Time Stood Still in the Smokies SEP

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<ul><li><p>7/24/2019 Time Stood Still in the Smokies SEP</p><p> 1/5</p><p>.</p><p>-</p><p>-</p><p>The Walker s ist ers, whose collective age totals 261 years, enjoy a short rest 011 the front po rch. Their</p><p>log-ca bin home was built by th eir gr a ndfather when Abe Li</p><p>.n co ln was s till pr ac ti</p><p>c in g I,aw in Illinois .</p><p>n</p><p>s</p><p>]Iy .TOH N J l l\. ~</p><p>F you are curious about how you r great-great</p><p>grandfather Hved - how he raised his family,</p><p>grew his own food, prod uced his cJotbjng and</p><p>existed without benefit o supermarkets or mail</p><p>order catalogues. I'd li ke to take you back up LiUle</p><p>Greenbriar Cove, in the heart of Tennessee's Great</p><p>Smoky Mountains, to spend a leisurely autum n a Ct-</p><p>ernoon with tbe Walker sisters</p><p>-</p><p>Margaret</p><p>J a ne,</p><p>sevent.y-five; Martha, sixty.eight; Louisa, si.xty</p><p>two; and Hetty. fift.y-six. There, su rrounded y</p><p>heavily forested peaks t.hat in this range reach more</p><p>than 6000 feet above the vaUey floors. you could</p><p>look around you and say, with conviction, Well,</p><p>here I am back in the early nineteenth century, and</p><p>it isn't 8 bad, after ai l.</p><p>The Walker sisters very definitely are out of this</p><p>century. although when you taste some of their</p><p>Dutch-oven-baked cornbread or sweet potatoes lib</p><p>erally smeared with butter they have just churned,</p><p>you'll realize they are very much a part of this</p><p>world. But they have kept any touch of these mod </p><p>ern times away from their hearth, not through the</p><p>sligh test trace</p><p>of eccentricity or any dislike for</p><p>progress, but simply because, as women without</p><p>menfolk around, they have continued doing things</p><p>in the</p><p>ways and with the implements they know</p><p>best how t o use- which is to say, their father's and</p><p>grandfather's methods and tools. The rocky moun</p><p>tainsides seem to respond to their touch . When I</p><p>visited them, just as frost was putting the last</p><p>splasbes of colo r on high banks of forests that hem</p><p>them in, their</p><p>store</p><p>rooms</p><p>and cellars were full</p><p>and</p><p>they were settling down for winter with complete</p><p>contentment.</p><p>This mountainous section of East Tennessee s l</p><p>is peopled by descendanta of Daniel Boone and</p><p>John Sevier and their contemporaries. The Walker</p><p>sisters' grandfathers both were men of this inde</p><p>pendent, space-loving breed. Pushed out o</p><p>Vir</p><p>ginia by plowed land that left no room for game to</p><p>multiply, they found the freedom they wanted in</p><p>Tennessee's mountains. Wiley King, their maternal</p><p>grandfather, found a little cove near where Fighting</p><p>Creek and Little Ri ve r join boulder-tossed waters.</p><p>And here, while Abe Lincoln still was practicing law</p><p>in Illinois. he built the house that is as solid today</p><p>as it was when its yellow-poplar Jogs first were</p><p>chinked with red mountain ( Cu rHirl lwd un ~ l g e 82</p><p>PIIO TO G RA PI- IY</p><p>BY</p><p>D A V ID</p><p>HOBBINS</p><p>16</p><p>Deep in the mountains of</p><p>East Tennessee, the 'Valker</p><p>s isters are st ill l iving in the</p><p>early 19th cen tu ry . and</p><p>finding i t not so bad, ei ther.</p><p>On nil s ides th e peak s of th e Creat</p><p>S</p><p>moki es</p><p>ri</p><p>se</p><p>6000 fccl.</p><p>or mor</p><p>e ul}()\c</p><p>th</p><p>e f</p><p>dl eys</p><p>.</p></li><li><p>7/24/2019 Time Stood Still in the Smokies SEP</p><p> 2/5</p><p>Tn th is cabin, with nothing but th e impl e m en ts and m e thod s of their fo rehears, th e</p><p>Valkers g rind th e ir m ea l, ca rd th e ir own wool and spin cloth for dr esses and blanke ts .</p><p>Every thread</p><p>tha l wenl</p><p>into th ese colorful</p><p>coverl</p><p>e t s</p><p>wa</p><p>s</p><p>sp un</p><p>by th e s isters on the ir own o ld bu t s l ill e ff i c ie n t wheel.</p><p>Cutti n g wood for fuel, sh ea ri n g s h ee p or even s ir e t chin g and</p><p>dry in g s h eepsk il is all in th e day s work 10 th e four Walke rs.</p><p>Sp innin g t ime is a social t ime, and during th e wint e r month s a s Illuny a s five wheels kept go in g . Be fo re</p><p>the s ix-fool-wide fir e pl ace Mi ss Margare t s lnnd s t th e spinning wh eel while Mi ss Martha ca rd s th e wool.</p><p>_</p></li><li><p>7/24/2019 Time Stood Still in the Smokies SEP</p><p> 3/5</p><p>TIME STOOD STILL</p><p>IN THE SMOKIES</p><p>(Conlinu ed f rom Ili ge 16)</p><p>clay. In its one la rge roo m, wi t h a loft</p><p>for t he ch ild re n, he reared his fa m ily.</p><p>J ohn Wa lker , wh ose fa mily a lso ha d</p><p>migrated (rom Virgin ia a</p><p>nd settled ju st</p><p>across Cove M oun ta in in Wears Va lley.</p><p>married W iley's youngest da ugh te r,</p><p>Marg</p><p>aret</p><p>J ane, soon a f</p><p>te</p><p>r her f</p><p>at</p><p>her</p><p>'s</p><p>death, a nd mo ved in to become t he</p><p>man oC he King fa mil y . In due ti me,</p><p>t he old cabin w ith i ts o ne roo m and loft</p><p>was overflow ing wi t h e le ve n childre n.</p><p>A second ca bin a lrea dy s ta nding on</p><p>King land was moved log by log a nd</p><p>reassembled to form new cooking a nd</p><p>eating qua r te rs for t his la rge brood .</p><p>Today, although five of the eleven</p><p>ch il .ren are dead- t hey all lived past</p><p>t he half-cent ury ma rk and a ll bu t</p><p>t he Cour unm a rr ied s isters have moved</p><p>aw</p><p>ay</p><p>{ro m Li tt le Gree nbriar</p><p>Co</p><p>ve, the</p><p>home is exac tly as it was whe n J ohn</p><p>Walker was ca rried across the moun </p><p>ta in to join his wife in t he fam ily bury</p><p>ing ground in the next va lley. And so</p><p>fa r as the four spinster s isters- who</p><p>were five until PoUy died in the spring</p><p>of 1945- a re concerned, it will rema in</p><p>that way. Why , t hey reason, should</p><p>anyone wa nt to worry a bo ut cha nges</p><p>a nd improveme nts whe n the ground</p><p>is SO fertile , one of their two cows is</p><p>always fresh , th e ir spr ing flows freely ,</p><p>a nd heavy fores ts a round the m provide</p><p>a ll</p><p>the fu el</p><p>they</p><p>n</p><p>ee</p><p>d ?</p><p>A sy mp</p><p>at</p><p>h</p><p>etic</p><p>v isitor ca n fi nd .no a nswer.</p><p>When their gra ndfat her a nd father</p><p>were living, people in th is region grew</p><p>t he ir own s hee p, card ed thei r wool a nd</p><p>spun t heir own cloth for dresses, su its,</p><p>bedcloth ing a nd even sa ddle bla nkets</p><p>for t he ir mules . Threa d for looms a nd</p><p>k ni tt ing needles was t wirled ofr wheels</p><p>be fore t he six-feet-wide fi replace in the</p><p>Wa lke r home t he n, a nd still is today.</p><p>Ma rtha showed me win te r d resses</p><p>she had made Crom t he ir ow n woo l</p><p>while M a r</p><p>ga</p><p>r</p><p>et</p><p>hu</p><p>m med a way sp in</p><p>n ing t hrea d t hat wo uld go in to wa rm</p><p>stockings for t hemselves or socks fo r</p><p>ne phews st ill overseas. u Guess it a in ' t</p><p>every so ldier in Ge rma ny that ca n say</p><p>his old-ma id a un ts ra sed his socks o ff'n</p><p>a rocky moun ta ins id e for him ," Hetty</p><p>obse rved as she looked o n... hear</p><p>t he m Europe win ters can be powerful</p><p>cold, a nd we don ' t a im for any of our</p><p>folks to ha ve co ld feet, no matter where</p><p>they a re."</p><p>As g irls t he s isters watc hed t he ir Ca-</p><p>t her shea r shee p a nd lea rned how to</p><p>w</p><p>as</p><p>h the</p><p>woo</p><p>lwith homem</p><p>ade</p><p>l</p><p>ye soa</p><p>p in</p><p>prepa rat ion for ca rd ing. T oday they do</p><p>it t he mse lves , using t he sa me clippers</p><p>John Wa lker bought in Se vierv ille fi fty</p><p>ye ars ago. They do n ' t ra ise as ma ny</p><p>shee p as t he ir fat her did, but keep only</p><p>six or eig ht grown a nima ls each yea r,</p><p>selling la mbs or occas iona lly butcher</p><p>ing one for their own tab le. But a ny</p><p>one of t hem ca n catch a bu ck or ewe,</p><p>hogt ie it a nd ho ist it , bleat ing and kick</p><p>ing, to the rac k where t hey do the</p><p>shear ing.</p><p>Whi]e t h</p><p>ey</p><p>were descri bing t he</p><p>pr</p><p>o</p><p>cedure we co uld hear t he lead sheep' s</p><p>be ll in t he fie lds above the cabin. Pho</p><p>Dav id R obbins asked t he m</p><p>to catch o ne and shear it for a ph o</p><p>togra ph. Margaret got feed. called,</p><p>" Here, sheep ie, sheep ie, sheepie .. and</p><p>got th em almost wit h in noosing range.</p><p>Then t hey saw R obbins and bolted</p><p>bac k up t he moun ta i n. No amount of</p><p>calling would tem pt t hem down again ,</p><p>no r would they fo llow a trai l o f grain</p><p>we la id for t he m. (' They won ' t come</p><p>down again as long as the re 's a nybody</p><p>around wit h pa n ts on ," M a rga ret sa id,</p><p>a nd we fo und she was right . Sorry, no</p><p>sbee p p ic tures.</p><p>Blank ets a nd co verlets the sisters</p><p>weave on loo ms Crom the ir h ome-g rown</p><p>wool a re muse um pieces. The blanket s ,</p><p>great snowy piles oC hem, used to good</p><p>advantage during co ld winters here, a re</p><p>soft and fl uffy and light as you 'd imag</p><p>ine a queen 's bla nk</p><p>et to be . E very</p><p>thread in t hem was spun on the o ld but</p><p>sti ll efficient wheels t he ir father buil t</p><p>soon a f</p><p>te</p><p>r he</p><p>sta</p><p>r</p><p>ted</p><p>rea ri</p><p>ng</p><p>a fa mil</p><p>y.</p><p>The co verlets fo llow designs t hat we re</p><p>popular in M art ha Was hingto n's day ,</p><p>an d a ll o f them ha ve na mes- Bona</p><p>par te's M arch, D ouble Bow Kn ot, Sea</p><p>S he ll, a nd Was hington' s Ring a nd</p><p>Dia mond .</p><p>At t imes during win te r months as</p><p>ma ny as five whee ls ha ve bee n ke pt go</p><p>ing in t he great liv ing roo m, gett ing t he</p><p>t hrea d rea dy for more coverlets or</p><p>blankets or winte r ga rm ents. And spin</p><p>ning t ime is a mu ch enjoyed socia l</p><p>* * * * * * * * * *</p><p>VA N I S H I G CT</p><p>Always un d erfoot,</p><p>Child , c h ild ,</p><p>Doggi ng e vcry s l ep ,</p><p>Dri villg nlO thcr wild.</p><p>Ol1lll ipresclII s hadow,</p><p>C row tl in g where I s t a nd ,</p><p>C lu tch in g u t u</p><p>prun,</p><p>.</p><p>-</p><p>Clin gi ll g 10 m y h and.</p><p>T i l l \'I'C go out shoppi ng</p><p>In I h e largcs t s to rc.</p><p>S udllt' II ), )'nu ' re s i.np ly</p><p>Not I h cn ' an y Inorc .</p><p>High and I seck you ,</p><p>Cri ml y H k j l l luU'k ,</p><p>As ki n /. c \'(ry s u lcs cJ e rk</p><p>From Toys to Uri c a-brac.</p><p>I va liit u p csca lators,</p><p>Dri ve n</p><p>lIl</p><p>ur</p><p>e Iha</p><p>ll</p><p>wi ld ;</p><p>Ah\ ,uys h a lf my 8hoPI)ing</p><p>Is s hoppin g for a chi ld.</p><p>* * *</p><p>t ime here, j ust as it was in yo ur great.</p><p>gra nd fathe r' s ho me.</p><p>The Wa l_ker sisters' living room,</p><p>whicb is t bei r bed room as we ll , is</p><p>unique even in t h is reg ion of moun ta in</p><p>ho mes, for noth ing in it has been</p><p>chan ged since t he d ays nearly a cen</p><p>t</p><p>ur</p><p>y</p><p>ago wh</p><p>en W il</p><p>ey</p><p>K ing</p><p>fi</p><p>r</p><p>st</p><p>bega n</p><p>rearing h is Ca mily . Four ge nerous three</p><p>quar te r bed s, sturdy a nd sta nding high</p><p>off t be floo r, occupy t he corne rs, a</p><p>n</p><p>other sits against t he back wa ll. All f ve</p><p>of them, as weU as a t rundle bed under</p><p>one oC t hem, were buil t oC mountain</p><p>bellwood by J ohn Wa lker a lmost eigh ty</p><p>years ago . While t bey were te lling me</p><p>how [t he ir fatber made t hem wit h his</p><p>ownl ha nd s- a nd a n a nt ique co llecto r</p><p>would go in to ecstasies over a nyo ne of</p><p>t hem- Lo uisa giggled. "So me city ma n</p><p>as</p><p>k</p><p>ed</p><p>h</p><p>ow</p><p>in t he world a n</p><p>yb o</p><p>dy co</p><p>uld</p><p>squeeze into that li ttle bed, a nd it so</p><p>tight under tbe other one," she sa id.</p><p>" H e looked plum b foolish when I .old</p><p>him we pulled it out when n ieces or</p><p>nep he ws come to spend the night with</p><p>us."</p><p>Old family groups , staid a nd pr im as</p><p>yo ur gra ndfather-'s weddi ng pictures,</p><p>ha ng about the room a nd show t he four</p><p>sisters with the ir pa rents and long-dead</p><p>b rothers a nd siste rs, taken by wander</p><p>ing photogra phers who made th e ir way</p><p>through the mowltains. Around the</p><p>ea ves of the room, sla ts na iled to ra ft </p><p>ers hold shoeboxes a nd bas ke ts filled</p><p>wit h t reasured letters, faded old fa mily</p><p>record s a nd persona l be longings or</p><p>sc raps oC gay- colored materia ls sent</p><p>them from ti me to t ime to be put in to</p><p>" friend ship" quilts pieced together</p><p>Crom dresses or s hi rts friends ha ve</p><p>worn. Nothing goes to waste in t hese</p><p>mounta ins.</p><p>Visito rs to t h is old log ca bin spend a</p><p>good port ion oC the ir t ime aro und the</p><p>big</p><p>fi re pl</p><p>ace in</p><p>th</p><p>e ki</p><p>tc</p><p>he</p><p>n, wher</p><p>e life</p><p>in a ny Cront ier home was centered .</p><p>There's a wa rm, homey s mell a bou t t he</p><p>room ; beans slowly s immering in a pot</p><p>hung over the blaze from bickory logs,</p><p>or bread ba king on the hear t h, or the</p><p>good eart hy s mell oC t urnip gree ns or</p><p>wild musta rd s immering ove r t he log</p><p>fire .</p><p>While I was visit ing t hem in this</p><p>kitchen M ar tha was pu tt ing up wine</p><p>colored a pple jelly a nd ja rs of a mber</p><p>colored a pp le bu tte r. R a fte rs o ve rhead</p><p>we</p><p>re hung</p><p>with</p><p>dr</p><p>y ing red</p><p>peppe</p><p>rs, on</p><p>ions, seed corn, sacks o f dried frui t a nd</p><p>beans a nd vegetable a nd flower seeds .</p><p>When we sat down to eat , a wide " fly</p><p>sweep made of t h in strips of news</p><p>pa per Cas te ned to a stick a bove the</p><p>ta ble was kep t gently swishing .o keep</p><p>fl ies away .</p><p>I no t iced a Hstore-bo ught" gadget</p><p>in the corner of th e kitchen. " Tha t 's</p><p>our grist mill," M a rtha explained . to We</p><p>can ' t ca rry corn to th e water mill down</p><p>o n Li t tle River, 80 we ha ve to grind our</p><p>own meal.' Then she e xpla ined that an</p><p>o ld</p><p>mu</p><p>le</p><p>I</p><p>had seen in the ba</p><p>rn</p><p>l</p><p>ot</p><p>bad</p><p>los t his good tee th a nd couldn ' t cbew</p><p>his co rn properly, bu t the little hand</p><p>mill co uld be adjusted to crack the</p><p>gra ins without gr inding them fine as</p><p>mea l, t hus "c hewing' the old mule's</p><p>cereal for him here in t he kitchen. . . In</p><p>his old age th at mule has got so bull</p><p>hea ded he won ' t let us girls wo rk him, "</p><p>M a rga re t expla ined. U When we wa nt</p><p>lan d plowed or logs dragged down from</p><p>the moun ta in for firewood, one of our</p><p>relat ives has to co me a nd work him for</p><p>us. A T e</p><p>nn</p><p>essee</p><p>mul</p><p>e has g</p><p>ot</p><p>to</p><p>be</p><p>ha nd led specia l. a nd none of us can</p><p>cuss "</p><p>Long-nec ked, ga ngl ing black chick</p><p>e ns loca lly known as u India n ga mes,"</p><p>descend a nts of the fowls domest ica ted</p><p>by t he C herokee India ns, were running</p><p>a ro und t he ya rd . I as ked why t hey did</p><p>not keep ty pes bred to y ie ld bigger</p><p>drumst icks . H N one but t he m ga mes</p><p>could sc ratc h a living o ut o f these roc ky</p><p>moun tainsides ," M a rgaret expla ined.</p><p>Wiley King a nd J ohn Walker by</p><p>necessity we re blac ksmi t hs, co bblers,</p><p>furni</p><p>t</p><p>ure</p><p>ma ke</p><p>rs</p><p>a</p><p>nd</p><p>a m</p><p>ate ur</p><p>d</p><p>octors</p><p>as we ll 8S fa rmers and hun te rs. They</p><p>buil t t heir own wagons a nd t he sled s</p><p>used to ha ul wood ou t of t he forests,</p><p>made t heir plows a nd ha rrows, made o r</p><p>mended t he fa mily shoes, buil t e very</p><p>a rt icle of furni t ure used in t he home,</p><p>including loo ms a nd spinning whee ls</p><p>for their women. They a lso made the ir</p><p>ca ne mills a nd pea shellers , raised and</p><p>cured the tobacco t hey s moked in corn</p><p>cob p ipes, an d kn ew all t he simple rem</p><p>edies that could be co mpounded from</p><p>wild mo</p><p>un</p><p>ta</p><p>in</p><p>pla n</p><p>ts</p><p>or ga</p><p>rd</p><p>en-</p><p>gr</p><p>o</p><p>wn</p><p>herbs. F or t he past t wen ty years a n</p><p>tique dealers have made ma ny use less</p><p>t r ips back to L ittle Green br iar, t rying</p><p>to persuade the sisters to part wit h</p><p>t hese e veryday tools or the furni ture,</p><p>loo ms o r sp inning wheels t hey still use .</p><p>But th ey sh ake t heir heads. " What</p><p>wo uld we do wit hout the m '?" M a rtha</p><p>sa id. u We'd have the money, b ut what</p><p>wo uld we work wi th?"</p><p>Soon a fte r daybreak , Ma rga ret a nd</p><p>Ma rtha, a lthough the two oldest of the</p><p>( f m u ed 0 " 1 I ' IU )</p></li><li><p>7/24/2019 Time Stood Still in the Smokies SEP</p><p> 4/5</p><p>(u lIILinued f rom o ge 82) which t he s is te rs , and the ir father and</p><p>sisters, are outside in summer 's dew or grandfather before them, ga thered and</p><p>winte r 's frost or snow, milking, feeding piled to make boeing a nd plowing a</p><p>t he mule, sheep, k n and pigs. lit tle easier. Looking at the mounds</p><p>Hetty. who had a " spell of rheumatiz o and noticing how m any are still under</p><p>last winter and can ' t get aroWld so well, your feet as you walk across the fields,</p><p>gets brea kfast, sw</p><p>eeps the house with it"s easy to understand a n age-old</p><p>her homemade broomcorn sweeper, a nd moun tain superstition: The devil plan ts</p><p>m</p><p>akes</p><p>beds. Loui</p><p>sa</p><p>cu</p><p>ts</p><p>w</p><p>oo</p><p>d or g</p><p>ets</p><p>t h</p><p>ese</p><p>r</p><p>oc</p><p>ks, a new b</p><p>atc</p><p>h eve</p><p>ry</p><p>y</p><p>ear,</p><p>to</p><p>ready for work in t he nelds, where she temp t mortal souls. Some fields here ,</p><p>is joined y Marga ret and Martha. like those in N ew England, are inclosed</p><p>And if fuel is low, the three sisters by rock fences, one manner of utilizing</p><p>think nothing of cut ting down a t ree t he stones to advan tag...</p></li></ul>