For the Queens and Kings of Appalachia

247 thoughts on “For the Queens and Kings of Appalachia”

  1. My momma’s family were from ” the cuntry”, but she & grandma along with her younger siblings managed to move away.
    It was still a hard life for Grandma, packing gun powder and breathing in the dust that killed her.
    Whenever it was possible, back out to the “cuntry” we’d go.
    The air was better, the water clearer, the food was homemade, and your family loved you.
    I was raised in both worlds and loved every minute of it.
    I’m on the other side of VA now but I will always be Appalachian!

    Your words paint a fabulous picture of my favorite places in the world – HOME.

  2. This cam across my facebook feed, and brought tears to my eyes. I was born in Eastern Kentucky, and spent most of my youth there, and WV. It speaks to my soul more than… Actually you do know because those mountains still call me no matter where I am, and they call you too. They call to all of us to come home and spend some time with them.

  3. I am Appalachian!
    August 10, 2011 at 11:26pm
    I am the Cherokee, the Watauga, the Scots Irish, the South African and so many more that are as much a part of me as the Mountains themselves. I can be traced back to Spanish Kings and German Queens but Appalachians are where I was born. In the dark Coal mines as small boys carried out the Coal there fathers had dug out of the mountains, the father could only look on because it was necessary to survive, always keeping the pain inside so he could keep going. Because knowing that his son, grandson and many generations forward would have a better life than his, this is what keeps you alive. My family and friends who were ripped away from me by the soldiers to be taken to a strange place they say will be better; I lost them all to the trail. I wore Blue and my Brother wore Gray. Potbelly stoves, the cinders left behind and the smell of burning Coal.
    The wetness of the Fog as I breathe in the Mountain air in the early morning while Squirrel and Ginseng Hunting. High up on the Mountain Ridge, a rainy day when I can actually smell the wet fur of the deer as he approaches and the wild turkey cannot hear me walking on the wet leaves. Hunting is not my sport; it is a way of life and a way to keep my family alive.

    Sent to go get Tomatoes out of the garden for supper, the salt shaker hidden in your pocket, as you bite into the Mountain Tomato that has been passed down through generations the flavor explodes through all of your senses as the warm juice runs down your chin. The green Tobacco fields move like water as the fall wind blows over the leaves and soon they will be a copper brown as I hang them in the barn I built with my family. Yes my wallpaper is news paper but it helps keep the cold out. And yes that is my new pick-up, new bass boat and giant satellite dish next to my trailer and yes it’s paid for and yes I am happy.

    The TVA took our land even though it was for the greater good they say; I miss that farm. The smell of the Moonshine Still as I walk through the woods should be ready to run off a batch soon if the revenuers don’t find it. The friend I lost because someone used a radiator. I still remember the black specks of Coal dust in my grandfathers spit and thinking to myself he has not been in a mine in 15 years. That was his sacrifice so that I could live, the missing fingers, the broken bones, the lost friends and family. It was all worth it to him so he could get to this point in his life, watching his young grandson play on the porch swing, knowing he would do it all over again just to feel the way he does right now.

    The love of a mountain Woman for her man is only overshadowed by the love for her children and grandchildren. That Love can never be broken and neither can she; many have tried and all have failed. Many generations are buried in this soil that has passed on; they have Lived, Loved and Died Appalachian. Some stayed in the Mountains they called home and others left to try and have a better life for their Families. But they all still have that something about them no matter where they are. It’s called pride, honesty and helping those in need. It’s called Appalachian.

    Blood feuds; Tent Revivals; Flea Markets; Hog killings; Company Scrip; the Train whistle late at night; cars that stop when the dead pass; Snake Handling; the Roster Crowing as the sun comes up; getting flogged when gathering eggs; Outhouses with magazines to read and use; turning the Antenna outside so your Dad can see the news; rabbit ears with Aluminum foil on them; drinking from a spring on the side of the road; canning food; eating home grown food and sharing it with others that go without; picking up pop bottles for change to get candy; frog gigging; Bare Mountain tops that are necessary to feed families and outsiders who don’t understand; plowing a field with a plow pulled by a mule; watching a garden grow; dirt track racing; Bluegrass Music; the long wait after a cave-in; the pain of death and the joy of a newborn Appalachian Baby; Thunderstorms under a tin roof; the Tornado that took my Aunt; the neighbor who had nothing and fed me anyway, she taught me so much about music even though I cannot play any instrument or sing a note her love of music and kindness to others taught me more than she could ever know, I miss her smile and laugh to this day; Hickory Switches you had to go get yourself; Teachers who cared enough to Listen; Learning to drive on icy Mountain roads; All the ones I lost to Massacre Mountain, there were many; The friends and family who had retired or finally made it and then passed away; My first kiss, My first love, My two sons eyes as I held them for the first time; My father’s face as he held them for the first time and how proud I am and he would be of the two Appalachian young men they have grown up to be. I am made up of many things, many mixed races and mixed colors from the Cherokee Warrior, field hand, farmer, soldier, teacher, coal miner and many others that have lived, loved and died in these mountains.

    This is where and what I come from…………………… I am Appalachian!

    Mark S. Collins

    1. Your words bring tears to my eyes as I struggle to put into words how I feel about the motherland. Well said my man, well

  4. I was born in N.E.Tennessee at home on top of Chestnut Ridge .I love these hills and mountains I am 70years old all my folks are from VA.

  5. I just realized that some of my family lived in the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. Latta was the name of my Ancestor who moved here from Ireland. They were Scotts. I have always loved hiking in hilly forested mountains. My husband lived in Upstate NY on the border of Vermont. He has always talked about his hill relatives. They had no running water or electricity.

  6. I left Richlands 59 years ago but still think of the mountains as home. If you believe the Mormon site, my Grandmother and Grandfather Pugh were Welsh. And yes, they came from kings and queens. Also, Oliver Cromwell and Chalemagne. I never felt less than any person-or better than. These poems are a wonder.

  7. I am Sandra Sellards…my ancestors were Scott Irish…and Cherokee.. Sellards are the descendent of Jenny (Sellards) Wiley..her family that came here from Scotland…who came from Ireland…they settled in parts of Virginia..west Virginia and Kentucky ..I grew up in Kentucky..always loved these mountains!

  8. My mother was born in Tom’s Creek , Va. Her family names were Ball and Meade. Lived her early life in Bristol, Va. My father was born in Bristol, Tenn. Joseph Wampler, his mom was from the hills around Abington, va. Her name was Sadie Wright. My daddy joined the Air Force at 17. They were stationed in Japan when I was born in 1955. In 1968 my mom and I moved to Bristol while Daddy was in Vietnam and finished the last years of his enlistment. I fell in love with Tenn. especially the people and their dialect and of course, mountains. It was a home I had never known, being an Air Force brat. I got real stupid in 1977 and married a man from Ohio and have lived here and hated it here since. Every time I have ever been back to Bristol it feels like home. I have never been able to explain the way I feel like you have. Reading this was like you were reading my heart! Thank you!

  9. With no disrespect intended, much of this could also be said of those us from the other end of the Appalachians, a rugged and majestic mountain chain that like a river has given birth and sustained life for millennia.

  10. Sixth generation of Charlie McKinney, man of 7 wives and 50-60 children. He owned over 1500 acres on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the original Rocky Top Mountain & Spruce Pine, N. C. DOCUMENTATION AVAILABLE>>

  11. This is an amazing article and it was so beautifully written! I was born and raised in Eastern Kentucky and now, I’m raising my children here in our beautiful mountains as I was! We have something special here, something almost magical that other people just simply can’t comprehend!! This is Home and these mountains will continue to teach and nurture me and my children and hopefully my grandchildren! I have a deep Love and deep respect for our Mountains and I will always, for as long as I live!! I am Appalachian Royalty, My Grandmother was named “Queen of the Mountains” many years ago! Her name was Sally Baker, she was such a kind hearted woman who gave her all to help heal and doctor people in our mountains who couldn’t get out to the nearest town! There are many articles about her and the many accomplishments she has made and all of the wonderful acts of kindness she performed! I will continue being “A Princess of the Mountains and I will due my upmost best to make all of my Loved ones proud! I am Appalachia!!!!

  12. I come from the mountains of Western North Carolina bordering East Tennessee…as a matter of fact I was born at home delivered by a midwife in a log cabin…I always knew the only place I felt comfortable was in the mountains…it courses through my veins…loved your article it was spot on.

  13. Beautiful. Simply beautiful. I’ve lived in the coalfields of West Virginia and Kentucky, and am lucky enough to call East Tennessee my home now, and you captured the spirit of here better than most.

  14. Wow, simply an amazing story, and the truth, if I ever heard it. I was born and raised in Scott County Virginia. I came from a large family and I guess we were poor but if we were, we didn’t know it. I have been to a lot of places but I couldn’t wait to get back to “my” mountains. Everything here seems to just move at a slower pace, and I like that. Born here, lived here and if it be the Good Lord’s will, I will die here. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    1. Hello, Dave!! I am also from the Dorton family. My grandfather was born in Russel County near Dorton’s Fort. My great grandfather was William Harvey Dorton. I am always interested in finding other members of the Dorton family.

  15. Born and raised in Scott County, VA. I descend from the line of Castles (Cassell) on my mothers side. Jacob Castle for whom Castlewood (Castleswoods), VA was named after. I am Davidson on my fathers side, a family of farmers and coal miners. I love these mountains. I never want to leave. I often dream of seeing new places , but there is no place like home.

    1. I too descend from the Cassels/Castles,Stapleltons, Whites, and Leonards on my mother’s side. My dad’s lines were the Williams’, McClellan/McClellands, Hackneys, Joneses, and McElroys. Almost all had settled, or were in the process pre-Revolutionary War. Most of them fought in that war. To be free. In these mountains. Thank you, Ms. Wess, for capturing the very essence of OUR mountains.

  16. I am from the mountains of Kentucky. My dad was a coal miner and my mother worked hard to raise 5 children. I love those mountains. That is home and always will be even though I now live in Ohio.

  17. I am Appalachian Royalty, deep, deep roots. Left those mountains of Graham County NC 30 years ago. Never intended to look back. Little did I realize, those mountains are woven into my genetic fabric. I am a hard woman, even today. Proud that I am. That pride has made me a survivor in difficult circumstances, given me a compassion toward my fellow man, mostly because I have been there, or I can see someone that I love in the face of someone in need.

    1. My roots are also in Graham County. My dad left in the fifties but there is a draw back there that is strong. He always said things are a little bigger and a little better in Graham County. I have made my living there and now work in the local government giving back and hoping to maintain a heritage that is strong and sure for the generations to come. My ancestors were tough as pine knots and I have a backbone of steel. I was taught to work hard and never let an obstacle stop me. I am proud of my heritage.

  18. For the past two years, as a genealogist, I have studied, in-depth, the family histories of eight living people who reside all over the United States. Eight doesn’t sound like a lot, but each person has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and the family ancestry multiplies with every generation. Genealogy isn’t a weekend project.

    The surprising thing I found, after years of research… all eight people, at some point, descended from royalty. Their families originally came from across the Pond (England, Scotland, Normandy, Ireland) at the advent of this country. All eight people have family roots in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, and the ones who came from PA and MA migrated to Virginia. Each person told me they came from a family of farmers, horse thieves, or they just didn’t know anything. They could only trace their ancestors back to great-grandparents, sharecroppers; people who couldn’t afford to take pictures of themselves.

    In the interest of keeping this short, all eight people turned out to be direct descendants of royalty. Not Royalty as in Kings and Queens of our beloved Appalachians, where I grew up, so you know I understand how we all feel about that. Nope, they were part of the actual Royal Family across the Pond. Of the eight people, my own family shared a match in every one of theirs. If you go back far enough (not that far; less than three hundred years, a very short period of time if you’ve ever done family research) we all have common ancestors. I had no idea.

    You folks who still live in the mountains should be proud that your families have provided most of the US Presidents to date, along with the rest of the people who founded this country. We’re all related, and I never had a clue. No wonder we feel like Kings and Queens of Appalachia, it’s in our blood! We really are royalty, but unless you spend a lifetime tracing things backward, there’s no way to know. I’m glad to have had the time to do that and share it with my Royal Appalachian Family. I’ll be happy to look for your family name and see if it coincides with the rest of the Royal history I’ve unearthed, just send an email.

    1. I believe you. I think many of the early settlers to America were relatives of royalty who might have fallen out of favor, or had other problems or dreams they were trying to escape or find. I was born in a (very) small town in WV, and 60 yrs.later, live 45 miles away, “as the crow flies”. Even as a very small child, I felt an affinity with the British Isles, and my heart still thrills at the swirlin’ of the ‘pipes. But when I would ask about my heritage, or whether we could be descended from a certain nationality, I would be met with a curt denial. I am descended from a long line of (very) early pioneers, most of the men tall and handsome, extremely bright and resourceful, whether they were able to go to college or not. In Appalachia, you learn early that a college degree “don’t necessarily make you smart”! And many of my female relatives are very intelligent, exquisitely beautiful, with creamy, English Rose complexions, raven hair with red highlights, or dark auburn, and all with the lightest of large, expressive eyes, very similar to those in those large European portraits that hang in museums.Not that I am one of them, unfortunately.I have been plagued all of my life by a still- undiagnosed blood disorder, a clotting problem. I’ve hemorrhaged several times. I have extremely narrow feet, as do several relatives, making trying to find shoes that fit here in the sticks a nightmare. Had been told since a child that I must be descended from royalty, sort of an old wives’ tale. The internet was born, and I’ve found several references to that being a trait of the old royal families. I can go on, but to shorten things, my daughter gave me DNA testing as a gift. I am genetically related to Marie Antoinette, Prince Philip, and Napoleon Bonaparte, who was related to more than one royal family. My college graduation portrait looks uncannily similar to a portrait I found a few years ago of Mary, Queen of Scots, at the age of 15. I was 19 in mine. Or is it just my imagination……………………

      1. Jane Ann,I have traced my daughter-in-laws family back to that same line. Her ancestor was James Stewart. ( He was the illegitimate son of King James 5th of Scotland and Lady Margaret Erskine making him a 1/2 brother if Mary ,Queen of Scots.) You’d be amazed at how many ‘Royal” families of that era are related because they intermarried with other royal households to form alliances for the purpose of banding together in times of war.

    2. Hi there! My family names Are Thurman, Swafford, Lyle, Parker and Tollett. I think my grandparents are from Bledsoe Co., Tennessee. My name is Judy Thurman and I am from Chattanooga, TN.

    3. I’m from the hills of northern alabama,my father’s name James Duke,my mother’s name imogene shannon,would love to find something about my heritage

    4. I was born and raised here in the Smokey mountains in NC near the Tennessee border…my maiden name was Queen from my mamas people…I am also descended from Abels..Hightowers…Rogers..Hensons and Burnetts…i only know as far back on my Hightower side as 1776 to Elias Hightower in Cocke County Tennesee

  19. I was born in Birmingham, AL — yes, the southern tip of the Appalachians. But my Mom and her people are from Bedford Co., VA. And my Dad had forebears from Eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. So these mountains are in my blood. We had to promise my Mom not to put her in the ground in Alabama. She wanted us to take her back home. We scattered her ashes near the Blue Ridge Parkway overlooking Bedford Co. and the Peaks of Otter.

    I feel more at home and more at peace in these mountains than anywhere else in earth. I love them so much, because they are a part of who I am, and who my people are. Wherever I go, I know they’ll always be there for me, to nurture me, and to make me whole again!

    1. My people from my Dad’s side are from the Smoky Mountain area of East Tennessee. When we go on our yearly pilgrimage and the minute we start to ascend the foothills, I say out loud, “I am home”
      Living as we do near the Chesapeake bay is highly overrated!

  20. I tell my Grandaughter that my pray for her is to love these mountains like I do, they are my home and family. I was born and raised in Clay Co. N.C. after graduating in 1962 I went to Indiana (I’ll always be grateful for my jobs and many friends) but I always called this home. Homesickness was horrible and each chance to come home, I felt like I had to drink up the mountains and fill my cup. I retired Jan 1st 2000 and came home. I thank God each day for allowing me to live out my days in the N. Ga mountains, I am blessed.

  21. I am also Appalachian Royalty…from Fayetteville before the arc suspension bridge over the gorge opened it to the rest of the world. While miles lie between my current life and my heritage, my heart lies with you motherland.

  22. I was born in Pennington Gap in Lee County, Virginia. So blessed to be from Southwest Virginia.
    I was taken to Ohio as a small child, when my mother married. I longed for the day school turned out, and I could come back to my mountain home, each and every year. I lived for the summer’s here. Seeing my Mamaw and my Aunt’s and Uncle’sand all my cousin’s!
    I’ve moved away several times over the years, but raised my two young Kings, here in my kingdom, where they could have the very best this country has to offer. A place to play, in safety. A place to learn what they needed to know. A place where they learned about caring for your neighbors. A place where they learned respect, love and hard work.
    I’ve left several times for the money that can’t be made here, after my son’s were raised.
    I came home, to my mountain, in 2010. I was ill, and came home to die! But to my surprise, my mountain home has brought me back to life. It’s filled my heart and my very soul with all the wonder’s that only living here, away from the rest of the world, can bring. We are so very blessed to have been born here. To have raised our children here. To go to church here and to worship our Heavenly Father here. And someday soon, to see Our King coming down from Heaven, above Our beautiful mountain home!

  23. It runs deep. My mother’s family on both sides left the Clinch River Field mines in 1917 after many generations in the area. Stopped in Colorado awhile and settled in Los Angeles where I was born. But they brought the mountain with them and it has called to me all my near 70 years. I’m in Oregon now and the trees and mountains soothe me some, but I like to think I might make it home yet. Bless you, girl.

    1. I’m also in Oregon on east slope of Cascade range–spent 200 years off the grid in the Siskiyous on the west side. I was born in the Ouachitas in southeast Okla.–a region called “Little Dixie”. My ancestors are Scotch-Irish immigrants from Appalacians–I guess the mountains get in your soul no matter which mountains.

  24. Thank you for this story. My ancestors lived in the hills at the foot of White Top Mountain, Virginia and they were mountain queens, tough, strong. Well educated…they loved these mountains and did live well into their 90s. I am fascinated with our dialect, and fear that it is being forgotten, if you have any info would be grateful if you would share.

  25. I’m from a small town called Hurley ,Va. I remember going squirrel hunting and going coon hunting at night while growing up with twelve in our family. If you have never tried squirrel gravy you have never lived.Growing up in a large family is really amazing ,we never wanted for anything our father was a hard working coal miner,oh I forgot to mention there are” 6 boys and 6 girls”,but anyways when we get to talk to each other we always tell each other that we love you before we hang up the phone.Mom& dad always told us how much they loved us ,but both of them are gone now plus one sister .We can all just hope and pray to see them in Heaven some ,so I will close now .Love you mom and dad and sis.

  26. Oh Please this is a must have read. Would 😍 love it as iam a Appalachian Queen also. Parents born & raised Chapmanville WV Crawly Creek WV. Logan county. The Belcher’s Butchers Dingess Gore kin to everyone in Logan county almost

    1. I was born in East Tennessee and was taken by parents up north as were many others to be able to provide for family. I came HOME as soon as I could get here. I have taught my children and grand children the song I learned in school as a child. “Oh Tennessee fair Tennessee the land of all the world to me I stand upon a mountain high and hold communion with the sky and view the glowing landscape ore my Tennessee for evermore.” I have requested my grand children sing this at my funeral.I am proud to be Appalachian.

  27. Even though I’ve been gone for 50+ years the Mountains of East Tennessee are still where I belong. I was born there. I was raised there. I was educated in THEIR ways there. I may have left them but they never left me.
    Thank you Anna, you do those of us who have left a wonderful service of letting us know what we left behind and will always love.

  28. This is a true story for all of us royalty in these beautiful mountains. Born here and will be laid to rest here in East Tennessee one of if not the Most Beautiful place on earth! We love our mountains and are proud that they are ours by birthright! We respect them as our mother’s and father’s and they shelter and protect us with the strength and resources they provide. I will always love my mountains and my people that came here from Ireland And Germany many many years ago!

  29. I grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina bordering Tennessee. As a child I looked up at the mountains and they encircled me. I thought it was the was my world. We lived in a hollar, Papaw had around 100 acres. Bought and paid for by the work of their hands. We are a hard, proud people and stubborn. My childhood memories are running through the woods, playing in the creek. Feeding chickens,shelling corn to feed the chickens..gathering eggs. Going to get the milk cow off the ridge. She loved going into a old graveyard to pick grass. I was scared to death to go in to get her..walking slowly trying to not step on anyone’s grave. That was instilled in me, never step on a grave, Respect for the person . I long for those day’s with all my cousins and Grandparents. Mountains are apart of me just like family. Those childhood mountains still call to me,even though I only live 30 minutes away. I came from an area some think of as bad. Honestly, everyone you pass on the road will throw their hand up in passing. They will help in time of need & take care of their own. The just don’t take to someone coming in and getting on their land or in their business. If you can’t afford things you just do without or sacrifice something else to find a way to buy the items. God was apart of our lives, praying before you eat & at bedtime. Going to a little country church. Oh I miss the ones gone on..I feel their spirits at times. The Mountains are apart of me just like the blood running in my veins. I love your writing. Thank you.

  30. Barely able to see right now, because of the tears that have welled. My, oh my, how you have captured our Beloved Kingdom with your words. I am touched and blessed by having read them.

  31. I grew up in East Knox County not far from Sevierville. I lived in Knoxville until I turned about 35. I now live in in West Tennessee, Paris with my Husband and his family. When I drive home to see my Momma the Mountains just draw me in. You never realize how much you miss them until you don’t see them for a while. They are massively beautiful sight.

  32. I was born and raised in Johnson City. Somehow, I never really saw the mountains in my adolescence. They were just always there in the background, and I assumed that roads winded around-up-and-down the same way everywhere. I joined the Air Force after high school and shipped out to Texas, Mississippi, then Oklahoma. When I finally came home on leave I couldn’t see anything but the mountains. I thought, “have these always been here?” Even living in the “city” you can see them on every side of you and be on top of one in a matter of minutes. Now, I loved my time in the military and got to experience many different places and cultures, and to be honest, I never thought I’d come back and settle down here. But you know, these mountains do have a way of keeping you around. I’m making up for lost time now, always exploring new trails, finding a new waterfall, or just learning more about the history of these hills and my family’s place in them. Life is fairly easy around here when you’re a “king” and it’s a great place to find a queen and raise your royal family.

    1. I’m one of the Loves from the Jackson Love Hwy and Love Station in Erwin. Sixth generation grandson of Gen Thomas Love.

      1. I am married to a Thomas Love. We live in Ohio but his ancestors came from Scotland and Ireland. My ancestors were Stratton and came from Royalty traced back to 1510. Settled in Kentucky and Virginia.

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