Minnie Williams

is interviewed by by Matt Bradshaw (rghs 2000) and transposed to narrative form by Holly Smith (rghs 1999).

Growing Up in Hollybrook

I grew up in Hollybrook. It was a small community and there wasn't much going on. There were only two families. My Grandfather Wright had the first store down there and he was the first school teacher in Hollybrook. Aunt Metty Repass had a store that we traded with all the time. We shopped at different places I guess. Mostly we just got what we had to have down there at Aunt Metty Repass's store. We had to walk, but if you were going any distance you would ride a buggy or a wagon. When the hard wood lumber company was at Bastian, the railroad came through Rocky Gap to Bastian and back down Wolf Creek. It wasn't an easy ride, but it was my first experience on a train. I rode it twice, I went from Rocky Gap to Narrows.

I first moved to Pinch Creek in 1930, when we moved back from West Virginia. In our earlier years we would visit here, because my older sister married the oldest brother of my husband. At that time there were only about five families in Pinch Creek. That was a Mr. Porchie Helvey, where you start up the valley. There was also Mr. T.R. Ramsey, and J.D. Helvey, and of course Grandpa Williams. Mr. D.C. Nunn he lived above us . I think there were about five families at that time that lived here in our valley. And now there is at least thirty homes. My Uncle Lester Chandler and my daddy built the home that we lived in.

I have lived on a farm all my life. We had a small farm on about a mile above Hollybrook. What they call Flat Top mountain. Grandpa Wright had a big farm right close. I can remember he had an old team of oxen he plowed with. He didn't have no horses at that time just oxen. Big ol' steers I guess you would call them. They were huge. And that's what they would do the plowing with. He also had cows and sheep on this farm. Of course we had a milk cows, hogs, and chickens which was our livelihood at that time.

I remember that we used to go to Pulaski to shop for Christmas in my younger days. We would go to Bluefield occasionally. We rode a wagon and went to Princeton to visit my grandmother who lived there. Of course that would take all day in a wagon. Me and my sister visited with my uncle down at Rich Creek. We rode the train from Rich Creek over in Narrows where ever we caught it at, to the old incline on the other side of Wolf Creek. Our first cousin Walter Chandler was with us and we walked over the incline route, up over the mountain caught down there on Wolf Creek. Then over on this side and walked home. I guess that was the longest probably walk that we ever made. I know one time we were walking over the mountain and a pheasant come out of the woods and flogged us right good. I guess it had its nest there close you know.

Courting was quite different then from now a days. You didn't have cars to get out and run around in. My boyfriend would come and pick me up from church and walk me home. We all congregated together in the afternoons on Sundays. Our home was somewhat of a meeting place for all the young people. We would play games. Then I was married. I wasn't married in a church, me and my husband went to a parsonage at Mechanicsburg, and were married over there.The preacher was A.A Angel.

I can remember the first Talkie I saw. Where you talked you know before it just showed it on the screen and you had to read it. While we lived in Wardensville, my boyfriend had taken me, my sister and our best friend to the first Talkie in Winchester. That was quite different from what it had been. Now Mr. Farlow had a movie house down here at Hollybrook where he showed movies. Ed and I would take the boys and go down there on Saturday night. We enjoyed that.

School in Hollybrook

I went to Hollybrook school, it was a grade school, just a one room building. It was about a little over a mile from our home. And of course we walked. They had a school then, even if it snowed. I know our father would go out and cut down a big tree, hook the horse to it and drag it down to the school house and that made the path for us to walk in. Then the older boys would cut up that tree and they would burn it in the stove for wood. Recesses were rather short, but during lunch hour we would go off somewhere and play. There was four of us girls about the same age. We would go down over the hill to an old discarded store house, and they was an old car in there. The four of us would play around. I can remember that just like it yesterday. I can't remember who my first teacher was, but Mrs. Oathy Powers from Mechanicsburg she was kind a,well she boarded in our home and she, well we all loved her dearly. Then there was a Oathy Pruett, Mr. John French, Mrs. Marion Rathford, and Ethel Phillips. I think Ethel was teaching when I got through school. I think she was my last teacher.

I was eight years old before I started to school because we didn't have a school right close to home at that time. When they built the little one room school house down there at Hollybrook, I was eight years old when I started school. I went one grade a year till I was sixteen and then I "quituated" I reckon you would call it. Shortly after that we left our mountain home and moved up in West Virginia were our father was employed, and we lived there for about three years. We came home during the Depression in 1930. Our father had bought this farm off of J.D Harvey. and that's were we moved to when we came back here.


I have went to church all my life I reckon. My daddy told me, when I was just a little child he would take me to church and set me on his lap. And when he would start singing he would say, he always call me Sue, he said now Sue sing. And he said that I would open up my mouth and sing just like a bird. So I have loved to sing all my life. And I have attended church all the days of my life. Until I was 16, I attended Shiloh Methodist Church, that was our home church. After we moved to the farm, we got affiliated with Shady Grove. And that has been my church every since.

It has changed over the years. Well at first it was just a school house where my husband got his education, through the eighth grade. Then it was given to the people. At that time it was known as DeHart school, because Mister Frank DeHart gave land to build this one room school on. It was also used as a public speaking place. We had preaching in it, and it was still that way when I first came to Shady Grove, it was still just a one room building. They added on a pulpit first, then a Sunday school room, and later on built two more rooms, and our last addition has been a recreation hall where we have meetings and lunches and different kind of parties there.

Lots of people would have baptizing, and we had one down here at Kimberlin Creek just below where you turn up the holler here. There were a lot of young people being baptized. I was their Sunday school teacher. Just about all of them in that Sunday school class joined the church and was baptized. I can tell you the name of several of them. There was Timmy Williams and Don Williams, Lisa,Teresa Ramsey, and I don't know just how many others but there was several baptized just below the Shady Grove Church.

How things have changed

Pinch Creek has changed over the years quite a bit. When we first moved up here we just had an old country that the farmers maintained and kept up. We'd go to church and coming back then we would sometimes have to walk up the lane down here at Mr. Porch Helvey through the fence to get through the mud.

B.A. Smith was the first person to get a radio on Pinch Creek. At first we had the party phones, there would be probably about six on one line you know. We just had different rings. Then later we just had one(ring) but when you had the party line sometimes you could tell when you was ringing someone else, and you had a chance to listen in. I had one very tragic experience when I listened in. That was when the boy got killed. That night I kept hearing the telephone. I had it right beside my bed, and when they were dialing somebody else, they would ring and I could hear it a tingling. It just kept on and on. I thought, well I am going to see who that is. And I picked it up and Tam said now don't tell Aunt Minnie till in the morning. And I was listening, and of course I ask what it was all about, they told me that Don got killed.

We used to have big snows, at one time, we had a gate across the yard and a plank fence around the yard. We boarded the gate up and down, and the snow blew and packed in there until it would go over the gate in and out. That's the kind of weather we used to have.

We've had two bad floods in this valley since I have been living up here. It would be from bank to bank, plum across the bottom. There were hogs in the pin across the creek over there. And the creek washed the fence out and the hogs got out in the creek. That's how bad it used to be. Now most of the time we would have kind of a wash out about every year, but we haven't had that for a while. But I can remember when it was from bank to bank down here.

I know times all together are different from what they used to be. Well you very seldom heard of any tragedies or anything then. Anymore since we got television, we get it all you know, all the bad news. Not to much of the good news comes over you know. It's quite different from what it used to be when I was growing up.

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