Appalachia Pigeon Roost

January in Pigeon Roost

Winter in Appalachia

The 1974 Winter Edition of the Foxfire Magazine contains a compilation of newspaper articles written by Harvey Miller. At the time of the magazine’s publication Miller’s weekly column had been around for sixty years and was till being published in the Tri-County News located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

I wanted to share a January excerpt from the magazine with you but couldn’t decide on just one-the articles are that good. I decided to share 3 of Miller’s January articles with you today.


“Two lost sheep, a belled ewe and her last spring lamb, walked slowly down the highway in the upper section of Pigeon Roost on the afternoon of Christmas day. As we write this, we have not learned just who the sheep belonged to or what went with them. This was unusual to see sheep traveling the road here without a herdsman, as no one directly on Pigeon Roost owns any sheep anymore. 1/5/56”


“Solomon Barnett reported that he observed the big wild cat’s tracks again in the heavy snow early Thursday morning. He said the wild cat had traveled in the big snow Wednesday night. It was a trail that leads from Jake Hollow to Byrd Creek and the wild cat has been going the trail for several years. Some people who live in those areas report that the wild cat has killed several hens for them the last few years. Floyd Barnett had the misfortune for his car to catch on fire in the heavy snow here on Byrd Creek highway Friday and burn up. 1/2/58”


“Someone, somewhere has been missing part of their teeth ever since Christmas season began. Howard Miller, a citizen here in the upper section of Pigeon Roost, reported that he found the lower plate of a set of false teeth during Christmas week while walking along the Pigeon Roost highway and when he traveled to the top of Hatterock Hill, he happened to look down and see the teeth laying directly in front of his foot in the road. The news soon spread fast as to the finding of the teeth in and around the nearby areas of Pigeon Roost but so far no one has claimed the ownership of them. Miller said he has put the teeth away for safekeeping and was going to keep them for their owner if it be until another Christmas rolls around. He said it never will matter how long it is before the owner calls for them; there never will be a charge made for finding them. But if they are ever wanted to be sent to the owner by mail, he thought they should pay the postage for shipping them. 1/7/60”


I wish I knew if the mystery of the sheep was solved and of course I want to know if anyone ever claimed their teeth! As for the big cat, I’m a believer.

You can read more about my big cat story here: Are there Mountain Lions in Appalachia? 

Jump over to the Foxfire website and poke around. They are still publishing the magazine and those wonderful Foxfire Books too!



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  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    January 3, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    How odd!!! You’d think whomever lost sheep and teeth would be looking for them.
    Many living in other states don’t believe there’s big cats, wolves and bears in NC, but we who live here certainly know there are. I also believe the new hybrid “coywolf” are here, at least in the sandhills, because we’ve seen something wolflike that’s much bigger than a coyote yet somewhat smaller than a wolf traveling through the bean field when beans are planted behind us; the tracks they leave in the sand back there are HUGE, and whatever it is, I have no desire to tangle with it.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    January 2, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    These are indeed strange posts so early in the New Year! Are these stories a sign of the times? Maybe things will still turn out OK for everyone!
    Eva Nell Mull

  • Reply
    January 2, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Of course there are big cats in these hills. Many years before trail cams many reported the woods filling with frightening screams of what sounded like a woman, and some found their beloved dogs killed by something that seemed to come right out of the latest horror movie. Meanwhile the gov spends their time denying the existence of anything and everything.
    Yep those teeth were scared out of somebody or else they lost them after a night of imbibing. We’ll never know the answer to many mysteries, but it is the mountain way to be curious and try to figure out unusual happenings.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 2, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    I’m not much of a reader but I do like the excerpts you provide. When it snows, I like to look for tracks at home and see what’s been snooping around. I’ve seen all kinds of tracks and some I still don’t know what they are. The other day, while my friend was fixin’ my water, he noticed Coon tracks along the edge of the creek and asked if he could take his Redbone up in there. He saw a huge buck too, and use to that would really lighten me up. Now I don’t even bother them when they come into the front yard and graze. Never had any deer when I was little and could enjoy hunting, you had to go above the Nantahala Lake or real high up in the Mountains to even see a track. Nice post…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 2, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I loved the stories and I love Fox Fire, books, magazines, etc….
    Sun is beautiful this morning…
    Have a good day…
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…I don’t know what lead me to post such a thing, must’ve have been the “Are There Mountain Lions In Appalachia” story….ha Yep, you know I believe in them…Another panther, cougar, ‘painter, cat-a-mount, etc….or what ever one cares to call the big cats…was caught on night cam again in middle TN….not for from here….

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 2, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Here is the way I configure these short stories……
    Well then, in 1956,
    this feller and stick
    Was calm as and a lamb and a ewe…
    He took “shanks mare” as he went along,
    enjoying the Christmas view…
    Christmas time passed of course, like 1952..
    Came 1958 when he picked up his gait.,.
    As big cat tracks and a hen came into view.
    A brother of his’n was a’thinkin’ he might be in a “stew” !
    Well, as his kin pondered a liar,
    a car from afar by then had cotched on fire…
    By 1960, the season of Christmas seen this feller agin.
    Around he had flew and skeered as he must’ve been.
    For his teeth he had dropped,
    onto the black top,
    on his way home to Pigeon to Roost….
    Compliments of b. Ruth …aka “Tennessee Shakespit”

  • Reply
    January 2, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I am with Miss Cindy, the owner should pay the postage.

  • Reply
    January 2, 2016 at 9:20 am

    The mystery of the lost sheep makes me wonder about their appearance on Christmas day. It might be easier to explain their presence any other day of the year. Big wild cats have been seen and heard around here lately. Wish we would get a heavy snow so I could go looking for their foot prints-in the protection of a vehicle, of course.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 2, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I know someone who found some false teeth deep in the woods when he was grouse hunting. It certainly is a mystery.
    I wish I knew the story of sheep in Appalachia. I expect keeping sheep for their wool was a standard practice that lasted from early settlement until ‘store bought’ wool clothes caused a gradual decline. My guess is that WWII just about saw the end of sheep in the southern Appalachians. However, sheep were still present in low numbers in southwest VA into at least the mid-1970’s. I don’t know anything to speak of about sheep but I would think the further south they were the more they would be restricted to the higher elevations ?
    I think the Foxfire books are probably the best all-round description of subsistence farm life in the southern Appalachians prior to WWII that can be found. They could even be considered survialist manuals.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 2, 2016 at 8:16 am

    I agree totally with Howard, if the owner wants the teeth mailed he should pay the postage!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 2, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Thanks for excerpting and publishing Harvey Miller’s delightful stories from Pigeon Roost. Foxfire made a great contribution to preserving Appalachian life in writing and in the work at the Foxfire Center. If you haven’t visited the Foxfire museum near Clayton, I recommend that you do so. And, like Harvey Miller, the longtime writer, it just takes a keen eye and a desire to tell a story to see and record news of things that happen about us.

  • Reply
    January 2, 2016 at 5:56 am

    I’m like you, Tipper, I always want to know the rest of the story, especially that things turned out alright for ! the critters.

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