"Mountain Memories" Page 4
the ground within reach of the boy's bare foot. He reached out his toe and stuck it in the ring of the missing bayonet and tossed it into a mass of laurel and honeysuckle. By some miracle he escaped death.
Avaline was an herb doctor and a midwife. She had her faithful mare she called "Dovey" ever ready to ride. To keep the mare safe from the robbers, she brought her into the house each evening. While the war raged in the lowlands and the lawless ones terrorized the uplands, Avaline Self sat on the floor before a pine knot fire with her back against the forelegs of her trusty little mare and her head resting on the mare's knees.
With spirit to fight for the land they loved, courage to brave the danger around them, and faith in better things to come, the Self family (most of them) lived through the Civil War days.
In the years following the Civil War, the older children of the John Self family grew up. Like most young people, they liked to have a good time. There were quilting bees,' spelling bees, music-making entertainment, and even Saturday night dancing for those who had parents lenient enough to let them go to to such a thing; the people living in the mountains of East Tennessee considered dancing a sin. Living close to Atlanta had something to do with the attitude toward dancing, I suppose. Even if it wasn't the big city we know today, it was more populated than the wilderness of East Tennessee.
A lot of time elapsed between the Civil War and the time the Self family left Georgia. It makes me wonder if they might have gone back to western North Carolina before moving to Tennessee. Whether or not it was in North Carolina or in East Tennessee, it was Cherokee country, wild and untamed, with mountains as far as the eye could see, one piled behind the other, drifting off into the horizon. They were covered with trees -- trees that reached upwards toward the sky, tall and straight, the likes of which this young generation has never seen nor ever will see, for they were cut down and destroyed and today they are still being cut down and destroyed, and they will never have a chance to grow that big again.
There were huge chestnut trees that were filled with nuts. The mountaineers gathered the nuts to roast or boil or just eat them raw. The chestnuts served as food for their hogs that ran loose
in the forest. At the same time, they thought nothing of cutting the trees down just to gather off the nuts. Harvey Hartness (my grandfather) owned a hundred and ninety acres of virgin timber with trees so huge there were four ten-foot cuts of knotless