Appalachians Are A Remembering People


“I come from a line of remembering people. In generations past we built churches and ballads and a way of life out of our remembering, handing down words the way others pass along designs woven into coverlets, carved into wood, or worked into clay.”

~Wilma Dykeman – “Return The Innocent Earth”


I’ve heard folks belittle Appalachians for always looking backward. I say looking backwards tells us who we are, and remembering who we are helps us know where we’re going.


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  • Reply
    Charles Howell
    January 12, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    “I Remember Growing up in West Virginia A Big Old House in a Little Sawmill Town Daddy Working Hard on the Mountain Skiddin Logs the Working men cut down Momma Making Biscuits and Gravy, On a Stove that Burned Scrap from
    the Mill
    Four Hungry Kids at the Table
    Somehow Momma always got us Filled

    Then it’s off to Pick Wild Berries, to Swim or Fish in the Stream
    Now I’m Many Years and Miles from those Mountains
    But I’m Dreaming a West Virginia Dream
    I’m Dreaming a West Virginia Dream, The Picture is Clear as a Pure Mountain Stream
    And it’s Back in those Hills I’m Longing to be
    Where Rivers and Children are Born th Run Free

  • Reply
    Grandma Cate
    February 11, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    I agree that “looking backwards tells us who we are, and remembering who we are helps us….” But I rather think remembering helps give us courage to move forward into an unknown & unpredictable future.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 11, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    I remember my Daddy saying…”Your mother has a mind like a steel trap, the same as her mother!” She never forgets anything and go back in time even if it was told to her twenty, thirty or more years ago….Nowadays…I am being told the same thing…On occasion someone gives me a blank stare after I have answered a quizzical question and says, “How did you remember that from so long ago!” I come by it natural I say…LOL
    Love this post…
    Looks like a snow may be coming over the mountain your way…It is moving North of us …awww shucks…

  • Reply
    January 11, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    Tipper, i believe we are strong because where we came from and how we was raised. I’m thankful what i was taught, now its implanted in me ,something i will always have. I’m not ashamed of it one bit. I’d pick the country ways over city any day. God Bless!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2019 at 9:23 am

    I’m not from Appalachia, but I believe remembering your past and retelling it is important because it keeps those memories alive. I have so many things in my house with memories attached to them, and it’s what makes them special.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Sometimes I wish I hadn’t inherited the strong remembering blood of my ancestors. My ex-husband accused me of living in the past and that alone has helped me to move forward.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 11, 2019 at 8:53 am

    If you can’t turn around and take a good look backward, you’ll have no idea about what it took to get you to where you are, and it’s a dead certainty that you’ll lose your way as you attempt to go forward.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 11, 2019 at 8:31 am

    In a place and time where reading and writing were not common abilities, such as on the Appalachian frontier in the early republic, memory was essential to common life; memory of land corners, landmarks in traveling, trustworthy people, laws passed, boundaries of Indian treaties and so on. These were passed by word of mouth among people at the time then handed down to the next generation. We are very much used to not having to rely on memory much. They didn’t even have a pocket note pad and a pencil.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 11, 2019 at 8:20 am

    I always ask, “How can you know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been?”

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    January 11, 2019 at 8:05 am

    If we don’t look back how will we be able to learn from history

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 11, 2019 at 7:57 am

    I remember the pretty woman in the picture. Her name was Reva and she was my mother’s youngest sister, long gone now. I agree with you, Tip, it’s important to know where we come from because it forms and informs who we are now.

  • Reply
    Bob Creswell
    January 11, 2019 at 7:56 am

    I grew up hearing the phrase, If we don’t study history, we are doomed to repeat it. Seems like there’s a lot of that going on these days. My roots come from East Tennessee and Eastern Kentucky. I shall never forget the memories of those hard working ancestors who pioneered this land.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    January 11, 2019 at 7:48 am

    I agree with TMC and Julie Moreno . Not only are we a remembering people, we are also a placed people. Remembering and telling keeps us grounded in that narrative that makes us as we make those stories that will become the foundation for those who come next.

    It’s also a comfort. No matter how far I go or how long I’m gone, I can remember my way home. I’m never really that far away.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 11, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Have you ever been wrapped up in a blanket watching tv, drinking your herbal tea on the couch with the sniffles and remember the past. What would my Grandmother have been doing? Probably out chopping wood, gathering the eggs, milking the cow and fixing breakfast for four.
    Makes me feel like a wimp. I do gain strength from the past.

  • Reply
    Dan O'Connor
    January 11, 2019 at 7:03 am

    Agreed, foundations are important, they are what support us all.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 11, 2019 at 6:45 am

    I believe looking back can be both good and bad. Good in regard to traditions and knowing our history of how we came to be here and the sacrifices of the ones who came before us. Bad in the since of clinging to past mistakes and shortcomings or unforgivness.

  • Reply
    Julie Moreno
    January 11, 2019 at 6:06 am

    I believe our people remember because we always want our folks to know who we were and where we came from. Our oral traditions are in our blood.

    • Reply
      carol roy
      January 11, 2019 at 7:50 am

      I am learning so much of ‘your way of life’ and enjoying it so much ….love it!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2019 at 5:33 am

    History is a measuring stick of sorts, kinda shows where we’ve been if we came up short or did we measure up, and it can be an individual assessment, I find myself falling short most of the time, and those are the days I turn loose of the Lords’ hand, and I stumble and fall, but thankfully he’s always there to pick me up and help me make it another day.

    • Reply
      Rick Shepherd
      January 11, 2019 at 7:42 am

      Well said!…. What you say is important to other folks like me….Praise God’s Hands!

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