Appalachia Profiles of Mountain People

Our Beloved Tennessee Earth

Sheltered in Appalachia

“Homeplace. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well this is one word that is worth a thousand pictures. I think that our home place permeates all of our senses. I can close my eyes and see, smell, touch and listen to the sweetness of my East Tennessee home.

Years ago my daddy took advantage of a good job with the Civil Service and moved us way down to Middle Georgia. It was a really hard transition for me – I mourned for my creek, treks across the cow pasture picking blackberries and sniffing bee balm, seeing the delicate little Rue Anemone burst through the soil to welcome the spring. I grew to love my adopted home in Georgia, and later North Carolina, but my heart always belonged to Tennessee.

Homecoming for our family means walking our hills at least once a year. We lost my daddy a year ago this week. I always thought he would have his final homecoming at that beautiful spot but being a practical man, he chose to be buried at Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia rather than  Andersonville, Tennessee. His military service meant a great deal to him and he knew his grave would always be cared for. His Great Grandfather survived Andersonville prison during the Civil War and as a little child my daddy sat at his knee and heard him tell about the suffering there. My father is buried in the soil where his Great Grandfather trod during those hard times so in a curious twist our family story has circled full round. In my last private moment before my daddy’s casket was closed I placed a jar of our beloved Tennessee earth at his side.

Homeplace. No matter where we are it travels with us in our hearts.”

~Mary Rutherford – January 2014




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  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Sentiments gracefully expressed.
    Coincidentally, I have often thought of obtaining soil from the homeplace where Dad farmed for 50 years and Mom enjoyed the produce and the walks with her friends. Then I would mix it into the soil where where Mom is buried and where Dad will join her when the time comes.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Simply beautiful!

  • Reply
    Louise Baker
    April 2, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Very thoughtful and beautiful. I miss my dad too,he served in the CCC camps and was very proud of his work in our nations parks. He loved the trees, and always enjoyed long walks in the park. He pointed out the tall sturdy oaks , the Maples and wild flowers. he loved our country and the freedoms it stands for. he worked in Letchworth Park which is sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the East. it is beautiful.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I have always been a rambler. Even at 72 I still tend to wander, maybe just to see what’s on the other side of the hill. I’m at home wherever I am. The mountains seem to draw me the most. I’ve lived in them in three states and explored them in many others. There’s a more ‘at peace’ feeling in/on a mountain for me than anywhere else.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    April 2, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Mary Rutherford this was a very touching story. I can relate to this leaving your roots. thank tipper for sharing her story with us.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Oh my goodness how beautiful the words and emotions related to Homeplace. I am lucky to live in sight of where my great grandparents lived and raised the generations to follow here in Ky. I love that ground and the farm is comforting to my eyes and mind. My father is very sick and I think of the years of work and love he, my grandfather, great grandfather and now my brother have put into that place. The women too in a different way. Thanks for the wonderful words and memories today.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Mary Rutherford gave us a bird’s
    eye view of homeplace and a blessing. I live on my homeplace
    and there’s no feeling on earth
    like home. At times I can still
    hear momma singing and daddy
    whistling. Nice post with lots of

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    April 2, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Well Miss Mary got me off guard. I can certainly relate to her experiences! I am a transplanted Tar Heel to Tennessee. Our life has been shadowed by the death of our sweet Joey – age 17 and 3 days. But we have three grandsons who bring much happy moments and sweet memories into my life!
    Always, Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    April 2, 2015 at 11:36 am

    One of the reasons that I live in Hawaii;
    I can look westward from my home and see the vast Pacific Ocean. It was my home for so many years and some day I will rest in it’s depths.

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    April 2, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Well done, Mary Rutherford.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Very touching. Not many words can touch one like the simple word homeplace. When I go outside in the sunshine, it is so enjoyed for the present but also reminds me of days gone by on our old Homeplace.
    I was so touched by the placing of beloved Tennessee soil in her Dad’s casket. Thank you, Mary Rutherford, for words that warm the heart!
    As a joke, I once mailed a small packet of WV soil in the birthday card of a transplanted homesick uncle. He never forgot this, and he has to mention that WV dirt at every reunion.

  • Reply
    Debbie Nobles
    April 2, 2015 at 10:07 am

    I too am like Melissa my home place will always be the North Carolina mountains.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 2, 2015 at 9:35 am

    and Mary…wonderful post.
    Home is where the heart is!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Today the Salvation Army is picking up the rest of my parents estate…we think the property is sold…Their home place will move on to another….but my home, as a child will always be in my heart, just as my mountain birthplace home!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 9:29 am

    This was such a beautiful memory for you and your family. I enjoyed sharing that time of your life with Blind Pig’s readers.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 2, 2015 at 9:15 am

    How moving — and it is rather appropriate that her father chose to rest in a place where his grandfather had been during a hard, hurtful time. Making a loving gesture in a sad place of history.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Such poetry, such lovely thoughts.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    April 2, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Nicely done, Mary. Like everything else you do.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    April 2, 2015 at 8:20 am

    What a lovely posting. I know the heart longing for “homeplace.” My homeplace isn’t where I was born or even where I spent most of my time growing up. It’s the North Carolina mountains where my spirit is at peace. Since I was a little, tiny girl, there has been a magic in the mountains that touches something very deep in me. I’m never more at peace or so completely happy as I am there. It will always be my special place.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    April 2, 2015 at 8:19 am

    A lovely story well told.
    The sense of connection to place is, I think, especially strong for those who hail from the mountains. We like to walk, work, and just be in the places of our forebears.
    And as Mary Rutherford indicates, there’s a connection to the soil itself. One of the satisfying pleasures of working in the garden is that I know my father was working the same spot over seven decades ago.
    A blessed Maundy Thursday to all of Tipper’s readers.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    April 2, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Mary Rutherford has written a beautiful tribute to her father and to the Homeplace. Yes. The word paints a thousand or more in-mind pictures for those of us who may leave The Homeplace but who never allow it to leave our minds and hearts.

  • Reply
    Henry Horton
    April 2, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Thank you. What a beautiful collage of photos.

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