The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Stories Of A Southern Girl

By Julia Montgomery Bowman © 1984

Issue: November, 1984

I was born in Patrick County, Virginia, May 16, 1891 at Pedigo’s Mill, a few miles from Mt. Airy, North Carolina. I can just remember being at the house and seeing the Mill Pond. My daddy was a farmer and rented a farm from Dr. Pedigo and had a mill to grind corn for bread.

I can just remember seeing my Daddy one day. I was three years old. He was overseer of roads and they ask him to arrest some bad fellows that had damaged the school house on the road. Those bad fellows said my father hadn't done anything [to arrest them] yet, but they heard of it and they came and beat him [my father] with clubs, over in the field and killed him and the man who shot him was only sent to the pen for one year. How about the law today, is it any better?

My oldest brother was 16 at the time and my mother had 7 children. She got a place in Carroll County near the Willis Gap and moved away from that place they called the Hollow, Virginia. My brother leased land and the landlord helped him to build a house and he worked cleared land and planted corn, etc. and worked hard. My mother worked hard and lived to be 94 years old, and I am the youngest of the family, all that is living. I am 93 years old. Our family was good workers. I don't remember going too hungry when I lived in Carroll County.

We went to Willis Gap to Jim Walton's dry goods store, so we passed Tom Jeff Willis' house. I went to Rome School with his children. One boy, Ernest Willis, was a school teacher later.

I can remember lots of places our family lived. My mother was a widow for years, so we moved several times. One time we moved from Carroll County just over in Patrick County, just to the edge of Blue Ridge Mountain. They call it Groundhog Mountain now, but then it was called the Collier Place. We lived there a couple of years and I was about 15 or 16. I went to school to Pilot View one year. I was milking cows and hoeing corn and I had girl friends, so we would go places. I went, to Bell Spur Church and heard Matt Blancett [pictured in photograph on our May, 1984 issue cover, a 1901 baptizing at Bell Spur]

I remember going to the Puckett Cabin [now a display on the Blue Ridge Parkway, milepost 189.9] and seeing Aunt Betty Puckett. She lived in the log cabin and Aunt Orlean and her husband lived in a two room house close by. Aunt Orlean was a good woman. She gave me sweet potatoes to eat and when I got married later and had ten children, they had her to deliver my seventh child because we couldn't get the doctor from Hillsville. They told she had 22 children buried in one graveyard. [Orlean Puckett was a midwife and delivered many of the babies born in the area, but none of her own children lived beyond infancy.]

I remember when I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I would go up on the road to get the mail. The mail carrier was Tobe Yeatts.

Now, in 1984, I live alone at Stanley, Virginia. All my family are gone, but they still are good to help me and visit me.