The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

  • Memories of a vanishing era

    Left to right: Coy Oliver Yeatts, mountain philosopher and nature lover; Ella Hughes Boyd, midwife and grit best describe this wonderful lady; Adam Clement, beekeeper extraordinaire. They are just a few among hundreds who have shared their stories and memories in The Mountain Laurel. Their stories are a national treasure.

  • The Stoneman Family

    A Heritage of Mountain Music

    It was more than a concert, it was a rare privilege to be attending the Stoneman Family Festival at Willis, Virginia in August. The reason it was more than a concert was that family members from Maryland and Tennessee traveled here for a reunion.

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  • Picturesque Blue Ridge Backroads

    Discover the Real Blue Ridge

    Scenes like this are just around the next bend or over the next hill along the hundreds of miles of backroads you'll discover with our easy to follow self-guided Backroad Tours.

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  • Making Old Fashion Mountain Molasses

    B. L. (Bunny) and Tella Mae Cockram

    B.L. (Bunny) and Tella Mae Cockram are each 73 years old. They’ve been married for 50 years and since 1935, home for them has been their 60 acre farm in the Mountain View section of Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Tella Mae has a hundred laying hens and she sells eggs to a lot of the folks here-'bouts. In addition to the 100 laying hens, she and Bunny have 50 head of cattle and 25 head of sheep.

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  • Woodrow (Woody) Dalton on the old Appalachian Trail

    Arrowhead Marker built by John Barnard

    The original route of the Appalachian Trail crossed the Pinnacles of Dan, traversed the Dan River Gorge and climbed Indian Ladder to the plateau known locally as the Rich Bent. This path carried hikers through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful terrain the Blue Ridge Mountains have to offer. Earl Shaffer on his historic first ever through hike of the entire Appalachian Trail in one season, passed through this area and described it ...

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Sunny Side Store

By Eula Golding Walters © 2015

Online: January, 2015

The Sunny Side Store in Carroll County, Virginia, captured with pen by artist C. Ron Leonard.The Sunny Side Store in Carroll County, Virginia, captured with pen by artist C. Ron Leonard.I remember the Sunny Side Store in Carroll County, Virginia, but we never had spare money to spend on non-necessities, so our trips there were few.

It was Christmas Season of 1960. We four older of the eight Golding kids were teenagers by now, with the two oldest being out of the home. Janet, the next to oldest, had come home from Bluefield Business College, where she was attending on a basketball scholarship, for Christmas break.

On Saturday morning before Christmas, she decided we should go to Sunny Side Store and buy Mother a Christmas gift. That sounded good to me, as I had no money to buy her one on my own. So we piled into my brother John's 1949 Chevy Coupe, and away we went. For reasons I can't remember, we also took the baby, Nancy along. She was a month shy of one year old, and still on a bottle and in diapers. Since the trip was a short one, we took nothing extra with us.

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Early Influence of Religion in the Blue Ridge, Part 1

By William P. Swartz, Jr. © 1987

Issue: January, 1987

The church has played a great role in our nation's history since its founding. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Blue Ridge mountain region. Every faith has had some outstanding men who exhibited great faith and accomplished remarkable records. Among these men was James Waddell, a blind preacher of the Presbyterian faith. Little is known of his early history, but such information as has been handed down indicates that he received elementary and then higher degree education in an academy. His first ministry was in the Northern Neck of Virginia. From there he removed to Gordonsville about 1785, where he gained renown as "The Great Blind Expositor." William Wirt, a learned writer of his day, made it a point to travel to Gordonsville to hear James Waddell preach in 1803. He was so moved by his eloquence that he wrote a classic essay on the minister and his sermon.

An early historic church is the Falling Spring Presbyterian Church, seven miles south of Lexington, Virginia. Nearby US 11, it was organized about 1740. It was of sufficient importance that the Hanover Presbytery representing a wide area of Virginia met there in 1780.

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Grandpa Joe's Cold Trail Hounds

By Gary Brown © 1987

Issue: July, 1987

Not many people can come down to Texas and beat these locals at telling tall tales, but my Grandpa Joe did it right after the war. Not only did he spin a classic yarn, but he sold the local prison warden two black and tan Rockingham County, Virginia, bloodhounds that sired the line of what is now the K–9 Corps of the state prison system.

Grandpa Joe was born in Rockingham County in 1891 and I don't think he ever left the mountains until World War II. A widower, he moved to Freeport, Texas in 1942 to be with my mother while my father was stationed in Laredo. His wooden leg kept him from military service, but he worked as a civilian security guard at the Dow Chemical plant until the war ended.

By then his health was failing and he never returned to Virginia. He died in 1947, but he never stopped being a mountain man even here in the flat, almost treeless Brazoria County on the Texas Gulf Coast.

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The King

By Kelly D. Webb © 1987

Issue: May, 1987

How do children survive their childhood? The fact that they do is attested to by there being so many adults in the world. However, there are many children that do not survive the many perils that they encounter. This story is not about them, but it is about an event that causes one to wonder how some of them survived.

Life for children in a Coal Camp, along the New River, in the Blue Ridge Mountains is not all dull and dark. There are so many interesting things to do, like riding a flat piece of tin, pulled up in front, off a tall slate pile. The sound is of thunder as you rumble down the slide and strike the ground, then you rally from a stunned condition to check and see if any bones are broken. There are abandoned mines that never paid off. To slide and pull yourself deep into these holes and to poke your fingers through the rotted props that are supposed to hold up the roof. Yes, this is entertainment supreme. However, not quite up to the adventures related below.

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