The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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

My Family

By Myrtle R. Reynolds © 1985

Issue: November, 1985

My mother, Lucinda Handy Roberson, grew up in the 1800's in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a community known as Rye Cove [Patrick County, Virginia]. She used to entertain her children and grandchildren with stories about her childhood. Her father, Sparrell Handy made their shoes and they wove the cloth for their wearing apparel.

They had an apple orchard and one tree grew, as one person put it, "to be as big around as a buggy wheel." People came for miles to see it.

My mother's father built a house with a kiln to dry their apples in. They raised crops in the fields with what she called "grubbing hoes." Rock rows are still visible in those fields built from rocks picked up off the land. One of the girls stayed at the house to help their mother and the other children worked in the fields with their father.

There were eleven children born only a year or so apart and my grandmother would count them each night to be sure they were all there.

On their farm they raised cattle for milk and beef, sheep, pigs that ran loose and fed on chestnuts, ducks, guineas, chickens and geese.

My grandfather built a new home and one or two of the family would make music and the rest would dance in the old house. My mother's uncle taught school and she liked it so well she repeated the highest grade he taught. She also studied the dictionary and was considered a good conversationalist. One could hardly mention a subject that she didn't know something about.

The family walked for miles to attend church. Occasionally  a minister would hold what she called a "protracted meeting" in the school house. They would cook stacks of fried pies and all sorts of goodies for the company they had then.

Mother told of how once a "black snake racer" chased her and her sisters out of the field they were working in to the house. They ran as fast as they could, but the last time she looked back it was coming.

Once, she said, her brother went back in the hills to bring the cows home at milking time and a wild animal making an unearthly noise chased him home. He thought it was a panther.

Mother spoke of her childhood as being a happy time in spite of the hardships.

My grandmother, Mahalia DeHart Handy, was a midwife. She delivered babies for miles around. I talked with a lady some years ago who told me how much her family loved my grandmother and how much they enjoyed her visits. But, she said when she was a child, she couldn't understand why a new baby made its appearance each time my grandmother came to see them!