The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

My Life

By Mary Etta Stanley © 1987

Issue: October, 1987

Estel and Mary Etta Stanley on their wedding day.Estel and Mary Etta Stanley on their wedding day.I was born in the Snake Creek area of Carroll County, Virginia on April 14, 1892, to Henry Ellis and Nancy Finney Largen, the middle child of nine. We lived there until I was 12 years old. We then moved to Willis Gap at the top of the mountain. We lived there for nine years, then moved near the New Bell Spur Church. This is where I was living when I got married.

I met my husband, James Estel Stanley, at a party. We went together for two years before we got married on August 3, 1920. Estel worked in the mines in Kentucky, and I had not seen him for several months before he came in for our wedding. We left my home at 6:00 am for Laurel Fork to get married, and went to the home of Elder Pierce Branscomb. He was still in bed, but it didn't take him long to get ready to perform the ceremony. Vivian Branscomb, Judie Semoes, Neil Stanley, and Walter Banks were the witnesses. Walter Banks and Neil Stanley then took us by car to Sylvatus, Virginia to catch the train to Lynch, Kentucky, where Estel was working.

We spent our wedding night in Bristol, Tennessee; the next night in Middlesboro, Kentucky arriving in Lynch, around noon the third day. We lived there seven months, then came back to Carroll County, Virginia. We were so pleased to get back home as we didn't like the coal mines. I was always worried about him working in the mines, as there were so many people killed.

While we were living in Carroll County, our first two children were born. They were Hassell and Ardith. We returned to Lynch sometime later and lived there for about four years. During this time, our family increased by one set of twin daughters, Glennis and Gladys, and a son Leland. Shortly after the twins were born Gladys died, leaving just one twin. Estel was injured, and as soon as he was able, we returned home to good old Carroll County for good.

We had bought a farm and we worked it and also had milk cows and sold cream and milk. Our family continued to increase and, even though we lost still another baby girl, we were very pleased with our second set of twins, Arville and Iva. Our last baby, James Dale, was born July 3, 1936, but only lived six months. We had been married 15 years when our house burned down and we lost everything. We were very fortunate in that no one was hurt during this fire.

Our neighbors were very kind and brought us many clothes, food and furniture. We were very lucky to have such good neighbors, and I have never forgotten their many acts of kindness to us.

As time went on Estel became disabled and could not milk the cows. Therefore, we sold them and bought beef cattle. When he was no longer able to look after them, we stopped trying to farm or stay at home. We lived with our six children for about two years. When the doctor said Estel had to have 24–hour nursing care, we came to Waddell Nursing Home. He lived one and one–half years following that. When he passed away, the children offered me a home with them, but since I didn't want to interfere with their way of life I stayed where I was. My children and their spouses have all been very good to me, and so are the people at the nursing home. This is a good place to be if you cannot take care of yourself. However, that old saying still goes, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."