November in Pigeon Roost

Pigeon Roost Appalachia

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.


When Cal Whitson of this place, harvested his sweet potatoes this year, he found one that measured three and a half feet long.




Quite a few chinquapins grew here this year, but chinquapin trees don’t grow thick over the mountains like chestnut trees once did. There were only a few persimmons to be found here this fall, as persimmon trees are very scarce. Hazel-nuts are in abundance here and locally. They are gathered by mice, ground squirrels and grey squirrels to store away for winter food.

Born to Mr. and Mrs. Jack Honeycutt of Huntdale on October 14 twin sons. They were named Earl and Jerold. Mrs. Honeycutt’s mother, Mrs. Nettie Bennett, lives here on Pigeon Roost.

Mrs. Bill Sturgill got burned very badly Wednesday when she dropped a dish pan full of boiling apple butter on her feet.




I have received another interesting letter from Erwin, Tenn. Mr. Honeycutt said in this letter that when he and his wife were first married, he often heard her sing and play an old song. The last lines were: “In the evening of my life if my father only wills, that I should stand with friends once more on the North Carolina hills.” I wonder if any readers of the Tri-County News has any more words to this song ballad that Mr. Honeycutt would like very much to get. He said that he was interested in all the old songs, although he could not hear very well any more. He said his hair is silvered over with frost of many winters, yet he has springtime in his heart.

There was no frost in this area on the morning of Saturday, October 29, but the ground was so white early that morning, especially where there was weeds or dead leaves laying on the ground that it looked as if it had snowed. What do you think the whiteness was…well, it was nothing but spider webs covered with a heavy morning dew. Yes, there wasn’t many places in the fields where there was not a spider web, but not a spider could be found. One old-timer said to see so many spider webs was a good old timey weather sign that there would some very cold weather between now and when the moon fulls, which is on the third day of November.



I hope you enjoyed the peek into Pigeon Roost via Mr. Miller. Would that like Mr. Honeycutt I would always have springtime in my heart.

Jump over to the Foxfire website and poke around. They are still publishing the magazine and those wonderful Foxfire Books too!


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    David Templeton
    November 19, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Precious memories stirred by Mr. Miller’s simple yet profound words. Thank you, Tipper. And, thank you Lee Mears for the warm memories of West Virginia, where Daddy toiled as a coal miner and Mom brought four of us seven into the world; a world made even richer when we moved from there to East Tennessee, away from the perils of the mines.
    Wonderful thoughts from all of your readers today.
    Incidentally, those who grow sweet potatoes may know that, left in the ground, sweet potatoes can reach enormous sizes. Well, maybe not three feet long, but real big.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    I enjoyed the little snippet news from long ago. Times were sure different then. I think those were the “good ole days”, mainly because I grew-up during those times.
    I hope Chitter and Chatter has a big crowd here in Marble today, wish I could be there, but I can’t get around good yet…Ken

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    November 19, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    I hope the library reading went very well. I would have really liked to attended. I love to read books. To sit and listen to others read. What a delight! I try to read to the grandchildren. I want them to have this joy. But, I would really like someone to read to me with all the nuances of our Appalachian language. We are so bountifully blessed by what you write, and the comments that people write back to you. It is like one big family, and I enjoy it so much. Thank you. Jan

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 19, 2016 at 11:36 am

    >> In case somebody takes a notion to eat one, I neglected to mention, pig taters are poison unless properly cooked!<< Pig taters should not be confused with tater pigs. Tater pigs are taters with the inside drilled out and a hotdog or sausage of some kind stuffed in it before it is cooked.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 19, 2016 at 11:13 am

    I agree with Miss Cindy. I cannot believe what is happening in our world today. I do believe we were happier in days gone by. Everybody seems to be mad about something. I don’t know what it would take to make them all happy.I am so glad to be living in this beautiful place and have so many good friends. I thank God every day.
    Maybe God has given folks too much and they do not appreciate it.
    My generation has gone from outhouses to computers so we really are grateful for it all.
    I wonder how this generation would make out if it was all taken away.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 19, 2016 at 11:12 am

    I think Mr. Cal Whitson, of that place, probably found him a pig tater root. Them things can run thirty feet underground. They like to run with arsh taters and sweet potatoes because the ground is softer and they can eat the fertilizer that was intended for the edible ones. Actually, if truth be known, pig taters are edible, good and good for you but take way too long to cook. Anyhow that’s what my Daddy told me.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2016 at 9:42 am

    The song was adapted from West Virginia’s state song. Or maybe West Virginia stole it from the original.

  • Reply
    H Lee Mears
    November 19, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Tip, I Googled the song, in case it caught someone’s eye, as u prob did as well.
    “The West Virginia Hills”
    Oh, the West Virginia hills! How majestic and how grand,
    With their summits bathed in glory, Like our Prince Immanuel’s Land!
    Is it any wonder then, That my heart with rapture thrills,
    As I stand once more with loved ones On those West Virginia hills?
    Oh, the hills, beautiful hills, How I love those West Virginia hills!
    If o’er sea o’er land I roam, Still I’ll think of happy home,
    And my friends among the West Virginia hills.
    Oh, the West Virginia hills! Where my childhood hours were passed,
    Where I often wandered lonely, And the future tried to cast;
    Many are our visions bright, Which the future ne’er fulfills;
    But how sunny were my daydreams On those West Virginia hills!
    Oh, the West Virginia hills! How unchang’d they seem to stand,
    With their summits pointed skyward To the Great Almighty’s Land!
    Many changes I can see, Which my heart with sadness fills;
    But no changes can be noticed In those West Virginia hills.
    Oh, the West Virginia hills! I must bid you now adieu.
    In my home beyond the mountains I shall ever dream of you;
    In the evening time of life, If my Father only wills,
    I shall still behold the vision Of those West Virginia hills.
    Oh, the West Virginia hills! I must bid you now adieu.
    In my home beyond the mountains I shall ever dream of you;
    In the evening time of life, If my Father only wills,
    I shall still behold the vision Of those West Virginia hills.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    November 19, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I would like to make the “Pressley Girls” event in Marbel today. Hope the sun will shine and no cold winds blow – so lots of folks will show! We are going to be busy clearing out after some mighty strong winds which brought down lots of limbs and leaves.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 19, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I liked the part about the old gentleman who was looking for words to a song. Saying his hair was silvered over from the frost of many winters but he still has springtime in his heart was very poetic and profound. Isn’t that the way we all should live?

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 19, 2016 at 8:32 am

    I see that angel cloud flying over. Seems like for some reason I have been seeing angels in every picture of the sky I have seen of late! Omen! Who knows.
    That was a big sweet tater Mr. Whitson grew in ’52! Must not have hit a bump, stone or a rock in the whole hillside to slow it down a bit.
    Mercy, I can’t imagine spilling a pot of boiling apple butter on my feet! Being thick and all, Lordy, I bet that hurt!
    Like Mr. Honeycutt, I have some silver hair, and try to keep Springtime in my Heart! It’s the Spring in my step and back that is going to winter! ha
    One morning while visiting my aunt in NC. I got up early, and looked out the window. She had several boxwoods around her house. My Uncle kept them trimmed in round shapes. That particular morning they looked like giant snowballs. The dew on the hundreds of spider webs in, on and around those boxwoods were exactly like described by Mr. Miller.
    There were always thousands of those tunnel-like spider webs in those boxwoods. Always scared me to death to run into one when chasing a ball! ha
    PS…We had a literal sprinkle of rain early this morning. Barely enough to wet the concrete walk! I sure hope we get more rain later this morning. It is cold and the wind is up and blowing leaves everywhere. I know this must be miserable for the men and women fighting the fires. The late news last night said two new fires were reported here in East Tennessee. Very scary conditions now! Our house is practically surrounded by dry woodland. The weather is affecting our critters around here as well, the birds are staying very close, practically living in the tree where I have a huge metal bird bath with a hose run to it hanging over a branch. They drink and bathe in it in large groups. We have filled it some days twice. I would love to live the hose, dripping but we are on a well and can’t afford for it to run over and waste. The front pond is nearly dry, where the deer, raccoons, skunks, opossums and the rabbits visit. Nary a drop except under the very deep litter in the wet weather spring. Need rain bad here we are now in extreme if not exceptional conditions of drought. Records are being broken everyday. I know our planet is in climate change!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 19, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Those little articles by Mr. Miller sure sound like a simpler, more land-related time. It is really clear that there was a close attention to what was going on in the natural world and to being in step with its seasons.
    Somehow, in a way I can’t pin down, just those few little articles take me back to childhood.
    My wife and I were up on the Richard Russell Scenic Highway between Helen and Blairsville, GA a couple of weeks ago. At the first overlook to the east from the Helen end there were two wild grape vines that were just blue with grapes. Naturally they were out of reach.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    November 19, 2016 at 8:06 am

    There must be a lot of places by the name of Pigeon Roost.Places that the passenger pigeon once roosted.Now extinct.
    There is a Place in Boyd Co.KY. by the same name that is known for having timber rattlers.

  • Reply
    James Smithson
    November 19, 2016 at 8:04 am

    My Mother, Myra (Mary) Honeycutt was born in Relief NC in 1913. She was the daughter of Nathaniel Honeycutt and Hattie (Harriet) Miller. They often talked of the times in the NC mountains, Pigeon Roost and places. Grand ma and Grand Pa lived out their lives in Johnson City TN.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 19, 2016 at 6:57 am

    I’ve never seen a 3 1/2 foot sweet potato. Wish they had a picture of it!
    Life sure was different then, It’s like a different world or a different age! What people thought about and valued was very different from today.

  • Leave a Reply