By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1988
Issue: May, 1988
Sarah Belcher Hubbard was a lady with a lot of spirit, and what I consider a real pioneer. She was my great-grandmother and I was privileged to know her. I was sixteen years old when Grandma Sarah passed away, so I do have some memories of her.
My very first memory of Grandma Sarah was when my Dad took me down the mountain as a child to see her. At first I was afraid of this lady in a long dress and carrying a cane, but her gentle smile won me over.
Grandma Sarah's home was always in the mountains in and around the Woolwine and Buffalo Ridge areas of Virginia. At the age of sixteen she married J. G. Hubbard at Rock Castle and set up house keeping in a mountain cabin with the bare essentials. She gave birth to ten children, three sons and seven daughters. Grandpa and Grandma Sarah had to work hard to keep the family fed and clothed. They eked out a living on a mountain hillside, never complaining.
My Dad stayed with Great-Grandma Sarah a lot as a child and he loved it. She cooked the best poke greens, corn bread and greasy fatback my Dad always said. Dad learned to cook poke greens like Grandma Sarah and I had many good suppers waiting for me when I came home from work, even after I was married.
Dad's mother would take the children and walk down the mountain from Meadows of Dan to Grandma Sarah's house and pick buckets of black heart cherries. They would seed them while they were there and carry water buckets full of the seeded cherries back up the mountain, and had fun doing it.
Grandma Sarah remembered hardships as a child during and after The War Between the States. She waded the creeks so she wouldn't make tracks in the snow carrying food to the soldiers. Can you imagine not having any shoes until you were twelve years old? That's when Grandma Sarah got her first pair.
Both Grandma Sarah's father and husband were wounded by gunshot in The Battle of Gettysburg, but recovered. Great-Grandpa passed away in 1904; many years before Grandma Sarah.
Grandma Sarah made her dresses, knitted and did crochet. Even in her nineties she could thread a needle without glasses, and was only slightly hard of hearing. She went to Roanoke in her nineties to her daughter's home, but wanted to come back to her little country home. She said that was good enough for her. Roanoke was the first place she had traveled far from home in her entire life. Stuart, Virginia was a few miles from her country home, and Grandma Sarah only went there once in her life. I think she went from Buffalo Ridge to Floyd, Virginia one time.
Great-Grandma Sarah's descendants number in the hundreds. Once she said there was sixty-three living grandchildren, the great-grandchildren out numbered them, and then there was the great-great and so on. Today the Hubbard Clan numbers are probably still in the hundreds; many of them still in Patrick County, Virginia. I know many of them and some live very near.
I talked with two of her granddaughters and they loved Grandma Sarah a lot. One has a quilt made by Grandma and her flax wheel. The other granddaughter spoke of staying many nights with Grandma Sarah and enjoyed it. She said there was a clock that ticked so lonesome at night and struck every half hour up in that mountain home.
A sad day came in July, 1949. Great-Grandma Sarah passed away on the 22nd at the age of 95. Her funeral was held at the home of her daughter out in the yard. It was a beautiful day, and a very large crowd came, young and old. I was a flower girl at the funeral and remembered I was so proud to be the one. There is even a picture of me holding my wreath of flowers.
In spite of many hardships as a child and as a mother Grandma Sarah was not a complaining woman. She took everything in stride and as it came.
This story is in memory of a great pioneer lady, and one that I am proud to be the Great-granddaughter of and to have known for a short time. I'll think of you on Mother's Day and can say, "I knew a real Mountain Mother." Memories live on.