The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Queenie The Mule

By John W. Stoneberger © 1989

Issue: September, 1989

Lewis Mountain is centrally located in the Shenandoah National Park. Rockingham and Green County divide is east and west along the crest of the mountain. A road near Bear Fence Mountain, divides it north and south. This park fire road going east is called Slaughter Road, going west the same road runs parallel with Naked Creek to Route 340 and is called Naked Creek Road.

Near the foot of the mountain along Naked Creek is a village of about 200 people called Jollett Hollow. A fine gentleman named Van Taylor who had the honor of being Justice of the Peace for a long time lived here and owned a mule named Queenie.

The tannery at Elkton, Virginia had been destroyed by a disastrous fire, bark hauling from the mountains had come to an end, sawmilling was slow and there was little work for Queenie the mule.

In the Jollett area grass land was scarce and Mr. Taylor took the liberty to let Queenie graze along the roads of the community. This went on for some time as she wandered through the community during the day and came home at night. She soon learned the choice spots and found special lawns and gardens unfenced where the grass was good and the vegetables delicious.

This caused an awful lot of discontent among the residents who were afraid to protest a complaint because the owner of the mule was the lock, stock and barrel of the law system of Jollett Hollow and everyone wanted to get along with him.

Queenie's heavenly leisure soon became a torment. Instead of complaining to the owner if they thought she was out of place, they would declare war on her and pelted her with rocks.

As time went on the situation grew worse. Boys looked for the chance to hit her with a stone and watch her run. As she tried to think of an escape she knew running was not the answer because often she was pelted as she ran.

One day after a painful stone struck her, she saw the second stone coming. As her temper was rising she wheeled, kicked, and batted the stone with her hind foot in the direction of the boys, almost hitting one.

After this, she had a little more peace of mind because the boys soon learned she could bat rocks about as well as they could pitch and less rocks came.

One day she was grazing in a nice little garden and Mrs. Ida Meadows threw a rock at her, but Queenie was learning to play ball. She saw the rock coming, wheeled and kicked, batting the rock back at the woman causing a bad injury.

The sad news of the incident reached the ear of Mr. Taylor who took pride in being a law abiding citizen. He didn't want this to happen again knowing he would be at fault for letting his mule wander at large that could bat a rock and might kill someone.

He soon put the mule up for sale at a time money was hard to come by and mule sales were low.

Uncle Virgie Lam heard the story. He was a peace loving man and offered to do what he could to help the Justice of the Peace and community by taking the dangerous mule away. He traded a good supply of apples for Queenie and took her up to his large mountain farm near Devil's Jump where she would be out of the way and live in peace.

Here she enjoyed the good life with good food, mountain spring water and a trip to the store once in a while. The two got along for a while until one day she lashed out with her back foot for some unknown reason that hit Uncle Virgie in his chest, knocking him down!

He said, "The force of the kick was almost spent before it hit or it would have killed me," but the mule shoe put a powerful dent in the heavy nickel case of a jewel antique Elgin watch that he was carrying in the bibs of his overalls.

This caused him to be afraid of the mule and he gave Queenie to a son in law, Johnie Lam, who as soon as apple picking season was over, built her a nice little stable all her own.

One day he opened the door of her new stable, as she came out, she wheeled and kicked the new door off the stable with both hind feet.

Johnie became afraid of her and traded her off for a used cook stove. About this time the Shenandoah National Park was taking possession of the mountain land and he had to move to the valley in a homestead property.

The stove was left in the mountains, considered worthless due to the grates burned out. Years later he went back to get it for an antique, but it was gone. This was as far as we could trace the life of Queenie, the mule.

I feel Queenie was a good mule who had been abused in life. What a shame this had to happen, her character was so deformed by mistreatment. I feel sure she would have kicked at a football game.

Author's Note... My little Blue Ridge Mountain Mother used to say, "It is really not the bad things in life that is causing all the trouble, but the main source is a lack of love.