The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Mom Gracie

By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1984

Issue: May, 1984

My mother, Gracie Hall Hylton, was born September 15, 1915, in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a log house near Langhorne's Mill at Meadows of Dan, Virginia. She only weighed three pounds at birth, and was delivered by a black midwife. Being so small and weak, she had to be held on a pillow. Mom was too weak to nurse, so they fixed her a "sugar tit". (That was sugar in a little white cloth with a peak on the end.) Mom Gracie grew and thrived on this very well.

Mom's earliest recollection of her childhood is living in a haunted house below Mountain View Church, at the age of four. She remembers getting a big "whipping" while living there for hitting Great-Grandma, Mary Hall with a doll.

Mom Gracie attended Mountain View School. Her home at this time was below the school in a place called, "The Dark Hollow". On her first day of school, Mom called out to her mother and told her she was sick and wanted to come home. That is what stands out about her first day of school.

When Mom Gracie was ten years old, her mother was taken ill. Dr. W.N. Thompson came to see her. Mom remembers cooking breakfast for Dr. Thompson. She says he bragged on her cooking. For breakfast that morning, she baked a pone of cornbread, fried fat back, made a pan of gravy and a pot of coffee. There was also some molasses and syrup. Dr. Thompson said her mother would have to come to Stuart Hospital, so Mom Gracie and her two sisters Clayton and Katherine went to stay with Great-Grandmother Mary. One day while there, they were lucky enough to find one little bantam egg. Grandma Mary put that little egg in a bowl of gravy and stretched it out so everyone could have a taste. In spite of these hardships, Mom Gracie seemed to have thrived well.

At the age of seventeen, my mom married my dad, J. Stowell Hylton. They were married November 5, 1932, by Elder Matt Conner. Their wedding was held at the beautiful Lybrook Home. A year later, they were blessed with a little girl (me).

For several years Mom and Dad lived on a farm, and had jobs also. They would get up and milk cows at three o'clock in the morning, by hand. Mom worked in a factory for 25 years before retiring. She has been retired for five years. She and Daddy were married for 48 years before Dad passed away.

Now Mom lives in Stuart, Virginia, but her heart is still on the mountain. I guess once you have lived on the mountain, your heart remains there. Mom Gracie remembers hard times and the "Depression", and she is thankful for her many blessings over the years. She's a wonderful mother, grandmother and great grandmother.