Jessie Hart Finley is standing alone to the left in this picture of Silver Creek School.
Shannell Ball interviews her grandmother, Jessie Hart Finley. Mrs. Finley was raised in part up Silver Creek. Today it is called No Business Creek much to Mrs. Finley's dismay. She speaks a good bit about the one room school up Silver Creek. This was actually in Giles County, but because of Wolf Creek Mountain the residents did their business in Bland County and even today Giles County pays Bland to educate their children on this side of the mountain.
Shannell: This is an interview with my grandmother, Jessie Hart Finley.
Shannell:Where and when were you born?
Jessie: I was born in Giles County, April the ninth, 1921.
Shannell: Who was your mother and father?
Jessie: My mother was Minnie Viola Faulkner. My father was William Preston Hart.
Shannell: Where were they born and raised?
Jessie: Both of them were born and raised in Bland County.
Shannell: What did they do for a living?
Jessie: They farmed and peddled produce and butter and eggs to Bluefield, West Virginia.
Shannell: What was your father like?
Jessie: My father was very strict and a very conscious man, he was good to his neighbors. I never did hear him ever turn anyone down that wanted something, even if he was real busy he would drop everything and go to help when it was needed. He was very strict, but very a loving man too.
Shannell: What was your mother like?
Jessie: My mother was also very strict and taught us children the things we needed to know that we would make and grow up to be good Christians and good citizens.
Shannell: Who were your grandparents?
Jessie: My grandparents on my mother's side was Ellen Wright and my grandfather was George and they nick named him "Dod" Faulkner.
Shannell: Where were they born and raised?
Jessie: I believe my grandfather was born probably at Springville Virginia and my grandmother was born in Bland County.
Shannell:What did they do for a living?
Jessie: They had a little farm and they farmed.
Shannell: What were they like?
Jessie: Well, my grandmother was a very religious woman. My grandfather was a kind of a stern, coarse person.
Shannell: What about your grandparents on your father's side?
Jessie: They were . . . both of my grandparents on my father's side were very religious. She was . . . I forget who she was before she married. My grandfather's name was William Hart. My grandmother's name was Elvira (Elvira Brown), I believe.
Shannell: Where were they born and raised?
Jessie: I believe they were born in Bland County, but I am really not sure.
Shannell: Do you know what they did for a living?
Jessie:I was very small when I remember my grandparents. I remember one time I went down and my parents left me with them one day and I was about five years old and I wanted my granddaddy, Hart, to go to the store and get me some candy, so I chased him around the house with a mattock.
Jessie: A mattock.
Shannell: What's that?
Jessie: A thing you dig in the ground with.
Shannell: Oh, ok.
Shannell: Who were your brothers and sisters?
Jessie: My oldest brother was Shannon Hart. He got killed in the Bishop Mine. I forget how old he was, but he was old enough to work in the mines. My next brother was Shuler Hart. I only had one sister, her name was Edna and she died from a heart operation when she was thirty-eight years old. I had another brother named Wayne and he was killed in an automobile accident in Charleston, West Virginia. Then, I was the next one. By the way my name is Jessie. Then, I had a brother named Roger. He's a minister. Then, the youngest one is named William Hart. He lives in Arizona.
Shannell: Where were you raised?
Jessie: I was raised in there where I was born in Giles County. It's about a mile from the Bland County, east of the Bland County line.
Shannell: What did you do for fun when you were small?
Jessie: Well, I can remember my parents went to bed, didn't light a lamp, they went to bed. They worked hard and they went to bed by dark. Us children would play in the yard. We would run and play tag and I remember my brother Shuler would put me in a big old tire and roll me around the house. I can remember so well there were lots of whippoorwills and every night you could hear these whippoorwills much and you can hardly hear a whippoorwill now. But, that's about all we had to do. We didn't have a lot of toys to play with and Christmas was really . . . we didn't miss what we never had. I know our Christmases I can remember; I always looked forward to getting a piece of dress material and a few nuts, and some candy, and an orange. All those things were put in a brown bag and put on the chairs in the living room. Each child had a different chair. I was always glad to get what I was going to get for Christmas. My mother sewed, made all of our clothes even the boy's clothes. I would pick out a picture in the catalog the way I wanted a dress made and my mother would cut the pattern and make the dress.
Shannell: What were your chores around the house?
Jessie: They're almost to numerous to mention. I churned. We had a spring that was down under the hill next to the creek. It was a real cold good spring and we would milk and carry the milk down there and put it in the spring in crocks and then we go down there and get it and skim the cream off of it and I would churn down there at the spring and then we would carry the buttermilk up to the house, what we wanted to use, and leave the rest in the spring. I worked out in the field, corn field, hay field. I milked cows, and cleaned house, and I always baked a cake on Saturday. I didn't learn much about cooking,because I was always out in the field somewhere. Working all summer long.
Shannell: What was your house like?
Jessie: The house was real nice, because my father was a carpenter and he built the house. It had a Bay Window on it and it had hard wood floors and a oak stairway that curved. My daddy bought that farm in woods and rock after him and mother were married. He went to the coal fields and worked out eight hundred dollars and my mother carried that in her sock and he came back and bought a hundred and nineteen acres there in Giles County. It was covered in rock and he hauled them off with a horse and wagon and dumped them along Silver Creek there, which now people call No Business, but I really don't like to call it No Business, because it was Silver Creek on the map and it was always called Silver Creek when I was growing up.
Shannell: Do you know why the name was changed?
Jessie: Well the story is that someone, a couple of men, came in the county there to hunt or something and got lost and came out of the woods and wanted to know where they were and someone told them that it was where they didn't have any business. That's the story. I don't know if it's true or not.
Shannell: What was grown in your garden?
Jessie: We had a garden right beside of the house. It was fenced in and we had corn, beans, sweet potatoes, potatoes, turnips in the fall, carrots, also had a strawberry patch there in the garden. Just the normal things, rutabagas, onions, lettuce, just most things you grow in a garden.
Shannell: What was your favorite meal?
Jessie: Corn bread and beans. My mother could cook the best corn bread and we had corn bread twice a day. She baked it in an iron skillet and it was always crusty on top and bottom, good and brown. And, I just really enjoyed mother's corn bread. I still like corn bread and milk with a little sugar in it, but she always cooked the best beans always, had lots of good thick juice in them.
Silver Creek School
Shannell: Where did you go to school?
Jessie: Went to a one room school house there on Silver Creek. It was in Giles County about a quarter of a mile east of the Bland County line. Of coarse, I started school in Bluefield at the first grade then came back to Silver Creek in the second grade, went back to Bluefield in the third and fourth grade, then came back to Silver Creek in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. You had to have a examination by the superintendent of the schools, which was at Pearisburg in order for you to leave that school and go to Hollybrook. There wasn't a bus that run to Hollybrook; it was five miles away and I remember the last year that I was at Silver Creek school when I was in the seventh grade, there was two boys, Arthur Beamer and Wayne Stowers that walked that five miles to Hollybrook School all year. And then my daddy went to Pearisburg when I left that school. He went to Pearisburg and Giles County put a bus on that transported the children to Hollybrook. Then they had ten grades there and I went to Bland High School to graduate and we only had eleven grades when I was in school and I graduated in 1937.
|Shannell: What was the school like?
Jessie: That little one room school? The one room school. Well, I'll tell you there were lots of funny things that went on there. We us girls . . . it was right in the woods and we would get out there and sweep off a . . . it was kind of a hilly and had quit a few pine trees and we'd hunt up rocks and pretend like at recess time that we were housekeeping and we would put those rocks in for our rooms and they were always under a pine tree. I can remember them throwing spit balls.
|Since the boys didn't walk that five miles to school, some of them just stayed on there until they were sixteen, seventeen, maybe even eighteen years old, just stayed in the sixth and seventh grades kept going to school. And, I remember one time they got into some mischief. I don't remember what they did, but the teacher was a little woman and she sent them out to get a couple of switches and she was going to make them whip each other. So, they got the switches, but they took a knife with them and ruined the switches and then they started to whip one another and the switches broke all to pieces.
Shannell: So, that was how she punished kids?
Jessie: Well, the big ones you know; the smaller ones she could whip, but couldn't whip those that were sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years old.
Shannell: Did you ever get into trouble at school?
Jessie: Well, I imagine I was a mischievous. I remember when I was in school in the fourth grade. Jessie Bailey was the teacher and she was a big woman and my name was Jessie so, well, I wouldn't have been but eight years old so I called her Jessie one day and so she took me in the cloak room and she really paddled me good. I had bruises on me. So, when I went home I told my mother about it and she said, well, she was going down there to see something about that. So, she just took me in the cloak room and whipped me again.
Shannell: What were the names of your other teacher if you can remember?
Jessie: My teacher's name in the first grade was Martha Williams, second grade was Hazel Short, third was Flaraise, Kathy, fourth was Jessie Bailey, fifth Irene Vest, sixth Ruth Janelle, seventh Georgie Bonam, eighth Olin Munsey, Claude Stowers, ninth Olin Munsey, Claude Stowers, tenth Olin Munsey, Claude Stowers, and eleventh Joe Clintsloe. And that little school house. It was remarkable most all the teachers that went up there got married while they were there. Married someone from this area.
Shannell: How were your holidays celebrated?
Jessie: Well we really didn't have a Christmas tree at Christmas. The first Christmas tree we ever had was after I graduated. I went to Bluefield and baby sat for a lady. Fifty cents a day, stayed with them. I got fifteen dollars a month. I bought some Christmas decorations and brought them home and had my daddy to get a tree. That was the first Christmas tree that I ever remember us having.
Shannell: Do you remember any funny stories or pranks that were pulled?
Jessie: Well, not right off.
Shannell: How did teenagers court when you were young?
Jessie: Well, my daddy was very strict. I don't remember, but maybe once or twice that I ever got to go out. We had a parlor so we sat in that parlor and courted. I don't know, most of other teenagers, I suppose, about that way. We just didn't have much of a way to travel; you know boys didn't have cars then like they do now.
Shannell: How did you meet your husband?
Jessie: I met him at Hollybrook School the first year I went down there in the eighth grade.
Shannell: How old was he when you met him?
Jessie: Well lets see, I was twelve when I met him and he was eighteen.
Shannell: Where did you get married?
Jessie: I got married at Pearisburg at a Methodist minister's house.
Shannell: What was the ceremony like?
Jessie: It was just the normal thing, do you take and, yes, I do.
Shannell: Did you go on a honeymoon?
Jessie: Oh yes, we went on a honeymoon. We went to Bluefield, spent the night with my aunt and then the next morning was Sunday, day before Easter, and they had an early Sunday service before daylight. So, we got up real early and went to that service on Sunday morning. That was our honeymoon.
Shannell: What is your husband's name?
|Jessie: Tyler Jackson Finley. (Tyler is the one on the left sitting on the first school bus used for Silver Creek.)
Shannell: How many children did you have?
Jessie: I had four children, one, my second one was a girl and she died when she was four years old (Wilmarine), my oldest one was a boy (Gary). He lives in Bluefield. He's a mechanic; has his own business and my other children were girls, Tylene (Ball) and Tessa (Nelson).
|Shannell: Do you think it was easier to raise children then than today?
Jessie: Oh yes, so much easier. There's just so much peer pressure, so many automobiles. Most kids going to school now drive. Then, you remember they couldn't even get in school because it was so far to walk. Wasn't much for them to get in trouble. I don't remember anyone getting into anything really mean when I was growing up.
Shannell: Do you remember anything about Rocky Gap when you were growing up?
Jessie: No, I don't remember much about Rocky Gap. We went through there going to Bluefield, that's about all I knew about Rocky Gap.
Shannell: Do you remember any bad snow storms or floods?
Jessie: Yes, I remember on time when I was about twelve there was about a twelve, fourteen inch snow fell out and it rained on it and froze. I can remember some of the smaller animals walking on top of that ice. Our farm was sort of hilly so we would just get up on a hill and just sit down and slide down on top of the ice on top of the snow.
Shannell: We've already talked about Christmas, so do you remember anything about Halloween?
Jessie: Well, I took my son, we took our son to Bluefield one time and I dressed up in my mother-in-law's old dress and shoes and pulled a sock over my head. And we were peddling at that time and had several good customers, so we only went to the customers, but I would go in the house and I say "All I want is a half a stick of gum." They never found out who I was. They didn't recognize me. Well, then when the girls came along, they said "you took Gary trick or treating we want to go too." So we took them to Bluefield one time. So as far as I know that was the only time my children went trick or treating.
Shannell: Do you remember celebrating Easter or Valentine's Day or others?
Jessie: Well I have all the valentines that I ever received. Still have them. It was a big thing you know Valentine's Day and I had valentines made out of paper you cover walls with, samples cut out of a sample book, and make valentines out of it. I had several made like that because people didn't have money to buy real valentines. But I still have everyone that I ever got.
Shannell: What about Easter?
Jessie: Well, we didn't celebrate Easter that much because not the way people do now, because Easter to us was the day that Jesus arose from the dead. We don't think eggs and rabbits and things like that are really celebrating Easter. We went to church and course I guess we did make and color some eggs and hide them. Maybe we did do that when we were small.
Shannell: Do you remember when the stock market crashed?
Jessie: Well I remember being in the Depression. The last year I was in school, the only money I had was twenty-five cents on the last day of school. We were going up to the bank, up there at Bland. My daddy would have given me the last penny in his pocket if I had asked him if he had any money. He said I think I have a quarter in the bank up at Bland. So he gave me a blank check and I went up there and got the last quarter out of the bank he had. I don't remember what I did with it. It's been so long; I don't remember what I did with that quarter.
Shannell: Who was the first President you can remember?
Jessie: Well, I guess the one that I think about more than any is Roosevelt, because he legalized alcohol. I was displeased with that. I thought that was one of the worst things that has happen in our country is alcohol being legalized. All the traffic and alcoholism we have today is really dreadful thing to people to drink and drive and kill people on the highway.
Shannell: Do you remember the first movie you went to see?
Jessie: Can't remember the first movie, but when we lived in Bluefield, I can remember we walked downtown and you could see a movie for ten cents. My daddy did carpenter work that's how comes to . . . daddy wanted us to go to school in Bluefield. He thought the schools would be better over there. But it didn't turn out that way. Daddy would build a house and we would live in it and then he would build another one and we'd sell the house. He built four houses during the time we were over there. My mother sewed, took in to buying all the nails that went in the house.
Shannell: What did you take to school for your lunch?
Jessie: Well, when we were in Bluefield my daddy always killed a beef and we had plenty of beef. You could hang it then and my mother would go out and cut it and it would dry and never did spoil and we had apple butter biscuits and beef biscuits and I would go to school and see those sandwiches and, oh, I wanted a sandwich made of white bread so bad. Didn't really know that I was living high off the hog and didn't know it. Then I still packed my lunch when I was a senior and I had beef and apple butter biscuits, never bought lunch, always packed our homemade biscuits with beef and apple butter.
Shannell: Is there anything else about the schools?
Jessie: Well, when I was at Hollybrook, we had a girls basketball team. I played on the basketball team. I never played when I went to Bland. I always enjoyed school.
Shannell: Is there anything else you would like to tell that happened while you were growing up?
Jessie: Well, I remember so well, when we went to Bluefield, we would go over there in the winter time and then we would come back and work on the farm. My two older brothers would take a cow across East River Mountain for us to milk while we were in Bluefield so we wouldn't have to buy our milk. Then when we came back, they'd bring the cow back, walk it across East River Mountain, which was about twenty-five miles to the east end where we lived then.
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