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.

Ted Carroll to Speak in New Castle

ted-1-e1544412944325.jpgTed Carroll, author of the non-fiction book series, Echoes From Catawba will speak at the New Castle Fire House meeting room at 6:30 pm Monday, October 21. Ted, a native of Catawba, VA published his first book in November 2018 Echoes From Catawba Volume 1, a compilation of stories about people, places and events of Catawba Valley occurring in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ted will share the purpose and motivation for his writings, including Volume 2, which will be a biography of Granny Taylor of Possum Holler to be released in November 2019. He will also share his plans for future books including stories about Catawba and Craig County.

Ted Carroll is a native of Catawba, Virginia and a graduate of Virginia Tech. After an early retirement from Virginia Tech extension faculty, he studied at Southeastern Seminary Extension in Greensboro, North Carolina and served as a Pastor of a church for 14 years. He and his wife Tina now make their home in Salem, Virginia where Ted spends much of his time writing about Catawba, Virginia’s history and speaking.

To learn more about Echoes From Catawba, visit

Volume 2 Release November 23, 2019


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!

Ted Carroll-Author

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. Also will be available online  at

Mountains and Meadows

I awakened on the morning of, June 4, 2019, at 3:55 a.m. after having a vision of crossing Catawba Mountain, Virginia and immediately taking in the natural grandeur of the valley that lay in the forefront of my gaze. Often during my now lengthy years, I have pondered the diverse thoughts that my Creator has inserted into my subconscious with the same response by me: What is this about Lord, what is the meaning of what I see before me? Signs and visions were commonplace in the Old and New Testament happenings that God used to direct a path of action for a chosen person or people. Those things are not commonplace now, nor have they been for two thousand years. Or do these things occur in this day and time in the form  of early morning thoughts, words, and pictures (visions?)


At present, I am one year removed from diving headlong into the crowded world of writers or wannabee writers. The desire to write and specifically to do so about growing up in the Appalachian Mountain region of the Old Dominion’s Catawba Valley was, most likely, with me when I crossed over Catawba Mountain, leaving my birthplace and formative years behind as I headed into “the world” in the 1960s. Over fifty years would pass before I returned to my roots to stay, a homecoming that would now take on a mission. It would not be a new mission as such since I had over the last five decades never forgotten my “raising” and although I had flourished wherever I was planted, my roots would always be in Catawba. After several years leading up to my retirement as a fourteen-year pastor, I had what appeared to be a remaining time of longevity and the obvious question of “what now, God.” He who had planned the agenda of my life to date would, finally, set me forth on my final endeavor, to be a writer. Even though I have one book written, Echoes From Catawba Volume One, I feel, physically being back in the area has consummated my calling to write Catawba’s history in terms of the life and times of her people, one family at a time. After all, life is about the people, isn’t it?

As I replay that vision of the mountains and meadows, I see more than the natural, breathtaking beauty of Catawba Valley. I see back to the days of the Cherokees, the original inhabitants followed by the pathfinders and settlers. People named McAfee, Brand, and Spessard amongst others.

Having spent the past sixteen months visiting in Catawba to interview people who would provide the many stories that I would write about in Echoes From Catawba, one would think I had established myself back into God’s Country. The fact of the matter was that I still lived in Greensboro, and something was missing. Sunday, July 21, 2019 that changed.

Shiloh Church Homecoming

My wife Tina and I were invited to attend the 161st Homecoming of Shiloh Church, where my mother and her siblings of the 19 member family of Will and Luemma Garman had attended church. Our visit to this event would, in our minds, represent our return to being a part of Catawba in reality. Four days earlier, we had moved into our new home in Roanoke County (Salem, Virginia) as the commute from Greensboro to Catawba was over.

As we crossed Catawba Mountain and headed up Newport Road to Shiloh, I tried to envision what I was about to experience. Although it had had some upgrades both inside and out, it had not lost its character of being a country church. We parked in the back, and as we walked around to the front door, we could hear the chatter of voices that flowed through the open windows and side doors. Country churches in the Appalachian mountain range do not have air conditioning; Ceiling fans, maybe, but no a.c. We were greeted upon entry and treated, not as visitors, but as God’s children coming to share in the fellowship and worship. Before the beginning of the service, Frank Garman, Pam Garman, Steve Garman, and Linda Eaton provided instrumental music from the piano, violin, guitar, and mandolin. They expertly played hymns from the mountains that all present could recognize as heart, mind, and soul were prepared for worship to be followed by food and fellowship. The choir was made up of vocalists who upheld the tradition of gifted singers that had sung there over the decades in Shiloh church.

A former preacher, Gus Wright who served the church for one year almost forty years ago, delivered the Homecoming message in a style that was true to his style back in 1979-1980. A well-liked preacher then was well-received by all that experienced him previously. Mr. Wright stated that in all the places he had traveled and preached the word of God in two continents, Catawba Valley, Virginia was the best experience.

As we all headed to the picnic pavilion for country cooking at its best, God sent forth distant thunder to alert us that much-needed rain and cooler temperatures were on the way. The food and fellowship were typical of a country church homecoming with the raindrops not dampening any spirits. As we headed back to Salem, Tina and I shared our feelings about the Homecoming. It was a great experience spiritually and emotionally as we interacted with old friends and made some new ones. I am so blessed to have grown up in Catawba and further blessed to record in book form the stories of our heritage that so many people left. After all, life is about the people, isn’t it?

Kevin Williams tells about the impact the late Bobby All, John Garman’s grandson, had on his career.

While at the Gaither Family Fest in Gatlinburg Tennessee over Memorial Day weekend, performer Kevin Williams talked with Ted about the impact the late Bobby All, John Garman’s grandson, had on his career. Kevin is the guitarist for the Gaither concerts and has been for almost 30 years.

In an upcoming Volume of Echoes From Catawba, we look forward to sharing more about this story and about the musical talents of the Garman family.

Bobby’s brother Steve commented that he remembers Saturday nights were special at their house with Grandaddy on fiddle, Bobby on guitar and banjo, his dad on autoharp and mom playing the piano.  Special, special memories.

Catawba is My Home

FOREWORD by Ted Carroll

After writing A Silent Killer Comes to Appalachia, focusing on the enormous impact that tuberculosis (TB) had on my family in Catawba and many others in the mountain region, I felt a personal lack of closure. The disease and its consequences had forever altered our family destroying our opportunity for a normal life and left us in a dysfunctional state that would scar us forever. It seemed like the Silent Killer story left a fog of darkness over me with regards to that part of local history. Within days I received an e mail from a member of a family that I remembered living there during the last couple of decades of the facility that was known as Catawba (TB) Sanatorium. Carolyn Pillow Mayhew was the daughter of Robert (Bob) Pillow who was Business Manager of Catawba  Sanatorium from 1946 -1973. In 1973 it would become Catawba Hospital, ending its years as the first TB sanatorium in Virginia. We shared a couple of e mails and I got a revelation that Carolyn had a valuable story that she could share that would close the door on the darkness of this iconic facility with a feel-good story of her life growing up on the historic grounds of the Catawba Sanatorium. I asked Carolyn to do a story and she agreed. A Silent killer Comes to Appalachia would have a Part 2.


Carolyn did not have descendants from Catawba, but she was born in our valley which gave her the same roots we all have that have sprung from preceding generations. She portrays in her life story of growing up in Catawba, largely confined to the Sanatorium grounds, which would extend to the area of Keffer’s store, Catawba School and Catawba Methodist Church. Carolyn is an excellent writer who captures your attention in such a way that you relive her story as if you were there. This is a heartwarming article that you will be thankful to have read.

The Silent Killer Comes to Appalachia – The Sequel

Catawba is My Home
By Carolyn Pillow Mayhew

catawba-westend-infirmaryWhen someone asked me where I grew up, I used to say “Catawba Sanatorium.”  They would look at me funny.  For a while, I use to answer “No, I did not escape.”   But now I say Catawba Valley.

“North Carolina?”

“No, Virginia.”

“Never heard of it.”

And I think–good–, I want my home to stay as beautiful and quaint as I remember it.

Robert (Bob) Pillow

My father, Robert (Bob) Pillow was business manager of Catawba Sanatorium from 1946-1972 when it was a tuberculosis hospital, built on the same land that the Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs Resort was built on in 1857.  Dad grew up in Roanoke City and graduated from VPI (Virginia Tech) with a major in business.  He continued to live and work in the city until World War II started and then he enlisted in the Army and fought in Europe.

Mom, Dorothy (Dottie) Penn Pillow, grew up on the State Farm in Goochland County, where her father was superintendent of the correctional center.   All of the jobs on the State Farm such as outdoor grounds maintenance, painting, and including cooking, ironing and cleaning for the employees that lived there were performed by the inmates.  It was quite a learning experience for my Mom and her three sisters when they got married and had their own houses to take care of.

Bob and Dottie Pillow – 1937

Mom and Dad lived in a small two-bedroom house right next to the woods behind the nurses’ quarters and close to the chapel.   They were no further than sixty yards away from the last standing hotel building from the Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs Resort.  Just down the hill from their house was the gazebo that sheltered the hand pump for the sulfur water.    They stayed in this house until I was born and then we moved to the house I grew up in. Catawba Sanatorium was further “in the country” than the State Farm was.  The sanatorium had about 15 to 20 inmates that worked outside painting or cutting grass with a push mower, leaf removal in the fall, snow removal in the winter, shoveling coal for the boilers to produce steam for the sanatorium and garbage pickup.  There was a dairy farm for milk and butter for the sanatorium’s dining room and the farm also had hogs for supplemental food.  Fields of corn or alfalfa were planted and harvested by the inmates for the cows every year.   But they did not do any cooking, cleaning or ironing.  Mom had to learn how to do that on her own.  One of the cooks from the dining room walked to our house two or three times a week and taught Mom how to cook when they first moved to Catawba.  My brother, Rick Pillow (born 1947) and I (1951) use to tease our mother relentlessly when she was trying to be brave and cook something new that one of the valley farmers had brought to Dad.  One time it was frog legs.  From our classmates we had heard that the legs jumped in the pan when you fried them.  Mom quietly started cooking them, but Rick and I came in to watch because we knew what was for dinner.  Suddenly Rick pointed to one and said, “Look!  That one jumped!”.   Mom took the pan, walked outside to the garbage can and threw them away.  Another time it was rabbit chops.  Me, being young and not thinking, picked up the chop and “hopped” it a couple of times on the plate.  Mom left the table, and Dad stared me down.

Rick and Carolyn Pillow

For Rick and me, the sanatorium was the best place to grow up; it was the biggest playground you could image.










The Tapping


Except for Cecelia and the fire, all of the stories I have written about have been happy or funny memories.  Growing up at Catawba Sanatorium was wonderful.  I wouldn’t want to change anything about that time in my life.  My friends in the valley are special to me.  And some were special; God rest your souls:   Fabio, Johnny Starkey and my brother, Rick.

But the saddest thing about living on the grounds was the tapping on the hospital’s windows of the patients.

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.

Click here to view the Catawba Sanatorium photo album.


Echoes From Catawba Volume 1

We are pleased to share with you the new Book Promo Video for Echoes From Catawba Volume 1.

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.

Echoes From Catawba Volume 1 Book Report

bookopenMedThree months ago we released the first Echoes From Catawba book called Volume 1 Growing up in Catawba Valley Appalachia.  Each book that is published will have a “volume” number. The next book to be released later this year will be Volume 2, then Volume 3, etc.

We printed a limited number of the hardback books which are First Edition books for release three months ago for the book signing and sales following that up until now. These hardbacks are the Collectors Edition. All of the first edition printing of any worthwhile books are an investment due to it being a limited number and first printing. They will increase in value as the years go by. The Volume 1 book is available on Amazon but that book is the paperback version only.   So what does this all mean to you?

If you purchased the hardback edition already, you are fine and have a first edition copy of Volume 1 and on track to build a valuable set. If you have not purchased a hardback copy yet, and you want to build a set then you may want to consider getting one now.

We held some Volume 1 books back to have for sale this year but they have continued to sell and our supply is slowly dwindling. I want you to be aware of this so you will have an opportunity to still get one.

Hardback books can be purchased in three ways: website,  The Emporium in New Castle, or the Salem Museum in Salem.

Our Blog continues to grow in popularity, spreading out to many states reaching Catawabians everywhere.  After the recent article about the Catawba Sanatorium, we have had 1,174 views and 980 visitors through four days.

A Silent Killer Came to Our House

Without warning, that which came into the Appalachian Mountains referred to as the Silent Killer or the White Plague, would leave our family without a father and even worse, a provider. Such was the case in that year 1943 when our Dad Clarence Carroll, would be diagnosed with the dreaded Tuberculosis (TB) disease that would take away the family breadwinner for nine years. Daddy was at age thirty-one at the time and was employed by the Catawba Sanatorium as assistant store manager since the late 1930s’. The irony is not lost on the fact, that Daddy would still be going to the Sanatorium, not as an employed store-keeper but as a patient “on the cure” to reside there, indefinitely.

Clarence Carroll, Elizabeth Carroll Nancy Carroll Camper, Jeanie Carroll Thompson, Barbara Carroll Shelor, Clarence (Ted) Carroll

Our mother, Elizabeth Garman Carroll was twenty-eight when Daddy departed and had four children to care for; Jeanie, Teddy, Barbara and Nancy all age nine and younger. Jeanie was the baby at eighteen months. I cannot remember the specifics of that day when he left although I knew something was wrong in the Carroll household. Sister Barbara, age five at the time well remembers the day he left us. She said “Mama was ironing Daddy’s pajamas on an ironing board by the side of the bed. Jeanie, just a baby at the time was lying on the bed. As she continued ironing, Mama was crying, and we did not know what was wrong”. Looking back, it was obvious she was packing Daddy’s clothes for his stay at the Sanatorium, which would be measured in years.

Our situation, by any reckoning, was not a good one. First and foremost, Daddy’s battle with TB was one of a very long process, and there were no guarantees of his survival and return to his family. Secondly, we as a family, with a mother in her late twenties who had four children to feed, clothe and raise. We had just moved into a newly built house on one acre of land beside the Catawba School. We had a roof over our head, but that came with a monthly mortgage. We had no vehicle, nor anyone licensed to drive one. It was a dire situation even by Appalachia standards. The Catawba Sanatorium built in 1909 was the first built TB sanatorium in Virginia. This facility was specifically for TB patients and was within walking distance of our home.

Daddy’s only hope-The Catawba Sanatorium


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.

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