Saturday, August 21, 2010
My grandparents ... August 21, 1904
There's a narrow gold wedding band I wear along with my own ... my grandmother's wedding band ... that was left to me when she passed away many years ago. Inside is engraved my grandparents' initials and the date of their wedding ... August 21, 1904 ... 106 years ago today.
My grandfather was from Grayson County in southwest Virginia. My grandmother was from Allegheny County, NC, just across the New River and state line. I don't know how they met, only that they were married in Cox's Chapel along the river. Their names were John and Molly and they were two teenagers beginning life together as generations had done before in those isolated hard-scrapple mountains.
They settled in a small cabin on the side of a mountain near an area known as Mouth of Wilson in the shadow of Grayson Highlands and Mt. Rogers in the days before it became a state park. The land was sloped and rocky ... the elevation was over 3,500 feet ... and to walk it today makes me wonder how they were able to survive in the harsh winters and difficult summers. In two rooms, they began raising their family that would eventually include 10 children ... my mother was the youngest ... as my grandfather farmed with a mule and plow, piling rocks on the hillside that are still in place to this day. A small creek passes below the cabin, a source of water during the days they lived in those cramped, sparse conditions.
They were surrounded by family. Our relatives are all through those hills, most staying close as they grow into adulthood, marry, and raise families of their own. My grandfather's parents lived in a log cabin on The Knob, the family place that was made up of two rooms and a fireplace on the ground floor, and one large room upstairs. My grandmother's father was prosperous and owned a store outside Sparta, NC. She left to marry and make a life of her own.
Because they were tough and made their own way, they set a work ethic for those of us who followed that continues to this day. And it began on this day 106 years ago when John and Molly became man and wife....