread. Good, pure whiskey that never harmed no man 



Land of Feuds and Stills 109 

that treated it right, that s what we made. In Pa s day he 
sold it for fifty cents a gallon. Us Foleys in my day sold it 
for a dollar a gallon and let the other fellow pack it off 
and sell it for what he could get. Why, I had knowin of 
a man on Chester Creek in Fentress County over in Ten 
nessee that sold it for three dollars a gallon. But that is a 
plum outrage!" Jorde spat vehemently halfway to the cliff. 

"After Pa died, me and Mose Keeton got to makin to 
gether. We halved the corn and halved the work and 
halved the cash money and never no words ever passed be 
twixt us. By the time Mose died my boy Ben taken his 
place." 

Only once did a smile light the grim face. "One day 
Cynthie and me was busy here and Ben s pet pig followed 
him up here when he brought us a snack to eat. The pig 
snooted around and found the place where we had 
dumped the leavin s of the mash after we had took off 
the brine. Well, sir, that pig just nat erly gorged itself and 
directly it was tipsy as fiddlesticks. I never saw such antic 
was out of a critter in my life. It reeled to and fro and 
squealed and grunted and went round and round tryin 
to ketch its own tail. Finally it rolled down the hill. Ben 
packed it back up again and it reeled around, its feet 
tangled and it rolled down again. Kept that up till it got 
sober. Its eyes rolled back in its head, it sunk down in a 
grassy spot over yonder and slept till dark. It follered at 
Ben s heels meek as a lamb when we went down the hill 
that night. That pig was too sick to eat or even sniff a 
nubbin of corn for two whole days, just laid and groaned. 
"Now, Ben/ says Cynthie to our boy, you see what comes 
of gettin tipsy. And Ben Foley learnt a lesson off the pig 
and never did take a dram too much." 

Again Jorde s eyes sought the neglected grave far off. 



110 Blue Ridge Country 

He looped back to the story of his son. "Everything was 
peaceable here, though we did miss Cynthie powerful after 
she died. But me and Ben made on the best we could. We 
had a living from our whiskey. Then come Effie! That 
woman nat erly tore up the whole place. She kept gougin 
Ben for more cash money." Jorde pointed a condemning 
finger toward a ravine. "There s a half dozen washtubs 
rustin away under there." 

A part of a zinc tub protruded from the brush heap. 
"One day," Jorde continued, "unbeknown to Ben s wife, 
Effie, I snuck off up here away from that Jezebel though 
she had talked no end about me being too old to climb 
the mountain. Tou ll get a stroke, Jorde/ she d warn me. 
You best sit here in the cool, or feed the chickens or the 
hogs/ Effie was ever finding something for me to do if I 
offered a word about comin up here to see how Ben was 
getting on. That made me curious. So I snuck off from 
the house and come up here one day." Jorde s eyes turned 
toward the ground. "When I come up on Ben I couldn t 
believe my own eyes. My boy had a fire goin not under 
just one but a half dozen tubs! What s left of them are 
over yonder." He jerked a thumb toward the brush cov 
ered ravine. "My boy Ben was stirring around not with 
the wood fork like he had been learnt, but with a shovel!" 
Jorde lifted scandalized eyes. "A rusty shovel, at that! He 
was talking in a big way to his helper a strange man to 
me. I come to find out he was a friend of Effie s from Car- 
tersville." 

Jorde pondered a while. "Come to find out, to make a 
long story short, Ben was cheatin them that bought his 
whiskey, tellin them it was a year old when he knew in 
reason he d just run it off maybe the night before. Ben 
Foley was sellin pizen!" Old Jorde Foley s voice trembled. 



Land of Feuds and Stills 111 

"That s all it was that he was makin . Pizen that he forced 
to ferment with stuff that Effie s friend, who used to work 
in the coal mines, brought here. And Ben sellin that pizen 
that burnt the stummick and the brains out of men that 
drunk it. Hi gad!" old Foley spat vehemently * I never 
raised my son to be no such thief! It was that Jezebel Effie 
that led my boy to the sin of thievin . She wanted more 
cash money than he could earn honest with makin* good 
whiskey." 

It was Ben s fear of prison, old Jorde explained bluntly, 
that caused him to run from the law, and running he had 
stumbled and thereby stopped a bullet. 

"What the law didn t bust to pieces of them tubs and 
shovels and such, I did," Jorde added with a note of satis 
faction. For a moment he lapsed into silence, then added 
gravely, "Ben just nat erly disgraced us Foleys." The father 
hung his head in shame. "Why, Cynthie would turn over 
in her grave if she knew of him thievin and runnin* 
runnm* from the law! It s such as that Jezebel with her 
carryin s on, temptin men to thievin* that s put an end to 
makin makin good whiskey in these Dug Down Moun 
tains here in Georgia. Put an end to sellin* good pure 
whiskey for an honest price like me and mine used to 
make." 



3. Products of the Soil 



TIMBER 

individualism of the mountaineer has not made 
1 of him a scientific inventor, but this marked trait of 
character has developed his self-reliance and resourceful 
ness. He may not know, or care to know, in figures the de 
gree of the angle at which the mountain slopes. Probably 
he has never heard of the clinometer by which geological 
surveyors arrive at such information. Yet the untrained 
mountain man seeing a stream gushing down a steep es 
carpment knows how to divert it to his own best use. 

Sometimes he set his tub mill, or the wheel, at the most 
advantageous point to grind his corn into meal. If, how 
ever, his house happened to be near no stream he had a 
simpler method for grinding his corn, a way his forbears 
learned from the Indian, or heard about through his 
Scotch ancestors. He rounded two stones, about the size 
of the average dishpan, with great patience. Bored a hole 
in the center of the top one, placed the two in a hol 
lowed log and patiently, laboriously poured corn, a few 
grains at a time, into the opening. With the other hand 
he turned the top stone by means of a limber branch at 
tached to a rafter overhead, the other end of which was 
thrust into a small hole near the rim of the top stone. In 
this way he kept the top stone moving, slowly, steadily. 

112 



Products of the Soil 113 

The Scotch called this simple handmill a quern. It was a 
laborious way of grinding meal. 

It has amazed men of the tL S. Geological Survey to 
find that the corn patch of the mountaineer often slants 
at an angle of fifty degrees so that it is impossible to plow. 
The mountaineer cultivates such a patch entirely with a 
hoe. When the mountain side, crop and all, slides down 
to the base he bears the ill luck with patience and forti 
tude and tries to find a remedy. He hauls rocks to brace 
the earth and plants another crop. He had no time to sit 
and bemoan his fate. Through such trials, and because 
neighbors were so far removed, his self-reliance and re 
sourcefulness were of necessity developed. The mountain 
man learned early to face alone the hazards of life in the 
forest; first of all was defense of his home against wild 
beasts and the Indian. He knew the danger to life and 
limb from fallen trees, treacherous quicksand, swollen 
creeks, the peril of slipping mountain sides after heavy 
rains. Of necessity he relied upon himself; he could not 
wait for a neighbor to help pull the ox out of the ditch. 
He learned early to make his own crude farm implements 
at his own anvil. In short, he had to be jack-of-all-trades 
blacksmith, tanner, barber, shoemaker, wagoner, and 
woodsman. 

Men of the Blue Ridge did not clear their land after 
the manner of the German farmer in Pennsylvania, who 
uprooted his trees. Instead, it was done by belting the 
tree. He notched a six-inch band around the trunk, re 
moved the bark which prevented the sap from going up 
and thus killed the tree from lack of nourishment. A field 
of such trees he called a deadening. The roots were left to 
rot and enrich the soil but the hillsides were so steep that 
the fertility from wood soil soon washed away and an- 



114 Blue Ridge Country 

other deadening had to be made before another crop 
could be planted. Though crops were scant, the forest it 
self was ample and sometimes brought him rich returns 
if he managed right. 

A timber cruiser would come into the community, pros 
pecting for a lumber company, and examine the standing 
timber. After he reported back to the company, a lawyer 
was sent to sound out the landowners to see if they were 
willing to sell their surface rights. When the legal matters 
were attended to, the lumber company sometimes bought 
as much as seventy thousand acres of forest. Woodsmen 
were brought in to work along with the mountain men. 
Portable sawmills were set up and busy hands sawyers, 
choppers set to work leveling the giant trees. 

The owners calculated it would take twenty-five years 
to cull out all the large timber and by the time that job 
was finished there would be a second growth ready to cut. 
With this in view, hardwood and rich walnut were cut 
and used with utter extravagance and disregard for their 
great worth; full-sized logs of the finest grade were used 
for building barns, planks of black walnut found their 
way into porch floors, walnut posts were used freely for 
fencing by the mountaineer himself. 

So profuse was the supply up until a quarter century 
ago that no thought was given to its possible disappearance 
through wasteful methods of lumbering, frequent forest 
fires, and the woodsman s utter carelessness and disregard 
for the future. 

A timber cruiser in Knott County, Kentucky, once came 
upon an old woman chopping firewood beside the door 
of her one-room cabin. Upon examination he found it to 
be a fine species of walnut. After talking with her he 
learned that she owned hundreds of acres of timber, much 



Products of the Soil 115 

of which was covered with walnut such as she was ruth 
lessly burning in the fireplace. He spent days going over 
the acreage and offered the old woman a fabulous price 
for the larger timber, at the same time assuring her, 
through written agreement, protection of all her rights. 
But the old creature, who lived alone, dismissed the tim 
ber cruiser with a wave of her bony hand. "Begone!" she 
chirped, "I don t want to be scrouged by your crew comin* 
in on my land choppin down trees and settin up them 
racket-makin contrapshuns under my very nose. No how 
such as that skeers off the birds in the forest." Though 
the cruiser agreed that his company would even be willing 
to keep a distance of three miles in all directions from 
her little cabin, the old woman still refused, and when he 
tried again in honeyed tones to persuade her she up with 
the ax and chased him off the place. 

The mountain man, however, often seized the oppor 
tunity to dispose of his timber and set to work with a vim 
to get it to the nearest market, though such was a mighty 
task. Having cut down the larger trees, he rolled the logs 
down the mountain side toward the watercourse. Usually 
the creeks were much too shallow to carry rafts of logs so 
he constructed a splash dam at a suitable point between 
the high banks of the stream. A splash dam consisted of 
two square cribs of logs filled with great stones. Against 
these two crude piers he built a dam in the middle of 
which he placed an enormous gate. He remembered how 
he had made rabbit traps when he was a boy. So now, on 
a bigger scale, he made a figure-four trap-trigger for his 
splash dam. On one side, the gate which he built in the 
middle, pushed against two projecting logs in the dam. 
A long slender pole like a telegraph pole held the gate in 
place. This is the trigger pole. Thus dammed, the water 



116 Blue Ridge Country 

soon formed a deep lake into which strong-armed men 
threw the logs. 

Gate and trigger are in readiness. The mountaineer has 
only to wait for a tide, which is often not long in coming. 
Even overnight, even in a few short hours, a stream has 
been known to swell from sudden rains or snow, bringing 
the water with a rush down steep mountain sides and car 
rying with it the logs that were left strewn on the slopes 
or near the bank. Men work with feverish haste to roll 
the logs into the stream. The whole is swept into the dam, 
the trigger is released at the right moment and the rush 
of water with its freight of logs sweeps through the open 
gate with a mighty roar, carrying its cargo for miles on 
down to the river. 

Zealous workers have been known to splash out in this 
fashion as many as thirteen thousand logs in one season. 

Timber so floated down the Big Sandy River made at 
its mouth the largest round timber market in the world 
and brought untold fortunes to capitalists who ruthlessly 
cut down the virgin forests along its banks. 

Here at the waterfront taverns a motley crowd of log 
gers and raftsmen, woodsmen and timbermen, were wont 
to gather for nights of revelry. The old taverns rang with 
as rollicking songs as ever enlivened a western bar in gold- 
rush days. Here too woodsman and logger rubbed shoul 
ders betimes with Devil Anse Hatfield and Randall Mc 
Coy, for it was to the mouth of Big Sandy, the village of 
Catlettsburg, the county seat of Boyd, that the clansmen 
repaired to reinforce their ammunition for carrying on 
their bloody feud. 

And here, in the spring of the year, the calliope could 
be heard far down the Ohio as the showboat steamed into 
view. Shouts of glee went up from the throats of young- 



Products of the Soil 117 

sters along the way as they rushed excitedly for the river- 
bank to watch the approach of the flag-decked boat. And 
when the Cotton Blossom had docked and deckhands had 
made her fast to her moorings with rope and chain, a 
gayly uniformed band led by a drum major in high- 
plumed hat and gold-braided coat with sounding horns 
and quickened drumbeat walked the gangplank, leaped 
nimbly to shore, and paraded the narrow winding village 
street. 

Old and young wept over the death of Uncle Tom and 
hissed viciously the -slave-whipping Legree. Woodsman or 
logger, who had imbibed too freely at the waterfront 
taverns, sometimes arose and cursed angrily the black- 
mustachioed villain. Whereupon the town marshal patted 
the disturber on the shoulder (the officer always had passes 
to the showboat for himself and family and friends), 
wheedled the giant mountaineer into silence, and left him 
dozing in his seat. 

When the curtain fell on the last act, woodsmen and 
raftsmen and their newfound friends in the village re 
turned to the riverfront tavern to make a night of it. 

By sunup the crew would be on its way back up to the 
head of Big Sandy to make ready for another timber run. 

WOMAN S WORK 

The woman of the mountains has always been as re 
sourceful in her way as the man. She made the sweetening 
for the family s use from a sugar tree and as often used 
sorghum from cane for the same purposes, even pouring 
the thick molasses into coffee if they were fortunate 
enough to have coffee. She made her own dyes from barks 
and herbs. And though she may have had a dozen children 



118 Blue Ridge Country 

of her own she was ready and eager to help a neighbor in 
time of sickness. Doctors were scarce, so she of necessity 
turned midwife to help another through childbirth. She 
shared the tasks of her husband in the field and home. She 
was as busy at butchering time as the menfolk. Once the 
hog was killed and cleaned, she helped chop the meat 
into sausage and helped to case it. She boiled the blood 
for pudding and looked to the seasoning, with sage and 
pepper, of the head cheese and liverwurst. Hers was the 
task of rendering the lard in the great iron kettle near 
the dooryard. And once the meat was cut into slabs she 
helped salt it down in the meat log. But only the man 
felt capable of properly preparing and smoking the ham 
for the family s use. She frugally set aside the cracklins, 
after rendering the lard, for use in soap-making at the 
hopper. 

At sorghum-making time mother and daughter worked 
as busily as father and son. The men cut the cane and fed 
it to the mill, while the womenfolk took turns tending 
the pans in which the syrup boiled, skimming off the 
greenish foam and scum that gathered on the top. They 
urged the young boys, who hung around on such occasions, 
to bring on more wood to keep the fire going under the 
pans. The owner of the portable sorghum mill sometimes 
took his pay for its use in sorghum, if there was no money 
to be had. He was paid too for the use of his team in 
hauling the mill to the cane patch of the neighbor who 
had engaged it, and he himself sometimes tarried to help 
set it up. A small boy was sometimes pressed into service 
to urge the patient mule on its monotonous course around 
and around pulling the beam that turned the mill. 

Sorghum-making had its lighter side. The young folks 
especially found fun in seeing a guileless fellow step into 



Products of the Soil 119 

the skimming hole concealed by cane stalks. The sport was 
complete when the bewildered fellow struggled to free 
himself from the sticky mess. But the woman was quick 
to help him out of his plight by providing a change of 
raiment and soap and water and clean towels, "yonder in 
the kitchen-house." She knew what to expect at sorghum- 
making time. 

Each season of the year brought its communal activity: 
corn shucking in the fall, that was ever followed by a 
frolic. Bean stringing when the womenfolk pitched in to 
help each other out stringing beans with a long darning 
needle on long strands of thread. These were hung up to 
dry and supplied a tasty dish on cold winter days. There 
was also apple-butter-making in the fall when long hours 
were spent in peeling and preparing choicest apples which 
were boiled in the great copper kettle and richly seasoned 
with sugar and spice. Apple-butter-making was an all-day 
job in the boiling alone but the rich and tasty product 
is considered well worth the effort and any mountain 
woman who cannot display shelves laden with jars of 
apple-butter would be considered a laggard indeed. 

But the mountain woman s greatest pride and joy was 
handiwork quiltmaking, crocheting. Perhaps it is because 
these crafts have always gone hand-in-hand with court 
ship and marriage. 

At the first call of the robin in the spring, Aunt Emmie 
on Honey Camp Run, in clean starched apron and calico 
frock, dragged her rocker to the front stoop of her little 
house and there she sat for hours rocking contentedly 
while her nimble fingers moved swiftly with crochet 
needle and thread. "Aunt Emmie 5 s crocheting lace for 
Lulie Bell s wedding garments." Folks knew the signs. 
Hadn t Lulie Bell ridden muleback from Old Nell Knob 



120 Blue Ridge Country 

just as soon as winter broke to take the day with the old 
woman. "Make mine prettier than Bessie s and Flossie s/ 
she had said. Or, "I want the seashell pattern for my pil 
lowcases." Or, "I want you to crochet me a pretty chair 
back." "1 want a lamberkin all scalloped deep" another 
bride-to-be measured a half arm s length. "I want my edg 
ing for the gown and petticoat to match." Passersby over 
heard the talk of the young folk. "Wouldn t you favor the 
fan pattern?" Aunt Emmie offered a suggestion now and 
then while the shiny needle darted in and out of scallop 
and loop. Sometimes she dropped a word of advice to 
the young, how to live a long and happy married life, how 
and when to plant, what to take for this ailment and that. 
There were things that brought bad luck, she warned, 
and some that brought good. 

"If a bride plants cucumber seed the first day of May 
when the dew is still on the ground, the vines will grow 
hardy and bear lots of cucumbers and she will bring forth 
many babes, too," her words fell on willing ears of the 
young bride-to-be. "If you sleep under a new quilt that no 
one has ever slept under, what you dream that night will 
come true." Many a young miss declared she had experi 
enced the proof of the saying. There was something else. 
"Mind, don t ever sew a ripped seam or patch a garment 
that s on your back. There will be lies told on you sure 
as you do." That could be proved in most any community 
in the Blue Ridge. 

Yards upon yards of lace Aunt Emmie crocheted, the 
Clover Leaf pattern, the Sea Shell, Acorn, the Rose, and 
if a bride-to-be had no silver, the lacemaker was content 
to take in exchange a pat of butter, eggs, or well-cured 
ham. Her delight was in the work itself. 

The thrifty woman of the mountains takes great pride 



Products of the Soil 121 

in her quilts; not only does she strive to excel her neigh 
bor in the variety of patterns but in the number as well. 
On a bright summer day she brings them out of cupboard 
and presses, and hangs them on the picket fence to sun. 
She is pleased when a passerby stops to admire, and espe 
cially so if it be a young miss. The older woman recog 
nizes the motive behind the question, "What is this pat 
tern?" "Is this easy to piece?" The older woman knows 
the young iniss has marrying in her head and goes to great 
lengths to explain. "Now this is Compass and Nine Patch 
and it s easiest of any to put together. This is Grand 
mother s Flower Garden it s a lot of little bitsy pieces, 
you see, and a heap of different colors and it s most power 
ful tejous to put together. This is Double Wedding Ring, 
this Irish Chain" she names one after another "this is 
Neck Tie, and this in the fair blue and white is Dove in 
the Window." 

The quiltmaker is even more pleased when the young 
miss comes to take the day and she has the proud privilege 
of starting John s or Tom s future wife on her very first 
quilt. It is an occasion of merriment when the quilt is 
finally finished and taken out of the frames after many 
a pleasant quilting bee. Then, at the urging of one of 
the older women, two girls shake a cat on the new quilt. 
The one toward whom the cat jumps will be married 
first, they believe. Some brides believe too that by going 
to the oldest woman in the community to set up the quilt 
for their marriage bed they will be insured long life and 
joy. There are lovelorn maidens so eager to peer into the 
future they will even help a neighbor on wash day. Two 
girls will wring a dripping quilt by twisting it in rope 
fashion. The one toward whom the end curls up will be 
first to rock the cradle. 



4. Tradition 



PHILOMEL WHIFFET S SINGING SCHOOL 

PHILOMEL WHIFFET was dim of eye and sparse of 
beard. A little white fringe framed his wrinkled face 
and numbered indeed were the hairs of his foretop. Trudg 
ing up the snow-covered mountain, he caught sight of the 
glowing stove through the window of Bethel church house 
whither he was bound this winter night to conduct sing 
ing school. He chuckled to himself, drawing the knitted 
muffler closer about his thin throat and making fast the 
earflaps of his coonskin cap. "Yes, they re getting the place 
het up before the womenfolk come. Mathias or Jonathan, 
one or the other." The singing master had come to know 
the signs by the behavior of the old heating stove who 
rivaled, who courted, who might be on the outs. It s Jona 
than that s making the fire tonight. I caught the shadow 
of him against the wall when he threw in the stove wood. 
Jonathan s all of a head taller than Mathias. Trying to get 
in favor with Drusilla Osborn. It s a plum shame the way 
that girl taynts him and Mathias. At meeting first with 
one, then the other. She s got the two young fellows as 
mad as hornets at each other nigh half the time. No tell 
ing, Dru s liable to shun them both when it comes to 
choosing a mate. Women are strange creatures." The sing 
ing master talked to himself as he plodded on. 

122 



Tradition 123 



Many the year Philomel Whiffet traveled that selfsame 
road with the selfsame aim, for the church house was the 
only place on Pigeon Creek where folks could gather. The 
seat of learning too it was there in the Tennessee moun 
tains, so that old Whiffet, having journeyed hither and yon 
to take up a subscription for singing school, must need get 
the consent of school trustees and elders in order to hold 
forth in Bethel church house. Honor-bound too, was he, 
to divide his fee of a dollar per scholar with his bene 
factors. 

"We re giving you the chance, brother Whiffet, to earn 
a living," one of the elders murmured when the singing 
master that year shared with them his meager earnings. 
But when Philomel ventured to suggest it might liven the 
gathering somewhat if he brought along his dulcimer and 
strummed the tune while scholars sang, both elders and 
trustees stood aghast. Couldn t believe their ears. "Brother 
Whiffet!" gasped one of the elders, "so long as we re in 
our right mind no music box of any nature shall be 
brought into Bethel church house. We don t intend to 
contrary the good Lord in any such way." 

That settled it. 

The memory of that session brought a smile to the old 
man s face. "Elders and women have strange ways," he told 
himself as he walked on through the snow, eyes fixed on 
the beacon light of the old heating stove in the church 
house. 

"Now I used to think that Mathias had got the best of 
Jonathan," his thoughts returned to the present, "but 
there s no knowing if Brasilia is aiming to set down her 
name Mistress Oneby or Mistress Witchcott. Women are 
powerful tetcheous. Keep a man uncertain and troubled 
in his mind with their everlasting whims." 



124 Blue Ridge Country 

No one knew that any better than did Philomel Whiffet. 
It made him patient with the young fellows in their trials, 
for he had had a mighty hard row to hoe in his own court 
ing days. Hadn t Ambrose Creech and Herb Masters ag 
gravated him within an inch of his life before he finally 
persuaded Clarissa that neither of the two was worth his 
salt, that only he, Philomel Whiffet, the singing master, 
could bring her happiness in wedded life. That had been 
long years ago. 

Philomel had been a widower for ten years past and 
never once had he cast eyes on another woman; that is to 
say, with the idea of marriage. "There s no need for a man 
to put his mind on such as that without he can better him 
self, and I never calculate to see Clarissa s equal, let alone 
her betters. Nohow, singing school is good a-plenty to keep 
a body company." That was Philomel Whiffet s notion 
and he stuck to it. It was as though she, Clarissa, still bus 
tled about the Whiffet cabin, for Philomel, though he 
lived alone, kept the place as she had spic and span just 
as Clarissa had left it. There on the shelf were the cedar 
piggins, scoured clean with white sand from the creek, one 
for spice, one for rendering, one for sweeting. And there 
on the wall hung the salt gourd. "It s convenient to the 
woman for cooking," he had said when first they started 
housekeeping. How happy he had been in those days, look 
ing after Clarissa and the little Whiffets as they came 
along. Not until they were all grown and married off and 
gone, and he and Clarissa were alone once more, did he 
really come to realize how very happy their household had 
been. He liked to look back on those times. "It s singing- 
school night, Pa" Clarissa had taken to calling him Pa; 
got it from the children. "You best strike the tuning fork 
and sing a tune or two before you start. Gets your throat 



Tradition 125 



limbered up and going smooth." Philomel had come to 
wait for her urging. Then he would fumble in his waist 
coat pocket for the tuning fork and tapping it to chair rim 
or bootheel, he d hold it to his ear, pitch the tune, and 
sing a verse or two of this ballad and of that. Then when 
he started forth on a winter s night, "Mind your wrist- 
ban s!" his wife would say, "and your spectacles! Don t 
forget your spectacles! Your sight s not sharp as it once 
was. And your tuning fork, Pa. Don t forget to put it in 
your pocket." It pleased the old singing master in those 
days to have Clarissa feel that he was dependent upon her. 
And now that she was gone, for ten long years, those fa 
miliar words running through old Philomel Whiffet s 
thoughts were all he had left to remind him of his needs 
when he started out to singing school. 

Slowly he plodded on through the snow, his eyes raised 
now and again to the light of the heating stove in the 
church house. 

Arrived at the door he stomped the snow from his well- 
greased boots and went in. Untying the flaps of the coon- 
skin cap he moved across the floor. "Good evening, boys," 
he greeted cheerily, unwinding now the muffler from his 
throat. 

"Good evening, sir!" the early birds, Jonathan and 
Ephraim Scaggs, answered together. It wasn t Mathias 
Oneby, after all, whose shadow he had seen against the 
wall. At once the singing master knew why Ephraim Scaggs 
was there. His sister, Tizzie Scaggs, was head-over-heels in 
love with Jonathan Witchcott. She was trying every scheme 
to get him away from Drusilla Osborn. Yes, Tizzie had 
sent her brother Ephraim along with Jonathan to make 
the fire so he could drop in a few words about her; how 
apt she, Tizzie, was at many tasks, what a fine wife she d 



126 Blue Ridge Country 

make for some worthy fellow. Philomel Whiffet knew the 
way of young folks. And Brasilia knew the ways of Tizzie. 
She was really wary of her and watchful, though Dru 
would never own it to Jonathan Witchcott. 

Even though the snow was nearly knee-deep it didn t 
keep folks from singing school. Already they were crowd 
ing in. So by the time old Whiffet was ready to begin every 
bench was filled. Young men and old in homespun and 
high boots, mothers and young girls in shawls and fasci 
nators, talking and laughing at a lively clip as they took 
their places: sopranos in the front benches opposite the 
bass singers; behind them, altos and tenors. 

"I m sorry to see that some of our high singers are not 
here this evening." The old singing master from his place 
behind the stand surveyed the gathering, squinting uncer 
tainly by the light of the oil lamp. High on the wall it 
hung without chimney, its battered tin reflector dimmed 
by soot of many nights* accumulation. He picked up the 
notebook from the little stand which served as pulpit for 
the preachers on Sundays, and casually remarked, "We 
kinda look to the high singers to help us through, to pitch 
the tune and carry it. Too bad" he squinted again toward 
the gathering -"that Brasilia Osborn is not here. Bru is 
a extra fine singer. A fine note-singer is Bru. Takes after 
the Osborns. Any of you heard if Osborns folks have got 
sickness?" 

A titter passed over the singing school and just then 
Tizzie Scaggs, leering at Bra, piped out, "Why, yonder s 
Bru Osborn in the back seat!" 

The tittering raised to a snicker and Philomel Whiffet, 
too flabbergasted to call out Brasilia s name and send her 
to her own seat with the sopranos where she belonged, 
turned quickly his back to the school and fumbled in his 



Tradition 127 



pocket. He brought forth a piece of charred wood, for 
chalk was a rarity on Pigeon Creek, and began to set down 
on the rough log wall a measure of music. In shaped notes, 
for round notes had not yet made their way into Philomel 
Whiffet s singing school. Painstakingly he set down the 
symbols, some like little triangles, others square, until he 
had completed a staff. Nor did he face the school again 
until all the tittering had subsided. Then with the same 
charred stick he drew a mark on the floor and called for 
sopranos, alto, bass, and tenor to toe the mark. 

Drusilla Osborn was first, then Lettie Burley, an alto, 
came next. Tom Jameson, the tenor, and Felix Rideout, 
who couldn t be beat singing bass, stood in a row careful- 
as-you-please to see that they kept a straight line, toes to 
the mark, shoulders back, chests expanded. They sang the 
scale through twice forward and backward, bowed to the 
singing master, then went back to their seats. It was a 
never-changing form to which Philomel Whiffet clung as 
an example for the whole school to follow should they be 
called to toe the mark. A fine way to show all how a singer 
should rightly stand and rightly sing. 

"Now, scholars," Whiffet brushed the black from his 
fingers, having replaced the charred stick in his pocket, 
"lend attention!" Taking the tuning fork from his waist 
coat pocket, he looked thoughtfully at the school. "Being 
as this singing school is drawing to a close, seems to me 
we should review all we can this evening." He paused. 
"Now all that feel the urge can take occasion to clear their 
throats before we start in." 

Not one spurned the invitation, and when the raucous 
noise subsided Philomel Whiffet tapped the tuning fork 
briskly on the edge of the stand, put it to his ear, and lis 
tened as he gazed thoughtfully downward. 



128 Blue Ridge Country 

"Do! Me! Sol! Do!" he sang in staccato notes, nodding 
the sparse gray foretop jerkily with each note as bass, alto, 
tenor, soprano took up their pitch. Thereupon he seized 
the pointer, a long switch kept conveniently near in the 
corner, and indicated the first note of the staff. 

Scarcely had the pointer tapped a full measure before 
the school realized they were singing by note an old fa 
miliar tune and with that they burst forth with the words: 

Oh! have you heard Geography sung? 
For if you ve not it s on my tongue; 
First the capitals one by one, 
United States, Washington. 

They changed the meter only slightly as they boomed 
forth: 

Augusta, Maine, on the Kennebec River, 
Concord, New Hampshire, on the Merrimac. 

Of course they knew it was the Geography Song from 
their McGuffey Reader which the singing master had set 
to tune. To make sure they had not forgotten the Mc 
Guffey piece he halted the singing and directed that they 
speak over the piece together, which they did with a verve: 

Oh! have you heard Geography sung? 
For if you ve not, it s on my tongue; 
About the earth in air that s hung. 
All covered with green, little islands. 
Oceans, gulfs, and bays, and seas; 
Channels and straits, sounds, if you please; 
Great archipelagoes, too, and all these 
Are covered with green, little islands. 



Tradition 129 



Philomel Whiffet sometimes had his school do unex 
pected things that way. And now once again they went on 
with the geography singing lesson, putting in the names 
of places and rivers to the tune. 

Far and wide traveled Philomel Whiffet s singing school, 
wafted by note from freedom s shore to African wilds. 
They knew it all by heart. On and on they sang, and Dru- 
silla Osborn s voice led all the rest: 

Bolivia capital Sue-re 
Largest city in South America 

Mexico is Mexico 
Government Republican 

Around the world and back again, nor did they stop 
until they again went through all the States, finishing with 
a lusty: 

New Hampshire s capital is for a fact 
Concord on the Merrimac. 

Silence came at last. 

Taking from the stand the songbook, Philomel placed 
a hand behind him and announced with quiet decorum, 
"Those who have brought their notebooks will please 
open them up to page" he faltered, fumbling the leaves 
of his book. "Open to page" still groping was Philomel 
Whiffet and squinting at the faded pages, "Those who 
have not brought their notebooks can look on with some 
one else." Trying to act unconcerned was the singing 
master. "Turn to oneof our old favorites/ poor old 
Whiffet murmured, still fumbling the pages of the book. 
"My eyes are dim" he mumbled in confusion "I can 
not see." Vainly he searched his vest pockets, the pockets 



130 Blue Ridge Country 

of his coat. "I ve left my specs at home/* he blurted in 
desperation. 

With that the tantalizing Brasilia Osborn, from her 
bench at the back of the room, nudged the girl beside her 
and, pointing to the staff of music left on the wall where 
Philomel had placed it, Dru began to hum. "You ve 
pitched it too shaller," whispered the other girl, and 
quickly Dru hummed a lower register until her com 
panion caught the pitch; then the two sang loud and 

shrill: ,.. .. 

My eyes are dim., I cannot see, 

My specs I left at home. 

And before Philomel Whiffet knew what had hap 
pened, sopranos, altos, and bass had taken up the tune. 
Even Jonathan Witchcott, for all he sat on the very front 
bench where anybody could see with half an eye that the 
singing master was plagued and shamefaced, let out his 
booming bass with all his might and main. Hadn t Dru- 
silla pitched the tune? What else was the doting Jonathan 
to do? The two had been courting full six months, just to 
spite Mathias Oneby if for no other reason. And Mathias, 
the patient and meek fellow, sitting in the far corner of 
the very last bench straight across from the adored Dru- 
silla, sitting where anyone could see that Dru was playing 
a prank, when he heard the mighty boom of his rival, 
joined in with his high tenor: 

My eyes are dim, 1 cannot see, 
My specs I left at home. 

Louder and stronger roared Jonathan s bass. And Ma 
thias, not to be excelled, raised his shrill notes higher still, 
sweeping the sopranos along with him. 



Tradition 131 



Bethel church house fairly trembled on its foundation. 
Poor old Philomel Whiffet raised his hands in dismay: "I 
did not mean for you to sing!" he cried, and again Dru- 
silla took up his words: 

/ did not mean for you to sing 

and louder swelled the chorus. All the while the singing 
master stood trembling, shaking his white head hope 
lessly. "I did not mean for you to sing," he pleaded, "I 
only meant my eyes were dim!" 

His words merely spurred them on. On surged the 
voices, bass, soprano, alto, tenor, in loud and mighty 

" / did not mean for you to sing, 

I only meant my eyes were dim. 

The singing master fumbled his woolly wristbands, 
thrust his hands deep into pockets of coat and breeches, 
and peered searchingly about the little stand where, it was 
plain to see, was nothing but the songbook which he had 
dropped in his confusion. At last his trembling hand 
sought the sparse foretop. There, bless you, rested the lost 
spectacles. He yanked them to the bridge of his nose, and 
then, just as though he didn t know all the time it was 
Drusilla Osborn behind the prank, he turned his attention 
toward that pretty young miss. 

"Drusilla" you d never suspect what he was up to "we 
all favor your voice in the ditty of My Son John. And you, 
Jonathan Witchcott, I don t know of any other fellow that 
can better sing the part of the courting man than you 
yourself. And I m satisfied that no fairer maid was ever 
wooed than Dm yonder. So lead off, lest the other fellow 
get the best of you." 



132 Blue Ridge Country 

Almost before Jonathan was aware of it he was singing, 
with his eyes turned yearningly upon Dru: 

My man John, what can the matter be,, 

That I should love the lady fair and she should not love 

me? 

She will not be my bride,, my joy nor my dear, 
And neither will she walk with me anywhere. 

Then, lest a moment be lost, the singing master himself 
egged on the swain by singing the part of the man John: 

Court her., dearest Master, you court her without fear, 
And you will win the lady in the space of half a year; 
And she will be your bride, your joy and your dear, 
And she will take a walk with you anywhere. 

Encouraged by the smiling school, Jonathan Witchcott 
took up the song, turning yearningly to Dru who now 
smiled coyly, head to one side, while he entreated: 

Oh, Madam, I will give to you a little greyhound, 
And every hair upon its back shall cost a thousand pound, 
If you will be my bride, my joy and my dear, 
And you will take a walk with me anywhere. 

Scarcely had the last note left his lips when Brasilia, 
now that all eyes were turned upon her, sang coquettishly: 

Oh, Sir, I won t accept of you a little greyhound, 
Though every hair upon its back did cost a thousand 

pound, 

1 will not be your bride, your joy nor your dear, 
And neither will I walk with you anywhere. 

With added fervor Jonathan offered more: 



Tradition 133 



Oh, Madam, I will give you a fine ivory comb, 

To fasten up your silver locks when I am not at home. 

That too Dni spurned, but all the same she was watch 
ing nervously indeed Dru was watching anxiously Tiz- 
zie Scaggs, lest she take up Jonathan s offer, which is an 
other girl s right in the play-game song. 

Quickly Jonathan Witchcott, knowing all this, sang 
pleadingly: 

Oh y Madam, I will give to you the keys of my heart, 
To lock it up forever that we never more may part, 
If you will be my bride, my joy and my dear. 

Whereupon Brasilia, her eyes sparkling, her rosy lips 
parted temptingly, sang: 

Oh, Sir, I will accept of you the keys of your heart; 
I ll lock it up forever and we never more will part, 
And I will be your bride, your joy and your dear, 
And I will take a walk with you anywhere. 

When her last note ended Dru turned demurely toward 
Jonathan, whereupon that happy swain leaped to his feet 
and, extending a hand toward the singing master, sang: 

My man, Philomel Whiffet, here s fifty pounds, for thee, 
I d never have won this lady fair if it hadn t been for thee. 

With that the whole singing school cheered and laughed. 

Brasilia Osborn was so excited she almost twisted her 
kerchief into shreds, for she and all the rest knew that by 
consenting to sing the play-game song through she and 
Jonathan had thereby plighted their troth. Either could 
have dropped out on the very second verse if they had 
been so inclined. But there, they had sung it through to 
the end. If she hadn t Tizzie Scaggs would have leaped at 



134 Blue Ridge Country 

the chance. So now, the singing master arose and was first 
to wish them well. 

"A life of joy to the Witchcotts!" He bowed profoundly. 

Even Mathias Oneby wished his rival happiness. The 
girls tittered. Older folks nodded approval. 

Then away they all went into the starlit night, trooping 
homeward through the snow, Jonathan and Drusilla lead 
ing the way. 

Philomel Whiffet lingered a moment in the doorway of 
Bethel church house chuckling to himself, "Dru s got her 
just deserts. She had no right to taynt the two young fel 
lows. I m pleased I caught her in the snare and made her 
choose betwixt them." He wrapped the muffler about his 
throat and, drawing on his mittens, the singing master 
stepped out into the snow, the coonskin cap drawn lower 
over his bespectacled eyes. Tm proud I caught Dru for 
Jonathan/* he repeated. "She s too peert nowhow for that 
shy Mathias Oneby. Women are strange critters when it 
comes to courting. And her prankin like she did over me 
misplacing my specs/ 1 

He went steadily on his way, mittened hands thrust deep 
into coat pockets, spectacles firmly on the bridge of his 
nose. "She had no call to make mock of me and my specs 
like she did/* Philomel mumbled to himself as he trudged 
along. 

As for the courting play-game song and the way it 
turned out for Dru and Jonathan, that story too traveled 
far and wide, so that Philomel Whiffet never lacked for a 
singing school as long as he lived. That is the reason, old 
folks will tell you, you ll come upon so many good singers 
to this day along Pigeon Creek. 



Tradition 135 



RIDDLES AND FORTUNES 

Telling riddles is no lost art in the Blue Ridge Country 
and their text and answers are much the same whether 
you turn to the Carolinas, Tennessee, or Virginia. There 
is little difference among those who tell them. It is usually 
the older women who cling to the tradition which goes 
hand-in-hand with trying fortunes. 

Aunt Lindie Reffitt in Laurel Cove would rather have 
a bevy of young folks around her anytime than to sit with 
women of her own age. "It s more satisfaction to let a 
body s knowing fall on fresh ears." That was her talk. 

Aunt Lindie knew no end of riddles and ways to try 
fortunes. And as soon as girl or boy either turned their 
thoughts to love they took occasion to drop in at Aunt 
Lindie s. 

What would be the color of their true love s eyes, the 
hair? Or, "Tell me, Aunt Lindie" a lovelorn one begged 
"will I have a mate at all or die unwed?" And the old 
woman, sipping a cup of sassafras tea made tasty with spice- 
wood sticks, had an answer ready: 

"On the first day of May, just as soon as the sun comes 
up, go to an old well that s not been used for many a 
year. With a piece of looking glass cast a shadow into the 
well. The face that appears reflected there will be that of 
your true love. The one you are to wed/* 

One of the Spivey girls had tried her fortune so. And 
on one could make her believe other than that the hand 
some black-mustached man from Coll ins Gap was the one 
whom she had seen reflected in the well. They married. 
But poor Minnie Tinsley. That same May she tried her 
fortune at the well. But never a face appeared. Instead 



136 Blue Ridge Country 

there seemed to float to the surface of the water a piece 
of wood in the shape of a coffin. Minnie died before the 
summer was over. For a while others were afraid to go 
near the well. But, as Aunt Lindie reminded, "There are 
other ways. In the springtime the first dove you hear coo 
ing to its mate, sit down, slip off your shoe, and there you 
will find in the heel a hair. It will be the color of your 
husband s locks." 

There were other ways too, even for the very, very 
young. To try this fortune it had to be a very mild winter 
when flowers came early, for this was a fortune for St. 
Valentine s Day. "The lad sets out early on his quest," 
Aunt Lindie explained, "He knows to look in a place 
where there is rabbit bread on the ground where the 
frost spews up and swells the ground. Close by there will 
be a clump of stones, and if he looks carefully there he 
will find snuggled under the stones a little Jack-in-the- 
pulpit He plucks the flower and leaves it at the door of 
his sweetheart. Though all the time she has listened inside 
for his coming, she pretends not to have heard until he 
scampers away and hides but not too far away lest he fail 
to hear her singing softly as she gathers up his token of 
love: 

A little wee man in the wood he stood, 
His cap was so green and also his hood. 

By my step rock he left me a love token sweet, 
From my own dear true love, far, far down the creek. 

Some call his name Valentine, St. Valentine good, 
This little wee man in the wood where he stood. 

When Aunt Lindie finished singing the ballad she never 
failed to add, "That is the best way I know to try a body s 



Tradition 137 



fortune. My own Christopher Reffitt was scarce six when 
he left such a love token on my step rock and I a little 
tyke of five." 

Many a night they told riddles at Aunt Lindie s until 
she herself could not think of another one. Some of the 
young folks came from Rough Creek away off on Little 
River and some from Bullhead Mountain and the Sinner 
girls from Collins Gap. If several of the girls took a notion 
to stay all night, Aunt Lindie Reffitt made a pallet on the 
floor of extra quilts and many a time she brought out the 
ironing board, placed it between two chairs for a bed for 
the youngsters, Josie Binner, her hair so curly you couldn t 
tell which end was growing in her head, always wanted to 
outdo everyone else. Some said Josie was briggaty because 
she had been off to settlements like Lufty and Monaville. 

No sooner had they gathered around the fireplace and 
Aunt Lindie had pointed out the first one to tell a riddle, 
than Josie popped right up to give the answer. It didn t 
take Aunt Lindie a second to put her in her place. "Josie, 
the way we always told riddles in my day was not for one 
to blab out the answer, but to let the one who gives it out 
to a certain one, wait until that one answers, or tries to. 
Your turn will come. Be patient." 

Josie Binner slumped back in her chair. 

"Now tell your riddle over again, Nellie." Aunt Lindie 
pointed to the Morley girl who piped in a thin voice: 

As I went over heaple steeple 
There I met a heap a people; 
Some was nick and some was nack, 
Some was speckled on the back. 

"Pooh!" scoffed Tobe Blanton to whom Nellie had 
turned, "that s easy as falling off a log. A man went over 



138 Blue Ridge Country 

a bridge and saw a hornet s nest. Some were speckled and 
they flew out and stung him." 

"Being as Tobe guessed right/ 5 Aunt Lindie was careful 
that the game was carried on properly, "he s a right to give 
out the next riddle." 

Tobe was ready. 

A man without eyes saw plums on a tree. 
He neither took plums nor left plums. 
Pray tell me how that could be? 

The cross-eyed lad to whom Tobe had turned shook his 
head. "Well, then, Josie Binner, I can see you re itchin to 
speak out. What s the answer?" 

Josie minded her words carefully. "A one-eyed man saw 
plums. He ate one and left one." 

It was the right answer so Josie had her turn at giving 
out the next riddle: 

Betty behind and Betty before. 
Betty all around and Betty no more. 

No one could guess the answer. Some declared it didn t 
make a bit of sense and Josie, pleased as could be, chal 
lenged, "Give up?" 

"Give up!" they all chorused. 

"Well," Josie felt ever so important, "a man who was 
about to be hanged had a dog named Betty. It scampered 
all around him as he walked to the gallows and then 
dashed off and no one saw where it went. The hangman 
told him if he could make up a riddle that no one could 
riddle they would set him free. That was the riddle!" 

"Ah, shucks! Is that all?" Ben Harvey scoffed and mum 
bled under his breath, "I ll bet Josie made that up her 
self." 



Tradition 139 



"It s your turn." Aunt Lindle had sharp ears and young 
folks had to be mannerly In her house. If not she had her 
own way of teaching them a lesson. She took Ben un 
awares. He had to think quickly and blurted out the first 
riddle that came to his mind: 

Black upon black, and brown upon brown, 
Four legs up and six legs down. 

Even half-witted Tom Cartmel to whom Ben happened 
to be looking gave back the answer: 

"A darky riding a horse and he had a kittle turned up 
side-down on his head. The kittle had four legs!" 

Not even Aunt Lindie could keep a straight face, but 
to spare Ben s feelings she gave out a verse that she felt 
certain no one could say after her. And try as they would 
no one could, not even when she said it slowly: 

One a-tuory 
Dickie davy 
Ockie bonie 
Ten a-navy. 
Dickie manie 
Murkum tine 
Humble, bumble 
Twenty-nine. 

One a-two 
A zorie, zinn 
Allie bow 
Crock a-bowL 
Wheelbarrow 
Moccasin 
Jollaway 
Ten. 



140 Blue Ridge Country 

No one could say it, try as they would. 

"Then answer me this," Aunt Lindie said. "Does it 
spell Tennessee or is it just an old comical way of count 
ing?" 

Again no one could answer and Aunt Lindie said smil 
ingly if she told all she knew they would know as much 
as she. Though perhaps she wasn t aware of it, Aunt Lindie 
was keeping alive their interest in telling riddles. For 
young folks went about in their neighborhood trying to 
find answers to her riddles. 

She now pointed to Katie Ford, and that young miss 
started right off, saying: 

"As I was going to St. Ives," but everyone protested, so 
Katie had to try another that everyone didn t know. 

As I was going over London bridge 
I heard a lad give a call; 
His tongue was ftesh, his mouth was horn, 
And such a lad was never born. 

"A rooster!" shouted cross-eyed Steve Morley, who 
vowed Katie looked straight at him. And in the bat of an 
eye he said: 

As I went over London bridge 

I met my sister Ann; 

I pulled off her head and sucked her blood 

And let her body stand. 

"A bottle of wine," two in the corner spoke at once, 
which was against the rules, but both thought Steve was 
looking in their direction. 

"Tell another," Aunt Lindie settled the matter. 

"As I went over London bridge I met a man," said 



Tradition 141 



Steve. "If I was to tell his name I d be to blame. I have 
told his name five times over. Who was it?" 

No one spoke up for they all knew the answers to 
Steve s simple, threadbare riddles. "The answer Is I," he 
said, running a hand over his bristling pompadour. 

And lest he assert his rights by starting on another, Aunt 
Lindie, which was her right, gave a jingle and the answer 
to it too. 

As I walked out in my garden of lilies 
There I saw endible, crindible, cronable kernt 
Ofttimes pestered my eatable, peatable y partable present, 
And I called for my man William, the second of quiHan^ 
To bring me a quill of anatilus feather 
That I might conquer the endible, crindible, cronable 
kernt. 

She looked about the puzzled faces. "I ll not plague your 
minds to find the answer. I ll give it to you. As the woman 
walked out in her garden she saw a rabbit eating her cab 
bage and she called for her second husband to bring her 
a shotgun that she might kill the rabbit." 

The old teller of riddles pointed out that there was good 
in their telling. "People have been known to be scared 
out of doing meanness just by a riddle. Now what would 
you think this one would be? 

Riddle to my riddle to my right,, 
You can t guess where I laid last Friday night; 
The wind did blow 3 my heart did ache 
To see what a hole that fox did make. 

Whoever knows can answer." She looked at Josie Binner. 
"You have the best remembrance of anyone I know. 
Don t tell me you can t give the answer*" 



142 Blue Ridge Country 

"I never heard it before," Josie had to admit, twisting 
her kerchief and looking down at the floor. 

"Speak out!" urged Aunt Lindie. But no one did so 
she riddled the riddle. "A wicked man once planned to 
kill his sweetheart. He went first to dig her grave and then 
meant to throw her into it. She got an inkling of his in 
tent, watched from the branches of a tree, then accused 
him with that riddle. He skipped the country and so that 
riddle saved a young girl s life. And while we re on trees, 
here s another: 

Horn eat a horn in a white oak tree. 
Guess this riddle and you may hang me" 

For the fun of it they all pretended not to know the 
answer so she gave it. "You re just pranking," she admon 
ished playfully, "but nohow a man named Horn eat a 
calf s horn as he sat up in a white oak tree. But I ll give 
you one now to take along with you. It s a Bible riddle, 
now listen well: 

God made Adam out of dust, 
But thought it best to make me first; 
So / was made before the man, 
To answer God s most holy plan. 

My body he did make complete, 
But without legs or hands or feet; 
My ways and actions did control. 
And 1 was made without a souL 

A living being / becam e; 
Twos Adam that gave me my name; 
Then from his presence I withdrew; 
No more of Adam ever knew. 



Tradition 143 



I did my Maker s laws obey; 
From them I never went astray; 
Thousands of miles I run, I fear, 
But seldom on the earth appear. 

But God in me did something see, 
And put a living soul in me. 
A soul of me my God did claim, 
And took from me that soul again. 

But when from me the soul was fled, 
I was the same as when first made. 
And without hands, or feet, or soul, 
I travel now from pole to pole. 

I labor hard, both day and night, 
To fallen man I give great light; 
Thousands of people^ both young and old y 
Will by my death great light behold. 

No fear of death doth trouble me, 
For happiness I cannot see; 
To Heaven I shall never go. 
Nor to the grave, or hell below. 

And now, my friends, these lines you ready 
And scan the Scriptures with all speed; 
And if my name you don t find there, 
Til think it strange, I must declare." 

That was the way Aunt Lindie and other older mountain 
women had of sending young folk to read the Word. 

There was rarely a gathering for telling riddles and 
trying simple fortunes, especially during the winter, that 
did not end with a taffy pull. That too afforded the means 
for courting couples to pair off and pursue their romance. 



144 Blue Ridge Country 

The iron pot filled with sorghum was swung over the 
hearth fire to bubble and boil. In due time the mother of 
the household dropped some of it with a spoon into a 
dipper of cold water. If it hardened just right she knew the 
sorghum had boiled long enough. Then it was poured into 
buttered plates to cool. Often to add an extra flavor the 
taffy was sprinkled with walnut kernels. The task of pick 
ing out the kernels with Granny s knitting needles usually 
fell to the younger folks. There on the hearth was a round 
hole worn into the stone where countless walnuts had been 
cracked year after year. 

When the taffy had cooled so that it could be lifted up 
in the hands the fun of pulling it began. The girls but 
tered or greased their hands so that it would not stick, 
and the boys, of their choice, did likewise. Pulling taffy 
to see who could get theirs the whitest was an occasion for 
greatest merriment. "Mine s the whitest/ you d hear a 
young, tittering miss call out. Then followed comparisons, 
friendly argument. And when at last the taffy was pulled 
into white ropes it was again coiled on buttered plates in 
fancy designs of hearts and links and left to harden until 
it could be broken into pieces with quick tap of knife or 
spoon. 

Once more the courting couples paired off together and 
helped themselves politely when the plate was passed. 

Riddles and fortunes, taffy pulling and harmless kissing 
games, like Clap In and Clap Out, Post Office, and I Lost 
My Kerchief Yesterday, made for the young folk of the 
mountains a most happy and (to them of yesterday) a most 
hilarious occasion. 

And when a neighbor like Aunt Binie Warwick gave 
out the word there d be a frolic and dance at her house, 
nothing but sickness or death could keep the young people 



Tradition 145 



away. Such an occasion started off with a play-game song 
in order to get everyone in a gay mood. The hostess her 
self led off in the singing: 

Come gather east, come gather west, 
Come round with Yankee thunder; 
Break down the power of Mexico 
And tread the tyrants under. 

Everyone knew how to play it. The boys stood on one 
side of the room, the girls on the other, and when the old 
woman piped out the very first notes the boys started for 
the girls, each with an eye on the one o his choice. Some 
times two or more of the young fellows were of the same 
mind, which added to the fun and friendly rivalry. The 
one who first caught the right hand of the girl had her for 
his partner in the dance that would follow. Immediately 
each couple stepped aside and waited until the others had 
found a partner. If there was a question about it, the 
oldest woman present, who by her years was the recog 
nized matchmaker of the community, decided the point. 

"Who ll do the calling?" asked the hostess, Aunt Binie. 

Everyone knew there was not a better caller anywhere 
than Uncle Mose, who was just as apt at fiddling. So Uncle 
Mose proudly took his place in the corner, chair tilted back 
against the wall. Fiddle to chin, he called out: "Choose 
your partners!" 

With a quick eye he singled out one couple. "Lizzie, 
you ve got a bound to stand to the right of the gent!" 

Quickly Lizzie, tittering and blushing, stepped to the 
other side of Dave. 

"And you, Prudie," Uncle Mose waved a commanding 
hand, "get on the other side of John. You fellows from 
Fryin* Pan best leam the proper ways here and now." 



146 Blue Ridge Country 

A wave of laughter swept over the gathering and Uncle 
Hose, sweeping the bow across the strings, called: "Salute 
your partner!" 

There was bowing and shuffling of feet and, as the 
tempo of the fiddle increased, heels clicked against the 
bare floor and the caller s voice rang out above music and 

aug ter. Salute your corner lady, 

Salute your partners, all: 
Swing your corner lady 
And promenade the hall. 

They danced to the fiddle music of O Suzanna and Life 
on the Ocean Wave, and Uncle Mose had calls to suit any 

tune: . 7 7,,7 

Swing old Adam 

Swing Miss Eve, 

Then swing your partner 

As you leave. 

Now and then a breathless girl would drop out and rest 
a moment leaning against the wall. And just for fun an 
oldster like Old Buck Rawlins, who didn t even have a 
partner, caught up one boot toe and hopped off to a corner 
rnnarting: 

Sudie, Sudie y my foot is sore, 
A-dancing on your puncheon floor. 

Sometimes a young miss limped off to a chair. "Making 
out like someone stepped on her toe," Aunt Binie whis 
pered behind her hand, for she knew all the signs of young 
folks, "but she s just not wanting to dance with Big Foot 
Jeff PicketL" The next moment Dan Spotswood had 
pulled himself loose from his cross-eyed partner and made 



Tradition 147 



his way to the side of his true love who had limped to 
the corner. 

Nor was Uncle Mose unmindful of what was going on. 
The caller must have a quick eye, know who is courting, 
who is on the outs, who craves to be again in the arms of 
so and so. Quick as a flash he shouted, "Which shall it be 
Butterfly Swing or Captain Jinks?" 

"Captain Jinks," cried Dan Spotswood jovially. For Dan 
knew the ways of the mountains. He didn t want any hard 
feelings with anyone. This dance would give all an oppor 
tunity to mingle and exchange partners. Even though Big 
Foot had tried his best to break up the match between 
him and Nellie, Dan meant that that fellow shouldn t have 
the satisfaction of knowing his jealousy. So he urged the 
couples into the circle. Dan, however, did see to it that he 
had Nellie s hand as they circled halfway around the 
crowded room before following the familiar calls of the 
play-party game as they sang the words along with the 
lively notes of the fiddle. They were words that their 
grandparents had sung in the days of the Civil War, with 
some latter-day changes: 

Captain Jinks came home last night. 
Pass your partner to the right; 
Swing your neighbor so polite, 
For that s the style in the army. 

All join hands and circle left, 
Circle left, circle left, 
All join hands and circle left, 
For that s the style in the army. 

They saluted partners, they stepped and circled, and 
sashayed, they fairly galloped around the room, much to 



148 Blue Ridge Country 

the disapproval of old Aunt Binie. "I don t favor no such 
antic ways. They re steppin too lively." Her protest was 
heeded. 

The fiddler stopped short. Folks were respectful in that 
day and time. 

"Mose," the hostess called out to the fiddler when he 
had rested a little while, "please to strike up the tune Pop 
Goes the Weasel." 

No sooner said than done. The notes of the fiddle rang 
out and Uncle Mose himself led off in the singing: 

A penny for a spool of thread, 
A penny for a needle, 

while old and young joined in the singing as each lad 
stepped gallantly to the side of the girl of his choice and 
went through the steps of the Virginia Reel. 

Though all knew every step and danced with grace and 
ease, they perhaps did not know that the dance was that 
of Sir Roger de Coverley; that it was one of a large num 
ber of English country dances, so called, not because they 
were danced in the country, but because their English 
ancestors corrupted the French word contredanse, which 
had to do with the position the dancers assume. Of one 
thing they could be sure, however, they owed it to their 
elders that this charming dance had survived.* 

* DANCE DIRECTIONS: 

L a. Head lady and foot gentleman skip forward to meet each other in 
center of the set. They bow and return to places. 

b. Head gentleman and foot lady repeat a. 

n, a. The head lady and foot gentleman skip forward and make one 
revolution, holding right hands. 
6. The head gentleman and foot lady repeat a. 

c. The head lady and foot gentleman skip forward and make one revo- 
tion, holding left hands. 

d. Head gentleman and foot lady repeat c. 



Tradition 149 



With what charming ease even old Aunt Binie with an 
aged neighbor went through the lovely figures of the Vir 
ginia Reel, harking back to the days of powdered wigs, 
buckled shoes, satin breeches and puffed skirts, as the head 
lady and foot gentleman skipped forward to meet each 
other in the center of the set. How gracefully she bowed 
to him and he to her with hand upon his. chest, as they 
returned to their places! 

Then the head lady and foot gentleman skipped for 
ward, made one revolution, holding right hands. 

With dignity and charm they went through the entire 
dance while those on the side lines continued to sing with 
the fiddle: 

A penny for a spool of thread,, 
A penny for a needle. 
That s the way the money goes. 
Pop! goes the weasel. 

Each time on the word "Pop!" the fiddler briskly 
plucked a string. 

There was an interlude of fiddle music without words, 
then followed another verse while the dancers stepped the 
tune: 

m. a. Head lady and foot gentleman skip forward and around each other 
back to back. 
b. Head lady and foot gentleman repeat a. 

IV. The head couple meet in center, lock right arms, and make one and 
one-half revolutions. They go down the set swinging each one once 
around with left arms locked, the gentleman swinging the ladies, the 
lady swinging the gentlemen. They meet each other swinging 
around with right arms locked, between each turn down the line. They 
swing thus down the set. 

V. Couples join hands, forming a bridge under which the head couple 
skips to head of set. They separate, skipping down the outside of the 
lines and take their new places at the foot of the set. The original 
second couple is now the head couple. The dance is repeated from the 
beginning until each couple has been the head couple. 



150 Blue Ridge Country 

All around the American flag, 

All around the eagle., 

The monkey kissed the parson s wife, 

Pop! goes the weasel. 

This was followed by a lively tune, Vauxhall Dance, 
with a lusty call from the fiddler: "Circle eight!" 

Whereupon all Coined hands, circled to the left and to 
place. 

Head couple out to the right and circle four,, 

With all your might 

Around that couple take a peek! 

At this Dan Spotswood peeked at smiling Nellie, almost 
forgetting to follow the next figure in his excitement. 

Back to the center and swing when you meet, 
Around that couple peek once more* 

Back to the center and swing all four, 
Circle four and cross right o er, 

The dance was moving toward the end. 

"Balance all. Allemande left and promenade/* the fid 
dler s voice raised louder. 

There was repetition of calls and figures and a final 
booming from the indefatigable caller: "Meet your part 
ners and promenade home." 

Then the fiddler struck up Cackling Hen and a Break 
down so that the nimblest of the dancers might show out 
alone and so the frolic and dance ended. 



Tradition 151 



THE INFARE WEDDING 

Even when the dulcimer, that primitive three-stringed 
instrument, could not be had, mountain folk in the raggeds 
of Old Virginia were not at a loss for music with which 
to make merry at the infare wedding. They stepped the 
tune to the singing of a ballad, nor did they tire though 
the infare wedding lasted all of three days and nights. It 
began right after the wedding ceremony itself had been 
spoken at the bride s home, you may be sure. 

How happy the young couple were as they stood before 
the elder, the groom with his waiter at his side, and the 
bride with her waiter beside her. Careful they were too 
that they stood the way the floor logs were running. 
Thoughtless couples who had stood contrary to the cracks 
in the floor had been known to be followed by ill luck. 

When the elder had spoken the word which made them 
one, the bride with her waiter hurried out to another 
room, if there was such, if not she climbed the wall ladder 
to the loft and there in the low-roofed bedroom she 
changed her wedding frock for her infare dress the second 
day dress. In early times it was of linsey-woolsey, woven 
by her own hands, and dyed with homemade dyes, while 
her wedding frock had been of snowy white linsey- 
woolsey. 

And what a feast her folks had prepared for the occa 
sion, Cakes and pies, stewed pumpkin that had been dried 
in rings before the fireplace, venison, and wild honey. , 

While the bride was changing to her infare dress, older 
hands quickly took down the bedsteads, tied up the flock 
ticks and shuck ticks in coverlids and quilts, shoved them 



152 Blue Ridge Country 

back into the corners so as to make room for the frolic 
and dancing. 

If the bride s granny lived it was her privilege to lead 
off in the singing, which she did in a high querulous voice 
while the young folks, the boys on one side, the girls on 
the other, faced each other and to soft handclapping and 
lightly tapping toe sang: 

There lived an old Lord by the Northern sea, 

Bowee down, 

There lived an old Lord by the Northern sea, 

And he had daughters one, two three; 

I ll be true to my love, 

If my love will be true to me. 

All the while the bride and groom sat primly side-by- 
side near the hearth and looked on. 

The rest stepped the tune to the singing of the Twa 
Sisters, reenacting the story of the old ballad as it moved 
along. 

It gave everyone an opportunity to swing and step. 

After that the bride s father stepped to the middle of 
the room and urged even the bride to join in. In the 
meantime the young folks had taken the opportunity to 
tease the bride, while the young men went further by 
bussing her cheek. A kiss of the modest, proper sort was 
not out of order; every groom knew and expected that. 
Even a most jealous fellow knew to conceal his displeasure, 
for it would only add to further pranking on the part of 
the rest if he protested. 

Presently two of the young lads came in bearing a pole. 
They caught the eye of the groom who knew full well the 
meaning of the pole. Quickly he tapped his pocket till the 
silver jingled, nodded assent to the unspoken query. They 



Tradition 153 



should have silver to buy a special treat for all the men- 
folks; forthwith the polebearers withdrew, knowing the 
groom would keep his word. 

And now the father of the bride egged the groom and 
his wife to step out and join in singing and dancing the 
next song, which the father started in a rollicking, husky 

Charlie s neat, and Charlie s sweet, 
And Charlie he s a dandy. 

It was a dignified song and one of the few in which the 
woman advanced first toward the man in the dance. The 
lads already being foimed in line at one side, the girls one 
at a time advanced as all sang, took a partner by the hand, 
swung him once; then stepping, in time with the song, to 
the next the lad repeated the simple step until she had 
gone down the line. The second girl followed as soon as 
the first girl had swung the first lad, and so each in turn 
participated, skipping finally on the outside of the oppo 
site line, making a complete circle of the dancers, and 
resuming her first position. 

It did not concern them that they were singing and step 
ping an old Jacobean song that had been written in jest 
of a Stuart King, Charles II. 

, At the invitation of the bride s mother the dancing 
ceased for a time so that all might partake of the feast she 
had spent days preparing. Even in this there was the spirit 
of friendly rivalry. The bride s mother sought to outdo the 
groom s parent in preparing a feast for the gathering; the 
next day, according to their age-old custom, the celebra 
tion of the infare would continue at the home of his folks. 

When all had eaten their fill again the bride s granny 
carried out her part of the tradition. She hobbled in with 
a rived oak broom. This she placed in the center of the 



154 Blue Ridge Country 

floor with the brush toward the door. Everyone knew that 
was the sign for ending the frolic at the bride s home. Also 
they knew it was the last chance for a shy young swain to 
declare himself to his true love as they sang the ancient 
ballad, which granny would start, and did its bidding. 
Usually not one of the unwed would evade this custom. 
For, if she sang and stepped with him, it meant betrothal. 
So they stepped and sang lustily: 

Here comes the poor old chimney sweeper, 
He has but one daughter and cannot keep her. 
Now she has resolved to marry, 
Go choose the one and do not tarry. 

Now you have one of your own choosing, 
Be in a hurry, no time for losing; 
Join your right hands, this broom step over, 
And kiss the lips of your true lover. 

So ended the infare wedding at the bride s home. 

The next day all went to the home of the groom s par 
ents and repeated the feasting and dancing, and on the 
third day the celebration continued at the home of the 
young couple. 

In those days mountain people shared each other s work 
as well as their play. Willing hands had already helped 
the young groom raise his house of logs on a house seat 
given by his parents, and along the same creek. 

It was the way -civilization moved. The son settled on 
the creek where his father, like his before him, had set 
tled, only moving farther up toward its source as his father 
had done when he had wed. 



5. Religious Customs 



FUNERALIZING 

f^| X> THE outsider far removed, or even to people in 
JL the nearby lowlands, mountain people may seem 
stoic. A mountain woman whose husband is being tried 
for his life may sit like a figure of stone not for lack of 
feeling, but because she d rather die than let the other side 
know her anguish. A little boy who loses his father will 
steal off to cliff or wood and suffer in silence. No one 
shall see or know his grief. "He s got a-bound to act like 
a man, now." The burden of the family is upon his young 
shoulders. 

Mountain folk love oratory. Men, especially, will travel 
miles to a speaking which may be a political gathering or 
one for the purpose of discussing road building. 

To all outward appearances they seem unmoved, yet 
they drink in with deep emotion all that is said- Both men 
and women are eager to go to meeting. Meeting to them 
means a religious gathering. Here they listen with rapt 
attention to the lesser eloquence of the mountain preacher. 
But at meeting, unlike at speaking, they give vent to their 
emotions, especially if the occasion be that of funeral i zing 
the dead. 

Much has been written upon this custom, but the ques- 

155 



156 Blue Ridge Country 

tion still prevails, "Why do mountain people hold a 
funeral so long after burial?" 

The reason is this. Long ago, before good roads were 
even dreamed of in the wilderness, when death came, 
burial of necessity followed immediately. But often long 
weeks, even months, elapsed before the word reached rela 
tives and friends. There were few newspapers in those 
days and often as not there were those who could neither 
read nor write. For the same reason there was little, if any, 
exchange of letters. 

So the custom of funeralizing the dead long after burial 
grew from a necessity. The funeralizing of a departed kins 
man or friend was published from the pulpit. The be 
reaved family set a day, months or even a year in advance, 
for the purpose of having the preacher eulogize their be 
loved dead. "Come the third Sunday in May next sum 
mer/* a mountain preacher could be heard in mid winter 
publishing the occasion. "Brother Tom s funeral will be 
held here at Christy Creek church house/ 

The word passed. One told the other and when the ap 
pointed Sunday rolled around the following May, friends 
and kin came from far and near, bringing their basket 
dinner, for no one family could have prepared for the 
throng. Together, when they had eaten their fill, they 
gathered about the grave house to weep and mourn and 
sing over "Brother Tom/* dead and gone this long time. 

The grave house was a crude structure of rough planks 
supported by four short posts, erected at the time of the 
burial to shelter the dead from rain and snow and scorch 
ing wind. 

Many a one, having warning of approaching death, 
named the preacher he wished to preach his funeral, even 
naming the text and selecting the hymns to be sung. 



Religious Customs 157 

As the service moved along after the singing of a doleful 
hymn, the sobbing and wailing increased. The preacher 
eulogized the departed, praising his many good deeds 
while on earth, and urged his hearers on to added hysteria 
with, "Sing Brother Tom s favorite hymn, Oh, Brother, 
Will You Meet Me!" 

Sobs changed to wailing as old and young joined in the 
doleful dirge: 

Oh, brother, will you meet me, 
Meet me, meet me? 
Oh, brother, will you meet me 
On Canaan s far-off shore. 

It was a family song; so not until each member had been 
exhorted to meet on Canaan s shore did the hymn end- 
each verse followed of couree with the answer: 

Oh, yes, we will meet you 
On Canaan s far-off shore. 

By this time the mourners were greatly stirred up, 
whereupon the preacher in a trembling, tearful voice 
averred, "When I hear this promising hymn it moves deep 
the spirit in me, it makes my heart glad. Why, my good 
friends, I could shout! I just nearly see Brother Tom over 
yonder a-beckoning to me and to you. He ain t on this 
here old troubled world no more and he won t be. Will 
Brother Tom be here when the peach tree is in full blowth 
in the spring?" 

"No!" wailed the flock. 

"Will Brother Tom be here when the leaves begin to 
drap in the falling weather?" again he wailed* 

"No!" 

"Will Brother Tom be up thar? Up thar?" the swift 



158 Blue Ridge Country 

arm of the preacher shot upward "when Gabriel blows 
his trump?" 

"Eh, Lord, Brother Tom will be up thar!" shouted an 
old woman. 

"Amen!" boomed from the throat of everyone. 

As it often happened, Tom s widow had long since 
re-wed, but neither she nor her second mate were in the 
least dismayed. They wept and wailed with fervor, "He ll 
be thar! He ll be thar!" 

"Yes/ boomed the preacher once more, "Brother Tom 
will be thar when Gabriel blows his trump!" 

Then abruptly in a very calm voice, not at all like that 
in which he had shouted, the preacher lined the hymn: 

Arise, my soul, and spread thy wings, 
A better portion trace. 

Having intoned the two lines the flock took up the dole 
ful dirge. 

So they went on until the hymns were finished. 

After a general handshaking and repeated farewells and 
the avowed hope of meeting again come the second Sun 
day in May next year, the funeralizing ended. 

OLD CHRISTMAS 

Though in some isolated sections of the Blue Ridge, say 
in parts of the Unakas, the Cumberlands, the Dug Down 
Mountains of Georgia, there are people who may never 
have heard of the Gregorian or Julian calendar, yet in 
keeping Old Christmas as they do on January 6th, they 
ding unwittingly to the Julian calendar of 46 B.C., intro 
duced in this country in the earliest years. To them De- 



Religious Customs 159 

cember 25th is New Christmas, according to the Gregorian 
calendar adopted in 1752. 

They celebrate the two occasions in a very different way- 
The old with prayer and carol-singing, the new with gaiety 
and feasting. 

To these people there are twelve days of Christmas be 
ginning with December 25th and ending with January 6th. 
In some parts of these southern mountain regions, if their 
forbears were of Pennsylvania German stock, they call 
Old Christmas Little Christmas as the Indians do. But 
such instances are rare rather than commonplace. 

Throughout the twelve days of Christmas there are 
frolic and fireside play-games and feasting, for which every 
family makes abundant preparation. There is even an 
ancient English accumulative song called Twelve Days of 
Christmas which is sung during the celebrations, in which 
the true love brings a different gift for each day of the 
twelve. The young folks of the community go from home 
to home, bursting in with a cheery "Christmas gift!" 
Those who have been taken unaware, though it happens 
the same way each year, forgetting, in the pleasant excite 
ment of the occasion, to cry the greeting first, must pay a 
forfeit of something good to eat cake, homemade taffy, 
popcorn, apples, nuts. 

After the feast the father of the household passes the 
wassail cup, which is sweet cider drunk from a gourd 
dipper. Each in turn drinks to the health of the master of 
the house and his family. 

Throughout the glad season some of the young bloods 
are inclined to take their Christmas with rounds of shoot 
ing into the quiet night. Some get gloriously drunk on 
hard cider and climbing high on the mountain side shout 
and shoot to their hearts* content. 



160 Blue Ridge Country 

However, when Old Christmas arrives, even the most 
boisterous young striplings assume a quiet, prayerful calm. 
The children s play-pretties the poppet, a make-believe 
corn-shuck doll the banjo, and fiddle are put aside. In 
the corner of the room is placed a pine tree. It stands un 
adorned with tinsel or toy. On the night of January 6th, 
just before midnight, the family gathers about the hearth. 
Granny leads in singing the ancient Cherry Tree Carol, 
sometimes called Joseph and Mary, which celebrates Janu 
ary 6th as the day of our Lord s birth. With great solem 
nity Granny takes the handmade taper from the candle 
stick on the mantel-shelf, places it in the hands of the 
oldest man child, to whom the father now passes a lighted 
pine stick. With it the child lights the taper. The father 
lifts high his young son who places the lighted taper on 
the highest branch of the pine tree where a holder has 
been placed to receive it. This is the only adornment upon 
the tree and represents a light of life and hope "like a star 
of hope that guided the Wise Men to the manger long 
ago," mountain folk say. 

In the waiting silence comes the low mooing of the cows 
and the whinny of nags, and looking outside the cabin 
door the mountaineer sees his cow brutes and nags kneel 
ing in the snow under the starlit sky. "It is the sign that 
this is for truth our Lord s birth night," Granny whispers 
softly. 

Then led by the father of the household, carrying his 
oldest man child upon his shoulder, the womenfolk fol 
lowing behind, they go down to the creek side. Kneeling, 
the father brushes aside the snow among the eldere, and 
there bursting through the icebound earth appears a green 
shoot bearing a white blossom. 

"It is the sign that this is indeed our Lord s birth night, 



Religious Customs 161 

the sign that January 6th is the real Christmas/ old folk 
of the Blue Ridge bear witness. 

FOOT-WASHING 

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and 

took a towel, and girded himself. 
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to 

wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the 

towel wherewith he was girded. 

"It is writ in the Good Book," said Brother Jonathan 
solemnly, "in the thirteen chapter of St. John, the fourth 
and the fifth verses/ 

With hands meekly clasped in front of him Brother 
Jonathan stood not behind a pulpit but beside a small 
table. Nor did he hold the Book. That too lay on the 
table beside the water bucket, where he had placed it 
after taking his text. 

It could be in Pleasant Valley Church in Magoffin 
County, or in Old Tar Kiln Church in Carter County; 
it could be in Bethel Church high up in the Unakas, or 
Antioch Church in Cowee, Nantahala, Dry Fork, or New 
Hope Chapel in Tusquitee, in Bald or Great Smoky. Any 
where, everywhere that an Association of Regular Primi 
tive Baptists hold forth, and they are numerous through 
out the farflung scope of the mountains of the Blue Ridge, 

"He laid aside his garments . . . and after that he 
poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the feet 
of the disciples. , . / Again Brother Jonathan repeated 
the words. 

Slowly, deliberately he went over much that had gone 
before. This being the third Sunday of August and the 



162 Blue Ridge Country 

day for Foot-washing in Lacy Valley Church where other 
brethren of the Burning Spring Association had already 
been preaching since sunup. One after the other had 
spelled each other, taking text after text. And now Brother 
Jonathan this being his home church had taken the 
stand to give out the text and preach upon that precept 
of the Regular Primitive Baptists of washing feet. It was 
the home preacher s sacred privilege. 

Old folks dozed, babies fretted, young folks twisted and 
squirmed in the straight-backed benches. A parable he 
told, a story of salvation, conviction, damnation. But al 
ways he came back to the thirteenth chapter of St. John. 
He spoke again of that part of the communion service 
which had preceded: the partaking of the unleavened 
bread, which two elders had passed to the worthy seated 
in two rows facing each other at the front of the little 
church; the men in the two benches on the right, the 
womenfolk in the two benches facing each other on the 
left. Among these, who had already examined their own 
conscience to make sure of their worthiness, had passed 
an elder with a tumbler of blackberry juice. He walked 
close behind the elder who bore the plate of unleavened 
bread. The first said to each worthy member, "Remember 
this represents the broken body of our Lord who died on 
this cross for our sins." The second intoned in a deep 
voice, "This represents the blood of our Lord who shed 
Ms blood for our sins/* All the while old and young 
throughout the church house had sung that well-known 
hymn of the Regular Primitive Baptists. 

When Jesus Christ was here below, 
He taught His people what to do; 



Religious Customs 163 

And if we would His precepts keep, 
We must descend to washing feet. 

That part of the service being ended, Brother Jonathan 
exhorted the flock to make ready for foot-washing. 

The men in their benches removed shoes and socks. 
The women on the other side of the church, facing each 
other in their two benches, removed shoes and stockings. 
A sister arose, girthed herself with a towel, knelt at a sis 
ter s feet with a tin washpan filled with water from the 
creek, and meekly washed the other s feet. Having dried 
them with an end of the long towel, she now handed it 
to the other who performed a like service for her. This 
act of humility was repeated by each of the worthy. All 
the while there was hymn-singing. 

The menfolk who participated removed their coats and 
hung them beside their hats on wall pegs. 

"It is all Bible/* the devout declare. "He laid aside His 
garments. We take off our coats." 

Brother Jonathan and the other elders are last to wash 
each other s feet, 

And when the service is ended and the participants 
have again put on their shoes, they raise their voices in a 
hymn they all know well: 

/ love Thy Kingdom, Lord, 

The House of Thine abode. 

The church our blessed Redeemer saved 

With His own precious blood. 

The tin washpans were emptied frequently out the door 
and refilled from the bucket on the table, for many were 
they, both women and men, of the Regular Primitive 
Baptist faith who felt worthy to wash feet 



164 Blue Ridge Country 

At the invitation everyone arose and those who felt 
so minded went forward to take the hand of preacher, 
elder, moderator, sister, and brother, in fellowship. An 
aged sister here, another there, clapped bony hands high 
over head, shouting, "Praise the Lord!" and "Bless His 
precious name!" 

Again all was quiet. Brother Jonathan announced that 
there would be foot-washing at another church in the As 
sociation on the fourth Sunday of the month and slowly, 
almost reluctantly, they went their way. 

NEW LIGHT 

SNAKE BITE IS FATAL. RELIGIOUS ADHERENT DIES FROM BITE 
AFTER REFUSING MEDICAL AH> 

The death of 48-year-old Robert Cordle, who refused 
medical aid after being bitten by a rattlesnake during 
church services, brought 1,500 curious persons today to 
a funeral home to see his body. 

While the throngs passed the bier of the Doran resi 
dent, the Richlands council passed an ordinance outlaw 
ing the use of snakes in religious services and sent officers 
to the New Light church to destroy the reptiles there. 

Commonwealth s Attorney John B. Gillespie, who esti 
mated the visitors at the funeral home totaled 1,500, said 
after an investigation that no arrests would be made. He 
explained that the state of Virginia has no law, similar to 
that in Kentucky, forbidding the use of snakes in church 
services. 

J. W. Grizzel of Bradshaw, itinerant pastor who 
preached at the services Thursday night when Cordle was 
bitten, was questioned by Gillespie. 

The Commonwealth s attorney quoted Grizzel as say 
ing: 

"I was dancing with the snake held above my head. 
Brother Cordle approached me and took the snake from 



Religious Customs 165 

my hands. I told him not to touch it unless he was ready." 
After a moment, the rattler struck Cordle in the arm, 
Gillespie said Grizzle told him. Cordle threw the snake 
into the lap of George Hicks, 15, and then was taken to 
the home of a friend and later to his own home. 

The Ashland Daily Independent 

CHILD, SNAKEBITTEN AT RITES, MAY GET 
MEDICAL CARE 

Kinsmen of snake-bitten Leitha Ann Rowan permitted 
her examination by a physician today, but barred actual 
treatment and claimed she was recovering rapidly in jus 
tification of their sect s belief that faith counteracts venom. 

The six-year-old child was brought to Sheriff W. I. 
Daughtrey s office today by relatives, after having been 
missing for three days while her mother, Mrs. Albeit 
Rowan, sought to avoid treatment for the girl. 

Dr. H. W. Clements did not support relatives claims 
that Leitha Ann was almost fully recovered but said she 
had made some progress in overcoming the effects of a 
Copperhead Moccasin s bite sustained eight days ago in 
religious rites at her farm home near here. 

He said her condition remained serious and directed 
that she be brought to his office for another examination 
Monday. 

Meanwhile the child s father, a mild-mannered tenant 
fanner, and preacher-farmer W. T. Lipahm, tall leader of 
the snake-handling folk, remained in jail on charges of 
assault with intent to murder. Sheriff Daughtrey said they 
would be allowed freedom under $3,000 bonds when the 
child is pronounced out of danger. 

Atlanta Journal 

MAN SUFFERS SNAKE BITE DURING 
RELIGIOUS RITES 

A man listed by chief of police Ralph Tuggle as Ray 
mond Hayes of Harlan county was in a serious condition 



166 Blue Ridge Country 

today from the bite of a copperhead snake suffered yester 
day during religious exercises in a vacant storeroom. 

Hayes and three other persons, including a woman, were 
under bond Chief Tuggle said, pending a hearing Friday 
on charges of violating a Kentucky statute prohibiting 
the use of snakes in religious ceremonies. 

Tuggle said the four first appeared on the courthouse 
square and started to hold services from the bandstand 
but that he dispersed them. The chief said they then se 
cured a vacant storeroom which was quickly crowded and 
before police could break up the gathering Hayes had 
been bitten by the copperhead. 

Barbouruille y Ky., Advocate 

MAN DIES OF SNAKE BITE. SECOND MEMBER OF RELIGIOUS 
SECT TO DIE IN FOUR DAYS; BITTEN DURING SERVICES 

County Attorney Dennis Wooton listed Jim Cochran, 
39, unemployed mechanic, today as the second member 
of an eastern Kentucky snake-handling religious sect to 
die within four days as the result of bites suffered during 
church services. 

Bitten on the right hand Sunday morning Cochran, 
married and father of several children, died 18 hours later 
at his home at nearby Duane. 

Mrs. Clark Napier, 40, mother of seven children, died 
Thursday night at Hyden, coal-mining community in ad 
jacent Leslie county, and County-Judge Pro-Tern Boone 
Begley said she had been bitten at services. 

Wooton said Jimmy Stidham, Lawsie Smith and Albert 
Collins were fined 150. each after Cochran s death on 
charges of violating the 1940 anti-snake-handling law. 
Unable to pay, they were jailed, he said. 

Elige Bowling, a Holiness church preacher, is under 
bond pending grand jury action on a murder charge in 
the death of Mrs. Napier. Wooton said Perry county offi 
cials would be guided on further prosecution in the Coch 
ran case by disposition of the Leslie county case. 

Gorbin, Ky., Times 



Religious Customs 167 

Finding themselves in the throes of the law, members 
o the snake-handling sect at times turned to drinking 
poison in testing their faith. There was no legislation to 
prevent it, the leaders craftily observed. However, in some 
southern mountain states such a measure has been advo 
cated. 

At times, nevertheless, even in cases of death from 
snakebite during religious service, county officials refused 
to prosecute, saying the matter was up to the state itself 
to dispose of. 



6. Superstition 



BIG SANBY RIVER 

r I ^HERE once prevailed a superstition among timber- 
1 men in the Big Sandy country which dated back to 
the Indian. 

The mountain men knew and loved their own Big 
Sandy River. They rode their rafts fearlessly, leaping dar 
ingly from log to log to make fast a dog chain, even jump 
ing from one slippery, water-soaked raft to another to 
capture with spike pole or grappling hook a log that had 
broken loose. They had not the slightest fear when a raft 
budded or broke away from the rest and was swept by 
swift current to midstream. There were quick and ready 
hands to the task. Loggers of the Big Sandy kept a cool 
head and worked with swift decisive movements. But, 
once their rafts reached the mouth of Big Sandy, there 
were some in the crew who could neither be persuaded 
nor bullied to ride the raft on through to the Ohio. Strong- 
muscled men have been known to quit their post, leap 
into the turbulent water before the raft swept forward 
into the forbidding Ohio. They remembered the warning 
of witch women, "Don t ride the raft into the Big Waters! 
Leap off!" So the superstitious often leaped, taking his life 
in his bands and often losing it. 

168 



Superstition 169 



WATER WITCH 

If anyone wanted to dig a well in Pizen Gulch he 
wouldn t think of doing it without first sending for Noah 
Buckley, the water witch. He lived at the head of Tum 
bling Creek. Noah wore a belt of rattlesnake skin to keep 
off rheumatism. "That belt s got power," Noah boasted. 
And young boys in the neighborhood admitted it. More 
than one who had eaten too many green apples and lay 
groveling under the tree, drawn in a knot with pain, 
screamed in his misery for Noah. If Noah was within 
hearing he went on a run, fast as his long legs could cany 
him. And the young sufferer reaching out a hand touched 
the rattlesnake belt and quicker than you could bat an 
eye his griping pains left and the next thing he was up 
playing around. 

However, it was his power to find water that was Noah 
Buckley s pride. He took a twig from a peach tree, held 
a prong in each hand, and with head bent low he stumbled 
about here and there mumbling: 



*& 



Water, -water, if you be there, 
Bend this twig and show me where. 

If the twig bent low to the earth you could count on it 
that was the spot where the well should be dug. To mark 
the spot Noah stuck the twig at once into the earth. 
Mischievous boys sometimes slipped around, pulled up 
the peach branch and threw it away. Again there would 
be a doubting Thomas who sought to test the water 
witch s power by stealing away the peach branch and 
dropping in its place a pebble. But Noah was not to be 
defeated. He forthwith cut another branch, repeated the 



170 Blue Ridge Country 

ceremony, and located the exact spot again. Whereupon 
neighbor menfolk pitched in and dug the well. Not all in 
one day, of course. It took several days but their labors 
were always rewarded with clear, cold water at last. 

A well once dug where Noah directed never went dry. 
That was his boast as long as he lived. 

However, it was not so much his power to find water 
that strengthened the faith of people in the water witch. 
It was what happened on Dog Slaughter Creek. The Mos- 
leys, a poor family, had squatted on a miserable place 
there. One day the baby of the lot toddled off without 
being missed by the other nine children of the flock. When 
Jake Mosley and his wife Norie came in from the tobacco 
patch they began to search frantically for the babe, scream 
ing and crying as they dashed this way and that. They 
looked under the house, in the well, in the barn. They 
even went to neighbors pig lots; the Mosleys had none 
of their own. "I ve heard of a sow or a boar pig too eating 
up the carcass of a child," a neighbor said. "Maybe the 
babe s roamed off into Burdick s pasture and the stallion 
has tromped her underfoot," Jake opined. With lighted 
pine sticks to guide their steps they searched the pasture. 
There was no trace even of a scrap of the child s dress 
anywhere to be seen on ground or fence. 

At last someone said, "Could be a water witch might 
have knowing to find a lost child!" And the frantic par 
ents moaned, "Could be. Send for the water witch." 

It was after midnight that neighbors came bringing the 
water diviner. 

"Give me a garmint of the lost child," Noah spoke with 
authority, "a garmint that the little one has wore that s 
not been washed." 

The mother tearfully produced a bedraggled garment. 



Superstition 171 



The water witch took it in his hand, sniffed it, turned 
it wrongside out, sniffed it again, "Now have you got a 
lock of the little one s hair?" He looked at Norie, moaning 
on the shuck tick bed, then at Jake. They stared at each 
other. At last Norie raised up on her elbow. They did 
have a lock of the babe s hair, "Mind the time she nigh 
strangled to death with croup" the mother fixed weary 
eyes on the father of her ten children "and we cut off a 
lock of her hair and put it in the clock?" 

In one bound Jake Mosley crossed the floor and reached 
the clock on the mantel. Sure enough there was the little 
lock of hair wrapped around with a thread. Without a 
word Jake handed it to the water witch. 

Noah eyed it in silence. "I ll see what can be done/ he 
promised at last, "but, Jake, you and Norie and the chil 
dren stay here. And you, neighbors, stay here too. 111 be 
bound to go alone." 

With a flaming pine stick in one hand and the child s 
dress and lock of hair in the other, he set out. 

Before morning broke, the water witch came carrying 
the lost child. 

They hovered about him, the parents kissed and hugged 
their babe close and everyone was asking questions at the 
same time. "How did it happen?" "Where did you find 
the little one?" 

"I come upon a rock ledge," said Noah with a great 
air of mystery, "and then I fell upon my knees. I d cut 
me a peach branch down at the edge of the pasture. I 
gripped the lost child s garmint and the lock of her hair 
on one hand with a prong of the peach branch clutched 
tight in fists this way," he extended clenched hands to 
show the awed friends and neighbors. "I d already put 
out the pine torch for daylight was coming. It took quite 



172 Blue Ridge Country 

a time before I could feel the little garmint twitching in 
my hand. Then the peach branch begun to bear down to 
the ground. First thing I know something like a breath of 
wind pulled that little garmint toward the edge of the 
rock cliff. My friends, I knowed I was on the right track. 
I dropped flat on my belly and retched a hand under the 
cliff. I touched the little one s bare foot! Then with both 
hands I dragged her out. This child" he lifted a pious 
countenance "could a-been devoured by wild varmints 
a catamount or wolf. There s plenty of such in these 
woods. But the water witch got there ahead of the var 
mints!" 

The mother began to sob and wail, "Bless the good old 
water witch!" and the joyful father gave the diviner the 
only greenback he had and said he was only sorry he 
didn t have a hundred to give him. 

After that more than one sought out the water witch. 
Even offered him silver to teach them his powers. 

"It s not good to tell all you know, then others would 
know as much as you do/* said Noah Buckley of Pizen 
Gulch, who knew that to keep his powers a water witch 
has to keep secrets too. 

MARRYING ON HORSEBACK. 

Millie Eckers, with her arms around his waist, rode 
behind Robert Burns toward the county seat one spring 
morning to get married. But before they got there along 
came Joe Fultz, a justice of the peace, to whom they told 
their intent Joe said the middle of the road on horseback 
was as good a place as any for a pair to be spliced, so 
then and there he had them join right hands. When they 
were pronounced man and wife Robert handed Joe a 



Superstition 173 



frayed greenback in exchange for the signed certificate of 
marriage. Joe Eckers always carried a supply of blank 
documents in his saddlebags to meet any emergency that 
might arise within his bailiwick. The justice of the peace 
pocketed his fee, wished Mister and Mistress Burns a long 
and happy married life, and rode away, and Robert turned 
his mare s nose back toward Little Goose Creek from 
whence they had come. 

Some said, soon as they heard about Millie and Robert 
being married on horseback right in the middle of the 
road, that no good would come of it. As for the preacher 
he said right out that while the justice of the peace was 
within his rights, he had observed in his long ministry 
that couples so wed were sure to meet with misfortune 
mairied on horseback and without the blessing of an 
Apostle of the Book, 

Scarcely had Millie and Robert settled down to house 
keeping than things began to go wrong. 

One morning when the dew was still on the grass Millie 
went out to milk. "Bossy had roamed away off ferninst 
the thicket," she told Robert, "and ginst I got there to 
where she was usin I scatched the calf of my leg on a 
briar." 

Robert eyed her swollen limb. "Seein* your meat black 
like it is and the risin* in your calf so angry, Tin certain 
you ve got dew pizen." 

Sure enough she had. Millie lay for days and when the 
rising came to a head in a place or two, Robert lanced 
it with the sharp blade of his penknife. 

Some weeks later old Doc Robbins who chanced by 
wondered how Millie had escaped death from blood poi 
son from the knife blade, until the young husband told 
casually how when he was a little set along child he had 



174 Blue Ridge Country 

seen an old doctor dip the blade of a penknife in a boiling 
kettle of water and lance a carbuncle on another s neck. 
He had done the same for Millie* 

No sooner was she up and about than something else 
happened. 

Millie and Robert had just the one cow but soon they 
had none. Even so Millie said things might have been 
worse. "It could have been Robert that was taken/* And 
he said, bearing their loss stoically, "What is to be will 
be, if it comes in the night." 

It was Millie who first noticed something was wrong 
with Bossy- It was right after she had found her grazing 
in the chestnut grove. All the young growth had been 
cut out and the branches of the trees formed a solid shade 
so that coming out of the sunlight into the grove Millie 
blinked and groped in the darkness with hands out before 
her, feeling her way and calling, "Sook, Bossy! Sook! 
Sook!" Millie all but stumbled over the cow down on her 
all fours. She coaxed and patted for a long time before 
Bossy finally got to her feet and waddled slowly out of 
the shaded grove into the sunlit meadow. 

That evening Robert did the milking. But before he 
began he stroked Bossy s nose and bent close. "I ve caught 
the stench of her breath! * he cried. "Sniff for yourself, 
Millie!" 

Millie did. "Smells worser n a dung pile," she gasped, 
hand to stomach. 

Quick as a flash Robert put the tin pail under Bossy s 
bag and began to milk with both hands. 

There was scarcely a pint in the bucket until Robert 
gaped at Millie. "Look! It don t foam!" His eyes widened 
with apprehension. He took a silver coin from his pocket, 
dropped it into the pail and waited. In a few moments 



Superstition 175 



he fished It out. "Black as coal!" gasped Robert "Our 
cow s got milk sick!" 

Bossy slumped to the ground. By sundown the cow was 
stark dead. 

Before dark Robert himself grew deathly ill. 

They remembered that at noon time he had spread a 
piece of cornbread with Bossy s butter. He had drunk a 
cup of her milk. 

Millie lost no moment. She mixed mustard in a cup of 
hot water and Robert downed it almost at a gulp. 

"He begun to puke and purge until I thought his 
gizzard would sure come up next," Millie told it after 
ward. "All that live-long night he puked and strained till 
he got so weakened his head hung over the side of the 
bed and hot water poured out of his mouth same as if 
he had water brash. Along toward morning Doc Robbins 
come riding by. He had a bottle of apple brandy and we 
mixed it with wild honey. It wasn t long till Robert got 
ease. Doc set a while and about the middle of the morn 
ing he give Robert two heaping spoonfuls of castor oil/* 

From then on no one could coax Robert Burns to 
touch a mouthful of butter nor drink a cup of sweet milk. 
Though he drank his fill of buttermilk with never a 
pain. 

As for the shaded grove where the cow had grazed, 
every tree was cleared away at Doc Robbins s orders. The 
sunlight poured into the place and soon there was a green 
meadow where once the shaded plot had been covered 
with a poisoned vegetation. Cows grazed at their will 
over the place with no ill effects. 

Srill Robert had no hankering for butter or sweet milk. 

"You ve no need to fear milk sick now," Doc Robbins 
tried to reassure Robert. "It s never found where there s 



176 Blue Ridge Country 

sunlight." Though he could never figure out whether the 
deep shade produced a poisonous gas that settled on the 
vegetation, or whether it came from some mineral in the 
ground, he did know, and so did others, that whatever 
the cause it disappeared when sunlight took the place of 
dense shade. 

The incident was scarcely forgotten when ill luck again 
befell Millie and Robert. Their barn burned to the 
ground, reducing their harvest and their only mule to 
ashes. 

Tongues wagged. "Bad luck comes to the couple mar 
ried on horseback." 

Everyone the countryside over was convinced of the 
truth of the old superstition one fall when a tragedy un 
heard-of overtook Millie at sorghum-making. 

No one ever knew how it happened. But some said that 
Brock Cyrus s half-witted boy was the cause of it. He 
shouted, "Look out tharl" and Millie, looking up from 
her task of feeding cane stalks into the mill, saw, or 
thought she saw, her babe, Little Robert, toddling toward 
the boiling pans. She screamed and lunged forward, and 
as she did so the mule started on a run. The beam to 
which it was hitched whirled about and struck Millie help 
less. Before anyone could reach her side or stop the 
frightened mule, her right hand was drawn into the mill, 
then her left. With another revolution of the iron teeth 
of the cane mill both of her arms were chopped into 
shreds. 

It was necessary for old Doc Robbins to amputate both 
at the shoulders. Everyone thought it would take Millie 
Burns out and they said as much. But she lived long, long 
years, even raised a family. All her days she sat in a strange 
chair that Robert made. A chair with a high shelf on 



Superstition 177 



which her babes, each in turn, lay to nurse at her breast. 
And always the armless woman was pointed out as a 
warning to young courting couples, "Don t get married 
on horseback! It brings ill luck, no end of ill luck." 

DEATH CROWN 

Once you evidence even the slightest respect of a super 
stition in the Blue Ridge Country there is ever a firm 
believer eager to show proof of the like beyond all doubt. 
It was so with Widow Plater as we sat by the flickering 
light of the little oil lamp in her timeworn cabin that 
looked down on the Shenandoah Valley. 

"I want to show you Josephus s crown," she said in a 
hushed voice. Going to the bureau she opened the top 
drawer, bringing out what appeared to be a plate wrapped 
in muslin. She placed it on the stand table beside the lamp 
and carefully laid back the covering, revealing a matted 
circle of feathers about the size of the human head. The 
circle was about two inches thick and a finger length in 
width. Strangely enough the feathers were all running the 
same way and were so closely matted together they did not 
pull apart even under pressure of the widow s firm hand, 
she showed with much satisfaction. "Can t no one pull 
asunder a body s death crown," she said with firm convic 
tion. 

Resuming her chair she went on with the story. "All 
of six months my husband, Josephus, poor soul, lay sick 
with his poor head resting on the same pillow day in and 
day out. I d come to know he was on his death bed/* she 
said resignedly, "for one day when I smoothed a hand 
over his pillow I felt there his crown a-forming inside the 
ticking. I d felt the crown with my own hands and I knew 



178 Blue Ridge Country 

death was hovering over my man. Though I didn t tell 
him so. I wanted he should not be troubled, that he should 
die a peaceable death and he did. When we laid him out 
we put the pillow under his head and when we laid him 
away I opened the pillow and took out his crown that I 
knew to be there all of six months before he breathed his 
last/ She sighed deeply. "It s not everyone that has a 
crown" there was wistful pride in her voice "and them 
that has, they do say, is sure of another up yonder." The 
Widow Plater lifted tear-dimmed eyes heavenward. "And 
what s more, it is the bounden duty of them that s left to 
keep the crown of their dead to their own dying day. 
Josephus s death crown I ll pass on to my oldest daughter 
when my time comes." 

Carefully she folded the matted circle of feathers in its 
muslin covering and reverently replaced k in the bureau 
drawer. 

A WHITE FEATHER 

Rhodie Polhemus who lived on Bear Fork of Puncheon 
Greek was one who believed in signs. It had started long 
years ago when Alamander, her husband, had met an un 
timely fate. That morning after he had gone out hunting 
Rhodie was sweeping the floor when she saw a white 
feather fluttering about the brush of her broom. It hov 
ered strangely in midair, then sank slowly to the puncheon 
floor near the door. "The angel of death is nigh. There ll 
be a corpse under this roof this day." Rhodie trembled 
with fear. Sure enough Alamander was carried in stark 
dead before sundown. It came at a time when there wasn t 
a plank on the place. They had disposed of their timber, 
which was little enough, as fast as it was sawed. So that 
there was not a piece left with which to make Alaman- 



Superstition 179 



der s burying box. Nor was there a whipsaw in the whole 
country round with which to work, the itinerate sawyer 
having gone on with his property to another creek. But 
folks were neighborly and willing. They cut down a fine 
poplar tree, reduced a log of it to proper length and with 
ax and adze hewed out a coffin for Rhodie s husband, hol 
lowing it out into a trough and shaping the ends to fit 
the corpse. The lid they made of clapboards. Placing a 
coverlid inside the trough they laid the body of Alamander 
upon it, made fast the lid, and bore him off to the burying 
ground 

"I knowed his time had come," Rhodie often repeated 
the story, "when I found the white feather and when it 
hovered near the door where Alamander went out that 
morning/* 

There were other signs. 

All of a week after Alamander was buried Rhodie 
claimed she had seen the mound above him rise and move 
in ripples the full length of the log coffin in which he lay 
buried. "Could be he s not resting easy/ the old woman 
said to herself. "Could be the coverlid under his back is 
wrinkled" In response to her question the departed Ala 
mander is said to have assured his widow that it was his 
sign of letting her know he was aware of her presence. 
However, when curious neighbors accompanied Rhodie 
to the burying ground, the mound remained still as a 
rock. Rhodie said it was the sign that he had rather she 
come to his grave alone. 

Though there was never an eyewitness to the rippling 
earth on the grave save that of Rhodie, whenever anyone 
found a white feather about the house he remembered 
what the old woman on Bear Fork of Puncheon Creek 
had said, "It is a sign of death!" 



7. Legend 



CROCKETT S HOLLOW 

WHEN Jasper Tipton married Talithie Burwell 
and settled on Tipton s Fork In Crockett s Hollow, 
folks said no one could ask for a better start. The Tiptons 
had given the couple their house seat, a bedstead, a table. 
Jasper had a team of mules he had swapped for a yoke of 
oxen, and he had a cookstove that he had bought with 
his own savings. A step stove it was, two caps below and 
two higher up. The Burwells had seen to it that their 
daughter did not go empty-handed to her man. She had 
a flock tick, quilts, coverlids, and a cow. But, old Granny 
Withers, a midwife from Caney Creek, sitting in the 
chimney corner sucking her pipe the night of the wed 
ding, vowed that all would not be well with the pair. 
Hadn t a bat flitted into the room right over Talithie s 
head when the elder was speaking the words that joined 
the two in wedlock? Everyone knew the sign. Everyone 
knew too that Talithie Burwell, with her golden hair and 
blue eyes, had broken up the match between Jasper and 
Widow Ashby s Sabrina. Yet Talithie and Jasper vowed 
that all was fair in love and war. If a man s heart turned 
cold toward a maid, it was none of his fault. There was 
nothing to be done about it. You can t change a man s way 
with woman, they said. It s writ in the Book. 

180 



Legend 181 

And soon as Jasper had cast her off, Widow Ashby s 
Sabrina took to her bed and there she meant to stay, so 
she said, the rest of her life. Oruntil she got a sign that 
would give her heart ease. Sabrina Ashby didn t mince 
her words either. "I don t care what the sign may be," 
she said it right out, before Granny Withers. That tooth 
less creature cackled and replied, "I m satisfied you re 
knocking center." 

Indeed Sabrina was telling the truth. She meant every 
word of it. The jilted girl did not go to the wedding. 
She didn t need to, as far as that was concerned, for old 
Granny Withers came hobbling over the mountain fast 
as her crooked old legs would carry her, and it in the dead 
of winter, mind you, to tell Widow Ashby s Sabrina all 
that had happened. How lovely fair the bride looked be 
side her handsome bridegroom! "Eh law, they were a 
doughty couple, Jasper and Talithie," Granny Withers 
mouthed the words. She lifted a bony finger, "Yet, mark 
my words, ill luck awaits the two. When the bat flew into 
the house and dipped low over the fair bride s head, she 
trembled like she had the agger and " 

"The bat flew over her head?" Sabrina interrupted, eyes 
glistening. "A bat it s blind stone blind!" the jilted girl 
echoed gleefully. "There s a sign for you, Mistress Jasper 
Tipton, to conjure with!" She let out a screech and then 
a weird laugh that echoed through Crockett s Hollow. 
She cast off the coverlid and in one bound was in the 
middle of the floor, though she had lain long weeks pin 
ing away. She clapped her hands high overhead like she 
was shouting at meeting. Sabrina laughed again and again, 
holding her sides. 

Granny Withers thought the girl bewitched. So did 
Widow Ashby and when the two tried to put a clabber 



182 Blue Ridge Country 

poultice on her head and sop her wrists in it, the jilted 
Sabrina thrust them aside with pure mam strength. That 
was the night of the wedding. 

The days went by. Jasper and Talithie were happy and 
content everyone knew. 

Old Granny Withers in her dilapidated hut up the cove 
watched and carried tales to Sabrina. The forsaken girl 
listened as the old midwife told how she had seen the 
two with arms about each other sitting in the doorway 
in the evening many a time when their work was done. 
Or how she had found them in loving embrace when by 
chance she happened to pass along the far end of their 
corn patch. "Under the big tree, mind you!" Granny 
Withers scandalized beyond further speech clapped hand 
to mouth, rolled her eyes in dismay. "Just so plum lustful 
over each other they can t bide till night time. The mar 
riage bed is the fitten place for such as that." 

When the forsaken Sabrina heard such things she 
burned with envy and jealousy. Secretly she tried to con 
jure the pair, to no avail. That had been by wishing them 
ill. She meant to try again. One day she went far into 
the woods and caught a toad. She put it in a bottle. "There 
you are, Mistress Talithie Tipton. I ve named the toad 
for youF* she gloated as she made fast the stopper. "You ll 
perish there. That s what you ll do. Didn t old Granny 
Withers tell me how she worked such conjure on a false 
true love in her young day? He died within twelve month. 
Slipped off a high cliff!" Stealthily, in the dusk, Sabrina 
made her way through the brush to a lonely spot far up 
the hollow where the big rock hung. There she put the 
bottle far back under a slab of stone. 

She waited eagerly to hear some word of the wedded 
couple. 



Legend 183 

One day, a few months later, old Granny Withers came 
hobbling again over the mountain. "Jasper s woman is 
heavy with child/* the toothless midwife grinned, moisten 
ing her wrinkled lips with the tip of her tongue. "He s 
done axed me to tend her." 

Not even to Granny Withers did Sabrina tell of the 
toad in the bottle. "If you ever tell to a living soul what 
you ve done, that breaks the conjure," the old midwife 
had warned long ago. So Sabrina kept a still tongue and 
bided her time. Nor did she have long to wait 

News traveled swiftly by word-of-mouth. And bad news 
was fleetest of all. 

At first Jasper and his wife were unaware of their babe s 
fate, though Talithie had noticed one day, when the mid 
wife carried the little one to the door where the sun was 
shining brightly, that it did not bat an eye. Granny 
Withers noticed too, but she said never a word. The 
young mother kept her fear within her heart. She did not 
speak of it to Jasper. 

Two weeks later, after Granny Withers had gone, 
Talithie was up doing her own work. Supper was over 
and the young parents sat by the log fire. There was chill 
in the air. The babe had whimpered in her bee-gum crib, 
a crib that the proud young father had fashioned from a 
hollowed log in which wild bees had once stored their 
honey. Cut the log in two, did Jasper, scraped it clean, 
and with the rounded side turned down it made as fine 
a cradle as anyone could wish. With eager hands Talithie 
placed in it, months before her babe was born, a clean 
feather tick, no bigger than a pillow of their own bed- 
Pieced a little quilt too, did the happy, expectant mother. 

How contentedly the little one snuggled there even the 
very first time Talithie put her in the crib! Rarely did 



184 Blue Ridge Country 

the child whimper, but this night small Margie was fret 
ful. Talithie gathered her up and came back to the hearth, 
crooning softly as she jolted to and fro in a straight chair. 
The Tipton household, like most in Crockett s Hollow, 
owned no such luxury as a rocker. But for all the croon 
ing and jolting small Margie fretted, rubbed her small 
fists into her eyes, and drew up her legs. "Might be colic," 
thought Talithie. "Babes have to fret and cry some, makes 
them grow," offered the young father who continued to 
whittle a butter bowl long promised. However, for all his 
notions about it, Talithie was troubled. Never before had 
she known the babe to be so fretful. 

The log fire was burning low and in the dimness of the 
room she leaned down to the hearth, picked up a pine 
stick and lighted it. She held it close above the babe s 
face. The small eyes were open wide and strangely staring. 
Talithie passed the bright light to and fro before the 
little one s gaze. But never once did the babe bat a lash. 

"Lord God Almighty!" Talithie cried, dropping the 
lighted pine to the floor. "Our babe is blind, Jasper! 
Blind, I teU you! Stone blind!" 

Jasper leaped to his feet. The wooden bowl, the knife, 
clattered to the floor. The pine stick still burning lay 
where it had fallen. 

"Our babe can t be blind," he moaned, falling to his 
knees. "Our helpless babe that s done no harm to any 
living soul, our spotless pure babe can t be so afflicted!" 
he sobbed bitterly, putting his arms about the two he 
loved best in all the world. 

The pine stick where Talithie dropped it burned deep 
into the puncheon floor leaving a scar that never wore 
away. 

Again old Granny Withers hobbled over the mountain 



Legend 185 

as fast as she had the night she bore the news to Sabrina 
about the bat that flew over the fair bride s head. "Tali- 
thie s babe is blind stone blind, Sabrina Ashby! Do you 
hear that?" 

This time Widow Ashby s Sabrina did not cry out in 
glee. She did not clap her hands above her head and laugh 
wildly. The forsaken girl sank into a chair. Her face 
turned deathly white, she stared ahead, unseeing. 

It was a long time before she spoke. Then there was no 
one there to hear. Granny Withers had scurried off in the 
dark and Widow Ashby she was long since dead and gone. 

"A toad in a bottle/ the frightened Sabrina whispered 
and her voice echoed in the barren room, "a toad in a 
bottle works a conjure. Ma s gone and now Talithle s babe 
and Jasper s is plum stone blind." She swayed to and fro, 
crying hysterically. Then she buried her face in the vise 
of her hands, moaning, "Little Margie Tipton, your pretty 
blue eyes won t never *tice no false true love away from 
no fair maid. And you, Mistress Jasper Tipton, youll 
have many a long year for to ruminate such things 
through your own troubled mind." 

Some shake their heads sympathetically, finger to brow, 
when they speak of Widow Ashby s Sabrina living alone 
in her ramshackle house far up at the head of Crockett s 
Hollow. "A forsaken girl that holds grudge and works 
conjure comes to be a sorry, sorry woman," they say. 

Should you pass along that lonely creek and venture to 
call a cheery "Hallo!" only a weird, cackling laugh, a 
harsh "Begone" will echo in answer. 



186 Blue Ridge Country 



THE SILVER TOMAHAWK 

In Garter County, Kentucky, there is a legend which 
had its beginning long ago when Indian princesses roamed 
the Blue Ridge, and pioneers hopes were high of finding 
a lost silver mine said to be in caves close by. 

Morg Tompert loved to tell the story. As long as he 
lived the old fellow could be found on a warm spring day 
sitting in the doorway of his little shack nearly hidden by 
a clump of dogwoods. A shack of rough planks that clung 
tenaciously to the mountain side facing Saltpeter, or as it 
was sometimes called Swindle Cave. The former name 
came from the deposit of that mineral, the latter from the 
counterfeiters who carried on their nefarious trade within 
the security of the dark cavern. 

As he talked, Morg plucked a dogwood blossom that 
peeped around the corner of his shack like a gossipy old 
woman. "See that bloom?" He held it toward the visitor. 
"Some say that a Indian princess who was slain by a 
jealous chieftain sopped up her heart s blood with it and 
that s how come the stains on the tip of the white flower. 
There have been Indian princesses right here on this very 
ground." Morg nodded slowly. "There s the empty tomb 
of oneyes, and there s a silver mine way back yonder in 
that cave. They were there long before them scalawags 
were counterfeiting inside that cave. Did ever you hear of 
Huraken?" he asked with childish eagerness, Morg needed 
no urging. He went on to tell how this Indian warrior of 
the Cherokee tribe loved a beautiful Indian princess 
named Manuita: 

"Men are all alike no matter what their color may be. 
They want to show out before the maiden they love best. 



Legend 187 

Huraken did. He roved far away to find a pretty for her. 
That is to say a pretty he could give the chieftain, her 
father, in exchange for Manuita s hand. He must have 
been gone a right smart spell for the princess got plum 
out of heart, allowed he was never coming back and, bless 
you, she leapt off a cliff. Killed herself! And all this time 
her own true love was unaware of what she had done. He, 
himself, was give up to be dead. But what kept him away 
so long was he had come upon a silver mine. He dug the 
silver out of the earth, melted it, and made a beautiful 
tomahawk. He beat it out on the anvil and fashioned a 
peace pipe on its handle. He must have been proud as a 
peacock strutting in the sun preening its feathers. Huraken 
was hurrying along, fleet as a deer through the forest, his 
shiny tomahawk glistening in his strong right hand. The 
gift for the chieftain in exchange for the princess bride. 
All of a sudden he halted right off yon a little way. There 
where the stony cliff hangs over. Right there before 
Huraken s eyes at his feet lay the corpse of an Indian lass, 
face downward. When he turned the face upwards, it was 
the princess. Princess Manuita, his own true love. His 
sorryful cry raised up as high as the heavens. Huraken 
was plum beside himself with grief. He gathered up the 
princess in his arms and packed her off into the cave. Her 
tomb is right in there yet empty." 

Old Morg paused for breath. "Huraken kept it secret 
where he had buried his true love. He meant to watch over 
her tomb all the rest of his life. Then the chieftain, 
Manuita s father, got word of it somehow. He vowed to 
his tribe that Huraken had murdered his daughter in 
cold blood. So the chieftain and his tribe set out and cap 
tured Huraken. They bound him hand and foot with 
strips of buckskin out in the forest so that wild varmints 



188 Blue Ridge Country 

could come and devour his flesh and he couldn t help 
himself. He d concealed his tomahawk next to his hide 
under his heavy deerskin hunting coat. But the spirit of 
the dead princess pitied her helpless lover. Come a big 
rain that night that pelted him and soaked him plum to 
the skin. The princess had prayed of the Rain God to 
send that downpour. It soaked the buckskin through and 
through that bound Huraken s hands and feet and he 
wriggled loose. Many a long day and night he wandered 
away off in strange forests, but all the time the spirit of 
his true love, the princess, haunted him. He got no peace 
till he came back and give himself up to the chieftain. 
Only one thing the prisoner asked. Would they let him go 
to the cave before they put him to death? Now the Chero- 
kees are fearful of evil spirits. When they took Huraken 
to the mouth of the cave they would go no farther. Evil 
spirits are inside! the chieftain said, and the rest of his 
tribe nodded and frowned. So Huraken went into the 
dark cave alone. From that to this he s never been seen. 
And the corpse of the Princess Manuita, it s gone too. Her 
empty tomb is in yonder s cave. Not even a crumb of her 
bones can be found." 

Old Morg Tompert reflected a long moment. "I reckon 
when Huraken packed the princess off somewhere else 
her corpse come to be a heavy load. He dropped his silver 
tomahawk that he had aimed to give the chieftain for his 
daughter s hand. It lay for a hundred year or more I 
reckon it s been that long right where it was dropped. 
Off yonder in Smoky Valley under a high cliff some of 
Pa s kinfolks found it. A silver tomahawk with a peace 
pipe carved on its handle. Pa s own blood kin, by name, 
Ben Henderson, found that silver tomahawk but no living 
soul has ever found the lost silver mine. There s bound to 



Legend 189 

have been a mine, else Huraken could never have made 
that silver tomahawk. Only one lorn white man knew 
where it was. His name was Swift. But when he died, he 
taken the secret o the silver mine to the grave with him. 
Swift ought to a-told some of the womenfolks," declared 
old Morg, still vexed at the man Swift s laxity though his 
demise had occurred ages ago. "Swift ought to a-told some 
of the womenfolks," old Morg repeated with finality. 

BLACK CAT 

From where old Pol Gentry lived on Rocky Fork of 
Webb s Creek she could see far down into the valley of 
Pigeon River and across the ridge on all sides. Her house 
stood at the very top of Hawks Nest, the highest peak in 
all the country around. Pol didn t have a tight house 
like several down near the sawmill. She said it wasn t 
healthy. Even when the owner of the portable mill offered 
her leftover planks to cover her log house where the 
daubin had Mien out, Pol refused. "The holes let the 
wind in and the cat out," she d say, "and a body can t do 
without either." 

There was a long sleek cat, with green eyes and fur as 
black as a crow, to be seen skulking in and out of Pol 
Gentry s place. If it met a person as it prowled through 
the woods, the cat darted off swift as a weasel into the 
bush to hide away. Young folks on Rocky Fork of Webb s 
Creek learned early to snatch off hat or bonnet if the 
cat crossed their path, spit into it, and put it quickly on 
again to break the witch of old Pol Gentry s black cat 
But never were the two, Pol and the cat, seen together. 

Truth to tell there were some among the old folks on 
Rocky Fork who long had vowed that Pol and the cat 



190 Blue Ridge Country 

were one and the same. They declared Pol was a witch 
in league with the Devil and that she could change her 
self from woman to cat when the spell was strong enough 
within her, when the evil spirits took a good strong hold 
upon her. Moreover, Pol Gentry had but one tooth. One 
sharp fang in the very front of her upper jaw. "A woman 
is bound to be a witch if she has just one tooth, * folks 
said and believed. 

Pol Gentry was a frightful creature to look upon. She 
had a heavy growth of hair, coal black hair all around 
her mouth and particularly upon her upper lip. Her 
beard was plain to be seen even when she turned in at a 
neighbor s lane, long before she reached the door. Little 
children at first sight of her ran screaming to hide their 
faces in their mother s skirts. 

There wasn t a child old enough to give ear to a tale 
who hadn t heard of Pol Gentry s powers. How she had 
bewitched Dan Eskew s little girl Flossie. It wouldn t have 
happened, some said, if Flossie had spit in her bonnet 
when the black cat crossed her path as she trooped through 
the woods one day gathering wild flowers. That very eve 
ning when she got back home Flossie sank on the door 
step, the bonnet filled with wild flowers dropped from 
her arm. She moaned pitifully, holding her head between 
her hands and swaying to and fro. Right away her head 
began to swell and by the time they got word to Seth 
Eeling, the wizard doctor who lived in Mossy Bottom, 
Flossie s head was twice its size. Indeed, Flossie Eskew s 
head was as big as a full-grown pumpkin. The minute the 
wizard clapped eyes on the child he spoke out. 

"Beat up eggshells as fine as you can and give them to 
this child in a cup of water. If she is bewitched this mix 
ture will pass through her clear." 



Legend 191 

Orders were promptly obeyed. Flossie drained the cup 
but no sooner had Flossie passed the powdered egg shells 
than the witch left her. Her head went back to its natural 
size. Nevertheless Flossie Eskew died that night, 

"Didn t send for the wizard soon enough/ Seth Eeling 
said. 

Some believed in the powers of both, though neither 
witch nor wizard would give the other a friendly look, 
much less a word. 

Pol Gentry was never downright friendly with any, 
though she would hoe for a neighbor in return for some 
thing to eat. "My place is too rocky to raise anything," 
she excused herself. And whatever was given her, Pol 
would carry home then and there. "Them s fine turnips 
you ve got, Mistress Darby," she said one day, and Sallie 
Darby up and handed her a double handful of turnips. 
Pol opened the front of her dirty calico mother-hubbard, 
put the turnips inside against her dirty hide and tripped 
off with them. Nor was Pol Gentry one to sit home at 
tasks such as knitting or piecing a quilt But everyone 
admitted there never was a better hand the country over 
at raising pigs. So Pol swapped pigs for knitting. She had 
to have long yarn stockings, mittens, a warm hood, for 
her pigs had to be fed and tended winter and summer. 
Others needed meat as much as Pol needed things to keep 
her warm. Tillie Bocock was glad to knit stockings for 
the old witch in return for a plump shoat. Tillie had 
several mouths to feed. Her man was a no-account, who 
spent his time fishing in summer and hunting in winter, 
so that all the work fell to Tillie. Day by day she tended 
and fed the shoaL It was black-and-white-spotted and fat 
as a butterball, she and the little Bococks bragged. 

"Another month and you can butcher that shoat." Old 



192 Blue Ridge Country 

Pol would stop in at Tillie s every time she went down 
the mountain, eyeing the fat pig. Sometimes she would 
put the palms of her dirty hands against her mouth and 
rub the black hair back to this side and to that, then 
she d stroke her chin as though her black beard hung far 
down. Pol would make a clucking sound with her tongue. 
"Wisht I was chawin* on a juicy sparerib or gnawin me a 
greasy pig s knuckle right now/ she d say. Then Pol 
would begin on a long tale of witchery: how she had seen 
young husbands under the spell of her craft grow faith 
less to young, pretty wives; how children gained power 
over their parents through her and had their own will in 
all things, even to getting title to house and land from 
them before it should have been theirs. She told how 
Luther Trumbo s John took with barking fits like a dog 
and became a hunchback over night. "Why? Becaze he 
made mauck of Pol Gentry, that s why!" She rubbed a 
dirty hand around her hairy mouth and cackled glee 
fully. 

At that TiUie Bocock turned to her frightened children 
huddled behind her chair. "Get you gone, the last one of 
you out to the barn. Such witchy talk is not for young 
ears." 

Then old Pol Gentry scowled at Tillie and her sharp 
eyes flashed and she puffed her lips in and out. Pol didn t 
say anything but Tillie could see she was miffed and 
there was in her sharp eyes a look that said, "Never mind, 
Tillie Bocock, you ll pay for this." 

Next morning Pol Gentry was up bright and early, 
rattling the pot on the stove and grumbling to herself. 
"I ll show Tillie Bocock a thing or two. So I will. Sending 
her young ones out of my hearing." 

Far down the ridge Tillie Bocock was up early too, for 



Legend 193 

already the sun was bright and there was corn to hoe. 
Tillie and the children had washed the dishes, and she 
had carried out the soapy dishwater with cornbread scraps 
mixed in it and poured it in the trough for the pig. 
"Spotty," they called their pet. The Bococks had no planks 
with which to make a separate pen for the spotted pig 
so they kept its trough in a corner of the chicken lot. 

"Mazie, you and Saphroney go fetch a bucket of cold 
water for Spotty," Tillie called to her two eldest. "A pig 
likes a cold drink now and then same as we do." So off 
the children went with the cedar bucket to the spring. 
When they returned they poured some of the water into 
the dishpan and Spotty sucked it up greedily while they 
hurried to pour the rest into the mudhole where the pig 
liked to wallow. 

The sun caked the mud on the pig s sides and legs as 
it lay grunting contentedly in the chicken yard. 

And when Tillie and the children came in from hoeing 
corn at dinner time Spotty still lay snoozing in the sun. 
An hour later they returned to toss a handful of turnip 
greens into the pig. But Spotty didn t even grunt or get 
up, for on its side was a sleek black cat. A cat with green 
eyes stretched full length working its claws into the pig s 
muddy sides, now with the front paws, now with the hind 
ones. 

The children screamed and stomped a foot. "Scat! Scat!" 
they cried but the black cat only turned its fierce eyes 
toward them. 

Hearing their screams Tillie came running out. She 
fluttered her apron at the cat to scare it away but it only 
snarled, showing its teeth, lifting its bristling whiskers. 
Then Tillie picked up a stone and threw it as hard as 
she could, striking the cat squarely between the eyes. It 



194 Blue Ridge Country 

screamed like a human, Tillie told afterwards. Loud and 
wild it screamed, and leaping off the pig it darted off 
quick as a flash. 

\Vhen the cat reached the cliff halfway up the moun 
tain that led toward Pol Gentry s it turned around and 
looked back. With one paw uplifted it wiped its face for 
there was blood pouring out of the cut between its shin 
ing green eyes. It twitched its mouth till the black fur 
stood up. 

"Come, get up, Spotty!" Tillie and the children coaxed 
the pig. "Here s more dishwater slop for you. Here s some 
cornbread!" 

Slowly the pig got to its knees, then to its feet. It grunted 
once only and fell over dead. 

After that old Pol Gentry wasn t seen for days. But 
when Tillie Bocock did catch sight of her, Pol turned off 
from the footpath and hurried away. Even so Tillie saw 
the deep gash in Pol s forehead oozing blood right be 
tween her eyes. She saw Pol Gentry s mouth widen angrily 
and the black hair about it twitch like that ~of a snarling 
cat, as she slunk away. 

THE DEER WOMAN AND THE FAWN 

Amos Tingley, a bachelor, and a miser as well, lived 
in Laurel Hollow. Nearby was a salt lick for deer. Often 
he saw them come there a few at a time, lick the salt, and 
scamper away. There were two he noticed in particular, 
a mother and its fawn. They had come nearer than the 
salt lickinto his garden more than once and trampled 
what they did not like, or nibbled to the very ground 
things that suited their taste, vegetables that Amos had 
toiled to plant and grow. He didn t want to harm the 



Legend 195 

animals if it could be helped so Amos thought to make 
a pet of the fawn. \Vhen a boy he had had a pet fawn, 
carried it in his arms. He even brought it into the house 
and when it grew older the little creature followed at his 
heels like a dog. He reached a friendly hand toward this 
fawn in his garden but it kicked up its heels and fairly 
flew down the garden path. However, the mother, watch 
ing her chance when Amos had returned to the house, led 
her fawn into the garden again and together they ate their 
fill of the choicest green things. 

It annoyed Amos Tingley no little. He determined to 
put a stop to it. One evening he greased his old squirrel 
rifle. He took lead balls out of the leather pouch that 
hung on the wall, rolled them around in the palm of his 
hand, and wondered when his chance would come to use 
them. As he sat turning the thoughts over in his mind 
pretty Audrey Billberry and her little girl, Tinie, came 
along the road. Audrey was a widow. Had been since 
Tinie was six months old. Some wondered how she got 
along. But Audrey Billberry was never one to complain 
and if neighbors went there she always urged them to 
stay and eat. If it was winter, there was plenty of rabbit 
stew and turnips and potatoes, or squirrel and quail. 
Audrey loved wild meat. "It s cleaner," she d say, "and 
sweeter. Sweet meats make pretty looks." Audrey smiled 
and showed her dimples and little Tinie patted her 
mother s hand and looked up admiringly into her face. 
Then off the two would skip through the woods to gather 
greens or berries, chestnuts or wild turkey eggs, whatever 
the season might bring. 

Sometimes they went hand in hand, Audrey and the 
child, past Amos Tingley *$ place. 

"Good day, to you," pretty Audrey Billberry would 



196 Blue Ridge Country 

call out and Time would say the same. "How goes it with 
you today, good neighbor?" 

"Well enough," Amos answered, "and better still if I 
can get rid of that pestering deer and her fawn. The two 
have laid waste my garden patch. See yonder!" he pointed 
with the squirrel rifle. "And it won t be good for the two 
the next time they come nibbling around here!" 

Pretty Audrey Billberry gripped little Time s hand 
until the child squealed and hopped on one foot. They 
looked at each other, then at the gun. Fright came into 
their eyes. Audrey tried to laugh lightly. "When you kill 
that deer be sure to bring me a piece, neighbor Tingley," 
she said, as unconcerned as you please, and away she went 
with the little girl at her side. When they reached home 
Audrey Billberry turned the wood button on the door 
and flung back her head. "Kill a deer and her fawn! There 
is no fear, Time. Why" she scoffed "Amos Tingley s 
got only lead to load his rifle. I saw." She put her hands 
to her sides and laughed and danced around the room. 
"Lead can t kill a deer and her fawn. It takes silver! Silver! 
Do you hear that, Tinie? Silver hammered and molded 
round to load the gun. And when, I d like to know, would 
skinflint Amos Tingley, the miser, ever destroy a silver 
coin by pounding it into a ball to load a gun? There s 
nothing to fear. Rest easy, Tinie. Besides all living crea 
tures must eat. It is their right. Only silver, remember, 
not lead, can harm the deer. A miser will keep his silver 
and let his garden go!" She caught little Tinie by both 
hands and skipped to and fro across the floor, saying over 
and over, "Only silver can harm the deer." 

The wind caught up her words and carried them 
through the trees, across the ridge into Laurel Hollow. 

While Audrey and Tinie skipped and frolicked and 



Legend 197 

chanted, "Only silver can harm the deer/ Amos Tingley, 
the miser, over in Laurel Hollow was busy at work, He 
took a silver coin from the leather poke in his pocket 
and hammered it flat on the anvil in his barn. Thin as 
paper he hammered it until he could roll it easily between 
thumb and finger. Then around and around he rolled it 
between his palms until there was a ball as round and as 
firm as ever was made with a mold. Amos put it in his 
rifle. 

The next morning when he went out to work in his 
garden there was scarcely a head of cabbage left The 
bunch beans he had been saving back and the cut-short 
beans had been plucked and the row of sweet corn which 
he had planted so carefully along the fence-row had been 
stripped to the last roasting ear. He stooped down to look 
at the earth. "Footprints of the deer and the fawn, with 
out a doubt. But she must have worn an apron or carried 
a basket to take away so much." Amos shook his head in 
perplexity, Then he hurried back to the house to get his 
gun. 

"Right here do I wait." He braced himself in the door 
way, back to the jam, knees jackknifed, gun cocked. "Here 
do I wait until I catch sight of that doe and her fawn." 

It wasn t long till the two appeared on a nearby ridge, 
pranking to and fro. Into the forest they scampered, then 
out again, frisking up their hind feet, then standing still 
as rocks and looking down at Amos Tingley in his door 
way. 

Then Amos lifted his gun, pulled the trigger. 

The fawn darted away but the deer fell bleeding with a 
bullet in the leg. 

"Let her bleed! Bleed till there s not a drop of blood 
left in her veins and my silver coin is washed back to my 



198 Blue Ridge Country 

own hands!" That was the wish of Amos Tingley, the 
miser. He went back into the house and put his gun in 
the corner. 

When darkness came little Tinie Billberry stood sob 
bing at Amos Tingley s door. "Please to come," she 
pleaded. "My mother says she ll die if you don t. She 
wants to make amends!" 

"Amends?" gasped Amos Tingley. "Amends for what?" 

But Tinie had dashed away in the darkness. 

When Amos reached pretty Audrey Billberry s door, 
he found her pale in the candlelight, her ankle shattered 
and bleeding. The foot rested in a basin. 

"See what you ve done, Amos Tingley." The pretty 
widow lifted tear-dimmed eyes, while Tinie huddled 
shyly behind her. "A pitcher of water, quick, Tinie, to 
wash away the blood!" 

As the child poured the water over the bleeding foot, 
Amos heard something fall into the basin. He caught the 
flash of silver. Amos stood speechless. 

In the basin lay the silver ball the miser had made from 
a coin. 

"Never tell!" cried pretty Audrey Billberry, her dark 
eyes starting from the bloodless face. "Never tell and I 
promise, I promise and so does Tinie see we promise 
together." 

The child had put down the pitcher and came shyly 
to rest her head upon her mother s shoulder, her small 
hand in Audrey s. 

"We promise/* they spoke together, "never, never 
again to bother your garden!" 

They kept their word all three, Amos Tingley and 
pretty Audrey Billberry and little Tinie. But somebody 



Legend 199 

told, for the tale still lives in Laurel Hollow of the miser 
and the deer woman and the little fawn. 



GHOST OF DEVIL ANSE 

Near the village of Omar, Logan County, in the hills 
of West Virginia there is a little burying ground that 
looks down on Main Island Creek. It is a family burying 
ground, you soon discover when you climb the narrow 
path leading to the sagging gate in the rickety fence that 
encloses it. There are a number of graves, some with head 
stones, some without. But one grave catches the eye, for 
above it towers a white marble statue. The statue of a 
mountain man, you know at once by the imposing height, 
the long beard, the sagging breeches stuffed into high- 
topped boots. Drawing nearer, you read the inscription 
upon the broad stone base upon which the statue rests: 

CAPT. ANDERSON HATFIELD 
and below the names of his thirteen children: 

JOHNSON 
WM. A. 

ROBERT L. 

NANCY 

ELLIOTT R. 

MARY 

ELIZABETH 

EUAS 

TROY 

JOSEPH D. 

ROSE 

WILLIS E. 

TENNIS 



200 Blue Ridge Country 

You lift your eyes again to the marble statue. If you 
knew him in life, you ll say, "This is a fine likeness-and 
a fine piece of marble." 

"His children had it done in Italy," someone offers the 
information. 

"So," you say to yourself, "this is the grave of Devil 
Anse Hatfield." 

You ve seen all there is to see. You re ready to go, if 
you are like hundreds of others who visit the last resting 
place of the leader of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. But, if 
you chance to tarry say, in the fall when fogs are heavy 
there in the Guyan Valley, through which Main Island 
Creek flows you may see and hear things strangely un 
accountable. 

Close beside the captain s grave is another. On the stone 
is carved the name Levisa Chafin Hatfield. If you were 
among the many who attended her funeral you will re 
member how peaceful she looked in her black burying 
dress she d kept so long for, the occasion. Again you will 
see her as she lay in her coffin, hands primly folded on 
the black frock, the frill of lace on the black bonnet fram 
ing the careworn face. You look up suddenly to see a 
mountain woman in a somber calico frock and slat bon 
net. She is putting new paper flowers, to take the place of 
the faded ones, in the glass-covered box between the grave 
of Devil Anse and the mother of his children. 

"You best come home with me," she invites with true 
hospitality, after an exchange of greetings. You learn that 
Molly claims kin to both sides, being the widow of a Hat- 
field and married to a McCoy, and at once you are dis 
armed. 

That night as you sit with Molly in the moonlight in 
the dooryard of her shack, a weather-beaten plank house 



Legend 201 

with a clapboard roof and a crooked stone chimney, she 
talks of life in the West Virginia hills. "There s a heap 
o* things happens around this country that are mighty 
skeery." Suddenly in the gloaming a bat wings overhead, 
darts inside the shack. You can hear it blundering around 
among the rafters. An owl screeches off in the hollow some 
where. "Do you believe in ghosts and haynts?" There are 
apprehension and fear in Molly s voice. 

Presently the owl screeches dolefully once more and the 
bat wheels low overhead. A soft breeze stirs the pawpaw 
bushes down by the fence row. "Did you hearn something 
mourn like, just then?" Molly, the widow of a Hatfield 
and wife of a McCoy, leans forward. 

If you are prudent you make no answer to her questions. 

"Nothing to be a-feared of, I reckon. The ghosts of them 
that has been baptized they won t harm nobody. I ve 
heard Uncle Dyke Garrett say as much many s the time." 
The woman speaks with firm conviction. 

A moth brushes her cheek and she straightens suddenly. 

The moon is partly hidden behind a cloud; even so by 
its feint light you can see the clump of pawpaw bushes, 
and beyond the outline of the rugged hills. Farther off 
in the burying ground atop the ridge the marble figure of 
the leader of the Hatfields rises against the half-darkened 
sky. 

At first you think it is the sound of the wind in the 
pines far off in the hollow, then as it moves toward the 
burying ground it changes to that of low moaning voices. 

You feel Molly s arm trembling against your own. 
1 "Listen!" she whispers fearfully, all her courage gone. 
"It s Devil Anse and his boys. Look yonder!" she tugs at 
your sleeve "See for yourself they re going down to the 
waters of baptism!" 



202 Blue Ridge Country 

Following the direction of the woman s quick trembling 
hand you strain forward. 

At first there seems to be a low mist rolling over the 
burying ground and then suddenly, to your amazement, 
the mist or cloud dissolves itself into shafts or pillars of 
the height of the white figure of Devil Anse above the 
grave. They form in line and now one figure, the taller, 
moves ahead of all the rest. Six there were following the 
leader. You see distinctly as they move slowly through the 
crumbling tombstones, down the mountain side toward 
the creek. 

"Devil Anse and his boys/* repeats the trembling Molly, 
"going down into the waters of baptism. They ever do of 
a foggy night in the falling weather. And look yonder I 
There s the ghost too of Uncle Dyke Garrett a-waiting at 
the water s edge. He s got the Good Book opened wide in 
his hand/* 

Whether it is the giant trunk of a tree with perhaps a 
leafless branch extended, who can say? Or is nature play 
ing a prank .with your vision? But, surely, in the eerie 
moonlight there seems to appear the figure of a man with 
arm extended, book in hand, waiting to receive the seven 
phantom penitents moving slowly toward the water s edge. 

After that you don t lose much time in being on your 
way. And if anyone should ask you -what of interest is to 
be seen along Main Island Creek, if you are prudent you ll 
answer, "The marble statue of Gapt. Anderson Hatfield." 
And if you knew him in life you ll add, "And a fine like 
ness it is too/* 



Legend 203 



THE WINKING CORPSE 

On the night of June 22, 1887, the bodies of four dead 
men lay wrapped in sheets on cooling boards in the musty 
sitting room of an old boarding house in Morehead, 
Rowan County, Kentucky. Only the bullet-shattered faces, 
besmeared with blood, were exposed. Their coffins had 
not yet arrived from the Blue Grass. No friend or kins 
man watched beside the bier that sultry summer night; 
they had prudently kept to their homes, for excitement 
ran high over the battle that had been fought that day in 
front of the old hostelry which marked, with the death of 
the four, the end of the Martin-Tolliver feud. 

While the bodies lay side-by-side in the front part of 
the shambling house, there sat in the kitchen, so the story 
goes, a slatternly old crone peeling potatoes for supper- 
should the few straggling boarders return with an appe 
tite, now that all the shooting was over. 

It was the privilege of old women like Phronie in the 
mountains of Kentucky to go unmolested and help out as 
they felt impelled in times of troubles such as these be 
tween the Martins and Tollivers. 

The place was strangely quieL Indeed the old boarding 
house was deserted. For those who had taken the law in 
their own hands that day in Rowan County had called a 
meeting at the courthouse farther up the road. The citi 
zenry of the countryside, save kin and friend of the slain 
feudists, had turned out to attend. 

"Nary soul to keep watch with the dead," Phronie com 
plained under her breath. "It s dark in yonder. Dark and 
still as the grave, A body s got to have light. How else can 
they see to make it to the other world?" She paused to 



204 Blue Ridge Country 

sharpen her knife on the edge of the crock, glancing cau 
tiously now and then toward the door of the narrow hall 
way that led to the room where the dead men lay. 

The plaintive call of a whippoorwill far off beyond 
Triplett Creek, where one of the men had been killed that 
day, drifted into the quiet house. 

"It s a sorry song for sorry times," murmured old 
Phronie, "and it ought to tender the heart of them that s 
mixed up in these troubles. No how, whosoever s to blame, 
the dead ort not to be forsaken," 

There was a sound behind her. Phronie turned to see 
the hall door opening slowly. "Who s there?" she called* 
But no one answered. The door opened wider. But no one 
entered. 

"It s a sign/* the old woman whispered. "Well, no one 
can ever say Phronie forsaken the dead." It was as though 
the old crone answered an unspoken command. She put 
down the crock of potatoes and the paring knife. Wiping 
her hands on her apron, Phronie took the oil lamp, with 
its battered tin reflector, from the wall. "Can t no one ever 
say I forsaken the dead," she repeated, "nor shunned a 
sign or token. The dead s got to have light same as the 
living." 

Holding the lamp before her, she passed slowly along 
the narrow hall on to the room where the dead men lay 
wrapped in their sheets. She drew a chair from a corner 
and climbed upon it and hung the lamp above the mantel. 
It was the chair on which Craig Tolliver, alive and boast 
ful and fearless, had sat that morning when she had 
brought him hot coffee and cornbread while he kept an 
eye out for the posse, the self-appointed citizens who later 
killed the Tolliver leader and his three companions. 



Legend 205 

The flickering light of the oil lamp fell upon the ghastly 
faces of the dead men. 

For a moment the old woman gazed at the still forms. 
Then suddenly her glance fixed itself upon the face of 
Craig Tolliver. 

Slowly the lashes of Craig s right eye moved ever so 
slightly. 

Phronie was sure of it. She gripped the back of the chair 
on which she stood to steady herself, for now the lid of 
the dead man s eye twitched convulsively. As the trem 
bling old woman gaped, the eye of the slain feudist opened 
and shut. Not once, but three times, quick as a wink. 

"God-a-mighty!" shrieked Phronie, "he ain t dead! Craig 
Tolliver ain t dead!" She leaped from the chair and ran 
fast as her crooked old limbs would carry her, shrieking as 
she went, "Craig Tolliver ain t dead!" 

Some say it was just the notion of an old woman gone 
suddenly raving crazy, though others, half believing, still 
tell the story of the winking corpse. 

THE HOUSE WITH THE GREEN GABLES 

About halfway between the thriving, up-to-date, elec 
trically lighted City of Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky, 
with its million-dollar steel mills, and Grayson, the county 
seat of Carter County, Kentucky, there stands on the hill 
side a few rods from the modem highway U. S. 60, a little 
white cottage with green gables. 

Within a mile or so of the place unusual road signs catch 
your eye. White posts, each surmounted by a white open 
scroll. There are ten of them, put there, no doubt, by some 
devoted pilgrim. There is one for each of the Ten Com 
mandments. You read carefully one after the other. The 



206 Blue Ridge Country 

one nearest the point where you turn off on a dirt road 
that leads to the white house with the green gables reads 

Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. 

You leave your car at the side of the dirt road near 
U. S. 60, and go on foot the rest of the way. 

You wonder, as you look at the beauty of the well-kept 
lawn, the carefully planted hedge and cedars, the step 
stone walk that leads up the sloping hill to the door, at 
the silence of the place. As you draw nearer, you wonder 
at the uncurtained windows, neat, small-paned casements 
with neither shade nor frill. 

You learn that the place has stood untenanted for years. 
Truth to tell it has never been occupied. Some call it the 
haunted house with the green gables. 

Some will tell you there is a shattered romance behind 
the empty, green-gabled house. Others contend it is ten 
anted. They have seen a lovely woman, lamp in hand, 
move about from room to room through the quiet night 
and stand sometimes beside the window up under the 
green gable that looks toward the west. She seems to be 
watching and waiting, they say. But when the day dawns 
woman and lamp vanish into thin air. 

Others will tell you that an eccentric old man built the 
house for his parents long since dead. He believes, so they 
say this old eccentric man living somewhere in the Ken 
tucky hills (they are not sure of the exact location) that 
his parents will return. Not as an aged couple, feeble and 
bent as they died, but in youth, happy and healthful. This 
"eccentric" son himself now stooped with age, with silver 
hair and faltering step, built the pretty white house that 
his parents might have beauty in a dwelling such as they 



Legend 207 

never knew In their former life on earth. The old fellow 
himself, so the story goes, makes many a nocturnal visit to 
the dream house, hoping to find his parents returned and 
happily living within its paneled walls. 

There are all sorts of stories, varying in their nature 
according to the distance of their origin from the green- 
gabled house. 

Curious people have come all the way from the Pacific 
Coast to see it, from New England and Maine, from 
Canada and Utah. 

As the years go by the legend grows. 

"Oh, yes, I ve seen the haunted house with the green 
gables," some will say, glowing with satisfaction. "And 
they do say the eccentric old man who built it for his par 
ents has silent, trusty Negro servants dressed in spotless 
white who stand behind the high-backed chair of the 
master and mistress at the table laden with gleaming silver 
and a sumptuous feast The old man firmly believes his 
parents will return!" 

What with the increasing stories you decide to take a 
look for yourself. I did, accompanied by a newsman, and 
a photographer. 

Nothing like getting proof of the pudding. 

Out you go, under cover of darkness, equipped with 
flashlights and flash bulbs. A haunted house, you calcu 
late, will be much more intriguing by night. Stealthily 
you draw near. You peer into the windows, the uncur 
tained windows, in breathless awe prepared to see the lady 
with the lamp floating from room to room, hoping to 
glimpse the spectral couple seated at table in the high- 
paneled dining hall of which you have heard so many 
tales. Tales of gleaming silver, white-clad Negro servants 



208 Blue Ridge Country 

bowing with deference before the master and mistress o 
the green-gabled house. 

Through the uncurtained windows you gape wide-eyed. 
Instead of the scene you expected, there looms before your 
eyes plunder of all sorts tossed about helter-skelter: sec 
tions of broken bookcases, old tables, musty books, broken- 
down chairs. 

You are about to retreat in utter disgust when you hear 
the sound of footsteps on the cobblestone walk that leads 
around the house. The sound draws nearer. 

The wary photographer pulls his flashlight. Its bright 
beam plays upon the stone walk, catching first in its 
lighted circle the feet of a man. The light plays upward 
quickly. It holds now in its bright orb the smiling face of 
a man. A middle-aged man with pleasant blue eyes. 

"could we see the owner of this place?" stammers 
the reporter. 

"You re looking at him, sir!" the fellow replies courte 
ously. "What can I do for you?" It is a pleasant voice with 
an accent that is almost Harvard. 

"Who who are you?" the reporter stammers. 

"Hedrick s my name. Ray Hedrick! What s yours?" 

When the uninvited visitors have identified themselves 
the owner invites you most graciously to take a seat on the 
doorstep. 

You learn that this "eccentric old man/ of whom you 
have heard such ridiculously fantastic tales, is and has 
been for a number of years telegraph operator for the 
Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad at their little wayside sta 
tion, Kilgore. It is within a few miles of the mill town of 
thriving Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky, and the county 
seat of Carter County. The little railroad station is within 
a stone s throw, as the crow flies, of "the haunted house." 



Legend 209 

"Pleasant weather we are having," the owner observes 
casually- 

"Yes," the reporter replies reluctantly, "but this house- 
here" the reporter is obviously peeved for having been 
snipe-hunting -"what about this house?" 

"Well," drawls the owner tolerantly, "a house can t help 
what s been told about it, can it?" 

"But how did the story get started about it being 
haunted?" the reporter is persistent. 

The owner jerks a thumb over his shoulder in the direc 
tion of U. S. 60. "Is that your car parked over there?" 

There is in his tone that which impels you to stand not 
on the order of your going. You go at once annoyed at 
being no nearer the answer than when you came. 

And still the curious continue to motor miles and miles 
to see the haunted house with the green gables. 



8. Singing on the Mountain Side 



THOUGH there were and are people in the Blue 
Ridge Country who, like Jilson Setters, the Singin* 
Fiddler of Lost Hope Hollow, can neither read nor write, 
such obstacles have meant no bar to their poetic bent. 
They sing with joy and sorrow, with pride and pleasure, 
of the scene about them, matching their skill with that of 
old or young who boast of book learning. 

OF LANI> AND RIVER 

APPALACHIA 

Clothed in her many hues of green., 
Far Appalachia rises high 
And takes a robe of different hue 
To match the seasons passing by. 

Her summits crowned by nature s handy 
With grass-grown balds for all to see, 
Her towering rocks and naked cliffs 
Hid by some overhanging tree. 

In early spring the Maple dons 
Her bright red mantle overnight; 
The Beech is clad in dainty tan, 
The Sarvis in a robe of white. 
210 



Singing on the Mountain Side 211 

The Red Bud in profusion blooms 
And rules the hills a few short days, 
And Dogwoods with their snowy white 
Are mingled with its purple blaze. 

High on the frowning mountain side 
Azaleas bloom like tongues of flame, 
The Laurel flaunts her waxy pink, 
And Rhododendrons prove their fame. 

Then comes the sturdy Chestnut tree 
With plumes like waving yellow hair, 
And Wild Grapes blossom at their will 
To scent the glorious mountain air. 

But when the frost of autumn falls, 
Like many other fickle maids, 
She lays aside her summer robes 
And dons her gay autumnal shades. 

Qh 3 Appalachia^ loved by all! 
Long may you reign, aloof, supreme^ 
In royal robes of nature s hues, 
A monarch proud a mountain Queen. 

Martha Creech 

BIG SANDY RIVER 

Big Sandy, child of noble birth, 
Majestically you roll along, 
True daughter of the Cumberlands^ 
With heritage of wealth and song. 

Free as the hills from whence you came f 
In folklore and tradition bound, 



212 Blue Ridge Country 

You seek the valleys deep and wide, 
With frowning forests girded round. 

Descendants of a stalwart breed 
And fed by nature s lavish hand. 
You carry on your bosom broad 
The riches of a virgin land. 

When ringing ax of pioneers 
The silence of the forests broke. 
Upon your rising crest you bore 
The poplar and the mighty oak. 

The push boat launched by brawny arms 
And filled with treasure from the earth 
Has drifted on your current strong 
From out the hills that gave you birth. 

And steamboats loaded to the hold 
You swept upon your swelling tide 3 
Til fruits of sturdy, mountain toil 
Were scattered out both far and wide. 

The Dew Drop plowed your mighty waves. 
From Catlettsburg to old Pike Town., 
To bring her loads of manmade gifts 
And carry homespun products down. 

And Market Boy, that far-famed craft,, 
Churned through the foam, her holds to fill, 
And proudly reared her antlered head 
A trophy rare of mountain skill. 

D. Preston 



Singing on the Mountain Side 213 



OLD TIME WATERFRONT 

Come all you old-time rivermen 
And go along with me, 
Let s sing a song and give a cheer 
For the days that used to be. 

Let s wander down to Catlettsburg 
And look upon the tide. 
We ll mourn the changes time has made 
There by the river side. 

Gone is the old-time waterfront 
That rang with joy and mirth, 
And known throughout a dozen states 
As "the wettest spot on earth." 

And Damron s famed Black Diamond, 
The logger s paradise,, 
Where whiskey flowed like water 
And timbermen swapped lies. 

Here Big Wayne ruled in splendor; 
His right, none would deny. 
And Little Wayne was always there 
To serve the rock and rye. 

And Big Wayne never failed a friend, 
Or stopped to chat or lie. 
And no one entering his doors 
Was known to leave there dry. 

And many a time some timberman 
Would land himself in jail, 
But Big Wayne always lent a hand, 
And went the wretch s bail. 



214 Blue Ridge Country 

Some of the buildings still are there, 
Along the old-time ways. 
Silent and dark their windows stare 
Gray ghosts of bygone days. 

No sound of merriment or song, 
No dancing footsteps fall; 
The days of fifty years ago,, 
Are gone beyond recall. 

So to Big Wayne and Little Wayne, 
Big Sandy s pride and boast, 
And to the old-time waterfront, 
Let s drink a farewell toast. 

While to the old-time timbermen, 
This song we ll dedicate, 
Who fought their battles with their fists, 
And took their whiskey straight. 

Goby Preston 

WEST VIRGINIA 

There is singing in the mountain where the sturdy hill 
folk meet, 

There is singing in the valleys where the days are warm 
and sweety 

There is singing in the cities where the crowds of workers 
throng^ 

Wherever we meet, no day is complete, for West Vir 
ginians without a song. 

West Virginia, land of beauty, West Virginia, land of 
song, 



Singing on the Mountain Side 215 

West Virginia, hear the singing of the crystal mountain 

streams. 
Songs of joy and songs of power to fulfill man s mightiest 

dreams, 
West Virginia, hear the singing of thy shadowed forest 

trees, 
Holding the winds, holding the floods, so that thy sons 

may be at ease. 

West Virginia, land of beauty, West Virginia, land of song. 

Esther Eugenia Dams 

SKYUNE DRIVE 

The Skyline Drive is not a road 

To bring you near the skies 

Where you can sit and gather clouds 

That flit before your eyes, 

Or jump upon a golden fleece 

And sail to paradise 

But it is a super-mountain road 

Where you can feast your eyes 

Upon the beauties of the world 

The Lord God gave to man 

For his enjoyment and his use; 

Improve it if you can. 

The builders of this Skyline Drive 

Have filed no patent right 

That they improved upon God s plan, 

Nor have more power and might; 

But they have seen His handiwork. 

This panoramic wew f 

Have paved this road to ease the load 

Of all the world and you. 



216 Blue Ridge Country 

This is akin to hallowed ground, 
A sacred beauty shrine; 
Its fame has traveled all around; 
It now is yours and mine. 
There s little points of vantage views. 
Where you can see afar 
Compare the beauty with that land 
That stands with "Gates Ajar" 
The people who have given much 
To save this precious shrine 
Must surely all be friends of God 
And friends of yours and mine. 

George A. Barker 

FEUD 
THE LOVE OF ROSANNA MC COY 

Come and listen to my story 
Of fair Rosanna McCoy. 
She loved young Jonse Hatfield^ 
Old Devil Anse s boy. 

But the McCoys and Hatfields 
Had long engaged in strife, 
And never the son of a Hatfield 
Should take a McCoy to wife. 

But when they met each other, 
On Blackberry Creek y they say, 
She was riding behind her brother. 
When Jonse came along that way. 

"Who is that handsome fellow?" 
She asked young Tolbert McCoy* 



Singing on the Mountain Side 217 

Said he, "Turn your head, sister, 
That s Devil Anse s boyf* 

But somehow they met each other, 
And it grieved the Hat fie Ids sore; 
While Randall, the young girl s father^ 
Turned his daughter from the door. 

It was down at old Aunt Betty s 
They were courting one night, they say, 
When down came Rosanna s brothers 
And took young Jonse away. 

Rosanna s heart was heavy, 
For she hoped to be his wife, 
And well she knew her brothers 
Would take his precious life. 

She ran to a nearby pasture 
And catching a horse by the mane, 
She mounted and rode like a soldier, 
With neither saddle nor rein. 

Her golden hair streamed behind her, 
Her eyes were wild and bright, 
As she urged her swift steed forward 
And galloped away in the night. 

Straight to the Hatfields stronghold^ 
She rode so fearless and brave, 
To tell them that Jonse was in danger 
And beg them his life to save. 

And the Hatfields rode in a body. 
They saved young Jonse s life; 
But never., they said* a Hatfield 
Should take a McCoy to wife. 



218 Blue Ridge Country 

But the feud is long forgotten 
And time has healed the sting, 
As little Bud and Melissy 
This song of their kinsmen sing. 

No longer it is -forbidden 
That a fair-haired young McCoy 
Shall love her dark-eyed neighbor 
Or marry a Hatfield boy. 

And the people still remember, 
Though she never became his bride> 
The love of these young people 
And Rosanna s midnight ride. 

Co by Preston 

LEGEND 

THE ROBIN S RED BREAST 

Through the southern mountains the Robin is often 
called the "Christ Bird" because of this legend. It is also 
called "Love Bird." 

The Savior hung upon the cross, 

His body racked with mortal pain; 

The blood flowed from His precious wounds 

And sweat dropped from His brow like rain. 

A crown of thorns was on His head; 
The bitter cup He meekly sips; 
His life is ebbing fast away y 
A prayer upon His blessed lips. 

No mercy found He anywhere^ 

He said, "My Father knoweth best" 



Singing on the Mountain Side 219 

A little bird came fluttering down 
And hovered near his bleeding breast. 

It fanned His brow with gentle wings, 
Into the cup it dipped its beak; 
And gazed in pity while He hung 
And bore His pain so calm and meek. 

At last the bird it flew away 
And sought the shelter of its nest; 
Its feathers dyed with crimson stain. 
The Savior s blood upon its breast. 

The lowly robin , so tis said, 
That comes to us in early spring, 
Is that which hovered near the cross 
And wears for aye that crimson stain. 

Martha Creech 

JENNIE WYIIE 

Thomas Wiley, husband of Jennie Sellards Wylie, was 
a native of Ireland. They lived on Walker s Creek in what 
is now Tazewell County, Virginia. She was captured by 
the Indians in 1790. Her son Adam was sometimes called 
Adam Pre Yard Wiley. 

Among the hills of old Kentucky, 
When homes were scarce and settlers few, 
There lived a man named Thomas Wylie, 
His wife and little children two. 

They left their home in old Virginia, 
This youthful pair so brave and strong. 
And built a cabin in the valley 
Where fair Big Sandy flows along. 



220 Blue Ridge Country 

Poor Thomas left his home one morning, 
He kissed his wife and children dear; 
He little knew that prowling Indians 
Around his home were lurking near. 

They waited in the silent woodland 
Till came the early shades of night; 
Poor Jennie and her young brother 
Were seated by the fireside bright. 

They peeped inside the little cabin 
And saw the children sleeping there. 
These helpless ones were unprotected 
And Jennie looked so white and fair. 

They came with tomahawks uplifted 
And gave the war whoop fierce and wild; 
Poor Jennie snatched her nursing baby; 
They killed her brotherher oldest child. 

They took poor Jennie through the forest 
And while they laughed in fiendish glee, 
A redskin took the baby from her 
And dashed out its brains against a tree. 

They traveled down the Sandy valley 
Until they reached Ohio s shore; 
They told poor Jennie she would never 
See home or husband any more. 

For two long years they kept her captive^ 
And one dark night she stole away, 
And many miles she put behind her 
Before the dawning of the day. 

Straight for home the brave woman headed 
As on her trail the redskins came; 



Singing on the Mountain Side 221 

The creek down which she fled before them 
To this day bears poor Jennie s name. 

She reached the waters of Big Sandy 
And plunged within the swollen tide. 
The thriving little town of Auxier 
Now stands upon the other side. 

Her husband welcomed her, though bearing 
A child sired by an Indian bold; 
He proudly claimed the stalwart Adam,, 
Whose blood descendants are untold. 

Luke Burchett 

MOUNTAIN PREACHER 

When the Sabbath day is dawning in the mountains^ 
And the air is filled with bird song sweet and clear, 
Once again I think of him who lives in spirit, 
Though his voice has silent been for many a year* 

And the music of the simple prayer he uttered 
Seems to echo from the highest mountain peak, 
And the people still respect the holy teaching 
Of that mountain preacher, Zepheniah Meek. 

I can see him there upon the wooded hillside ^ 
While between two giant Trees of Heaven he stood, 
And the blue skies formed a canopy above them, 
As befitting one so humble, wise and good. 

And he reads of how the Tree of Life is blooming, 
From the thumbworn leaves of God s own book of lave, 
While the wind sweeps gently through the Trees of 

Heaven 
And they seem to whisper softly up above, 



222 Blue Ridge Country 

Oh, your name still lives among Big Sandy s people. 
Though your earthly form is molding neath the sod; 
May your memory linger in their hearts forever, 
While your spirit rests in peace at home with God. 

D. Preston 

CHURCH IN THE MOUNTAINS 

This was composed by a little girl in Rowan County, 
Kentucky, after she had been to church in the mountains 
on Christy Creek in that county in 1939. 

Have you been to church in the mountains? 
*Tis a wonderful place to go, 
Out beneath the spreading branches 
Where the grass and violets grow. 

Hats hang around on the trunks, 
Coats lay across the limbs, 
No roof above but heaven, 
They sing the good old hymns. 

So they pray and preach together 

And sing in one accord, 

My heart within rejoices 

To hear them praise the Lord. 

Though seats are rough, uneven, 
And they lay upon the sod, 
There can be no fault in the building, 
For the Architect is God. 

Through years it s been a custom 
That prayer should first be made, 
And then the others follow, 
Their praises ring in wood and glade. 



Singing on the Mountain Side 223 

There in the temple of temples, 
They tell of the glory land, 
While they beg the many sinners 
To take a better stand. 

They beg the sinners to listen 
As they explain God s love, 
Telling of home that s waiting 
In the mansions up above. 

Still praising God, the Father, 

Who gave His only Son, 

The meeting service closes 

Just as it had begun. -Jessie Stewart 

MOUNTAIN DOCTOR 

This ballad was composed and set to tune by Jilson Set 
ters, the Singin Fiddler of Lost Hope Hollow, who can 
neither read nor write, yet who has composed and set to 
tune more than one hundred ballads, some of which the 
late Dr. Kittredge of Harvard declared "will live as 
classics." 

A very kindly doctor, a jriend, I quite well know, 

He owned a mighty scope of land, some eighty year ago. 

The doctor had an old-time house, built from logs and 

clay, 
A double crib of roughhewn logs, it was built to stay. 

The doctor he would fish and hunt, 
He would bring in bear and deer; 
He was content and happy in his home 
With his loved ones always near. 



224 Blue Ridge Country 

The doctor owned a faithful horse, 
He rode him night and day; 
He had nothing but a bridle path 
To guide him on his way. 

The panther was his dreadful foe, 
It often lingered near; 
The doctor always went well armed, 
He seemed to have no fear. 

He made himself a nice warm coat 
From the pelt of a brown woolly bear; 
Often I loved to trace its length 
With eager hands through shaggy hair. 

The forepaws fitted round his wrists. 
The hind parts reached to his thighs, 
And of the head he made a cap 
That sheltered both his ears and eyes. 

The doctor dearly loved the woods, 
He was raised there from a child; 
He was very fond of old-time ways, 
If you scoffed them, he -would chide. 

He was good and sympathetic, 
He traveled night and day; 
He doctored many people, 
Regardless of the pay. 

Nels Tatum Rice was his name, 
He was known for miles around; 
Far beyond the county seat, 
Long the Big Sandy up and down. 



Singing on the Mountain Side 225 

His mother wove his winter clothes, 
As a boy he d case their furs; 
With them to the county seat, 
But once a year he d go. 

The merchant he would buy the fur, 
It gladdened the boy s heart. 
He had money in his jeans, 
When for home he did start. 

Boys, them days was full of glee, 
Both husky, fat and strong. 
Nels very soon retraced his steps, 
It didn t take him long. 

Safely, of home once more in sight, 
The boy quite glad did feeL 
For he could hear old Shep dog bark, 
Hear the hum of the spinning wheel. 

Jilson Setters 

MOUNTAIN WOMAN 

*T ain t no use a-sittin here 

And peerin 9 at the sun, 
A-wishin I had purty things. 

Afore my work is done. 
I best had bug the taters 

And fetch water from the run 
And save my time fer wishin 

When all my work is done. 

Paw heerd the squirrels a-barkin* 

This morning on the hill, 
And taken him his rifle-gun 

And tonic fer his chilL 



226 Blue Ridge Country 

Men-folks ain t got no larnin* 

And have no time to fill; 
Paw spends his days in huntin* 

Or putterin* round his still. 

" Tain t no use complainin " 

Is the song the wood thrush sings. 
And I don t know of nothin 

That s as sweet as what he brings. 
But I best had comb my honey 

And churn that sour cream., 
And listen to the wood thrush 

When I ketch time to dream. 

Sometimes I feel so happy 

As I hoe the sproutin* corn; 
To hear, far off upon the ridge, 

The call of Paw s cow horn. 
Then I know it s time for milkin* 

And my long day s work is through, 
And I kin sit upon the stoop 

And make my dreams come true. 

I ll dream me a wish fer a shiney new hoe. 
And some dishes, an ax and a saw: 
And a calico shroud with a ribbon and bow 
And a new houn dawg fer Paw. 

-John W. Preble, Jr. 

WOMAN S WAY 

You like this Circle Star quilt, Miss, you say: 

I have a favorance for this Flower Bed bright and fair; 

I made it when my heart was light and gay. 



Singing on the Mountain Side 227 

Like me, it s much the worse for time and wear. 

I used it first upon my marriage bed 

And last, when Thomas^ my poor man f lay dead. 

This Nine Patch that is spread across my bed, 
My Emmy made it in her thirteenth year; 
I meant for her to claim it when she wed 
Excuse me, Miss, I couldn t help that tear. 
She sewed her wedding dress so fine and proud 
Before the day, we used it for her shroud. 

That Double Wedding Ring? poor Granny Day, 
Before I married Tom, made that for me. 
A thrifty wife, I usen to hear her say, 
Has kiverlids that all who come may see. 
She rests there on the knoll f nenst the rise 
The little grave is where my youngest lies. 

Dove at the Window was my mother s make, 

Toad in a Puddle is the oldest one, 

Old Maid s Ramble and The Lady of the Lake 

I made for Ned, my oldest son. 

Hearts and Gizzards make me think of Grandpap Day. 

"Like Joseph s coat of many colors, Ma," he d say. 

The Snow Ball and the Rose are sister s make, 

She lived in Lost Hope Hollow acrost yon hill, 

Poor Jane, she might have had her pick of beaux 3 

She sits alone because it was her wilL 

A wife she never would consent to be, 

For Jane, she kwed the man that favored me. 

Martha Creech 



228 Blue Ridge Country 



MOUNTAIN SINGERS 

What song is this across the mountain side, 

Where every leaf bears elements of Him 

Who is all music? Silences abide 

With rock and stone. A conscious seraphim 

Directs the measure, when the need of song 

Arrives to set the spirit free again. 

The Mountain Singers, traipsiri along 

To woody trail and a cabin in the rain. 

Bring native music fit to cut apart 

Old enemies with gunshot for the heart. 

With Singin Gatherin and Infare still intact, 

The Mountain Singers make of ghost, a fact. 

Rachel Mack Wilson 

TRAGEDY 
THE ASHLAND TRAGEDY 

One Christmas morn in eighty-one, 
Ashland y that quiet burg, 
Was startled the day had not yet dawned 
When the cry of fire was heard. 

For well they knew two fair ladies 
Had there retired to bed. 
The startled crowd broke in, alas, 
To find the girls both dead. 

And from the hissing, seething flames 
Three bodies did rescue; 
Poor Emma s and poor Fannie *s both. 
And likewise Bobby s too. 



Singing on the Mountain Side 229 

And then like Rachel cried of old 
The bravest hearts gave vent, 
And all that blessed holiday 
To Heaven their prayers were sent. 

Autopsy by the doctors show d 
The vilest of all sin, 
And proved to all beyond a doubt 
Their skulls had been drove in. 

And other crimes too vile to name; 
I ll tell it if I must; 
A crime that shocks all common sense, 
A greed of hellish lust. 

An ax and crowbar there was found 
Besmeared with blood and hair y 
Which proved conclusively to all 
What had transpired there. 

Two virgin ladies of fourteen,, 
The flower of that town f 
With all their beauty and fond hopes* 
By demons there cut down- 
Just blooming into womanhood. 
So lovely and so true; 
Bright hopes of long and happy days 
With morals fust and pure. 

Then Marshal Heflin sallied forth, 
Was scarcely known to fail, 
And in ten days had the assassins 
All safely placed in jail. 

George Ellis, William Neal and Craft, 
Some were Kentucky^ sons, 



230 Blue Ridge Country 

Near neighbors to the Gibbons house 
And were the guilty ones. 

In this here dark and bloody ground 
They were true types indeed, 
Of many demons dead and dam d 
Who fostered that same greed. 

A hellish greed of lust to blast 
The virtuous and fair, 
To gratify that vain desire 
No human life would spare. 

There Emma Thomas lay in gore, 
A frightful sight to view; 
Poor Fanny Gibbons in a crisp,, 
And Bob; her brother, too. 

Bob was a poor lame crippled boy. 
Beloved by everyone; 
His mother s hope, his sister s joy, 
A kind, obedient son. 

At that dread sight the mother s grief 
No mortal tongue can tell. 
A broken heart, an addled brain, 
When all should have been well. 

Both her dear children lying there, 
Who once so merry laughed. 
There stiff and stark in death they lay, 
Cut down by Ellis Craft. 

That dreadful demon, imp of hell, 
Consider well his crime; 



Singing on the Mountain Side 231 

Although he was a preachers son, 
Has blackened the foot of time. 

Peyton Buckner Byrne 

This ballad was composed by Peyton Buckner Byrne 
of Greenup, Greenup County, Kentucky. He is in error 
in writing the name of Emma Thomas; the murdered 
girl s name was Emma Cariox The tragedy occurred in 
the early *8o s in the mill town of Ashland, Boyd County, 
Kentucky, which adjoins Greenup County. The town of 
Greenup was formerly called Hangtown because of the 
many hangings which occurred there in the days of the 
Civil War. Peyton Buckner Byrne was a schoolteacher in 
that County and one of his scholars, Miss Tennessee 
Smith, supplied this copy of the old schoolteacher s bal 
lad. Ellis Craft is buried on Bear Creek in Boyd County, 
not far from Ashland where he committed the crime. 

THE MORAL OF THE BALLAD 

There s a sad moral to this tale. 
Now pass the word around; 
Pull off your shoes now and walk light; 
Ashland is holy ground. 

Bill Neal he came from Virginia, 
A grand and noble State? 
But his associates were bad 
And he has shared their fate. 

Bill Neal he saw Miss Emma Thomas^ 
So beautiful and fair 
That all his hellish greed of lust 
Seemed to be centered there. 



232 Blue Ridge Country 

Bill Neal he was a married man, 
Had children and a wife; 
And oittimes bragged what he would do, 
If it should cost his life. 

Bill Neal done what he said he would, 
And yet a greater sin; 
Then with a great big huge crowbar 
Broke Emma s skullbones in. 

Yes, Bill Neal done just what he said, 
And yet that greater sin, 
For which the gates of Heaven closed 
And will not let him in. 

Now while his victim is in Heaven, 
Where all things are done well, 
There with the angels glorified, 
Bill Neal will go to hell. 

THE DEATH OF MARY PHAGAN 

Leo M. Frank, manager of the pencil factory, was a Jew. 
Sentiment ran high against him at the time of the inurder. 
This ballad was composed by young Bob Salyers of Car- 
tersville, Georgia, who heard the story on all sides. He 
could neither read nor write. 

Come listen all ye maidens, 
A story Til relate 
Of pretty Mary Phagan 
And how she met her fate. 

Her home was in Atlanta 
And so the people say, 



Singing an the Mountain Side 233 

She worked in a pencil factory 
To earn her meager pay. 

She went down to the office 
One April day, it s said; 
The next time that they saw her, 
Poor Mary, she was dead. 

They found her outraged body 
Oh, hear the people cry 
"The fiend that murdered Mary 
Most surely he must die." 

James Conley told the story, 
" Twos Leo Frank" he said, 
"He strangled little Mary 
And left her cold and dead." 

Now Frank was tried for murder,, 
His guilt he did deny. 
But the jury found him guilty 
And sentenced him to die. 

His life he paid as forfeit; 
And then there came a time 
Another man lay dying, 
And said he did the crime. 

We do not know for certain, 
But in the Judgment Day, 
We know that God will find him 
And surely make him pay. 

Bob Salyers 



234 Blue Ridge Country 



THE FATE OF EFFIE AND RICHARJO DUKE 

Oh, hearken to this sad warning, 
You husbands who love your wife. 
Don t never fly in a passion 
And take your companion s life. 

Of Doctor Rich Duke I will tell you, 
Who lived up Beaver Creek way, 
He married fair Effie A lien 
And loved her well, so they say. 

Both Effie and Rich had money, 
But he was much older than she } 
And she said, "All your lands and money 
Should be. deeded over to me! 

His wife he loved and trusted 
And he hastened to obey; 
But the fact he soon regretted 
That he deeded his riches away. 

They quarreled and then they parted, 
The times were more than three, 
For both of them were stubborn 
And they never could agree. 

Now Doctor John, his brother. 

Was a highly respected man, 

He brought Effie home one evening, 

Saying, "Make up your quarrel if you can? 

And Rich seemed glad to see her, 
And followed her up the stair, 
But only God and the angels 
Know just what happened there. 



Singing on the Mountain Side 235 

Doctor John was down at the table 
When he heard the pistol roar; 
He ran up the stairs in a moment 
And looked in at the open door. 

Poor Rich lay there by his pistol 
With a bullet through his brain, 
And Effie lay there dying 
Writhing in mortal pain. 

They were past all human succor, 
No earthly power could save; 
And they took their secrets with them 
To the land beyond the grave. 

Now all you wives and husbands, 
Take heed to this warning true. 
Never quarrel over lands and money 
Or some day the fact you will rue. 

Co by Preston 

THE FATE OF FLOYD COLUNS 

This ballad was composed in 1925 by Jilson Setters, 
when Floyd Ck>ULns was trapped in a salt mine near Mam 
moth Cave, Kentucky, 

Come all you friends and neighbors 
And listen to what I say, 
Til relate to you a story, 
Of a man who passed away. 
He struggled hard for freedom, 
His heart was true and brave, 
While his comrades they were toiling 
His precious life to 



236 Blue Ridge Country 

His name was Floyd Collins, 

Exploring he did crave. 

But he never dreamed that he d be trapped 

In a lonely sandstone cave. 

His entrance it was easy } 

His heart was light and gay. 

But his mind was filled with trouble 

When he found he d lost his way. 

He wandered through the cavern, 
He knew not where to go, 
He knew he was imprisoned, 
His heart was full of woe. 
He started for the entrance 
That he had passed that day. 
A large and mighty boulder 
Had slipped down in his way. 

The stone was slowly creeping 
But that he did not know, 
Underneath he found an opening 
He thought that he could go. 
He soon got tired and worried, 
He soon then had to rest, 
The boulder still was creeping, 
It was tightening on his chest. 

He lost all hopes of freedom, 

No farther could he go; 

His agony was desperate, 

That you all well know. 

His -weeping parents lingered near; 

A mother gray and old. 



Singing on the Mountain Side 237 

Soon poor Floyd passed away 
And heaven claimed his souL 

A note was in his pocket, 

The neighbors chanced to find; 

These few lines were written 

While he had strength and mind: 

"Give this note to mother^ 

Tell her not to cry; 

Tell her not to wait for me, 

I will meet her by and by." 7 . 7 .. 

J J Jilson Setters 

Tliis ballad was written by fifty-year-old Adam Crisp 
who lived in Fletcher, North Carolina, at the time of Col 
lins* death. Crisp could neither read nor write but com 
posed many ballads. 

FLOYD COLLINS FATE 

Come all you young people 
And listen to what I tell: 
The fate of Floyd Collins, 
Alas, we all know well. 
His face was fair and handsome, 
His heart was true and brave, 
His body now lies sleeping 
In a lonely sandstone cave. 

How sad 3 how sad the story, 
It fills our eyes with tears, 
His memory will linger 
For many, many a year. 
His broken-hearted father 
Who tried his boy to save 



238 Blue Ridge Country 

Will now weep tears of sorrow 
At the door of Floyd s cave. 

Oh, mother, don t you worry, 
Dear father, don t be sad; 
Til tell you all my troubles 
In an awful dream I had; 
I dreamed that I was prisoner. 
My life could not be saved, 
I cried, "Oh! must I perish, 
Within the silent cave?" 

The rescue party gathered, 
They labored night and day 
To move the mighty boulder 
That stood within the way. 
"To rescue Floyd Collins!" 
This was the battlecry. 
"We will never, no 3 we will never 
Let Floyd Collins die" 

But on that fatal morning 
The sun rose in the sky, 
The workers still were busy, 
"We will save him by and by." 
But, oh, how sad the evening, 
His life they could not save, 
His body then was sleeping 
Within the lonely cave. 

Young people all take warning 
With this, for you and I, 
We may not be like Collins, 
But you and I must die. 



Singing on the Mountain Side 239 

It may not be in a sand cave 
In which we find our tomb> 
But at that mighty judgment 
We soon will find our doom. 

Adam Crisp 

PATRIOT 
IT S GREAT TO BE AN AMERICAN 

For long years the members of the Hamm family in 
Rowan County, Kentucky, both old and young, have gath 
ered on a Sunday in the month of August for their moun 
tain Eisteddfod. Upon this occasion there is friendly ri 
valry as to whose ballad or poem is best, who speaks his 
composition best. And the prize, you may be sure, is not 
silver but a book of poems. This composition of Nannie 
Hamm Carter was read at their mountain Eisteddfod in 
August, 1940. 

Ifs great to be an American, 

And live on peaceful shores. 

Where we hear not the sound of marching feet, 

And the war-clouds come no more, 

Where the Statue of Liberty ever stands, 

A beacon of hope for all, 

Heralding forth to every land 

That by it we stand or fall. 

It s great to be an American^ 

For wherever we may go, 

It is an emblem of truth and right, 

A challenge to every foe. 

It s great to be free and unfettered, 

And know not wars or strife, 



240 Blue Ridge Country 

Where man to man united, 
Can live a carefree life, 

While men are jailing hour by hour 
Upon some -foreign shore 
Amidst the roar of battle there, 
Ne er to return no more. 
They re offered as a sacrifice., 
Upon the altar there, 
With no one there to sympathize. 
Or shed for them a tear. 

Where men are marching mid the strife, 

Where there, day after day, 

There s danger and there s loss of life 

Where conquerors hold sway. 

They bow to rulers* stern commands, 

They -face the deadly foe, 

While far away in other lands, 

There s sorrow, pain and woe. 

But not so in America, 

The birthplace of the free. 

For midst the conflict Over There, 

With loss of life and liberty, 

It s a privilege to know, 

That in a world, so fraught with pain, 

We feel secure from every foe 

Where naught but fellowship remains. 

For in our free country, 

We hear not the battlecry, 

We hear not the bugle s solemn call, 

When men go forth to die. 



Singing on the Mountain Side 241 

For over all this land of ours 
The Stars and Stripes still wave, 
Waving forth in triumph 
O er this homeland of the brave. 

Hats off! to our own America, 

With pride we now can say, 

We bow not down to rulers, 

For justice still holds sway. 

God keep us free from scenes like those 

That are in other lands, 

Where the shell-shocked and the wounded 

Are there on every hand. 

So, it s great to be an American, 

We ll stand by our flag always, 

For right shall not perish from the earth 

As long as truth holds sway; 

As long as her sons are united 

In a cause that s just and true, 

The bells of freedom still will ring, 

Ring out for me and you. 

Nannie Hamm Carter 

SAD LONDON TOWN 

Jilson Setters composed and set to tune this ballad 
and sang it at the American Folk Song Festival in June, 
1941, to the delight of a vast audience. To the surprise of 
some he pronounces the word bomb, bum, like his early 
English ancestors. 

Eight years ago I took a trip, 
I decided to cross the sea; 



242 Blue Ridge Country 

I spent some weeks in London, 
Everything was strange to me. 

The city then was perfect peace, 
They had no thought of fear, 
Soon then the bombs began to fall, 
The airplanes hovered near. 

The people cannot rest at night, 
Danger lingers nigh, 
Bombs have dropped on many homes, 
The innocent had to die. 

The flying glass cut off their heads, 
Their hands and noses too; 
Folks then had to stand their ground, 
There was nothing else to do. 

English folks are brave and true, 
But do not want to fight. 
The Germans slip into their town 
And bomb their homes at night. 

They watch the palace of the King, 

They watch it night and day; 

They have a strong and daring guard 

To keep the foe at bay. T - T . . 

^ 7 Jilson Setters 

The aged fiddler also composed and set to tune the 
following ballad called 

BUNDLES FOR BRITAIN 

Two little children toiled along 
A steep and lonely mountain road, 



Singing on the Mountain Side 243 

They heeded not the bitter cold 

But proudly bore their precious load. 

I asked them where they might be bound 
And what their heavy load might be. 
They said, "We re going to the town 
To send our load across the sea. 

"For, -far away on England s shore, 
Our own blood kin still live, you know; 
They fight to stay the tyrant s hand 
That threatens freedom to overthrow. 

"And many little homeless ones 
Are cold and hungry there today, 
*Tis them we seek to feed and clothe 
And every night for them we pray. 

"Some of them reach our own dear land, 
While others perish in the sea; 
And we must help and comfort them 
Until their land from war is free" 

Oh 3 may we like these children face 
The curse of hate and war s alarm 
With faith and courage in our hearts 
And Britain s Bundles neath our arms. 

Jilson Setters 

SERGEANT YORK 

His own favorite baUad, however, is that which he com 
posed and set to tune several years ago about Sergeant 
AJvin C. York, who is Jilson Setters idea of "a mountain 
man without nary flaw/* 



244 Blue Ridge Country 

Way down in Fentress County in the hills of Tennessee 

Lived Alvin York, a simple country lad. 

He spent his happy childhood with his brothers on the 



Or at the blacksmith shop with busy dad. 

He could play a hand of poker, hold his liquor like a man, 
He did his share of prankin in his youth; 
But his dying father left him with the family in his care, 
And he quickly sought the ways of God and truth. 

Then came the mighty World War in the year of seven- 

teen, 

And Uncle Sam sent out his call for men. 
Poor Alvin s heart was heavy for he knew that he must go, 
And his Church contended fighting was a sin." 

He never questioned orders and did the best he could, 

And soon a corporal he came to be; 

He was known throughout the country as the army s fight 

ing ace, 
Beloved in every branch of infantry. 

The eighth day of October the Argonne battle raged, 
Machine guns whined and rifle bullets flew; 
Then Alvin lost his temper, he said, "I ve had enough, 
Til show these Huns what Uncle Sam can do." 

He took his army rifle and his automatic too, 

And hid himself behind a nearby tree; 

He shot them like he used to shoot the rabbits and the 

squirrels 
Away back home in sunny Tennessee. 



Singing on the Mountain Side 245 

He took the whole, battalion one-hundred-thirty -two 
While thirty-five machine guns ceased to fire; 
And twenty German soldiers lay lifeless on the ground 
As he marched his prisoners through the bloody mire. 

His name was not forgotten, a hero brave was he, 

Our country proudly hailed his fearless deeds; 

He was offered fame and fortune but for these he did not 

care, 
His daily toil supplied his simple needs. 

"7 want nothing for myself" he said, "but for the boys and 

girls, 

Who live here in the hills of Tennessee, 
I d like to have a school for them to teach them how to 

farm 
And raise their families in security 3 

His wish was quickly granted. At Jamestown^ Tennessee, 
There stands a school, the mountains joy and pride; 
And with his wife and children in the hills he loves so well, 
He hopes in peace forever to abide. ^Uson Setters 



A Tennessee mountaineer, who is proud of his "wight 
o learning" according to his own words, "put together" 
this ballad which he calls 



NORJRJS DAM 



At N orris Dam, our Uncle Sam 
Has wrought a mighty deed, 
He built a dam, did Uncle Sam, 
So "all who run may read" 



246 Blue Ridge Country 

He saw the "writing on the wall" 
Called the soothsayers in. 
Soothsayers all, both great and small 
Said, "It would be a sin 

"To let the things God wrought for man 
Stand idle all the years. 
But use God s knowledge (in a can), 
Soothsaying engineers." 

And so, this miracle today 

You see with your own eyes. 

Was planned ten million miles away 

In "mansions in the skies." 

That pigeonhole is empty there; 
Now we employ that plan 
For use and pleasure, down here, where 
Twill be a boon to man. 

So day by day in every way, 

At least we re getting wise; 

And now we play- as well we may 

On playgrounds from the skies. 

So let us give a rousing cheer 

For our dear Uncle Sam, 

Whose mighty arm reached way up there 

And brought down Norris Dam. 

George A. Barker 

THE DOWNFALL OF PARIS 

Oh; come all ye proud and haughty people. 
Behold a nation plunged in gloom, 



Singing on the Mountain Side 247 

A country filled with pain and sorrow 
Since that great city met its doom* 

They had no thought of this disaster; 
The Maginot Line could never -fail. 
Then came the downfall of proud Paris; 
Oh, hear the people mourn and wail. 

Oh, see the horror and destruction y 
When death came flying through the air. 
The people vainly sought a refuge; 
Oh, friends, take warning and beware. 

They hear the sound of alien footsteps. 
The soldiers marching side by side 
Among the ruins of that great city, 
A mighty nation s boast and pride. 

Oh y let us then be wise and careful. 
And strive to keep our country free; 
For war is cruel to the helpless, 
The weak must pay the penalty. 

God help the rulers of the nations! 
What is in store, no tongue can tell; 
But keep in mind the simple story 
The Line was broke and Paris fell. 

Co by Preston 



9. Reclaiming the Wilderness 



VANISHING FEUDIST 

r "iHERE are people all over the United States to whom 
I the mere mention of the word mountaineer evokes 
a fantastic picture a whiskey-soaked ruffian with blood 
shot eyes and tobacco-stained beard, wide-brimmed felt 
cocked over a half-cynical eye, finger on the trigger of a 
long-barreled squirrel rifle. He is guarding his moonshine 
still. Or he may be lying in wait behind bush or tree to 
waylay his deadly enemy of the other side in a long-fought 
blood-feud. 

Though there may be a semblance of truth in both, 
such pictures should be taken with a grain of salt. Illicit 
whiskey has been made in our southern mountains, as 
well as in towns and cities throughout the country. There 
were blood-feuds in bygone days but they have been so 
overplayed that scarcely a vestige of the real story remains 
recognizable. Few of the old leaders are left to tell the 
facts. 

I have known well and claim as my loyal friends mem 
bers of families who have been engaged in the making of 
illicit whiskey. I have known quite well many members 
of families on both sides in two of the most famous feuds 
in the southern mountains. These people were and are 
today my good friends and neighbors. 

248 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 249 

As recently as the fall of 1940, 1 returned to Morehead, 
the county seat of Rowan County, for a visit with the 
Martins and Tollivers. Strangely enough, upon the day 
of my arrival I found Lin Martin, son of John Martin, 
who killed Floyd Tolliver, up on a ladder painting the 
walls of the Cozy Theatre. This modern motion-picture 
theater occupies the site of the old Carey House where 
Martin shot Tolliver. Lin was standing in almost the exact 
spot where his father stood when he shot Floyd Tolliver. 
Most willingly he stepped out into the sunlight, paint 
brush and bucket in hand to meet and be photographed 
with Clint Tolliver, a son and nephew of the Tolliver 
leaders, whose father, Bud, was killed by the posse in the 
all-day battle on Railroad Street when the Tolliver band 
was wiped out. Clint was a nephew of Floyd Tolliver, 
slain by John Martin; he married Mrs. Lucy Trumbo 
Martin s niece, Texannie Trumbo. 

While the men shook hands in friendly fashion, believe 
it or not, across the street in the courthouse yard under a 
great oak, past which John Martin was hurried to the 
safety of the jail, a blind fiddler was singing the famous 
ballad composed by a Rowan County minstrel, called the 
Rowan County Troubles, The sons of the feudists smiled 
blandly. Clint Tolliver is a Spanish American War veteran 
and Lin s brother, Ben, was a sharpshooter in the World 
War. 

Both TJTT Martin and Clint Tolliver say they have but 
one regret today and that is that they are too old to take 
up their guns to enlist in the United States Army. The 
men and their families are the best of friends and meet 
often at social gatherings. 

So feuds die out, though feud tales persist. Old rancors 
live only in memory. 



250 Blue Ridge Country 

Today in Morehead, the county seat of the once Dark 
Rowan, there stands a modern State Teachers College on 
the sloping hillsides within sight of the courthouse and 
street where the Rowan County war was fought. One of 
the halls is called Allie W. Young, taking its name from" 
the Senator whose influence brought about the establish 
ment of the college. Young s father, Judge Zachariah 
Taylor Young, was once shot from ambush during the 
troubles. 

This same county is the seat of a native art exhibit 
which has attracted nation-wide attention. It was started 
many years ago by a descendant of Mary Queen of Scots, 
Mrs. Lyda Messer Caudill, then a teacher of a one-room 
log school on Christy Creek. One morning a little boy 
living at the head of the hollow brought to school, not a 
rosy apple (there wasn t a fruit tree on his place), but 
clay models he had made in native clay of his dog, the 
cow, and his pet pig. Mrs. Caudill seized the opportunity 
to encourage the other children in her mixed-grade one- 
room school to try their hand at clay modeling. Later 
Mrs. Caudill became county superintendent of Rowan 
County Schools. Through her enthusiasm and efforts the 
plan has developed through the years and today mountain 
children of Rowan County have exhibited their handi 
craft in national exhibitions through the co-operation of 
the group of American Association of University Women 
of Kentucky with which Mrs. Caudill is affiliated 

SILVER MOON TAVERN 

Over on Main Island Creek in Logan County, West 
Virginia, where Devil Anse Hatfield held forth in his day, 
another picture greets the eye today. Coal-mining camps 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 251 

are strung along from one end of the creek to the other. 
Omar, near where Devil Anse is buried, is quite a thriv 
ing town. It was here that Jonse, the eldest son who loved 
Rosanna McCoy, spent his last days as a night watchman 
for a power plant. Jonse s nerves were so shattered he 
jumped almost at the falling of a leaf and the company, 
fearing some tragedy might be the result from too sudden 
trigger-pulling, found other occupation for the Hatfield 
son. 

Within a few yards of the spot where the home of Devil 
Anse burned to the ground stands today a rustic lodge 
garishly designed. Over the doorway painted in bright 
red letters are these words 



SILVER MOON TAVERN 

Neighbors call it a beer j int. Entering, you are greeted 
by the proprietor, a mild, pleasant fellow who asks in a 
slow mountain drawl, "What kin I do for you?" If you 
happen to be an old acquaintance as I am, Tennis Hatfield 
for he it is who runs the placewill add, "Glad to see 
you. I ve not laid eyes on you for a coon s age. Set." He 
waved me to a chromium stool beside the counter. "I ve 
quit the law." Tennis had been sheriff of Logan County 
for a term or two. "This is easier." He flung wide his 
hands with a gesture that encompassed the interior of the 
Silver Moon Tavern. "Well, there s no harm in selling 
beer." He fixed me with a piercing look such as I had 
seen in the eye of Devil Anse. "What s more there s no 
harm in drinking it either, in reason. Young folks gather 
in here of a night and listen to the music and dance and 
it don t cost *em much money. A nickel in the slot. We 
ain t troubled with slugs," he said casually. "The folks 



252 Blue Ridge Country 

choose their own tune." He pointed to a gaudily striped 
electric music box that filled a corner of the tavern. With 
great care he showed me the workings of the moan box, 
he called it. "These are the tunes they like best." He 
called them off as his finger moved carefully along the 
titles: "Big Beaver, The Wise Owl, Double Crossing 
Mamma, In the Mood, and Mountain Dew. They just 
naturally wear that record out. Young folks here on Main 
Island Creek like Lulu Belle and Scotty. See, they made 
that record Mountain Dew." A slow smile lighted his 
face. " Ton my soul all that young folks do these days is 
eat and dance. That s how come me to put the sign on 
the side of my beer j int Dine and Dance. We re right up 
to snuff here on Main Island Creek," he added with a 
smug smile. "But now Joe Hatfield over to Red Jacket in 
Mingo County, he follows preaching and he says a beer 
j int is just sending people plum to hell. I don t know 
about that. There s never been no trouble here in my 
place. I won t sell a man that s had a dram too many. And 
If he starts to get noisy" he lifted a toe "out he goes! 
I aim to keep my place straight/ He shoved his thumbs 
deep into the belt of his breeches. "Not much doin* at 
this time of day. The girls in school or helping with the 
housework; the boys in the mines. Don t step out till after 
supper. Then look out! The young bucks shake a heel 
and the girls put on their lipstick. Them that can t afford 
a permanent go around all day with their hair done up 
in curlycues till they look a match for Shirley Temple 
by the time they get here of a night. Times has surely 
changed.** 

A bus whizzed by and disappeared beyond the bend of 
the road. 

"Times has changed," Tennis repeated slowly as his 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 253 

gaze sought the hillside where Devil Anse lay buried. "I 
wonder what Pa would a-thought of my place," he said 
with conscientious wistfulness. His eyes swept now the 
interior of the Silver Moon Tavern. "This couldn t a-been 
in Pa s young days. Nor womenfolks couldn t a-been so 
free. Such as this couldn t a-been, no more than their ways 
then could stand today." The son of Devil Anse leaned 
over the bar and said in a strangely hushed voice, 
"Woman, I ve heard tell that you have a hankerin for 
curiosities and old-timey things. I keep a few handy so s 
I don t get above my raisin*." He reached under the coun 
ter. "Here, woman, heft this!" He placed in my hands 
Devil Anse s long-barreled gun. "Scrutinize them notches 
on the barrel. That there first one is Harmon McCoy. 
Year of sixty-three," he said bluntly. 

While I hefted the gun, Tennis brought out a crumpled 
shirt. "Them holes is where the McCoys stobbed Uncle 
Ellison and there s the stain of his gonn." 

The gruesome sight of the blood-stained garment 
slashed by the McCoys completely unnerved me. I dropped 
the gun. 

Instantly a door opened behind Tennis and a young 
lad rushed in. He took in the situation at a glance and 
swiftly appraised my five-foot height. "Pa," he turned to 
Tennis Hatfield, "you ve scared this little critter out of a 
year s growth. And she ain t got none to spare." 

Seeing that all was well he backed out of the door he 
had entered, and Tennis went on to say that his young 
son had quit college to join the army. "He ll be leaving 
soon for training ramp. That is, if he can quit courting 
Nellie McCoy long enough over in Seldom Seen Hollow. 
Ton my soul, I never saw two such turtledoves in my life. 
She s pretty as a picture and I ve told her that whether 



254 Blue Ridge Country 

or not her and Tennis Junior every marry there s always 
a place for her here with us. A pretty girl in a pretty frock 
is mighty handy to wait table." Again the wideflung hands 
of the proprietor of the Silver Moon Tavern embraced 
in their gesture the shiny tables, booths, chromium- 
trimmed chairs, and the gaudy juke box in the corner. 

In September, 1940, Tennis Hatfield s son, Tennis, Jr., 
joined the army* He was nineteen at the time. 

The Hatfields and McCoys have married. Charles D. 
Hatfield, who joined the army at Detroit s United States 
Army recruiting office, is the son of Tolbert McCoy Hat- 
field of Pike County and is friend to his kin on both sides. 

The two families held a picnic reunion in the month 
of August, 1941, on Blackberry Creek where the blood of 
both had been shed during the feud, and at the gathering 
a good time was had by all with plenty of fried chicken 
and no shooting. 

Today on the eve of another war things are still quiet 
up in Breathitt County so far as the Hargises are con 
cerned. Elbert Hargis, brother of Judge Jim Hargis who 
was slain by his son Beach, has passed on. They buried 
him, the last of Granny Hargis s boys, in the family bury 
ing ground behind the old homestead on Pan Bowl, so 
called because it is almost completely encircled by the 
North Fork of the Kentucky River. 

To his last hour, almost, Elbert Hargis sat in the shadow 
of the courthouse looking sadly toward Judge Jim Hargis s 
store where Beach had killed his father, the store in front 
of which Dr, Cox had been assassinated. His eyes shifted 
occasionally toward the courthouse steps down which the 
lifeless body of J. B. Marcum plunged when Curt Jett 
shot him from the back. Again Elbert s gaze turned to 
the second-story windows of the courthouse from which 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 255 

Jim Cockrell had been shot to death one sunny summer 
day. 

Ever alert and never once permitting anyone to stand 
behind him, with a gun in its holster thumping on his 
hip every step he took, Elbert Hargis must have lived 
again and again the days when his brother Jim directed 
the carryings-on of the Hargis clan. But if you d ask him 
if he ever thought of the old times, there would be a quick 
and sharp No!, followed by abrupt silence. 

Elbert Hargis is dead now. And a natural death was his 
from a sudden ailment of the lungs. He died in a hospital 
down in the Blue Grass where white-clad nurses and grave- 
faced doctors with a knowing of the miracles of modern 
surgery and medicine could not prolong the life of the 
aged feudist for one short second. The last of Granny 
Evaline Hargis s sons rests beside his mother, alongside 
the three brothers John, Jr., Ben, and Jim, and the half- 
brother Willie Sewell, whose death away back in 1886, 
when he was shot from ambush at a molasses-making, 
started all the trouble. In the same burying ground with 
Elbert is the vine-covered grave of Senator Hargis, father 
of the boys, who preceded his wife Evaline to the spirit 
world long years ago. 

BLOOMING STILLS 

A visit today to a United States District Court in most 
any section of the Blue Ridge Country where makers of 
illicit whiskey are being tried shows that the name moon 
shine no longer applies to the beverage. It got its name 
from being made at night. Now operations in the making 
are conducted by day, while only the transportation of 
the liquor is carried on after nightfall. Trucks and even 



256 Blue Ridge Country 

dilapidated Fords with the windows smeared with soap 
to conceal the load are pressed into service. The drivers 
consider it safer to travel with their illegal cargo under 
the shades of darkness. 

During the questioning of witnesses and offenders in 
court you learn that tips provided by law-abiding citizens 
are the usual means of bringing offenders to trial. In rare 
instances, however, members of a moonshiner s own family 
have been known to turn him in. 

The process of capturing the moonshiner has changed 
considerably from that of other days. Then the revenooer 
(mountain folk usually call him the law) slipped up from 
behind the bushes on the offender and caught him red- 
handed at the still. In those days the men who were mak 
ing had their lookout men who gave warning by a call or 
a whistle, even by gun signals, of the approach of the law 
while the moonshiner took to his heels, hiding in deep 
underbrush or far back under cliffs. Today these moun 
tain men have learned not to run. For the officers of the 
law are equipped with long-range guns and with equip 
ment so powerful the bullets can penetrate the steel body 
of an automobile. The method of locating the still has 
changed too since the airplane has come into use. Looking 
down from the clouds the flyer spies a thin stream of 
smoke rising from a wooded ravine. He communicates by 
radio to his co-workers of the ground crew, who immedi 
ately set out at high speed by automobile to capture the 
stilL 

It is estimated that of the 170,000,000 gallons of liquor 
consumed in this country in 1939, at least 35,000,000 were 
illicit and that for every legal distillery there are at least 
one hundred illegal ones. The southern mountain region 
has always lent itself admirably to the making of moon- 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 257 

shine and far this reason has been a thorn in the flesh 
of U. S. Alcohol Tax Unit. During the year 1939, accord 
ing to Life^ it is estimated that more than 4000 stills were 
captured in the states of Georgia, Alabama, South Caro 
lina, and Florida. * 

However, it is not the moonshiner who reaps the richest 
revenue from corn whiskey, which he sells for ninety cents 
a gallon, but the bootlegger and others down the line who 
add on, each in his turn, until the potent drink reaches 
a final sale price of ninety cents a quart and more. The 
tax on legitimate whiskey is $2.25 a proof gallon which 
makes it prohibitive in a community competing with the 
moonshiner s untaxed product. 

Through the southern mountain region Negroes fre 
quently are employed by white men operating stills on a 
large scale, where many boxes are used for the fermenting 
mash. The fines and sentences vary with the output and 
number of offenses. 

The mountaineer, on the other hand, who operates a 
small still usually is a poor man. When brought into 
court he pleads that he cannot haul out a load of corn 
over rugged roads miles to a market and compete with a 
farmer from the lowlands who is not retarded by bad 
roads. Or again, if he is from an extremely isolated moun 
tain section, he offers the old reasoning, "It is my land 
and my corn why can t I do with my crop whatever I 
please?" 

If the federal judge is a kindly, understanding man he 
will listen patiently to the story of the mountaineer who 
has made illicit whiskey, and if it be only the first or sec 
ond offense, a sentence of six months in prison is imposed. 
"But, judge, your honor," pleads the perplexed moun 
taineer, "I ve got to put in my crop and my old woman is 



258 Blue Ridge Country 

ailin she can t help none. IVe got to lay in foirwood for 
winter, judge, your honor, my youngins is too little to 
holp." Often the understanding judge replies, "Now, 
John, you go back home and get your work done up, then 
come back and serve your sentence." Rarely has the judge s 
trust been betrayed. 

LEARNING 

What with good roads, the radio, and better schools 
and more of them the scene is rapidly changing in the 
Blue Ridge Country. 

The little one-room log school is almost a thing of the 
past. Only in remote sections can it be found. No longer 
is the mountain child retarded by the bridgeless stream, 
for good roads have come to the mountains and with them 
the catwalk an improvised bridge of barrel hoops strung 
together with cables spanning the creek has passed. The 
mountain mother s warning is heard no longer. "Mind, 
Johnny, you don t swing the bridge." Concrete pillars 
support steel girders that span the creek high above even 
the highest flood point. Education soars high in the south 
ern mountain region. Instead of a few weeks of school 
there are months now, and what is more Johnny doesn t 
walk to school any more. The county school bus, operated 
by a careful driver, picks him up almost at his very door 
and brings him back safely when school turns out in the 
evening. Instead of the poorly lighted one-room school, 
there is the consolidated school built of native stone, with 
many windows and comfortable desks. If the mountain 
boy or girl fails to get an education it is his own fault. 
There is a central heating system and the teacher, you 
may be sure, is a graduate of an accredited college. The 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 259 

Kentucky Progress Magazine of Winter, 1935, gives a re 
markable example of what is taking place in an educa 
tional way in the mountain region: "Twenty-nine well- 
equipped, accredited four-year high schools and two junior 
colleges now dot the five counties, Lawrence, Johnson, 
Martin, Floyd, and Pike . . . seven high schools and one 
junior college have the highest rating possible, member 
ship in the Southern Association of Colleges and Second 
ary Schools. . . . The advent of surfaced roads has made 
successful consolidation possible in many instances/ 

Preceding the consolidated school an inestimable serv 
ice has been rendered the children of the southern high 
lands by means of the settlement school. It would be 
impossible to discuss them all adequately, but of the out 
standing ones of which I have personal knowledge are: 
that great institution at Berea, Kentucky, the Hindman 
Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky; the Martha 
Berry School in the mountains of Georgia; the agricul 
tural school of Sergeant Alvin C. York near Jamestown, 
Tennessee; and the John C. Campbell Folk School at 
Brasstown, N. C. 

Under efficient guidance mountain boys and girls are 
taught to preserve the handicrafts of their forbears, knit 
ting, spinning, weaving, making of dyes, and even a 
pastime once indulged in by boys and men whittling. 
Idle whittling has been converted into not only an artistic 
craft, but a profitable one. Nowhere in the country is 
there to be found a finer collection of whittled figures, 
ranging from tiny chicks to squirrels, rabbits, birds, than 
those made by the mountain youths at the John C. Camp 
bell Folk School. 

Perhaps no greater service is being rendered mountain 
folk than that headed by Sergeant York in his agricul- 



260 Blue Ridge Country 

tural school, because he is of the mountains and knows 
well the need of his people. 

But even before the settlement school had been thor 
oughly rooted there was the Moonlight School of Rowan 
County, Kentucky, for adult illiterates. It was a great, a 
magnificent undertaking by a mountain woman Mrs. 
Cora Wilson Stewart, born in Rowan County. She had 
been a teacher in the wretched, poorly lighted one-room 
log school. Becoming county superintendent, she set about 
to lead out of ignorance and darkness the adult illiterates 
of her county. Happily she had been preceded in such 
an undertaking by a pioneer teacher in rugged Hocking 
County, Ohio, in the days of the Civil War. There Miss 
Kate Smith, scarcely in her teens, who saw her brothers 
shoulder their muskets and march off to the Civil War, 
took upon herself the task of teaching, first, a bound boy, 
an orphan lad bound by the state to a farmer. The lad 
later became a stowaway in a covered wagon in which the 
young teacher and her parents rode west. This lad in his 
teens was only one of many adult illiterates taught by the 
Ohio woman and her plan proved that it could be done. 
That boy, William Wright, became a Judge of the Court 
of Appeals. 

With book-learning have come many broadening factors 
in the life of the southern mountaineer. His sons attend 
agricultural college, his daughters are active workers in 
the 4-H clubs. They return to the hillside farm to show 
their mothers how best to can fruit. The boys have learned 
how to improve and conserve the soil, how to save forests. 
The consolidated school has taught mountain children to 
mix with others. They have Girl Scout groups and Boy 
Scout groups; they learn self-government under trained 
leaders. 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 261 

Above all, book-learning Is swiftly wiping out the old 
suspicions and superstitions about the medical profession. 
Time was when there was but one doctor in all of Leslie 
County, Kentucky. Mountain mothers relied on the old 
midwife; infant mortality was appalling. Then came the 
Frontier Nursing School headed by Mrs. Mary Breckin- 
ridge. Her work is known throughout the breadth of the 
nation. The Frontier Nursing Service has the support of 
the leading people of the nation. Debutantes gladly give 
up a life of frivolity and ease to become trained in ob 
stetrics and give their services to helping mountain 
mothers and babies. Its purpose was to combat the infant 
death rate in remote Kentucky mountain sections. The 
nurses ride on horseback and visit and care for mountain 
mothers. Mrs. Breckinridge herself was a nurse during 
the World War in France and went back to the Scottish 
Highlands from which her kinsman Alexander Breckin 
ridge came to settle in the Shenandoah in 1728 where 
she became a midwife. 

Mountain folk usually are slow to take on new ways. 
But the wonders wrought through the Frontier Nursing 
Service they have "seen with their own eyes." 

Learning has brought about a great change for the bet 
ter in the life of the mountain woman. Once we saw her 
lank, slatternly, meek, stoicmother of a dozen or more, 
obeying with patient fortitude the will of her man. We 
saw too the pitiable child-bride marrying perhaps a man 
three times her age because he could take care of her. 
There being so many in the family Pappy and Mammy 
were glad to be rid of one of their flock. Though both 
pictures were often as overdrawn as that evoked by a 
daughter of the Blue Ridge a whimsical picture of a 
pretty maid in full-skirted crinoline with a soft southern 



262 Blue Ridge Country 

accentmoonlight and honeysuckle, a gallant, goateed 
colonel paying court to her charm and beauty while he 
sips a mint julep. This picture and that of the snaggle- 
toothed mountain woman in bedraggled black calico can 
no more be taken for fact than that Jesse James is still 
holding up stagecoaches or that cowboys in high boots 
and leather breeches are daily wedding the rich eastern 
ers* daughters who have come West. 

There are well-organized centers: weaving centers that 
market the wares of mountain women all over the nation; 
music centers and recreational centers. Women and their 
daughters are better dressed and certainly they give more 
care to their appearance than the mountain woman did 
when she rode to the county seat on court day with a 
basket of eggs and butter and ginseng on one arm and a 
baby on the other. 

She still knits and crochets and hooks rugs not from 
leavings of the family s wearing clothes but from leav 
ings she buys from the mills. She does not have to take 
her wares to the county seat today she stretches up a 
clothesline across the front stoop, pins her rugs and lace 
on the line, and the passing motorist buys all that her 
busy hands can make. 

The question is often asked: How does the mountain 
woman regard her right to vote? Generally she is uncon 
cerned with the vote. But as time goes on, by reason of 
the many factors that enter into her new way of living, 
she is evidencing more interest, both in the county and 
state elections. Strangely enough, though the mountain 
woman went hesitantly to the polls, a Kentucky mountain 
woman, Mrs. Mary Elliott Flanery, of Elliott County, was 
the fest woman to be elected to the legislature south of 
the Mason and Dixon line. She was self-educated and for 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 263 

a number of years was rural correspondent for newspapers, 
which experience perhaps gave her a broad understanding 
of political matters and the incentive to enter the field. 
Hers was a distinctive service to the commonwealth and 
particularly to her sisters of the southern highlands, inas 
much as she was first of her sex to actually voice before a 
legislature the problems and needs of the mountain 
woman. 

Today with rural electrification the mountain woman 
ceases to be a drudge. She is on a par with her sister of 
the level land. 

She no longer stumbles wearily to the barn after dark 
with a battered lantern, its chimney blackened with 
smoke. She has only to switch on a light and turn to 
milking. Or if her household has progressed to dairy 
farming, as many of them have, finding the sale of milk to 
the city creameries more profitable than raising vegetables, 
she has only to attach the electric devices and the cows 
are milked mechanically. She sits no more at the churn, 
one hand gripping the dasher, the other holding a fretful 
babe to her breast. Now that unseen juice, or lectric, 
comes along the wire and into the new churn and there! 
Almost before you know it there is a plump roll of butter. 

The whole family benefits from rural electrification. 
The youngest girl of the household is not reminded of 
the irksome task of cleaning and filling the lamps, trim 
ming the wicks. What if the single bulb swinging from 
the middle of the ceiling is fly-specked! It still gives ample 
light for the room. The hazard of the overturned oil lamp 
and the fear of burning the house down are gone too. "I d 
druther have lectric than a new cookstove or a saddle 
mare," any mountain woman will tell you. 

She is through with the back-breaking battling trough 



264 Blue Ridge Country 

and the washboard. Her produest possession and the great 
est labor-saving device on the place is the electric washer. 
Carefully covered with a clean piece of bleach, it holds a 
distinguished place in the corner of the dining room when 
not in use. It is the first thing to be exhibited to the visitor. 

But whenever progress brings, it likewise takes away. 

The fireside gathering where the glowing logs provided 
light and cheer for the family circle, conducive to story 
and riddle and song, has almost reached the vanishing 
point. Instead, the young folks pile into the second-hand 
Ford and whiz off to town. They don t wait for court week, 
when in other days the courthouse yard was the market 
place of the hillsman. Though the old courthouse still 
stands as it did in early days, the scene has changed. There 
is one ancient seat of justice in the Big Sandy country 
within sight of the spot where the first settlers built their 
fort for safety against Indian attack, and over the door 
these words catch the eye 

READER, WHERE WILT THOU SPEND ETERNITY? 

Young folks don t seem to give it much thought. Just 
across the road (it is paved now) the raucous sound of 
the juke box is heard playing I Understand, Hut Sut, 
You Are My Sunshine and Booglie, Wooglie, Piggy. The 
jitterbugs are at it early and late. They know all the 
hits on the Hit Parade. They know Frankie Masters* and 
Jimmy Dorsey s latest records and the newest step and 
shake. If they ever tire, which is rarely, there are booths 
and stalls where they may sip a soda, drain a bottle of coke, 
crunch a sandwich, a yard-long hot dog, a hamburger. 
Or, if he is real sophisticated and she "has been farther 
under the house hunting eggs than some have been on 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 265 

the railroad cars/ he will cautiously draw his hip flask, 
when the waiter or proprietor isn t looking, and pour a 
snort of year-old or Granddad in the glass of cracked ice. 
Sure, you buy your cracked ice, what do you think this is? 
"Let s go on to the Rainbow," she suggests presently, when 
only cracked ice is left in the glass. "Rainbow? You got 
your rainbow right here in the juke box," he answers. "I 
don t mean no rainbow like s on the groan box, and you 
know it." Maybe they go, maybe they don t. But things 
are surely changing along the once quiet mountain trail. 
Now if the lad is real devilish he will try a slug in the juke 
box instead of a coin. Then the proprietor drops his beam 
ing smile and asserts his authority. A young stripling or 
two may drop in, stagging it. One gets an eye on a pretty 
girl dancing with her date. But just let him try to cut in. 
"Can t you read?" With the proprietor s husky voice the 
intruder feels at the same moment the proprietor s firm 
hand upon his shoulder. "What s eatin you? Can t you 
read, I say!" The owner of the big voice and bigger fist 
points a warning finger to the sign on the wall 

NO STAG DANCING 

The stag isn t slow in being on his way. He and his 
pals pile into their car and head toward the next tavern. 

The present generation of mountain youth may have 
lost their superstition but they will take a long chance on 
beating the pinball machine. They will play it for hours 
until the last nickel is dropped in the slot because, "Yes 
siree, just last night at the Blue Moon I saw a fellow get 
the jackpot. Double handful of coin!" 

A mountain girl once ashamed because her granny 
smoked her little clay pipe puffs a cigarette nonchalantly 



266 Blue Ridge Country 

- - - - - - 

held between highly manicured fingertips. She will spend 
her last dollar for a permanent and lipstick. She would 
not be interested in the simple fireside games, Clap In 
and Clap Out, Post Office and Drop the Handkerchief. 
Such things are far too slow for her highstrung nerves 
these days. 

However, community centers are trying valiantly to 
bring back square dancing and community singing. The 
effort is successful in some localities, particularly through 
North and South Carolina. Old-time singing school with 
the itinerant singing master has given place to singing 
societies that meet sometimes in the summer months on 
the courthouse square or indoors. 

Religious customs, too, are becoming modernized. The 
foot-washing of the Regular Primitive Baptists, while it is 
still carried on in some of the mountain churches, lacks 
much of the solemnity and imposing dignity of bygone 
days. The church house itself is changed, which may ac 
count for much of the modification of customs. The log 
church is replaced with a modern structure of native stone. 
The walls are painted. There is a gas chandelier suspended 
from the ceiling. While there is still no elaborate, ele 
vated pulpit, the floor of the front portion of the church 
where the faithful wash each other s feet is today covered 
with linoleum. The long spotlessly white towel used for 
drying the feet of the meek has given place to a brightly 
colored green and red striped bath towel (basement spe 
cial, or such as are found on the counters of the five and 
ten). The singing, instead of being the solemn chant of 
the sixth century to which mountain folk for generations 
adapted the words of their traditional hymns, is in swift 
tempo, almost jazz such as can be heard at any point on 
your radio dial any day in the week. 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 267 

The jolt wagon, with its rows of straight hickory chairs, 
carrying the whole family to meeting with a well-filled 
basket with victuals for all, is a thing of the past. At a re 
cent foot-washing down in the Georgia mountains there 
was but one wagon in front of the little church. A string 
of automobiles of all sizes and makes was strung along the 
road for a mile. 

The solemn funeralizing with its simple beauty is al 
most a thing of the past in the southern mountains. Today 
it is accompanied by the barking of the hot-dog vendor, 
"Get your hot dogs here. A nice ice cold drink of Coca- 
Cola here! Here s your Doctor Pepper! Cold orange 
drink!" 

The decorations on the grave once paper flowers made 
by loving hands are garish factory-made flowers in cello 
phane covers. Mother s picture in the glass-covered box 
beside her headstone is gone long ago. The favorite hymn 
is sometimes sung and a few of the old-time preachers 
survive to weep and pray and sing and offer words of 
praise for the long-departed friend. The present genera 
tion do not speak of the funeralizing. Today it is a me 
morial. Strangely enough, however, only a few miles from 
the heart of the Big Sandy country, a memorial service 
was held for O. O. Mclntyre for the second time on Au 
gust n, 1940. A twilight memorial it was called and his 
good friends and close associates came to hear him eulo 
gized. 

The mountain preacher of yesterday is passing fast* 
Then, his was a manifold calling. When he traveled the 
lonely creek-bed road with his Bible in his saddlebags, he 
was the circuit rider bringing news of the outside world 
to the families along the widely scattered frontier. He, 
like the mountain doctor, was truly counselor and friend. 



268 Blue Ridge Country 

The people looked to him to tell of things that would be 
happening in the near future. They hung upon his every 
word from the pulpit. His reasoning in spiritual matters 
was sound and his eloquence impelling. His sermons often 
combined quotations from the early writers of England, 
passages from Shakespeare, true echoes of Elizabethan Eng 
lish, as might be expected considering his ancestry. Words 
flowed freely from his lips. The mountain preacher to this 
day has a natural gift of oratory. It has been handed down 
through generations. He needs only the spur and the occa 
sion to burst forth. The mountain preacher, as some may 
imagine, was not always untutored or illiterate of the 
type we sometimes encounter today in remote mountain 
regions. In early days he was quite often both preacher 
and teacher, such as William E. Barton, father of Bruce 
Barton, who after preaching in the thinly settled parts of 
Knox County, Kentucky, became the pastor of a Chicago 
church in later years. Some of the early roving preachers 
even studied theology in the great centers of learning 
both in America and Europe. 

At one time, even as late as the last quarter of a cen 
tury, there were strait-laced Baptist preachers (my own 
blood kin among them) who would not permit an organ 
in the church. But today it is quite the vogue for young 
evangelistic couples to hold forth with piano-accordion 
and guitar. "It peps up the joiners," the evangelist says. 
On the other hand, in remote churches, where preachers 
still hold that note-singing and hymn books with notes are 
the works of the Devil, these same fellows will play up the 
hysteria of the audience with the "Holy Bark," the "And- 
ah," "Yep, Yep," and the "Holy Laugh," chiefly at foot- 
washing ceremonies. 

The number of young people, however, who cling to 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 269 

the custom of foot-washing is comparatively small. One 
reason may be that they are too busy with other things, 
or that they consider such practices old-fashioned. 

MOUNTAIN MEN 

Old Virginia had its Patrick Henry, the Blue Grass 
its Clays and Breckinridges, but the Big Sandy produced 
from its most rugged quarter as fine and noble timber as 
could be found throughout the breadth and width of the 
Blue Ridge Country. 

Early in his youth Hugh Harkins came from Pennsyl 
vania to settle in Floyd County in the heart of the Big 
Sandy. That was far back in the 1830*5, He knew the 
saddlery trade but the young man preferred the profes 
sion of law. So acquiring a couple volumes on practice and 
procedure he began to study for the bar. He built himself 
an office of stone which he helped to dig from the moun 
tain side and with every spare dollar he bought more 
law books and timber land. He died in 1869, but by that 
time his grandson, Walter Scott Harkins, had a thirst 
to follow his footsteps. The boy, even before he was old 
enough to understand their meaning, listened avidly to 
the speeches of his grandfather in the courtrooms of the 
mountain counties. And when Walter Scott Harkins was 
only a strip of a lad he rode the unbeaten paths to courts 
of law with his law books in his saddlebags. If the day were 
fair he d get off his horse, tether it to a tree and climb 
high on the ridge. There with statute or law reporter in 
hand he would read aloud for hours. Again he d close the 
book and with head erect, hands behind him, young 
Harkins would repeat as much as he could remember of 
the text. Often he waxed enthusiastic. He longed to be an 



270 Blue Ridge Country 

orator. Sometimes thoughtless companions would jeer at 
the young Demosthenes, even pelt him with acorns and 
pebbles from ambush. But Walter Scott Harkins wasn t 
daunted by any such boyish pranks. He kept on orating. 

In the meantime, as he rode the lonely mountain paths, 
he took notice of the fine timber, just as his grandfather 
had before him. He was admitted to the bar in 1877 and 
hung out his shingle at the door of his grandfather s 
office. Like Hugh Harkins, the grandson also began in 
vesting his earnings, meager though they were, in timber 
land. 

One summer evening near dusk the young lawyer was 
riding toward the mouth of Big Sandy when he was star 
tled to see in the distance a giant tongue of flame shooting 
skyward. At first he thought there was fire on the moun 
tain but he soon discovered that the flame did not spread 
but continued in a straight column upward. He sat mo 
tionless in the saddle for a moment. By this time darkness 
had descended. The young lawyer was fascinated by the 
brilliant flame and determined to test its strength. Taking 
a law book from his saddlebags he opened the volume and, 
to his surprise, was able to read the small type by the 
light of the distant flame with as great ease as though an 
oil lamp burned at his elbow. Then he recalled the story 
of how Dr. Walker, the English explorer, had once read 
his maps by the light of a burning spring. Unlike the early 
explorer young Harkins determined to do something 
about it. The legal mind of the lad spurred his zeal to find 
the cause of the illuminating flame. 

Walter Scott Harkins not only found the cause but he 
probed the effect with fine results. With the aid of other 
interested persons he acquired mineral rights of lands in 
the Big Sandy country which included the burning spring, 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 271 

the like of which in the next decade was to illuminate 
towns and cities and operate industries as far removed as 
one hundred miles* 

Moreover Walter Scott Harkins lived to see more than 
75,000 acres of his own forest leveled, whereby he piled 
up a fortune that could scarcely be exhausted even unto 
the fifth generation of Harkinses. 

On the window of his law office in Prestonsburg, Floyd 
County, Kentucky, appears in letters of gold, an unbroken 
line of five generations of Harkinses who have followed 
the practice of law. Likewise the Harkins descendants 
hold unbroken title to the largest acreage of timber land 
in the country. The virgin forest brought its owner more 
than $160,000 and the second growth is ready to cut. 

Lumber companies bought 70,000 acres of forest and 
constructed their own railroads to carry out the timber. 
They calculated it would take about twenty-five years to 
cull out all the big timber and by that time there would 
be a second growth. Wasteful methods of lumbering, to 
gether with frequent forest fires and man s utter disregard 
for the future, have already brought about the necessity for 
reforestation in many mountain sections. As far back as 
1886 out of the Big Sandy alone was run $1,500,000 worth 
of timber. 

Rafts of logs carpeted the Big Sandy River and at its 
mouth was the largest round timber market in the world. 
With its row of riverfront saloons Catlettsburg, between 
the Big Sandy and the Ohio Rivers, was then called the 
wettest spot on earth. Through its narrow streets strode 
loggers and raftsmen. Theirs was talk of cant hooks and 
spike poles, calipers and rafts. "You best come and have a 
drink down to Big Wayne s that ll put fire in your guts." 



272 Blue Ridge Country 

The boss wanted his whole crew to be merry, so the whole 
crew headed for Big Wayne Damron s Black Diamond. 

Today the old riverfront lives only in memory. That 
part of the county seat is a ghost town. Timbermen and 
loggers gather no more for revelry at the riverfront saloon. 
And should you ask the reason, the old river rat will an 
swer with a slow-breaking smile, "See off yonder locks 
and dams! Can t run the logs through that!" 

Forests that were felled a quarter of a century ago are 
once again ready for the woodsman s ax. 

The present generation of timbermen look upon a very 
different scene. Their dim-eyed grandparents complacently 
beheld the push boat, that crude ark which was urged 
along the stream by means of long poles. It gave way to 
shallow drift steamers. And in turn the steamers were 
shoved aside for the railroad which was quicker. The 
boats, Red Buck,, Dew Drop, once the pride of the river, 
soon went to anchor and deterioration. 

The county seat changed as well. Once women came to 
do their trading there with homemade basket, filled with 
eggs, butter, ginseng which they swapped for fixings, 
thread, and calico. They motor in now to shop. 

Typical of the changing scene is the town of Prestons- 
burg in Floyd County. It became a county seat in 1799 
and was once called Spurlock Station. Today it is a thriv 
ing city with a country club. Daughters of once rugged 
formers and struggling country lawyers now have a social 
position to maintain. 

Mountain women are becoming class conscious! More s 
the pity. 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 273 



COAL 

It is often said, "Old mother nature must have laughed 
heartily at the pioneer, who in his mad rush to go west 
hurried down through the wide troughs between the 
mountains, hurrying on through the valleys, passing un 
heeded the wealth in forests on either side, the wealth 
in minerals under his very feet." But there came a time 
when the mountain men discovered the treasure. 

Over in Johnson County, adjoining Floyd, where Wal 
ter Scott Harkins had an eye for timber, his young friend 
was being twitted for a different reason- "John Caldwell 
Calhoun Mayo," they d string out his long name, "when 
you re cooped up in the poorhouse or the lunatic asylum, 
you can t say we didn t warn you to quit digging around 
trying to find a fortune under the ground." 

But young Mayo, like his friend Harkins the lawyer, 
would only say, thumbs hooked in suspenders, "He who 
laughs last, laughs best." 

Some of his youthful companions continued to poke fun 
but John Caldwell Calhoun Mayo turned them a deaf ear. 
On foot he trudged endless miles when he was a poor lad, 
or rode a scrubby nag along the Warrior s Path, always 
seeking coal deposits, pleading with landowners for leases 
and options on acreage he knew to be rich in minerals. 
He surmounted seemingly impossible barriers, even hav 
ing legislation enacted to set aside Virginia land grants. 
He tapped hidden treasures, developed the wealth of the 
Big Sandy country that had been locked in mountain fast 
nesses for centuries. Through his vision, thriving cities 
blossom where once was wilderness. 

The United States Geological Survey shows one eighth 



274 Blue Ridge Country 

of the total coal area of the nation to be in this region; 
it supplies nearly one quarter of all the country s bitu 
minous coaL 

PUBLIC WORKS 

Only in recent years has the mountaineer begun to for 
sake his cove, however unproductive the earth may be, 
for the valley and public works. Indeed mountain folk 
long looked down on their own who sought employment 
at public works, mines, lumber camps, steel mills. They 
decried any employment away from the hillside farm, be 
cause it meant to them being an underling. No moun 
taineer ever wanted to be company-owned. Leastwise none 
of the Wellfords of Laurel Creek. But Clate, youngest of 
Mark Wellford s family, lured by the promise of big cash 
money, decided to quit the farm and take his wife and 
little family down to the foothills. "There s a good mine 
there, pays good money, and there s a good mine boss on 
the job," so Clate was told. Some two years later Clate, 
a weary figure, emerged one evening from the company 
commissary. His face was smudged with coal dust. A 
miner s lamp still flickered on his grimy cap. He carried 
a dinner bucket and the baby on one arm. Over his shoul 
der hung a gunnysack that bulged with canned goods and 
a poke of meal. At his heels followed his bedraggled, snag 
gle-toothed wife, a babe in her aims and another tugging 
at her skirts. Her faded calico dress that dragged in the 
back was tied in at the waist with a ragged apron. There 
was a look of sad resignation in her eyes. Now and then 
she brushed a hand up the back of her head to catch the 
drab stray locks. She might have been fifty, judging from 
the stooped shoulders and weary step. Yet the rounded 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 275 

arms her sleeves were rolled to the elbow looked youth 
ful. 

Clate halted a few minutes to talk to another miner, a 
boy in his teens. "What d you load today?" the younger 
asked after casual greetings. " Tarnal buggy busted a 
dozen times, held me back," Clate complained, shifting 
the dinner pail and the baby. "Always something to hold 
a man back." "I m figuring on going to Georgia," the 
young lad sounded hopeful. "Got a buddy down there in 
the steel mill. Beats the mines any day." He saw some 
young friends across the street and hurried to join them. 

"Come on, Phoebe!" Clate called over his shoulder to 
his wife, "get a mosey on you. I m hongry. And ginst you 
throw a snack of grub together it ll be bedtime. An* be 
fore you know it, it s time to get up and hit for the hill 
again." He plodded on up the winding path to a row of 
shacks. His little family followed. 

The row of dilapidated shacks where the miners lived 
was clinging to the mountain side at the rear, while the 
fronts were propped up with rough posts. They were all 
alike with patched rubberoid roofs, broken tile chimneys, 
windows with broken panes. Rough plank houses un- 
painted, though here and there a board showed traces of 
once having been red or brown. Between the houses at 
rare intervals a fence post remained. But the pickets had 
long since been torn away to fire the cookstove or grate. 
There were no gardens. Coal companies did not encourage 
gardening. Miners and their families lived out of cans, 
and canned goods come high at the company s commissary. 

A tipple near the drift mouth of the mine belched 
coal and coal dust day after day. When Phoebe you d 
never have known her for the pretty girl she used to be far 
back in the Blue Ridge rubbed out a washing on the 



276 Blue Ridge Country 

washboard, hung it to dry on the wire line stretched from 
the back door to a nail on the side of the out-building, 
she knew that every rag she rubbed and boiled and blued 
would be grimy with coal dust before it dried. What was 
she to do about it? Where else could the wash be hung? 
Once Phoebe thought she had found the right place. A 
grassy plot quite hidden beyond a clump of trees. She 
put the wet garments in a basket and carried them off to 
dry, spreading them upon the green earth. But no sooner 
had she spread out the last piece than a fellow came rid 
ing up. "What s the big idea?" he demanded, shaking a 
fist at the garments on the ground. And Phoebe, from 
Shoal s Fork of Greasy Creek, never having heard the ex 
pression, mumbled in confusion, "I m pleased to meet 
you." 

"Don t try to get fresh/ the fellow scowled. "Don t you 
know this ground is company-owned? The big boss keeps 
this plot for his saddle horse to graze on. Pick up your 
rags and beat it!" 

She understood from the gesture the meaning of beat 
it and obeyed in haste. 

There was little room to stretch up a line indoors, 
though she did sometimes in the winter when the back 
yard was too sloppy to walk in. Clate Wellford s was one 
of the smaller shacks, a room with a lean-to kitchen. The 
others, with two rooms, cost more. Besides there were 
other things to be taken out of date s pay envelope before 
it reached him; there were electric light, coal, the store 
bill, and the company doctor. 

"None of my folks have been sick. WeVe never even 
set eyes on the doctor," Clate complained to the script 
clerk on the first payday. 

"What of it?" the script clerk replied. "You d be run- 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 277 

ning quick enough for the doctor if one of your kids or 
your old woman got sick or met with an accident, wouldn t 
you? The doctor s got to live same as the rest of us." 

So the miner stumbled out with no more to say. Some 
times he d vent his spleen upon his wife. "You wuz the 
one that wanted to come here! Wisht I d never married. 
A man can t get nowheres with a wife and young ones on 
his hands." And the wife, remembering the way of moun 
tain women, offered no word of argument. 

When the owners of the coal operation came from the 
East to check up output and earnings they didn t take 
time to make a tour of inspection of the shacks. Certainly 
they had no time to listen to complaints of miners. 

Lured by the promise of big money Clate Wellford, 
like many other mountain men, forsook the familiar life 
of his own creek for the strange work-a-day of the mining 
camp. 

Back on Shoal s Fork of Greasy Creek there was always 
milk a-plenty to drink. Bless you, Clate knew the time 
when he d carried buckets full of half-sour milk to the 
hogs. How they guzzled it! Here there was never a drop 
of cow s milk to drink. You got it in cans thick, con 
densed, sickeningly sweet. Couldn t fool the children, not 
even when you thinned it with water. "It don t taste like 
Bossy s milk," the youngsters shoved it away. 

What was more, back on Shoal s Fork there was always 
fried chicken in the spring. All you could eat. Turkey 
and goose and duck, if you chose, through the winter and 
plenty of ham meat. There was never a day date s folks 
couldn t go out into the garden and bring in beans, beets, 
corn, and cabbage. He d never known a time when there 
were not potatoes and turnips the year round. The Well- 
fords had come to take such things for granted. But here 



278 Slue Ridge Country 

in the coal camp you could walk the full length of the 
place from the last ramshackle house on down to the 
commissary and never see a bed of onions and lettuce. The 
shacks were so close together there was no room for a gar 
den, even if the company had permitted it. 

"That s company-owned!" the boss growled at Clate 
that time he was trying to break up the hard crusty earth 
with a hoe. 

"I ve got my own onion sets/* Clate tried to explain. 
"My folks fetched em down." 

"Who cares?" the company boss snarled. "What you 
reckon the company s running a commissary for? The 
store manager can sell you onions ready to eat." 

So the miner didn t set out an onion bed. 

Again, Clate found some old warped planks outside 
the drift mouth of the mine; he brought them home and 
was building a pigpen. The mine boss came charging 
down upon him. 

"What you doing with the company s planks?" 

The frightened Clate tried to explain that he had sup 
posed the wood thrown aside was useless and that he was 
making ready for the young shoat his folks meant to bring 
him. 

"What you suppose the company would do if every 
miner packed off planks and posts that he happens to see 
laying around?" he eyed Clate suspiciously. "We d soon 
shut down, that s what would happen. And as for meat. 
You can buy sow-belly and bologna at the commissary." 
There was something more. "If you want to keep out of 
trouble and don t want a couple bucks taken out of your 
pay, you better get them planks and posts back where you 
found them!" 

The miner s shack was perched on such high stilts that 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 279 

the wind whistled underneath the floor until it felt like 
ice to the bare feet of the children. It took a lot of coal 
in the grate and the kitchen stove to keep the place half 
way warm. The children were sick all through the winter. 
Now and then the company doctor stopped in on his 
rounds of the coal camp to leave calomel and quinine. 

With the birth of her last baby, Clate s wife got down 
with a bealed breast after she had been up and about for 
a week. I m bound to hire someone," Clate told his wife. 
So he hired Liz Elswick to come and do the cooking, wash 
ing, and ironing and to look after the children. 

Out on Shoal s Fork neighbor women came eagerly to 
help each other in case of sickness. 

Though it was not much they had to pay Lizshe took 
it out in trade at the store, the makings of a calico dress, 
a pair of shoes it was a hardship on the Wellfords. For 
Liz Elswick, like other women in a coal camp, never hav 
ing handled real money, knew little of cost. Nor did she 
know how to supply the simple needs of the family. 
Phoebe was too ill to offer a word of advice, poor though 
it would have been. So, before long, Clate was behind 
with his store bill. Or to put it the other way around, for 
the company always took theirs first, Clate had nothing 
left in his pay envelope on payday. 

Then, when he might have had a few dollars coming, 
something else would happen: shoes would be worn out, 
he d have to buy new ones for the children couldn t go 
barefoot in the winter. He himself had to wear heavy 
boots in the mine in order to work at all, for Clate had 
to stand in water most of the time when he picked or 
loaded. Another time the house caught fire and burned 
up their beds, chairs, everything- Even though he had 
steady work that month he had to sell his time to the 



280 Blue Ridge Country 

script clerk in order to get cash to replace his loss. A buddy 
in the mine was selling out his few possessions at a sacri 
fice because his wife had run off with a Hunkie. The Hun* 
garian showed the faithless creature a billfold with green 
backs in it, promised her a silk dress and a permanent. 

"Why don t you buy new furniture at the commissary?" 
the jscript clerk wanted to know of Clate. "There are beds 
and chairs, bureaus and tables. Get them on time/ 

"I can t afford it," Clate said honestly. 

So, after much bickering, the company s script clerk 
offered to give the miner script for his time. 

"My buddy has to have cash money," Clate argued. 
"He s quitting. Going back to his folks over in Ohio. * 

Clate found out that when he sold his time he got only 
about fifty cents for a dollar. 

"What you think I m accommodating you for?** the 
company s script clerk wanted to know. "I m not out for 
my health. Course if you don t want to take it" he shoved 
the money halfway across the counter to Clate "you 
don t have to. There are plenty of fellows who are glad 
to sell their time." 

There was nothing left for Clate to do. He and his 
family had to have the bare necessities, bed, table, chairs. 

Soon he was in the category with the other miners, al 
ways behind, always overdrawn, always selling his time 
before payday. Soon he was getting an empty envelope 
with a lot of figures marked on the outside. Clate was 
company-owned! If he lived to be a hundred he d never 
be paid out. 

Though Clate Wellford and the other coal miners never 
heard the word redemptioner and indent, they were not 
unlike those pioneer victims of unscrupulous subordinates. 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 281 

Men In bondage like the sharecropper of the Deep South, 
the Okie of the West. 

How different the children of the coal field looked to 
those along the creeks in the shady hollows of the Blue 
Ridge! 

In the coal camps they were unkempt and bony, in 
dirty, ragged garments. They squabbled among them 
selves and shambled listlessly along the narrow path that 
led past the row of shacks toward the commissary. The 
path was black with coal dust and slate dumped along the 
way to fill the mud holes. 

Why do they continue to live in such squalor and in 
bondage? Why don t they move away? 

If a miner should decide to move out, he has no means 
of getting his few belongings to the railroad spur some 
distance from the camp, for he has neither team nor wagon. 
All these are company-owned. The company, which con 
trols the railroad spur, also has control too over the box 
cars that are on the track. Only the company can make 
requisition for an empty boxcar. If a miner wants to move 
he cannot even get space, though he is willing to pay for 
it, in a boxcar to have his goods hauled out. 

He stays on defeated and discouraged, 

If, however, he does quit one coal camp and get out he 
is unskilled in other labor and if he should try to evade 
his store and other obligations with one coal company, 
the office employees have a way of passing on the Inform^ 
tion to another operation. There are ways of putting a 
laborer on the blacklist. 

But why should he try to move on? Word comes back 
to the miner from other buddies who have tried other 
camps. "They re all the same. Might as well stay where 
you are." 



282 Blue Ridge Country 

Behind every shacl; is a dump heap of cans, coal ashes, 
potato peel, coffee grounds, and old shoes. 

Rarely was the voice of the miner s wife raised in song 
as she plodded through her daily drudgery. Now and then 
the young folks could be heard singing but not an ancient 
ballad. Rather it was a rakish song picked up from drum 
mers coming through the mining camps who sold their 
inferior wares to the commissary manager. 

There was a church propped up on the hillside. But 
meeting usually broke up with the arrest of some of the 
young fellows who didn t try hard enough to suppress a 
laugh when the camp harlot went to the mourner s bench, 
or when some old creature too deaf to hear a word the 
preacher said went hobbling toward the front. Sometimes 
an older miner, who for the sheer joy of expressing a long- 
pent-up feeling, shouted "Praise the Lord!", was dragged 
out by a deputy sheriff, along with the young bloods, on 
a charge of disturbing religious worship. 

The limb of the law usually knew who had a few dollars 
left from the week s pay. The law knew too that a miner 
preferred to pay a fine rather than lie in jail and lose time 
on the job next day. 

There was no pleasant diversion around the coal camp 
for womenfolk and children, no happy gatherings such as 
the play party, a quilting, an old-time square dance. In 
their drab surroundings, little wonder men and women 
grew old before their time. 

That was yesterday. Today there are model mining 
towns throughout the coal fields. Holden in West Virginia 
even has swimming pools and modern cottages for its 
miners. A miner can work on the side too it is not un 
common to see signs over his cottage or barn door read 
ing, "Painting and Paper Hanging," "Decorating/ There 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 283 

are thrifty vegetable gardens, and miners* wives vie with 
each other in the product of their flower gardens. Holden 
is sometimes called the Model Mining Town of America. 
It has welcomed visitors from all over the land. 

In Harlan, Kentucky, once the center of many stormy 
battles between miners and operators, the county crowned 
a Coal Queen on August 23, 1941* commemorating the 
first shipment of coal thirty years previously. The queen, 
a pretty eighteen-year-old high school girl, won the title 
from six other contestants, enthroned on a replica of the 
railroad car which hauled out the county s first coal. As 
part of the celebration a f 1500 public drinking fountain 
was dedicated and speakers hailed the economic progress 
of Harlan County since 1911. Each day 1200 railroad cars 
loaded with coal leave the county. 

It was an all-day program being sponsored by the Harlan 
Mining Institute safety organization in co-operation with 
the County Coal Operators Association. 

Not only were mining officials present from many points 
but politicians as well were present, including Mrs. Her 
bert C. Gawood, Republican nominee for sheriff, a sister 
of the crowned coal queen. 

BACK TO THE FARM 

For those who do not have a hankering for work in the 
foothills and industrial centers there is today a greater 
incentive to go back to the farm or to stay there than ever 
before in the history of our country. For the young moun 
taineer there is the Future Farmer Association which not 
only trains him in soil conservation, guides him in what 
is best for his type of farm, or what stock he can best pro 
duce, but also holds out the spur of reward. It is a fine 



284 Blue Ridge Country 

plan for promoting friendly rivalry and spurs the future 
fafiier to excel his young neighbor. Each fall there is a 
great state fair in a leading city of each of the Blue Ridge 
states, where the young future farmers of America gather 
with their exhibits in livestock, poultry, exhibits of their 
own crops. There is even a revival of the prettiest baby 
contest so familiar to the old county fair of the long ago. 
However today the contest has expanded beyond mere 
beauty; there is a health baby contest. The grand cham 
pion rural child is given an award with much pomp, and 
to complete the spirit of friendly rivalry and to bring 
about better understanding and fellowship between coun 
try and town there is also a contest for the champion rural 
and city baby. 

The mountain boy, because he is no longer isolated by 
rugged roads, meets his city cousin on common ground. 

The scene has changed along the once rugged creek-bed 
road. In place of the saddle hung on a wall peg on the 
front stoop for passersby to view and perhaps envy, a new 
saddle once the joy and pride of the mountain lad, today 
there is a spare tire and there is an auto in the foreyard or 
in the garage, a garage which is often bigger than the little 
cabin itself. 

The mountain farmer is being taught by skilled leaders 
to help himself. 

Even if the mountaineer s farm is on a forty-five-degree 
slope there is hope for him today, thanks to the Farm Se 
curity Administration. A workable plan for soil rebuild 
ing was the first step. To reclaim wet land the mountain 
man digs drainage ditches. Stone, heretofore hidden in the 
mountain side and unused, is now utilized for building 
barns and houses. On fourteen acres a man and his family, 
including a couple of grown sons and their families, can 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 285 

today raise a living and be comfortable. With a loan o 
$440 from the Farm Security Administration a once -un 
productive miserable farm can be made liveable and pro 
ductive. 

The farmer of the hill country is being trained to put 
to use the things at hand. 

Second-growth timber is coming on and is conserving 
the productive qualities of the hillside soil which was 
drained away by ruthless cutting of timber a quarter cen 
tury ago. Today the farmer is taught to treat his farm and 
pasture land with lime and phosphate, a thing unheard of 
in the early days. And the greatest of all his blessings today, 
the mountain farmer will tell you, is the good road. 

Why then should he want to leave the mountains he 
knows and loves so well? 

It was tried by the young folks, but finding themselves 
ill fitted for work at coal camps or steel and iron mills or 
factories or industrial centers, they returned eagerly to the 
hills, at least during the first five years of the thirties. 

To this day, though some have remained in the mill 
towns, it is not uncommon to hear the womenfolk whose 
men have provided them with modern conveniences, a 
frigidaire, a gas range, an electric washer and iron, a spigot 
of running water say, "Wisht I had back my cellar house, 
my cedar churn, the battling block to make clean our gar 
ments. All these here fixy contrapshuns make slaves of my 
menfolks at public works to earn enough cash money to 
pay for them." And again, "I m a-feared of that mobile. 
I d druther ride behint old Nell in the jolt wagon." 

Recently a Harvard sociologist, Dr. C. C. Zimmerman, 
has suggested that, because the Appalachian and Ozark 
farmers are producing children in excess of the number 



286 Blue Ridge Country 

"required to maintain a population status quo/* they pull 
up stakes and settle in "declining rural New England." 

However, those in a position to know, through long 
years of close contact with the southern mountaineer and 
his needs, point out that no resettlement or colonizing 
plan can be worked out until a better program of regional 
analysis is first accomplished. They point out that many 
a mountain farmer would not earn in a whole lifetime of 
toil enough money to make a down payment on "even a 
rundown New England farm. * 

Besides there is still in the makeup of the mountaineer 
that spirit of independence. He does not want to rent. He 
wants to own outright, even if his property is no more than 
a house seat. There are few sharecroppers in the southern 
highlands. A mountaineer would rather suffer starvation 
than be subservient. Though he may be illiterate he still 
remembers, because the story has been handed on by word- 
of-inouth, the suffering and mistreatment of his forbears 
across the sea. * 

To add to his security today there is the Tenant Pur 
chase program for rehabilitation through the United States 
Department of Agriculture, and mountain men themselves 
are selected as members of the committee. It is a part of 
the FSA. The Big Sandy News, July 25, 1941, carries this 
story to the mountaineer: "The Tenant Purchase program 
provides for the purchase of family type farms by qualified 
tenants under the Bankhead-Jones Tenant Purchase Act. 
Farm Security Administration rehabilitator loans are avail 
able to low income farm families, ineligible for credit else 
where, for the purchase of livestock, workstock, seed, ferti 
lizer and equipment, in accordance with carefully planned 
operation of the farm and home. About 150 farm families 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 287 

in Lawrence county have already been helped by this pro 
gram. 

"The services of debt adjustment commltteemen are 
available to all farmers, as well as to FSA borrowers. The 
committeemen will assist creditors and farm debtors to 
reach an amicable adjustment of debts based on the ability 
to pay." 

In this particular section of the Blue Ridge, while some 
are looking to the soil, others have an eye on the waters 
above the earth. There is being revived the plan of twenty 
years ago for the canalization of one of the best-known and 
most important rivers of the Blue Ridge Country the Big 
Sandy. As a means to that end there is an organization 
called the Big Sandy Improvement Association and, with 
a mountain man, Congressman A. J. May, to espouse its 
cause, things look promising for the project. 

The mountain men and their city co-workers get to 
gether and speak their minds and exchange views at dinner 
meetings down in the Big Sandy Valley. A survey is being 
conducted to show to what extent a navigable river would 
aid industry, especially the coal business. Mountain men 
are joining their practical knowledge with the scientific 
knowledge of men of the level land who are putting the 
plan of canalization of the Big Sandy River before Uncle 
Sam for consideration and backing. 

The people of the Blue Ridge mountains are learning 
slowly and surely to mingle and to work with others. That 
again is due to good roads. 

Once there was the simple manner of making sorghum, 
whereby the mountain man paid for the use of the mill in 
cash or cane; today there is the Sorghum Association which 
helps the mountaineer market his product. There is even 



288 Blue Ridge Country 

a Blackberry Association whose trucks drive to the very 
door and load up every gallon a family can pick. 

Conservation is evident on every side and mountain 
people are realizing the benefits in dollars. 

Where once timbering was carried on in an appallingly 
wasteful manner, reforestation under the guidance of 
trained leaders is under way. Camps of the CCC dot the 
whole southern mountain region and fruits of their efforts 
can be seen in the growing forests on many a mountain 
side. In Mammoth Cave National Park alone 2,900,000 
seedlings were planted to stay gulley erosion in an area 
of 3,000,000 square yards. 

i Mountain boys who have entered CCC camps are rated 
high in obedience, deportment, and adaptability to sur 
roundings. Some of them have never been away from 
home before. Many have been no farther than the nearest 
county seat. 

Frequently the mother back home can neither read nor 
write but she shows with pride a letter from her son. "My 
boy s in the Three C s. He s writ me this letter. Read with 
your own eyes." You see her glow with genuine pride of 
possession as you read aloud perhaps the hundredth time 
she has heard it the boy s letter. The mother shows it 
to everyone who crosses her threshold there in the Dug 
Down Mountains of Georgia. There is another letter too. 
"Johnny s captain writ this one." She knows them apart 
even though she does not know A from B. "Johnny s cap 
tain has writ moughty pretty about our boy." So well does 
the old mother know the content of the letters she is ready 
to prompt if the* visitor omits so much as a single word 
in the reading. And when Johnny came home, after his 
first months of service were ended, he was hailed as a cotf- 
quering hero by family and neighbors alike. The mother 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 289 

was proudest of all. "Look at this-here contrapshun." From 
the well-ordered case in the boy s trunk she brought out 
a toothbrush. "He s larnt to scrub his teeth with this-here 
bresh and" she added with unconcealed satisfaction "he 
don t dip no more. Ton my honor he s about wheedled 
me into the notion of givin up snuff. But when a body s 
old and drinlin like I m getting to be dipping is a pow 
erful comforting pastime." 

The mountain boy s older brothers and father too have 
come to understand co-operation. They can work with 
others. They know the meaning of WPA folklore. When 
the boss calls out jovially, "Come and grab it, boys!" they, 
who have never heretofore worked by the clock, know 
dinner time is up and they must start back to work. When 
the head of the work crew calls out "Hold! Hold! Hold!" 
they know a fuse of dynamite is about to be lighted to 
blast the rock from the mountain side and they hurry to 
safety. "Dynamite is powerful destructuous!" one tells the 
other, and they remain at safe distance until again the boss 
of the crew calls out "All right!" and they are back with 
pick and shovel. 

The mountaineer has become a good steel worker, a 
dairyman in the foothills, a good mill hand. 

The old folk, however, still cling to the old order of 
things. Once there was an old schoolmaster in the southern 
mountains who refused to give up teaching from the Mc- 
Guffey Readers despite the fact that legislation had ruled 
out the old familiar classics. So persistent was he in his 
decision it eventually brought on a heart attack which 
caused his death. 

Men of the hills have been quite baffled by CIO and 
other union cards. Young men first joining the CIO were 
heard to boast, "We can have anything we want The CIO 



290 Blue Ridge Country 

is going to buy me and my woman and the kids a nice, 
fine, pretty home. Pay all our bills if we get sick." 

Only a few short years ago in a coal camp in West Vir 
ginia a mountain man, who was then working at public 
works for the first time, found himself haled into court 
at the county seat on some misdemeanor charge. When 
asked "Who is the President of the United States?" he un 
hesitatingly gave the name of the sheriff who had arrested 
him. So long had his family lived apart that he knew noth 
ing of the workings of his own government and nothing 
about the various offices, high and low. Yet in the family 
burying ground of that mountain man inscriptions on the 
tombstones of his ancestors show that three of them served 
with distinction in the War of the Revolution. 

Lest the coining generation forget the ways of their for 
bears and the America for which men struggled and died 
the America of yesterday the scene is being faithfully re 
constructed in various ways in national parks. The boys 
of the CCC camps are having a very important hand in 
reconstruction and conservation. 

Some years ago a nephew of Fiddling Bob Taylor of 
Tennessee met with several friends on hallowed ground 
in that State, not for a patriotic celebration but merely 
for the joy of roaming in the great out-of-doors. The ex- 
governor s kinsman, like his forbears, had been born on 
the site where in 1772 the first step was made in American 
independence by the Watauga Association. This autumn 
day these sons of those early patriots fell to talking of the 
country, its scenic beauty, its resources particularly in the 
mountain region. "Fitting shrines set in the beauty of the 
great out-of-doors are* the finest monuments to our pa 
triots, it seems to me," said one. Another said, "The 
world s history shows that from the time of creation the 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 291 

successful men were those who really loved the out-of- 
doors. Abraham was a nomad whose home was wherever 
he pitched his tent. Moses sought the silence and solitude 
of Midian before God could speak to him. David was a 
shepherd boy on the Judean hills. Elijah dwelt in a cave. 
In the New World we see Washington, the surveyor, a 
lover of the out-of-doors; Thomas Jefferson, finding hap 
piness and contentment in roaming the hills of Virginia; 
the immortal Lincoln, coming from the backwoods of 
humble parents; Theodore Roosevelt, cowboy on the 
plains of our western country." 

With a smile Fiddling Bob s nephew turned to his 
friends, "Fellows, I ll wager there s not one among them 
from Abraham down to Teddy but would enjoy a canter 
over a good highway to take a look at the Blue Ridge 
Country. The most beautiful forests and parks in the 
world. Ought to link *em up with a highway." 

"Not a bad idea," chorused the friends, and they took 
another round of mint juleps to celebrate the birth of a 
thought. 

"Ideas grow and thoughts travel fast," Fiddling Bob s 
nephew remarked some years later when setting out on a 
cross-country journey. "The Park-to-Park Highway grows 
annually and this Skyline Drive, which is a part of the 
plan, is one of the most alluring of all modern roads." 
Starting at Front Royal, the northern entrance to the 
Shenandoah Valley Park, it continues to Rockfish Gap 
near Waynesboro on the south, a distance of 107 miles. 
It is a broad mountain highway following the crest of the 
Blue Ridge, invading a world that was remote and known 
only to mountain folk. Today over its smooth, paved sur 
face cars climb quickly to airy heights from which may be 
viewed innumerable vistas of the Piedmont plateau and 



292 Blue Ridge Country 

the Shenandoah Valley. At strategic points parking over 
looks have been constructed, from which are seen tum 
bling waterfalls, deep and narrow canyons, cool shady 
forests, open meadows, and wild flowers of every shade 
and hue throughout the summer. Autumn presents a 
boundless riot of color and winter a snowy, sparkling 
blanket pierced by tall green pines. 

The Skyline Drive links with the Blue Ridge Parkway 
at Rockfish Gap which will at last connect the Shenan 
doah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountain Na 
tional Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. 

"In case you don t know," Fiddling Bob s nephew likes 
to remind a stranger, "Shenandoah Valley Park was pre 
sented by Virginians to the nation in 1935 and more than 
three million dollars have been spent on the Skyline Drive 
alone a drive that hasn t a parallel in America. Through 
this wilderness the Father of his County once trudged on 
foot as a surveyor and looked down upon the beauty of 
the Shenandoah Valley from the lofty peaks of the Blue 
Ridge. His was the task to survey lands for the oncoming 
settlers. He had no moment to explore under the earth. 
That was the task of later men. Today for good measure, 
after you have beheld the breath-taking beauty from the 
heights, just travel seven eighths of a mile from Front 
Royal to the Skyline Caverns where you ll see the most 
unusual cave flowers that roan has ever looked upon. 
Why" Fiddling Bob s nephew puffs vehemently on his 
corn-cob pipe "do you know that Dr. Holden, he s pro 
fessor of Geology at VPI, says these Hellicitites, that s 
what he calls em, these weird, fantastic, and pallid forms^ 
warp scientific judgment. And, friends, it s nature s work, 
these inconceivable structures hidden from the world for 
millions of years down under the ground." 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 293 

He turned with a beaming countenance when we had 
emerged from the cavern of matchless wonders. "Young 
Americans don t have to study geography books these 
days. All they have to do is get a second-hand car, fill it 
up, and strike out on the Park-to-Park Highway. They ll 
get an eyeful and an earful too from native sons, and learn 
more about America than they can dig out of the dry 
pages of a book in a year. Why, right down there at Char- 
lottesville there s Ash Lawn where James Monroe lived 
and meditated. His friend, Thomas Jefferson, set about 
building the place in 1798 while Monroe was in France 
looking after Uncle Sam s business. Even great and busy 
men in those days were neighborly. Thomas Jefferson did 
a good part by his neighbor James Monroe when he built 
that house, and the ambassador thanked him generously 
when he came back to occupy the place. The two used to 
roam the grounds together and spent many happy hours 
there. They visited to and fro; you see Monroe lived across 
yonder within sight of his friend s home. The great of the 
past take on reality when you actually set foot upon the 
ground they have trod. Places come to life when we see 
them with our own eyes. That s the purpose of these great 
highways, the Park-to-Park highways that connect the 
scenes of American history." 

As the terrain changes there is a great variety in the 
scenes along Skyline Drive. Sometimes the road leaves 
the crest to tunnel through a rocky flank of mountain and 
you come unexpectedly upon sparkling streams tumbling 
down the mountain side to the valley below. The eye fol 
lows the cascade to the very edge of the drive. It disap 
pears beneath the wide surface and reappears beyond a 
rocky wall, cascading down and down to fertile valleys 
below. 



294 Blue Ridge Country 

Virginians, and people of the Blue Ridge generally, 
count one of their greatest prides the restoration of the 
capital at Williamsburg through the generosity of John 
D. Rockefeller, Jr. Old and young who pass through the 
graceful wrought-iron gates to the Governor s Palace 
thrill at the sight of the restored colonial capital named 
for King William III, a scene which all in all reflects old 
England in miniature, "as the state of mind of its citizens 
reflected the grandeur that was to be America." Here are 
the stocks in which offenders were locked while they suf 
fered jibes from passing tormentors. Elegant coach-and- 
four remind the visitor of days of grandeur of Old Vir 
ginia when the FFV s were entertained at the royal palace. 
Across the way is the wigmaker s shop, and the craft house, 
displaying the Wolcott Collection of ancient tools and in 
struments. Here too is seen the Wren building, oldest aca 
demic structure in English America, "first modeled by Sir 
Christopher Wren." 

Even a youngster of the Blue Ridge knows about York- 
town where Lord Cornwallis surrendered in 1781. "Here s 
where we fit and plum whopped the life outten the red 
coats/ we overheard a mountain boy from a mission 
school boasting to his companions. 

Within a few short hours I had left behind Old Virginia 
and its reminders of colonial days and crossed into the 
Mountain State. 

"There s plenty of beauty and culture in Old Virginia, 
I m not denying that" Bruce Crawford looked over his 
spectacles at his inquisitive visitor "but there s just as 
much on this side of the Blue Ridge. We ve got as many 
wonders under the earth as above it. And" he turned now 
in his swivel chair in his quarters in the Capital to look 
far up the Kanawha River among the many duties of this 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 295 

Fayette County man is that of letting the world know 
about his state "I m not forgetting Boone roved these 
parts. Trapped and hunted right here on the Kanawha. 
But what I started to talk about was not the hills, the 
rivers, and the caves, but the people." He spoke slowly, 
deliberately, this sturdy, well-groomed hillsman. like Ser 
geant York of the Tennessee Mountains Bruce Crawford 
can, if need be, drop easily back into the dialect of his 
people. And he is an accomplished writer. "I don t care 
enough about it to follow the profession of writing," he 
said, and fire glowed in his gray eyes. "But as old Uncle 
Dyke Garrett used to say, 1 takened all I could a while 
back from furriners so I cut loose and wrote my notions 
about it and it was published in the West Virginia Review. 
Take it along with you on your travels through the Moun 
tain State and see if IVe come near hitting center." 

It seems to me he came mighty near hitting center and 
with Bruce Crawford s permission, here are his sentiments: 

"In recent weeks two ignorant jibes were flung at the 
State of West Virginia, one by a Southern editor and the 
other by a Northern cartoonist. 

"The editor, a Virginian, moaned that rude mountain 
eers had routed Democrats of the old Southern type* from 
the Capital on the Kanawha and that the Lost Cause was 
lost all over again. He was still sad because Senator Mat 
thew M. Neely had been elected Governor on a platform 
to restore democracy to the Democratic Party, and gov 
ernment to the governed, in West Virginia. 

"The cartoonist represented us by a stock hillbilly char 
acter with bushy beard and rifle in hand, gunning for 
someone around the mountains. 

"Both editor and cartoonist have their heads in the 
sands of the past. 



296 Blue Ridge Country 

"West Virginians are Mountaineers by geography and 
tradition, and proud of it. Originally they were induced 
by wily Virginians to come into these mountains and form 
a buffer back-country against Indians, French and British. 
Here they grew sturdy, self-reliant and independent. They 
fought the first and last battles of the American Revolu 
tion, as well as the first land engagement of the war to 
preserve the Union. They were shooting for liberty while 
Patrick Henry was still shouting for it among appeasers of 
King George. A continental commander, it is told, refused 
to enlist more volunteers from the Colonies, saying he 
had plenty of West Virginians. General Washington, too, 
thought these mountaineers were tops, for in a dark hour 
of the Revolution he said: Leave me but a banner to 
place upon the mountains of West Augusta, and I will 
gather around me the men who will lift our bleeding 
country from the dust and set her free. 

"These mountaineers saved piedmont and tidewater 
Virginia from Indians, helped win the American inde 
pendence, and made possible the opening up of Kentucky 
to the West. They then expected a fair deal from the Vir 
ginia Government, but they did not get it. So when Vir 
ginia seceded from the Union, they seceded from Virginia. 
And proudly they adopted the motto, Mountaineers are 
always free/ a sentiment so generally subscribed to that 
it appears over the entrance to our penitentiary. 

"The slurs persist through ignorance. 

"True, we have had all-out clan wars. We have had vio 
lent chapters in our industrial story, under state govern 
ments apparently considered benevolent by the Virginia 
editor. We tolerated waste of both human and material 
resources under wild individualism. But a new day has 
come, promising the greatest good to the greatest number, 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 297 

and we shall have much to advertise, as envisioned in Gov 
ernor Neely s inaugural address when he said: 

" Fortunately impoverished land can be reclaimed; de 
nuded areas can be reforested; unnecessary stream pollu 
tion can be prevented; and in our purified watercourses 
fish can be made to thrive. . . . For our posterity and our 
selves, we must restore as much as possible of the match 
less heritage which we wasted as improvidently as the base 
Indian who threw away a pearl that was richer than all 
his tribe. ... If to West Virginia scenery, which is sur 
prisingly diversified and transcendently beautiful, we add 
the lure of fully restored forests, fish and game, the State 
will eventually become a happy hunting ground for the 
sportsman; a paradise for the tourist; and the home of 
prosperity more abundant than we have ever known/ 

"Progress toward these aims is being made under the 
direction of various heads. 

"In addition to mining areas producing more soft coal 
than any other state, plus our varied manufactures, we 
have fertile valleys and slopes from which ... an increas 
ing harvest is reaped. The State s diversity of activity 
should, in the fullness of time, make West Virginia the 
most progressive, the most socially balanced, and there 
fore the most truly civilized State in the Union. 

"Our road system is being rapidly improved. . . . Many 
of our historic and scenic spots and recreational areas, 
hitherto locked in the uplands, are easily reached as more 
and more tourists travel pioneer trails on modern high 
ways. 

"All these things now are being discovered, or soon 
should be, by the whole Nation. Ours is the Vacationland 
at the Crossroads of the East. 

"Just as IB other times of national peril the human and 



298 Blue Ridge Country 

material resources of this region figured indispensably, so 
today its great strength will be used against the Hitler 
menace. . . . West Virginia, with its industrial develop 
ment and strategic isolation from attack, may become the 
Defense Hero of a war in which states little and large have 
fallen before the juggernaut of tyranny. Again, as in the 
time of Washington, the Nation may look to these West 
Virginia hills, and plant here the oriflamme of freedom. 

"Let us sing of the soft, folded beauty of the Alleghenies; 
of rivers roaring with primeval discontent and streams 
crystal-clear (save those running red from wounded hills); 
of Edenlike forests in Monongahela s million acres; of 
Ohio s fertile valley, placid and hill-bordered, where once 
"warwhoop and savage scream echoed wild from rock and 
hill ; of clean-trimmed rolling landscapes of Eastern Pan 
handle, famed for history and old houses; of lovely pas 
toral valleys of the South Branch, Greenbrier and Tygart; 
of wild, boulder-strewn New River Canyon; of Webster s 
forest monarchs and her deep, cool woods; of the brown 
waters of Gauley that move evermore where the tulip tree 
scatters its blossoms in Spring*; of the green hills mirrored 
in starlit Kanawha; of white-splashing Blackwater Falls, 
awe-inspiring Grand View, enchanting Seneca Rocks, and 
the remote Smoke Hole region with its Shangri La in 
habitants, 

"Sing of our rhododendron and its dark-green, wax-like 
leaf and purple flower; of Mingo s mighty oak that weath 
ered six hundred winters; of our highest peak, Spruce 
Knob, bony above the lush forest; of Cranberry Glades 
and their strong plants native to Equator and Pole; brac 
ing altitudes, averaging highest east of the Mississippi. 

"Sing a lay for the strawberries of Buckhannon, buck 
wheat of Kingwood, our lowly but uprising spud, tobacco 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 299 

at Huntington, and the wine-smell of orchards in Berke 
ley; for the horses of Greenbrier, Herefords of Hamp 
shire, sheep on Allegheny slopes, deer in a dozen State 
Parks, and bears in the pines of Pocahontas. 

"Sing of timber, iron and steel; of coal heaved by 
brawny miners into the bituminous bin of the Nation; 
of oil gushers and gas flow; of vitrolite and chromium, 
plastics and neon, rayon and nylon; of glass stained for 
cathedrals of Europe; of billions of kilowatts from coal, 
and potentially more water power; of fluorescent bulbs at 
Fairmont, and poisonous red flakes in the Kanawha sky 
from metallurgical plants fire poppies blooming in the 
night. 

"Sing of deeds and events of deathless renown; of Mor 
gan Morgan and his first white settlement at Bunker Hill; 
of James Riimsey and his steamboat on the Potomac; of 
Chesapeake and Ohio s epic completion across the State 
in 73 to the tune of legendary John Henry s steel-driving 
ballad in Big Bend tunnel; of turnpikes, taverns and toll 
houses long abandoned; of our leaders, Negro and white, 
in business, industry, education, religion and government; 
of our stalwarts of union labor whose vision, social com 
prehension and courage helped to bring a new day for all; 
of our cherished democracy, flexible and self-righting in 
a world where popular rule is a rarity. 

"I have catalogued in clumsy prose what a Thomas Dunn 
English or a Roy Lee Harmon could peel off in crisp, sing 
ing lines. Surely we have gifted souls who can illumine 
our story in song the story of Mountaineers Always Free, 
of West Virginians always Mountaineers for a better un 
derstanding by the country at large ... of this land of 
heroic past, exhilarating present, and promising future." 



300 Blue Ridge Country 

A journey through the Mountain State convinces the 
traveler that on her side of the Blue Ridge West Virginia 
offers as many wonders under the earth as above it, if one 
is not a claustrophobe. There s Gandy Sinks where my 
friends of the Speleological Society were trapped by a cloud 
burst on August i, 1940; and Seneca Caverns, in Monon- 
gahela National Forest, once the refuge of Seneca Indians 
about twenty miles west of Franklin on U. S. Route 33, 
and six miles from Spruce Knob. Caves as unbelievably 
beautiful as the Luray Caverns of Virginia, where the 
great council room of the Seneca tribe remains as it was 
in the day of the redskins. There is even a legend about 
Snow Bird, the only daughter of Bald Eagle and White 
Rock, his wife. Inside the cavern, if you look carefully, 
there is to be seen the outline of the lovely face of Snow 
Bird on the great stone wall. There are a Wigwam, and 
an Iceberg, an Alligator, and the Golden Horseshoe and 
Balcony of the Metropolitan, all in natural stone forma 
tion. 

West Virginia has developed 84,186 acres in its state- 
park and forest system. Sparkling rivers flow throughout 
the state. At the junction of the Ohio and Kanawha 
Rivers where Daniel Boone once roamed there is a monu 
ment commemorating the battle of the Revolution be 
tween colonial troops and Indians- Here too are the graves 
of a woman scout, "Mad Anne" Bailey, and a Shawnee 
chieftain, Cornstalk. There are hundreds of miles of trails, 
safe underfoot, but flanked by as wild and rugged lands 
as ever infested by the Indian. 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 301 



VALLEY OF PARKS 

If Dr. Walker, the English explorer, should return to 
the earth today and visit the Big Sandy country near the 
point where he first entered the state of Kentucky, he d 
be amazed at the sight which would greet his eyes. Cities 
have sprung up where once was wilderness. Yet one 
natural beauty of the country remains unchanged: the 
great gorge made by Russell Fork of Levisa Fork of the 
Big Sandy, breaking through the mountain at an eleva 
tion of 2800 feet The Breaks of Big Sandy. Here in the 
days of the Civil War many thrilling episodes took place 
and through The Breaks a Confederate regiment trekked 
back to Virginia leaving behind a string of Democratic 
counties in its wake. 

Recently added to Jefferson National Forest, another 
link in the chain of Park-to-Park highways, The Breaks 
of Big Sandy is the most picturesque and historic spot 
in eastern Kentucky. It is located on State Route 80, just 
thirty miles from Pikeville where many of the McCoys 
live peaceably today. Kentucky, with the mother state 
Virginia, is planning a better and broader highway to 
The Breaks, which will readily connect it with the Mayo 
Trail. And the native sons still dwelling in the hills, aided 
by their neighbors representing them in state and federal 
offices, are busily planning an improvement program for 
the area in which The Breaks are embraced. 

Once the Dark and Bloody Ground, Kentucky today is 
fairly teeming with reawakening. Her people are hasten 
ing to bring from hidden coves things once discarded as 
fogey, "We aim for this generation to know how thrifty 
and apt their forbears were," is frequently heard from 



302 Blue Ridge Country 

their lips. In historic Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State 
Park (U. S, 25), near London, there is an old cider press. 
Far back in 1790 William Pearl, one of the early settlers 
in Laurel County, made and set up the crude press for 
making cider, or brandy if he chose. The press rests on a 
stone base five feet wide. Happily, Pearl s great-grandson 
was wise enough to preserve the relic and present it to 
the park. Within the park also is Frazier s Knob, the 
highest point in the state of Kentucky. On the banks of 
Little Laurel flowing through the park one may see an 
old-time watermill in full operation. And if you have a 
bit of imagination youll wait your turn and take home 
a poke of meal and have cornbread for supper. 

Through this region now The Valley of Parks Boone 
blazed his famous trace and Governor Shelby built the 
first wagon road through the wilderness from infant Ken 
tucky to Mother Virginia. Along the way a pleasant re 
minder of an almost forgotten past is that of the Wilder 
ness Road Weavers busy at loom and wheel. They process 
cloth from wool and flax before your eyes and explain 
with care the art of making homemade dyes from herb 
and bark. An older woman pauses with shuttle in hand. 
"See the hollow tree off yonder, a mother and her babe 
hid there to escape the Indians. And the cabin over there 
with the picketin" fence around, that s our library now 
and we ve got all sorts of curiosities there too." A visit 
within reveals the curiosities to be relics of early home 
arts and mountain industries. 

Cumberland Falls, Kentucky s Million Dollar State 
Park, of 593 acres, was a gift of T. Coleman du Pont and 
family of Delaware; its chief attraction is the Falls, once 
called Shawnee, with the profile of an Indian plainly to 
be seen in jutting rock over which the roaring cataract 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 303 

plunges near Qorbin and Williamsburg. In this once Dark 
and Bloody Ground there is amazing beauty; on July ist, 
1941, Mammoth Cave, the twenty-sixth National Park, was 
dedicated with imposing ceremonies, adding another link 
to the Park-to-Park plan. If it had not been fof the salt 
peter from this cave the Battle of New Orleans would have 
been lost, for from this mineral gunpowder that saved the 
day was made. So vast is one of its caverns, the Snowball 
Dining Room, 267 feet underground, that hundreds of 
members of .the Associated Press held a dinner there in 
1940. Mammoth Cave is reached by IL S. Highway 70, 
west from Cave City, and one hundred miles south of 
Louisville. The vast national park of which it is a part is 
watered by the Green River, known to early explorers. 

Kentucky s most talked-of cave in recent years is that 
in which Floyd Collins lost his life in 1925. The tons of 
rock in Sand Cave under which he was trapped did not 
cause his death, however. Collins died of pneumonia. His 
body now lies buried in Crystal Cave, which was Floyd s 
favorite of all those he had spent his life in exploring. 

One travels cross country from Crystal Cave to the Blue 
Grass on Russell Cave Road, along with some of the 
45,000 other people who have come within a single year 
to see Man o War, the most famous race horse of all 
times. "The Blue Grass region of Kentucky," says Prof. 
E. S. Good, head of the department of animal husbandry 
of the University of Kentucky, "is the premier breeding 
ground for light horses because of its ample rainfall, mild 
climate, abundance of sunshine and a soil rich in calcium 
and phosphorus, so necessary to produce superior bone, 
muscle and nerve/ 

Though mountain men are proud to own a good pair 
of mules and will praise the merits of this lowly beast 



304 Blue Ridge Country 

without stint, they generally know or care little about 
blooded race horses. They take pride in less glamorous 
possessions. For instance, they are proud that in their 
midst the McGuffey Readers were still taught by an aged 
schoolmaster in defiance of legislation which barred the 
classics and that the little log school in which he taught is 
the first and only shrine in Kentucky to the illustrious 
educator, Dr. William Holmes McGuffey, who compiled 
the Eclectic Readers which gave the children o America 
a different, brighter outlook upon life back in those dark 
days of Indian warfare. The McGuffey Log School shrine 
stands not far from the mouth of Big Sandy River in Boyd 
County. Each year hundreds of McGuffey enthusiasts make 
a pilgrimage to the humble shrine of learning. 

"We ve got no end of fine sights to see." Mountain folk 
are justly boastful. "Down at Bardstown is the Talbott 
Tavern built 162 years ago, one of the first such taverns 
where travelers could tarry west of the . Alleghenies. On 
the walls there are the marks of bullets left by the pistols 
of Judge John Rowan, who fought a duel with Dr. Cham 
bers and mortally wounded him. There s" Audubon Memo 
rial State Park with all manner of paintings, books, and 
pictures left by Audubon, kin of a French King, who spent 
many a happy day roaming the hills of Kentucky and 
studying the ways of wild birds. And no country can claim 
a greater man than was born right here at Hodgenville, 
and even if we didn t have a memorial built out of stone 
to Abraham Lincoln he will live in our hearts as long as 
the world stands." The mountaineer who sings the praises 
of his native land eyes his listener attentively. "Bless you, 
folks are so friendly and kind of heart in Kentucky they 
even have a refuge for turkeys. There is a sanctuary for 
this native American fowl in the Kentucky Woodlands 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 305 

Wildlife Refuge just west of Canton. And to make sure 
the wild creatures do not starve there are vast unharvested 
crops grown on the cleared land and left for them to feed 
upon. Here too, if travelers will drive slowly along the 
wooded trails, they are most sure to come upon a startled 
deer, for there are more than 2000 roaming in the wood 
land." 

Along with other traditions there survives in Kentucky 
the medieval rite of blessing the hounds which takes place 
usually on the first Saturday in November. In his clerical 
robes the Bishop of Lexington, in the heart of the Blue 
Ridge, performs the ceremony much in the manner of the 
prelates of ages past. With proper solemnity the bishop 
bestows upon each huntsman the medal of St. Hubert, 
patron of the hunt, while the gay-coated hunters stand 
with bowed heads and the hounds, eager for the hunt, 
move restlessly about the feet of their masters. 

Across the Blue Ridge in the Carolinas fox hunting and 
horseback riding are sports as popular as in Kentucky. But 
above all the things in which the people of the Carolina 
mountains lead are their matchless handicrafts, weaving, 
spinning, and their skill in play-making. 

Who hasn t heard of "Prof/* Koch, Director of the 
Carolina Playmakers and of the group s plays? And the 
thing about the Playmakers which sets them apart is that 
they are chiefly of the mountains. Their plays are made 
out of the life of mountain folk. Archibald Henderson 
declares, "Koch is the arch-foe of the cut-and-dried, the 
academic, the specifically prescribed. All his life he has 
demanded room for the random, outlet for the unex 
pressed, free play for the genius." Nowadays he travels by 
caravan with his Carolina Playmakers from coast to coast 
that the world may see for itself what genius unrestrained 



306 Blue Ridge Country 

can turn out. If one wishes to see them in their own set 
ting, which thousands of us do every year, there is The 
Playmakers Theatre at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the 
first theater building in America to be dedicated to the 
making of its own native drama. 

"This love of drama is in the blood of Carolinians," they 
themselves will tell you. "Get three of them together and 
before you can say Jack Robinson they re building a play. 
A folk play, each one with an idea, a situation. Why, right 
over to Kernersville in North Carolina the first little the 
ater was born. And say, if you want to hear ballad singers, 
stop wherever you re a-mind to in the Blue Ridge in the 
Carolinas and keep your ears open. There s a fellow over 
on South Turkey Creek, little more than a dozen miles 
as the crow flies from Asheville, and you ll hear the finest 
singing of old-time ballads you ever listened to. Mostly 
menfolks like best to sing. Womenfolks turn to the loom, 
particularly in North Carolina." 

A visit to the Weave Shop at Saluda convinces the visitor 
of the skill of mountain women. Fabrics of unbelievable 
beauty are turned out at handlooms and it is mountain 
women who lead in the work* 

Much has been written on the subject of handicrafts 
but perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of the di 
versified subject is Allen Eaton s Handicrafts of the South 
ern Highlands. 

Through Allen Eaton s knowledge of handicrafts and 
his untiring efforts a great service has Jbeen rendered the 
mountain people of the Blue Ridge in marketing their 
wares. For he has been instrumental in organizing a han 
dicraft guild which serves the entire southern mountain 
region. The co-operating units cover various phases of 
handicraft. The Shenandoah Community Workers of Bird 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 307 

Haven specialize in toy making, while The Jack Knife 
Shop of Berea College, the Woodcrafters and Carvers of 
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the Whittlers at the John C. 
Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, em 
brace most every type of handicraft in their output which 
is the work of mountain boys and girls. 

It was to mountain people that George Washington 
looked for hope and help in the hour of our country s 
need, and two later presidents held the same opinion. 
The mother and the wife of a president of these United 
States have done likewise. 

One winter day more than a score of years ago a group 
of children huddled about the pot-bellied stove in a little 
log church in the mountains of Georgia. They had trudged 
through snow and mud and a cold, biting wind to reach 
this one-room church house. Though the older folk were 
eager to teach the children lessons of Scripture, few of 
them could read or write. A mountain child, like every 
other child, delights in hearing an older person read, 
whether it be a make-believe story or a real story from the 
Bible. "Wisht you could read the Word," an eager little 
girl this winter day said to the old woman who, though 
she could neither read nor write, was doing her best to 
explain from a small colored leaflet the meaning of the 
Sunday School lesson. 

The story reached the ears of a lady not far away. After 
that she began reading Bible stories to the mountain chil 
dren gathered at a little log cabin near her home. "Martha 
Berry didn t need eye specs to see how eager the children 
were for learning," one of her mountain friends remarked, 
"and then and there she began to ruminate through her 
mind a way to help them help themselves, Not to be min 
istered unto, but to minister/ that was what Martha Berry 



308 Blue Ridge Country 

said from the very first and that is still the motto of the 
great institution that has steadily grown up from the 
humble beginning in a little one-room log house." 

It is an unusual institution of learning with a campus 
equally unique, for in its 25,000 acres are a forest, a moun 
tain, and a lake and more than one hundred buildings 
which were not only erected by Berry students, but built 
from materials also made by them. Here mountain boys 
and girls express the fine spirit of independence inherited 
from their forbears. Once they enter the Gate of Oppor 
tunity, they earn their education. The mountain boy, with 
his carpentry, brick-making, stock-raising, hand-carving, 
matches his skill in friendly rivalry with the girl, in her 
spinning and weaving, making dyes and canning fruits. In 
one year the girls canned 50,000 gallons of fruit grown 
within the boundary of the Berry Schools. 

Boys and girls of the Georgia mountains need not de 
spair nor be backward while the "Sunday Lady of Possum 
Trot" keeps open the Gate of Opportunity to the Berry 
Schools. 

"There s a heap of change here in these mountains for 
our children. If a child s afflicted in its nether limbs, it 
don t need to lay helpless no more, a misery to itself and 
everyone else. There s the waters of Warm Springs and 
doctors with knowing that are there to help them on foot," 
a mountain mother told me last winter when I stopped 
at her cabin. "Take the night," she urged. "You can get 
a soon start in the morning, if you choose." I accepted her 
hospitality and she told me much of her early life there 
and of crippled children of the mountains who had been 
restored through bloodless surgery. Of one boy in par 
ticular she told who for long years had never walked a 
step until he had been brought to the healing salt waters. 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 309 

"He can drive a car now and climb a mountain on foot. 
He drove an old couple that had bought a new car all the 
way from Warm Springs plum acrost the State of Georgia 
and back again so s he could travel the Franklin D. 
Roosevelt Highway. It give him something to brag about 
when he got back home." The old woman lifted her eyes 
to the hills reflectively. "There have been a heap of people 
in this country who stood in the light of their afflicted 
children claiming it was the Good Lord s will that they 
were so and that it was a deep-dyed sin to try to change 
them. Some claimed it was a sin against the Holy Ghost 
to carve upon their crooked little limbs and shed their 
life s blood even though it might make them to walk. 
Folks with such notions as that are plum in benighted 
darkness. But times have changed and it s learning and 
good roads that make it. Nohow, there are doctors now 
with a heap of learning who can straighten twisted joints 
of crippled children and never shed their life s blood. Not 
nary drop!" The old woman s eyes widened with in 
credulity. "I ve seen crippled children packed away on a 
slide plum helpless and come back home on foot as spry 
as a wren and never a scar on their flesh. They ve got 
knowing ways off yonder to Warm Springs where the doc 
tors and nurse women, to lend a hand, straighten out the 
twisted little bodies of many a crippled child. They do 
say it is a sight to the world how them little crippled fel 
lers can cavort around in the salty waters in no time, play 
ful as minner fish in a sunny mountain brook. And they 
never shed a drop of their life s blood. So you see there s 
always a way around a mountain if you can t climb over 
it. And by these new ways of learning the doctors and the 
nurse women are not breaking faith with the belief of 



310 Blue Ridge Country 

mountain people. It s a great and a glorious gospel, I tell 

you!" 



If you climb to the top of a peak in Dug Down Moun 
tains, a spur of the Blue Ridge that dwindles to a height 
of 1000 feet in southeastern Alabama, and take a look at 
the state provided the binoculars are strong enough 
youll see why there s a saying down in that country to the 
effect that "Alabama could sleep with her head resting 
upon the iron-studded hills of her mineral district, her 
arms stretched across fields of food and raiment, and her 
feet bathing in the placid waters of Mobile Bay/ 

This Cornucopia of the South is not sleeping, however; 
she is on her feet and bestirring herself and aware of her 
almost limitless resources. 

"She could dig beneath her surface and find practically 
every chemical element required in the prosecution of 
modern war. . . . She could fire her guns with 7,529,090 
pounds of explosives produced annually in her mineral 
mines. ... In her hour of victory, she could declare her 
self the Queen of the Commonwealth, mold her diadem 
with gold from Talladega, and embellish it with rubies 
from the bed of the Coosa that drains the Dug Down foot 
hills of the Blue Ridge." , 

In short, her native sons like to boast, "Alabama could 
isolate herself from all the world and live happily forever 
after." 

And lest they forget the past, the first White House of 
the Confederacy, where Jefferson Davis lived and ruled, 
still stands, a grim reminder of the old South. 

How amazed the pioneer dwellers of the Blue Ridge 
would be if they could stalk down the mountain side and 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 311 

take a look at what Uncle Sam has been doing the past 
eight years! Strange words too would fall upon their ears, 
modern-made to suit modern things. What with good 
roads and autos; hotels have sprung up thick as mush 
rooms; so have motels. There s the Zooseum, combining 
living curiosities and relics. Pleaz Mosley got together in 
a corner of his farm a lot of Indian relics, petrified oddi 
ties, and a few rare varmints, a five-legged calf and a one- 
eyed possum, and housed them in a shack down by the 
new road that cut through his bottom land and drew 
sightseers day after day. 

"But Pleaz s Zooseum can t hold a candle to the curiosi 
ties down in the Holston and Tennessee River country," 
his neighbors say. "Looks like they just naturally turned 
loose the briny deep in that country. When they started 
in on the job old Grandpap up and spoke his mind. Said 
he, Sich carryings on is destructuous of the Master s 
handiwork and I don t countenance it/ He d set there by 
his log fire in his house all his endurin life. The fire had 
never went out on that hearth since he was borned and 
he told the goverment he didn t aim the embers should 
die down whilst he lived. Well, sir, to pacify the old man 
they up and moved him, house, log fire and all, up higher 
in the mountains and him a-settin right there by the fire 
all the time. Now he can look down to them mighty 
waters and them public works with his door open and 
never jolt his chair away from the hearth." 

If Daniel Boone could retrace his steps along the 
Holston and Tennessee Rivers perhaps he would gape, 
too flabbergasted to utter a word. Or he might ask in disr 
may, "What s become of my elbow room?" The country 
he once roamed with gun and dog has been transformed 
into a mighty flooded area to make way for the world s 



312 Blue Ridge Country 

largest project of its kind. At first much was said back and 
forth about the Tennessee Valley Authority. Some viewed 
it with a dubious eye, called it names a New Deal experi 
ment, a merchant of electricity, a threat to private owner 
ship of business, or again merely a new series of letters in 
alphabetical government, the TVA. To isolated moun 
tain folk who came to look as time went on, it was the 
plum biggest public works they had ever set eyes on. 

Eight years after it was begunby the middle of 1941 
with war threatening the civilized world, the TVA has 
become a defense arm. 

Uncle Sam at once cast his discerning eye down Ten 
nessee way and his National Defense Advisory Committee 
designated the TVA as one of its defense industries, and 
an appropriation of $79,800,000 was granted the Author 
ity, and a call from the defense power program went out 
for TVA "to add to its system of ten multi-purpose dams 
the Cherokee Power Dam on the Holston River, to build 
another near the Watts Bar Dam and to advance work on 
the Fort Loudoun Dam on the Tennessee River." 

"About the only things unchanged are the caves under 
the earth and the forests, I reckon," an old mountaineer 
observes. "They won t never dig away them Great Smoky 
Mountains, I m satisfied, though they ve got a roadway on 
the very top from Newfound Gap Highway to Cling- 
man s Dome. And they ve got what s left of the Cherokees 
scrouged off to theirselves in Qualla Indian Reservation." 

Wise and far-seeing men have looked to the preserva 
tion of much of nature s beauty through the Great Smoky 
Mountains National Park, which embraces Little Pigeon 
Gorge, and Chimney Tops, which command a breath 
taking view of the surrounding country. 

"My grandfather journeyed miles on foot over these 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 313 

mountains/* a young man told me one day when I tar 
ried at the Mountaineer s Museum in Gatlinburg on U. S. 
Highway 71. "Look over yonder is Le Conte, the Grand- 
pappy of Old Smoky Mountain as we say here in Ten 
nessee." He turned about in the other direction. "And off 
there the rushing waters of Little Pigeon turn an old-time 
mill wheel." 

Leaving the alluring sights of Little Pigeon I turned 
the nose of my antiquated car toward U. S. Highway 2$E 
to visit Cudo s Cave. It is electrically lighted and bright 
as day. A cave that appears to be an endless chain of 
rooms. Within are all manner of rock formations, a Pal 
ace, a great Pipe Organ, even a reproduction of Capitol 
Dome not made by mortal hand; Petrified Forests, Cas 
cades that seem to be covered with ice, and a Pyramid 
said to be eighty-five million years old. And in the midst 
of these ageless wonders the names of Civil War soldiers 
carved on the stone walls. 

"If all this had been on top of the earth," my moun 
taineer guide declared, "destructuous man would have 
laid it waste long ago. Look about," he urged. "There s 
every sort of varmint by the Master s Hand, from a possum 
to an elephant, and even the likeness of the American 



Outside the caves which lie under three states, Ken 
tucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, you look down upon the 
town of Cumberland Gap to the right of which are re 
mains of Civil War trenches. 

"There are wonders no end to be seen around this coun 
try/ mountain people say, "and things maybe never 
thought of anywhere else." 

Perhaps that is not an unlikely statement, considering 
the stirring event a few years ago that took place at Day- 



314 Blue Ridge Country 

ton, Tennessee, when Clarence Darrow and William Jen 
nings Bryan argued the question of evolution pro and con. 
Or when you know that at the little town o M odel across 
the Tennessee River from Galloway County, Kentucky, 
a quiet minister by the name of James M. Thomas, prints 
his little paper from his own handmade type on his own 
handmade press. It is a tiny paper called The Model Star 
and it reaches the far corners of the earth. Most of its con 
tent is of a religious nature, though there are a few adver 
tisements. While it brings the minister little in financial 
return he finds his recompense in the enthusiasm of read 
ers scattered from Pitcairn Island to Cairo, Bucharest, and 
Shanghai. 

Tennesseeans have a way of doing unusual things. And 
they are a religious people, especially those who have 
spent their lives in mountain Coves. There s Sergeant 
York. He admits he sowed his wild oats in his youth. "We 
drinked and gambled," he says, "and we cussed and fit." 
But when this giant mountaineer s eyes were opened to 
the evil of his ways, after the death of his father, Alvin C. 
York forsook his old habits once and for all. When the 
World War came he declared himself a conscientious ob 
jector. His church the Church of Christ in Christian 
Union held that war was a sin. York had a terrific struggle 
deciding his duty between God and patriotism. He loved 
his God. He loved his country. He made every effort to 
obtain exemption because he firmly believed it a sin to 
fight and to kill, even for the sake of one s country. But 
for all that, he could not gain exemption. Whereupon 
York went aloneinto the mountains and fervently prayed 
for guidance. When the voice of God pointed the way he 
followed, with the result that all the world knows. 

"You might call my escape from death purely a matter 



Reclaiming the -Wilderness 315 

of luck, but I know different/ he says. "It was faith in 
God that kept me safe. I prayed that day alone on the 
mountain and asked Him to bring me back home alive 
and well and He did. I knowed He would. That s what 
jfaith in God will do for a man." 

Alvin York is a true mountain man. He seeks neither 
praise nor self-glory. Upon returning from the World 
War he spurned a fortune in pictures and vaudeville ap 
pearances, refusing steadfastly to commercialize his war 
record. And with the same determination he declined to 
sell out to small politicians who tried to use him when he 
undertook to raise funds to start a school for mountain 
boys and girls. Knowing the need of the young people of 
his Tennessee mountains, York has made his life purpose 
to give them "a heap o larninV This he has continued 
to do year af teivyear through the York Agricultural School 
near Jamestown, Tennessee. Mountain folk call it Jim- 
town. Now there s a highway running through the town 
called York Highway. 

Sergeant York likes to sing. He "takened lessons in 
Byrdstown," and being especially fond of singing hymns, 
he acquired the name of "The Singing Elder." He teaches 
a Sunday School class and did even before he went to war. 
He admits smilingly that his fight with "small politicians"^ 
who wanted to use him and his war record was a worse 
battle than that of the Argonne Forest. Alvin York mar 
ried his childhood sweetheart, Grade Williams, upon re 
turning from war, and the Governor of Tennessee per 
formed the ceremony at Pall Mall where the mountain 
hero was born. He is the father of seven children. For 
sometime he served as project superintendent at a CCC 
camp in the Tennessee mountains* He is president emer 
itus of the school he founded and has written his life s 



316 Blue Ridge Country 

story in a simple, straightforward way, with never the 
slightest hint of boastfulness, 

When it came to putting in parts of official records and 
commendation of his heroism, Sergeant York did so re 
luctantly. "But it has to be put in, I reckon." He finally 
had to give in. 

Sergeant York s achievement, capturing single-handed 
132 Germans, killing 20 others, and destroying 35 ma 
chine-gun nests stands unparalleled. 

This tall, red-headed, freckled mountain man says mod 
estly that he always was a pretty good shot and that he 
kept in practice by hunting in the Tennessee mountains, 
shooting turkeys and going to shooting matches that re 
quired a pretty steady nerve to hit center of a criss-cross 
mark. 

"I m happiest here in the Valley of the Three Forks of 
the Wolf," says the Singing Elder, "here in Fentress 
County just across the Kentucky state line, once the happy 
hunting ground of Creeks and Cherokees. Hit s the place 
I love best with my family, my dogs and my gun. Hit s 
where I belong." 

Looking backward, history shows that mountain men, 
such as Alvin York, have always led their countrymen in 
time of war, as I have pointed out earlier. In the Civil 
War the southern highlands sent 180,000 riflemen to the 
Union Army. In the Spanish-American War they rushed 
to the defense of our country. In the World War, Breathitt 
County, known for its fighting blood, had no draft quota, 
so many of her valiant sons hastened to volunteer. Though 
mountain people have suffered the stigma of family feuds, 
they have lived to see old rancors forgotten. Hatfields and 
McCoys, Martins and Tollivers shoulder their muskets 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 317 

and march side-by-side when they have to defend their 
native land. 

The Big Sandy country is still filled with patriots. In 
Floyd County, the father of eleven sons is not worried 
about the draft, according to the Big Sandy News, No 
vember 15, 1940: "Frank Stamper, Prestonsburg Spanish- 
American War veteran, isn t worried about the draft 
catching any of his eleven boys, six of whom are of draft 
age. Five of the bra laddies already are infantrymen in 
the U. S. Army enlisted men. The sixth, Harry, from 
whom the family has not heard in nine years, may also 
be in the army now, and not subject to conscription later. 
Two of his sons Everett of Jackhorn, Kentucky, and 
Avery of Ronda, West Virginia, were in the World War 
as volunteers, and when you take in consideration that 
Mr. Stamper himself was a volunteer in the Spanish- 
American War, it makes the adult population of the 
family about unanimous in the matter of patriotism. The 
five sons in the army now are: Frank, Jr., Paul, Damon, 
John and Charles. Mr. Stamper is the father of twenty- 
seven children, seventeen of whom are living." 

WHEN SINGING COMES IN, FIGHTING GOES OUT 

Mountain folk, especially those who have had the mis 
fortune of being mixed in troubles (feuds to the outside 
world) believe earnestly that "when singing comes in, 
fighting goes out." "Look at the Hatfields and McCoys," 
they say. "They make music together now at the home of 
one side and now at the home of them on t other side. 
They sit side-by-side on the bench at the Singing Gather 
ing down on the "Mayo Trail come the second Sunday in 
June every year. Off yonder nigh the mouth of Big Sandy, 



318 Blue Ridge Country 

across the mountains which once were stained with the 
blood of both families. What s more, Little Melissy Hat- 
field and Little Bud McCoy even sing together a ballad 
that tells of the love of Rosanna McCoy for Devil Anse s 
son Jonse. And their elders sing hymn tunes long cher 
ished in the mountain church, whilst tens of thousands 
gathered on the hills all around about listen with silent 
rejoicing over the peace that has come to the once sorry 
enemies/ 

To be sure, there is the singing of folk songs handed 
down by word of mouth from generation to generation. 
When the mountain people are asked the origin of their 
music, the usual reply is "My grandsir larnt me this fiddle 
tune/ or "My Granny larnt me this song-ballet/ 

Since mountain people have brought their music out 
of the coves and hollows for the world to hear through 
their Singing Gathering and Festivals, the nation is fast 
becoming aware of the importance of folk music in the 
life of Americans today. Great singers have taken up the 
simple songs of our fathers. "Wipe out foes of morale with 
music/ says Lucy Monroe, New York s "Star Spangled 
Banner Soprano," director of patriotic music for RCA- 
Victor, when she sang on September 11, 1941, before the 
National Federation of Music Clubs in New York. "Let s 
make certain that when the present crisis is passed, music 
will have done its full job of defense/* she said enthusi 
astically. The singer urged federation members to become 
soldiers of music. "Let us enlist together to form a great 
army of music!" she urged. Miss Monroe was commis 
sioned by Mayor LaGuardia to devote her efforts to the 
cause of musk for the Office of Civilian Defense. Where 
upon she outlined a four-point program: i. To visit large 
plants and industrial centers connected with defense work 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 319 

to give musical programs and to suggest tKat the plants 
begin each day s activities with playing the Star-spangled 
Bannerto tell the men what they are working for. 2. To 
conduct community sings in large cities. 3. To collect 
phonograph records for the boys in army camps, estab 
lishing central depots in every locality in the country. 
4. To give talks, with song illustrations, on the history 
of United States of America in colleges, high schools, 
women s clubs, and music clubs. 

Though some may see folk song, the basis of all music, 
endangered by motion pictures, Kurt Schindler, authority 
on ancient European customs and collector of folk music 
in other lands, believes the danger lies in another direc 
tion. "The young students, the modernists, in their great 
desire to keep up with the times wish to kill the old 
things." 

All the forces working in America to preserve folk song 
should share Kurt Schindler s fears. The press is cognizant 
of the farflung effort throughout the land. The Atlanta 
Journal (September 19, 1928) says, "The collection and 
preservation of mountain folk music is a singularly gra 
cious work and one of rare value to history. Collected in 
its natural environment, it is perforce authentic both in 
tune and idiom, and sincere collectors are not content 
with this alone they complete the record by tracing the 
songs to their origins. Such is a most gracious work and 
one which lovers of beauty, whether music or in legend 
or in local history, throughout the South, would do well 
to imitate/ 

Far removed from the metropolitan area where great 
singers interpret the simple songs of our forbears and urge 
the necessity of their preservation, an untrained mountain 
minstrel is lending his every effort to aid not only in con- 



320 Blue Ridge Country 

serving but in correlating as well the folk lore of the Blue 
Ridge Country. He is a kinsman of Devil Anse Hatfield 
and lives just around the mountain from where the old 
warrior lies buried. "Sid Hatfield never was mixed up in 
the troubles in no shape nor fashion," anyone can tell 
you. "He d not foir a gun if you laid one in his hand. But 
just give him a fiddle! Why, Sid Hatfield is the music- 
makinest fellow that ever laid bow to strings. What s 
more he puts a harp in his mouth and plays it at the same 
time he s sawin the bow. I ve seen him and hear-ed him, 
many s the time." 

And so have thousands of others. For Sid Hatfield spends 
his spare time, when he s not working for the Appalachian 
Power Company in Logan County, West Virginia, mak 
ing music first at one gathering, then another. Sid s reper 
toire is almost limitless. He plays any fiddle tune from 
Big Sandy to Bonaparte s Retreat. And when it comes 
to the mouth harp, Sid just naturally can t be beat. "I 
love the old tunes," he says, "and they must not die. You 
and I can help them to live. Let old rancors die, but not 
our native song." 

To that end he has become a prime mover in a folk 
song and folk-lore conservation movement called Ameri 
can Folkways Association. "There are a lot of McCoys," 
he says, "who can pick a banjo and sing as fine a ditty 
as you ever heard. There s Bud McCoy over on Levisa 
Fork. Never saw his betters when it comes to picking the 
banjo. WeVe played together a whole day at a stretch 
.and never played the same tune twice. We just stop long 
enough to eat dinner and then we go at it again. Bud s 
teaching his grandson, Little Bud, and he s not yet five 
year old. Little Bud can step a hornpipe too. Peert as a 
cricket!" A slow Wreaking smile lights Sid s open coun- 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 321 

tenance. "Reckon you ve heard of our Association," and, 
not giving anyone time to answer, Sid is off on the subject 
nearest and dearest to his heart. "We ve got the finest 
Association in the country. Got a nephew of Fiddling Bob 
Taylor in our Association and by hext summer we aim 
to hold a Singing Gathering down in his countrythe 
Watauga country in Tennessee. Folsom Taylor, that s his 
name and he s living now in the far end of the Blue Ridge 
in Maryland. He helped us with the Singing Gathering 
we held in the Cumberlands in Maryland this past sum 
mer. We ve got another helper down in Tennessee. His 
name is Grady Snead. He was in the World War and about 
lost his singing voice but he s not lost any of his spirit for 
mountain music and old-time ways. Why, every summer 
ever since Grady got back from the war he s gathered his 
people around him in Snead s Grove he owns quite a 
few acres down in Tennessee and they have an old-time 
picnic and they have hymn singing and ballad singing 
and fiddle music. This past summer our Association joined 
in with them at the Snead picnic and you never saw the 
like that day in Snead s Grove. People thick as bees and 
pleased as could be. We started off a-singing a good old- 
fashioned hymn all together and that put everybody in 
good heart. Never saw such a picnic in all my born days. 
There s nothing like a good old-fashioned all-day picnic 
to make friends among people and then mix in a lot of 
good old-time music. That s what Americans were brought 
up on and that s what they re going to live on more and 
more through these troubled hours and as time goes on." 
That day at Snead s Grove, Sid Hatfield told them 
about the Association and how already different organiza 
tions had united with it. He told of a preacher over in 
Maryland who had joined in whole-heartedly. "He s 



322 Blue Ridge Country 

adopted the great out-of-doors for his temple in which to 
worship with song and prayer. Robinson is his name. 
Reverend Felix Robinson, as fine a singer and as fine a 
preacher as you d ever want to sit under." 

Then Sid put down his fiddle and his mouth harp and 
drawing from his coat pocket a crumpled paper, he began 
again. "My friends, I want to read you this piece in the 
Chicago Daily News. This is the place to read it. We ought 
to be warned about what can happen in this country to 
our music, by what has happened to some of our people. 
Though maybe sometime it s been for the best. This piece 
was writ by a mighty knowing man. His name is Robert J. 
Casey and he flew from Chicago for his paper the Chicago 
Daily News to hear with his own ears the music of the 
mountains from the lips of mountain singers at Traipsin - 
Woman cabin on the Mayo Trail the second Sunday in 
June, 1938." 

There was a moment s breathless silence over the great 
gathering there in Snead s Grove. The look of fear and 
apprehension gave way to that of eagerness and hope as 
Devil Anse Hatfield s kinsman read with quiet dignity: 

" One breathes a sigh for the Hatfields and McCoys 
who maintain the Democratic majority in cemeteries along 
the West Virginia line. One voices a word of commenda 
tion for the Hatfields and the McCoys who drive taxi- 
cabs in Ashland or run quiet, respectable and legal beer 
parlors in Huntington. And looking from one group to 
the other, one realizes that something has happened to 
the hill country. 

" A person of imagination standing on the tree-shaded 
porch of the Traipsin Woman cabin up in Lonesome Hol 
low probably still can hear echoes of "the singing gather 
ing" which only a few hours ago demonstrated the essen- 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 323 

tial durability of the hill folks. . . . Where a day or two 
ago there was only a neutral interest In such proceedings, 
now people are talking of Elizabethan culture preserved 
completely for a matter of centuries by people who lived 
on the wrong side of the tracks, just a few rods from the 
fence of the rolling mills. 

" There is a tendency in some quarters to look upon 
the sing-festival as a permanent and predictable com 
munity asset. But that is because the sophisticated and 
urban population is ignoring the present status of the 
McCoys and the Hatfields, as for many years it has ignored 
the crack-voiced "ballet" singers and the left-handed vir 
tuosi in its own backyard/ " 

Sid Hatfield paused in his reading to say a few words 
on his own. "There is one, not calling any names, who 
discovered a forgotten England in the Kentucky uplands." 
He turned again to read from the paper. " One who set 
down the words of the amazing ballads and studied music 
in order to capture the changeless arrangements for psal 
tery, dulcimer and sakbut, who has no such illusions. The 
music of the hills today is a thin echo of tunes that were 
sung on the village greens in Shakespeare s time. Tomor 
row it will be gone! " Sid Hatfield s voice lifted in ward 
ing. " And with it will vanish the early English idiom 
of the hill folkstheir costumes, their customs, their 
dances, the singing ritual of their weddings. Pretty soon 
there aren t going to be any more hill folk-if indeed, 
there are any now. 

"The Hatfields and McCoys, they were reckless moun 
tain boys," whose history is now as stale as that of the 
Capone mob. Their feud, which . . . threatened to pro 
voke a civil war between two states, gave rise to the gen 
eral belief in the lasting endurance of the hill dwellers. 



324 Blue Ridge Country 

A race must be hardy as the ragweed when it could not be 
exterminated even by its own patient effort. The tenantry 
of the flatlands might be excused for believing that a spe 
cial Providence intended it to survive, despite poverty, 
malnutrition, bad housing and wasting disease forever and 
ever. 

" And so it might have survived, for the hill people 
had "the habit of standing." They had set a precedent of 
fertility and hardihood and the will to live for a matter 
of centuries. . . . But there had come influences over 
which not even the carefully nurtured stubbornness of 
300 years could prevail. . . . The railroad and the con 
crete highway and the automobile and the black tunnels 
of the coal mine. 

" . . - The day of isolated communities and isolated 
culture in the United States is already past. . . . The 
hill folk have been known to the flatland people chiefly 
for feuds and moonshine. Perhaps tempers are no less 
quick, but it s less trouble to get to court and have griev 
ances adjudicated according to law. And the music is go 
ingand the traditional dances. It is one of the defects of 
all educational systems that they make it easier for a per 
son to forget by removing the necessity for his remember- 
ing/ " 

Sid Hatfield again voiced his own observations. "Time 
was when old folks could recall every word of hundreds 
of ballads." He turned once more to read from the news 
paper in his hand. " 4 . . . and every note of a music whose 
disregard for melodic rule made it exceedingly difficult 
to remember. Now, when such things can be written 
down, no "grandsir" will bother to repeat them to the 
youngins and the youngins will get their music from the 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 325 

radio. By that time there will be no doubt that Queen 
Elizabeth is dead/ " 

Devil Anse s kinsman surveyed his listeners. "My 
friends, we ve got a-bound, me and you and you/ he 
singled out a lad here a man, a woman there, "to put our 
shoulders to the wheel and save our old ways and our old 
music." 

Then he told about the American Folkways Association 
and its purpose. "We aim to unify efforts to conserve and 
cultivate the traditions and customs of the Blue Ridge 
Country where conditions are ideal for a renewed em 
phasis on living a simple and natural life ... to preserve 
the past and present expressions of isolated peoples in the 
Southern Appalachians which are untainted by any form 
of insincerity or make-believe. There is growing interest 
among city-bred people in the folk-ways, and through re 
search and actual experiences, they are learning to appre 
ciate the simple folk-life that is still intact." 

Sid, like Devil Anse, understands crowd psychology, 
though neither calls it by that name. Sid had the attention 
of his hearers and he told them more. We re getting our 
eyes open more every day to the boundless treasures in 
America. People all through the Blue Ridge don t aim 
to stand by and see things disappear because new ways 
have come in. They ve started all sorts of gatherings and 
festivals to keep alive the things that mean America!" 

With quick gesture he enumerated upon his fingers as 
he named some of them: "There s the Forest Festival held 
in October at Elkins, West Virginia, with a pretty moun 
tain maid for its Queen; the Tobacco Festival in Shelby- 
ville, Kentucky, that pays homage to the leading product 
of the Blue Grass country, next to the race horse, of 
course; there s the Mountain Laurel Festival at Pineville, 



326 Blue Ridge Country 

Kentucky, in May, glorifying the beauty and profusion 
of the mountain flower; the Virginia Apple Blossom Fes 
tival in April in the Shenandoah Valley at Winchester, 
Virginiaa wilderness of blossoms that has made beauti 
ful a once lonely valley; the Rhododendron Festival in 
Webster Springs, West Virginia, in July, that vies in 
charm with a like event in Kentucky; the Sweet Potato 
Festival in Paris, Tennessee, that pays tribute to the yam; 
the American Folk Song Festival in the foothills of Ken 
tucky. Then there s the Snead Picnic that our good friend 
Grady Snead has been carrying on every summer ever 
since he got back from the war across the waters; there s 
the Mountain Choir Festival over in Oakland, Maryland, 
in the month of August, when hundreds of mountain boys 
and girls gather together to sing hymns and old ballads 
too; there s the Arcadian Folk Festival and the Poet s 
Fair and the Arcadian Guild all bunched together at Hot 
Springs National Park and McFadden Three Sisters 
Springs where down in the Ozark Country folks welcome 
the advent of the Moon of Painted Leaves and pattern 
new dreams in the valley of pastoral fancy, listen to the 
Pipes of Pan, meet old friends, and make new ones in a 
sylvan environment, where poetry slides down every moon 
beam. Every sort of gathering right where it belongs, 
where it was cradled through all these long generations." 
Sid paused a moment for second wind. "When we look 
about we re bound to own this is a mighty changing 
world. Time was when the mountain people rode to the 
gatherings in Brushy Hollow in jolt wagons. They kept 
it up a while, loading the whole family in the jolt wagon. 
But times have changed. ... A body has to sort o keep 
up with the times, like Prof. Koch. Bless you, he loads 
his whole pack and passel of boys and girls in a bus and 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 327 

packs them hither and yon crost the country to show out 
with their play-making. The Carolina Playmakers just 
naturally fetch the mountain to Mohammed." Sid flung 
wide his hands, brought them slowly together. "To get 
all such folks to work together that s why we formed the 
American Folkways Association. What s more we ve got 
us a magazine to tell about what we ve done and aim to 
do the Arcadian Life magazine, with our good friend 
Otto Ernest Rayburn as editor, way down in the Ozarks." 
Sid Hatfield smiled pleasantly. "There s no excuse for 
folks not being neighborly nowadays. No matter where 
they live, what with good roads and the automobile we ve 
just got a-bound to be neighborly. To sing together, to 
make music together, to show out our crops and our 
posies and our handiwork together. Here in Snead s Grove 
today is the third time we ve bore witness that our Asso 
ciation is not just a theory. We made our first bow in the 
Kentucky foothills in June, the second in Maryland in 
August, and now in Tennessee, In October we aim to 
join hands and hearts and our music in Arcadia under 
the Autumn moon." 

That day in Snead s Grove in Tennessee they wanted 
Sid Hatfield to keep right on but taking a squint at the 
sun sinking in the west, he said in conclusion, "I ve got a 
long ways to travel back to the West Virginia mountains 
but I hope we ll all be together again here in the Grove 
next summer, this day a year, the Lord being willing." 

VANISHING TRAIL 

Perhaps it is merely the result of evolutionary process, 
economic rather than intentional, that man has wiped out 
many reminders of the past; that the forest primeval has 



328 Blue Ridge Country 

passed to make room for blue grass, tasseled corn, and 
tobacco; that forts and blockhouses gave way to the set 
tler s log house encircled by a garden patch; that the win- 
dowless cabin has gone to make room for the weather- 
boarded frame of many rooms and glass windows; that the 
village has vanished for the town the industrial center. 

The Wilderness Trail broken first by mastodon, then 
panther and bear and frightened deer, has been trans 
formed into a modern highway. The Shawnee Trail along 
which Indians lurked and tomahawked white men has be 
come Mayo Trail, taking its name from a country school 
teacher. He was a far-seeing man, who stumbled sometimes 
hopelessly along the lonely way, when he needed help to 
bring out of the bowels of the earth the treasure in coal 
he knew to be hidden there. Mayo Trail is an amazing 
engineering feat that connects mountains with level land. 
Limestone Trail in Mason County has left along its course 
only a vestige of vegetation to remind us it was once the 
path of buffalo and Indian. To motorists hurrying on 
ward it is merely U. S. 60 that leads to another city. 

The rugged, unbroken path once pursued by the lad 
Gabriel Arthur, a Cherokee captive, called on Hutchins 
Map in 1778 the "War Path to the Cuttawa Country," 
uniting today with the Wilderness Trails, has become the 
open gateway to the West. Boone s Trace, or Boone s 
Path, leading from Virginia through Cumberland Gap, to 
the Ohio River, still is called Boone s Path. Since 1909 it 
has been a national motorway, being a part of the Dixie 
Highway which runs from Michigan to Florida. It was 
over this same path that Governor Duncannon of Virginia 
built the first wagon road in 1790. During the Civil War 
the region of the Gap was fortified and occupied by Con 
federate and Union soldiers in turn. Later, in 1889, 



Reclaiming the Wilderness 329 

first railroad entered the Gap. Today Skyline Highway 
U. S. 25 and 58 leads from the saddle of the historic Gap 
to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, commanding a view of 
six states, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, 
Georgia, and Alabama. 

And the scene has changed. 

Spring has come to the Blue Ridge. The hum of indus 
try echoes along once lonely creeks, through quiet hollows. 
We see no more the oxcart lumbering, creaking labori 
ously along, higher and higher up the rugged mountain 
side. The latest model motor glides swiftly over the smooth 
surface, winding its way upward and upward. Off yonder 
the TVA has harnessed the waterpower of the Holston and 
Tennessee, made a great valley to burst into a miracle 
of man s genius. Modern industrial plants steam along the 
banks. 

Good roads, the automobile, schoplhouses, the airplane 
have wiped out all barriers between mountain and plain. 
The Blue Ridge casts a long, long shadow across blossom 
ing valleys. The mountaineer of yesterday with his Anglo- 
Saxon speech of Elizabeth s time, his primitive plow and 
loom, has vanished before the juggernaut of progress. But 
the children of the hills are blessed with a rich, a price 
less heritage in tradition, song, and love of independence 
that will not die as long as mountains stand and men of 
the mountains survive to defend and preserve it. 



Index 



Abingdon, Virginia, Declaration of, 

3i-32 

aborigines, 8 

adventurers, 15 

agriculture, x 13-21, 283-89 

Alabama, 310 

Alamance, Battle of, 28 

Allegheny Mountains, 4 

American Folk Song Festival, 241 

American Folkways Association, 320- 
27 

animal life, 8 

Appalachia, 3-4, 5 

"Appalachia," by Martha Creech, 
210 

Apple Blossom Festival, 326 

Arcadian Folk Festival, 326 

Arcadian Guild, 326 

Arcadian Life, 327 

art exhibit, Kentucky, 250 

Arthur, Gabriel, expedition of, 17- 
18, 328 

Ash Lawn, 293 

"Ashland Tragedy, The," by Pey 
ton Buckner Byrne, 228 

Athiamiowee Trail, 9 

Atlanta Journal, 319 

Audubon Memorial State Park, 304 

Bailey, "Mad Anne," 300 

ballads, 132, 152, 154, 159, 210-47, 
249, 306; and music, 43-44; patri 
otic, 239-47 

Baltimore, Lord, 7, 12 

Bankhead-Jones Tenant Purchase 
Act, 286 

baptism, 60-61 

Baptists, 161-64, 268; Regular Prim 
itive, 161-64, 266 

Bardstown, Kentucky, 304 

Barker, George A., "Norris Dam," 
245; "Skyline Drive," 215 



Barton, Bruce, 268 

Barton, William E,, 268 

beliefs, women s, 120-21 

belting a tree, 113 

Berea College, 259, 307 

Berry Schools, 259, 307-10 

Big Bone Lick, 8 

Big Meeting, 57, 71 

Big Sandy Breaks, 301 

Big Sandy Improvement Associa 
tion, 287 

Big Sandy News, 286, 317 

Big Sandy River, 4, 18, 19, 48, 116, 
27 1* 304; canalization, 287; su 
perstition, 168 

"Big Sandy River," by D. Preston, 

211 

birds, 6-7 

black cat, legend of, 189-94 

Blackberry Association, 288 

blessing the hounds, 305 

blindness, conjured, 180-85 

block houses, 22 

blue grass country, 303 

Blue Lick, 35 

Blue Ridge Mountains, 4 

Blue Ridge Parkway, 292 

boats, river, 272 

books, 16, 29, 34, 306 

Boone, Daniel, 19, 21, 22-39, 295, 

302; capture by Indians, and 

escape, 35-36; death and grave, 39 
Boone, Mrs. Daniel, 24-25 
Boone s Trace (Trail; Path), 33, 328 
Boonesborough, 35, 37, 39; Battle 

of, 36 

Braddock, General, 23 
Breaks of the Big Sandy, 301 
Breathitt County, Kentucky, 73, 74, 

75. 79, 88, 316 

Breckinridge, Alexander, 13, 261 
Breckinridge, Mrs. Mary, 261 



331 



332 



Index 



Bryan, William Jennings, 314 
Bryans, trek with Boone, 29-30 
Buckley, Noah, 169-72 
Buffum-Dillani feud, 88-91 
"Bundles for Britain," by Jilson 

Setters, 242 

Burchett, Luke, "Jennie "Wylie," 219 
Burning Spring, 21, 26, 270 
Byrne, Peyton Buckner, "The Ash 
land Tragedy," 228 

CCC, 288, 290 

CIO, 289-90 

Callahan, Ed, 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 81, 

82 
Campbell, John C., Folk School, 

259, 307 

canalization, river, 287 
candy pulling, 143-44 
"Captain Jinks/ 147 
Carolina Playmakers, 305-06, 326- 

27 
Carter, Nannie Hamm, "It s Great 

to Be an American," 239 
Casey, Robert J., 322 
cat, black, legend of, 189-94 
Catlettsburg, Kentucky, 116, 271-72 
Caudill, Mrs. Lydia Messer, 250 
caverns, 186, 292, 300, 303, 313 
Cawood, Mrs. Herbert C., 283 
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 306 
Charette, Missouri, 38 
Cherokees, 18, 32, 312, 328; legend, 

186-89 

Chicago Daily News, 322 , 
Child, lost, finding of, 170-72 
Christmas, Old and New, 158-61 
"Church in the Mountains," by 

Jessie Stewart, 222 
church music, 268 
churches, new, 266 
cider press, old, 302 
Civil War, 47, 55, 72, 231, 310, 313, 

316, 328 
Civilian Conservation Corps, 288, 

290 

claims, land, 32 
climate, 7, 41 
Clinch Valley, 30 
coal mining, 250-51 
coal mining and miners, yesterday 

and today, 273-83 
"Coal Queen," 283 



Cockrell, James, 74-81 
Cockrell-Hargis feud, 73-88 
Collins, Floyd, 303; ballads of, 235, 

237 

Confederacy, White House, 310 

Congress of Industrial Organiza 
tions, 289-90 

conjuring, 180-85 

conservation, 288 

Constitution, first American, 29 

"convicts," early, 16 

corn, grinding of, 112-13 

Cornstalk, Chief, 300 

corpse, winking, legend of, 203-05 

country dances, 148 

County Coal Operators Association, 
283 

courting and song, 122-34 

cow, poisoned, 174-75 

Craft, Uncle Chunk, 72-73 

Crawford, Bruce, 294-99 

Creech, Martha, "Appalachia," 210; 
"The Robin s Red Breast," 218; 
"Woman s Way," 226 

Crisp, Adam, "Floyd Collins Fate," 

237 

crocheting, 120-22 
Crockett s Hollow, legend of, 180- 

85 

crops, 112-21 

croup, curing, 171 

crown, death, 177-78 

Crystal Cave, 303 

Cudo s Cave, 313 

"Cumberland," origin of use of 

name, 20 

Cumberland Falls Park, 302-03 
Cumberland Gap and Mountain, 4, 

20, 26, 30, 33, 46, 313, 328-29 
Cumberland Plateau, 4, 19 
Cumberland River, 3, 19 
customs, religious, 155-67 
Cuttawa country, 17, 19 

dancing, 145-50; modern, 264-65; 
wedding, 153 

Darrow, Clarence, 314 

Davis, Esther Eugenia, "West Vir 
ginia," 214 

Davis, Jefferson, 310 

Dayton, Tennessee, 314 

death, omens of, 177-79 

death crown, 177-78 



Index 



333 



"Death of Mary Fagin, The," by 

Bob Salyers, 232 
Declaration of Abingdon, Virginia, 

S 1 ^ 2 

Declaration of Independence, 34 
deer woman and fawn, legend of, 

194-99 

Delisle, map, 19 
Dillam-Buffum feud, 88-91 
dipping snuff, 289 
divining rod, use of, 169-72 
Dixie Highway, 328 
doctor, mountain, ballad of, 223 
doctor, wizard, 190 
doctors, 173-74, 261 
Donegal, Lord, 12 
"Downfall of Paris, The," by Coby 

Preston, 246 
drives. See highways 
Dug Down Mountains, ^105, 310 
Duke, Effie and Richard, ballad of, 

234 

Duncannon, Governor, 328 
Duquesne, Captain, 36 

Eaton, Allen, Handicrafts of the 

Southern Highlands, 306 
education. See schools 
electrification, rural, 263-64 
Elizabeth, Queen, 10, 43 
Evans, Lewis, map, 19 
evolution trial, 314 
excise laws, hatred of, 11, 43 
explorers, 16 

Fagin (Phagan), Mary, ballad of, 
232 

fairs, state, 284 

families, large, 285-86 

family honor, 106-11 

Farm Security Administration, 284, 
285, 286, 287 

farming, 112-21, 283-89 

"Fate of Effie and Richard Duke, 
The, * by Coby Preston, 234 

"Fate of Floyd Collins, The," by 
Jilson Setters, 235 

fauna, 8 

feather, white, 178-79 

festivals, 325-26 

feuds, 45-111; ballad on, 216; van 
ishing feudist, 248-55. See also 
family names 



fighting and singing, 317-27 
Flanery, Mrs. Mary Elliott, 262- 

63 

flora, 5-6, 56 

"Floyd Collins Fate," by Adam 

Crisp, 237 
Foley, Ben, 105-11 
Foley, Jorde, 105-11 
Foley Sods, 105 
folk festivals, 325-26 
folk lore, and conservation of, 320- 

27 

folk singing, 317-27 
Folk Song Festival, 241 
Folkways Association, American, 

320-27 

foot-washing, 161-64, 266, 268-69 
Forest Festival, 325 
forestry, 288 

forests, national, 300, 301 
Fort Boone, 39 
fortunes and riddles, 135-50 
fox hunting, 305 
Frank, Leo M., ballad\of, 232 
Franklin D. Roosevelt Highway, 309 
Frazier s Knob, 302 
Frontier Nursing School, 261 
Fugate, Chester, 74-75 
funeralizing, 155-58, 267 
furs, 17, 19, 22 
Future Farmer Association, 283 

games, kissing, 144 
Gandy Sinks, 300 
Garrett, Aunt Sallie, 55-72 
Garrett, William Dyke, 55-72, 201, 

202, 295 

Gentry, Pol, legend of, 189-94 
geography song, 128-29 
Georgia Warm Springs, 308-10 
Good, Professor E. $., 303 
"Good Shepherd of the Hills/ 55- 

72 

Great Kanawha River, 37 
Great Meadows, and Battle of, 23, 

26 
Great Smoky Mountains National 

Park, 292, 312-13 
Green River, 19, 303 
Greene, General Nathanael, 19 
Greenup (Hangtown), Kentucky, 

231 



334 



Index 



Hamm family Eisteddfod, 239 

handicrafts, 306-07 

Handicrafts of the Southern High- 

lands, by Allen Eaton, 306 
Hangtown (Greenup), Kentucky, 

231 
Hargis, Beach, and murder of 

father, 79, 82-87 
Hargis, Elbert, 254-55 
Hargis, Judge James, and murder 

by son, 75-87 

Hargis-Cockrell feud, 73-88 
Harkins, Hugh, 269-70 
Harkins, Walter Scott, 269-71 
Harlan, Kentucky, 283 
Harlan Mining Institute, 283 
Hart, " Honest* John, 15 
Hart, Nathaniel, 32 
Hatfield, "Devil Anse," 46-67, 250; 

anecdote of, 62-63; conversion 

and baptism of, 63-67; ghost, 199- 

202; statue of, 199-202; stories 

told by, 49-54 
Hatfield, Jonse, 251 
Hatfield, Levisa Chafin, 46-72; grave, 

200 

Hatfield, Sid, 320-27 
Hatfield, Tennis, 251 
Hatfield burying ground, 199-202 
Hatfield-McCoy feud, 46-72 
Hatfields and McCoys, reunion, 254- 

55; singing together, 317-27 
haunted house, legend of, 205-09 
Hedrick, Ray, and his "haunted 

house," 205-09 
Henderson, Archibald, 305 
Henderson, Richard, 32, 37 
Hennepin, Louis, 18 
Henry, Patrick, 30 
highways, 291-93, 309, 315, 328, 329 
hill people, tribute to, 322-25 
"hill-billies," 41-42 
Hindman Settlement School, 259 
Hodgenville, Kentucky, 304 
Holden, West Virginia, 282-83 
Hols ton River, 17, 33 
home industry, 117-19, 262, 306-07 
honor, family, 107-11 
horses, race, 303-04 
hospitality, 42 

hounds, blessing of the, 305 
house with the green gables, legend 

of, 205-09 



hunters and trappers, 17 
Huraken and Manuita, legend of, 

186-89 

Hutchins, Thomas, map, 19, 228 
hymns, 66, 67, 70-71, 157-58, 162-63 

illiteracy, 40; adult, school for, 260 
improvements, modern, 263-64 
Indents, 15 

independence, spirit of, 286 
Indians, 9-10, 13, 15, 17, 18, 21-22, 

28, 30, 33, 35; legend, 186-89; 

picture language, 9-10; ways and 

customs, 9-10 

industry, home, 117-19, 262, 306-07 
infantile paralysis, 308-10 
infare wedding, 151-54 
Ireland, English invasion of, 10-11; 

oppression of, 11-12 
"It s Great to Be an American, * by 

Nannie Hamm Carter, 239 

Jack Knife Shop, 307 
~ames I of England, 10 
fames, Frank, 49, 51-52 
Jefferson, Thomas, 293 
Jefferson National Forest, 301 
"Jennie Wylie," by Luke Burchett, 

219 

Jett, Curt, 74-81, 88 
John C. Campbell Folk School, 259, 

307 
Jones-Wright feud, 73 

Kentucky, art exhibit, 250; begin 
ning of colonization, 32; first 
white man in, 18; past, com 
memoration of, 301-02 

Kentucky Progress Magazine, 259 

Kentucky River, 18, 19, 33, 35 

Kentucky Woodlands Wildlife Ref 
uge, 3<>5 

Kernersville, North Carolina, 306 

killings, 42, 43 

kissing games, 144 

Koch, "Prof.," 1 305-06, 326-27 



labor, coal-mine, yesterday and to 
day, 273-83 

land claims, 32 

Land of Saddle-Bags, The, by Dr. 
James Watt Raine, 16, 34 

land-purchase program, 286 



Index 



335 



land reclamation, 284 

Lawton, John and Dessie, story of, 

58-59 c . , 
learning. See schools 
legends, 180-209, 218 
Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State 

Park, 302 

Levisa River. See Louisa River 
Limestone Path, 9, 328 
Lincoln, Abraham, 304 
Little Theatre, 305-06 
Logan Wildcats, 47, 55 
logging and loggers, 5-6, 112-17, 270, 

271-72, 288; superstition, 168 
London bombing, ballad on, 241 
Louisa (Levisa) River, 21, 46 
"Love of Rosanna McCoy, The," by 

Coby Preston, 216 
Loyal Land Company, 19-21, 49 
lumbering. See logging 
lynchings, 74, 96-97 

Main Island Creek, 250 
Mammoth Cave and National Park, 

288, 303 

Man o War, 303 
Manuita and Huraken, legend of, 

186-89 

maps, and making of, 18-19, 328 
Marcum, James B,, 74-81 
marriages. See Weddings 
Martha Berry Schools, 259, 307-10 
Martin-Tolliver feud, 91-104, 203- 

05; end of, 249 
May, A. J., 287 

Mays, John Caldwell Calhoun, 2^3 
Mayo (Shawnee) Trail, 301, 317, 

322, 328 

McCoy, Harmon, 46 
McCoy-Hatfield feud, 46-72 
McCoys and Hatfields, reunion of, 

254-55" singing together, 317-27 
McGuffey, Dr. William Holmes, 

Readers, and shrine, 128, 289, 304 
Mclntyre, O. O., 267 
McNeely, Reverend John, 70 
Mecklenburg, North Carolina, Res 
olutions, 22, 34 
medicine, 261 
Meeting, Big, 57, 71 
meetings, religious, 155 
memorials, 267 
men, mountain, 269-72 



minerals and soil, 8 

mining, coal. See Coal 

Model Star, The, 314 

Monongahela National Forest, 300 

Monroe, James, 293 

Monroe, Lucy, 318 

Monticello, Virginia, 293 

Moonlight School, 260 

"moonshine," 43, 46-111, 248, 255- 
58; origin of, 11 

Morehead, Kentucky, 249-50 

Morgan, General John, Hunt, 72 

Morgan s Riflemen, 34 

Mosley, Pleaz, Zooseum, 311 

mound builders, 8, 9 

Mountain Choir Festival, 326 

"Mountain Doctor," by Jilson Set 
ters, 223 

Mountain Laurel Festival, 325 

"Mountain Preacher," by D. Pres 
ton, 221 

"Mountain Singers," by Rachel 
Mack Wilson, 228 

"Mountain State" (West Virginia), 

294-300 
"Mountain Woman," by John W. 

Preble, Jr., 225 
mountaineers, the, 40-45 
Mountaineer s Museum, 313 
mountains, 4-5 
murders, 42, 43 , 
museums, 311, 313 
music, and ballads, 43-44; church, 

268 

Neely, Matthew M., 295, 297 

neighborliness, 44-45 

Nelson s Riflemen, 34 

New Light, 164-67 

"Norris Dam/ by George A. Barker, 

245 
North Carolina, settlement, 21-22, 

26-29 
Nursing School, Frontier, 261 

"Oh, Brother, Will You Meet Mel" 

157 

oil, 270-71 

Old Buffalo Path, 9 
"Old Time Waterfront," by Coby 

Preston, 213 
omens t>f death, 177-79 
oratory, 155 



336 



Index 



paleontology, 8 

Paris, downfall of, ballad on, 246 

Park-to-Park Highway, 291-93 

parks, national and state, 288, 291, 
292, 302-03, 304, 312-13 

parkways. See highways 

Partlow, Deborah, story of, 60-61 

paths. See trails 

patriotic ballads, 239-47 , 

Pearl, William, 302 

Pennsylvania, Proprietors of, 13 

people of the Blue Ridge, 10 

petroleum, 270-71 

Phagan (Fagin), Mary, ballad of, 
232 

physicians, 261 

picture language, Indian, 9-10 

Piedmont Plateau, 4 

pig, bewitched, 189-94 

Pilot Knob, 26 

Pinnacle Mountain, 329 

pioneers, 10 

play-game songs, 145-48 

play-making, 305-06 

Playmakers Theatre, 306 

poems, mountain, 210-47 

Poets Fair, 326 

"Pop Goes the Weasel," 148-50 

poteen, 11, 43 

Powell Valley, 30 

preachers, mountain, 267-69 

Preble, John E., Jr., "Mountain 
Woman," 225 

Preston, Goby, "Old Time Water 
front," 213; "The Downfall of 
Paris," 246; "The Fate of Effie 
and Richard Duke," 234; "The 
Love of Rosanna McCoy," 216 

Preston, D., "Big Sandy River," 
211; "Mountain Preacher," 221 

Prestonsburg, Kentucky, 272 

Primitive Baptists, Regular, 161-64, 
266 

products of the soil, 112-21 

progress, gains and losses by, 264- 
69 

Proprietors, Pennsylvania, 13 

public works, 274-83 

purchase, land, program for, 286 

quilts, 120-21; poem on, 226 
quitrents, 13-14 



race horses, 303-04 

Raine, Dr. James Watt, The Land 

of Saddle-Bags, 16, 34 
rainfall, 7 
Rangers, 21-22, 27 
Rayburn, Otto Ernest, 327 
reclaiming the wilderness, 248-329 
reclamation, soil, 284 
"recorder, the," 43 
redemptioners, 15 
Reffitt, Aunt Lindie, 135-43 
reforestation, 288 
Refuge, Kentucky Wildlife, 305 
Regular Primitive Baptists, 161-64, 

266 

Regulators, 27, 28 
religious customs, 155-67 
rent system, 13-14 
reptiles, 7 

Revolutionary War, 34; battle mon 
ument, 300; commemorating, 290 
Rhododendron Festival, 326 
riddles and fortunes, 135-50 
river boats, 272 
river improvement, 287 
rivers, 3-4 

roads, improvement of, 286, 287 
Robertson, James, expedition of, 

27-29 
"Robin s Red Breast, The," by 

Martha Creech, 218 
Robinson, Reverend Felix, 321-22 
Rockcastle River, 18 
Rockefeller, John D., Jr., 294 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., Highway, 

309 
Roosevelt, Theodore, The Winning 

of the West; 29 
Rowan County, Kentucky, 92, 250- 

51, 260; art exhibit, 250 
"Rowan County Troubles, The," 

249 

rug-making, 262 
rural electrification, 263-64 
Russell, Captain William, 29 
Russell Cave Road, 303 

"Sad London Town," by Jilson Set 
ters, 241 

Saint Valentine Day charm, 136-37 
salt licks, 8 
Saltpeter, Cave, 186 



Index 



337 



Salyers, Bob, "The Death of Mary 

Fagin," 232 
Sand Cave, 303 
Schindler, Kurt, 319 
schools, 258-62. See also names of 

schools and colleges 
Scopes trial, 314 
Scotch-Irish, 10-14, 31 
Seneca Caverns, 300 
"Sergeant York," by Jilson Setters, 

Setters, Jilson, and his ballads: 
"Bundles for Britain/ 248; 
"Mountain Doctor," 223; "Sad 
London Town," 241; "Sergeant 
York," 243; "The Fate of Floyd 
Collins," 235 
settlers, 10 
Sewell, Willie, 73 
Shawnee (Mayo) Trail, 9, 301, 317, 

322, 328 

Shawnees, 18, 19 
Shelby, Isaac, 302 
Shenandoah Community Workers, 

306 

Shenandoah National Park, 291, 292 
Shenandoah Valley, 4, 13 
showboat, 116-17 

silver mine, lost, legend of, 186-89 
Silver Moon Tavern, 251-55 
silver tomahawk, legend of, 186-89 
singing and songs, courting, 133-34; 
folk, 317-27; Gatherings, 317-27; 
geography song, 128-29; moun 
tain, 210-47; mountain, poem on, 
228; play-game, 145-48; school, 
Philomel Whiffet s, 122-34; socie 
ties, 266 

Skyline Caverns, 292 
Skyline Drive, 291-93, 329 
"Skyline Drive," by George A. 

Barker, 215 
Smith, Kate, 260 
snakes, 7; use in religious services, 

and bites, 164-67 
Snead, Grady, and his picnic, 321, 

326, 327 

Snow Bird, legend of, 300 
snuff, dipping, 289 
soil, and minerals, 8; products of, 

112-21; reclamation, 284. 
aongs. See singing and songs 
Sorghum Association, 287 



sorghum making, 118-19 
Spanish -American War, 316 
"speakings," 155 
Speleological Society, 300 
Spring, Burning, 21, 26, 270 
Spurlock Station, 272 
Stamper, Fred, 317 
Stewart, Mrs. Cora Wilson, 260 
Stewart, Jessie, "Church in the 

Mountains," 222 
stills. See "moonshine" 
superstitions, 168-79, l8 > 181 
surgery, primitive, 173-74 
Sweet Potato Festival, 326 
Swindle Cave, 186 

TVA, 311-12 

taffy pulling, 143-44 

Talbott Tavern, 304 

Taylor, Fiddling Bob, 290 

Taylor, Folsom, 321 

tenant purchase program, 286 

Tennessee, 311-17; first permanent 
- settlement, 26 

Tennessee River, 3, 4, 19 

Tennessee Valley Authority, 311-12 

Theatre, Little, 305-06 

Thomas, Reverend James M., 314 

timber. See logging 
Tiptons, the, legend of, 180-85 
Tobacco Festival, 325 
Tolliver-Martin feud, 91-104, 203- 

05; end of, 249 

tomahawk, silver, legend of, 186-89 
topography, 8 
tradition, 122-54 
trails, 9-10, 17, 19, 20, 26, 33, 39, 

273> 328 

Traipsing Woman cabin, 322-23 
Transylvania, and Company, 32-35, 

36-38 * 

trappers and hunters, 17 
trees, 5-6; belting, 113. See also 

lumber 

turkey refuge, 304-05 
"Twa Sisters," 152 

Unaka Mountains, 5 

Valley of Parks, 302 

Valley of Virginia, 17 

"Vauxhall Dance," 50 

Virginia Apple Blossom Festival, 326 



338 



Index 



Virginia reel, 148-50 
vote, women s, 263 

WPA, 289 

Walker, Dr. Thomas, expeditions 

of, 19-21, 46, 49, 270, 301 
Warm Springs, Georgia, 308-10 
Warrior s Path, 9, 17, 19, 20, 26, 33, 

273 

Washington, George, 23, 34, 292, 
296 

Watauga Association, 29, 290 

Watauga country, 25; settlement of, 
26-29 

Watauga River, 32 

water-witch, 169-72 

watercourses, 7 

Weave Shop, 306 

weavers, Wilderness Road, 302 

weddings, infare, 151-54; on horse 
back, unlucky, 172-77 

WeUford, Clate, 274-83 

wells, finding, 169-72 

West Virginia, 294-300 

"West Virginia," by Esther Eugenia 
Davis, 214 

West Virginia Review, 295 

"Whiffet, Philomel, singing school, 
122-34 

whiskey, 11, 43. See also "moon 
shine" 

white feather, 178-79 

Whittlers, 307 

whittling, 259 

wilderness, reclaiming, 248-329 

Wilderness Road Weavers, 302 



Wilderness Trail, 33, 39, 328 
Wildlife Refuge, Kentucky, 305 
Williamsburg, Virginia, 294 
winking corpse, legend of, 203-05 
Winning of the West, The, by The- 

odore Roosevelt, 29 
witch, legend of, 189-94 
witchcraft, 180-85 
wizard doctor, 190 
woman, mountain, 262-64, 272; 

poems on, 225, 226; work, 117-21, 

263-64 

woman suffrage, 262 
"Woman s Way," by Martha Creech, 

226 

Wood, Colonel Abraham, 17 
Woodcrafters and Carvers, 307 
Works Progress Administration, 289 
works, public, 274-83 
World War, 316, 317 
Wright, Judge William, 260 
Wright- Jones feud, 73 
Wylie, Jennie, ballad of, 219 

Yadkin River, 4 

York, Sergeant Alvin C., 295, 314- 
16; ballad of, 243; school, 259, 

315 

York Highway, 315 
Yorktown, Virginia, 294 
Young, Judge Will, 88 
younger generation, the, 264-66 

Zimmerman, Dr. C. C., 285 
Zooseum, Mosley s, 311 




102539