I’ve written about my great-great grandfather before, but I’ve never really told his story.  I kept waiting to have more of a story to tell, but the man’s origins remain a mystery.

Primative Grist Mill

This is the first chapter in what I hope will be a complete history of Kenzie Rowland and his family.  As I write these chapters, I hope to discover more about the origins of the family and the early life of a man who I have come to idolize.  Not everything written will be completely factual, I’m jumping to some conclusions based on various documents I’ve obtained, clues I’ve gleaned from the few records I can find and from common knowledge about the history and people of the area during his young life.

The most important documents I have are the memories, written down by my cousin Hertha Rowland, great granddaughter of Kenzie Rowland.  Hertha grew up on the Rowland farm surrounded by the love and protection Continue Reading »


Appalachian Vocabulary Test

A wonderful and funny thing happens when you run a web blog, you meet some great people along the way who are also publishing some amazing blogs! I’ve recently been corresponding with Tipper Pressley, who runs a blog called  The Blind Pig & The Acorn.  Tipper has so many wonderful articles on her site I find it impossible to pick just one category as my favorite, but I have to admit – I love the Appalachian Vocabulary Quizzes that come out about once a month.  This month she posted a quiz that is very appropriate for the Halloween season and graciously allowed me to repost it on our site.  If you want to read more about the Pressley family, click here to jump to her site.   If you would like to meet Tipper in person, she will be teaching a cooking class Continue Reading »

James William Rowland ..1828 – 1859

As I understand it James would be my great grand Uncle. He is the first son of Kinzie Rowland and Esther French Rowland.

James married Susanna Hare, and they had two daughters.  Mary French Rowland and Sarah Louisa Rowland.

Mary French married Creed Terry and proceeded to have a large family.

Sarah Louisa married William Henry Duncan.  She had no children and lived a long life.  She and her husband were still alive in 1930.

Recently the state of West Virginia scanned and placed many of their Will records on line.

I felt very fortunate to find a record for this elusive ancestor!

Last Will and Testament for James W. Rowland

“In the name of God, Amen. I James W. Rowland of the county of Mercer and state of Virginia being of sound mind do make this last Will and Testament.


I desire that all my personal property except such as is provided for, shall so soon as possible after my death, be sold within 12 months and out of the proceeds of the same pay all my debt and funeral expenses.


I give to my wife, Susanna, two of my horses to be selected herself, also two cows to be selected in the same manner. 10 hogs of her choice and all of the sheep if she desires them.  Also, one feather bed and furniture, all of the grain and meat now on hand together with the growing crops as she may wish, also her side-saddle.


I desire that my executor to be hereafter named, sell all of my slaves to wit: Celia, John, Continue Reading »

Julia meets Boden Edward Caperton

Julia had been a widow for about two years when she met a young and handsome WWI veteran.  He was a distant cousin who lived in a log cabin built on the far edge of the farm lands.  He lived with his mother, Sarah, a younger sister and brother named Ida and Henderson.   Boden Caperton had dark curly hair, dark brown eyes and a dark swarthy complexion.  Although he wasn’t very tall, he was trim and very muscular.  He and Julia were the same age, Boden had never been married.  Boad, as they called him, had seen the dark side of the world.  During the war his tour of duty took him to France and Germany for a very long time.  During his enlistment he saw a lot of fighting and the months of trench warfare he endured left him with some horrific memories that haunted Continue Reading »

Coming out of the Closet

This is a repost of a story that was published back in early July.  We have many new subscribers who might like to take a peek at it for our spooky season.

To view the photographs of the people mentioned in this story follow this link:  Rowland Family Photographs

The Pipestem Ghost Comes out of the Closet

  -told by Hertha Rowland

Granddad Bob, Kelly and Baz were working for the Ritter Lumber Company operation at Pipestem to cut a boundary of timber.  The boarding house was near the lumber yard.  I believe Charlie Garten was the person in charge of the boarding house.  The men lived there during the week and many of the men went home on the weekends.

Granddad Bob shared a room with Ed Pastor.  It was in the fall of the year and a very dry season.  When Granddad Bob would be awake at night he would always look out the window to check for fire in the lumber yard.  This particular night, he raised up in bed to look out the window and check for a possible fire.

When he laid down, he was looking toward a closed closet in the corner of the room.  Out of the closet came a woman wearing a dust cap and long gown.  The ghost floated between the beds, passing threw the window.  Granddad Bob said “Ed, did you see that?”  Ed replied “YES” and dived under the covers. 

Granddad Bob wasn’t the only one who witnessed strange events from this particular boarding house.  Basil said you could set your watch by the knocking noise.  Every night at 9pm there would be three knocks in the front of the house, then three knocks in the center and three knocks at the rear.   He described the knocks as if someone had dropped a bag of shelled corn and you could hear the grains of corn sliding down in the bag.

Uncle Kelly and several other men decided they would talk to the ghosts.  They entered one of the empty rooms to Continue Reading »

Joe Cook could tell a story.  He couldn’t just tell a story, he could calm an entire house full of rowdy children when he told his stories.  The thing was…. Joe wasn’t telling stories, he was telling about his life.  I wish now, I had listened to him a little more carefully.

What a colorful life he had running up and down the ridges around Pipestem and Lerona. For Joe, his brothers and the multitude of Farley, Ellison and Keaton cousins, Pipestem park and the areas surrounding it were their own private playground.   Many times, sitting around his dining room table in Princeton, I would listen – completely absorbed as he told the stories of ducking into tree trunks or sliding down a holler just in time to avoid the “law” who were trying to find his family jewel.  Of course, in the case of the Cook and Farley families, the jewel Continue Reading »

The stake in the grave

There’s a chill in the air on the east coast, darkness is beginning just a little earlier – pumpkins, ghouls, corn stalks and a few ghosts are gracing the front yards of my neighborhood.  What a perfect time to start off Ghost month with a few of our treasured tales handed down from generation to generation.  Don’t be shy!  Jump right in and post your own stories!  Especially you Marcheta – I know you have some great ones.

I’m going to start off with a story I heard for the first time just last week.  It was told to me by Barbara Ford Butler.  I may get some of it wrong and it might be embellished a little but hey – it’s a ghost story, anything goes!

Many years ago on a dark and misty night near the top of Bent Mountain, the Ford children, who lived in the Old Home Place at the time, were startled awake by the frantic screams of someone yelling “Help Me, They Done Got Me!”.  As you know, the Old Home Place was located  Continue Reading »