Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Keeping Locks Of Hair

Appalachia Through My Eyes - Keeping Lockets Of Hair

Over the weekend the girls and I were in clean out mode. We were going through boxes of stuff that hadn’t seen the light of day in years.

As I flipped through old cards and photos, I came across two sealed envelopes. On the outside I had written the girls names and a date. Inside was a lock of hair from their very first hair cut.

I opened one and held up the hair for the girls to see. They both said something like “Sick what is that?” Their attitudes changed once I told them the hair was theirs.

Later in the day we came across an envelope of The Deer Hunter’s hair with Miss Cindy’s handwriting on the outside.

I thought about how weird and how sweet those locks of hair are. My own lock of hair is safe in my top dresser drawer. Granny gave it to me a long time ago. She saved my ponytail the first time I ever had my hair cut short.

Keeping locks of hair is certainly not regulated to Appalachia people have been saving and giving locks of hair practically since time begun. The book How Did It Begin? written by Dr. R. & L. Brasch says “…although the act of keeping or giving a locket of hair is considered charming, the origin of the tradition was to dominate the hair donor.”

The gift of a lock was an act of surrender, based on the ancient superstition that the hair was the seat of ones vital spirit. Whoever had even a single strand of it was able to influence or bewitch the person to whom it belonged. Thus, whoever bestowed a lock of hair on a chosen person, entrusted their lives to them. Certainly, nothing could surpass such testimony of love and trust.

In Victorian times women wove elaborate jewelry from their locks of hair or their recently deceased loved ones hair. Not sure I’d want to wear someone else’s hair, but keeping baby curls inside an envelope seems okay to me.

How about you: is keeping locks of hair weird or normal?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    July 11, 2016 at 2:48 am

    Victorian jewelry made from hair is beautiful, I’ve seen many pieces. My husband carries a lock of my hair in his wallet – I have very long hair, rarely cut, but some years ago we were in a car accident and some of my hair was torn out so he kept some of that hair. When my pop died almost 6 years ago, I asked for a lock of his hair and I keep it with his photo and a small pouch of his ashes. In my family we keep a lock from the first haircut of a child too. It’s an old way of remembering, I feel.

  • Reply
    January 2, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Elaine-thank you for the wonderful comment! What a treasure you have! I hope you have a great day and I hope you drop back by the Blind Pig often!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    December 30, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I am now the keeper of a small book that my great-grandmother kept with lockets of hair of her children. These children were born from 1873 to 1888. The book has a calendar on the back for 1890 and 1891. Most of the hair was braided, some in tiny braids and then was sewn onto a page. No tape or staples back then. I find it fascinating and definitely will keep it and pass it on to my daughter.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    November 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    A person’s hair is often required in Hoodoo/Voodoo and dark Witchcraft (not Wicca) rituals. How they’re used, I couldn’t say.
    So, baby’s curls, a charming keepsake; jewelry woved from a dead person’s hair, uhmmm…not so much! LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 4:25 am

    Oh! WOW! We were just talkin’ about saving a piece of our grandson Christopher’s first hair cut.
    Hope everybody is as fine as frog hair. I enjoy the daily posts.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    October 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Tipper: well someone has to be different i guess. my bride has a lock of my hair from the day i ask her to marry me.she said yes i guess you know. that was 51 years ago. blessings on the blind pig family.k.o.h

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    While taking a break to rest a bit
    I was noticing all the fallen
    leaves on the ground. That prompted me to drop over to Youtube and that’s when I found Pap and Paul and Chatter (taking Mandolin Man’s place) doing “Fallen Leaves”. Then
    I found a couple of new ones by
    the gorgeous Pressley Girls. One
    was “Behind the Plow” and the other was “I’m Over You.” Nice
    job, gang…Ken

  • Reply
    October 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    B-the girls had 2 days of fall break-I had none LOL : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    October 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I suppose it depends on the individual as to whether it is repulsive or whether it is a sweet reminder to have something tangible of a loved one. By the time we lost Momma we had already lost three other family members all within a year and a half. It was then I decided to keep a lock of her hair. It was placed inside an envelope in the Bible in the book of St. Luke – my favorite. I haven’t opened that envelope since but just knowing where it is comforts me. I suppose we all have our idiosyncrasies, and that was one of mine.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Normal, I suppose! I’m not sure if Mom kept any of our hair or not. She probably did and during a “mad hatter/rabbit excursion clean out mode”, Dad probably tossed it! He was the tosser in the family! Good thing I guess!LOL
    I saved the boys hair and it’s in a book here somewhere! Unless, it got tossed during a “mad hatter/rabbit excursion clean out mode!” LOL Also saved their baby shoes and the boys promply tossed them, without my knowing!
    When hunting for these types of treasures, you never ever want to find a small ball of hair in your or others “treasured old cedar chest.” Be very careful if appears grey or browninsh grey! If you thought it moved, it probably did! It ain’t Great Grandma come back to life! It just might be the “local house mouse” curled up for the winter! eeeewwwww!
    I sometimes wish I had saved a lock ofmyown hair. After my chemo my hair came back strange…It was soft and wavy and greyish blonde. After it finally coverd the bald, I begin to like it! I didn’t wear a wig much, I liked for my head to breathe, much like Ed lets his breathe!LOL Most women’s hair is better after, I think it is God’s way of saying, “Hey, look at you, and that great hair is better than it ever was, I made sure of that!”
    Gives you strenth to carry on and you know you are a stronger person for it!
    Now, after serveral hair cuts, (it grows like crazy) it is back to it’s old self after all these years! I know those chemicals did something to it back then at any rate…Pretty weird and blessed!
    Thanks Tipper,
    Lovely day…Are you on Fall break? Do you get one?
    We haven’t had a frost yet! The leaves here are dry falling not changing yet due to frost and light change!
    Heard the Screech Owl night before last…Guess he is tired of the Saw Whet’s toot hoot!

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry
    October 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    When my grandmother died, I received an old handmade wooden box nailed together with homemade nails and a piece of leather for a hinge. In that box were some old letters, notes, deeds and other papers from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. There were two locks of hair neatly tied up but not identified in any way. I often wondered who those locks represented but sadly, I will never know.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I will never forget finding a lock of my daddy’s hair in my grandma’s big Bible after she died. That curl was so blond and so sweet. It’s still in there. I saved my girl’s first hair cut curls too and I have my own my mother saved. Seems a sweet tradition. I have also seen the hair jewelry in museums…mmmm…weird! Judith

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    October 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I have a locket of my daughter’s hair in our family bible from her first haircut.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Saving lockets of hair is a lovely tradition; a treasured memento as good as a photograph stimulating all sorts of memories.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 14, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I don’t have hair lockets from my
    daughters, but I did keep those
    little “hidden” notes they left
    for me to find. And although both
    are married with children of their
    own, I still pin up cards from both.
    It’s just a way of holding them

  • Reply
    October 14, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I have locks of hair- but where are the envelopes? I do have an OLD family Bible with a lock of hair pressed inside from a little girl belonging to my great-grandmother, who died when she was quite small. Macabre! But, I won’t be getting rid of it.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    October 14, 2013 at 9:14 am

    I never kept locks of hair from my children, but my mother did, and so did my father’s mother. I remember finding them after my parents passed and we were sorting their things. At first, like your daughters, I recoiled in disgust. Eeeww. Then I found my own, carefully sealed and put away by my mother’s hands. Funny how that changes a person’s perspective. And yet, I still found the lock of my uncle’s hair repulsive. Go figure. Good post, Tipper!

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    October 14, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Normal. I’ve got both my kid’s hair in an envelope in their baby books. My Granny has a lock of my Daddy’s and my Aunt’s hair with a ribbon tied around them stuck in her Bible.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2013 at 8:52 am

    We saved the lockets of hair from our children’s first haircuts, too. My mother saved my hair also. In fact, she even saved our baby teeth. Not sure I will be saving a mouth full of baby teeth for my kids, but maybe the first tooth they lose or something. Then again, maybe I will just have m little girl write a letter to the tooth fairy and save that 😉

  • Reply
    Gina S
    October 14, 2013 at 8:35 am

    I’m not sure what became of them, but Mama had a small envelope labeled Ed’s Curls. Inside were several locks of my daddy’s hair. He died when I was 12. The few times I looked into that envelope felt like pulling the scab off a healing wound. So, keeping locks of hair wasn’t a choice for me.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 14, 2013 at 8:20 am

    I don’t have hair on my head anymore. Would a lock of back hair be considered weird?

  • Reply
    October 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I have been to some museums where I saw lockets of George Washington’s hair and Napoleon Bonaparte’s hair… In Civil War times, hair jewelry was quite popular with interwoven and braided locks symbolizing a relationship or mourning (mourning jewelry).
    I’m a lock-of-hair keeper,too. I have snippets from my daughter’s hair. I also had long pieces of her hair and some from her dog and wool from her sheep braided together and used as a collar around a hand felted stuffed lamb made from the wool of her prize-winning 4-H black sheep.
    Remember my wish for just one more waltz with my beloved? I have a small locket of his silver hair and it’s now a precious treasure. I plan to put it in a locket. This may sound weird to some, but for me it’s normal. I just don’t want to find hair in my food!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I don’t remember my mom keeping a locket of my hair, but I did keep a curl locket of hair from each of my children. Today, when you have long hair cut short, there are wig banks that use the hair to make wigs for those going through cancer treatments and other medical reasons. I, myself, have donated some to the bank. I pray I never have to go through that need.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Normal! Hair from my first haircut is in an envelope in my “keepsake” box.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 14, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Some where amongst the old family pictures and stuff there is a lock of my hair, just as black as The Deer Hunters when he was born. I haven’t thought of that in years. I don’t even remember cutting the lock of his hair but I do remember that he had a full head of black hair when he was born. Everyone told me it would all fall out when he was a few months old but it didn’t. It did gradually grow a little lighter.
    I never thought much about the origin of saving a lock of baby hair and don’t care much for the idea of domination. The Deer Hunter would have been no easier to dominate as a child as he is now and that id not at all. LOL!

  • Reply
    Lisa Misener
    October 14, 2013 at 7:20 am

    I am so glad you posted this about lockets of hair. When my mother passed I found literally dozens of hair swatches wrapped in tissue. Some were from my children’s haircuts but mostly they were from her and from my Dad through the years.

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