Category Archives: Uncategorized

She was a great Herb Doc, the main Doc of the county

Posted by | March 23, 2017

Following is a family history written in 1985 by Ethel (Barrows) Shilling, of Washington County, OH. Grand Ma & Grand Pa Seevers were: Mary A. Severs (1821-1909) & Samuel Severs (1809-1877)

Some History of Grand Ma / Grand Pa Seevers.

Reports are and have been they have Indian blood, and perhaps they have; who hasn’t? But, I too perhaps think Grand Father might of been of the Indian Tribe. I’m that age. Seems the public wants to class them of the Indians. I never heard of any comment from my mother as such. They surely could of been associated with them in those days.

Grand Mother knew a lot about wild life, nature, etc. You name it. She was a great Herb Doc. She was the main Doc of the county, and saved a lot of lives and brought many lives into the community. Emma Limpert says Grand Ma brought her into the world. Also she saved one of her sisters from diphtheria, from her herb doctoring.

Grandma lived in a log house as I remembered, one side sloped down to ground like a shed, an outside dug cellar with sod banked at the side, herbs of all kind were hanging inside drying. She had curly hair (of which I don’t think Indians have), wore black, and a black hood or a fascinator, she chewed tobacco, pieced comforters and quilts (by hand sewing) in the winter. She also knew how to rob the squirrels of their winter nuts; by finding them in rotten logs and stumps she would always come up with all she could pack.

Mary A. Severs of Washington County OHI used to sometimes sleep with her. Before going to sleep she would make noises of different animals, especially like a bear. I used to curl her hair when a little girl.

When she got older, so I understand she pieced each grandchild a quilt. These pieces were very small; she never had no waste to throw away. Her fingers were very much drawn crooked by her age.

She stayed with us when she got old. My father built her a bedroom all her own. We lived down on Fountain St. Uncle Jim Seevers her son was her guardian. This log house was joining Uncle Sam Seever’s farm, back a lane, perhaps a mile. She went fishing in what you call Little Lake close to her home. She was a great fisherman.

She was quite a person in her age. She passed away at the age of 87. Her funeral was at the Logan Church. I was about ten years old and well remember it all. She passed away at Aunt Tan Cole’s home. She and Grandfather and two babies lay at Six Corners Cemetery about in middle of the big section with a large brown marker. The only brown I think in that side. You cannot miss it.

I cannot give you any dates. I don’t have any records of such. Only as I remembered down through time. My mother never said much about the life or I was too young to get it.



The stretch-out and the strike

Posted by | March 22, 2017

By the mid 1920s Appalachia, land of farms and farmers, had been crisscrossed by railroad tracks and dotted with mill villages, and the Piedmont had eclipsed New England as the world’s leading producer of yarn and cloth. But along with the promise of new jobs came intense competition in the decentralized textile industry, depressing wages, and faster mill machines, which with each new technological advance threatened to further exhaust their operators.

Fashions in rayon for the 1930-31 season - Sears Catalog, 1930

Fashions in rayon for the 1930-31 season – Sears Catalog, 1930

These developments inevitably put labor and management on a collision course. Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times (1936) captured perfectly the panic of the average millhand caught in the cross-fire of the “stretch-out”: sped up machinery and ever expanding work quotas.

In October 1926 American Bemberg began the manufacture of “artificial silk,” or rayon, at its new plant in Elizabethton, TN. The parent company, J. P. Bemberg, was the German affiliate of Vereinigte Glanzstoff Fabriken (VGF), one of the international giants in the production of rayon. Two years later, in August 1928, VGF opened another rayon plant in the small East Tennessee town. Visions of economic growth encouraged government officials in Elizabethton to make concessions to VGF concerning property taxes and charges for the huge volumes of water needed to make rayon. They also promised the German industrialists that they would have an abundant supply of docile and cheap–that is, nonunion– labor.

John Fred Holly, who grew up in Elizabethton and worked at the plant during the 1930s, reported that local banker E. Crawford (E.C.) Alexander showed him a copy of an agreement between the company and the Elizabethton Chamber of Commerce assuring the rayon concerns that they would never have to pay weekly wages in excess of ten dollars and that no labor unions would be allowed to operate in the town.

A 1947 aerial view of the North American Rayon Mills, Elizabethton, TN.

A 1947 aerial view of the North American Rayon Mills, Elizabethton, TN.


The stage was set for one of the first, if not THE first, strikes in the Southern textile field. On March 12, 1929, 800 employees of American Bemberg walked out in a fumbling strike, poorly organized and not under union leadership. They demanded wage increases; the company ordered the plant closed the following day. On March 19 the adjoining plant, under the same management, was also closed and its 3,000 employees joined the ranks of the strikers, all native Americans. The courts quickly granted injunctions against the strikers and two companies of National Guardsmen were rushed to Elizabethton by Governor Henry Horton.

“The employers utilize various devices to put the militia under obligations to them. During the Elizabethton, Tennessee, rayon strike, the Glanzstoff-Bemberg Corporation not only provided barracks but served free refreshments, provided music and furnished dancing partners to the men on duty,” noted the New International magazine.

On March 22, after the strikers had joined the A. F. of L., a settlement was reached and the mills reopened.


Sources: New International, New York City, Vol.IV No.6, June 1938, pp. 189-190


There is no more sacred spot in upper South Carolina

Posted by | March 21, 2017

There is no more sacred spot in upper South Carolina than the Old Stone Church and its adjoining cemetery, where many of South Carolina’s most distinguished dead lie sleeping. The old church stands as a silent tribute to the piety and heroism of our first settlers, many of whom came over the mountains from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina to make their homes in this beautiful but savage wilderness.

Old Stone Church, Pendleton, SCAs was the custom with the Scotch-Irish, as soon as they were settled in their new homes, they banded themselves together for public worship and immediately set about the establishment of a church. Following the church, there was a school; for with them religion and learning must go hand in hand.

The old church has stood for more than a century and a quarter, and its gray walls have recorded the hardships of the sturdy pioneers and the march of progress. Some of her worshipers followed Pickens into the battles of Ninety-Six, King’s Mountain, Cowpens and Eutaw Springs. The accurate fire of these men with their flint and steel rifles drove fear into the hearts of the British. The sight of the coonskin caps which these men wore made them quake.

It has witnessed the early days of the new republic, the tramp of the feet of an invading foe, and still continues, although without regular services for almost a century to witness for God and the right.

On October 13, 1789, the people of Seneca appealed to the Presbytery of South Carolina to be taken under its care. In compliance with this request the Rev. John Simpson of New Jersey was sent to preach one Sabbath in the month. In 1790 he was installed as pastor of the log church, which stood about 80 rods from the dwelling of the late Ezekiel Pickens on the north side of the road. A tablet now marks the spot, though doubtless overgrown with brambles.

The growth of the congregation soon made a larger and more commodious church necessary. The foundations of the present church were laid in 1797 on 16.94 acres of land given by John Miller, the printer.

The church was completed in 1802 and stands as an enduring monument to the workmanship of John Rusk, father of the late United States Senator Rusk of Texas. The church was built by public subscription and the session book records that the principal contributors were Gen. Pickens, Gen. Anderson, George Reese, William Steele, Capt. McGriffin, Hardy Owens, Messrs. Whitner, Calhoun and Earle. The seats and pulpit were of walnut and were contributed by Gen. Pickens individually. Unfortunately the interior of the church was destroyed by a forest fire many years ago.

The church was named Hopewell-Keowee for the home of Gen. Pickens, only a short distance away.

Old Stone Church, Pendleton, SCThe Rev. Thomas Reese, a distinguished scholar and patriot, was installed as pastor in 1792. He died in 1796 and was said to have been the first buried in the adjoining cemetery. The cemetery is enclosed by a substantial granite wall, and passing through the iron gate we pause at his grave. Ramsay, the historian, said of him in part: “That his admired essay on the Influence of Religion in Civil Society is an honorable testimony of the literature of South Carolina in 1788.” His arduous pursuit of his studies shortened his life. He was the first South Carolinian to receive a degree from Princeton.

John Miller, the publisher of the famous Junius Letters, and many of his descendants, lie buried in the east corner. A native of London, England, he knew well the writer of the famous letters, but carried the secret to his grave. Settling first in Charleston, he published the South Carolina Gazette and Advertiser, which he sold, and moved to Pendleton, where he began the publishing of the Pendleton Weekly Messenger, using the old printing press of Gen. Nathaniel Green. His sons, John and Crosby Miller, were faithful members of the old church. His descendants continue to uphold the honor of the family. The family of one John Miller has furnished two foreign missionaries, one outstanding home missionary and two splendid physicians.

Excerpt from ‘Historic Oconee County, South Carolina,’ by Mary Cherry Doyle, written 1935, published by Old Pendleton District Historical Commission, 1967
online at


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Posted by | March 17, 2017

May the rains sweep gentle across your fields,
May the sun warm the land,
May every good seed you have planted bear fruit,
And late summer find you standing in fields of plenty.


I were tellin’ some mount’n stories

Posted by | March 16, 2017

Jane Gentry — piano teacher, Appalachian folk-music historian, weaver — was an inspiration for the movie Songcatcher.

She was born Jane Hicks in 1863, the first child of Ransom and Emily Hicks, in Watauga County, NC. “My pappy were a minister, name of Ransom Hicks. Mammy were always peckin’ me over the head with a stick. She were turrible ill and cross, pore woman! I were that foundered with the peckin’ that I declar’d that I would never whup ef God sent me childern. You’ll whup as much into `em as you whup out o’ em.”

And later, Jane said of her life growing up, “Twere like a three-legged cat’s. They didn’t show me till I were nine yur old. I used to walk miles and miles bar’foot in the snow.” She was twelve years old when the family moved to the Meadow Fork section of Spring Creek in Madison County. At sixteen, Hicks married Jasper Newton Gentry, though her parents were against the marriage because of her age. Around 1912, the Gentry family bought ‘Sunnybank’ in the town of Hot Springs, moving there so that their nine children could attend Dorland Institute, a Presbyterian mission school.

Jane Hicks GentryIrving Bacheller, New York newspaper editor and author of books, short stories and magazine articles, (his novel Eben Holden, published in 1900, outsold The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, To Have and To Hold, and other popular books of that year) met Jane Gentry in April 1914 when he came to Hot Springs on vacation.

“I could hear voices as I came near the house,” he recounted in his novel, The Tower of a Hundred Bells (1916), “and chiefly those of young children laughing as if at play. Then I heard the kindly voice of Mrs. Gentry. She sat on her little verandah sewing with a number of small children grouped around her. She was amusing them as she worked.”

“Go on with your story telling,” I pleaded. “I am a child myself as young as any of these.”

“I were tellin’ some mount’n stories,” she answered. “It mout be they’d tickle ye. So if you’ll be one o’ the young uns, set down thar an’ I’ll scratch around an’ see what I kin fetch out o’ my ol’ brains.”

I took the chair she offered and sat down with a girl of four on my lap while Mrs. Gentry opened a mine of old mountain folk lore which delighted me.

“Well here comes:
Eight humly, bumly bees,
Seven humpity, crumpity no horn cows,
Six hicketty, ficketty, custards,
Five bob-tail, bald-face, skewball nags,
Four colly birds,
Two ducks and an ol’ fat rooster.”

Cecil Sharp, founder of The English Folk Dance and Song Society in England, and its American counterpart, the Country Dance Society in the United States, sought Jane out. Sharp visited her home on at least eight separate occasions and was clearly welcome there. He collected more songs from Jane (70) than from any other singer in the ‘Laurel Country.’ Many of the songs were those she sang for children, such as “Sing Said the Mother,” “Froggie He Would A-Wooing Go,” “The Farm Yard,” and “There’s Nothing to be Gained by Roving.” He included forty of her songs in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians (1932).

Jane Gentry’s stories received as much attention as her songs. Mrs. Isabel Gordon Carter visited her in 1923 and did the first collecting of Jack Tales, as told to Jane by her grandfather, Council Harmon (“Old Counce”), in which Jack is the third son, left behind when his brothers seek adventure. Fifteen of these tales, which Jane called “old Jack, Will and Tom tales,” were published as “Mountain White Folk-Lore: Tales from the Southern Blue Ridge,” in the March 1925 Journal of American Folk-Lore. Jane Gentry died two months later, on May 29.

Jane Hicks Gentry: A Singer Among Singers, by Betty N. Smith, Univ Press of Kentucky, 1998

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