The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Paul and Lillie Hylton

By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1987

Issue: August, 1987

Paul and Lillie Hylton in 1942.Paul and Lillie Hylton in 1942.Today I'm going to take you for a visit with a special couple in the Slate Mountain Community of our Blue Ridge, Paul and Lillie Hylton. The Slate Mountain area is near the Blue Ridge Parkway with beautiful farms and breathtaking views of the mountains. Good people reside here, neighbor still helping neighbor. Paul and Lillie's beautiful farm house stands just below Slate Mountain Presbyterian Church, one of the historical churches built by the "Man That Moved A Mountain," Reverend Bob Childress.

Setting in the cozy living room of the Hylton's, Paul tells some of the highlights of a full and interesting life.

"Did you ever hear of Preacher Finney? My father bought the black school from him. Below the school there was a four–room house. I was born there March 25, 1910. Part of that house is now in my daughter Joyce's home. My father was Joseph Hylton (1878–1940) and my mother was Nancy Elizabeth Boyd Hylton (1883–1912). There were three sisters, one passed away when I was a baby, so I don't remember her. My mother passed away when I was two and a half years old. After her death, Father and my sisters took care of me along with my Grandmother Boyd and Aunt Emma.

Later father remarried and I was tickled to death. I got along real good with my stepmother and was so pleased to have a mother. We always did get along real well.

As a child I had a special friend that I played with, Edmond Craig. His mother was so kind that I thought of her as my mother too. I had one toy that was homemade, a wooden wagon that my uncle Jonas Boyd whittled for me with his pocket knife.

At Christmas I hung my stocking and Santa was always good and brought me something. One year I got a cap–buster, and thought it was a real gun. I was the only child in the neighborhood with a cap–buster and really was proud of the gift Santa put in my stocking.

I started school at the Gum Swamp School. John A. Smart was my first teacher and then Mr. Emory Helms taught me some. My next school was at Mountain View in the church. Miss Clay from Petersburg taught me there. The next school I went to was two rooms and new. I was plumb tickled to be going to a new school. Miss Mattie Conner and Merlie Hylton were two of my teachers at this new school called Stuart.

I was the last child to leave home. Guess I was in no hurry to leave, because I knew where my bed and meals were. It was enjoyable being with young people and girl friends, but I was in no hurry to get married. Sometimes I went to dances, but just watched. I enjoyed the small parties.

My first paying job was working on the road. This road was coming through father's place and he said they couldn't come through unless they gave us jobs. I made $2.00 per hour. The reason I made this much in those days was it was for the State Highway Department. We worked eight hours a day!

My first automobile was a 1924 T model. It was second hand and I paid $20.00.

I joined the Church of Brethren when I was 16 years old. Here, let me show you something given me by the church."

"Oh Paul, this is beautiful and a nice picture of your church. Let me read the words here at the bottom of the plaque. It says:

Paul Hylton
55 years Sunday School
52 years Licensed Minister
20 [years] Moderator

This is a very nice honor, Paul, and I know you are pleased."

"Yes, I'm right proud of it. I always was interested in the Church and its ministry."

"Tell me how you and Lillie met?"

"Well, I had known Lillie for years and I knew her first husband had passed away. One day I saw Lillie coming out of church with her two children. She was well dressed and so were the little boy and girl. Here I was, 30 years old and unmarried and Lillie was really nice looking. I thought she must be something special to be taking such good care of her children. About a month later I got up enough nerve to go up to her house. She was setting in the porch swing filing her nails. I was pleased that she let me sit down by her. We went together for three years before we got married.

Our wedding was kind of unusual since we got married at six in the morning. Mr. Jim Dickerson married us August 15, 1941. The reason we got married so early in the morning was that we were driving to Logan and Wayne, places in West Virginia. Wayne is where the natural gas wells are. Lillie and I spent our honeymoon visiting my sister and seeing some of the sights and headed for home.

Our first home was in a service station at Harris Chapel. I was running the station then and there were living quarters. I collected the delinquent taxes in Floyd County for a few years. Then I worked at Radford until World War II was over. I never did farm much after I left Dad's farm. For 25 years I was employed at United Elastic. Since I have retired I like to work in the garden, mow the yard and watch TV, especially soap operas, and read a lot."

Paul Hylton is still going strong at the age of 77 and is very active. He is typical of our fathers in the Blue Ridge. His two stepchildren have always called him Daddy and that tells what a good father he is.

Lillie Hylton is a petite and soft spoken lady. All the time Paul is talking she sets quietly by and from time to time adds something to Paul's comments. Now Lillie relates some of her life.

"I was born in the face of the mountain at the Buck Jones place. My mother was Beulah Brammer and my father was Willie Edwards. I was the only girl, but had three brothers.

Mama sent me to school when I was three years old. She had to tend the store and couldn't keep an eye on me all the time, so she just sent me to school with my brothers. I went to the Howell School and the Wood School. My first teacher was Bertie West Hubbard. Then there were Sallie Creasey and Effie Boyd. Besides those, I went to Mountain View, Lawson, Stamping Birches and Slate Mountain School."

"I never knew about the Slate Mountain School."

"It was located where the cemetery is at Slate Mountain Church. I finished the 7th grade at the age of 12, but went three more years taking arithmetic, spelling, writing and reading. Yes, I went to school all that I could.

I did lots of chores and learned to cook very young. My first cornbread was mixed standing in a chair. From then on I did the cooking and housework. My older brother helped me with the things I had trouble with. I helped in the garden and the store and mill my parents ran.

I never really had time to be a teenager because I fell in love and got married five days before my 16th birthday to Edmond Craig. We lived with his parents for awhile, then moved to the Charlie Dickerson place. Shortly afterward Edmond was taken ill with TB. He finally got so sick that he couldn't work and we had to move back to Mr. Craig's. Edmond died in 1935 and I was left with two small children, a girl 22 months and a boy, 5 months. I moved back to Dad's and they helped take care of the children while I went to work at Radford.

When my daughter Alene was 8 and son Lindel was 6, I married Paul. We just slipped off quietly to Floyd, only my parents and a brother and sister–in–law knew.

Paul and I were blessed with two children [of our own]. I made all my children's clothes. My mother helped me sew as long as she was able. Dresses were made from feed sacks. When Paul went to the store to buy feed, he always tried to get two sacks alike.

I worked in the knitting mill in Stuart, Virginia for 27 years. That was a lot of work along with a home to take care of. Finally I retired in 1978,

In 1986 I had heart surgery. While in the hospital I got over 100 cards and from six different churches. Now I'm getting able to do a few things, like we planted potatoes the last of March. I dropped every potato and covered them all.

My special hobby is embroidery, but my eyes bother me and I can't do it like I did. I embroidered a bedspread once when I was pregnant. Since my heart surgery I do a lot of walking. Paul walks with me.

The church has always played an important part in my life. I joined Mountain View Methodist Church when I was 12, but later moved my membership to Slate Mountain.

I'm proud of my family and grandchildren. There are 6 grandchildren and two great–grandchildren. The grand children along with our children add a lot of joy to my life."

Paul and Lillie are a great part of the Slate Mountain Community and add much by being the fine people they are, just some more typical Blue Ridge folk.