I’ll Give You a House and 3 Rooms of Furniture, if You’ll Marry Me.

By Pam Brennan

That’s what my Pepaw, Floyd Farley, said to my Granny, Anna Saunders, the first time he ever saw her. She was living with her brother, Sherman Saunders, and his family in 1938. It was winter and she had no where else to go. My granny and her 4 siblings had been orphaned since their mother died in 1925.

Granny was walking to the outhouse, barefoot in the snow, when my Pepaw, who was living in the boardinghouse next door saw her. Her answer was that if he would let her sister live with them that she would marry him and that was that. They got married and he bought her 3 rooms full of furniture and my Granny and Aunt Edna had a home for the first time in their lives.

My granny was 5 years old when her mother died. There was nowhere for the 5 Saunders children to go so they roamed southern West Virginia and lived with whomever would take them in. (Usually they were separated) They would work helping to plow gardens in the spring, hoeing gardens all day in the summer, harvesting crops in the fall and helping to can the vegetables or whatever other work could be done. Usually they would get kicked out of the house in the winter because nobody could afford to feed an extra mouth back then.

One time when Granny was 12 years old, she and her sister Edna were living with a family. Edna was younger than Granny, so she looked out for her. They had worked hard all day as they always did and Edna was crying because she was hungry. Granny went into the kitchen and took a biscuit and 1 piece of bacon and gave it to her little sister. The next day the woman kicked them out for stealing. She knew Granny had taken the bacon because there was a mark in the fat where the bacon had been laying.

Granny used to speak kindly of a black woman who lived on Hart’s Creek. She let her stay with them longer than anybody and Granny appreciated everything she ever did for them. She worked hard but at least she had a roof over her head.

That’s all I know about my Granny’s early life. She was an Aunt Bea kind of Granny and I was lucky to have her.


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16 Responses to I’ll Give You a House and 3 Rooms of Furniture, if You’ll Marry Me.

  1. Kathy Motto says:

    My grandmother, Mary Vance Thompson, wife of Millard Thompson, daughter of Richard Vance Sr. (Uncle Dick) was raised on Kiahs Creek and moved to Harts Creek in Logan County after marriage. She spoke of a family member by marriage, being of dark skin, and that his father had been thought to have been the son of a black man that lived in the area. I recall she had a name, but can’t remember what she said. Now, that so many of our family have mixed sisters, brothers, aunts. and uncles, we just refer to all as ‘family’, not as to color. I do have information on the Vance and Thompson families, have been trying to get things together so that information can be added if wanted. I love reading the post and then remembering my grandma or mommy as I called her, she took me at six months of age and I lived her until marriage. Therefore, I may say mommy more than granny. Most of my memories of Harts are happy because as a child because their were only happy times, playing in the creeks and mountains with our lard palls of left over biscuits and apples and waiting to be called to the dinner table of good fried potatoes, pinto beans, cornbread with fresh butter and water fresh from the well, oh so cold. If lucky a blackberry cobbler or a applebutter stack cake.

    • edmond ramey says:

      there was one black man that lived in the kiah;s area he worked for my grand paw cleve ramey on his sawmill and timberinh his last name was oak. hes buried in the queensridge cem. no marker.

  2. Dodie (Smith) Browning says:

    I believe that Queens Ridge is in Lincoln County and that Kiah’s Creek is in Wayne County. I don’t know much about those areas nor the folks that lived there. I am only familiar with Big Harts Creek in Logan County.

    • edmond ramey says:

      dodie queens ridge cem. is in wayne co. thats my family cem. what is called queens ridge is also in wayne co. where they are mining at today. i was born on parkers creek . lincoli co. starts just below rollem. not sure how the line runs.

      • Dodie (Smith) Browning says:

        Thanks for clarifying the location of Queens Ridge, Edmond. As I stated previously, I don’t know much about Wayne County and Lincoln County. I do know that Little Harts Creek is in Lincoln County. Pam thought her “Granny” used to stay with a black family on Harts Creek, (Logan County) but no black families ever lived on Harts Creek in Logan County in those days.

      • Betty Jean Williamson Henry says:

        Hello,

        My Mother had told me that my Father (Linza Williamson, sometimes spelled Lindsey, Lindsay, Linzie, etc.) passed away when we lived on Parker’s Creek, WV. Since I was only 3 years old at the time that my Dad died, I hardly remember him. I am now researching my Dad’s family and his life and times, and I cannot seem to locate Parker’s Creek on any map. Would you be so kind as to pinpoint for me where Parker’s Creek might be in relation to the surrounding areas. BTW, I was born on the Lynn Branch of Kiahs Creek, in Lincoln County, but we moved around somewhat, but never too far from Kiahs Creek. Is Parker’s Creek still there? If so, how could one get to there from Kiahs Creek? Thanks for any help you can give me. BJWH

        • edmond ramey says:

          parkers creek or parkers branch is just below the mouth of rollem going dowm kiaks creek there;s a mine shack at the mouth of rollem they will give you directions to parkers creek they have a mining operation on parkers creek.

  3. edmond ramey says:

    their must have had black fam. in that area in early 1900 mister oak black man worked for and with my grandpaw cleve ramey just over the hill from little hart creek . he is buried in queensridge cem. no marker just an old stone. cleve lived on parkers br. just off kiak creek. wayne co. wv.

  4. Pam Brennan says:

    I have often wondered about “the wonderful black woman on Hart’s Creek”. My granny told me the story many times and she always said “Hart’s Creek”. She is dead now so I can’t clarify the story with her. I tried to relate it as it was told to me.

    I realize the reality of the situation of a black woman living on Hart’s Creek but I thought maybe things were different back in the 30’s.

    • Dodie (Smith) Browning says:

      Pam,
      The “situation” of a black woman living on Harts Creek and things being “different” back in the 30s, is due to the FACT that People on Harts Creek in Logan County all lived on land that had been settled by their ancestors, who were Scotts-Irish, Dutch, German, English, etc. They owned all the land on Harts Creek (Logan County) and farmed. By the 1930s, some residents had gone to work in the coal mines and were living in boarding houses in the coal camps (due to lack of roads and transportation on Harts Creek). The descendants of the original settlers of Harts Creek still live on the same land today as far as I know. To find which families lived where in the 1930s, you could check the 1930 census (like I did). There were Farleys living on Harts Creek in the 1930s, but no black families that I could find.

      • Kyle Workman says:

        Spending many, many years of my young life on Harts Creek. I have no memory of a Black Family ever living on Harts Creek. Queenie Young was black and lived in upper Baisden Bottom on Mud Fork. She made the best Rhubarb pie. Never knew where she come from. Didn’t even know she was any different from me. She never had money but would always trade things for work. She also had a crank record player. She played a lot of what is called “Blues”.

    • Shelby Burgess says:

      The only black person I ever knew of in Chapmanville district lived on the Kanawha Branch of Big Creek,WV. She ma haved lived on Harts Creek earlier.
      I often walked on weekends across Chapmanville mountain to visit my Vickers,Bias relatives who lived on Trace Fork. One occasion I was spoke to by a black woman who lived on the roadside. It was a hot day, and she asked me I was thirsty. She brought me a glass of water. Even at my very young age I realized she was lonesome. She told me she had no husband or friends. I remember her saying something about Harts , Kiahs creek, but our conversation ended there. This was back in the 1930s.

  5. Frank Thompson says:

    Pam, I wish you could recall the black lady’s name. I cannot recall any black people ever living on Harts Creek.

    Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Dodie (Smith) Browning says:

      Frank,
      Thanks for mentoning that. I don’t think there were ever any black families living on Harts Creek. My Mother was post mistress and we owned a store there in 1940s, so I knew everyone on Harts Creek (or knew of them). I went through the 1920 and 1930 census records for Harts Creek (Chapmanville District in Logan County) and couldn’t find any black families. Pam, could the story passed on in your family have been Island Creek? That seems to be where your family lived. Have you read my “Whirlwind” chapters about lack of roads and transportation? Harts Creek (Whirlwind) was 14-15 miles from Logan, over the mountain. How would the kids have gotten that far? I do know that your “Pepaw” had distant cousins on Harts Creek (including my family), but it was apparently your “Granny” who was the orphan. On Harts Creek, there was always “room for one more” and always room and enough food for another place at the table, but I strongly suspect that your “Granny” and Aunt Edna never made it to Harts Creek as children. On Harts Creek, no one was ever turned out in the cold nor ever left the table hungry to my knowledge, especially not children.
      May you have a Blessed Christmas.
      Dodie

      • Pam Brennan says:

        Dodie,

        you mention that your family was possibly related to my Pepaw Farley. Could you tell me how?

        I met a woman who was a Farley from Hart’s Creek once and she was the spittin’ image of my Aunt Mary Ann. Both she and I were wondering if we were somehow related when I introduced myself to her. (she looked so much like my aunt that I was compelled to introduce myself.)

        Unfortunately that happened a few years ago and I don’t remember her name.

  6. Carla Haslam Herkner says:

    Pam, your Grandmother’s story is so touching. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, her story reminds us of how many blessings we have. I have family who also went through similiar hardships. Thank you for sharing this part of your Grandparent’s journey. Truly inspirational.

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