For the Queens and Kings of Appalachia

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

  1. Speaking from the mountains of Western NC. This is so beautiful and speaks to the true soul of mountain living.

  2. We are the unnamed royalty. We are the pragmatic, tough but caring people that although we may argue we love one another. I hope this remains true for eternity.

    I was raised in Lincoln County WV, this is my heart. I miss my mountain home but so few jobs are to be had.

  3. I was raised in Big Ugly WV. I miss my mountain home. We are the unnamed royalty, we are sure and pragmatic but care for others like no other. We will never back down and are too stubborn to die.

    Thank you for putting my heart into this blog.

  4. Anna-I was thrilled to read your Grandmother was a Belcher. I am too! I was born and raised in Patrick County, VA and I am never complete unless I am in the mountains. My happy place is the Blue Ridge Mountains and I always feel a sense of calm when I go back home. I only moved one county over to the Piedmont area of Virginia, but I might as well have moved clear across the country. All the mountain traditions are non-existent. No one gets their nose buttered for their birthday, nor do they wave when you pass each other on the road. Your writing feels like you went into my head and pulled out my thoughts and put them on paper! I can’t wait to read more of your work! We may even discover we are related!

  5. I live ina foreign land now, on the west coast. I’ve been a hillybilly out of the moutains for many years now. However, no matter how many years i’m away i’m still that little mountain girl that will never be like the yocals. Miss the misty mornings no matter how hot the day becomes. The language of my people & the hardeness of my people. People here bend at the drop of a hat, complain at the slightest infraction, they are soft & yielding. I miss my mountains that shielded me, the dirt genrations I from & most of all i miss my people. The sombernest, the hardness,& oh do I miss the humor. Laughing when the worst thing happened to you is part of that hardness. I miss the stuuborness of moving on no matter what. Still cry for it like a deceased person, grieve for my home. The mountains aren’t just mountains, they are our ancestors & our parents. I’ve told people here when someday I pass I refuse to be buried here. My last wish is too be buried back home in that applachian dirt where so many of family memebrs lay. Your write up made me cry, because it really hit me hard. Think a lot of us transplants feel everyday we are wanders lost from home & reading pieces like yours makes me even more somber for it. Thank you for writing this, you really did capture my applachia.

    1. Elizabeth, you said it all. I’m on the left coast as well, but my instructions are to scatter my ashes over the southwest Virginia lands that my ancestors settled in the 1700s. Ashes to ashes and atoms to atoms of those who were risk takers and lovers of freedom.

  6. Well hell’s bells! This was good! Read the one about sittin’ w/the dead, too! Papaw saw a man sit up at his own wake when they used to keep em at home and just put cheese cloth over their face. Really hoping to hear about a book coming out from you!
    Keep em comin’! Luv,
    “The Queen of the Creek”

  7. Yeah, wow. From Grundy Virginia, and can’t even begin to explain the impact that had on the person I am today. Those mountains still own me, and I’ve lived at the beach for twenty five years. Can’t wait to see more from you in the future. Fabulous job!

  8. Born in Plneville/Fourmile. Spent my early childhood in Harlan Co., Black Mountain/Evarts. Moved to Chicago in 58 after Peabody shut down the mine. Quite a shock for a 11 yr. old. Never moved back but I still miss those hills. Finally found a place to call home in Alaska. McGrath, look it up. I can live pretty much as I please and the people are good, self reliant, and help one another when needed. Still like my soup beans and cornbread.

  9. You speak directly to my heart. Like Jim, it feels like you are sneaking a peek at my dairy. I miss the mountains we called home as a little girl in Jolo. They always call to me.. The rare occasions, funerals mostly, I can hear them and my ancestors talk to me as soon as I start on those winding roads home. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words with us. When does your book come out? I will be first in line.

  10. This is spectacular writing, but it also ripped my face off emotionally! I am two or so generations removed from these mountains, but felt like you were peeking into my diary; interpreting my very DNA.

  11. such eloquently written truth!
    i was wondering if you cared if i put some of your words with my photography of the appalachian mountains! of course, i would credit you!
    from one artist to another,
    megan

  12. The words you write are so profound and ring volumes of truth. I left 17 years ago to join the military and move every few years to new duty stations and no matter what Country or what State I live in it’s not home; WV is where my heart has always been and will always be. I’ve had discussions with my father, who is a retired trooper, on the demise of our County. It’s been over run my the quick easy money of underground meth labs. It really does break my heart to see good people ruin their lives and the lives of those they love. It’s not like it’s intentional, nobody wakes up and says, “I want to be a meth head” or “I want to be a drug dealer.” Simply, they see no other way or have no other means. But really it’s not so simple, there are bigger underlying issues pertaining to the poverty problem and we can wage war against drugs all we want, but it does nothing to snuff out the fire at the source.  There are many many things to fix.

  13. I was born and raised in Pike County, KY. I loved reading your words as they resonated with my heart. I taught English in Pike County for 23 years, how I would have loved to have shared your writing with my teenagers for it reads as poetry! Well done and so true! Thank you.

  14. oh, those mountains…take it from me, from a coal miner’s granddaughter- those roots run strong and that grief of separation lays in the blood.

    heaven in my head must look like those mountains, from a high up place you climbed up to so you could look out at the tree’s heads, and the smoke laced around them. a place you could breath in, but see the edges of so you could be safe. where you pressed your hand down on the ground and hard onto the tree so you could know the there-ness and not be lost.

    i’ve long been gone from my mountains, but I miss them so.

  15. Well written, and very true. I am someone who, although born in Ohio, claims the mountains of Southeastern Kentucky as home. My paternal and maternal lineage springs from this noble ground. And yes, we are hard. We are not harsh, and can be hurt and cry, but we are hard like the rocks of the mountains are hard. We are constant and cannot be kept down or pushed to the side. We refuse your pity and your condescension. We know who we are and rejoice in where we come from.

  16. I grew up in Rural Retreat, and although I mostly moved to California I still return ‘home’ as much as possible. I’m glad to see someone showing pride in where we grew up, because it seemed to me the schools tried to take that culture away from us. For example, we couldn’t say ‘reckon’, but after doing business in the UK I found it was a perfectly acceptable term and I have proudly put it back in my vocabulary. Seems to me we were not taught to appreciate our heritage in the 60’s, but ‘those people that don’t live here’ appreciate our culture and are coming here to tell us how important it is, as they partake of our music, our arts, crafts and environment. Restoration of our pride and self esteem would go far towards solving many of our detrimental drug and health problems.

    1. I grew up in Pike Co., KY & moved to Lexington when I was 24. My grandmother, a true mountain woman, would visit often. We had a friend who was a hair dresser & he would do granny’s hair when she came in town. He very quickly dubbed her the ‘Countess Deboard’! He said he’d never met a prouder person than this old mountain woman! Anna, I thought of her immediately when I read the word ‘royalty’. I reckon Granny was royal!

  17. I left the mountains 20 years ago for work and haven’t been able to move back YET. I will; I’m just biding my time til I can live surrounded by that heart-easing and soul-deep beauty again. My ancestors moved to the Appalachians in the very early 1700s and most never left until the 20th century and joblessness came along. Those mountains are literally in my blood and I proclaim it proudly to any who care to listen. I haven’t yet met people from the outside as true and as warm; although that hardness was there on the outside; underneath was real beauty, music and poetry. I miss the “high lonesome,” that fiddle or dulcimer playing a plaintive tune. I loved this piece and will keep this website in my favorites!

  18. These words touched my heart and soul. No matter where I have roamed in this ever shrinking world, my Appalachian heritage has travelled with me and guided me with wisdom and eloquence. I am and always will be of the mountains and a Grundy (Virginia) Girl!

    1. AS A GUNDY GIRL (SLATE CREEK) THE MOUNTAINS WILL ALWAYS BE HOME TO ME, THE TEACHINGS I RECEIVED THERE PREPARED ME FOR ANOTHER WAY OF LIFE, STILL I SHALL ALWAYS LOVE EVERY THING I LEARNED GROWING UP IN THE MOUNTAINS.

  19. Born in Detroit of mountain stock, raised in Middlesboro in Bell County Kentucky, near the Cumberland Gap where history passed through. Ex-pat living now on the other side of the Potomac from DC, lived here longer than I ever did in the mountains, but I’ll never really leave them. Been many a time I’ve been thought of as hard, hard-headed, hard-hearted, hard luck, hard of hearing, and hard to get along with, so I agree we’re a “hard people!” Not one with much care for “royalty”, but I do like the rest that you wrote. There’s quite a bit of sadness, too, in the hearts of mountain folk, we get that from the “dour Scots” that settled there, who passed through the Gap and said, “good enough” and settled in land that reminded them of their Highlands far away. Nowadays some in the mountains find solace and ease from that sadness in music, work and faith, others find it in drink and drugs, some just get lost. Those of us that had to leave to find work carry the homesickness, the draw of the mountains we can’t really return to now, as a constant undercurrent, a whisper, a certain in-drawing at times. Thank you for your writing, you’ve come closer than most to describing us the right way.

  20. I grew up in Rockview West Virginia, close to the little county seat, Pineville, of Wyoming County. This is beautiful, and I’m really grateful to you for articulating something that I’ve only felt and wished I could share with others. They are my mountains, and I their child, and every day my heart aches for them and the people in them. I am in California now, and I still dream of home… But am not sure what to do in my tiny little town devastated by drug use.

  21. Wonderfully written…I have always lived in the mountains and always will. I’m happy to say I’m one of the lucky ones who never had to leave and never will. I can’t abide “flatlands” more than about four days. Then I have to get back to be nestled safely in “my mountains”.

  22. I lived in Haysi, Va until I was 9. We went home every Summer and Holiday. Cried like a baby every time I had to leave. This will Always be My Home. Thank you for sharing this.

  23. I grew up in the Appalachians in Buchanan County Virginia. I really enjoyed reading this. Although I left the mountains over 40 years ago I still appreciate what living there taught me. Thank you for this.

  24. I grew up along the banks of Rockhouse Creek in Letcher County, KY. My ancestors are Rockhouse Stephen Adams who first settled the area before 1810 and his son Rockhouse Mose Adams. I am a queen of Appalachia though I had to roll from the cradling arms of my mountains into this flat abyss of a city to earn a living. So few here understand my mountain values but I feel I must teach them what I can lest they be ignorant of true, honest living. Every time I escape back to my mountains I am grateful. I belong to the mountains.

  25. I am from and of Bristol, Virginia. But live in Wichita, Kansas. You read my heart and wrote it down.

    I cried at the end. I wanted it to go to infinity and circle me back home.

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  26. I grew up in the hills along the TN/KY border…your work speaks volumes to me. I have enjoyed it better than anything I have read in a very long time!

  27. Left Lee County,VA in 1960. Always intended to go back! Kings and Queens is a masterpiece shared among many who know the felling of belonging. Thank You. Look forward to more.

  28. I hail from Russell County, VA. I moved away as a child & now live in Roanoke, VA. I find myself looking around and not understanding the people here with their sense of entitlement & they don’t understand me & my values. When you wrote, “We do not take kindly to disrespect. We do not want your charity, neither. We have learned to make it just fine on our own.” it hit me in my heart. This woman I’ve never met understands me in ways people in my everyday life never will. This was a fantastic read & you describe the Appalachian life just perfectly!

  29. What a wonderful piece. I left the mountains over 2 decades ago and they still full my thoughts and are always present in my creative endeavors.

  30. I moved to california an I’ve lived here longer than I lived n southwest virginia..but Appalachian Mountains are who I am..those mountains raised me made me the strong woman I am…it will ALWAYS be home..I can breathe there an relax..I am me when I go home not who the outside world thinks I should be…love your words an feel it..

  31. Well done. Lived in Norton, VA for 40 years before moving to Texas. My dad was a coal miner and I’m proud to be a coal miner’s daughter.

  32. From Wise County–Coeburn Virginia–This Appalachian Queen so appreciates your words, beautiful, hard and true. Living now in Richmond, VA, the mountains never leave my heart and I hear always their whisper. My home is the mountains and will be always. When my son died, I knew that he would be at home buried on the mountain with family. Some may not have wanted to bury their child so far away, but I know that in the bosom of the mountain he is cradled, and watched over by the trees and the stars. The wind on the hill sings his lullaby each night and the earth waits for me there too. It is hard, but there has never been a hard place more beautiful and more majestic. Thank you.

  33. Damn, this is good to read. I’m an amateur writer from Southwest Virginia, and have written, differently, on some of the same themes and emotions. It is like stumbling upon a kindred spirit on the page.

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