The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Bull Story

By Bob Heafner © 1983-2012

Issue: June, 1983

Large families were common in the mountains 75 or 80 years ago, even 50 years ago, but this story is about a fellow who had a family that was large even by mountain standards.

We have been told he had twenty sons. (Whether or not they were all by the same wife, we aren’t sure.) According to the story, sometime around the turn of the century, he loaded them all up on the “Dick & Willie” Railroad in Stuart, Virginia, and took himself and all twenty boys to Danville, Virginia for the county fair.

When they got there of course they toured the whole fair and saw everything there was to see. One of those things was a big, prize dairy bull on exhibit. Naturally, they wanted to see it so the father walked up to the ticket taker and says, “I’d like to have twenty-one tickets for me and my boys.”

The man selling the tickets said, “Wait just a minute. Mister, are you telling me that all twenty of those boys are your sons?”

Our fellow said, “Yes sir, they sure are.”

The ticket man just stood there looking at him for a moment and said, “Mister, you don’t owe us a thing! Go right on in. I want that bull to get a look at you!”