Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

New Ground

New Ground

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

New ground noun [ sometimes with stress on ground ] An area newly cleared for cultivation by grubbing, log rolling, etc. (usu in such phrs as prepare a new ground, clean off a new ground, grub a new ground, break up new ground). See 1961, 1995 citations.

1842 Crosby Journal/Account Book 101 Planted the lower New Ground Corn the first week of April and Planted the Upper New Ground 2nd week in April. 1914 Arthur Western Nth Car 254 Land was plentiful in those primitive times and as fast as a piece of “new ground” was worn out, another “patch” was cleared and cultivated until it, in its turn, was given over to weeds and pasturage. 1939 Hall Coll. Saunook NC After breakin new land, it’s new ground and it not called such after two or three year. Sprouts of sassafras, locust, and running briers come up during that time and you have to keep ’em cut down,. (Robert McClure) 1956 Hall Coll. Cosby TN Every man, he’d grub and clear up a piece of land, new ground, in the winter time. They’d have log rollin’s in the spring. (Reuben Williamson) 1961 Medford History Haywood Co 74 The log rollin’s and burnin’s in those days before the Civil War (and for a long time afterwards) came from clearing up “new grounds.” Thousands upon thousands of big prime logs (that would today be worth from ten to fifteen dollars or more per log) were rolled off the new grounds and burned or left to lie and rot. 1970 Foster Walker Valley 4 Right back east there, the way that you got your fuel, you cleaned up, you called it new ground. Just go out in the woods and you cleaned up some every year was the way my father done it. 1980 GSMNP-115:53 And they used to have grubbings. People would get together and go in and just have grubbing, grub up little new grounds, you know, for a man. 1982 De Armond So High 63 Long before the first bud appeared, Robert and two of his neighbors were busy clearing the “new ground.” 1989 Oliver Hazel Creek 15 This process of clearing a field was referred to as making a new-ground, and it was slow and arduous. 1994 Landry Coll. We’d take axes and things and clear the foreses to make new ground to plant corn next year. c1995 Cades Cove 5 Huge trees were cleared by girdling them with an axe. The first crops were planted among the soon-dead timber. After a few years the standing trees were cut down, rolled into piles and burned. Orchards and permanent fields followed quickly on the “new ground.” Common sense told farmers to reserve the flat land for corn, wheat, oats, and rye.


I’ve had new ground on my mind lately. I’ve thumbed through the Sow True Seed Catalog until I’ve about wore it out. I wish I had ample space to plant all the varieties my heart desires, but I know  well living on the north side of the mountain limits my scope in both sunshine and available new ground.



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  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Do you have a grub hoe? Or a foot adz ? Sharpen ’em up and I’ll be over atter while. I ain’t much of nothing but I’ll do what I can. We ought to be able to knock you out a new garden in a little while.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 13, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    You are without doubt a gardener at heart. If not plowing, planting, tending, harvesting, cooking or canning one or more of those is not far from your thoughts. I’ve been thinking about 2016 spring planting myself. The recent nights in the twenties have hammered the lettuce, radishes, broccoli and mustard. About time to begin again.
    Something about the smell and feel of good earth, to gardeners anyway.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 13, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Donna Lynn closed out her day at WKRK with The Wilson Brothers. A French Harp played alot at the ending and the song was like an Alter Call. Earlier she played another one by them and I can’t remember what it was. My Senior Moments and thin as a bat’s ear memory don’t let me remember things like I use to…Ken

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 13, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Good luck with the “new ground!” We use to ride down young trees on some land behind our property. I thought that was the prettiest woods and I loved to play there. But we built a favorite camping spot on the line of our property and we called it ‘the clean-out’.
    When I first moved here to my shop and built a place for my work, I hired a man with a back-hoe to dig up 25 trees and carry them to the lower end of my garden spot. It hadn’t been tended in over 25 years and that ground was so fertile, you had to sneak up on it to plant something…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 13, 2016 at 11:16 am

    In the planning of this new ground…don’t forget to include one of the readers favorites, vocabulary tests, Appalachian English, dialects, folklore and old sayings of Appalachia…….
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….Also lets please include more of our mountain medicine and cures, whether it be superstitions or traditional native plant remedies from our ancestors. I love me some mountain flowers, trees, herbs as well as the inclusion of all the fauna..(little critters)….

  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 8:47 am

    I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been at one time to plow up new ground. We thought it was new ground when we simply took a tiller to till up a garden where a barn had stood many years ago. It was rough, and I quickly became allergic to whatever lay underneath the newly turned soil. I mastered the tiller, however, and tackled many other garden “spots” thereafter. The cucumbers seemed to grow as fast as I could pick them where that old barn stood.
    My Dad always having 1-2 jobs, the garden was basically my Mom’s responsibility. She was fortunate in that I loved it, but other siblings did not. These were huge gardens at one time with wild strawberries and plenty of apples–I can’t imagine now how my Mom took care of all that.
    Before the tiller there was a young man with a big plow horse who plowed everybody’s gardens for a fee. In my mind I can still see him plowing a huge hillside. This probably paid for his school clothes along with family needs.
    Living in a city with only two trees in the yard made me long for a time when I could see trees as far as the farthest mountains. It is for sure the simplest things can sometimes be the most precious.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 13, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Well Tipper, we’re almost there, to the time of year for new beginnings. I think of new beginnings more with warm weather than with the new year. If you would like a new garden with more sun you are welcome to make one here at my house and I’ll even help you tend it.
    I’m always excited with the new garden season to see what new things Sow True will offer you and your bloggers. They do such a fine job with the real traditional seeds.
    Now all we have to do is make it through a couple of months of winter weather. We can do that!

  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Your title this morning reminded me of one of the stories in Richard Chase’s “The Jack Tales” (stories to be told, not read) – I think it was called “Jack and The Giant’s New Ground” – a wonderful tale about a lazy boy whose father sent him away from home and who then met up with a giant who had new ground to be cleared. There are great stories in this old book……

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 13, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Tipper–I look forward to literary treading the new ground you plan to plow in 2016. It takes a creative mind to come up with ideas daily, even with a few recycled ones and the occasional guest post, so I’ll be eagerly a-waitin’.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. Is the storytelling instructor Keith Jones by any chance related to Appalachian chronicler Loyal Jones?

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    January 13, 2016 at 7:34 am

    This NEW GROUND subject is very familiar to me! When we owned the fields in the Cross Tie Holler, Daddy plowed the hillsides and we dropped the corn seed in the rows and covered each grain of corn. It didn’t take long til we had a fine stand of corn. And that is when the BATTLE of the WEEDS set in to keep the field free – and those rows were so long! Guess that is why I love Ito to garden today – but only flowers! Eva Nell

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