January 1870

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2010.

January 23 1870 andrews nc

Several months ago, Peggy, a Blind Pig Reader, asked me if I'd be interested in reading a letter that had been handed down through her family. It seems to have been written to folks who lived in my county near the town of Andrews. Peggy said reading W.C. Penland's Civil War letters reminded her of the letter in her possession. 

The letter was written by Susan Lunsford and her husband, Mat Lunsford. Susan was Peggy's Great Great Grandmother's sister. The letter touches me on so many different levels. Give it a read and see what you think.


January the 23 the 1870

Dear father and mother i this evin seat my self to drop you a few lins to let you no that we are all well at present hopin my few lins will come safe to hand and find you all enjoyin the same blessin and to let you no that I have got a fine boy I call him Jousep Henry after his Granpap Pendergrass he was borned October the 4 1869.

Whet is 20 cents per bushel corn is 3 dollars a bushel we have got 69 bushels of corn. We have kild one hog that wade 3 hundred and 48 pounds at 18 teen months old an one we didn’t way and I got one to kill that will go about 2 hundred and fifty and got 18 hogs left We have 2 cows one will have a calf in March the other I don’t know when we have settled down her to stay 2 years or longer if we want too but I git more and more dissatis fide ever day if I was back in ole north Carolina I never would say Mat less move again. tho we have plenty to do us this year and plenty more comin on for another year but what satisfaction is it to me if I ain’t satisfied and all that dissatisfides me is to want to see my old father an mother and can’t I want to see you all I want you all to writ as soon as you git this letter not one but all

Susan Lunsford

Margaret I want you to write to me one time if you pleas if you hant for got that that you ever had one sister called Suzy. Nin and forn and rocksy and lasy all drop me a few lines I would take grate pleasur in readin a few lines from you all tell Jissy Baldwin and Joy to write to me I will send pap and mother a stran of little francis hair I send the girls some scraps of our dresses but if you have forgot my name look at the top of the letter I will write you my name in full I will close so no more at present only I remains your child till death I still remains you sister so good by to you all from Susan Leunsord to her ole father and mother to her sisters all so

A few words from Mat to let you no that I am well and well sadisfide and tryin to do the best I can suzy has got dissadisfide here lately she sez she would be sadisfide if she could sho nanny and pap her fine boy the resen I am satisfied I recken is am so much like the … ???... Bill an his family is well we live about half mile apart we have rented land and both work to gether this year we have sod ten bushel of wheet and hay all it makes free of rent 30 achorks (acres) of lan to tend in corn four acres to tend in tobacco you might not think hard of me for not ritin no sooner for we was a while that we did not no wether we would go on or stay her as soon as we got our minds settled we had to build our cabins to move in too I thought it would be no use to rite till I got settle we have made a contract for 2 year I would like for sum of you to come and see me next fall I will send you a way bill to come by if you node the situation of the country you would be willing to leave north Carolina tomorrow. Susan hole study is on the friends that is left behind it is true I would like to see you all but my mane study is to do the best I can for my self and family I pass off the time at work through the day at nite I nurs my too baby for pleasure so I take up no time in idles I will close for this time so no more at present only remaining your son till death. From M.M. Lunsford to his father and mother write soon and fail not.


What I liked about the letter:

  • The similar phrases used by the Lunsfords and W.C. Penland- "at present only remiaing your son till death", "I this evin seat my self to drop you a few lins to let you no that we are all well at present hopin my few lins will come safe to hand and find you all enjoyin the same blessin", and "I will close so no more at present only I remians your child till death."
  • I love how Susan gives them a hard time about not writing her. She tried to shame them into writing her by calling out their names, and she even went so far as to say she'd write her name at the top of the page just in case they have forgotten it! She must have been a spitfire. 
  • I like the contrast between what she writes and what her husband writes. Through his words you can feel the determination that he is going to make it for his family. And from her words you can hear how much she misses her family and her North Carolina home. 
  • Susan missed her family, but she mostly wished they could see her boy that she was so proud of. She tells them she will send a stran of little Francis's hair. Makes me wonder if she sent the hair and if her family passed the little strand around and talked of how they missed little Francis and of how there was a fine baby boy named Jousep Henry who they might never see but would love from afar.


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

The Harshaw Family Cemetery

My life in appalachia - lost in memories of childhood days 
Pap was born in 1937. He spent the first years of his life on the Harshaw Farm. Pap's father, Wade, and his grandfather, Benjamin, were sharecroppers for the large plantation.

The Harshaw Farm was established in the 1800's and has the undesirable moniker of being the largest Slave plantation in the area. According to the Cherokee County Historical Museum's book: A Pictorial History of Cherokee County in the year 1860 Abram Harshaw was the largest slave owner in Cherokee County. He had 43 slaves.

Pap remembering living at the Harshaw Farm, Murphy NC 
A while back, me, Pap, and my friend Anna spent some time at the old Harshaw Farm. We poked around the woods, met the present owners of the farm-but mostly-me and Anna listened to Pap remember what the farm was like when he was a boy.

Pap told us about a big snow, how his Mother caught fish from the river and took them to the Big House to trade for things she needed, he remembered a big long row of outhouses-so the workers didn't have to wait in line, he told us humorous stories about the escapades him and his Uncle Wayne got into. Along the way-I'll tell you some of Pap's stories-but today I want to show you the Harshaw Family Cemetery. Its maintained by the present owner of the farm-even though he is no relation to the folks who rest under the trees nor does he have any obligation to keep it up.

Harshaw Cemetary 
The family plot is above the farmland-as most mountain cemeteries are. It is totally enclosed by a rock wall.

Steps leading to harshaw family cemetary 
On each side-there are steps that lead up and over the wall.

Harshaw Cemetary Brasstown nc 
One set of steps up-one set down into the enclosed graveyard. The steps on the far side have almost been covered completely by moss and leaves. The huge tree and it's roots have caused the steps to deteriorate over the years.

Harshaw farm 
The graves inside the wall cover a large portion of time-well over a hundred years. Some are just rocks while there is one as recent as the 1980s.

Old grave at harshaw farm 

Especially interesting to me-are the few graves that lie outside the enclosed wall. there was this one-nothing legible left to read-if there ever was anything.

John Webb 1846 1892 
There was John Webb 1846-1892.

Absalom Phiilip Mary Lou Johnson 
There was this newer stone-set to represent 3 members of the same family: Absalom, Phillip, and Mary Lou Johnson.

John W Parris 1903 1954 
Lastly-there was a man Pap remembered from his time spent at the farm: John W. Parris.

Pap told us he remembered attending a funeral at the cemetery with his Mother-but he can't remember who it was for. None of the stones we read fit into the time line of when Pap lived on the farm. Makes me wonder if there weren't more 'outside of the wall graves' that have been lost through the passage of time.

 Harshaw Farm Cemetary

Pap was pleased to see an effort was being made to keep up the old cemetery. Over the years the farm has changed hands several times-and the owners weren't always interested in keeping up somebody else's family plot. In the late 60's-early 70's Pap said the cemetery became a hang out-a place for folks to party at.  It was secluded and out of the way-the perfect place to raise cain.

One night the party goers got out of hand. A gentleman who was running the farm took a rifle and went up to the cemetery to run the gang out. No one knows what happened-but the farm representative ended up dead-beaten to death with his own gun. Pap said they had investigations and even a trial-but no one was ever convicted. None of the living ever fessed up to what actually took place-and of course none of the dead did either.


Subscribe to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email

March 13, 1979

Brasstown, NC 1979 
Pictures-what's the best thing about them? They freeze a moment in time forever. The same can be said of videos/recordings-keeping a moment-a memory-a part of somebody's life for others to look back on with fondness-to discover something they may have forgotten or maybe they never knew.

1979 was the year I turned nine. My world revolved around what me and my younger brother Paul could come up with to entertain us. We liked baseball, exploring the woods, fishing, and listening to our older brother Steve's music when he wasn't home.

Recently I found a recording of J. Roy Stalcup-a piece of his history frozen in time for folks like me and you to enjoy some 30 years later.


On March 13, 1979 Lee Knight recorded J. Roy Stalcup in the Martins Creek community of Cherokee County NC. Mr. Stalcup plays a banjo tune and talks a little about the old song-500 Hundred Miles. You can hear it for yourself by clicking here. Once you get to the page-click on the words Access this Item (see photo above) to hear the recording.

For a history buff like me it's been hard to shake the powerful feeling I got after hearing J. Roy Stalcup. I keep thinking of the scene of J. Roy and Mr. Knight sitting around a cassette player-while just down the road me and Paul were probably sitting around listening to Steve's tunes with one ear listening for Steve's car so we could skadaddle before he caught us. It also doesn't hurt-that 500 Hundred Miles is one of my favorite songs-and J. Roy mentions 2 verses I've never heard. The year also stands out to me because I suffered my first great loss of a loved one-when Mamaw died suddenly in August of 1979.

Did you like the tune? Where were you in 1979-what were you doing?


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email


Papaw's Chainsaw

A few days ago I told you I had a poor man story about my Papaw Wade-thought I would share it with you today.

Papaw Wade Wilson' 

Papaw Wade (Pap's father) was a wood cutter-and I'm not saying that lightly-he lived to cut wood-and cutting wood made his living. When he started out he was old school-using a cross cut saw to bring down timber.

Once those new fangled contraptions called chainsaws made their way into the mountains everyone could see the ease and speed at which you could cut wood with them. But seeing the writing on the wall never makes it any easier to come up with the money it takes to buy an easier way of life.

Papaw and Virgil Dockey had been cutting pine wood with a cross cut saw together. As they studied and figured on the issue at hand-whether to buy a chainsaw or not-they came to the conclusion that buying one would not only make their livelihood easier-it would allow them to make a bigger profit as well. In the end, the two decided they'd split the cost and buy a chainsaw.

Using a chainsaw 
Pap said talk of the chainsaw and what it meant-kept both families at a heightened state of excitement-especially the wives.

Finally the day of the big purchase arrived. Papaw and Virgil pledged $200 for the saw at the old Smith Store and then brought it home to show the children and wives. Virgil took it home with him and put it on the front porch in anticipation of all the work that would be accomplished on the coming day.

During the night a thunderstorm blew up and as bad luck would have it-lighting struck the chainsaw-and literally blew it to pieces.

The following day Virgil came into Papaw's yard hanging his head saying "we're ruin't we're ruin't." Pap said you never saw such a sad bunch of folks-even the children recognized the devastation of loosing the chainsaw that was bought on time-knowing payment would still be required no matter that Mother Nature had played a cruel trick on them.

After much hand wringing Papaw and Virgil decided there was only one thing left to do-take the saw back and see if they could at least sell it back to Smiths for parts.

Oh happy day! When they arrived at the store they discovered they had unknowingly bought insurance along with the credit plan. They picked up a new saw and headed for home.

Pap said the families rejoiced and everyone made sure the chainsaw was never left outside at night again.


Papaw Wade has been gone for close to 20 years. Every time I smell sawdust-or fresh cut wood I think of him-those were his smells. It always makes me feel like-if I turn around quick enough I'll see him standing there in his overalls-with his hat brim turned straight up and his eyes twinkling at me.


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email

Pinto Beans - Soup Beans

Cooking pinto beans 
Probably our favorite make do dish is pinto beans, we call them soup beans. They're cheap-sometimes you can find a bag for less than a dollar. Pintos are also easy to cook-especially if you throw them in a crock pot and forget about them.

How to cook pinto beans 

Granny taught me the first step to cooking pinto beans is too look them-which just means to look through the beans and see if there are any bad one-or any little rocks like the ones in my hand above. Sometimes I find stuff when I look the beans-other times I don't find anything but beans.

Next-rinse the beans off a few times.

How to soak dried beans 
The beans need to be soaked before you cook them. The easiest way to do it-is too put them in a bowl, cover with water and let them sit overnight-and that's the method I use. You can see in the photo above-after a night of soaking the beans plump up. (drain water before cooking)

The other method of soaking is good for those days when you're in a rush or you forgot to soak the beans the day before. Place the 'looked' beans in a pot and cover with water-bring the water to a boil and let boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat-put lid on-and let the beans sit for an hour. Drain beans before cooking.

Seasoning pinto beans 
Once your beans have been soaked-it's time to cook them. A few different options:

  • Put beans in a large stock pot and cover with water-cook on top of stove. This is the method The Deer Hunter likes-he's anti-crock pot. The beans cook up great-but you have to keep an eye on the amount of water in the pot and make sure it doesn't cook out. The beans take several hours to cook.
  • Put beans in a crock pot and cover with water. Turn the crock pot on low and forget about it. If you put the beans on early in the morning-by supper they'll be done perfectly.
  • My Uncle Woodrow made the best pot of Pinto Beans ever!! He cooked his in a big pot on his wood stove. I'm not sure if it was him-or the wood stove-but no one could cook pintos like Uncle Woodrow.
  • You can cook pinto beans in a pressure cooker too-they get done fast. But I think they taste better by using the other methods. Or maybe The Deer Hunter just hasn't perfected his pressure cooking beans process.

After you decide which method to use-you need to decide how to season the beans. I like to use a chunk of ham. During the year if we have a ham-I save every little piece that isn't eaten and freeze them. Then when I need a piece for a pot of beans I have it. Some folks add a piece or two of fatback/streaked meat. Others add a little cooking oil. Salt and pepper to taste-keeping in mind the salt content of the meat-if you use meat.

Pinto beans 
Once the beans are done-add a cake of cornbread, some stewed potatoes, an onion, a jar of applesauce and that's supper for us. 

If you cook a bag of beans-it makes a lot of beans. I usually cook the whole bag-we eat them for at least 2 nights-and I freeze the rest for one of those busy days when I don't have time to cook. I can warm up the frozen beans and add the rest of our favorites pretty quickly.

Other times-I'll freeze the leftover beans in smaller quantities-so The Deer Hunter can add them to his Deer Chili.

Anyway you look at it-pinto beans is a cheap and tasty meal. Hope you'll leave me a comment with your thoughts or tips on pinto beans.


p.s Everyone has their favorite way to eat pinto beans-you can see I like mine mixed up with crumbled cornbread. The strangest way I ever seen someone eat theirs-they mixed mayonnaise with their pinto beans.

Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

Tips For Make Do Recipes

Eating from a well stocked pantry 

Today's post on make do recipes was written by Pam Warren


This is an interesting subject, and I have been thinking about it for a few days. In our 40 years of marriage these are the type of things we do when money is tight:

Eat What We Have.

That means checking the freezer and the pantry and figuring out how to make meals from what we find. This usually means casseroles, soup, pancakes and other thrown together meals. When the kids were little, we always had soup one day and pancakes one day each week. We also had bean soup with homemade bread once or so a week. I usually had flour and yeast to make bread, and beans have always been inexpensive. We eat navy beans most up here in Michigan, they are grown in the farm country just north of were we live.

Eating what you have in the freezer 

When my grandsons were living here with their mother we had a lot of casseroles, I called it hamburger surprise. There was always more surprise than hamburger in those dishes, and often it was ground turkey or chicken, not hamburger. Funny how the things (like hamburger) that were cheap and became familiar while I was a child have become pricey these days.

In the 1960's, there was a "tuna scare", but I cannot tell the exact reason. Anyway, canned tuna was cheaper than cheap, and my mother bought a lot of it. We ate tuna everything for months.

These days, I save all the odds and ends of meat, broth and veggies, and my husband makes soup every Sunday. He carries it in his lunch very day, it is actually free, if you don't count the cans of vegetables and tomato juice from our garden that he opens up and adds.


Use whatever cheese you have (or don't use it) when called for in a recipe. Use milk instead of cream/half and half or whatever. It won't matter that much. You can make any casserole with less meat, a cheaper meat (like ground turkey instead of beef). If using less meat, substitute more vegetables instead of using more starch.

Make your own.

Forget buying cookies, cakes, brownies pies or other dessert items. Make your own, and serve less often. You can buy the ingredients to make many cakes for the price of one cake mix. Frosting is much cheaper to make that to buy in a little can, and yours will taste much better.

Don't buy frozen dinners, packaged individual servings of anything, or other highly prepared foods. Many contain things you wouldn't eat if you thought about it, and way too much salt. 

With all that in mind, here is the recipe that I use for dumplings. They make whatever you eat with them go a lot farther!

Fluffy Dumplings:
2C flour (consider using at least half whole wheat flour)
4 t baking powder
a pinch of salt
3T butter, margarine, or shortening (use what you have)
An egg if you have it

Mix four, baking powder and salt in bowl with a spoon. Sift together if desired. Work shortening into the mixture with a pastry blender or 2 knives.

Beat the egg in a measuring cup, and add milk to make just over 1/2 cup, and dump into the bowl with the flour mixture. Mix with a spoon, and add more milk a little at a time to make a stiff dough.

Quickly drop by teaspoonfuls on the top of simmering soup or stew, and put a tight lit on the pot.  Lower the heat and cook 20 to 25 minutes. Spoon the dumplings out onto a plate and serve with the soup.

Do not lift the lid, and make sure it fits tight or the dumplings will be soggy.


I hope you enjoyed Pam's tips as much as I did. I think my overall favorite is-use what you have. I know I'm guilty of buying groceries when I could make a meal out of what I already have.

Got any tips to add? Leave Pam a comment and I'll make sure she reads it.


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

Black Walnut Blond Brownies & A New Nut Cracker

Black Walnut Cookies 

Over the last few days, my hands have been full of Black Walnuts. During the snowy days, I've been sitting by the wood stove in the basement picking out walnut goodies. In November, we discussed how difficult it is to crack black walnuts-but I've found an easier way-even easier than using Granny's Nut Cracker.

Black walnut crackers for sale 
I got a new cracker-and it works better than Granny's. Kenneth Roper, a Blind Pig reader, made it for me.

Buy a black walnut cracker 
It works better because the actual cracking part is more compact and easier to work and the larger bottom keeps it from sliding around on you-like Granny's does. While the old cracker got the job done, Kenneth's model makes it an easier job. Sorta like the old one is a wagon and the new one is a Cadillac-both get you to where you're going but the caddy is a whole lot smoother ride. The best part is-if you need a walnut cracker-you can buy one from Kenneth-email him at kenroper@frontier.com for the details.

Black walnut bars 

The first black walnut recipe I shared with you was my favorite-Arsh Potato Cake-but it is time consuming to make. Black walnut cookie sticks are much easier to make-but they're not really cookies.

I found the recipe in More Than Moon Shine Appalachian Recipes and Recollections by Sidney Saylor Farr. The recipe is called cookie sticks-but mine turned out more like brownies than cookies-very tasty brownies.


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sifted flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped black walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, sugar and salt.

Easy black walnut cake 
Add eggs mix well, add vanilla mix well.

Black walnut recipes 

Stir in black walnuts.

Old black walnut recipes 
Spread batter in a greased shallow baking pan 8 X 8 X 1 1/2. (my pan wasn't exactly that size-but it was close)

Black walnut blond browines 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till light brown and done (the time will change if you change the size of the pan-like I did-so keep an eye on them). The recipe says to cut into strips and remove from pan while warm. I just couldn't see how sticks would work-so I cut mine in small squares. They are very good-and so easy to make. Instead of cookies-they make me think of blond brownies.

If you make them-let me know how you like them.


p.s. Every one of you were right about which baby was me : ) In the first pic I was on the right side of the screen-in the 2nd I was wearing the black shoes on the left side of the screen.

Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

Snow Cream

Snow in nc 
My big snow turned out to be 8 inches. I've heard other areas of Cherokee County got as much as 10. Yesterday, Granny told Chatter she could make some snow cream. But, Granny said she wasn't going to make any, cause she still had some left from the snow at Christmas and didn't want it to waste.

I hadn't made snow cream in ages-so I decided if it did snow I'd make some.

Tipper blind pig and the acorn 

The first time I remember eating snow cream was with Pap's Mother, Marie. She babysit me for Granny so I spent lots of time with her-but she died suddenly of a heart attack when I was in 5th grade so my memories about her are sparse.

As I think back to my snow cream memory-I wonder where the other kids were. Mamaw took me by the hand and led me around the side of the house. While we walked carefully through the snow she told me it was important to remember the first snow of the year was poison and I wasn't to ever eat it. I held tightly to her as we looked for good clean snow to fill our bowl with. Once our bowl was full, we went back to her tiny kitchen, and she let me sit in the special chair to watch her make snowcream. The chair was like a swivel office chair-except it was covered in plastic with a bright yellow floral pattern on it. All us kids wanted to sit in that chair-cause it turned fast like a merry go round. We ate the snow cream and I decided it was very good-and somehow even though I was very young I believe I knew staying with Mamaw when no one else was there was very good too.

Making snow cream 

As I sent Chatter out for a bowl of clean snow yesterday, I remembered Jim Casada's recipe for snow cream. I gave snow cream a google and was amazed at how many recipes there is for it. Some add sweetened condensed milk-some eggs-others all sorts of flavorings. You can even find videos of folks showing how to make snow cream on youtube.

Snowcream from appalachia 
We never had a recipe to go by, Granny would just add milk or cream, vanilla, and sugar to a bowl of clean snow till it looked and tasted right. Lots of times-it was us kids doing the mixing and adding and we ended up with a drink instead of a cream. But it was still tasty-especially after a day of sledding. After Jim mentioned it yesterday, I couldn't resist adding a little cocoa to mine-I liked it.

Snow cream is certainly a make do recipe. I like thinking about the smiles snow cream has brought to children through the years-and it's kinda nice to know it's still bringing smiles today.

If it snowed at your house-leave me a comment and tell me how much you got.


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

Snow Folklore From Southern Appalachia

Snow Princess 
It's Sunday night-and the weather reporters are in a tizz about the impending winter storm and it's effect on the South. All factors indicate it will be another big snow for us. This winter I'm beginning to think the Snow Princess above has figured out how to call the snow and use it for her desires.

Folklore about snow and weather 

Granny and I usually get groceries on Monday morning, but since it looks like the roads will be snowy tomorrow we went early this morning. Granny and Pap's little front porch was icy with the skiff of snow we still have from last Friday. I had to help Granny down the steps.

Chatter and I were sitting in the back-The Deer Hunter and Granny up front. Granny said "Well what do you think about this cold weather? There won't be nobody stirring around this early but us, it's too cold for most people." She went on to tell us she was worried about Guitar Man his plane left Atlanta at 1:00 (turns out it didn't, but he did get on one eventually) and Granny was worried he'd have to walk the 5 miles from the airport to the college. I said "No Granny he'll be able to take a bus. If the airports are open they'll be buses running too."

I couldn't resist teasing Chatter by whispering "See someday when you're an old woman you can tell your grandkids-when I was a little bitty girl the winters were so bad my mother had to help Granny down the steps and my cousin had to walk 5 miles to college in 3 foot of snow."

Old sayings about the weather 

After we quit giggling over Chatter's old lady voice, I started thinking about how I've heard lots of folks say the winters were worse when they were kids. I know I've heard The Deer Hunter tell the girls it snowed more when he was little than today. Yet this winter and last, we've got more than our fair share of the white stuff.

I remember big snows from my childhood. One cold and snowy winter Pap built us kids sleds. He split black pipe and put it over the runners so they'd go faster. I remember missing a week of school sometime during the 80s. And of course who could forget the Blizzard of 93.

Snowfall in brasstown nc 
There is old folklore to let you know when snow is coming-and even if it's going to be a snowy winter. Things like:

  • A late frost means a bad winter
  • For every frost or fog in August, there'll be a snowy day come winter (I could never remember to keep track of this one-and it doesn't frost here in August)
  • 3 bad fogs in June or July means an early snow
  • If is snows crosslegged it'll be a deep one (what does crosslegged mean-the way it falls?)
  • Regular occurance of low rolling thunder in the fall portends a bad winter
  • If smoke from the chimney settles on the ground it'll be a hard winter
  • If it's cloudy and smoke rises it might snow
  • The number of Days old the moon is at the first snow-tells how many snows there'll be that winter (hmmm I should try to figure that one out)
  • It will be a hard winter if millers (moths) try to get in the window (don't that happen every summer?)
  • If snow lays on the ground for 3 days it's waiting for another snow (this one and the next 2 are the only ones I've actually heard folks say)
  • It will be a hard winter if there is more mast in the forest (nuts, berries, etc)
  • It will be a hard winter if animals coats are thicker than usual

(many of the saying above came from The Foxfire Book)

Blind pig and the acorn's driveway 

Even though I was only teasing Chatter, I know her and her sister will remember this winter and the snows that it brought. They'll remember the white Christmas-and the mysterious tracks, and their friend Patricia. Maybe they'll tell their kids it snowed more when they were little.

Do you think winters were worse in days gone by or that memories from childhood stand out ahead of the rest and make it seem like they were? Got any winter/snow sayings to add to the list of folklore?


p.s. I haven't mentioned my Grannyism Page in a long time-it's a page where I write about Granny and my Grandmothers-and I hope other folks will add their memories and thoughts of their Grandmothers (many of you have-THANK YOU). You can click on the picture that says Grannyisms on the left side of this page near the top or just click here.

p.s.s. If I disappear you'll know it was a big snow-that took our power with it.

Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

1918 Flu In Southern Appalachia

1918 flu in western nc 
The Blind Pig family has been lucky this winter-none of us have been sick much-I feel like I should say knock on wood-and actually knock-that's what Granny would do. My niece and I shared a lovely stomach bug on Thanksgiving night-I may never want to eat Turkey again-but other than that we've mostly been well.

Some of you may remember-in the winter of 2009 I had the worst case of flu I've ever had-well I've only had the real flu twice-so maybe I should say-I was sicker than I've ever been in my life. I couldn't even let my Blind Pig readers know-I finally had The Deer Hunter let everyone know-I hadn't died although I felt like I might. If you missed the posts you can read about it here:

Indian Creek Styles Cemetary 

I remember learning about the 1918 Flu Epidemic in school-seems like it was in Elementary School. I'm sure I thought it was interesting and sad-but 2 things made the stark reality of the Epidemic come alive for me. One was my bout of the flu in 09-I truly did think I was near death's door more than once-and the other was when I first visited one of the old cemeteries that are scattered through out the Smoky Mountain National Park.

Proctor Graveyard 

Proctor was the first cemetery I visited along with the kids from TLC! I was so busy snapping photos I didn't take time to really read the info on the stones-until one of the students pointed out several from the same family who died within days of each other. Right away I thought of the flu of 1918.

While it was obvious some of the stones in the Proctor Cemetary were from the era of the Great Flu-we soon noticed other mass casualties from the same family occurred in different time frames. Although it had been months since I had the flu-as I looked and thought about the heartache those families endured by loosing more than one beloved to the 1918 Flu or to some other spreading illness-it made me so thankful to live in the days of modern medicine with fever reducers in my medicine cabinet.

In 1918 The NC Board of Health offered the following advice about the Flu Epidemic:

"Influenza and What You Should Know About It," Bulletin of the North Carolina Board of Health, 33:5 (1918), pp. 38–39.


How and Where Influenza is Spread

  1. By careless spitting, coughing, sneezing, and using the same drinking vessel or towel others have used. The disease germs are carried in the spittle and in the little drops of secretion from the nose and throat.
  2. In crowds and public gatherings, churches, schools, picture shows, business houses, fairs, circuses, trains, or in any other places where people congregate. Soda fountains are especially dangerous if they do not supply individual sanitary cups and sterilized spoons.

How to Keep Away From Taking Influenza

  1. Keep away from crowds, especially indoor gatherings.
  2. Avoid people who cough, sneeze and spit without holding a handkerchief over the nose and mouth.
  3. Do not use common drinking cups or towels, and keep away from the soda fountain that does not supply individual cups and sterilized spoons.
  4. Keep the bowels open. Snuff Vaseline up the nose three times a day. Gargle mouth and throat and rinse out nose with warm salt water, using a level teaspoonful of salt to a glass of warm water. Sleep and eat regularly. These are very important.
  5. Keep in the open air and sunshine as much as practicable and have good ventilation in the home and office. Sleep with your windows open.
  6. Wash your hands before eating and never put your unwashed hands in your mouth.
  7. Do not give the disease to others—when you sneeze or cough always bow the head and cover both the nose and mouth with handkerchief.

Symptoms of Influenza and What to Do if You Take It

  1. In most cases a person taken with influenza feels sick rather suddenly. He feels weak, has pains in the eyes, ears, head or back, and may be sore all over. Many patients feel dizzy, some vomit. Most of the patients complain of feeling chilly, and with this comes a fever in which the temperature rises to 100 degrees to 104 degrees. In most cases the pulse remains relatively slow.

    In appearance one is struck by the fact that the patient looks sick. His eyes and the inner side of his eyelids may be slightly bloodshot or congested. There may be running from the nose, and there may be some cough. These signs of a cold may not be marked; nevertheless the patient looks and feels very sick.

  2. If you have any of the above symptoms, go to bed at once and send for a doctor and follow his directions explicitly.
  3. If you cannot obtain a doctor at once, stay in bed with plenty of cover to keep you warm, open all the windows and keep them open, take medicine to open the bowels freely, and take nourishing food, as milk, eggs, and broth, every four hours.
  4. Allow no one else to sleep in the same room. Protect others by sneezing and coughing into cloths which can be boiled or burned.
  5. Stay in bed until a doctor tells you it is safe to get up; or, until you have been without a fever for at least four days.

What To Do After Recovering From an Attack of Influenza

  1. Influenza is a treacherous disease. If one is fortunate enough to escape pneumonia during or immediately following the attack, the lungs and respiratory system are frequently so inflamed that tuberculosis develops. The heart is overworked and needs rest. Therefore, do not return to work or leave home until you have regained your strength, whether it is a week or a month.
  2. If complete recovery does not take place within two weeks, have your family physician carefully and thoroughly examine every vital organ and function of the body. Follow instructions the doctor may give you after such an examination.

Taken from NC Digital Collection.


Much of the advice given by the NC Board of Health in 1918 would still be good advice today-I'm not so sure about the sniffing of Vaseline though. It is true sickness can hit you quickly. When the girls were little and a stomach virus infiltrated our home-it would show it's ugly head in both girls within a matter of hours.

Unless folks lived in cities or towns I doubt they would have even heard about the NC Board of Health's advice-much less read it. Families who lived in rural areas of Western NC and beyond-probably relied on oldtimey Medicninal Remedies and a good deal of faith to get through the sicknesses that sometimes blindsided their homes.

Before the Flu Epidemic of 1918 was over-it killed millions of people across the world. On the video above-he infers the flu making itself known in the mountains of TN was proof the outside world had reached one of the most isolated regions in the US. Kinda makes me think about smallpox and other sicknesses that were hand delivered to the Native Americans.

Click here to see some photos from the Epidemic of 1918-none from Appalachia-but still fascinating.


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email