They drew straws for to see who should shave who first

Posted by | February 2, 2012

“Once we hit a place where a feud was being settled. It was back in the hill country of Virginia and the place was called Rocky Comfort. It really wasn’t a town. There was a water-power grist mill, a store, a blacksmith shop and about a quarter of a mile up the little valley there was a meeting house, where traveling preachers would sometimes hold revivals which were called camp meetings.

“The feud was between the Buxton –or Bruxton– and another bunch of natives named Greenberry,–I think that was the name.

“Old Uncle Jed Buxton, a tall, sharp-eyed old fellow with a yellowish-gray, hang-down, moustache was boss of the Buxton bunch and Grandpappy Lindsay Greenberry was head of the enemy tribe.

“I never heard what the feud started over, probably some Buxton stole a Greenberry pig, or some Greenberry shot a Buxton cow. But whatever it was that started it there’d been killing on both sides and from what I heard about it they were always gunning or ganging up on each other, or cutting each other up with Bowie knives. The cause of the feud wasn’t important, though; it was the way it ended that seemed funny to me.

“And a queer thing was that both tribes were religious and when they’d go to the camp-meetings they’ve have a temporary truce while the meeting was going on.

“It was at the camp-meeting the feud ended. The preacher was a big raw-boned Hard-shell Baptist, and he certainly believed in hell-fire and damnation; and when he’d get up and start to preach he’d always pull out a twist of long-green tobacco and pull off a big chew–then he was ready to go at it. And he went.

“He was almost as good as Doc Porter when it came to oratory. He talked hell-fire and brimstone…sizzlin’ and bilin’ and smokin’ until he’d have the whole audience sweating and groaning. Finally he got under the hides of the Buxtons and Greenberrys and had them all tremblin’ on the brink as he called it…jest hangin’over eternal damnation by a brickle thread!

getting a shave“The payoff was that old Uncle Jed Buxton and Grandpappy Greenberry both got more religion than they’d ever got before and decided to make peace and stop their tribes from carving and shooting and beating each other up.

“The preacher got them together at the mourner’s bench and got them to agree to make friends and be brethren. But they had to do something to prove the treaty would last and they could trust each other… And that’s where the funny part of it came in.

“Old Uncle Jed Buxton and Grandpap Greenberry acted for the whole bunch of each of their tribes. The peace ceremony was performed at the camp-meeting in the presence of the whole audience, the Hard-shell Baptist preacher acted as master of ceremonies. You’d never guess how they pledged themselves and proved that they trusted each other. Those two old mountain codgers who had been killin’ enemies shaved each other! And not with safety razors either!

“They did it right on the preacher’s platform while the whole congregation looked on and muttered a lot of ‘Amens’ and ‘Praise the Lords.’

“They drew straws for to see who should shave who first, and Uncle Jed Buxton got the chair first. Grandpappy Greenberry lathered Uncle Jed up, took that wicked long-bladed razor (the preacher supplied the outfit) and whittled the whiskers off of Uncle Jed’s face and neck…but when he got down around Uncle Jed’s wind-pipes I noticed the Buxton clan got mighty tense and silent. But Uncle Jed didn’t bat an eye while his old enemy was fooling around his neck with that darned sharp razor!

“When Uncle Jed was well shaved, Grandpappy Greenberry sat down in the chair, which was a common hickory split-bottom kitchen chair, and Uncle Jed took the razor and went over him!

“That settled the feuds. Each had trusted his neck to the other when the other had a sharp razor in his hand…and as far as I know they never feuded again. But I’ll say those two tough old mountain hillbillies had a lot of nerve.”

Source: Library of Congress, American Memory, American Life Histories: Manuscripts for the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940. From an interview conducted with William D. Naylor on Sept, 19, 1938; Sept. 27, 1938; Oct. 1 and 3, 1938 by Earl Bowman

appalachia appalachia+history camp+meeting feuds history+of+appalachia revival+meeting

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