The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Something About Mary Evelyn Forrest

By Russel E. Pangle © 1987

Issue: February, 1987

During my genealogical search of the Pangle family I discovered a distant cousin living in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is Mary Evelyn Forrest, the great granddaughter of Isaac Newton Pangle of Frederick County, Virginia (1824  ).

Isaac Newton Pangle was the older brother of Richard Strother Pangle, my great grandfather.

Mary was a grandmother for the first time in November 1986, and she is confined to her bed with progressive multiple sclerosis.

When I contacted Mary she was delighted that someone was researching her Pangle family roots. She has fond memories of her childhood in the hills of Northern Virginia. Lying there in her bed day after day she mentally retraces the long walks she took along the wooded paths of the low lying hills near Marlboro, Virginia with her "grandpap" Randolph Jackson Pangle (1862 - ?).

Mary had no information on her Pangle family roots beyond her "grandpap" and she was convinced that there was some great mystery surrounding the family until I wrote to her.

I sent her an official State of Virginia geodetic map of the Marlboro area which shows Pangletown Ridge between Funkhouser Knob and Huffman Hollow. Only then did she realize that the paths she walked with her "grandpap" was near a little abandoned village named Pangletown that was established by Jacob Pangle (1788 1876) before the Civil War. Jacob was the father of Isaac Newton and Richard Strother Pangle.

Mary Evelyn Forrest is obviously very lonely for the green mountains of Northern Virginia. I urged her to write anything that she could remember about her childhood in Virginia. The following is Mary's memories just as she wrote them...

"Sometimes my mind drifts back to my childhood which was a happy one, but uneventful. Of course I only remember bits and pieces of places, people, events or conversations and they lead nowhere.

"I know I was the first born of Nellie Pangle (daughter of Randolph Jackson Pangle) and Eugene Ward and I started life at Marlboro, Virginia. I suppose Marlboro was a hamlet but it was so small Papa said it was a spot in the road. Papa was my buddy and I thought he was the best thing in the world. He took me places, too.

"One place he took me was the general store. There I saw men playing checkers with pink and white lozenges. Papa said when the lozenges became dirty the men ate them. I believed it when he told me, but now I have my doubts, Papa was a kidder and had a dry wit like nobody else.

"I remember the day he took me to the spring to get water. He was carrying a bucket and walking on rocks to get to the middle of the spring. The rocks were covered with moss and he stepped very carefully. However, I was walking behind my Papa and of course my feet shot out from under me and down I went into the cold water. Of course I was saved but I did yell bloody murder. I remember it well.

"I was the only child for nearly six years so I had a lot of attention. I remember my first exposure to animal cruelty when I saw a man beat a horse with a black snake whip and how I screamed and cried. I hate to see cruelty but I can't stand rats and alligators.

"I also remember the day I couldn't find my mama when I got up but I eventually knew where to find her down the road. Mama said she saw me coming down the road barefoot, wearing my nightgown and my Sunday straw hat. Seems to me I do remember that dusty road.

"I spent some time with my grandmother and grandfather too and they were great people. There was no profanity used there at all, not ever, and the worst words I ever heard Mama say was "shucks" or "I don't give a kitty." I do remember the day "grandpap" shot a dog when it started foaming at the mouth. Of course I flew upstairs. I was never brave. Then grandmaw killed a snake with a hoe while I looked out the window. But one noise bothered me a great deal and that was the day "grandpap" butchered and the pigs squealed. I crawled under the bed then, too.

"Grandmaw (Anna Bell Keeler Pangle) was tiny; five feet tall and 100 pounds, but she still raised eight children, and what a great disposition, I sure loved her. Grandmaw made the best blackberry cobbler in the whole world.

"Those Pangle's really had a belly laugh and it did your heart good to hear them of course and I still remember hearing "Go tell Aunt Sally the old gray goose is dead," also, "The old gray mare ain't what she used to be."

"I remember the train ride from Virginia to Baltimore but nothing else. I know I had to walk a good distance to school and believe it or not, I was forced to be right handed. I was so left handed it wasn't funny. But that first grade teacher made three of us sit with our left hands behind us and use our right. The tears rolled but Miss Florence won, I used my right hand for writing, but not for anything else. That system was stopped a short while later but that was cruel. Mama's grandmother Keeler was a leftie I hear.

"My main pleasure was roller skating and I skated all the time. I wish I could skate now.

"I brought home all the childhood diseases; measles, chickenpox, whooping cough. Four of us had the whooping cough at one time. What a nightmare for Mom. Today the children get shots for everything. They are so lucky today.

"I looked after the younger children especially Walter (brother). We had a pretty little boy about three doors down from us and he always picked on Walter. Now we had marble steps and my job was to scrub the steps everyday. Well, one day this kid came outside all dressed in a yellow suit and I knew from the way he acted he was up to no good. So I finished my steps, wrung out the rag and when he came close I picked up the bucket of water and chased him to his house and then I threw the pail of water on him and he was soaked. I then ran like crazy into the house. I fully expected some flack over that, but not a thing happened. That child never bothered Walter again. I wonder why?

"Then the depression came along and left an impression I'll never forget. It really hurt us of course. We had no welfare and no food stamps. It was mean, especially when your electric is turned off for non payment.

"These are some of the things I remember and most of all I remember the Pangle family and think how lucky I was to be related to them, hard working, honest and a good sense of humor. And my mother was pretty and had the best complexion I ever saw, even when she was a very mature person, and what naturally curly hair she had. Yes, I miss them all but I know they are in heaven finding something to laugh about."

(signed) Evelyn