Appalachia Music

Little White Washed Chimney

Have you ever noticed chimneys are often the last vestige of old home places? The one in the photo is from down in GA a ways. Its holding it’s own,  still standing tall and strong even though the rest of the home has long since been gone.

See the artistry in this chimney near the Proctor Cemetery on Hazel Creek? How long do you think it took to lay the rock in such a fashion that it’s still standing today?

One of Pap’s best friends lives right beside this chimney, actually he was born in the old log cabin that used to surround it. The cabin was his Grandparents home before it was his parents even though they’re all gone except him the chimney still stands.

Earlier today we were doing some pickin’ and grinnin’ down at Paul’s. Since Guitar Man is home on spring break from Yale we figured it was totally appropriate to do Little White Washed Chimney.

After we were finished I asked Pap “were there really white washed chimneys?” Pap said yes and in fact he had helped white wash a few when he was a boy. Pap said the white wash was usually made out of lime and water or a whitish clay and water since most people couldn’t afford paint nor did they have access to it even if they could pay for it.

Pap said people would also white wash their fence if they had one that enclosed the yard or garden. I asked him if it was just for looks? Pap said well partly, but white washing the chimney actually did discourage the dirt daubbers and ground hornets from building their nests in the chinking of the chimney.

Can’t you just imagine all the fires that were laid on the hearth of this chimney?

I hope you liked the song and I’ll leave you with a question. Do you see any symbolism or meaning to the fact that chimney’s outlast houses? After all they were a source of warmth and sustenance, kinda like the memories of loves ones who are gone are a source of warmth and sustenance for us.



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  • Reply
    kitchen units
    April 9, 2011 at 8:10 am

    I’d say that where ever the hearth was would be the heart of the home. It is the memory of the house, like the memories of those who lived there’s in our heart.

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    March 19, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Our Aunt Sissiy used to white wash everything in the spring. She would white wash halfway up the trees to keep the ants off them. We knew it was spring when the white washing started.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    March 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    On our way to Leatherwood Mountains, near Darby and Ferguson just outside of Blowing Rock, NC, we saw an old, tall chiminey standing all alone in a cow pasture and my young son at the time refered to it as the “Devils chimney,” which kinda makes sense. If smoke had been coming out of it I would have been really scared.
    We gathered old, handmade bricks and limestome blocks from what is left of my 3ed great grandfathers homeplace and chimney to use around our flower beds. We tote them with us when we move.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2011 at 7:15 am

    I find these ‘left-behind’ chimneys facinating.
    In England (where I was born and raised) you never see this. As houses there are built from brick or stone, time destroys all parts equally. Here in Canada, with the houses mostly built of wood, the brick chimney is the only part that can hold back the ravages of decay.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I just love old chimneys! They are amazing how they stand through the passage of time.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Allow me to steer you, not away from the hearth, but to the fire in it and another slant on the importance of these chimneys. I have a very nice piece I found years ago in READERS DIGEST taken from AUDOBON titled “THE PRIMAL LURE OF FIRELIGHT”. I have condensed it to fit into a large frame for display on my wall and never miss an opportunity to share it. I share with you the sweetist paragraph and I think the most relative to the subject at hand……………….. Staring into the flames of a winter blaze, we lose the meanness of the day. It is hard to be critical or aloof by firelight. Fires are for romance, friendship, talk and song. “The wisest counsels are offered beside the fire,” wrote Lucas. “The most loving sympathy and comprehension are there made explicit.” It was around the fire that the household gathered, that mankind perfected speech, made up songs and explored the mysteries. It was around the fire that our ancestors sacrificed to their gods , and smoke that carried prayers heavenward linked religion and domesticity.

  • Reply
    Chef E
    March 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I have wondered about places like this…there is only corner stones left of my great grandparents home, they had an old stove that kept there house warm, no fireplace like these…such a nice thing, I might have to write a poem on this one…

  • Reply
    Kenneth O.Hoffman
    March 15, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Tipper: well i probably told this before granpa hoffmans chimney is under the surface of fontana lake,near the elephant rock. the house was perty grand for back in the smokies,i have a very nice picture of it i will send when i get home. more planning for our twice in a lifetime trip to “gods country” life is good when you can go back home. regards k.o.h

  • Reply
    March 15, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Those old chimneys scattered about are monuments saying, “We were here -once.”
    The photos and the song framed your thoughts so well.

  • Reply
    Joey @ Big Teeth & Clouds
    March 14, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    It reminds me of a commercial for brick (maybe the brick layers union or something?) It says, “you always see wood houses with brick chimneys, but you’d never see a brick house with a wood chimney. Real houses are made of brick.” That makes me laugh, but then again I live in a wood house. I guess I shouldn’t laugh too much.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I really hate to post again but all this talking about old chimneys…what the heck!..I got to looking at mine…It’s an old crab orchard stone fireplace, five foot wide, all the way to the ceiling…I remebered the night there was six inches of snow on the ground and we woke up to a roar…chimney fire…scared us to death..shut the damper off and it finally went out…Then I remembered all the times we would have an open fire, before we got the insert, and the boys and I would roast wienners and marshmellows…Then the times the power was out and during the blizzard of ’93 we cooked chili, soup, hot dogs etc. on top the insert, and camped out in the living room, like in the olden days…Not counting the times snow and ice was on the ground and we skidded firewood off the hill on a sled when it was fifteen degrees..
    While doing all this heart of the home mind traveling thing..I saw little cobwebs between the rock on the grout lines…I have been vacuming ever since…
    Thanks Tipper, I might not have got that chimney grout cleaned had it not been for this post..but you are right a lot of memories surround an old fireplace…
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Mark Selby
    March 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I remember an old friend explaining why his place looked so bad…Said he, “Too poor to paint, and too proud to white wash.”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I love seeing those old chimneys and stone foundations. Tipper all things come and go but rocks take the longest! Think about all the old gospel songs built around rocks( Rock of Ages and On this Rock I Stand) just like those old homes were build around the rock chimneys.
    Beyond the durability of the rocks I like to think about the artistry of how the chimneys were put together. That artistry is why they are still standing instead of just a pile of rocks remaining. There are probably no masons left that can create that kind of longstanding work.
    Good to see Pap singing!

  • Reply
    Nancy @ A Rural Journal
    March 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Love the video, Tipper. 🙂
    As far as the chimneys — they are the heart of the home and hearts are the last to give out, aren’t they?
    Have a great day.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Tipper, I love reading your blog, and I have chosen you to receive the “One Lovely Blog” Award. You can find out more at my blog: The Mashburn Collection.

  • Reply
    Lisa @ Two Bears Farm
    March 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I am stopping by from A Rural Journal. I realize now I’ve come by your blog before! Always interesting stuff.
    I really like what you said about the symbolism of the chimneys.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Great story and photos! My wife and I found such a chimney in the Connecticut woods – hard to say how old it was!

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    March 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    The fireplace was the heart of the home-the center, just like our kitchen is now. Just think of all the things it could tell you.

  • Reply
    Inger Wiltz
    March 14, 2011 at 11:38 am

    This reminded me of a trip to my great-grandfather’s place in a big, big forest in Sweden in 2001. In the clearing where they lived stood the old chimney still. It was a very meaningful moment for me and I could picture their lives around that chimney in late 1800s.–Inger

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 11:09 am

    After watching ‘White washed
    Chimney’ I played ‘Teardrops
    falling in the Snow’ and liked
    that one too.
    Like several other commenters, it
    amazes me when I see someone’s old
    homeplace, what times were like for them back then and I believe
    folks were happier when they didn’t have the congestion of

  • Reply
    Elizabeth K
    March 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Since ancient times, the hearth has always been the center of the home, the heart, as Debby said earlier. It is, on many levels, a sacred place for the people who live in the home. And yes, certainly the stones endure when the wood rots, but on a spiritual level, I think there is more to it. That gathering around the fire, cooking and caring for the family, the spirit of that is what remains.

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    March 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Well do I remember the old chimneys of my youth and not so youth.
    These so-called primitives (I thinnk more along heroic lines)often built these nesting centers without mortar, carefully nestling each rock to balance those below and above. How to choose the last?
    And let’s not forget the many houses, churches and barns, many still here, as are some now down the way a ways, where stacked stone served as the only foundations in this unforgiving soil.
    Lastly, the forges. I’m not sure what business it was, but if you take the Hazelwood exit near Waynesville and head toward main street, you’ll see on the right a 3-4 story chimney sitting in a vacant lot, memories of what once was and inevitably will be.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I’d say that where ever the fireplace was would be the heart of the home. It is the memory of the house, just like the memories of those who lived there are in our heart.
    Loved the video. I hope Guitar Man is loving his experience at Yale!!!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 10:14 am

    First thing I want to say…How great it is to see and hear Pap singing and playing! One can tell how happy he is and how much he loves it!..Continue on your wellness journey Pap…
    Now about that white-wash! The conversation started when I asked my Dad as a child…”Why did those people paint their trees?”
    What a can of worms that opened up! Dad went on about the Spring white-wash season at his farm homeplace and how much he hated doing it!..Conjers up memories of Tom Sawyer! ha He said he would do about anything to get out of it! The brothers white-washed the house, chimney, fences and trees, etc..with a formula that he spewed from memory as though he was still on the farm! Of course, I can’t totally remember it today!
    I don’t think many folks white-wash their newly planted trees much anymore..used to be a real fad..with the right stuff, lime, sulphur, salt, etc…it keeps the insects away or at least at bay..Now-a-days we spray them to death!
    About those chimneys…I ventured out to one in Madison county a few years back, the land belonging to a second cousin. Laying across the rock about five feet up was a snake skin about three feet long..Nowthen that wasn’t the problem!..It would have been better had it been four or five feet long..that would have indicated a probable Black or Corn snake…This was a Copperhead skin, evidently he had taken to the warm rock…and was reminising about the olden times while shedding his skin!..I was outta there, enough old chimney lookin’ for me!’Cause I knew his cousin was lurking somewhere in those rocks!
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Wood rots away, but stone endures. Not a romantic way to look at it, but for me the fascination is in wondering what happened around the fireplace in the long-ago. Did it witness newlyweds spatting while they got used to sharing their lives together? Visits from neighbors, with conversations and music? Happy holiday meals and spare times when there wasn’t much to cook in it but beans? Maybe a mother rocking a fussy baby far into the night, a baby who was married in front of that same fireplace when grown? I love this series, Tipper, you always give me something to ponder on!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 9:39 am

    great song!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    March 14, 2011 at 9:36 am

    There was an old chimney standing on part of our farm property and I often wondered about it. In the spring daffodils would bloom on what I imagined to be the front of the house. What was interesting was even the old timers knew little about the house that once stood there.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Have always been interested in old home places. Makes me wonder what kind of families lived there and what their lives were like. As crude looking as alot of old chimneys are is really a wonder that they are still standing. Enjoyed the song. Good family harmony. Ya’ll are blessed to have such a close family relationship.

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    March 14, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I think the old chimney stays because that was the center of the home. The life giving heart. It was the gathering place when folks came in. They would all get around the fireplace and swap their stories and their songs, tell what was on their mind. I remember a lot of times just sitting there staring into the fire when I had something to ponder over.. other times I had nothing on my mind, but would just watch the flames or dying embers. People would come in cold and back up to the heat, of course that part burned up and the other part still froze!I remember when my mama and two uncles sat around the old fireplace and built a fire one last time, they were deciding to tear down the house, and mama took a burned piece of wood and wrote the date on the hearth. They all knew they would never be able to come home again.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Tipper,I swear we are so much alike! I always look at that chimney in GA & dream about the lives that used to exist there.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Roger-your guess is as good as mine : ) But I’d say the ravages of time wore away the rest of the house.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    Roger hartley
    March 14, 2011 at 8:32 am

    What happened to the old house?

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 14, 2011 at 7:54 am

    The chimneys that are left standing after all else is gone have always fascinated me.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 7:50 am

    This one of my favorite “about home” songs. Great harmonies, as usual. And I hear your bass, and can “kinda” see you.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Those old chimneys symbolize the heart of the home to me. While other things deteriorate, the ‘heart’ holds on, leaving memories of times past and perhaps a hope for tomorrow.
    Gram always kept her ‘house fence’ whitewahed, so a traveler, rare though they might be, could find the place after night when the lamps were put out.

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