“We CAN go home again, in heart, body, and mind”
Beth Mende Conny
My name is Joanna Newman. I was born is Ashland, Kentucky, in 1944, to a Dad who was from Berkeley County, South Carolina, who was serving in WWII, and a mother who was from the mountains of Logan County, West Virgina.
It appears that I received those “mountain” genes, because there is nothing more comforting to me, than to go deep into those Logan County mountains. To listen to the “June Bugs” raise a chatter, and to listen to the trains rumbling “down the holler”. Seeing the mist up on the mountains in the morning and watching it burn off as the day develops. To lay your head down on the pillow at night and hear the sing of the tires of a car as it winds its way around the mountain.
I have had the opportunity to live in other places in my childhood as well as my adult years, but nothing has ever touched my inner heart like those mountains in Logan County. Even though I have never been able to call an address mine in Logan, I’ve spent enough time there to know that this was, and always will be, “home” to me.
Our families first came into this area about 1805 or so. Among my Logan ancestors are the Marcums, Thompsons, and White. And there are other families that seem to appear each time I find a new “grandma”. At any rate these families appeared among the original settlers of Logan, Wyoming and Cabell Counties. True pioneers.
I have been able to track most of my families, generation by generation, from their eastern Virginia origins in the 1600s/1700s, through Virginia, over the high ridges of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains and deep into country that molded these families into independent individuals, all the while teaching them to lean on each other for survival. These people were the best of people. Kind, caring, and giving. And yet, crossing their independent nature could make them your worst enemy.
Nearly all of our recent family has died out or had to moved away to many other areas of the country, in order to advance in their chosen careers. Many have found careers in the medical field via Nursing, EMT, and as in my own instance, Respiratory Therapy. Some have had careers in the Space Program and some in Engineering and Law. Some as published Authors or Teachers, as well as other interesting professions. There is even a Massie that raises emus!
This to me, shows that our West Virginia stock was a good one and the drives and determinations that helped our ancestors face new challenges in the “wilds” of the new frontiers, are still very much a part the genetic make-up of those of us that came later.
The saddest part of all this, is that, now we are no longer able to experience the tight bonds between family members that was so much a part of these original settlers lives.
We are all scattered now, and our children and grandchildren will never have the opportunity to know what we, the WWII and post WWII children were blessed to see, before “progress” ripped us from our roots.
We had the closeness of family, that had not so much money, but an abundance of kids, high morals and values, a respect for our elders, education, and civic responsibility. We of this generation were much blessed!
But sadly, it was our generation that left the mountains for a “better life”. There was no choice. There was no work in the mountains for this generation.
Progress? Yes and No. But, things HAVE changed, so all we can do now is to try to chronicle those experiences that we, as well as our ancestors, experienced.
With each new generation there will be those that want to “know” their ancestors. What they were like. What “drove” their movements and actions.
It is our responsibility and privilege to pass it on to them.