Heritage Profiles of Mountain People

Mountain Folk

Over the past few months, I’ve been dwelling on the ever shrinking remnant of the the rich Appalachian Culture. Honestly-the traditions that are still held onto-are fading fast.

As I tried to think on the positive side of the issue-I begin to think of folks from my generation-folks like me who are living their lives with the same traditions their parents and their grandparents upheld. Folks who are melding the old ways into today’s world and finding a balance between the two.

As I pondered these thoughts-one of those neat coinky dinks of life happened. I made a new friend-a new friend-who like me-thinks our rich Appalachian Heritage can and should be a road map to our future as well has enrich our present lives.

For today’s Mountain Folk Interview-I’d like to introduce you to my new friend-Jackie Cole.

jackie cole

When and where were you born?

I was born in 1969 in Asheville, NC. My family moved fairly often and I lived different places. Since I’ve been married, I’ve lived in Haywood County, NC in the Canton area.

What memories stand out from your childhood?

I loved to play outside-and did any chance I got. My father was a horse trader so there were always horses around to play with. Every time my father traded for a new horse, he’d bring it home and throw me up on it. One time, he bought a mustang stallion from out west. Just like always he unloaded it and threw me up on it’s back once it started crow hopping and jumping around, I got off of it as fast as I could.

Jackie, I know you are a master canner-and even teach a canning class each week during the summer months, how did you get started canning-was it as a child or after you were married?

My Mother and Grandmother canned when I was a child. I was about 8 when I first started helping them string and break beans. By the time I was 10 or 11 I was helping with the whole process of canning. I guess it’s just natural I would continue the traditions I learned as a child. And after eating home canned food for most of my life, the canned items you buy at the supermarket just don’t seem to have any taste.

In addition to vegetables and fruit you can meat. Is that something your Mother and Grandmother did too?

No. A lady down the road, Louise Scott, taught me to can meat. After you learn the process you realize it isn’t any harder than canning anything else. I can sausage, chicken, deer, pork, and rabbit.

I know from the canning I do-preserving food takes time-why do you do it to the extent you do?

If you preserve the food you raise it helps financially. And health wise the food I put up is so much better for my family. When I open a jar or take something out of the freezer that I put up I don’t have to worry about preservatives or any other chemicals they use to mass produce food. I know where it come from, I know its healthy.

What are the biggest changes you see in Appalachia compared to when you were a child?

I think our schools have a lot to do with the speed at which we’re loosing our heritage. They frown on the way our children speak and don’t encourage children to learn more about our customs and traditions.

Jackie, can you sum up what you think about Appalachia for me?

In one word it means home to me. Although I’ve lived in different places none felt like home except here in the mountains. The good Lord knew what he was doing when he created the Appalachian Mountains. I think this is the way he meant for us to live. I don’t like to go out of the Mountains even on vacation.

I hope you enjoyed this Mountain Folk Interview with Jackie Cole. She has an amazing family and you’ll be hearing more about them in the future.

Leave a comment and I’ll make sure Jackie reads it.


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    larry meckley
    October 8, 2009 at 2:53 am

    jackie did you know the baileys from ashville up the holler from canton? my mother was from there most of them are dead except my cousins.there were frank ,john francis,lawrence and my mother ruth.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing Jackie with us, what a delight!
    I know quite a bit about canning, but she is ahead of me. I have never canned meat, except pork sausage.
    Yes, Jackie, the sausage was breakfast along with pancakes the Deer Hunter made. I just happened to be there on the weekend after Tipper visited you. The sausage was wonderful!! Do you grind and spice it yourself? I’ve looked for a recipe for the spices in breakfast sausage but have not found one.
    My grandmother canned a lot, she lived in Canton, like Jackie. I didn’t get to learn from her. My parents did not can so I didn’t learn growing up. I was grown and married when I learned to can so I had to play catch-up. I learned a lot from my mother-in-law and from a Ball canning book.
    My in-laws slaughtered pigs each year and I learned a lot helping them. That is where I learned to can breakfast sausage. Canned breakfast sausage is much better than frozen sausage.
    Today I made some blueberry jam and canned some tomatoes. It’s a great way of life and very satisfying.
    Thanks Tipper and Jackie!

  • Reply
    Amy - parkcitygirl
    August 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Great interview! Does Jackie blog too!? Sounds like she should 🙂

  • Reply
    August 2, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    A true kindred spirit. She reminds me so much of you. I would love to hear her “accent.”

  • Reply
    trisha too
    August 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    i can’t stop making jelly . . .
    it’s a sickness.

  • Reply
    trisha too
    August 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Jackie, I would take a class from you any day–I started canning on my own, just following directions, but have never tried meat. Besides making jerky.
    When we were cleaning out my grandma’s cellar, we found a jar of tomatoes that were estimated as older than I, and of course some of the brave hearts had to open it and taste–they weren’t exactly fresh, but no one got sick!

  • Reply
    August 1, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Nice to meet you Jackie Cole. What’s for supper? Pappy

  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    July 31, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    What a jewel of an interview! I enjoyed it very much!!

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    July 31, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    It was so nice meeting Jackie Cole! Thoroughly enjoyed the interview, Tipper!
    Fun and interesting post! :))

  • Reply
    July 31, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Traditions are carried along with us where ever we go. From my mother I got the New England boiled dinner, not so well know here in the Midwest. From my country in-laws I learned gardening, canning, raising chickens and pigs and other forms of self-sufficiency. While the foods differ because different things grow in different climates, we would do well to listen to our elders while we can still learn from them. Kudos to Jackie for doing just that!

  • Reply
    July 31, 2009 at 1:47 am

    That was a terrific interview. I’m liking her take on the demise of the old ways. It applies in other places as well. I am always amazed at how little about true local homemaking the girls know when they leave school. Funny, in the days when moms did teach girls what they needed to know home-economics were taught in junior high and high school. When the lack of teaching in the home decreased so did the size and number of classes offered.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    I really enjoyed the interview. I am glad there are people out there that can keep the old ways alive. I was raised on home canned food and frozen too. It seemed a natural thing to hear the “pop” of the jars sealing.

  • Reply
    Jackie Cole
    July 30, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Hey Chris this is Jackie, to answer your wondering whats in the jars peach pie filling, apple pie filling behind, cherry pie filling, old fashion chow,(which is pickeled,beans,corn and cabbage) canned taters, and canned deer meat. The can of sausage was missing somehow. I think Tipper had it for breakfast.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    July 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    I am glad to see someone as young as Jackie still holding to old ways. When I moved to West Virginia in my early 20’s, I learned everything I could about living on the land and providing for yourself. We were thought odd–hippies, although we actually weren’t. But we did live without electricity so we had to learn to do a lot of things the old-time way; canning and smoking meat were the only ways we could have it to eat! I have never regretted the choices I made. My sons say they can keep up with any old-timer’s reminiscences.
    Oddly, now my neighbors, native West Virginians all, now ask us how to do things the old-time way. I am forever grateful that I learned them before they were gone. The old knowledge is leaving us fast. Young people like Jackie make my heart hopeful. Blessings on her, and on you for introducing us to her!

  • Reply
    Jackie cole
    July 30, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Hey everyone, this is Jackie. I’m so glad you all enjoyed this. But I had a wonderful
    time talking with Tipper,and the girls. I know the girls enjoyed the farm with all the animals, picking blueberries, and raspberries.I can’t wait till they get to come back. I’m looking forward to showing Tipper some of my canning secrets. We can have another picnic out under the oak trees
    again. Love you Tipper and the girls Hope to see you the Saturday before Labor Day for an old fashion pig picking.
    Jackie Cole

  • Reply
    Rick Morton
    July 30, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Great interview. I’ve not been on much here latey my wife and I have canning evernight and on weekends.And what your doing here helps us all to remember where we are from.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Jackie is quite a lady. What great stories. Meeting those horses must have been a great adventure.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    July 30, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Tipper: Neat interview with a nice lady/ My wife and I were talking the other day how simple things we had like a party line telephone was common place even in the city. Now, every kid needs their own cell phone.

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    July 30, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    I enjoyed the interview with Jackie. And she is so right on with the schools not helping with keeping heritage alive and honored. Look at what education did for the Native Americans on the reservations. Tipper, you and Jackie and folks with a like mind need to be writing and talking even more about not letting go of your heritage.
    Thank you for sharing Jackie with us. Thank you Jackie for sharing your thoughts with all of us.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Nice interview, Tipper. My grandma used to teach canning a long, long time ago, back in the 30s I believe. I think she was hired by the state to teach it.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    July 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Dee from Tennessee
    (Love the “canning in heaven” comment!) I think it’s wonderful she teaches a canning class! I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t know how to can.
    Sad to say, but I agree with Picture Girl….some of the “newcomers” are inclined to want to change/alter local customs, etc. And not always for the best… esp. regarding just general kindness and good will toward one’s neighbors. (Having said that, my husband and I have the BEST neighbors!)
    Thankfully, some of our local schools have “festivals” which promote our heritage/customs. Local people are invited to share with the students….spinners, butter-churning, basket-making,story-telling, etc.
    I mean no disrepect, none, but I think some families are not taking the time to share our culture/heritage within their own families. Everyone is so busy, rushing to and fro…not much porch sittin’ going on where children could listen and learn….
    There’s no place like it….these beautiful mountains. Home.
    Great interview…she’s a wise woman….thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    July 30, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I’d love to know what is in the canning jars in the photo! I can grape jelly from concord grapes that grow in my very small, almost in the city yard. By the way, I love the music on your site. My sister living in the Pacific Northwest cans fish. We still have fond memories of bread and butter pickles and zucchini pickles that my grandmother canned when I was a child, but I haven’t put those up in years. It’s nice to know that she teaches canning, for many it is a lost art.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    July 30, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Her shy, self-conscious smile, with the sweetness of a child … one only has to face her to know she’s special. I have no doubt in my mind that her mountain upbringing umbued that specialness on her.
    Now, it’s probably difficult for her, never having left her roots, to imagine being estranged from the mountains most of one’s life now yet still yearning to go home.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Tipper, Enjoyed your interview with Jackie. I have to agree home canned foods taste so much better than what you buy at the chain grocery stores.
    Would you believe my 2nd grade teacher in Mid-missouri was named Louise Scott.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    July 30, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Great interview, I love when you post these. Jackie has an amazing heritage, thanks for sharing. The meat canning sounds really interesting.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    What a wonderful interview. Can’t wait to hear more.
    Here in the Ozarks we live a lot like your people. I think there is a strong tie between the appalachian people and the Ozark Hillbilly’s.
    It’s sad to say and I don’t mean no disrespect but when people move into the Ozarks from other states, it’s so different here and they start wanting to change things. We too are losing a lot of our heritage.
    You are doing a wonderful job of preserving your life style and sharing your way of life with all of us.
    Thank you

  • Reply
    Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado'
    July 30, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Great interview.
    My Granny canned everything she could get her hands on. She did it because she enjoyed canning and gave most of it away to her family members. She canned beef vegetable soup, pork, fish for fish cakes, vegetables, blackberries, chow chow, pickles, the list goes on. If she didn’t have anything else to can, she would go visit a friend or neighbor and help them gather their garden and can. I know she is still canning in Heaven.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Cool interview…Home indeed!

  • Reply
    July 30, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Hi Tipper,
    It’s really disappointing that schools would take such an attitude about keeping the mountain traditions alive. “Don’t forget where you came from” is one of my favorite sayings. I had a student (I’m a math tutor) who came for her math session one evening. The frogs were croaking in my backyard. She sat down and told me in a polite tone that the frog’s croaks were “creeping her out.” I shared that those brought back fond memories of my childhood. I asked whether she had any relatives who lived in the country. She said that her grandfather still does, but they don’t visit “down there” a lot. I shared the “Don’t forget where you came from.” I added, “I’ll bet your grandpa is a wonderful man to have given the world your mom and you. His country roots are in your blood no matter how many ipods you own.” LOLOL!!! You have a blessed day! It’s always great to see that you have visited.
    From the Heart of Dixie

  • Leave a Reply