Appalachia I Am From

I Am From Wiggins Creek

Today’s guest poem was written by Ed Ammons.

Wiggins Creek NC


I had a little trouble with the template because the words
“I am from” to me mean I have distanced myself from something. I have not.
Memories may have faded but not by choice. All this and much, much, more is still what I am, not where I am from. -Ed Ammons


I Am From Wiggins Creek written by Ed Ammons

I am from the head of Wiggins Creek. Across the mountain
from the head of Licklog, Rattlesnake and Wesser. Nearby to Hightower and Needmore and

I am from gaps. Wilke, Hightower and Charlie. From mountain
trails that followed the ridge tops from Needmore to Flats, Nantahala and

I am from patches. Blackberry, bean, and boxwood.
Strawberry, tobacco, and kudzu. Sewn
inside overhaul britches. Cut from print feed sacks and sewn into quilts.

I am from The American Tree Farm System with a sign stating
so. I am from thousands of seedlings
planted in rows. One lick with the mattock, insert the plant and firm it with
your toe. Wait forty years for it to
grow. This was long before tree huggers came along.

I am from cutting pulp wood to send off to Canton. Five feet long and thicker than the
span from the end of your thumb to the end of your little finger. Toss it off your shoulder and make it walk,
end over end down the mountain.

I am from tanbark, dogwood shuttles, wormy chestnut and rich
pine knots.

I am from mica mines, rubies, garnets and rose quartz picked
up off the ground.

I am from summer Sunday afternoon haircuts with shape note
singing. Hoping Wayne
brings the boys. Hoping somebody brings a watermelon.

I am from peddlers with apples, peaches, Watkins, Blair and
The Grit.

I am from a people displaced by rising waters and wealthy
industrialists willing to sacrifice a way of life to preserve a wilderness for their
descendants. From people cut off from
their ancestral homes and their ancestors’ gravesites.

I am an Appalachian……


I hope you enjoyed Ed’s poem as much as I did! I am from pulp wood cutters too-so I especially liked that line. My favorite lines from Ed’s poem are the last ones. No one in my family lost their land for the supposed good of all-but my heart goes out to those who have.


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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    August 26, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    I feel the same way. Greed took those beloved homesteads, pure greed and nothing more – and it’s downright shameful.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 20, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Thanks Tipper,
    and Thanks Ed…I loved your message…
    As Popeye would say…”I yam what I yam”….toot, toot…LOL
    Just wonderful…
    Thanks Again,
    I am gonna write mine, but I think everything has about been said…about our mountain heritage!

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    August 19, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    My family didn’t lose any land to the park, but Mitchell’s did (a little patch of land commonly known as the White Rock, included). He says he’s glad his daddy lived long enough to see the wisdom of it. While the park is by no means perfect, Elbert Phillips came to realize that without it, there would be absolutely nothing left. Hard won and hard lived wisdom, plus a generosity of spirit that most folks don’t come across too often.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    All the “Where I’m From” add up to what Ed said in his introduction” They are more of “I Am” than “I Am From” for we cannot escape our raisin’ as our dear ancestors said; and these values, scenes, way of life will follow us, regardless of the changes we experience, the far places we go, and the infiltration of all the influences that try to make us different from what we truly love and to which we cling. Thank you, Ed; thank you everyone; thank you, all who comment. This is rich, indeed!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I enjoyed your poem very much Ed. It’s wonderful to get a glimpse into the heritage of others. You mentioned the Grit; I remember that publication because mom and dad use to get it when I was a kid. I had forgotten all about it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Miss Cindy-A shuttle is part of a loom. I don’t know exactly how it works but it had to be made of straight-grained, knot free dogwood four inches through and three feet long. Anyone that knows about dogwood know it is very hard to find in those dimensions. I thought Ron Perry, being from a textile area, might know more about it.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    August 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Ed, thank you for putting your life into words. I can see these items in my mind.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I love this stuff! Thanks Ed for writing this.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I can tell Ed Ammons has experienced
    the hard times here in Appalachia.
    I love his heart-felt story! My
    dad and mama once lived in Bushnell,
    now probably covered by 300 feet of
    Many of the things he talks about
    I can relate to. Thanks Ed for
    a story well told…Ken

  • Reply
    August 19, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Ed “done himself proud!”. A beautiful expression of self. The “I am from . . . ” poems offer such clarity of soul and spirit as well as a window into each person’s relationship to their place of being and the treasured relics of their once day to day living.
    – – – – – –
    I intended to respond to yesterday’s entry as well and now these two seem to me to approach a merging.
    Being from Texas with a strong lineage through Kansas, I especially appreciated yesterday’s “Little Green Valley”. It speaks so intensely of my parents who, even after living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for over 50 years, chose to buy burial plots in the cemetery of their Kansas childhood homes and many of their generations gone before.
    (P.S. -Fretkillr is now on my listening favorites list! Thanks!!)
    Ed’s clear statements of sacrifice for the “greater good” resonate in Texas as Lakes were formed behind dams on Rivers for water conservation and flood control. People now scuba dive to “visit” the old churches and other buildings now deep under muddy waters (or not so deep since the drought!) Cemeteries were relocated (or were supposed to be) but it is never the same.
    And now there is conflict between the businesses and recreation activities which built up around the lakes and the farmers downstream whom the lake water was originally intended to serve. Even before that, rapidly growing cities were making the claim that their greater need for water for their burgeoning populace should take priority over agricultural needs.
    I understand that many wonderful family memories are being built as folks camp, ski, fish, and swim in and around those lakes; but what really best serves the “greater good”? Maybe constant “growth” isn’t best and our focus should be on sustainability?
    – – I seem to once again be heading toward a soap box so will tie myself to the nearest hitching post – – perhaps it is a very good thing that I am in a later time zone and that I rarely get to the computer early in the morning . . . . ; )

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry
    August 19, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Thanks Ed, well and truly said. I am a trickle down mountaineer. My grandparents and mother lived the mountain life in Bryson City but moved to Belmont, NC to work in the cotton mills and live on a mill village. I love visiting the mountains and reading about life in the hills.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Thank you so much,Ed. You did so well-you drew a vivid picture! Some of this was unfamiliar to me, but the last part of your poem is painfully relevant.
    Nothing taken by eminent domain, but the unpredictability of job market in a coal mining area has caused constant change. Numerous little communities gone forever when certain mines were “mined out.” Through the years most family relocated elsewhere to find stable good paying jobs. My maternal Grandfather’s home place now an ATV trail, with Paternal Grandparents large farm now unrecognizable from strip mining and reclamation. Difficulty gaining access to certain family cemeteries. Many displaced by floodwaters. But, with all of this that mountain spirit is strong, and we are happy and thankful people.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I so appreciate this “I am from” series, and I especially like this one. Any blog comment I might make is quite insufficient, but very heartfelt, Ed, as to what has gone before.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Nicely done! Your writings help me imagine living a life in the woods, foraging the earth for its natural goods, and your appreciation for Mother Nature. I think you have lived a full life and a long one at that.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 19, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Thank you, Ed. You sure put a lot in a few words. I understand what you mean, you are not ‘from’ you ‘are’.
    We all ‘are’ our lives and experiences.
    I don’t know what dogwood shuttle is. I don’t recall ever hearing that. Since I lived in Canton, my family all worked there.
    A fine expression, Ed!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    August 19, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Beautiful and so meaningful – even today when our ‘mountain tops’ are being preserved with gigantic houses sitting empty and roads eroding away the slopes!
    I am sending this to my dearest friend and oldest cousin (1730’s) whose maiden name is WIGGINS!
    Thanks very much!
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    AUTHOR OF “Fiddler of the Mountains – The Life and Times of Johnny Mull” available SEPTEMBER FOURTH, TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN!
    You could say I am too excited – but I just can’t help it!

  • Reply
    Susan Cook
    August 19, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Thank you Ed for sharing your I am. It was thought provoking and touched my heart.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 19, 2013 at 7:12 am

    The planting trees then waiting 40 years is akin to the Scotch making, a faith that the family will endure even if in 40 or 20 years we will not. Thank you for reminding me of this.

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