Christmas Greetings From Echoes From Catawba

God Gives us New Beginnings

A significant number of “Echoes” readers this past year have posed a similar question with regard to my book-writing focused on growing up in the Appalachian Mountains. “I guess being shut up at home in 2020 has allowed you to get a lot of writing done?, they said.” Certainly, a reasonable question with a surprising answer (at least to fans of the Echoes From Catawba series) who look forward to a book each year. My answer reflected on a year of difficulty with on-going drama of a Pandemic and Presidential Election occupying what was normally a creative mind. A thought to push Volume 3 into 2021 did pop up as an option. I had a notion to “hunker down” and get this year behind me, treating 2020 as a lost year. Was I wrong!

It came to pass as God reminded me, life is a journey filled with “new beginnings”, as tough times make for tough people. The Apostle Paul said it quite well as he faced adversity with an attitude of gratitude saying: “I take great joy in my sorrows!” Being humbled through challenges is a vey teachable experience as we welcome a new beginning to lead us forward. A New Year is always a great time to turn the pages of a year the likes of which we have never witnessed.

Tina and I wish you a Blessed, Merry Christmas rejoicing in the birth and life of Jesus; And follow Him into a New Beginning of this upcoming New Year.


The Day of the Great Honeybee Swarm in Catawba

When I realized what I had gotten myself into, it was too late! I cannot say my life flashed before my eyes since I was only twelve years old. That would be a short flash. On the other hand, I will never forget that day in May when the honeybees swarmed, and I was left holding the rope, literally. Folks, bear with me, as I start from the beginning.

I have made mention in my first two books that I was a hard worker even as a child, and that reputation has followed me throughout my life. I do believe working hard was instilled in me by my Mother Elizabeth and my Grandmother Carroll. Neither one of them let any grass grow under their feet. I was called upon in Catawba to work at odd jobs and was able to earn some money and gain a lot of knowledge at the same time.

It was a very warm day in May when Mama called me in from outside, saying Marvin Brillhart had called and wanted me to come up and help him out for a little while. I thought about a haymaking job, but hay was not ready to cut yet. But it was a job, and pulling weeds in our garden at home would have to wait. I got on my bike and headed up the Creek Road, now called Blacksburg Road; however, I don’t recognize that name because Blacksburg is several miles west. Nothing against Blacksburg, mind you, but it was the Creek Road when I left Catawba, and I am not changing now. And while I am at it, I call the Back Road by that name even though the people there have addresses called Newport Road. They ain’t nowhere near Newport.

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I hardly ever wore a shirt during the summer and did not have one on as I peddled my bike past the Andrews property. My usual attire was to wear blue jeans with the right leg rolled up a bit so as they would not get caught up in the bike chain. I also wore my Wolverine work shoes purchased at Minor’s Store. I was about five minutes from the farm that was managed by Mr. Brillhart.  He lived on the property with his wife Amy and daughters, Elizabeth and Eleanor. Eleanor Brillhart Avery, currently, lives in Colonial Heights Virginia and was a co-writer of the Echoes From Catawba Volume 1 article on the Catawba Methodist Church.  The Brillhart family of Catawba was a highly respected family, especially, active in the community and Catawba Methodist Church.

I sped down the long driveway and parked near the back door of the house like I always did when reporting for work. Mr. Brillhart came out to greet me and lay out the reason for his wanting me to help him.  He said, “honeybees from one of his hives swarmed into a big sycamore tree near the house.” As I looked up, I saw honeybees gathered in a clump the size of a basketball on a tree limb 25 feet above the ground. Things got very interesting with what he said next. “We are going to get that swarm down and back into a hive if we could.” Honestly, two words in that sentence bothered me: “We” and “if”? (Go back and read the previous sentence.) Understand my concern? I wanted no part of this, but I saw no way to avoid it. Sometimes during life, a person has no option but to tackle a bad situation and hope for a good outcome. On top of the obvious challenge, there was a backstory that is best described by this Bible verse in Galatians Chapter 6 Verse 7: ”for whatever a man (boy) sows this he will also reap.”

DSCN1279 (2)Every boy growing up in the Appalachian Mountains would own as his first weapon of choice, a handmade gravel-shooter (sometimes called a sling-shot).  A favorite target was a hornet’s nest, gray-colored and shaped somewhat like a football.  We used small pebbles up to the size of marbles. Hornet and wasp nests were primary targets, although bee hives were used as targets on occasion. Every farm had bee hives for harvesting honey as well as having a source of pollination for fruit trees. My background in abusing all kinds of bees was about to come back and even the score.

I did not see Mr. Brillhart go back into the house, but my gawking at the bee swarm was interrupted when he came back out. I stared in awe at this very tall man decked out from head to toe in “bee wear.” He had on thick pants extending down snugly over his boot tops, a pullover shirt that came up around his neck, and long gloves covering his hands. Lastly, he wore a straw hat with a netting that drooped down completely covering his face. There was no way a bee could come into contact with his skin. Later I learned that all that he wore was official “bee wear” for handling bees, including extracting honey or, in this case extracting a bee swarm.

By contrast, there I stood, with no shirt, jeans, and my Wolverine boots with no socks. Mr. Brillhart gave me a coat of his that was too big but would cover some of my chest and back. He proceeded to tell me about his plan. I was cautioned to show no fear, which would send a message to the bees not to sting me throughout the process.

beeswarmHe would climb the tree with the help of a ladder up to the limb with the swarm on it sticking straight out from the tree. He tied the rope to the limb about 2 two feet from the trunk. He then climbed up to the limb directly above the swarm and tossed the rope over it, and the long rope fell to the ground. He had created a reverse pully system.  Mr. Brillhart climbed a little higher and gave me instructions.  He would remove the limb with a saw while I held the rope taut so that when the limb was free, I could slowly lower the rope to the ground, and Mr. Brillhart could then carry the limb with the bees to a nearby hive.

The final stage of this job started as I slowly let the rope down as Mr. Brillhart was guiding me, saying “easy now, slowly, slowly, don’t show fear.” The limb was ten feet off the ground, and I saw those bees were very agitated. It happened quickly as I realized some bees were following the rope that led to the holder. I showed fear, lots of fear as they got on my neck, hands, face, and a couple down to my ankles. The limb settled on the ground, I let go of the rope, and I ran. Mr. Brillhart gave me a dollar and thanked me, while at the same time scolding for a bit, before taking the bees away to a hive. Mama counted ten stings on me and said the dollar should cover a tube of lotion.

I like honey drizzled over a warm cathead-sized biscuit and always keep some in our pantry. But every time I eat honey, I think about The Catawba Honeybee Swarm in Catawba.

One of my memories of growing up in the Appalachian Mountains left a stinging impression upon me.  Hope you enjoy!


Online Special Offer

Thank you for being a subscriber to the Echoes From Catawba blog.  We hope and pray that you and your families are well and managing through this trying time!  We are all experiencing something that has never happened before, being confined to our homes.  If you haven’t done so already, it’s an excellent opportunity to read true stories about Catawba’s history.  During this time of staying in, we are offering special prices on both Volumes 1 and 2 now thru June 1st on online orders!

$23 hardcover – collector’s edition, $16 paperback, and $4.99 Kindle E-book edition. Order online at

1special offer2020


It is hard to believe Echoes From Catawba turns two this month.  It seems like yesterday Tina and I were crafting this idea of writing stories about the people, places and times of Catawba Valley, Virginia.  Today, Echoes From Catawba is now a registered trademark.

The publishing of the first-ever nonfiction book about Catawba, Virginia, “Echoes From Catawba Volume 1, Growing up in Catawba Valley, Appalachia” was released in 2018 and “Echoes From Catawba Volume 2, Granny Taylor of Possum Holler” was released in 2019. It has been a rousing success resulting in hundreds of books sold.  Both Catawbains, as well as folks that have never heard about Catawba Valley, have enjoyed reading about the history and culture of this unique place.

In review of the past two years:

  • has served as the platform for broadcasting over 60 articles about Catawba, displaying photo albums of people and places of Catawba, as well as hosting an online store for book purchases.
  • The website has been visited by almost 15,000 visitors and has had over 25,000 views.
  • The Echoes From Catawba Facebook Page has over 530 Followers.
  • Support from local entities has played a big part in distributing Echoes From Catawba Volumes 1 and 2. Books can be found at The Emporium in New Castle, The Salem Museum, and The Homeplace Restaurant in Catawba.  Not only can books be ordered from our website, but paperback and Kindle edition books are available on Amazon.

So what’s in store for 2020? 

  • In the near future, look for more articles to be posted to
  • Plans are in the works for some exciting promotions for our website subscribers and Facebook fans.
  • I have several speaking engagements coming up this Spring and early Summer.
  • Echoes From Catawba Volume 3 will be released, which will include an in-depth story written about the Catawba Sanatorium starting with its beginning as a resort location and the Catawba Sanatorium Farm with three generations of Carrolls being highlighted. Also, a beautiful story about growing up at the Sanatorium by guest writer Carolyn Pillow.  Stories about Craig County and Paint Bank will be featured with the help of guest writer Betty Munsey.  There will be additional appearances made by some Catawba families including Frankie and Louise Garman.

Thank you all for being a part of this exciting journey as we share with the world this wonderful place called Catawba Valley.     –Ted


Echoes From Catawba featured in Salem Times Register

Meg Hibbert from the Salem Times Register visited the Salem Museum Monday night during Ted’s presentation on writing about life in Catawba in the first half of the 1900s. She did a nice article giving an overview of both Volume 1 and Volume 2 books and about Ted’s purpose for writing.

Memories of growing up in Catawba captured in books


Catawba Valley Squab Farm


The mystery sign:


I suppose it was love at first sight when I came to know “The Sign”. After all, it was a novelty, with Catawba Valley in unique black letters painted on a 12” inch by 55” inch chestnut board; and Squab Farm painted in a like manner on a separate board. It was something seldom seen in early Catawba. The lettered boards were part of the backside of a twenty-foot by ten-foot barn containing a single milking stall on one end and a hay storage/feed barrel space on the opposite end. We had one milk cow on our property that we milked twice daily but sold it shortly after my Daddy being admitted to the Catawba TB Sanatorium in1943. I knew that the barn was built of lumber taken from the Catawba Valley Squab Farm, wherever that was located. The two lettered boards were nailed in a vertical manner with the lettering facing to the interior protecting the letters from fading due to weather. As I entered my teens, Daddy was discharged and returned home to stay after nine years. The barn started to get in disrepair and was razed. I salvaged the two boards, although the Squab Farm board was damaged badly.

I can’t remember the exact date I retrieved the signs from our homeplace, but I eventually did, although the damaged one was turned into picture frames. Thankfully, the Catawba Valley sign has been kept inside, usually hanging in the various houses I lived in over the years. It now awaits being attached to our Salem residence in a room we have designated the “Catawba Room”.

Over many years I have inquired about the history behind the sign from Catawba folks and searched the Internet without success of identifying it. I would confidently estimate it to be one hundred years old, maybe more.

And now the rest of the story: What in “Sam Hill” is a squab? A squab is a young pigeon used as far back as Medieval times as a food source. The meat of squab is dark similar to the dark meat of a chicken, duck or goose. Actually, it is more tender and considered a delicacy in many foreign countries. A young pigeon when hatched grows fast and is tabbed a squab up to about 30 days of age. The fast growth puts them the same size as an adult pigeon after a month’s growth. Pigeons were first domesticated abroad, centuries prior to coming onto the American scene during the Great Recession as a food source. Pigeons were raised by Appalachian folks during the Recession years of the late twenties and early thirties. They used barns and coops to house them including nesting areas. Pigeons pair off male and female and can produce 300 eggs a year to hatch as squabs or be eaten as eggs. In many areas of Appalachia, squabs and/or their eggs made a difference in providing supplemental food. The United States Department of Agriculture created a bulletin that provided instructions on how to raise squabs.

It would appear to me that someone in Catawba Valley most likely started a Squab Farm as a business endeavor. It would have been a profitable venture for several years before the demand ended. Perhaps it got lost in the minds of folks and knowledge of the Squab Farm faded away. I am in hopes that someone will have some information that will shed light on this most unusual occurrence in Catawba Valley. As for now this “one of a kind” keepsake hangs on the wall revealing those proud words of Catawba Valley, but smugly keeping within itself the mystery of its past.


Salem Museum Speaker Series: Echoes from Catawba – January 20, 2020

Save the date!  You’re invited to the Salem Museum Speakers Series: Echoes from Catawba.  We hope you can join us!
Monday, January 20 at 7:00 PM
Salem Museum
801 E. Main Street, Salem, VA
It would be my pleasure to sign books that have been previously purchased.  We will have Volume 1 and Volume 2 available for purchase that evening.
museum article

In early 2018, Catawba native Ted Carroll began to write a series of non-fiction books about life in Catawba in the first half of the 1900s. On Monday, January 20 at 7 pm at the Salem Museum, Carroll will speak about the cultural heritage and history of this beautiful Appalachian community. In case of inclement weather, his talk will be postponed until January 27. Admission is free.

In 2018, Carroll published “Echoes From Catawba, Volume One:” Growing up in Catawba Valley Appalachia. This first book in the series is a compilation of a dozen stories featuring families and individuals, Keffer’s General Store, Morgan Farm/Homeplace Restaurant, and the history of Catawba’s one-room schools and the Catawba School (1928-1981).

“Echoes From Catawba, Volume Two: Granny Taylor of Possum Holler” is a biography of Winnie Earl Taylor. This extraordinary woman, Carroll’s aunt, chose to live a primitive lifestyle for 103 of her nearly 109 years. “Volume Three” is underway with a target release of November 2020.

Ted Carroll was born in Catawba, Virginia to a mother who was the seventeenth and last child of William and Luemma Garman who settled there in 1889. Carroll was milking a cow at a young age and worked on the Morgan farm through high school and college. He worked for 25 years as a member of the Virginia Tech Extension faculty and served four terms as the Mayor of the Town of Orange, Virginia. Answering a call to the Ministry, Carroll studied at the Southeastern Baptist Seminary Extension in North Carolina, became an ordained minister and pastored a church in North Carolina for 14 years. Carroll is a graduate of Andrew Lewis High School and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Virginia Tech.

Teddy’s Appalachia Christmas Story


As a boy growing up in the 1940s Teddy Carroll, along with all the children in this somewhat isolated, rural community of Catawba Valley, Virginia experienced a Christmas unlike the boys and girls in the towns and cities on the other side of the towering Appalachians. How could Santa Claus and his reindeer fly over these majestic mountains and not stop? He could not miss seeing the houses below, many snuggling in the hollows with streams of smoke billowing up serving as landing markers to guide a loaded sleigh down to a nearby meadow? We all knew about Santa and in most cases, particularly the younger ones believed he was real. (I am not, 100% sure to this day he wasn’t real). We wrote our Dear Santa letters, complete with our requests, to be delivered Christmas night and mailed them to a Roanoke radio station for “Santa” to read. Homes with radios gave children the opportunity to hear letters read and it was exciting to be a kid who heard their letter read over the radio. Looking through the Montgomery Ward and Sears catalogs gave us many ideas about what we wanted Santa to bring. There was no limit to a child’s desires and most always our lists were long and unreasonable. It was normal for us to talk to each other about “what we had asked Santa to give to us?”

As the week of Christmas arrived the whole Valley focused on this most joyous time. Christmas trees would be found and cut, with cedars being the choice of most everyone. Homes were decorated as space allowed, and sometimes, outside the house. Every home experienced the aroma of mouth-watering aromas during a two to three day period prior to Christmas Day. However, Christmas Eve was the first big happening as church services were held in every house of worship in Catawba. These events focused on honoring the birth of Jesus. Christmas hymns and scripture reading about Jesus’ birth were featured, but the exciting part of the evening was the children’s program, giving of gifts, and the small bags of fruit and candy. My mother directed the children’s program, seeing that all the kids in our church had a part in the program no matter how small.

I remember vividly my very first children’s Christmas program. Let me explain:

“And now Teddy Carroll will say his Christmas piece.” I slid off of the church pew and slowly walked to the area in front of the pulpit knowing that this was not going to go well. It was the annual Christmas program at Catawba Methodist Church where all the children would participate by reciting a “piece”. A piece was something in the Christmas scripture that we had been given to memorize in preparation for this moment during the Christmas program. The older children would have longer pieces to say than the younger ones like me. The girls always remembered theirs and said them perfectly. My mother was in charge of the program and had coached me for the past two weeks to get up, say my piece and sit back down. Easier said than done! My piece was from Luke chapter two verse eight. It had twenty words but Mama shortened it to six. I stood there fidgeting as a packed congregation waited for me to start. Mama was standing off to the side as she was directing the children’s program. She had a copy of each child’s piece enabling her to cue kids like me who got stage fright. Sure enough, I froze with my mind going blank. I glanced over at Mama and she gave me that look. This was definitely not going well at all.


Click here to continue reading…

Enjoy articles like this? Then you would love Echoes From Catawba Volume 1, Growing Up In Catawba Valley, Appalachia.   Click here to order Echoes From Catawba Volume 1  hardcover, collector’s edition: $27.99, includes shipping.  Also available on Amazon. Paperback: $18.99 and Kindle: $5.99

Also available at the Salem Museum Book Store in Salem, Virginia and The Emporium on Main Street in New Castle, Virginia.


Granny Taylor Interview Videos 2 and 3

As we draw closer to the November 23rd book release of Echoes From Catawba Volume 2, we wanted to share videos 2 and 3 of the 3 part series of the video interview done by Steve Garman.  In case you missed the first video, we’ve included that as well.  We are so excited to give you a glimpse of some of the things you will read about in Earl Taylor’s biography.

Part 1: Granny talks about growing up and her brothers & sisters.


Part 2: Granny discussing her neighbors and Possum Holler.

Part 3:  Granny talks about school days and firearms.

Granny Taylor of Possum Holler 2002 Video Interview

Ted Carroll will be releasing his book “Granny Taylor of Possum Holler” on November 23 at the book signing at the Holiday Market in Catawba. Thanks to Steve Garman for sharing with us this special video of his mother Louise Garman interviewing Granny Taylor in 2002 when Granny was about 95 years old. We are so excited to give you a glimpse of some of the things you will read about in Earl Taylor’s biography.

Part 1: Granny talks about growing up and her brothers & sisters.


Part 2: Granny discussing her neighbors and Possum Holler.

Part 3:  Granny talks about school days and firearms.