That’s old Hide-an’-Taller, the best gun ever seen

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 18, 2016

I was beginning to get a bit worried about Good ‘Lige, since I hadn’t seen him for some three weeks. It was with a feeling of relief when I knocked at his door last Sunday to hear his cheery voice call to me to enter.

He was sitting before the fire, reading his copy of the weekly newspaper, and he had a pot of ginger stew simmering in the coals on the hearth where a couple of hickory logs were blazing.

“Sit and help yourself,” he urged hospitably, nodding toward some cups and saucers on a nearby table.

While we were talking, I glanced about the room at the magazine cover-pages with which he had papered the walls. Over the fireplace, resting on a pair of deer’s antlers, lay a gun that caught and held my attention. It appeared to be a muzzle-loading, double-barreled weapon, with one barrel directly over the other. I arose and took the gun down to examine it more closely.

1932 hunting scene, SW Virgina“That’s old Hide-an’-Taller,” explained Good ‘Lige, “the best gun ever seen in the Apern country. I got her thut’y-forty years ago from one of the Eversoles when he was scoutin’ in that French-Eversole war they had down in Kaintucky.”

“Hide-and-Tallow?” I queried bewilderedly.

“Yeah, we used to have shootin’ matches for beeves,” said Good ‘Lige, lighting the cigar I gave him. “Beeves wa’nt worth much then, an’ the first choice was allus the hide and taller, because they was worth the most. I allers won with that rifle-gun there.

“She’s a double-barr’l,” he continued, taking the gun and caressing it. “Ye see the top barr’l is for a single ball an’ the bottom barr’l is for shot. She shore has been a meat-gun. If it wa’nt so muddy out thar’ I’d show ye how she shoots. I reckon she’s got the longest range ever seen—around her anyhow.”

From Tales of the Tall Timbers, a weekly column in The Dickensonian [Clintwood, VA] written by Herbert M. Sutherland, the paper’s owner/editor.

As editor of Dickenson County’s local county weekly, Herbert M. Sutherland was looked on by the mountaineers as almost one of their own. He was the boy they had seen around town in his teens; the boy who had fought in France in 1918 and come home honorably discharged. After being hospitalized at Walter Reed Hospital for a period of time in Washington, DC, he enrolled in the School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York, where he received a B.A. in Literature in 1921. He worked for the New York Globe, and after it ceased publication he worked for the New York Times.

In 1924 his health failed and he returned to Dickenson County to recuperate. There he spent his time hunting, fishing and writing. During the 1930’s, Sutherland became interested in local politics, and was elected four times to the Virginia Assembly.

In 1939 he acquired the Dickenson County Weekly and named it The Dickensonian. His weekly column “Tales of the Tall Timbers” was read and enjoyed all over the country, and by servicemen all over the world during the 1940’s and 1950’s. This column included stories, using fictitious names, told to him by area friends and associates, whom he fondly referred to as ‘The Liars Club.’ His tall tales were published after his death in 1967 in a volume called “Tales from the Devil’s Apron.”


Sources: American Folk Tales and Songs by Richard Chase, Joshua Tolford, Courier Dover Publications 1971

Leave a Reply

5 − 5 =

Did Mill man commit suicide or was he Murdered?

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 15, 2016


Did Mill man commit suicide or was he Murdered?

J.C. Lindley, who boarded at dead man’s home, 204 Hammett Street, Poe Mill, was arrested by Deputy Sheriff John Hunsinger and will be held on murder charge — Though it was rumored that Allen’s wife was intimate with Lindsey, he refused to believe that she was untrue.

Mystery shrouds the death of Ben Allen, a white man of 201Hammett Street, Poe
Mill, who either committed suicide or was murdered yesterday morning, at his home at 1:00 o’clock.

J.G. Lindley is now in jail, having been arrested by Deputy Sheriff Hunsinger late yesterday, because a high feeling against him existed among the neighbors near the home and it was thought that possibly he would have been handled roughly by the people. He will be held in connection with the mysterious affair. When taken to the jail he refused to talk of the matter.

About one thirty o’clock yesterday morning the villagers of Poe Mill were disturbed by the clear report of a revolver firing, and upon investigation it was found that Allen was lying on a bed with a bullet wound in his right temple. Death was evidently quick, for the missile ploughed its way through the brain.

Coroner Batson was summoned about daylight and he took charge of the case. A jury was selected and inquest was held over the body at — o’clock, and after about two hours of deliberation the jury returned a verdict “that the deceased came to his death from a gunshot wound at hands unknown to the jury.”

The jury was divided in its opinion. Some thought it was just a plain case of suicide, while others held out that he was killed by somebody. Perhaps the most startling testimony taken was that of Allen’s father, who said that he had been with his son the evening before and that he was cheerful, and that he did not believe his son committed suicide and that he met with foul play.

He objected to telling who he suspected of having killed his son, but upon the coroner clearing the room of spectators, Mr. Allen said he suspected a certain man, and when pressed for a direct answer, said he believed the man was Lindley, and when asked why he suspicioned Lindley, Mr. Allen said that it was because there had been a good deal of talk about Lindley being intimate with his son’s wife while they lived in North Carolina and also since they had been in Greenville.

He added that his son wouldn’t believe that his wife was untrue to her sacred vows, and for this reason alone he said his son did not have any reason why he should take his life. Lindley boarded at the house, and at the time of the shooting, claims he was sleeping in the other room on a pallet in the floor. This room was also occupied by Allen’s wife, who was there with her four children who were sick with measles. It was said that Lindley agreed to stay up at night and attend to the children while the husband slept.

In testifying, Lindley said he did not know anything of the shooting till Mrs.
Lindley woke him up by saying that she had heard a shot and thought the sound came from the next room. Lindley said he went to the door and saw a bullet hole in Allen’s head. This statement caused some comment, for the spectators wanted to know how in the dark he could see a bullet hole in the dead man’s head when he was lying on a bed several yards from the door.

One point that puzzled the jury mostly, and which no doubt caused it to reach the verdict above instead of saying that the dead man came to his death by gunshot wounds in his own hands, was the position in which the pistol was lying. It was but a few inches from the man’s head and the muzzle was pointed toward the wound. According to the laws of nature a pistol, when fired in such close proximity to a person’s head, will not drop in a perfect position, but will fall with the head, possibly going several feet from the body and the barrel pointing in another direction.

Another point which directed the jury too was the fact that the dead man’s eyes were closed as if in perfect sleep. It is said that when a person commits suicide, especially inflicting a wound in the head, that the eyes will not close entirely. Some even thought that he was shot while sleeping and that the pistol was laid close to his head as a bluff.

The dead man’s father said reports as to the woman’s intimacy with Lindley often reached his son but the son loved his wife and wouldn’t listen to tales of scandal and shame, believing that she was true to her vows. He said that he saw no reason for his son to commit suicide, and believed that he was murdered.


Leave a Reply

9 + = 11

Coffee, Coal, and the Cerulean Warbler

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 14, 2016

Spring migration from its wintering grounds in Colombia and Venezuela started back in early April, and by now the Cerulean Warbler has flown across the Gulf of Mexico, passed through Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia, and is continuing north and northeast.

During breeding season, this warbler builds its nest and forages high in the canopy of older and mature deciduous forests (up to 3,500 feet). The species prefers large tracts of forest consisting of a variety of hardwood tree species and relatively little undergrowth.

The Cerulean Warbler – ‘dendroica cerulea.’

Click here to listen to the song of the Cerulean Warbler.

Until the middle of the 20th century Dendroica cerulea was common throughout much of eastern North America, and was most abundant in the central Appalachian Mountains. But today the Cerulean is America’s fastest declining migratory songbird.

Faced with habitat loss in both their wintering and breeding grounds, populations of the species have been steadily declining for decades; showing as much as a 70% drop since the 1960s, and the trend continues downward. This beautiful blue denizen of mature deciduous forests has suffered following widespread deforestation for agricultural and energy development.

Within the Cerulean Warbler’s historical breeding range, over 50% of forests have been cleared, and 40 to 50% of South American shade coffee plantations — a highly preferred wintering ground — have been converted to monocultures of sun coffee, devoid of the large trees that the species needs to survive.

Prime Cerulean breeding habitat in North America happens to correspond with prime coal producing regions of Appalachia where mountaintop removal is practiced. Researchers with the USGS Biological Resources Division completed a study in 2002 that indicated Ceruleans have an unexpected preference for ridgetops. They found that “92% of [breeding] territories occurred only in fragments with ridgetop habitat remaining.” This is precisely the habitat destroyed by mountaintop removal mining.

The USGS study also found that Cerulean breeding density is lower in forest habitats that are fragmented or closer to mine edges. The bird is now increasingly found in marginal secondary forest habitat that has regenerated following the abandonment of farms, growth of trees following timber harvests, and other reforestation efforts.

Mountaintop mines are reclaimed primarily with grasses. The compacted nature of the soil slows or even prohibits the natural succession of forest in these areas, making fragmentation effects long-lasting.

Cowbirds feed in grasslands, so this is another factor that may be hurting Cerulean populations. Like many of its warbler cousins, Ceruleans may receive the unwelcome attention of parasitic cowbirds. These cowbirds attempt to foist their young onto unsuspecting adoptive parents by pushing Cerulean eggs out of the nest, then laying their own replacements. While the cowbird adults shirk their parenting duties, Ceruleans will energetically raise the changeling youngsters because they do not recognize cowbird eggs or young.

The Cerulean Warbler is on the Audubon Watch List, and is also recognized as a species of conservation concern through Audubon’s Important Bird Areas program. Attempts to categorize the bird as ‘threatened’ under the United States Endangered Species Act had not succeeded as of November 2008. It is, however, listed as a species of special concern in Canada, where it is protected. Additionally, the Cerulean Warbler is considered “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Leave a Reply

7 − 3 =

The story told by an old account book

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 13, 2016

“It is really surprising how much old account books can tell about people and the times. Changes in attitudes, customs, dress, and even the thinking of the people in a given community can be plainly detected and charted. For example, my father’s old account books, for the period April 1904 through January 1923, tell me there was but little money around, barter was the usual way to procure everyday necessities, and most of the people did their trading with the local merchant. There wasn’t any running into town to pick-up an item or two needed at the moment.

“With the prevailing roads and means of conveyance, going to town was an all-day exhausting task for man and beast. No credit cards during that period, much of the business with local merchants was on credit, but credit was a far cry from the credit of today. Credit in those days was payment when the crops were sold, and without interest and carrying charges.

“My father’s old account books tell me who in the community bought on credit. That is, who made arrangements in early spring to be “‘run” for the crop year. They also tell me who paid their accounts well (“were good pay”), who paid their accounts reluctantly and had to be prodded (“were poor pay”), and who did not pay at all (“were bad pay”). Naturally the “‘bad pay” were refused the next time around—the next crop year.

“These old account books tell me the various items people bought and the quantities bought along with the prices paid for each item. Prices have gone up considerably.

“They tell me who paid in cash for everyday necessities (mostly groceries) and who traded eggs, hams, side-meat, chickens, beeswax, corn, and even huckleberries (in season) for them. Barter was the usual way for obtaining flour, sugar, pepper, salt, molasses, coffee, snuff, and tobacco until about 1918, when money became more plentiful and the “due bill” business almost disappeared.

“Those old account books reveal the kind of clothing the women wore and the kind of shoes (mostly “Brogans”) the men wore; who sported supporters, “galluses” to hold up their “Sunday pants,” and sleeve holders to keep their cuffs in place, also on Sunday (bib overalls was the week-day wear for men); which women bought the calicos, the ginghams, the silks, and the satins; who wore frilled and beribboned shirtwaists; and–sort of on the secret side-“whalebone” corsets.

Mast General Store, Blowing Rock NCMast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC was founded in 1883, and still retains the old ‘general store’ atmosphere to this day.

“Women wore “side combs and back combs” in their hair and beaded pins, ten or twelve inches long, in their hats; men wore celluloid collars. Men’s work shins were made from “‘shinning” and “shantung” and sheets were made from “yellow cotton.” Little boys, like little girls, wore dresses until school age.

“A woman would not wear a shoe larger than size five-and-one-half, therefore many dainty toes got squeezed and corns grew rampant while “high-top button” shoes, with extra sharp toes, were in fashion.

“Hats were cheap, but that didn’t make much difference with the women because country women wore home-made bonnets, except to church. Bonnets were fine for the “fair sex.” They kept the sun off, completely. That is why so many novels, in past years, referred to women with “au lait” complexions.

“They tell which men “chawed Red Apple and Brown’s Mule” and who smoked “Duke’s Mixture or Green Frog” and which women used snuff-“Railroad Mills,” sweet or strong, “weighed-out” from a “‘bladder.” A further revelation, among the men, was who bought whiskey, until the advent of the 18th Amendment placed it in the secret class.

“My father’s country store was a typical country store. In present day language the term for it would be, “he sold everything from toothpicks to tractors.” The prices for which most items were sold today’s young people would call ridiculous, but they were high for those who had little or no money.

“Some of the family names have gone. Some of the habits and customs have gone, and most of the business establishments my father dealt with have gone. But their story is still there in those old, tattered and worn, and most revealing accounts books.”

Source: The State / Down Home in North Carolina, “Story Told by an Old Account Book,” by R. Carl Freeman, April 1976, Vol 13, No 11, p. 31-33; edited for this blog post
Located at

Leave a Reply

7 + = 11

She came rollin’ down the mountain

Posted by Dave Tabler | April 12, 2016

Some know the song as “Nancy Brown,” others as “The West Virginia Hills,” but according to The Frank Gullo Music Sheet (sic) Collection at Millersville University, “She Came Rollin’ Down the Mountain” was written by Arthur Lippmann, Manning Sherwin, and Harry Richman and published by Crawford Music Corporation in 1932.

A six-stanza parody of "She Came Rollin' down the Mountain" was published in 1952 by textile tycoon Elliot Springs, to advertise his Spring Maid bedsheets.  Here's an illustration from that campaign.

A six-stanza parody of “She Came Rollin’ down the Mountain” was published in 1952 by textile tycoon Elliot Springs, to advertise his Spring Maid bedsheets. Here’s an illustration from that campaign.


The ditty tells the tale of Nancy Brown, who throws over one suitor after another until she finds the man she’s been waiting for: “A city slicker with hundred dollar bills.” They live happily ever after, until…

In the hills of West Virginia
There’s a gal named Nancy Brown
She was the fairest maiden
in city or in town

Now Nancy and the Deacon
climbed the mountainside one noon
they climbed up to the summit
but very very soon

She came rollin’ down the Mountain,
rollin’ down the mountain
Rollin’ down the mountain mighty wide

No, she didn’t give the Deacon
not a thing that he was seekin’
She remained just as pure
as the West Virginia sky.

Then there came that ol’ cowboy
came a cowboy with his song
took Nancy up the mountain
but she still knew right from wrong

She came rollin’ down the Mountain
rollin’ down the mountain
Rollin’ down the mountain by the Dam

And despite that cowboys urgin’
she remained the village virgin
she remained just as pure
as the West Virginia sand

Then there came that Old trapper
with his words so soft and kind
took Nancy up the mountain
but when she read his mind

She came rollin’ down the Mountain
rollin’ down the mountain
Rollin’ down the mountain by the shack

She remained as I have stated
not the least contaminated
she remained just as pure
as Satin’s apple jack

Then there came a city slicker
with a hundred dollar bill
took Nancy and his Packard
way up on the hill

Oh, she stayed up on that mountain
stayed up on that mountain
she stayed up on that mountainall that night

She came down next morning early
more a woman than a girly
and her pappy kicked that hussy out of sight

And now she’s livin’ in the city,
she’s living in the city
livin’ in the city mighty swell

Now her life’s all beer and skiddles
and she lives on fancy viddles
and those West Virginia hills can go to hell.

Well there came a big depression,
and the slicker lost his pants;
First he lost his Cadillac,
and then he lost his Nance.

And she came back to the mountain,
She came back to the mountain,
She came back to the mountain mighty sore,

And the cowboy and the deacon
Got that thing that they were seekin’
And she’s known as West Virginia’s biggest…used car dealer.

Recorded versions:
Blue Ridge Mountain Girls, “She Came Rollin’ Down the Mountain” (Champion 16743, 1934)
The Sons of the Pioneers’ “Songs of the Prairie” (Bear Family 5-CD box set #15710, 1998)
The Callahan Brothes: ‘The Callahan Brothers’ Old Homestead (OHCD-4013, 1936)
The Aaron Sisters: Various Artists ‘Flowers in the Wildwood: Women in Early Country Music 1923-1939′ (Trikont US-1310)
Tex Morton’s “Regal Zonophone Collection V.2″ (EMI CD 8142052, 1997)



She+came+rollin’+down+the+mountain Nancy+Brown The+West+Virginia+Hills Appalachian+ballads appalachia appalachian+humor appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history

One Response

  • Al Waren says:

    In the hills of West Virginia
    Lived a girl named Nancy Brown.
    You’ve never seen such beauty
    In village or in town.

    Now Nancy and the deacon
    Climbed the highest peak one day.
    But when they reached the summit
    Up there they did not stay.

    She came rollin’ down the mountain,
    She came rollin’ down the mountain,
    She came rollin’ down the mountain
    By the mill.

    She remained as I have stated
    Not one bit contaminated,
    Just as pure as a West Virginia hill.

    Then came the cowboy
    With his guitar and his song.
    Took Nance up in the mountains
    But they did not stay there long.

    She came rollin’ down the mountain,
    She came rollin’ down the mountain,
    She came rollin’ down the mountain
    By the dam.

    And despite that villains urgin’
    She remained the village virgin
    Just as pure as a West Virginia ham.

    Then came the city slicker
    With his hundred dollar bills.
    Took Nance up in the mountains
    Way up in them there hills.

    And they stayed up in the mountains,
    And they stayed up in the mountains,
    And they stayed up in the mountains
    All that night.

    She came down next mornin’ early,
    More a woman than a girley
    And her pappy kicked that hussy out of sight.

    Now they’re livin’ in the city,
    Now they’re livin’ in the city,
    Now they’re livin’ in the city
    Mighty swell.

    And instead of beer and skittles,
    Why they’re eatin’ fancy vittles
    And the West Virginia hills can go to hell.

    Then came the recession,
    Kicked the slicker in the pants.
    He lost his great big Caddy
    and he’s all washed up with Nance.

    She came rollin’ back to the mountains,
    She came rollin’ back to the mountains,
    She came rollin’ back to the mountains
    Mighty sore.

    Now the cowboy and the deacon
    Why they’re gettin’ what they’re seekin’
    And she’s known as a West Virginai whore.

Leave a Reply

+ 5 = 11

↑ Back to top

This collection is copyright ©2006-2016 by Dave Tabler. All visuals are used in accordance with the Fair Use Law (Per Title 17—United States Code—Section 107) and remain the property of copyright owners. Site Design by Amaru Interactive