Beyond The Starry Sky

Twilight Is Stealing

The old hymn, Twilight Is Stealing, was written by Aldine Kieffer in the latter part of the 19th Century. According to the Mudcat Cafe:

The earliest printed reference is 'The Singing School Tribune' (Dayton Va: Ruebush, Kieffer & Co 1880). It was recorded by Dykes Magic City Trio as 'Twilight is stealing' in 1927 and by the Stoneman Family as 'Twighlight is stealing o'er the sea' in 1928, but neither of these was issued. The earliest issued recording was by The Carolina Quartet (vcl qt unacc) in September 1927 as 'Twilight is stealing' in Winston-Salem, NC, and issued as OK 45189 in April 1928. Also recorded as 'Sweet Happy Home' by Christian Harmony Singers in NYC in October 1929 and issued as Paramount 3241. [Meade et alia 'Country Music Sources' p 653]. has an entry about Aldine Kieffer. The page tells about his life and shares several letters written by Kieffer between the years of 1860 and 1901. The page also tells the story of Kieffer's first love, Sally Clay.

Sally and Kieffer fell in love and knew they should spend the rest of their lives together. The wedding date was set and they both anxiously awaited the day they could become man and wife.

At the last minute the road to holy matrimony was blocked by the Civil War. Kieffer signed up against his true love's wishes and was called to serve the very day before their wedding.

The two love birds kept up their romance through letters for a while, until one day Sally just quit writing Kieffer. He never heard from her again. As most people would be, Kieffer was heartbroken. Unfortunately he turned to drink to ease his troubled heart. Thankfully Kieffer met up with Josephine Hammon who would be his wife and friend for life.

You can read more about the newly married couple's life on the page, but you must skip ahead through the years till almost the end of Kieffer's life to find out what happened to his first love, Sally.

One day while traveling, Kieffer stopped at Sally's house by chance for a drink of water. The broken engagement from years before came up in the conversation. Seems Sally's parents were not very fond of Kieffer and hoped their daughter would marry better. Once Kieffer headed off to war, her parents took the opportunity to nip the relationship in the bud. They placed an obituary in the local paper telling of Kieffer's death in the war and trashed all the letters he mailed to Sally.

Just as Kieffer had, Sally went on to marry and have children. After the deceit of the broken engagement was brought to light, the two promised if one should die first they would let the other know they had left this world.

Sometime later Kieffer was awakened one night by the voice of Sally telling him goodbye. A few days later he found out she died on the very night he heard her voice.

Sally was gone and Kieffer had lived his life and was ready to go as well.

Twilight a-stealing, over the sea,
Shadows are falling, dark on the lea,
Borne on the night wind, voices of yore,
Come from the far-off shore.

Far away, beyond the starry sky,
Where the love-light never, never dies
Gleameth a mansion filled with delight,
Sweet happy home so bright.

Voices of loved ones, songs of the past,
Still linger round me, while life shall last,
Cheering my pathway while here I roam
Seeking my far-off home. 

Far away, beyond the starry sky,
Where the love-light never, never dies
Gleameth a mansion filled with delight,
Sweet happy home so bright.

Come in the twilight, come, come to me,
Bringing sweet message over the sea.
Lonely I wander, sadly I roam,
Seeking my far-off home.

Far away, beyond the starry sky,
Where the love-light never, never dies
Gleameth a mansion filled with delight,
Sweet happy home so bright.


I hope you enjoyed the story and our version of the old song!


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in August of 2012

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Mean As A Striped Snake

My life in appalachia Light -  Mean as a striped snake

The other day I ran into an old friend.  After catching up with each other a bit he said "Well where in the world have my girls been? I haven't seen them around this year. They're still mean as striped snakes ain't they?"

I told him the girls stayed pretty busy these days so they were't around as much. I also assured him they were still mean as striped snakes. 

Truthfully, the girls aren't mean at all. They are slightly mischievous and tough as a pine knot when it comes to taking care of each other or anyone they care about for that matter. 

The phrase mean as a striped snake is one I've heard my whole life. In most instances the phrase is said in a teasing manner about a person who is mischievous but not truly evil spirited. 


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Did You Ever Play With A Button On A String?

My life in appalachia toy made with buttons

Did you ever play with a button on a string? My mamaw made one for me when I was just a child. I swear I can remember exactly where I was standing when she showed me how to make the button dance along the string.

The other day I pulled everything out of a closet to see if I still had one in my old jewelry box. I found two in the closet so it was worth the effort.

After looking at them, I decided neither was the one Mamaw made for me so many years ago. Most likely I made them myself after she passed away.

I googled around and discovered a button on a string was a common toy for kids in days gone by and that they were often called zizzer or buzz buttons. You can go here to see a page full of old time toys including a buzz button. 

Ever play with a button on a string?


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Look the Beans

My life in appalachia look the beans

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

Look transitive verb To examine (food), inspect for dirt or foreign objects.
1982 Slone How We Talked 62 Some of the greens we used were not cooked, but eaten raw. They were "looked" (checked for bugs and rotting spots), washed, sprinkled with salt and wilted or "killed" by pouring real hot grease over them. 1990 Bailey Draw Up Chair 12 I told her, "Now you be sure to look the beans," 1933 Ison and Ison Whole Nuther Lg 40 Look the beans = to inspect dried beans or other food for foreign objects. 


2017 Brasstown "Why those beans were so pretty you didn't even hardly need to look them."


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See If You Can Help Liz Out

Camping in the mountains of wnc

A few days ago Blind Pig reader Liz left the following comment:

Tipper, will you put something on your blog regarding longstanding campgrounds that are safe for an old lady (70+) and a 6 inch tall, 3 pound dog? My heart longs for the mountains but I'm hesitant to go alone.


I think all the campgrounds in Cherokee County NC are safe, but I don't really know anything about them.

Do you think Liz could contact the Forest Service or some other state agency to find out more about campgrounds in the mountains?

If you have any suggestions about campgrounds in the mountains please share them with Liz.


*Photo courtesy of Starlite Camping Resort

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Have You Been Hearing Jar Flies?

Jar Fly in Appalachia

Jar Flies play the soundtrack to late summer in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Since I grew up hearing their raspy sound, most of the time the noise doesn't even register with me, but I've heard other folks say the sound is bothersome to them. 

Even though jar flies have provided the music for every late summer I've ever experienced, I've rarely seen one.  Most of the ones I've seen have been dead or I probably wouldn't have even seen them. The photo in this post was sent to me by Don Casada who just happen to catch a jar fly emerging from its dry husk. 

Jar flies play a large role in writings (fiction and non-fiction) set in Appalachia and in the south in general. Discussing their unique sound helps writers set the scene. See the quote below:

1996 Parton Mountain Memories:

"The faint sound of a barking dog, a mooing cow, or the loud "eeee-ar-eeee-ar" of a jar fly vied for the attention of the congregation." 

Want to hear a jar fly for yourself? Click on the words jar fly below. Once you've listened to the jar fly you may need to hit your back button to return to this page. 

Jar fly 002

As luck would have it every time I tried to capture a clear sound of the jar flies in my yard someone start a weedeater up down the hill, the rooster would start crowing, or The Deer Hunter would crank his truck-like he did in the recording I did use.

This page shares the sounds of cicadas from all across the country and beyond. If you'd like to hear a clearer louder version you can visit it. 

If you'd like to read scientific facts about jar flies (cicadas) in NC go here. The information is pretty interesting, but I'd rather think on how jar flies color the pictures of summer that I carry around in my head. 

Are there jar flies where you live?


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in September of 2014

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What To Do With Leftover Cornbread

Cornbread salad

We eat a lot of cornbread around the Blind Pig house, but sometimes we don't eat the entire cake of cornbread before it gets a little stale. When that happens I either feed it to my chickens or make cornbread salad with it.

Recipe for cornbread salad

The recipe for cornbread salad couldn't be easier. The ingredients can be changed up according to what you have on hand or what you prefer. The amounts can be adjusted to fit the amount of cornbread you have as well.

First-crumble up some cornbread in a bowl. Some folks layer all the ingredients so you can see the different items,but I think it tastes a whole lot better if you mix them all together. 

Cornbread salad recipe

Chop up onion and tomato and add that to the bowl. Add a can (or partial can) of beans. I've used pinto beans as well as kidney beans and both work great.

Best cornbread salad

Add a handful or so of shredded cheese. We like sharp cheddar.

Cornbread salad in nc

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dress the salad with Ranch dressing.

Some recipes call for an entire bottle of dressing, but I've found it easier to add a good amount and then taste to see if it needs more.

Cornbread salad in appalachia

Stir all the ingredients up and that's it! The salad is better after it 'marries' in the frig for a while or even overnight. Sometimes I add peppers if I have plenty on hand and I'm sure you could add in other items as well.

The salad is really quiet tasty and makes a perfect lunch for The Deer Hunter to take to work. It goes pretty good with a hamburger too.

Ever had cornbread salad?


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in July of 2013

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Love Lifted Me


James Rowe

James Rowe was born in Ireland and worked for the Irish Government before emigrating to the USA at the age of 24. Rowe was the son of a copper miner. Once he arrived in the states he worked for the railroads in Albany, NY for 10 years.

In later years, Rowe worked with in the music publishing industry-with companies such as the A.J. Showalter Music Company in Chattanooga, TN; and the James D. Vaughan Music Company, Lawrenceburg, TN. Before Rowe's death he moved to Vermont where he and his daughter wrote greeting card verses. 

The website offers the following quote from Rowe's daughter regarding the most famous song he penned-Love Lifted MeShe describes the composer, Howard E. Smith, who wrote the music for the song as Rowe described it to him. 

"Howard E. Smith was a little man whose hands were so knotted with arthritis that you would wonder how he could use them at all, much less play the piano…I can see them now, my father [James Rowe] striding up and down humming a bar or two and Howard E. playing it and jotting it down."

In recent weeks the Blind Pig Gang has been giving the song a try-see what you think of our version of Love Lifted Me

In this video-Pap, Paul, and Tipper. *For those of you who have trouble viewing the video-go straight to youtube to see it by clicking here

Hope you enjoyed the the history and the song!


This post was originially published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in May of 2014.


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What Happened to the Comments

Blind pig and the acorn blog about appalachia

More than a few of you have commented or emailed wondering if something is wrong with the comments on the blog. I wish there was some internet glitch causing an issue with the comments, but it's me.

I've been under the weather.

I've actually not been feeling well since about May. In the beginning, other than a low grade fever and general feeling of tiredness there wasn't much to complain about.

In June my symptoms took a turn for the worse with a high fever and aches and pains. The docs thought I might have a sinus infection. This is said to be one of the worst years ever for allergies. I didn't care what they thought I had as long as they gave me something to make me feel better. A round of antibiotics had me feeling much better...until the symptoms returned. 

About two weeks ago the real culprit, or what I hope is the real culprit, was found: a urinary tract infection.

A variety of antibiotics and a short stay in the hospital have me feeling better, but still not back to normal. As Granny would say I've been weak as water and hardly moved from the couch. 

I usually post the comments you leave throughout the day, hence the reason you can read them any time you check in on the blog. I've been feeling so puny that I haven't been checking the blog nor publishing the comments till late in the day or night. 

I started to let you know I was feeling bad three or four times, but you've probably guessed I don't like to complain about much and I can be real backward about some things. I'm hoping I'll be back to the usual boundless energy Tipper before long and when I am the Blind Pig and The Acorn will return to it's usual business comments and all. 

If you have an an extra prayer I'd appreciate you saying one for me. Now that I've told you I'm sick I realize I should have asked for your prayers a long time ago-I'd probably be better because I know you all helped heal Pap more than once.


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Lingering Beauty from the Past

My life in appalachia - Smoky mountain national park 

I took the photo of the metal fence in Cataloochee several years ago. It surrounds one of the remote graveyards in the area. Every time I come across the photo on my computer I'm amazed by the simple beauty of the fence.

My mind wonders about who made it?

Did one man make it while others put it up or was the construction of the fence a group effort? Or maybe it was store bought? I wonder if the people who lived in Cataloochee were pleased when the fence was put up? If they felt like their loved ones who laid below the rough mountain soil were now protected with a sign of respect?

Amazing something of such simple beauty has lasted so long in the rugged mountains of Western North Carolina. 

If you're a new comer to the Blind Pig and The Acorn you can go here to see the video we filmed of the girls singing in the historic Little Cataloochee Baptist Church.


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