National Geographic : 1962 Jul
A rail fence ran in a zigzag line, disappearing around a bend. "Folks don't know how there," John W. Oliver said with certainty. We stood on a porch of recent vintage. John Oliver pointed to what were once fields and now was a young forest. "Here's where I learned plowing when I was ten," he said wistfully. John's father was William H. Oliver (1857-1940), an ordained preacher in the Primitive Baptist Church, founded by John Oliver in 1827. William was bedridden for three years with arthritis. "Had to turn him in the feather bed real keerful," John W. Oliver remembered sadly. "Did you all have feather beds?" I asked. "My mattress was whut's called a straw mattress," he said with a grin. "There were corn husks in it, too." The plows those days had wooden mold boards. Plowing was a man's job. But until John W. Oliver could plow, his mother did it. "I was mighty proud of her for her plowing." Some settlers were "jist a-ground-hoggin' it"-just getting by. For though the Cove had rich land, it also had marginal land that pro duced a crop or two, then petered out.