How Five Sisters Kept The Old Ways Alive

Categories: Life Stories


If you are curious about how your great-great-grandfather lived--how he raised his family, grew his own food, produced his clothing, and existed without benefit of supermarkets or mail-order catalogues, I'd like to take you back up Little Greenbriar Cove, in the heart of Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains, to spend a leisurely autumn afternoon with the Walker sisters--Margaret Jane, seventy-five; Martha, sixty-eight; Louisa, sixty-two; and Hetty, fifty-six.

There, surrounded by heavily forested peaks that in this range reach more than 6000 feet above the valley floors, you could look around you and say, with conviction, "Well here I am back in the early ninteenth century, and it isn't so bad, after all."
The Walker sisters very definitely are out of this century, although when you taste some of their Dutch-oven-baked cornbread or sweet potatoes liberally smeared with butter they have just churned, you'll realize they are very much a part of this world. But they have kept any touch of these modern times away from their hearth, not through the slightest trace of eccentricity or any dislike for progress, but simply because, as women without menfolk around, they have continued doing things in the ways and with the implements they know best how to use--which is to say, their father's and grandfather's methods and tools. The rocky mountainsides seem to respond to their touch. When I visited them, just as frost was putting the last splashes of color on high banks of forests that hem them in, their storerooms and cellars were full and they were settling down for winter with complete contentment.

This mountainous section of East Tennessee still is peopled by descendants of Daniel Boone and John Sevier and their contemporaries. The =Walker sisters' grandfathers both were men of this independent, space-loving breed. Pushed out of Virginia by plowed land that left no room for game to multiply, they found the freedom they wanted in Tennessee's mountains. Wiley King, their maternal grandfather, found a little cove near where Fighting Creek and Little River join boulder-tossed waters. And here, while Abe Lincoln still was practicing law in Illinois, he built the house that is as solid today as it was when its yellow-poplar logs first were chinked with red mountain.... continue reading via the pdf below:  

1946:  Time Stood Still in the Smokies PDF

Via:  The Saturday Evening Post

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