Appalachia Pigeon Roost

July in Pigeon Roost 2


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.

Here are a few of the July excerpts from the magazine.


Mr. and Mrs. Cisero Lewis and two children and Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Miller of Ervin, Tenn. were here Sunday visiting Mrs. Rissie Lewis.

Those here who are seriously ill at this writing are: Miss Rebecca Street, Mrs. Nancy Bradshaw and Dove Barnett.

A revival meeting is scheduled to begin at “House of Welcome” church in the upper section of Pigeon Roost Saturday night, July 1 by Martin Hyder and Rev. Will Harrell of Ervin, Tenn.

Wild strawberries are not so plentiful here this year.

Bob Honeycutt, who lives here at the Rich Mountain section, states that he has a fattening hog in the pen that already measures 9 feet from end of nose to tip of tail.

Junior Barnett recently purchased his first car.



The Pigeon Roost road received a black top coating last week, for one and eight-tenths miles. the surfacing of the road was started at the mouth of Brummetts Creek Road down on the river connecting it with that road which was hard topped about a year ago. The Pigeon Roost road was regraded last year.

The beekeepers here state they will now soon be getting sourwood tree honey from their supers, which many said the the best-flavored honey of any kind.


Dove Hughes passed on July 2, after an illness of three years.

To all indications at the present time, there should be a bumper yield of blackberries here this year. Blackberries in several nearby areas always get ripe and are all gone a week or two before they begin to ripen here. It is recalled there was once a market place for blackberries here when a canning factory was in operation located not so far from here. Now many gallons of berries go to waste and are never picked when there is a large crop, because there is no place to sell them.


I hope you enjoyed the peek into Pigeon Roost. Be sure to jump over to the Foxfire website and poke around. They are still publishing the magazine and those wonderful Foxfire Books too.

As soon as I read the entry from 1953 about the road I was reminded of the men who used to grade our road every so often. Back when the road was still gravel it was always a relief when the state came to re-grade it, get rid of the pot holes that turned into mud pits when it rained, and hopefully add new gravel to the road.

Pap said Jackie Dalrymple was the best grader there was and he was always pleased when it was Jackie we saw a top the big grading machine.

Other things that jumped out at me from the articles:

  • Man don’t you wish you could have seen that hog!
  • Sourwood honey is my favorite. I’ve been dreaming about having my own bees for years, maybe someday I’ll get them.
  • I wish I had a place to pick gallons of blackberries right here at my house.


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  • Reply
    Loretta Ray Smith
    June 6, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    I recently found this and purchased it . I love the ways, many people spoken about in this book are my family the Byrds, Hughes and Rays, even Harvey Miller was married to my cousin . My mamie was Sena Hughes, her parents were Mary Jane Byrd Hughes and John Hughes. Her Grandpa was Charlie Byrd. Although I live in the city in SC now, Those ways were and are still instilled in me and I am so blessed for it.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    July 22, 2020 at 4:50 am

    I loved reading the news from Pigeon’s Roost. It reminded me of the correspondents from different sections of Union County, GA who used to write similar news from different communities throughout the county to THE NORTH GEORGIA NEWS. For a long time now, those community reporters have not been published, or maybe just “quit writing,” or possibly passed away, for this was a long time ago! I miss the news like that. It certainly gave us something to think about, and the listing of the sick gave us names in need for whom to pray. I taught school–public–for 31 years. And for 23 of those 31 is sort of “double-taught,” having one night class per week in off-campus locations for two colleges, mainly Truett McConnell, but also for Brenau. Both those colleges for which I taught are now Universities! I loved my “Thursday night” students, who were really going to college to learn and to help them advance in the job world. I still hear from students in those classes by e-mail, on Facebook, or sometimes by telephone call or written cards/letters! Sooooo good to be appreciated as a teacher! After my 31 year public school teaching career, with college classes 23 of those years on Thursdays–sometimes Mondays–nights, I decided after retiring to follow my long-held interest–writing. I have been writing now for 31 years for The News Observer, Blue Ridge. At one time, I had columns in 4 North GA weekly papers. I get much mail, e-mails, Facebook messages, even telephone calls about my columns. Good to know someone “out there” reads me, although mine are not the “catch up on the news” in the community; mainly historical in focus. I also have had a hand in writing and/or helping to write–and edit–about 7 books during this 30+ years of writing! I have more books I hope to get published if I live long enough to get the job done! They’re written already; just not quite ready for a publisher! Pray that I will get my aims realized! I turned into a Nanogerian on May 13! No spring chicken am I!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Enjoy the reading… I do remember when the road that ran beside my granny’s house was red gravel, I still love the sound of tires rolling over gravel… there were always neat rocks to look for to keep or for flower pots. When they did black top them finally it was tar and white gravel. Love black berries still . Picked a many ,ate a many 🙂 grandaddy always like his in a bowl with sugar, then there were the cobblers, 🙂 ….. Blackberry or blueberry syrup is so good pored over vanilla ice cream. Don’t think I’ve ever had sourwood honey, … a big spoonful would be mighty tasty I’m thinkin. Never have seen a pig that big either except in a movie ( State Fair) :), although all our Smothers kin raised a lot of them.:)

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 21, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve been listening to Aud Brown for many years, before I ever knew of the Blind Pig or Family Members. At Pap’s Funeral I watched for him, but I didn’t see anyone who looked like him. I was told later that he was there in overhauls. I wouldn’t have known him from Job’s Turkey, anyway.

    But I was first on his list when he sang a song. ( I’m like my little Bench-legged dog, Whisky, I can’t remember as well as I once could. ) ( He turns his Butt to me, when he jumps on the couch with me, for scolding him for barking. Then under the Cover he goes. I tell him “I Love you little boy,” and I can hear that tail a wagging. )

    I got my suspensions, but I’m not sure, it must be some of Tipper’s crowd or friends. …Ken

  • Reply
    Allan Guy
    July 21, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Wow. That perfectly describes my life as a kid growing up in Independence, MO. In our little town the news paper had a notice every time we went out of town or went on vacation or my aunts and uncles came to visit. In the summer the county put notices on every door that the road was going to be closed due to resurfacing and be prepared to park elsewhere and walk. I’d sit in the front yard and watch them grade out the ditches on each side of the road and then smooth the road out. Shortly after that a truck would come down and spread oil all over the road and it would be a black sticky mess until it dried. Eventually, the county started to spread gravel on top of the oil so they could get the road back open faster. Now it’s a bustling metropolis, and all of the rural property has been annexed into the city and professional planners now decide to do with the land we once called home.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 21, 2020 at 10:35 am

    I really like Harvey Miller’s news about how it was like at Tri-County in Spruce Pine. Daddy was Superintendent at Topton for years and the Church got the Money together to send him to a Revival at Ridgecrest, a place nearby.

    He came back with the most amazing stories; how he Shook Hands with Billy Graham and all.
    I had seen him in Africa on TV in Kenya, most had never heard The Word before. At the Invitation, they came by the Thousands to meet their Savior, Jesus Christ. …Ken

  • Reply
    July 21, 2020 at 9:36 am

    I love the Foxfire books and magazines! This has been the best year for blackberries that I can remember for some time. The old lady who used to live here told me she would take two five gallon buckets, her dog and a jar of ice water and pick blackberries until the buckets were full. Times have changed! I take a gun, cellphone, drive an ATV and still fear the trespassers, snakes, coyotes and etc. The same berry vines are still here but the lady picking their berries is not nearly as strong and brave as the previous owner.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 21, 2020 at 9:23 am

    I wonder if anybody would be as surprised as I was to learn that Dove Hughes was a man. I did a little research and found “her” alright. I also found her was a him with a wife and nine children.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2020 at 8:28 am

    My great-grandparents and grandparents’ newspapers from AL and MS read exactly like your newspaper articles but perhaps was a bit more expressive in their writing. Those articles are history gems. As a young woman in my late teens and early 20’s, I thought reading it was so different from reading in my home town of ILL. I found that the writers back then expressed themselves so simply eloquently. Today, maybe because we don’t write letters any more, articles are not expressed with a lot of beautiful flowery speech that paints a picture. Most of the time you only find that with a famous author or you, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 21, 2020 at 8:01 am

    Times do seem simpler then but there was a lot more physical work required to maintain farms like milking and feeding cows, raising and slaughtering hogs, growing and putting up gardens and feed for the animals. You had to have a barn, fields of hay/feed. It was a time when folks were lived closer to the earth and to their neighbors.
    Thanks for the peek back!

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    July 21, 2020 at 7:49 am

    The last time we went to Asheville, we went by Erwin, Johnson City and the views were spectacular and the road was quiet. I’ve heard Erwin is still on the HONOR SYSTEM at Walmart where you can pick up a soda pop and pay for it as you leave. I tell you that place is a tiny gem untouched. I’d love the Foxfire books but the prices are astronomical. Maybe some day. Lol I remember hogs as a child at an old man’s farm with a gorgeous apple orchard on the mountain here. Mommy let us look but cautioned a hog would “kill you and eat you.” Even at 4, I got the message like her gun control class. “It will kill you” is all I needed to hear to scare the befuddle out of me. Oh how the days have changed, huh? Now if the kids are scared, you’re a bad mom…. I say kids are like coffee. Raise them the way you think is best and enjoy along the way.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 21, 2020 at 7:38 am

    My home town paper read much like that when I was a kid. Lots of simple things in it back when the county seat town had a population of 960. We didn’t know then how good we had it though we were a poor county.

    I hope you are able to have your bees one day. They are fascinating creatures. But like us they have more challenges now than they did in the 50’s.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 21, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Yes Tipper, I would have loved to seen that hog. Other things that jumped out at me were the name Lewis because that was my Mothers’ maiden name, also the blackberries and wild strawberries. The blackberries close to my house didn’t do well this season. They are little knobby things. There used to be 2 patches of wild strawberries on our farm but it is so grown up now there is only a few left. Wild ones are the best strawberries I’ve ever eaten. One other thing I thought of was the mention of Junior Barnetts’ first car. Dads’ Dad was born in 1885 and died in 1974. He never had a drivers license or owned a car. He walked or rode a horse.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2020 at 6:09 am

    Wow, didn’t life seem simple back then, I’m currently reading a book on Horizontal Beehives by Dr. Leo Sharashkin at it seems to be a much simpler method and easier on the back, still trying to figure out if it’s for me or not, but so far I’m intrigued.

    • Reply
      Jim K
      July 21, 2020 at 9:41 am

      I can’t remember the last time I wild strawberries they taste so much better than tame ones.
      I have gallons of black berries 5 minutes out my backdoor. They are not as sweet this year and ripened late here. Tons of people inquire about them every year, but I’ve yet to see anyone pick them. Guess they want me to pick them them for them. Times sure have changed 🙁

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