Appalachian Food

Our First Woodstove

wood cookstove

“I remember our first stove so well. We even made a poem about it:

So well do I remember
The Wilson Patent Stove
That father bought and paid for
With cloth the girls had wove.

All the neighbors wondered
When we got the thing to go.
They said it would burst and kill us all
Some twenty year ago.

But twenty year ago,
Just twenty year ago
They said it would burst and kill us all
Just twenty year ago.

It never did burst. It was a stove like any other stove, but we hadn’t never saw one before.”

—Nora Garland – “Foxfire’s Book of Wood Stove Cookery”


The Foxfire wood stove book is a dandy little collection of memories and recipes. You can jump over to their website and pick up your own copy here.


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  • Reply
    William J. Boone
    January 24, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    Pop-pop, long before I came along, converted his wood cook stove by intalling kerosene, coal oil as they called it, burners fed directly from the kerosene tank with copper piping. Mom-mom’s kitchen was toasty warm from mid fall to early spring. In the summer, she cooked on a propane gas stove and used its oven year round. Most years, Pop-pop would set the only Delaware blue hen he had to hatch a clutch of eggs in early spring. He would bring the new hatchlings down to the house and keep them in a pasteboard box under that stove until it got warm enough and they were big enough to be put in the henhouse. He jerry-rigged a space for them with boards so the old hens wouldn’t peck them to death until the were full-sized. The young roosters became Sunday dinners, while they lasted. My grandparents, my aunt who lived next door, and my family, when we moved in after my aunt died, all heated some of the house with kerosene space heaters. They served pretty well except on really cold very windy days.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    April 13, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    I have a small wood stove in my basement but I remember the old “wood saver” stove we had when I was a kid ’40’s-’50’s. That old 3-rm shack would be so cold in the morning ice would be in the water bucket….that old wood saver would roar and thunder….and warm the place up along with the wood cookstove in the kitchen.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 13, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve burned wood for a long time. I brought my Wood Stove to the shop several years ago that me and Leonard Stillwell made back in the early 80’s. He is the Best Welder I ever knew and it’s three layers thick. I bought the material from Tom Hay, Leonard’s boss. It weighed over 315 pounds before all that welding that went on. I machined the doors and all hardware at work.

    It works really well, likes wood too, in my shop with no partitions in it. It’s far from what I use to pay for bottled gas at 58 Cents a gallon, but the last time I used Gas, it cost me $2400.00 dollars a year. That’s ridiculous, I could buy Wood already cut and busted, cheaper. It’s a little more now. And as I’m getting older, I’m not as Spry as I use to be. …Ken

  • Reply
    April 13, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    I well remember those old wood cookstoves, as when I was a youngster that was what my Mother and most relatives cooked on even after the electric ones became available. When we moved from coal camp to the mountain that old cookstove came right with us. They placed it in the basement right along with the wringer washer. A new white electric stove showed up in the kitchen. Moving was more of a simple experience back then, because people just did not have as many belongings. I will never forget how much better cornbread seemed to taste cooked in a woodstove oven. It was crispier it seemed. For years Mom used that cookstove in the basement for canning and heating wash water for her old wringer washer. I would love to have one, but did learn a little from my Mom. I do a lot of cooking in the Summer in a crock pot or roaster oven in the basement. Works out fine unless my memory gets sluggish, then I have overcooked pureed something or other. Thanks Tipper, I always enjoy anything we always called as children “the olden days.”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 13, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    People have and always will have a fear of the unknown. These people had been born into a world where cooking and heating was done on an open flame. Now comes a newfangled apparatus in which the fire was concealed. You couldn’t just look at it to check the fire, you had to open a door or lift an eye to look in it. So most of the time you didn’t know what the fire was doing. It’s natural to be apprehensive. We do the same in the present. Think about seat belts and air bags in your car. Why them things can kill you! If you get on a wreck you won’t be able to get out. Or you will have your neck broken by an explosion in the steering wheel. Remember when you were warned not to sit too close to the TV. They give off radiation that can burn out your eyes. How about microwaves ovens? Did you know that if those microwaves get out of them things you will get cancer? Remember when cell phones caused ear cancer?
    Will people in the future look back at the present generation and think “What dolts! How backward!” Will they? Seems most of the young folks don’t read and their only connection to the past is TV, movies and social media. We all know how close to facts they stay.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2020 at 9:02 am

    That stove is beautiful. If one could be found, it would cost a pretty penny. I had a gorgeous solid cast iron stove in my barn that was used to heat an area where folks stripped tobacco years ago. A relative caught me away from home and loaded it up along with a bush hog and other valuable things and took them to the scrap yard. Needless to say, no one in that thieving family will ever be allowed on my property again.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 13, 2020 at 8:14 am

    I remember when wood cook stoves were still fairly common. I missed the coming of electricity, but not by much. The impression I have is that folks ‘took the electric’ for lights but continued to heat and cook with wood or coal for some years. At our house, we had a wood cook stove and a gas stove both in the kitchen for years. But for some strange reason I do not know when the wood stove went nor where it went.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 13, 2020 at 7:48 am

    My grandmother never gave up her wood stove even after she got the electric one. They were both right there in the kitchen. Even after she was gone the wood cook stove was still there.
    Imagine having cooked all your life on a wood stove being suddenly confronted with this bug white new fangled electric stove with four cook elements on it and little round dials to control it.
    The biscuits and cornbread were very different cooked in the electric stove and better. The wood stove turned out nice crusty biscuits and cornbread.
    We give something up for the new electric convenience!

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