Raised on Songs and Stories: A Memoir of Place in the Blue Ridge

A Memoir of Place by Jean Thomas Schaeffer

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A new book, Raised on Songs and Stories: A Memoir of Place in the Blue Ridge, is now available at the Floyd Country Store and Slaughter’s Supermarket in Floyd, Virginia;  at the Floyd County Historical Society’s Museum;  and at the Franklin County Historical Society’s Museum.         

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The Book’s Cover

Raised on Songs Cover Web

Click the cover image above to see a larger view of the book’s cover.

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Scroll down this one-page blog to see the following topics:  About This Book;  Mail Order Information; Words from the Floyd Press Editor;  Press Release;  Book’s Preface – by Author;  Book’s Introduction – by Author;  Book’s Table of Contents; Order Form; and Copyright Information.

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About This Book

This limited edition paper-back book by Jean Thomas Schaeffer has 38 chapters and over 140 photographs.   The book’s  ISBN is 978-0-9703758-3-4 and its Library of Congress Control Number is 2013921845.

Regarding this book, the author says:

“From feelings of loss and love for a way of life, I began writing.  I wanted to preserve on paper, as accurately and beautifully as I could, the history of this mountain area and a way of life that used to be.  I didn’t want the story to be lost.”

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Mail Order Information

For mail order information, send an email request to info@HarvestwoodPress.com  or to MountainTopProductions@gmail.com. For updates on this and other Harvestwood Press books, visit http://www.HarvestwoodPress.com.   …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Words from the Floyd Press Editor:   

“Jean Schaeffer is a treasure. Her attention to detail, her passion for history, and her desire to share information are appreciated by her readers. Over the years the Floyd Press has been privileged to publish some of her Floyd County stories. Her personal insights on Appalachian life, gained from growing up near Walnut Knob, add to the charm of her work.”     ~ Wanda Combs, Editor of the Floyd Press.

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Press Release – September 2014

New Book by Jean Thomas Schaeffer

A Memoir of Place in the Blue Ridge

A new book by Jean Thomas Schaeffer is now available, and its title is RAISED ON SONGS AND STORIES: A Memoir of Place in the Blue Ridge. This book has 38 chapters and over 140 photographs. Some chapters have been previously published in the Floyd Press and elsewhere; others are entirely new.

Since moving back to the family farm on the Floyd–Franklin County line, Jean has spent the last fifteen years researching and writing about the special place she has always called home. Some pieces in the book are personal and they include chapters about her parents, Max and Clara Thomas, and a chapter titled “Growing Up Near Walnut Knob.” Other chapters are broader in scope and focus on county history. The latter includes a chapter about Floyd County and Native American history. Jean comes from a family of school teachers and the last chapters of the book focus on early Floyd County schools.

Speaking about coming home and quoting from the book’s back cover, Jean says, “My perspective is that of a native, but also that of a newcomer. With older eyes, I try to understand a special place and what it has meant to me and to those who came before.”

She goes on to say: “From feelings of loss and love for a way of life, I began writing. I wrote for myself, for my family, and for others who share my heritage, and for the general public. I wanted to preserve on paper, as accurately and beautifully as I could, the history of this mountain area and a way of life that used to be. I didn’t want the story to be lost.”

This new book’s ISBN is 978-0-9703758-3-4. Besides being available by mail order, this book is available at the Floyd Country Store and Slaughter’s Supermarket in Floyd;  at the Floyd County Historical Society’s Museum; and at the Franklin County Historical Society’s Museum. To find out more about this book and other Harvestwood Press books, visit http://www.HarvestwoodPress.com or send an email to info@HarvestwoodPress.com.

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Book’s Preface – by the Author

“In 1999, my husband and I moved back to the family farm where I grew up on the Floyd–Franklin County line, near the Blue Ridge Parkway. For over thirty years, we had been living in Northern Virginia, where we raised our two daughters, and looked forward to these beautiful mountains and solitude when we retired. As we planned for our move, my mind was full of memories from growing up in an Appalachian setting with most of my relatives living nearby.

“I soon realized that the land and solitude were the same, but almost everything else was different. My re-entry was difficult. My mother had recently died and my father died two years after we returned. I grieved for my loved ones and I also grieved for a way of life that no longer existed.

“From feelings of loss and love for a way of life, I began writing. I wrote for my own comfort, but I also wrote for my family, for others who share my heritage, and for the general public. I wanted to preserve on paper, as accurately and beautifully as I could, the history and a way of life that used to be. I didn’t want the story to be lost.

“I was well equipped to write about these things, for I had grown up in the oral tradition of Appalachia with songs and stories in my memory. I grew up listening to my parents, grandparents, and other older people talk about life in the old days. I also have pages and pages of writing that my parents left behind, as well as hundreds of photographs my mother took or collected over the years. And, too, I have genealogy charts that my parents laboriously researched and prepared.

“I was interested in my own family history, but I also wanted, in some small way, to help preserve Floyd County’s history. I like research, so I began looking for answers. My parents’ friends became my friends, and I asked them to share their memories while I took notes. I also spent hours in libraries and other research places, reviewing old documents and looking at early newspapers on microfiche.

“Besides that, I started working with the Floyd County Historical Society. That led to our setting up a Floyd County archives with valuable documents preserved and cataloged, hundreds of historic photographs preserved and scanned, and artifacts stored according to museum best practices.

“During that time, I kept researching and writing, and I took some of my pieces to Wanda Combs at the Floyd Press. She seemed glad to get them, and I thought the Floyd Press was the perfect place to preserve information for posterity.

“I researched and wrote about whatever I was interested in at the time, and a quick review of this book’s table of contents (below) will show the eclectic assortment of topics. The last chapters focus on local school history. Most of the members of my family were teachers, and I am especially interested in preserving that school information.

“Perhaps my most challenging topic involved researching Native American history of this area. Hardly anything had been written locally about it, so I set about trying to find out what I could, going to state and university archaeologists and to primary research—what there is of it. The piece I ended up writing has over 4,000 words and was published as a three-part series in the Floyd Press.

“Over the years, I kept writing, but I hadn’t originally set out to write a book. I just wanted to get words on paper—striving for accuracy, authenticity, and good writing.

“After a while, some readers of my Floyd Press pieces started asking me when I was going to publish a collection of my articles, so I started thinking about publishing a book. As a result, I have ended up with a collection of 38 pieces (now chapters)—some old and some new writing. I have also included some poems, an appendix section, and over 140 photographs.

“So, dear readers, this is the book you requested—in loving memory of a special place and way of life.”

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Book’s Introduction – by the Author

Almost half a century has passed since I first wrote for the Floyd Press. I was a young schoolgirl where Schoolhouse Fabrics now stands, writing a report about my fifth grade 4-H club. Pete Hallman ran the Floyd Press and, like now, people looked to the Press for news of the county.

Commerce was less centralized than today and each small community had its own stores. Instead of the thirteen miles I now travel for gas or a candy bar, shopping was more convenient then. Beulah Nichols’s store was one mile from home and my grandpa’s store not much farther.

Besides our country stores, the town of Floyd had most other items—necessary things that would have mattered to my parents and other adults. But the town’s offerings satisfied my childhood interests, too—a movie theater, Christmas toys at Mr. Ayers’ dry goods store, bicycles at Western Auto, and five-cent ice cream cones at Woolwine and Rutrough’s drug store. I used to save up nickels from my school ice cream money and made wonderful purchases. For the rest of our shopping, we depended on the Sears and Roebuck catalog or occasional trips to Roanoke.

Some people went to Christiansburg for shopping, but it was not much bigger than Floyd back then. And the New River Valley—well, it was interesting because of its geology. “Oldest in the world, save the Nile Valley,” said my geology professor. I was more interested in our own rivers, and the day trout season opened each year found many of us waiting on the banks of Little River and its tributaries, ready to drop in our lines at high noon.

Thomas Wolfe said “you can’t go home again,” but I am trying to do just that—living once more on the family farm where I grew up. My perspective is that of a native, but also that of a newcomer. With older eyes, I try to understand a special place and what it has meant to me and those who came before. As I drive through the county, I see what I remember and I see what is new. When I stroll through town, it is like that, too.

In the pages that follow, I hope this double-vision view will become focused as I write about my re-entry—and provide insights into a journey we all must make, in one way or another.

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Book’s Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter  1 – Growing Up Near Walnut Knob

Chapter  2 – The Threads of Time

Chapter  3 – The Greatest Fire

Chapter  4 – Remembering Harvestwood

Chapter  5 – Turtle Rock

Chapter  6 – Plagues – Then and Now

Chapter  7 – Graveyards

Chapter  8 – The Story of Dillon’s Chapel

Chapter  9 – Legacy of the American Chestnut

Chapter 10 – Postal Service in Floyd County

Chapter 11 – Thrash Home and Family

Chapter 12 – Primitive Baptist Churches – Introduction

Chapter 13 – Pine Creek Primitive Baptist Church

Chapter 14 – Floyd County Weather

Chapter 15 – Snowed in with a Dog

Chapter 16 – A Drive through Time on the Parkway

Chapter 17 – Our Musical Heritage

Chapter 18 – Old-Time Stores

Chapter 19 – Local Telephone History

Chapter 20 – The French Connection

Chapter 21 – Three Men Named John Floyd

Chapter 22 – Floyd County: Description and History

Chapter 23 – Pilgrimage to Woods Gap

Chapter 24 – Jefferson Pinkard Wood and His Kin

Chapter 25 – Floyd County and Native Americans

Chapter 26 – Christmas Memories

Chapter 27 – Mama  (Clara Turner Thomas)

Chapter 28 – Daddy  (Max S. Thomas)

Chapter 29 – Thoughts from an English Teacher

Chapter 30 – Early Schools Remembered

Chapter 30a – List of Early Schools

Chapter 31 – Secondary Schools in Floyd County

Chapter 32 – Local Impact of School Laws

Chapter 33 – My First Schools

Chapter 34 – Iddings School

Chapter 35 – Oxford Academy

Chapter 36 – First Do No Harm

Chapter 37 – Hands-on Learning for All Ages

Chapter 38 – Early Schoolbooks

Afterword in Verse

Appendix A – Early Post Offices in Floyd County

Appendix B – Harvestwood Quilt

Appendix C – Early Pine Creek Church Members

Appendix D – Ancestors and Descendants

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BOOK ORDER FORM

To order this book, please send an email request to info@HarvestwoodPress.com  or  to MountainTopProductions@gmail.com

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Order form for RAISED ON SONGS AND STORIES: A Memoir of Place in the Blue Ridge  (ISBN 978-0-9703758-3-4)    By Jean Thomas Schaeffer

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*Shipping within U.S — one book = $3.25 ($0.50 each additional book)

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* International Shipping: $9 for 1st book and $5 for each additional book

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Copyright Information

Unless otherwise indicated, photos in this book and on the book’s cover are from the Thomas–Schaeffer family archives.  Additional photographs in the book are used by permission.

This book’s title, Raised on Songs and Stories, is used with permission and is from the lyrics of a beautiful Irish ballad “Dublin in the Rare Old Times” written by Pete St. John.

On this book’s cover is a picture of the house where Jean and Janet Thomas grew up. Their father Max Thomas helped build the house in 1939.  Some years later, electricity and indoor plumbing were added.  The house, originally owned by Max and Clara Thomas, is part of the family’s mountain farm (Chestnut Ridge Farm), which straddles the Floyd–Franklin County line in Virginia.

In addition to the protected information above, information and graphics on this website pertaining to Harvestwood Press are also under copyright.

Copyright  ©  Harvestwood Press  2009  — All Rights Reserved

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