The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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

The Hollingsworth Family

By Gertie Waller © 1988

Issue: April, 1988

This is the story our mother and father told us children about them when they first got married and started raising us children.

When they first got married they lived with my father's parents for a while. My father bought some mountain land in Floyd County, Virginia. He built our house after they had been married several years. They had three children with the baby just a few weeks old when the house was built and they moved in. The house was just small. They went into the woods and cut out a place big enough to make the house and the yard. My mother made a brush broom to sweep the ground to make the yard.

My father cut a little road through the woods to his brother John's house and one to the little spring house he built.

My father worked in the mountains peeling Tan Bark and just came home on Friday evening and went back on Monday morning. My mother stayed most of the time by herself with the three little children. At first she had Uncle John's daughter to stay at nights. She would have to give her eggs and quilt pieces for her stay.

My mother made up her mind she would just have to stay by herself and sell eggs to buy oil, coffee, and sugar, the things they couldn't raise their self. Back then they raised all their food. My father had a yoke of oxen to work the land with. Each year they would clear a little more land off to farm until he had a large field for corn and wheat, oats, and buckwheat. We raised all our vegetables, enough to eat through the summer and dry and can for the winter. We had plenty of apples to use through the winter. We made apple butter and molasses. We had a stand of bees so we had plenty of honey.

In the fall my father would plow a long row in the garden at the side of our house and we would pull the cabbage up, the roots and all and put the cabbage head in the row and cover them with the dirt leaving the roots up and it would be just like fresh cabbage when we pulled it back up.

In the spring he would go by the side of the row with a turning plow and all of the cabbage that the roots broke off would be uncovered and they were the best ones of all. For our dry beans we would plant them with the corn and let them run up the corn. When they dried in the hulls we would pick sacks of them and set for hours shelling them and we would have enough to do us all winter.

My parents had 14 children in all but three were born dead. My mother and the oldest sister made all our clothes even my brother's overalls and shirts. They didn't have clothes in the stores then. They would knit all our stockings to wear to school and for my Daddy and oldest brother to wear to work.

We had to walk several miles to school. When I first started to school it was a one room building, then later they built a two room one. It went to the 7th grade. And when we went to church we had to walk several miles. The 1st Sunday in August was the Big Meeting at Pantha Creek. We looked forward to that day. All the neighborhood girls would walk together. That was where my grandparents, Jake and Lizzie Duncan, went to church.

My daddy always kept two cows for milking and hogs to kill in winter and sheep. We would have to round them up and take them to be sold. The sheep we kept, my mother and older children would sheer in the spring. We would trade the wool for yarn and blankets. My mother would dye the yarn black to knit our stockings.

My mother passed away in April of 1923. She gave birth to a baby boy and they both died. My sister, Ocie, was married when our mother died. She married Charlie Phillips and they lived at Indian Valley, Virginia. She was expecting her first baby in June and it was born dead. Our oldest sister, Doskie, stayed at home with us a few years after Mother died then she went to work in the Cotton Mill. Then our brother, Lonnie, went to Fries to work. Me and Jocie stayed home and kept the children and kept house for Daddy. I was 17 and Jocie was 15.

Doskie married Floyd Meredith and when she was expecting her first baby she wanted me or Jocie to come stay with her. Jocie was fixing to get married to Johnnie Taylor so I went and stayed with her. That's where I met my husband, Emmitt Waller. We were married November 21, 1925. We both worked in the cotton mill. We lived at Fries for 23 years and had 3 children. We had two sons and one daughter, Clifford, Buddy and Opal. We moved to Martinsville and lived there for about four years. Opal and Buddy got married while we lived there.

We moved to Greensboro, North Carolina and that's where we live now. We have been here 36 years. We attend North Greensboro Church of God where our son Clifford pastors. Me and my husband got saved when we lived at Fries in a Holiness Church. Our youngest son, Buddy, passed away April 23 of 1987 from a massive heart attack.

Nine of my sisters and brothers have died. Here is a list of all my brothers and sisters and the dates they died.

Doskie Meredith 11-25-85
Ocie Hollingsworth Phillips 9-14-78
Lonnie Hollingsworth 10-9-77
Jocie Hollingsworth Taylor 2-27-79
Norman Hollingsworth 8-28-79
Ludy Hollingsworth Stillwell 1-30-78
Roscoe Hollingsworth 9-16-59
Willard Hollingsworth 7-23-87
Elmer Hollingsworth 1-3-73

The only ones living now are me and my sister, Bertha Alexander. She lives in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

My father remarried after our mother died, the woman had four children and three of them came with her when she married my father. My father and stepmother had 7 children. My father was the father of 21 children. When he died the baby was about two years old and Daddy was about 72 years old when he died.

My half brothers and sisters are:

Glenn Hollingsworth
Sylvan Hollingsworth
Arlon Hollingsworth
James Hollingsworth
Kirby Hollingsworth
Shelby Hollingsworth

There was one who died when it was a few months old.

My father was Haze Hollingsworth and my mother's name was Dillie Duncan Hollingsworth.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone I grew up with. My address is:

Gertie Waller
4618 Summitt Ave.
Greensboro, NC 27405