A Ride in Stringtown

Oct
1

I took a ride to Stringtown recently with my friend Jerry on his four-wheeler, and a four-wheeler is the way to travel this road, let me tell ya.
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I hadn’t been out there in about a year, and things have changed. There’s a new owner, an English fellow. Yes, really. I don’t think they intend to keep livestock as they’ve torn down the goat house and other small outbuildings and they’re currently storing lumber in the chicken house. However, the place is looking great, and I’m just happy to see the farm being tended again. For those of you who remember the farm as it was when I was there, I hope you’ll enjoy taking a look as much as I did.


This first photo, of me peeking into the house, was taken by Jerry. The rest of the photos were taken by me.
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Oh, my, I did love that view so much. Chicken house filled with lumber instead of eggs:
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The driveway of terror….. Of course, at this time of year, it’s just fine.
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We checked out the old family cemetery across the road, and it’s in bad shape. I’m going to head back and get it fenced with a little gate, and the Ornery Angel and her husband offered to help me keep it up.
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I never see my grandfather’s grave with that little “Daddy” marker without remembering the story my dad would tell every time he took me there, of the day of his father’s funeral, and how my great-grandfather got down on one knee and said, “I’ll be your daddy now.”

My dad, with Ross, Weston, and Morgan at my great-grandparents graves in Stringtown nine years ago.
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This photo (below) was taken in 1970. I’m the girl on the right. That’s my father, behind my great-grandfather’s tombstone.

I’ve been going to this little cemetery all my life. Back when we lived at Stringtown Rising, 52 would go over and mow it once or twice a year. I haven’t done anything about it since I left, not knowing how I would take care of it, but I’ve got a plan now, and I’m really happy that the neighbors out there are willing to help. I owe it to my dad. He’s not buried there, but I’ll take care of it for him. He would want that.

While we were riding around, we got to talk to all the old neighbors–the Ornery Angel and her family, Ed, and my favorite–Frank! So much fun. They all seem to find the Englishman interesting, and they like him. When we first drove by the Ornery Angel’s place, I waved, and told Jerry, “She won’t know who I am.” He said, “Oh she’ll know by your hair!” On the way back, we stopped down there and the Ornery Angel said, “I knew that was you–no one else has that hair.” Ha.

There has been a lot of oil work going on in Stringtown, with old roads cleared and new roads carved out, so it was really fun to take off exploring over the hills where we wouldn’t have been able to go before.
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It was absolutely beautiful. Only at one place did we find this (very remote) road blocked, by a tree, but Jerry was determined to find a way around it.
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And he did.
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We also made a stop at the old cabin. When I was a kid, this is where we stayed on our trips (bookended by stopovers at the Slanted Little House). I spent many summers here back in those days, skipping rocks on the river behind the cabin, swinging on grapevines, shooting my dad’s rifle at cans, and screaming at the mice that would skitter under the beds in the cabin at night. There used to be an outhouse behind the cabin, and I remember that as the scariest of all–especially at night!
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I can still remember my mother making biscuits in this kitchen. The furnishings in the cabin are exactly as they were when I was a child, except falling apart now. (The property is still owned within the family, but not within my immediate family.)
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Overall, I was surprised by how I felt going out there. I wasn’t sure if I’d feel emotional, sad, or what. If you’ve read my book, you know there’s a lot of sentiment and emotion in me for that farm and for Stringtown. Maybe it’s been just long enough? It felt great. I’ve been going to Stringtown all my life. I’m not going to stop, and my years there just add to the history I see when I’m on those roads surrounded by those hills. I feel fortunate that I had a time when I lived there, that I made it a home for children, that I got to know it as well as I did by living there, and I’m also totally okay with not living there anymore. It’s always been a part of me, and I am a part of it, too.

And hey, it’s just over the hill. I can go back any time I want!

P.S. If you haven’t read the book (my life and adventures in Stringtown), you can get it in paperback now.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on October 1, 2014  

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Comments

17 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 10-1
    10:26
    am

    Suzanne, I love love love this post. This is the style of writing, with photos that brought me to your site years ago. As much as I love hearing about your retreats, I was so happy to see this post today. It is so interesting to see the Stringtown house now. It brought back a lot of memories for me, as I know it did for you. Thank you for taking us back there.

  2. 10-1
    10:28
    am

    As I was reading and looking at your pictures, that’s exactly what I was thinking…I can tell its been “long enough”. I like the way you roll Suzanne, even in matters of the heart you are an inspiration!

  3. 10-1
    11:49
    am

    Really loved this post, so glad you went out there and shared with us. Love all those fall trees too!!

  4. 10-1
    12:01
    pm

    What a gorgeous post, thank you for this!

  5. 10-1
    12:12
    pm

    Love the family pics and the wonderful post about your childhood visiting Stringtown. The cabin must’ve been a sweet little place, as a kid. I’m glad you were able to go back and still have a sense of peace and joy.
    Does the new owner live there? No real signs of life other than the cut grass.

  6. 10-1
    12:28
    pm

    I ditto that. Loved this post. I did feel a little melancholy while looking at the house. :cry: Thanks for sharing with us. I’ve followed your blog since the slanted little house. :chicken:

  7. 10-1
    2:31
    pm

    A very nice trp down memory lane, thank you for taking us along. It is nice to be able to visit happy childhood places as especially to have them so close by. The visit to your old farm was probably a good theraputic thing for you to do,it is natural for have a few tugs at the heart when visiting the past be it good or bad, the old farm was like traning wheels for you, getting you ready to ride alone without the fear of falling.You are in your happy place, the old place is just a structure, you are home now.

  8. 10-1
    3:23
    pm

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. I miss West Virginia most of all in the autumn. So much of my family is gone and the places are all different now. Neither of my grandma’s houses had water piped in or indoor toilets. One house is completely gone and the other unrecognizable. I enjoy your posts.

  9. 10-1
    4:36
    pm

    I’m with everyone else – great post!!! I would absolutely love to go riding on a 4-wheeler there. The roads look awesome. My hubby would have done just like Jerry and found a way around that fallen tree!

  10. 10-1
    6:47
    pm

    Thanks for the trip back thru time! I hope you will consider adding your cemetery photos to the website http://www.findagrave.com It’s a handy site for folks searching their geneology, and a great way to preserve the data regarding the location and markers found there.

  11. 10-1
    7:06
    pm

    Thanks for taking us along on your trip down memory lane. Stringtown Rising looks great!! I’m so glad it was a good experience for you. :)

  12. 10-1
    8:18
    pm

    Thanks for taking us back to Stringtown. What a lovely day you had. A while back, in your post for your Father, you also posted an excerpt from his book. My best friend (we’ve been friends for over 60 years) is a Smith, and her Father was born at Cotton Tree, and her Grandmother was a Francisco. I told her about it, but she didn’t recognise any of the names. Very small world indeed. I so love your posts, and they remind me of my times in the hills on those wonderful dirt roads.

  13. 10-1
    8:20
    pm

    On another note. If they are clearing the roads to the wells, I hope to the good Lord AAlmighty that they are NOT planning on fracking in order to squeeze out the last bit of oil and gas.

  14. 10-2
    11:46
    am

    I second Anita’s suggestion to add the graves and photos of the gravestones on findagrave.com. I’ve been searching off and one for years for info about my father’s side of the family. His father died when he was 12 and so we know very little about grandpa or that side of the family and researching Smith is a challenge. I did have the names of my great-grandparents and some of grandpa’s brothers and his sister. It was through the findagrave website that I was able to find out where my great-grandparents are buried. The person who posted the info, had also been kind enough to check/cross reference obituaries so I was then able to add some new names to the family tree. This also gave me some other leads to investigate. I’m hoping someday to find some living relatives who might be able to fill in our family story.

  15. 10-2
    11:37
    pm

    The small cabin in the photos is on part of the Dye lands inherited by Ruby Dye Sergent who lived in the Slanted Little House for about 70 years or so. Across the road are the Dye lands inherited by Suzanne’s family where her Dad was raised. The cabin was named “Pockee” sounded like poke-eee named for the fact the farm lands are divided by the Pocatalico River locally known as the “Pockee” river. The one room cabin was constructed from a cattle barn with family labor and had a big area with the cabinets pictured and a wood cook stove in the center and a two cap heating stove on the left wall. Left Side was the dining room table/ living area with chairs and rocker. Right side of cabin was two bedrooms separated at the headboard ends by a cardboard privacy wall. We Sergents camped in the house in the 1960’s and the 70’s . In the 1980’s the camp was rarely used and the wood cook stove was moved to Georgia’s house along with some of the camp furniture. Grandmother Georgie during power outages would cook on the old range and it is ready for kindling and a country match. I have many good memories of Pockee including taking Suzanne’s father for a visit there.

    Hunters/kids/vandals forced open the back door and stole the heating stove , we left the door open to prevent further vandalism. The cabin awaits some one to do minor repairs and maybe “ruff”it with pioneer living. Cousin Mark

  16. 10-3
    1:56
    pm

    thank you for taking us along….glad you were able to visit your first farm……and are ok with it. You’ve come a long way girl, keep it up!! :)

  17. 10-3
    8:40
    pm

    It would be awesome to repair and clean up that cabin and keep it going for a rustic family get away….very rare any more for anyone to have something like that in their family.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....






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