The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Mailbox - Online 1997-2006

Online: 1997-2006

Hello Mountain Laurel,

I am from Alberta Canada, and just want to tell you how much I have appreciated your wonderful website. I am an Activity Coordinator at a senior's facility. I recently introduced an activity called, Reading & Reminisce. I just happened upon the Caleb and Henry stories. They were a huge hit. Whether you went through the depression in the U.S. or Canada, these and your other stories touched home deeply. Our warmest thanks for the laughter and nostalgia created by such heart warming stories.

Carol Shantr
Sunrise Village

[Dear Editor]

I was looking for a magazine called The Laurel, and it brought me to this site. It was love at first read! I was browsing through The Mailbox and all the requests for recipes from long ago. Do you have a section for a collection of these recipes? I would love to have some of the ones requested.

Thank you for preserving the heritage of the Blue Ridge and sharing it with all of us. God bless you. Jann

Editor's Note: You can find the recipes on this site at Recipes

[Dear Editor]

When I was a girl mama used to make her own starch. Daddy was a preacher and she always had Daddy's white shirts so crisp; they looked so neat on him when he stood up to preach. The starch I buy at the grocery store now just does not do the trick. My husband's shirts or slacks are not crisp....even the so-called heavy starch is not very good. If anyone knows how to make the old timey starch I'd love you to send it to email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Editor's Note: My grandmother used to make her own starch also - but I never knew how. All I can remember is that she used to grate potatoes in it! Susan Thigpen

[Dear Editor]

Greetings from the Pacific Northwest - Seattle, Washington - The land of Mt St Helen I am looking for a recipe for "Fried Pecan Pie" Respectfully - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. I am a transplant from Anniston. Alabama I have seen all the storms that mother nature has to offer. But to watch a mountain disappear in a matter of minutes (Mt St Helen 1980) is something to behold.

[Dear Editor]

My MawMaw used to make mashed potato fudge. Does anyone have the recipe? Please, if you do, will you share it? It was the best! Thank you and I love this site - I will wear by fingers to the bone coming back. First thing I'm making is the coconut cake.


Editor's note: I have made a candy using a boiled potato mashed with confectioner's sugar added until it is a thick candy. The candy I made was rolled thin and peanut butter was spread on it, then rolled up and cut in pinwheels. Could this be the same recipe?

Susan Thigpen, Editor

[Dear Editor]

Here in Northwestern North Carolina, my parent and my grandparents before them made pickled beans and corn by putting completely cooked half runner beans (and others, cornfield, sulphur, etc) or corn  into a stone crock and layered with salt.  They always put a clean rock or jar of water on top to hold it down and then put clean cheesecloth over the top and tied it shut and put into a cool dark cellar.  After checking it so often and skimming of the gunk, the beans were finally ready in about 4-6 weeks.  I have changed the way that I make them.  I use canning jars and put a teaspoon of salt and cold water in with the beans and let them work for about 2 weeks in a cool place in a black plastic trash bag.  When they quit bubbling, just seal them in a hot water bath.  I also make pickled corn the same way, and it turns out great.  Mix it with the beans and fry in bacon or fat back grease, with cracklin bread and mashed potatoes.  Nothing better in the whole wild world.

Chuck Stamey,
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My roots are in the southern mountains of Kentucky.  I was wondering if anyone could help me.  My grandma used to make this gingerbread, I'm not sure how to explain it, except it was shaped in kind of a "lump" shape, it was kind of like a cake that you eat with your hands and it had a (I believe) confectioner's sugar glaze to it.  She would always make this for us at Christmastime.  She passed away when I was 8 and no one has the recipe because she never had a written one.  I'm now 23 and trying to find this recipe so I can make it for my dad and my siblings as we miss it very much!!!  If anyone could help me "find my roots" through this recipe I would appreciate it very much.

Ashley Cordes
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[Dear Editor]

An old aunt of ours made a "tonic" from walnut shells soaked in some kind of liquor.  They were for stomach problems. Does anyone have a formula?

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[Dear Editor]

I ran across your site while searching for info on Jewell Weed. We have it in abundance here in Northern Indiana. We live in a city area, but have a lot with woody common area. Deer are common and they love the Jewell
Weed. They do a great job of cutting it down. You have a very nice site and I  will save it to look at in leisure.

Anthony and Berit Norborg,
Mishawaka, In.


My mom lost her recipe for sumac syrup when her house burnt down. Could anyone please help me out with another recipe? Thank you. Just email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Editor's Note: That's a new one on me. Maybe some of our readers will have the recipe. If anyone does, just e-mail if to the address for editor (at top of page) and I will put it in our recipe section.

Susan Thigpen, editor

Hello from Australia,

Thoroughly enjoyed your web site (and still am). Would be more than happy to exchange a text link if agreeable. My site is along the path of yours and is called Old Aussie Food Recipes at

Kind regards
Errol Brewer
Queanbeyan, New South Wales

Editor's Note: Thanks for the kind words. It's a small world and the people in it have had to "make do" - whether it is in Australia or the mountains of the Blue Ridge. I enjoyed going to your site and know our readers will too.

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

I am looking for any information that you might have on a bush that grows in Southwest Virginia (Lee County).  My grandmother had a bush in her front yard (still there) that we called a bubby bush.  The bush has deep green leaves.  There are no flowers per se on the bush but a deep maroon type of bud.  At its maturity the bud has a very sweet fragrance that I cannot describe.  My brother (who lives in Lee County) also has one in his front yard that was transplanted from my grandmother's yard many years ago.  I have tried on several occasions to transplant part of the bush to my yard, but with no success.  (I live in Indiana).  If anyone has any information about this plant, please let me know.
Sara Roe

Editor's Note: It's ironic that your message came when it did since my niece had just given me ten or twelve small sweet shrub bushes which I have planted in our yard and shared with other family members. I love the fragrance that fills a yard when the bubbys are in bloom. I grew up in the country of southern North Carolina and it was common for old folks to plant sweet bubbys around their porches and beneath windows so they could enjoy the fragrance whether indoors or out.

There are several online resources for information about the sweet shrub bush and even a few nurseries where they can be ordered. I am attaching a few of the links below.

From what I have read online it should not be a problem to get one to live in your area. Others have been successful as far north as Wisconsin.

[Dear Editor]

I want to come to the Great Smoky Mountains when the mountain laurels are in full bloom.  Please tell me what month would be the best to plan a vacation?

Editor's Note: Late May thru June

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

In this day and time of "dog eat dog" and all else that goes wrong, it is peaceful places that is described in your stories, where neighbors are truly neighborly that makes life worth living.

What a difference of 50 years ago when I recall how we use to talk over the clothes line to one another, Monday always being "wash day". We knew one another as well as their children. A neighbor knew the children of her neighbor almost as well as the mother did, we helped one another and most of the children were afraid to do wrong, the whole neighborhood was watching out for them.

What a sadness today, the changes that have taken place, we as neighbors lost, the community lost and more than anything, the children lost big time. Thank you for this website.

Rose, a girl from the WV Mountains.

Editor's Note: Thank you, Rose for such a nice letter. Believe it or not, there are still a few places like that left in the mountains and small communities around the country.

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

I am interested in making hominy. I tried you recipe using soda. I soaked it for three days but the skins never loosened. The product was still edible, but not as nice as I would like. I used baking soda an was wondering if you meant washing soda? I would appreciate any help you could give me.

Sincerely Ken Kline

Dear Ken,

Hominy is made from a type of corn that is more suitable than others, but I don't know the name. Some people soak the corn in lime instead of soda. You can use pickling lime. Just be sure you wash the corn really well before cooking it.

Susan Thigpen, editor

Update: We received this nice e-mail and thought you might like to hear more about making hominy:

I read with interest your article about making hominy. While I did not grow up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I did grow up in rural middle Tennessee. Many of the things we did to wrest a living from the soil were very much like those done by most rural southern families in the late 1920's.

We made hominy, but a little differently than the process you described. The process was started months in advance when all the hardwood ashes from the fireplace were collected and saved in a barrel with a spigot on the bottom.  When enough ashes had been collected to fill the barrel or satisfy my Mom and Grandma, water was poured over the top of the ashes and a pail placed under the spigot to catch the mild lye that leached from the ashes. This liquid lye was then filtered through cloth and used to soak the hominy corn for three days after which the skins from the kernels simply came off and floated to the top.

After this process was completed, the hominy was washed numerous times and the final product was as white as snow and absolutely delicious when fried in bacon drippings. I do not remember that any special kind of corn was used, only that which was grown in the field and used for everything from animal feed to cornmeal and hominy.

B.W. Dortch,
Stewart County, Tennessee

[Dear Editor]

I came across your Mailbox while searching for others who might have used the same procedure for salting green beans. My mother and both my grandmothers prepared something called (in Low German) "insetta fixebohnen" -- and I'm guessing at the spelling. She would pack green beans in a crock, layered with salt, no measurements other than "a few handfuls for each layer", and six weeks later, we had this marvelous dish, served with potatoes, white beans, and smoked country sausage, all boiled together for "enough time to get everything done". I have never found this name in any German cookbook, nor have I met any Germans from anyplace else but Cleveland, Ohio, who ever heard of it.

Ann Aul
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dear Readers,

Do any of you know about these green beans? If you do, let us know.

Susan Thigpen, editor

Dear Readers,

Here is a letter from one of the readers:

The process described in the letter is pickled beans. It was once common here in the southwestern corner of North Carolina. It was also popular to add corn. Many people made pickled corn, also.

Judy Raxter

[Dear Editor]

Looking for books written by W.R. Morris. Folk Lore of the Blue Ridge Mts. The other one is Early Settlers.. I would like to purchase  these books. Their was also a copyright around the 50's or 60's. It also had Foggy Mt. Camp Farm. Fancy Gap, Carroll Co, Va... Any information will help.

Thank You, Delphna Thomas

Dear Delphna,

We often get requests for books that have been written and published locally. Your best bet would be to contact Jim Presgraves at Bookworm & Silverfish. They are located in Rural Retreat, Virginia and specializes in rare, out of print and local books. Their web address is:

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

I just wanted you folks to know how much I love your website. I am a transplanted Tennessean. Born there, moved to Detroit at age 8, to Iowa at age 23 and am still here but my heart will always remain in the south. I ordered Mountain Laurel twice and tried to grow it here, but to no avail. However, in my web search for the plant, I came across your web site and I want you to know that it is so precious.

Thank you.
Sarah Jo Couper

Editor: Thank you for your kind words of praise. The mountains do have a way of staying in your heart, don't they? Come back and visit often.

Dear sir or madam,

My mother has this octagon wooden box, made and designed by Wesley Edwards, who was a prisoner in Richmond, numerous years ago. She thinks that you all published an article on this box, or man. Any info would be deeply appreciated.

Thank You, Kyle Dow

Dear Kyle,

I don't have any information on the box or Wesley Edwards, but perhaps some of our readers do and will let us know.

Susan Thigpen, editor


My Name is Bill Wyrick, no kin to the Wythe County, Wyricks. I was a Police Officer in Richmond, Virginia for 26 years and retired to Atlanta in 1976. While still an officer in Richmond I noticed a spring water bottle in an antique store on Broad St. It was a Wyrick Spring Water Bottle. I immediately purchased it to put in my home gym. I restored an old fifties style water cooler to mount it on. Recently my 12 year old son accidentally turned over the cooler breaking the bottle into a thousand pieces. I was hoping to find another one to replace it. Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time, Bill Wyrick

Dear Bill,

I do not know where you could get another one, but you might try contacting Old Fort Antique Mall, which is located near Wytheville and they might be able to source one for you.  (For those of you that aren't familiar with it, Wyrick Springs is located in the west end of Wythe County and was a spa with a big hotel in the early part of this century.)

Good luck. Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

I have no Mountain Laurel story to tell you, but want to say how glad I am to have found this site. It is beautiful. Thank you.

Jackie Craig, Fay., AR

[Dear Editor]

First of all, thank you so much for sharing but most of all, doing this site. I found your site while looking for stories about trees to put in an annotated bibliography for a class project in Storytelling & Oral Literature. I am studying to be a librarian.

I read the above story [Christmas In the John Hayes Hollow] by Hazel Hedrick, which I just loved. When I read this sentence, "We wore that Bible completely out, but I still have the pieces in a plastic bag," I knew I had to respond. My understanding from Andrea Rolich, Preservation Librarian at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, is not to store books or parts of books in plastic, among other things. Being stored in a plastic bag will likely hasten the disintegration of the book. While I am not an expert, placing the book into an acid-free, archaically safe box would be much better. I would appreciate your passing this information on to Hazel Hedrick.

Thank you,
Alexis Turner

[Dear Editor]

I came upon your site accidentally. I love it and will visit often. Someone asked how to keep insects out of meal and flour. A few bay leaves sprinkled in the cabinets helps. Again, thanks for the nice site.

May God Bless You

Susan and Bob,

I recall when The Mountain Laurel originated and my family always looked forward to each issue. We still have these issues and frequently dig through them to find special articles about the Mabry Mill area.

I was excited to find the article about Sherman and Velma Sutphin. I forwarded it to my son in Oregon and to my daughter in Florida. Also, we sent it to our good friends in Suffolk that purchased "It'll Do" [the vacation home of the Owens] last October. My children remember the Sutphins sitting on our porch and relating stories about The Buffalo [Mountain].

Future generations will not be able to express their appreciation to you for the history you have, and are now preserving. Please allow me to do that for them. We thank you so very much on behalf of us still here, and for those yet to come who will benefit from your efforts.

You should feel very proud.
Richard Owens

Note: Your kind comments made my day. I remember you and your place well. That is such a beautiful area and the people are some of the nicest I've ever known.

Thank you so much,
Bob Heafner

Dear Readers,

We received the following e-mail and thought it would be of interest to those of you who are looking for your roots in and around Patrick County, Virginia:

I lived in Meadows of Dan, Va. and most all of my people were or are there. I am publishing a book titled "Early Virginia Settlers, Blackards, DeHarts, Hubbards, Hursts, Lawsons, Shelors, Southerns, Thompsons and Turners. The price of this book is $49, plus $4 shipping. If anyone is interested, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or write to 14209-204 Quail Creek Way, Sparks, Md. 21152.

[Dear Editor]

The article about Willard Gayheart was very enjoyable. I have one of his prints and love all his work. It is always nice to read about someone so talented that come from our very own mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I would encourage anyone that loves art to take time to view his works.


[Dear Editor]

What a great site! I live in Northwest Florida, but, I have many roots extending into Virginia, Tennessee, and the Ozarks. Matter of fact, I take the Ozarks Mountaineer magazine, which reminds me of your site. I actually came across your site while looking for a recipe for fried apples, which my 13 year-old son likes. I will continue to explore all of your stories, etc., though I wish you still had a "paper" magazine to hold in my hands. As much as I like the internet, I still am old-fashioned, and prefer reading the old-fashioned way! However, I will still get much enjoyment out of your "magazine" Thank you for such good reading!

Teresa Poss


A friend of mine is from Tenn. Her grandmother used to can green beans whole in some type of brine that is used for sauerkraut. She ask me to see if anyone knows the recipe for this. I gave her one for dill green beans but she said that was not it. Does Anybody know of this recipe?

Thanks Patsy

Editor's Note: I think that the recipe is an old one called pickled beans. People would put salt water in a big stoneware crock (they would add enough salt to float a hard boiled egg). Then they would add the whole green beans and put a plate on top of it with a big rock on it to hold the beans under the water. The salt would preserve the beans so they could be used throughout the winter, in the same way kraut was saved.

This was a way to keep the beans if they didn't have enough canning jars. In the old days, before freezers, people used their canning jars for meat, and usually dried all the other foods that was possible.

I have heard of people drying turnip greens, blackberries, pumpkin and green beans - called leather britches beans. The whole beans were strung on a thread and hung in a warm place to dry. When the people wanted to use them, they soaked them in water overnight before cooking.

I hope this answers your question.

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

Can you dry out the apples for apple heads in the micowave for faster drying?

Thank you so much,
Dee Cravens

Dear Dee,

Yes, you can use the microwave to dry the apple heads faster. I have a small dehydrator and use it to dry the apple heads overnight. Different types of apples have different amounts of moisture and will dry at different rates of speed. You will need to experiment to see what works best.

Susan Thigpen, editor

To whom it may concern,

I would like to take this time to thank you for this wonderful website. I found this from a cousin of mine that lives in Roanoke. We have been working our family tree via the net and email. She sent it to me. I really loved the story of Henry Harris. What a wonderful story, is it true? I hope so. You see I have just found out also that I am related to the Harris family of Roanoke. In fact if you have heard of Horace (Sleepy) Harris, he is a cousin of mine.

I live in Texas and wanted to thank you for this site it keeps me close to family and my roots.

Peggy Kilcrease

Dear Peggy,

Yes, the story about Henry Harris is true! I was lucky enough to be the one who interviewed him - or rather just sat and listened as he talked for hours. He was a very interesting, bigger-than-life individual.

There are a lot of close ties with Virginia and Texas. People from this area of the mountains (Carroll and Wythe Counties) migrated to Texas. Steve Austin was born in Wythe County and there is a memorial to him near his birth place in (what else?) Austinville.

Susan Thigpen, Editor


I have thoroughly enjoyed your website.  I am looking for a recipe that my Mother used to make called, "Watermelon Rind Preserves".  Also, would you have any idea what "Lime Water" is and how it is used in making Watermelon Rind Preserves"...I will so appreciate any information that you might have on this subject...

Jewell B. Curtis.

Dear Jewel,

I have made watermelon rind pickles, which are in a thick sweet syrup and might be considered preserves. See recipe, which is like my recipe, but is called preserves.

You only use the white part of the rind. The rind is hard and has to be pre-cooked in boiling water for a long time (you would think that watermelon rind would be soft!)

Lime water is water that has had pickling lime disolved into it. You can buy pickling lime in grocery stores in the canning section. Lime makes pickles crisp if they are soaked in the lime water prior to pickling. You have to be sure and rinse thoroughly to remove the lime.

I hope this helps.
Susan Thigpen


I'm searching for a recipe for dilly beans, all of mine use the hot water/vinegar mixture and are not very crisp. I'd like to find a recipe that will result in crispy, crunchy dilly pickles, also one for sweet, crunchy carrots. Thanks for your help and may God's wonderful blessings be upon you.

Stacia Kohler

Dear Stacia,

The recipe for dilly green beans (scroll down until you see the recipe) is on The Mountain Laurel web site.

You might like to consider - are the beans very fresh, young beans that haven't developed lumps yet? The longer they have been picked until you can them, makes a difference - the sooner you can get them from the garden to the canner, the better.

Also, are you using any alum in them? That will make them crisper. Only use a lump of alum the size of a small green pea. Also, if you soak the beans in ice water for a couple of hours before you can them they will be crisper. Be sure to drain the ice water from them thoroughly before pickling.

These are generalizations that can apply to all pickles.

As for the carrots - I have a good bread and butter pickle recipe that I have used with mixed vegetables (even cauliflower) with good results. It is the recipe on the web site for Squash pickles.

Hope this helps - and that you will enjoy making (and eating) pickles as much as I do.

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

I am looking to buy blackstrap molasses to eat myself. Is there any brand  names that make blackstrap molasses? Do you know where I can buy it?

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dear Martha,

A company called Plantation makes blackstrap molasses and it may be purchased from the following website:

Susan Thigpen, editor


Perhaps you can assist me. Familial information says my great grandfather, Edward Haller taught at the Rosewell Phelps School in Ivanhoe, Virginia in 1900. Can you give me some information about this school?

Sincerely, Frances Taylor, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dear Frances,

I am not familiar with the school you mentioned. Perhaps someone reading this would be able to send you information.

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

[I need] the history of the hoe cake url... I want to do something interesting with that piece. I am pretty sure it was on this sight I found it?

Jerry Woodrome

Editor's Note: I don't have the history of the hoe cake on The Mountain Laurel site, but its history goes back to the days when slaves were tending the huge fields. They made a fire to cook their lunch and the hoe cake was bread cooked on the big flat hoe blades that were used for chopping weeds.

I make a modern day version in the oven. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups self-rising flour and a lump of shortening the size of a walnut and slowly add in a cup of milk (buttermilk makes better bread than sweet milk). When you have mixed the dough, pour it into a baking pan or pie plate that has been preheated with a small lump of butter melted in it. Bake at 400 degrees until the top is brown and it is done in the middle. Cut it into sections, or break it apart with your hands. It's great with a big bowl of beans.

Susan Thigpen

Dear Friends,

My name is Dolores Nunn of Bassett, VA. I am in search of a photo of the old two room school that was located near the old Foster Falls Presbyterian Home (Hotel). I attended first grade there in 1946-47. My teacher was a red headed lady name Miss Thomas. If anyone has a photo of this old school, please e-mail to me. This is a very good and important memory for me.

Dolores Nunn, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[Dear Editor]

Ever since I first heard it in Grapefield, I have been looking for the words &/or music to the song "The Convict & the Rose". (not to be confused with The Prisoner Song) I heard it on a player piano. I lived in Bluefield, WV for years, & my family played music on WHIS. My sister Dottie Lee played with Salt & Peanuts. Other family members played locally at dances & was known as The Harrison Family. If anyone can help me out with this, I will gladly pay postage.

Thank you,

Marjorie (Harrison) Reed, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[Dear Editor]

Do you know where I might be able to find a recipe for a dandelion root spring tonic. This is supposed to have powerful liver detoxing abilities. I am interested in any other spring tonic recipes you might know of, i.e. mint, violet, sumac, etc.

I appreciate your help! Thank you.

Christine Quinn

Editor's Note: You can make a sumac tea (very like lemonade) using the red berries. The berries have little hairs on them, so you will have to wash them very thoroughly before crushing them and boiling them in water. Be sure to strain them through a fine mesh to get out any of the little "hairs" that are still on them.

Most of the things people made spring tonics out of contained a high Vitamin C content (dandelion greens, violet leaves and flowers). I don't know about a dandelion root tonic, but dandelion roots were parched out very brown and grated into a coffee substitute

The most common spring tonic was spicewood tea. In the early spring it has tiny yellow flowers before the leaves appear. If you break off a twig and chew on it, it will have a spicy flavor. A tea from it as considered a tonic to purify blood in your system.

Susan Thigpen


I was so happy to find your web page when surfing the net trying to find out information on Ramp Festivals in WV. I was born and raised in Nicholas County   and remember my mother fixing a form of dried green beans called "leather breeches". I've tried for years to find out information on how to make them with no success. Would you know any information on the best type of bean to use, the process of making them and the best month to dry them?

Thank you,
Teresa Monnett,
Richmond, VA

Editor's Note: Leather britches beans were a way mountain people could keep produce through the year. Freezers were unheard of and canning jars were precious and used to can meats like tenderloin. Mountain people figured out how to dry a lot of different vegetables. They even dried turnip greens and berries!

Leather britches beans are made from any green bean. When they are in season and fresh from the garden, string them like you would any green bean, but do not snap them. String them with a needle and thread through the middle of each bean and hang them to dry so that they are not touching anything.

Then, when you want green beans in the middle of the winter, soak a string of beans in water overnight and remove them from the string. Cook as you would fresh green beans, seasoned with a little country ham or fat back.

They will be more transparent in color than fresh green beans.

Susan M. Thigpen

PS - There is a ramp festival at Whitetop Mountain in Grayson County, Virginia that you might like to attend. I don't know the dates on it, but it might be on the Internet somewhere or you could get it from the Chamber of Commerce in Grrayson County. (Whitetop Mountain is the second highest mountain in the state, and not too far from the towns of Galax and Independence.)


I wonder where you can tell me to look for more info on sulfured molasses. How it is made and/or where to buy it.

Thank you,
Mrs. Helen O'Brien

Editor's Note: My best suggestion on where to by sulfured molasses is a natural food or health store.

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

How can I get the music for the Stoneman Family?

Sincerely, P. Gregory

Editor's Note: You can find recordings by "Pop" Stoneman & family at The link below will take you right to them. If it doesn't work, just go to, music, and type Stoneman into the search box.

Susan Thigpen

Susan Thigpen,

Would like to say while doing some surfing I found The Mountain Laurel. Back about 1984 I had a subscription to your paper. Had it for a couple of years. I moved to Florida and lost track. Glad to find it is online. Really enjoy the stories and the trips in the area. Also the genealogy section is of great interest.

I sent the address to a friend of mine in Tenn.

Thanks again and keep up the good work.

William Epling
Orlando, Fl.

[Dear Editor]

How are you doing ? Maybe you don't remember me but, I was wondering if you have a recipe for some really good cornbread. When I lived in the country we would go to the mill, after pulling corn, and have our corn ground into meal. That made the best cornbread I had ever tasted.

I am not good at making cornbread, but I would like a recipe on it if you can get me one. I made my first butter cake, with Land O' Lake Butter and it was fabulous, of course I made it from scratch.

I love to cook, and I would really appreciate it if you could help me.


Dear Stephaine,

Try the cornbread recipes and cooking tips in our recipe section. I have updated it and added more information. Good Luck - Good cooking and good eating!

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the fine work you have done with The Mountain Laurel. I ran across the website recently and low and behold, it was everything I had been looking for! I am 24 years-old and unfortunately I grew up in the era of happy meals, video games, and cable tv. The typical lifestyle of my generation is, for the most part, missing out on all the great things you discuss in The Mountain Laurel.

Growing up in the hills of Tennessee I was also told at school to expand my horizons and get away from the mountains as soon as I could. Unfortunately, until I became a grown woman and a reporter for The Monroe County Advocate, I never really understood my heritage. I feel in love with the people I had lived with all my life and I find it impossible to imagine leaving such a wonderful place. Thank you for all you've done. If I could've only found TML years ago! I have a five year old son and plan to spend a great deal of time teaching him about the things "educated" people tend to disregard. After reading several mountain memories articles I began to ask my grandmother about things like the homemade grits and discovered a sense of pride I had never known. Thanks Again. I have not subscribed to TML yet but I plan to do so in the next few days. Thanks Again!!!! Keep up the good work!!

To whom it may concern:

I would like to tell you how much I loved visiting your homepage, how much I felt at home. I am from Down South and some of the things that were on your page I can relate to and it just brings a joy to see that someone out there thinks that, that kind of cooking still makes the best food. I am 25 yrs. of age and everything that I cook is done from scratch, and I love doing it, in any case I love to cook!

I came about your homepage when I was looking for a "COCONUT CAKE" recipe and there it was. (smiling) I lost mine when I moved to Michigan. I'm from a small town called GILLSBURG, MISSISSIPPI on the out-skirts of LIBERTY, MISSISSIPPI.



To Whom It May Concern:

My grandfather used to have a short booklet with instruction on how to make molasses. Unfortunately it has been misplaced. He still makes molasses from time to time but would really like to get another  "how to" booklet. I've looked all over the place and can not locate a booklet, instructions, etc. Do you know of any resources where I might find instructions on how to make molasses....especially if it has illustrations?

Jeff Smith

Editor's Note: Does anyone know of such a booklet or detailed instructions on making molasses?

[Dear Editor]

Would you know how to grind grits at home, that is, make your own from corn?

Thank you, Linda Newkirk

Editor's Note: To make grits, first you have to have the dried corn course ground, then made into hominy.

Susan Thigpen, editor

Dear Sirs:

I am looking for a recipe for liver mush, can you help me out.

Thank you, Charlie Case

See next letter.

[Dear Editor]

I was brought up in Asheville NC and my mother used to fry "liver mush" (a ground meat and corn meal compressed loaf). My brother and I haven't seen it since-we live in NH and Phil, PA & Wilmington, NC. Do you have a recipe for making or know where we could purchase it.

Jane Ladd

Editor's Note: We have had several e-mails about Liver Mush - or Liver Pudding.

The nearest thing to liver mush is Neese's liver pudding. I know you can buy it in North Carolina, but not sure if it is available anywhere else.

Liver mush is made from a pork liver cooked in water until done and then ground up and mixed with some of the juice it was cooked in and cornmeal, and then molded and cooled. Then sliced and eaten and refrigerated. The cornmeal is added in the same way you add bread crumbs to a meatloaf - to stretch the amount of meat and to help hold it together.

I'm sorry that this isn't an exact recipe, but I was taught by watching an old farm woman who never measured anything! I hope it helps.

I found the following on the internet. Since it has an 800 phone number, you might call them and see if you can get their products in you area or if they would ship them to you direct. I have eaten their products and they are very good and taste homemade.
Susan Thigpen

Neese Country Sausage, Inc.
Contact: Andrea Neese, Executive Marketing Manager
1452 Alamance Church Rd.
Greensboro, NC 27406.
USA. Phone: 800-632-1010
Fax: 336-275-0750.

Country sausage, Liver pudding, C-loaf , Souse meat, Scrapple

Dear Sirs,

We are interested to purchase recipe books for products (all) that can be produced from sugar cane molasses. Kindly favor us with the detail list of publications available on products from molasses

Thanks and regards.


Editor's Note: Thank you for your request. The Mountain Laurel Cookbook has only a few recipes that contain molasses. If it would help, I would be happy to send you a couple of recipes that contain molasses and also tell you the ways people in the South (USA), where we grow sugar cane, use molasses.

It was traditionally used as a sugar substitute, like honey is used. It was eaten over bread as a desert, or stirred into a glass of milk for a treat. In baking, it was used in ginger cookies and breads. It was also used to coat hams when they were cure-dried to give the cured hams a better flavor.

Susan Thigpen, editor

Hi There,

I just stumbled upon your wonderful website today and am still in the process of exploring. Its great. Thanks. I thought perhaps I might take this time to ask you a question too, if you don't mind. I was wondering, I have been trying for some time to find out what people years ago used or put in their flour and rice to keep weevils out of it especially in the spring and summer months. I thought perhaps you might know or some of the readers might know. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Peace and Joy,
Sally Neuhaus

Dear Sally,

That one has me stumped. If any of you readers know the answer, send it by e-mail to the address at the top of the page. I'll post it here, with the inquiry.

Susan Thigpen, editor

[Dear Editor]

I was absolutely thrilled to find this site. In the past four weeks we have taken day trips, first to Rocky Knob and vicinity, then a Parkway ride all the way from Meadows of Dan to Rocky Mount, then to Foster Falls to hike on the New River Trail and finally this weekend from Rocky Mount to Peaks of Otter. We love the Stuart, Meadows of Dan area. As I went all through your online edition of The Mountain Laurel, I glanced across the room to a shelf containing a stack of copies of The Mountain Laurel that I have nearly worn out. We have done several of the Backroads Tours, my favorite is probably the one that ends at the headwaters of the Dan River (I think it's the Dan). I know the City of Danville hydroelectric plant is there and I remember that there are several places to trout fish on the road leading to it. That copy of The Mountain Laurel I can't find and would love to replace it in order to take that route again. Anyway just wanted to say that we are so glad that The Mountain Laurel is still there for people to discover.

Dana Blankenship
Eden, North Carolina

PS. Our prayers go out to all the people affected by the recent paper plant fire in Stuart, Virginia. It is so sad for the two men that died but I know so many plants have closed in the Stuart area already that the loss of jobs there is terrible.

Editor: I believe the Backroad Tour you are referring to was the Meadows of Dan to Kibler Valley Backroad Tour which appeared in the June 1984 issue of The Mountain Laurel. We only have one archive copy of that issue but we have included the Backroad in our online archives for you to enjoy again. Thank you so much for the kind comments about The Mountain Laurel.

[Dear Editor]

Just wanted to tell you THANK YOU for the delicious Apple Butter recipe! We were up on the Parkway a couple of weeks ago and stopped over and picked up some apples. Came home, found your website and discovered the Apple Butter recipe. My wife and I are not the best cooks in the world, but your recipe made it a snap. We have jars set aside for our parents and grandparents who are already seasoned canners. :)

Thanks again!

Michael & Jessica Black
Charlotte, NC

Editor: Thanks, we're glad you enjoyed it. Look for more recipes to be added soon.

[Dear Editor]

Maybe you can help me, I recently came across a record album jacket by the name of Stoneman's Country. It is an old album that is autographed by some one named Pop Stoneman, Donna Stoneman, Ron Stoneman and several others. When I looked them up your name was mentioned, do you have any info on them? The record is in great condition and the autographs are in pen.


Sheri S. Zschocher

Editor: That record was a real find! The Stoneman Family is among the first names of country music and their early recordings assure their place as pioneers in the country music recording industry. We were lucky enough to interview them many years ago.

This must be my lucky day,

I was just "browsing" around and discovered your website by accident. I feel like I have found an old friend. We had a subscription for a long time. I looked forward to each issue you published. We've taken several of the Backroad Tours. My favorite story was the serial about Elizabeth's Diary. Do you have that story in your archives?

Thanks for such a great website. I will be checking back often.


Audrey Tatum
Collinsville, Va.

Editor: Thank you. Elizabeth's Journal told of a young Carroll County, Virginia woman's pioneer trek westward to Texas in the early 1840s. It is not online but we hope to include it in the future.

[Dear Editor]

We are so thrilled to have located your website. My husband introduced me to your newspaper during a blizzard about 4 or 5 years ago. These newspapers were from the 80's. He had kept and treasured every one of them! We attempted to contact you, in vain, to renew his subscription. We were so down hearted when we were unable to locate you. Imagine our delight and surprise when we found you on the world wide web!!! We have a deep love for the mountains and the culture of the Blue Ridge. We have "book marked" this under our favorite sites and look forward to accessing your site on a regular basis. Thank you for still being there!


Barry and Wylene Bratton
Roanoke, VA

Editor: The print version of The Mountain Laurel was published from March 1983 through the Winter 1995 issue.  It has been published online since June 21, 1996. The postage and printing expense of publishing and distributing the print version finally got the best of our resources but the ability to publish online and eliminate those expenses has given The Mountain Laurel new life. We certainly appreciate your kind comments and share your "deep love for the mountains."

[Dear Editor]

I cannot begin to tell you how delighted I am to have discovered your site!! It is now 3:30am EDT and I'm still reading...going on more than 2 ½ hrs. now.

I've already posted the URL for TML to 7 different lists that I subscribed to (I manage two of them). Feel sure that you will be receiving a lot of new visitors soon.

The article on Ms. Flora Camana DeHart was a particular treasure to find. I am a DeHart descendent. Flora's 3rd great-grandparents were Aaron DeHart and Ellender Dennis. They were my 5th great-grandparents.

Well, I must shut down for the night. But I'll definitely be back for further visits and will also keep spreading the word about your excellent site.

Gloria (Sargent) Lambert
granddaughter of Zola Mae DeHart & John Harve Sargent

Editor: Ms. Flora DeHart was a treasure to us all.

[Dear Editor]

My name is Carolyn (Barnard) Campbell. I live in Rockbridge County, VA. My family is from Meadows of Dan, VA. My grandparents were Alvin and Etta Barnard. I remember the Mountain Laurel sitting on their coffee table and how I loved to read it.

How would I go about subscribing to your paper? Please let me know soon, as I can hardly wait to read it again.

Thank you so much!

Carolyn Campbell
Middlebrook, VA 24459

Editor: The print version of The Mountain Laurel was published from March 1983 through the Winter 1995 issue.  It has been published online since June 21, 1996. Subscriptions are no longer necessary; just visit this web site often. I remember meeting Mr. Barnard years ago, he was a fine old gentleman. Thank you for coming by.

[Dear Editor]

On your web site you state that to your knowledge jewell weed is not dried and used as a cure for poison oak. I know a lady who puts it in a blender and then freezes the liquid in ice trays to use as a cure for poison oak.

Thanks for your site I enjoy it very much.

Mike Trivette

Editor: What a great idea! All of our kids and grandchildren can attest to the powers of Jewel Weed.

[Dear Editor]

I teach 12th grade English at Patrick Henry High School in Glade Spring, VA. During this last six weeks of school I plan to teach the play "Pygmalion". To introduce the play, I will be teaching several language lessons and how our use of language influences others. I would like to use the story about the secret elopement in class to show regional language influence.

Thank you.

Lynne Wampler

Editor: Ms. Clara Marshall's recollections of her elopement on horseback was a wonderful story, but getting to know this remarkable lady was one of our highlights while publishing The Mountain Laurel. I wish your class could have met her in person, heard her laughter and saw the twinkle in her eyes as well as her sadness as she told this story.

[Dear Editor]

I was reading "Best of Hillbilly," a collection of writing from Jim Comstock. One article spoke of a Ramp Fest -- a gathering where ramps, ham, potatoes, corn pone were served. Ramps apparently, when cooked, emit an obnoxious odor.

Although my father, and generations of my family, were from West Virginia, I have never heard of this food -- at least not called this.

My curiosity is killing me. What is it???

Diane Stewart

Editor: Ramps grow wild throughout the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains. They are legendary for the terrific odor which emanates from those who have eaten them. They make an onion or garlic seem mild. Each spring the community of Whitetop Mountain in Grayson County, Virginia still holds a ramp festival.

[Dear Editor]

I wonder if the interview that you did with my grandfather Adam Clement was taped? It would be so nice to hear his voice again. I've only just learned that you were on the net. I'll visit more often.

Thanks for your help in this matter.

Wanda Isaacs

Bob Heafner: No, I'm sorry to say they were not taped. But Mr. Adam Clement was one of the most delightful persons I have ever interviewed. I never pass a jar of honey for sale without thinking of him. He taught me the difference between real honey and this sugary stuff most people call honey. He was the epitome of the term "mountain gentleman."

Hi from a transplanted Wisconsinite,

As I was procrastinating and searching the net this evening for information about a tree called a "mountain laurel", I came across your homepage. What I was looking for was information about a tree, but what a transplanted Wisconsinite found - was a warm and enjoyable introduction to West Virginia. I have been living in the eastern panhandle for six years - and love the area.

The people here are as warm and sincere as those I left behind in Milwaukee. The country is gorgeous - and I love the hills and mountains. The great thing about the internet is the opportunities to experience new things and talk to new people. I have heard many things about the rest of West Virginia - but have not traveled anywhere in the state except the corner I live in.

I will look forward to your homepage to learn more about the new state I am enjoying.


M. Hart

Editor: Our stories cover the mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, West Virginia and even the Ozarks. But mountain folk are the same all over; nice and friendly.

[Dear Editor]

I just found the "Mountain Laurel" on the internet. I sure was surprised as I had not seen this paper for some time. I am real excited that a new issue is coming out. I hope you still have my name and address to send me a copy. If I owe a subscription fee, just let me know. My mother enjoyed this very much as she is a Floyd County native and could relate to a lot of the stories. Her eyesight is dim now and so I will read this to her when I receive it.

Thank you,

Ms. Janette Perkins
Pearisburg, Va.

Editor: The print version of The Mountain Laurel was published from March 1983 through the Winter 1995 issue.  It has been published online since June 21, 1996. Subscriptions are no longer necessary; just visit this web site often. Perhaps you could copy and paste the articles into your word processor and print them with an enlarged font so your mother could read them. Thank you.

[Dear Editor]

We were early subscribers to the Mountain Laurel, stayed with you 'til the end. We were camping at Rocky Knob Park and came down the mountain and tried to find you to press money for our subscription--did not find. Must be 10 years later. So happy to find you on the NET. You didn't think this is what you would be doing after --- I didn't think I would be talking to you via a computer.

We have enjoyed many nights at Cockram's Friday Night Jamboree. Now I am promising my wife--we will be back this Spring! This reminds me of one of the best cartoonist of the -30's & 40's for the Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio), Billy Ireland often said to his boss--- I am going down to the hills, I am" Hill Hungry"

Me too!

Good Luck on your new adventure

B. Dale Wood
Newark, Oh

Editor: The print version of The Mountain Laurel was published from March 1983 through the Winter 1995 issue.  It has been published online since June 21, 1996. Subscriptions are no longer necessary; just visit this web site often. We were sorry to learn that Freeman Cockram no longer runs the Friday Night Jamboree. Freeman was an early supporter of The Mountain Laurel and we traded him advertising for our first computer back in 1984. It was a Commodore 64 that he had won for selling Stihl Chainsaws.

[Dear Editor]

We have many of The Mountain Laurels and have enjoyed them so much. I was delighted to find you on the internet. I'm looking forward to the new edition of The Mountain Laurel. God bless you for preserving our heritage for us.

Keep on doing a good job.

Jewel Warf.

Editor: Thank you very much.