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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A Lot To Be Thankful For

By Debbie K. Marshall © 1985

Issue: November, 1985

The Spring House - note the black cast iron wash pots turned upside down and the white one filled with flowers.The Spring House - note the black cast iron wash pots turned upside down and the white one filled with flowers.This is a story of two sisters, Nancy and Laura Pendleton, who state, "We haven't much to brag about, but a lot to be thankful for."

Heritage and independence play a big part in the development of a strong character in both these women who grew up and still live on a 186 acre farm in the mountains of Patrick County, Virginia near Meadows of Dan. Laura Ellen Pendleton was born April 1, 1915. Nancy Jane Pendleton was born May 30, 1919. Their parents were the late John H. and Fannie Cock Pendleton who were married on May 31, 1900. Nancy and Laura are the youngest of seven children, and the only ones now living.

In this story these talented and determined sisters relate how they, too, became contributors to the family as they remember incidents of growing up on the family farm and what it's like running that very same farm today.

Laura: "The house we live in was our parent's home. I believe they started building it in 1912 and it was completed in 1915. When they started out here to live, my father loaded all he could on a one-horse wagon and my mother walked through a nearer way with a settin' hen under one arm and a basket of baby chicks on the other one! Our father paid for the house workin' for 25 cents a day. My mother and all of us children worked to help pay for the land. As far as we know, our father was the first farmer on top of the mountain to spread lime. He bought it in barrels, hauling it up from Stuart, Virginia.

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The View From The Concord Tree

By John Hassell Yeatts © 1986

Issue: November, 1986

We called it the Concord Tree, but it was actually a big pippin apple tree that reached nearly 50 feet into the clean air at the edge of my father's orchard in Old Mayberry [Virginia]. So entwined were its branches with 2 healthy Concord grape vines that it gave the appearance of a living arbor whose sole purpose was to support the vines and six or eight Yeatts children and their guests who climbed and clamored among its branches, gorging themselves on the sweet and succulent fruit that ripened late in August and lasted until the school bell in October called us back to the little gray school house that stood near the present Mayberry Presbyterian Church.

But it was more than that; much more. The tree's large and strong limbs and branches gave safe and comfortable support for perching and "looking" up and down the road and sometimes listening to our Sister Eunice read from a book of poetry or fairy tales while we fed upon the fruit of the vine.

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Ma Savage, Good Samaritan of Mingo County

By LaVonda S. Harris © 1987

Issue: March, 1987

Mable "Ma" Smart Savage, was born 1881 in Huntsville, Missouri. She and her family moved to Ironton, Ohio and there at the age of sixteen, Mable met and married the twenty three year old, Greenville Savage, February 10, 1897.

Together, Mable and Greenville traveled down the banks of the Big Sandy and Tug Fork River to settle in the small town of Matewan, Mingo County, West Virginia.

Greenville, found work in the Red Jacket Coal Mines and in a dark, dusty hollow on the outskirts of Matewan, Mable made their home. There, they produced ten children, two of the ten died at an early age, but Mable found strength in her little mountain church and went on to raise the remaining children.

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Down Memory Lane - Maw

By Martha Cockrell Robinson © 1990

Issue: July, 1990

I remember Maw. Several years ago there was a popular television show entitled "I Remember Mama," based on a book by the same title. In this sketch I would like to remember Mama's Mama - Maw. The Reader's Digest for several years periodically ran an article entitled, "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met." For me, Maw fits that category.

She had very little formal education, attaining third grade level when she was eighteen. Was she retarded? No! Was she lazy? No! You see, Maw's life was not an easy one. Both her parents had died when she was a young girl. She remembered traveling to Pinson, Alabama, a small community north of Birmingham, in a covered wagon. Maw never complained about the hardships she encountered in her childhood and young girlhood, but she did tell me that after her parents died the two youngest children were taken into the homes of older brothers. She was the youngest and her sister Ophelia was two years older.

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