Echoes From Catawba Volume 2, Granny Taylor of Possum Holler will be available for purchase at the November 23 book signing being held at the Catawba Valley Holiday Market at the Catawba Community Center. It also will be available online at echoesfromcatawba.com.
On July 16, 1907, a baby girl was born in the Appalachian Mountains community of Catawba, Virginia. She was not given a name; she was just referred to as “baby.” She was the thirteenth child born into a family that would end up with a total of seventeen children. As a matter of fact, the fourteenth child, also a girl, would arrive before “baby” received a name! Her mother Luemma Garman gave birth on November 21, 1908, to another girl. Luemma and her husband Will now had two babies to give names too. The latest arrival would be named Pearl Esther Garman, and, finally, the sixteen-month-old “baby” was named Winnie Earl Garman.
No one has ever offered a reason why the delay in naming Winnie Earl. In the years ahead, she would be known to folks as Earl or Granny. It was a unique, extraordinary happening, and I cannot recall a similar situation. However, the words unique and extraordinary would define this woman who lived 18 days shy of one hundred and nine years. Nameless at birth, she passed away in 2016 remembered forever as The Primitive Woman of Catawba, Virginia. I am sure someone, in the sprawling Appalachian Mountains, can give an account of a woman who lived a similar life. However, when you finish reading this biography, I believe you will be challenged to envision anyone like Granny Taylor.
As you read this biography of Granny Taylor you will go on a journey through almost one hundred and nine years with a woman that will amaze you and impact your emotions in countless ways. Honesty, humility, caring, fearless, hard-working, funny and selflessness are but a few of her attributes. The most notable trait she projected was consistency. Through a century of living she never varied from who she was, while never forgetting her roots. Each chapter introduces the reader to the many people in her life and how they were blessed by Granny. How she stayed true to a near primitive lifestyle through fast-changing times is quite a feat. Few in the early years of the twentieth century would ever desire to live the way Granny did, especially when it was not necessary. For those of you who did not know of or about this lady, prepare yourselves for an adventurous, true story about a woman who could have had all the conveniences imaginable. A typical reaction would be to question why did she choose this life and sustain it for the entirety of her active life? If you as a reader knew her over the years, then let this book be a refreshing walk down memory lane while learning some things about her that you missed along the way. If you are meeting her for the first time, you are in for a real treat. She was approached a decade prior to her passing by someone who wanted to write her life story. Her reply: “My life ain’t worth writing about!” I am honored to introduce Granny Taylor (and her life story) to you!
Granny Taylor of Possum Holler 2002 Interview Part 1: Granny talks about growing up and her brothers & sisters
Echoes From Catawba Volume 1 Growing Up In Catawba Valley, Appalachia was released November 2018
Or pick one up at the Salem Museum at 801 E. Main Street, Salem, Virginia. They are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. Also, copies are available at The Emporium on Main Street in New Castle, Virginia. The Emporium is open Tuesday – Friday 10-7, Saturday 9-6 and Sunday 12-5.
The story of Catawba Valley, Virginia, its people, places and events would have wide range appeal to non-Catawbians, rural and urban audiences.
Luemma Craft and John Garman would marry and have seventeen children during 1890 – 1914. Echoes from Catawba Volume 1 relates some of the stories about families growing up during a time when there was no indoor plumbing, electricity, and many hardships. The stories about their schools, farms, churches, and their General Store will keep your attention and remind you of better times. In order to survive, they lived off the land and worked hard. These mostly Scot-Irish descendants had a culture, identity, and values that bear looking at in this complex and politically-correct world we live in today.
Times were difficult but the people of Catawba considered themselves blessed and felt they had all they needed: God, family, Church, and community. I gathered information from Catawba people as they recalled their childhood days growing up in a totally different world we live in now. I then used my personal experiences growing up in the mountains in the 1940s and 1950s as well as calling upon my memories of hearing what the previous generation conveyed to me.
Echoes From Catawba comprises stories with heart and humor so as to transform the reader back into those early times of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Any fiction that may crop up is strictly accidental and not intended. It may sound like fiction to some (that’s okay) but it is history put forth in stories written to induce a smile, maybe a tear and retained knowledge of rural life in the early 1900s.
During the interviewing process and research for this book, folks were asked how they felt about growing up in such challenging times. They each stated they would do it all over again without changing anything.
That spirit lives within all Catawbians regardless of where they are now. Many have lived in Catawba all their lives. I hasten to add that this book has drawn the interest of urban people who have no connection to Appalachia and never experienced rural living. These are stories that should appeal to any reader.
Echoes From Catawba is enlightening, interesting, heartwarming and inspiring. After reading about this special, unique place called Catawba Valley, it will leave you ready for Volume 2, being released the fall of 2019.
Echoes From Catawba Volume 1: Growing Up In Catawba Valley, Appalachia by Ted Carroll is a non-fiction memoir that tells the story of rural life at the turn of the last century and focuses specifically on his own family who had been long-time settlers in the area. In this book, Ted Carroll, or Teddy as he was known, talks about his grandparents who were one of the prominent settlers in what is known as Catawba Valley in rural Virginia. They had 17 children, of which Ted’s mother was the youngest. Ted dives into detailed family and genealogical history in this book as he traces his ancestors and their origins, along with some of the other families they knew, and paints a picture of life as it was then in the days of no electricity, no running water, living off the land, raising large families, the importance of faith and community in their lives partly due to circumstances, and just reminiscences of school, childhood, marriages, and village life.
Echoes From Catawba is the first part of this series and mostly focuses on the previous few generations starting from his own grandparents and their lives and some of their children’s lives. It is refreshing to read a tale of simplicity and honesty which was how people lived under those circumstances with pure air, no artificial restraints, and a life built around the basic elements of life that include birth, marriage, and children. That is not to say that things like abuse or neglect did not happen in those days, but it definitely seems to have stayed away from this family for the most part. As Ted rightly says, their own family could constitute a small village in themselves and it is enjoyable to read about his anecdotes accompanied by lots of pictures which I appreciated. Ted writes in an easy, relatable style and I am looking forward to reading the next installment in the series. -Reviewed By Gisela Dixon for Readers’ Favorite
Echoes From Catawba, Volume 1: Growing Up In Catawba Valley, Appalachia is a nonfiction cultural/memoir written by Ted Carroll. Carroll’s grandparents had 17 children; his mother was the baby of a family who made such a tremendous impact on the small community of Catawba, Virginia. His dad was hospitalized for tuberculosis when Carroll was only four years old. As he grew up, Carroll assumed his role as the man of the family, earning what he could with odd jobs and later on working on the farms of neighbors in the community. Through the inspiration of a concerned adult, Carroll was given the opportunity to go to college, and he studied at Virginia Tech, where he also taught until he retired. Long in love with the people, traditions and the natural beauty of Catawba, he decided he would take up the challenge of recording the stories of those who built Catawba and made it the enduring place that it is today.
Ted Carroll’s Echoes From Catawba, Volume 1 had me raptly turning pages, reading accounts and studying photographs from the past from the moment I first opened this stunningly rich and professionally written book. Many Americans have preconceived notions of Appalachia; I’ll confess that I did. Reading Echoes From Catawba changed all that and dramatically. I learned about community and family and the power of hard work. I marveled at photographs of Carroll’s family and friends and watched as they grew up from young children, matured and then raised their own families. I could sense what it was like to spend time relaxing after a hard day of work by the wood-burning stove at Keffer’s Store, and especially loved Carroll’s very personal recollections of the Morgan Farm. I’m looking forward to the next volume in Ted Carroll’s work. Echoes From Catawba, Volume 1 is most highly recommended. -Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite
Another great “echo” from your Catawba series. You string words together in “fine” order and keep the reader’s attention ’til the last word is read. Great work, Ted, each article you have written is treasured. –Nina Shelor Davis
The best way ever to start a Monday morning–reading your blog about Dad, Wayne, and Ronald. From Dad’s boisterous laugh to Ronald’s jokes, you captured both with love. I laughed along as I thought of you driving the truck to Craig County and painting (and repainting) the post office walls. Your comments about Wayne are so heart-warming and greatly appreciated. Keep writing and I’ll read and remember a blessed childhood. –Betty Munsey
Very well written accounts of families and a past era in rural Catawba. It gives everyone the perspective of how life was in many rural farming families. -Jonathan Gregory Reed