Tennessee Mountain Stories

Callie Melton’s “Spring in Appalachia”


A cousin recently shared some old newspapers another cousin had been saving for a few decades and I will be sharing some excerpts from them over the next few weeks, very much like the Soap Makin’ article last week.

This week’s article comes from The Standing Stone Dispatch.  There’s no date on the paper but based on some of the advertisements I deduce it was printed in the early 1980’s.  In “Spring in Appalachia” Callie Melton mirrors many of my own thoughts so I’ll share some excerpts from this article verbatim.


Ever since we were discovered, we of the Appalachian Area have been probed, prodded, surveyed, measured, evaluated, talked about, and written about… and most of the people doing this have had no earthly idea of what they were seeing or hearing.  They were… and are… people who have come in, stayed for a year or two at most then become instant authorities on the whole subject.

Almost to a person we have resented this.  We are what we are, and we are proud of it, for our heritage is second to none.  There are a few natives who have written about us honestly and truthfully… but it’s like trying to describe a taste or an aroma… this describing us and our ways.  You have to live a mighty long time among us to understand our talk and fathom our ways.

…Most of us were cut off from the outside world for more than 300 years.  No roads, no waterways…only the Buffalo Trails and Indian Traces leading in, and once in nobody wanted to leave.  What we had came in with us over-moutain on pack horses from North Carolina and Virginia… and what we brought consisted of wife and youg’uns, a few iron cooking pots, a few iron tool heads, a few precious seeds wrapped in deerskin and carried in the cooking pot for safety during the traveling.

We settled on the rivers and up on the steep hillsides, and always by a big sweet-flowing spring.  Trees were cleared, a cabin built and chinked, a few out-buildings thrown u, with room for truck patches nearby.  Wild game furnished the meat, and the skins were tanned to furnish the leather.  Eating utensils were carved from the soft buckeye wood, while the harder woods furnished the tubs, barrels and piggins, and the ax, maul and the hammer handles.  And thus we made our first homes in the new area in a corner of what is now called Appalachia.

But what makes us of this area so unique is that along with ourselves, our seeds and our cooking pots, we brought along our beliefs, our habits, our customs and our superstitions.  And down through the years through thick and thin, we have hung onto them… we have always fought change like we fight sin and the devil… for what was good enough for Pap and Grandpa was, and still is, good enough for us.  Mostly we were English, German and Scotch-Irish… and we came to this new country for two main reasons… homes and religious freedom.  We had known hard times, fear and deprivation in the lands from whence we came… so even though the wilderness and the Red Man held terrors for us, we faced them willingly just ot be able to have our own bit of soil and to worship our God in our own way. 

…We were not so bad off… danger and hard work abounded, but so did food and shelter, and the other necessities of life could be obtained here the same way we got them before we came to this area.  So, we dug in for a long hard struggle… and in this struggle we developed a way of life and a character that you will not find the likes of elsewhere in the world.