Today I am very happy to be here with my daughter Linda. She has always been my little helper and other precious children of mine who are visiting; my baby daughter and her two children, Natalie and Dennis. Their father David - my precious son in law.
My oldest son Jimmy and Evelyn, his wife. I miss my grandson James Jr. who is not here today and grand daughter in law who lives in North Carolina. Also my baby son Billy is not here. He lives in Pike County at my old home at Wolfpit. I wish it had been possible for me to live there in Pike County where I had lived for nearly thirty years but as I am hitting towards my 80th year the Lord has given me I am unable to care for most of my needs and need to be with someone that cares about me. I have been suffering from heart disease also blood problem called phlebitis. I also for many years have been bothered by pain caused by a disease (very painful) called rheumatism or arthritis. My daughter Linda always my little helper did the decorating and greatly helped in the work of installing the furnace and air conditioning and cleaned and packed my furniture with the help of Evelyn, my baby, the things I moved from my home in South Eastern Kentucky. The home I loved in the place I loved since my earliest memory. I came to Wolfpit as a child from The Potter Flats about 3 miles from Elkhorn City in the Breaks of the Big Sandy.
My Grandmother and Grandfather on my mother's side of my family owned the place they called the Flats where they raised their four children: my mother Letha Potter and 3 sons, Adam, Sparil and Speed Potter (all are deceased). They died in the mid 50's and 60's. My Grandfather and Grandmother's people came from North Carolina, Boone County. My Grandmother's family settled in Dickenson County, Virginia and my Grandfather's family in Pike County after spending some time in the Breaks in Virginia. My ancestor Richard Potter is buried in the KY - VA park in Virginia. He settled there by a cold spring of water that feeds the parks needs today. It is not as good as it was in the natural state. They have used pipe to carry it to the camp grounds and buildings which gives a metal like tatse. The park is very nice with lovely scenery and many beautiful wild flowers and shrubs, Rhododendron among others. Also Mt. Ivy with is waxy like pink flowers a sprinkling of teaberry plants under the shrubbery. I've picked lots of berries from it as it grew on my Grandfathers land on the Potter Flats side of the park system. A beautiful place in my growing up years with orchards of apples, pears, peaches, apricots and nuts. Black walnuts and hickory nuts of various types - my special ones grew on the pathside as I walked home from school, I would pick them up where they fell from the trees, big soft like inner shell that was easy to crack. My mother would take the ones I would crack and bake me a big hickory nut cake with nuts inside also in the good icing she made for it. We lived on the Kentucky and Virginia line about 3/4 of a mile above my Grandfather's house. Sometimes it would be almost dark by the time I would get home from school where I had leisurely picked up and cracked my nuts with a stone from the roadside. My Stepfather would call for me if I was very late and come and meet me as I would have a big bag of apples for my Mother from Grandads orchard. We loved fried apples fresh butter, hot biscuits, eggs and bacon from our own raising. It was a wonderful time in my life.
There was a stream of water that came down the mountain, my Grandad dammed it up just below his home and he raised a lot of cane for molasses and had a molasse mill where he, with his grandchildren feeding the fire with sticks of wood we would carry so we could eat the molasses when they were getting ready to be canned up. I can almost smell the wonderful odor now! There was hazel nuts that grew by the stream coming down the mountain. Lots of good berries then too. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mulberries all growing wild. Also Grandad had a orchard of cherries and plums. He must have had 200 to 250 trees of fruit in the big orchards. He and his sons and son in law, my stepfather, farmed the land with corn, potatoes (both irish and sweet), all kinds of vegetables, peanuts also and some tobacco to have for his friends. He never smoked himself just one of his boys did Sparil. Adam and Speed never did. Most of his grandchildren did, my two brothers did Roland and Bart but I never did. We were most self sufficent in those days, plenty of timber for firewood a seam of coal for heat in the grate that was in most of the rooms of our homes. Times began to get tougher in the 30's and 40's as my grandparents were old, my stepfather died in the 30s so for my family all the men folk were old or deceased. My Mother worked in West Virginia or Michigan for sometime to help out with cash money after helping Grandmother raise a garden. We always had plenty of canned foods from vegetables we raised for winter. My brothers helped when they could Roland was married and lived at Bartlick, Virginia. He worked in the mines, my brother Bart worked some on the section keeping the railroad in repair also in the mines which he never liked that job. He was handicapped by having the type of rheumatism that affected his joints and caused one leg to be shorter than the other when he was 7 or 8 years old. Also he only had one eye - he lost an eye to an accident with his 22 rifle as a teenager. He always took his rifle when we picked berries or hoed corn, most jobs like that was someway from our house and there were woods surrounding us and he would sometimes get a couple of squirrels to have for breakfast. I loved the way Mother cooked them with lots of squirrel gravy. She was a wonderful cook - the old fashioned kind of cooking I love. She liked to cook but didn't like to be bothered when she did so I could never cook as well as her.
Grandmother taught most of what I learned about cooking. I baked the first corn bread for her and Grandpa when I was about 8 or 9 years old. She had so much patience with me. Learned me how to use the sewing machine (treadle type) I never could use the electric one my son Billy bought. Grandmother gave me her Singer sewing machine, she first gave me her sewing machine she bought when she first married, I left it at my Mothers home when I married and some one took it out of her home when she had to move to Elkhorn City. It was a New England Queen sewing machine and would be well over a hundred years old now. I could never find out who took it. It was all black a treadle also and made the prettiest stitches, had a few attachments - a hemmer and a ruffler I recall but no button hole maker. I made all my childrens clothes on it even their underwear until they started to school.
I have 5 great children, never much trouble altho I did worry when they were away from me, even when they were in school. My son Jimmy spent 2 years in the Army. He finished high school while there also he took drafting in Paintsville, Kentucky and after he married a wonderful girl from Tennesee he went on to take college courses and architectural design for which I am very thankful.
Tina Belcher Williams
July 29, 1991
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