October in Pigeon Roost


cows in 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.


G. Barnett of Pigeon Roost, owns a pet cow that refuses to roam the pastureland territory this summer without having people as company. When Barnett’s children went to the field to pull lobelia herbs for the market, the cow would go along and feed, but she always returned back to the barn with the children.




Molasses making time is here again, but there was only one cane crop grown on Pigeon Roost this year. It belongs to Harvey Garland, who recently had his cane mill restocked and a new molasses boiler made. He grows only a small cane crop to make molasses for his home use.
Tobacco crops are all largely cut and in the barns. Corn crops have grown exceedingly high this year and most of the crops are late in maturing this season.
Dewey Hughes’ folks killed five copperhead snakes in their corn field last week while taking fodder.
Conway Hughes, Aspie McCoury and Joe Brown said they found praying mantis in their tobacco patches last week.
There was a high number in attendance at the Freewill Baptist Church Sunday, Sept. 14. The record showed there were 74 present. E.W. Jones, Sunday School secretary, said there was a larger number once before in Dec., 1957 when there were 84 present.




I have always heard it said if you want to rid a place of rattlesnakes, just turn loose some hogs and they will soon clean up the poison serpents.
It is reported that the most kind of the one herb that that has been collected here for the Botanical market this season that is now closing appears to be the beadwood (witch hazel) leaves.
The extra high price paid for this particular item, which was 14 cts. a pound is probably why there was more of it dug and prepared for the market than there usually is.
Also another large seller here this year was the black cohosh or rattle-top root which was 8 cts. per pound. But the blue cohosh roots was only 4 cts.



Always interesting to pay a visit to Pigeon Roost. Makes me wish I could make spending money by hunting out herbs and selling them on the Botanical Market.

Jump over to the Foxfire website and visit. If you haven’t been there in a while, they have a brand new site that is great fun to poke around and they are still publishing the magazine and those wonderful Foxfire Books too.



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  • Reply
    David Templeton
    October 11, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Tipper, this is a really enjoyable post. I always have liked reading newspapers from the Mid-Century age. Harvey Miller is as comfortable as sitting in the sun, whittling on a stick, talking with good buddies, friends and neighbors and forgetting the world of woe and confusion. Thank you. I hope you will show us more of his pieces.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    October 11, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Brian Blake sees what Blind Pig and the Acorn gives us. The salve of less troubled living.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 11, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    I’ve heard that hogs like to eat poisonous snakes and that a snakebite don’t harm them. I’ve seen snakebit cattle and dogs and even people but don’t recall ever seeing a snakebit hog so maybe there is something too it.
    “Conway Hughes, Aspie McCoury and Joe Brown said they found praying mantis in their tobacco patches last week.” I wonder what the significance of this is. Maybe they eat those big ugly green horn worms that suck on baccer juice.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    I love reading the few excerpts of Pigeon Roost. It’s just enough to let us know how times were a few years ago. I have lived thru those times and I think they were the best. Never dug any roots, except ginseng, and we use to dry it completely and send it off to Martin-Corinthal Ginseng Co. in Illinois, or to Tie-sein Ginseng Co. in New York. The local buyers wouldn’t pay much so we sent it off. Trust was the only thing, but we never got beat. I recon folks weren’t as Greedy back then. …Ken

  • Reply
    Brian P. Blake
    October 11, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Sounds like the Barnetts and the Garlands and their families and friends of Pigeon Roost lived happy, fulfilling lives. No two-hour commute each way from a bedroom suburb to a sunless cubicle in a glass tower in an anonymous metropolis, where the only plants are ficus trees in the lobby.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 11, 2017 at 9:29 am

    What I especially note is the Sunday School. Fifty-nine years ago attendance was three times or more what one typically sees today. And although I do not remember 1958 very well, I have seen a lot of change in my lifetime. We humans on the whole are not very good at understanding what we are doing to ourselves.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2017 at 9:06 am

    You introduced me to Foxfire and I knew right away that I wanted to read more than the recently published magazine I won on this blog. It didn’t take long for me to order several of the old books from ebay. They were very expensive, but worth every penny.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 11, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Tip, I don’t know what made you select the clips you used here today but they certainly a snapshot of life in the not so distant past. Life was really different 60, or so, years ago!

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