For much of my life, this old crock sat on the hillside of my family home on Tazewell Road. When I was young, I’m not sure I even noticed it filled and overflowing with succulents (hen-and-biddies)* that belonged to my Grandmother Buckland. However, after I moved away from Bluefield, married and started a family, I became curious about my heritage and those long ago relatives from the Virginia mountains.
Many times when I visited Mom, I’d take a few biddies back to the heat of Florida and try to keep them growing. After all, they had been flourishing in that crock without a bit of help since at least October 20, 1960 when Mary Jane Davidson Buckland passed away. **
Many times Mom has encouraged me to take the entire crock and succulents home with me. For fear I’d kill ALL the treasured flowering plants I would only take a few biddies to experiment with. And indeed, the ones I transplanted met their demise. How can a plant that has survived heat and snow for at least 53 years meet it’s death in my hands?
This May when I was home visiting Mom, for the first time, I realized that I didn’t have to take all the hen and biddies in order to take and enjoy the crock. I could hardly move the heavy crock, but carefully rolled it down the hill. Since the plant was being overtaken by ants and roly polys and had very little soil left to cover the roots, I gingerly removed them all from the crock, cleaned and separated them in a pot of water and replanted them in new potting soil. I used a different pot, large enough to allow for growth, and placed the newly planted biddies back in the exact location of the old crock on the hillside in hopes of their continued survival.
As I began scrubbing the crock, I recognized for the first time that this piece possibly had a deeper history than just that of Grandmother Buckland. The archaic treasure is one piece, hand-hewn from a very large rock. The maker carefully shaped the vessel to accommodate plants and primitively drilled a drainage hole on the side. The bottom of the pot is narrowed and had previously not been visible since it was partially buried into the hillside. When Grandaddy Buckland*** died February 5, 1967, my dad, L.W., JR.**** brought the crock home, placed it in a hole on the hillside and it had not been moved since.
Inquiring of Mom about the history of the crock, she said that Dad had mentioned something about it coming from the TABOR side of the family. That being the case, it wasn’t actually Grandmother Buckland’s crock originally, but at the least, it would have belonged to my great-grandmother, Sarah Jane Tabor Buckland ***** who had inherited the home property from her parents ****** James Harrison Tabor & Nancy Moore Runyan. Sarah Tabor & husband Jacob Alexander Buckland lived in a log home on that land and reared 6 children. ****** including my grandfather, Larkin Watson Buckland.
Had this crock been around for at least 100 years? probably! Eureka! Now that I have this in my home and part of my personal family collection, I’ll think of my ancient folks and their simple lives every time I look at that crock. Perhaps I’ll be reminded to live a less-cluttered life myself. I love the utilitarian items of our ancestors far more than treasured antiques. Just crazy I suppose; just a simple Railroader’s Daughter.
*Hen and chicks (also known as Hen-and-chickens, or Hen-and-biddies in the American South) is a common name for a group of small succulent plants belonging to the flowering plant family Crassulaceae, native to Europe and northern Africa. They grow close to the ground with leaves formed around each other in a rosette, and propagating by offsets. The “hen” is the main plant, and the “chicks” are the offspring, which start as tiny buds on the main plant and soon sprout their own roots, taking up residence close to the mother plant. (Wikipedia) Here are my hen-and-biddies as of May 2013.
Funeral services for Mrs. Mary Jane Buckland 74, wife of L.W. Buckland of Falls Mills, Va., will be conducted Sunday at 2:30p.m. at Falls Mills Christian Church. Dewey Parr, Clarence Greenleaf, and Clinton Looney will officiate, with burial in Tabor Cemetery at Falls Mills. The body will be taken from Dudley Memorial Mortuary to the home at 2p.m. Friday and to the church one hour before services. Mrs. Buckland died Thursday morning in a Bluefield hospital after being admitted two weeks ago. She was a native of Tazewell County, Va., daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Granger Davidson. She was a member of the Falls Mills Christian Church, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Auxiliary, and the GIA. Survivors, other than her husband, include a daughter, Mrs. James W. Lawrence of the home; four sons, Robert Charles, Walter, and L.W. Buckland, Jr., of Falls Mills; two sisters, Mrs. Crosby Stone of Orlando, Florida, and Mrs. Robert Wimmer of Falls Mills; 18 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren. Three sisters preceded her in death.
Although Watson was a retired engineer for the Norfolk and Western Railroad, he also worked as a fireman and PM section gang. He previously worked in a rock quarry for .50 per day.
He was a member and honorary elder of Falls Mills Christian Church, a lifetime member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and a member of the Bluefield Old Guard. He and his family moved from Bluefield, West Virginia to Falls Mills in May 1922, to the log cabin his parents had lived in. He later built a brick home on the property, which was owned and occupied by his son and wife, Robert and Margaret Buckland until Robert’s death in 2011.
Sarah Jane Tabor Buckland
2/22/1849 – 1/6/1922
Jacob Alexander Buckland
11/26/1849 – 11/1/1919
married – 3/2/1871
Nancy Jane Polly Buckland
George Robert Sylvester Buckland
Cora Belle Buckland
William Harrison Buckland
Samuel Graham Buckland
Larkin Watson Buckland
James Harrison Tabor
12/14/1821 – 11/11/1891
Nancy Moore Runyan
4/12/1822 – 8/29/1888
buried at the Harry Cemetery in Falls Mills, VA
The Tabor family, as many other ordinary rural families of that day, actually carved headstones from rock. Some of the Tabor’s are buried at the Tabor Cemetery in Mudfork, VA.