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Today, We Close the Door for the Last Time

There was something peaceful and heartwarming about sitting on our front porch while Dad taught me how to beckon a conversation with a covey of quail on the mountain. The feeding or courtship call is a whistled sound … it resembles saying bob white, bob bob white with an inflection at the end — like that sweet sounding little bird pronounces his own name. After practicing a couple of wooings, I could ohear the clear pitch of an accepting response.

Along that stretch of 460 west of Bluefield, Virginia, it used to be quiet and a little breezy — even restful most days except during Thanksgivings or large family gatherings. We shared more meals in that little frame house than I can count because that’s how Mom showed love. She didn’t dote on us kids or spoil us rotten, she fed us. Like her sister Aunt Joella, she always prepared meals from scratch that were the best you’ve ever eaten. Meat and vegetables, deviled eggs, macaroni salad, homemade yeast rolls, congealed salads and dessert; always delicious and always enough for an army.

By God’s design, we’ve said our goodbyes to our parents and now, on this day, we close the front door for the last time and transfer the deed of their home to another. I believe the new owner is just as excited to make this her home as Mom and Dad were 52 years ago. May she sit on the porch in the cool of the evening and converse with the quail, and may her home be filled with family, friends and love for many years to come. And — I hope she enjoys telling the story of a man who “bought a house and rode it home”.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

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In the fall of 1966, the railroader “bought a house and road it home“, or at least that’s how Dad described it. He and Mom, my brother Larry and I lived in a single-wide trailer on Route 460, west of Bluefield, VA when Virginia DOT upgraded the highway to accommodate 4-lanes of traffic. In doing so, the state purchased many homes/land along the south side of the old 2-lane road for their right of way. Those homes were then sold at auction to the highest bidder then each winner had to relocate the house to another location. I remember Bob Chapman from Bank of Tazewell County purchased two or three homes and relocated them just west of Bailey Switch. Three more houses, including a river rock two-story, were moved to an area west of Shawver’s store, just over the creek.

The railroader purchased his small frame house that had been built on land across from the White Kitchen Skating Rink. To the best of my memory, he paid about $400 for the home. Other expenses included moving the structure, constructing a foundation and basement on the new lot, and all the additional expense of plumbing/wiring, etc. All in all, – that was a great deal!

The area’s afternoon newspaper, the Sunset News ran a feature story on the event and published the picture above. Dad always got a kick out of saying, “I bought a house and rode it home”. He literally did. At age twelve, I remember seeing him on top of the house as they rolled down the road. He and several other men had sticks in their hands to lift the power lines out of the way. They held the lines high while walking the length of the house as the house on a big wheeled truck moved slowly down the two lane road. At last Mom was pleased to finally have a house to make her very own.

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Biscuits and Gravy – what could be better!

There’s a feeling as I ascend the mountains around winding roads leading back home. An anticipation, an appreciation, a heart-warming emotion overcomes me as I draw near my childhood roots in Bluefield.

In spite of all the busy-ness currently in my life, I heeded a calling that I should head for the hills! A few weeks back I left Tallahassee, stopped a night in north Georgia to pick up my cousin Phyllis (thank you Tom) and began our girls road-trip to the foothills of East River Mountain in Tazewell County. I hadn’t been there since my Mother’s funeral seventeen months earlier, so understandably I was a bit melancholic with uncertainty that I was going home for the first time without Mom. Her house was empty, the home where I spent my teenage years wasn’t home anymore. She had been the anchor; Mom and Dad were the ones I could always count on to love me; the baby of the family.

Driving through the beautiful North Carolina mountains, Phyllis and I chatted about our children briefly, but soon found ourselves talking about our family, our history and our good times growing up back home. I’ve always found my time with Phyllis fun and full of laughter. We’ve matured; both of us since our crazy days at Claytor Lake and Myrtle Beach. But six years my younger, her wit and wisdom are still delightful. Conversation and miles clicked away and soon we pulled into the driveway at Aunt Clara’s house. I was home and it felt good and right.

Anytime I have a listening family ear, I tend to bore them to no end with genealogy trivia like William the Conqueror being our 27th great grandfather or Dad’s boyhood discovery under the seat boxes of Grandaddy Buckland’s 1924 Nash. Shhhh….

I’ve been at this roots searching thing since the 1980’s and have more recorded than I can ever bring to mind, but I’m always eager to share when I can.

Once settled in at Phyllis’s childhood home, she sent a couple of texts to cousins in search of THE Buckland Family Bible with names and dates recorded. Eureka! Every genealogist’s treasure chest of data. (photos below) Before long, a couple of cousins and my brothers arrived to share fun times as we sat on the screen porch at Aunt Clara’s. Good times!

Family connections run deep in our mountains. There’s something sweet when our conversations pick right back up where we left off years ago. It’s that bond of family ties that is unmistakably the best – the very best.

I enjoyed time with both my brothers, Ellis and Larry, sister-in-law Susie, cousin Mary Ann (Uncle Walter’s oldest) and her husband Joe. I enjoyed breakfast too! Aunt Clara’s biscuits and gravy shared with Phyllis’s long time friend, Kim Beavers. Aunt Clara’s hospitality and genuine kindness are gifts that cannot be surpassed. I know first hand that she’s always had this gift.

In the days when we (a bunch of us) used to go to the lake to spend the weekend with her and Uncle Charles and their family, and all our friends, and all their friends, and the friend’s friends, she would start her day perking coffee and cooking a full breakfast of bacon or sausage, eggs and the all time favorite – biscuits and gravy was the crowd pleaser. While we all went out on the water to ski or cruise in the boats, without missing a beat she worked tirelessly in the kitchen preparing our next meal and the next. A constant servant with a heart of love. And if you ask any one of the many young teenagers that passed by her table, they will share with you the stories of her love, her hospitality, the fun and the memories that were made along the banks of Claytor Lake.

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Thank you Aunt Clara and Phyllis (and husband Tom) for giving exactly what I needed – love.

Thank you Larry for jumping headfirst into THE LIST!

Thank you Buck for the sweet visit.

Thank you Mary Ann and Joe.

Family is extra special to me, and I want you to know that. I love that I’m from these mountains and the rich heritage we share.

 

Grandmother Buckland’s Bible

Some entries are in her handwriting; I recognize the same rough cursive as in her scrapbook and on the backs of pictures that I have. I suspect that the later entries of younger children were written by Aunt Bertha.
 click on the images to view larger

 

          

    

   

         

Discovering My Patriot Ancestors

It’s been four years since I’ve posted to this blog. Time and circumstances did not permit. Life happens. Much has changed, but I’m ready to get back at it.

Recently I attended a luncheon meeting of the Carolyn Brevard Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. A long time friend and co-worker invited me as a prospective member, and I agreed. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but discovered that the Daughters are women who are passionate about preserving history and honoring and supporting those who serve our nation. Okay – I’m all in!

Since the 1980’s when I became a mother, I found family history, handed-down stories, Appalachian folklore and genealogy quite interesting. Of course I began tthe process of discovery with Mom and Dad, but exhausted their knowledge of ancestors quickly and wanted to know more. My mother’s sister, Aunt Jo Ella Mace, didn’t like the idea that I was researching her family and expressed her dissenting opinion saying — I might turn up a horse thief.  Well, it didn’t take too much digging on my part to uncover her real secret. My great grandmother, Nancy “Nannie” Catherine Jessee (read more…) had her first child out of wedlock and subsequently married 4 times. She and my great grandfather, Doctor Caleb Davis were married 27 years and had 11 children before his death in 1899. I believe that Nannie outlived all the others as well. I don’t hold any of that against her. After all, she was only 8 when her father, Stanford Lea Jessee, was killed serving in the War Between the States.

In spite of Aunt Jo’s warning, I have stayed the course for more than 30 years, discovered a few more “secrets” and enjoyed the genealogical journey of  both of my parents family — Buckland and Davis. With more than 11,000 people in Family Tree Maker and my online Ancestry tree — The Railroader’s Daughter, I have documented English, Scottish, Irish and German roots. Patriots and pioneers galore! Name drops include General Sam Houston, Virginia’s Civil War Governor John Letcher and even William the Great Conqueror, King of England (my 27th great grandfather).

Back to DAR…. I’m proud to say that I have submitted my application for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution based on the genealogical and military records of my 4th great grandfather, Abraham Childers (1750-1849).

Although a separate application is required for each patriot in the organization and I may not register them, (that becomes costly) I have quite a rich and honorable history of those willing to give it all for the sake of freedom.
(name & DAR registration # below) (* Buckland lines)

• Allen, Hugh #A001573*
• Banner, John #A005750
• Bartley, William #A208284*
• Brooks, William #A015111
• Brown, Low*
• Childers, Abraham #A021513
• Compton, John Jr. #A024739*
• Davidson, Joseph*
• Davis, Robert #A205258
• Gregory, William #A129471*
• Harman, Hezekiah *
• Jessee, John #A062559
• Keyser, Joseph Kenton #A204441
• Patten, Henry #A088813*
• Ward, David #A120479*

Celebrating a Heritage of Railroading During the Days of J611

2014-07-10 05.37.08 With the announcement in 2014 that the Class J 611 would be restored and once again run under her own steam to return home, I anticipated that I too would be in Roanoke, Virginia for the glorious Homecoming Celebration in late spring of the following year. I sensed that I was connected to her in  a special way. Not like rail-fans or train buffs, but the way other families whose only financial resource came from the operation of steam engines during the 1950’s on Norfolk & Western’s Pocahontas division.  The connection drew me to ages-old railroad papers and books that I gathered so possessively and boxed carefully after we buried the Railroader in 1993. 2015-06-05 10.35.47 2015-06-05 10.36.37 2015-06-05 11.32.23 Coal dust had lingered on those timeworn pages and clung eerily to my fingers as I slowly traced each entry and studied them intently. I discovered a strange and surreal, yet inviting connection to a moment in time before I was born.  BUCKLAND Buddy on RR As far back as 1942, the Railroader, a young fireman then, proudly held onto his time books, meticulously recording dates, engine numbers, locations and times on duty, crew members and most importantly, wages earned for each trip. Since the average annual salary in 1942 was only $2400, his $10.85 for a day’s run was compelling enough for him to accept the risks of running a steam engine. Working conditions were difficult in those days; not just because of the long hours in the foggy or snowy weather known to the mountains of southwest Virginia, but just managing to breathe and avoiding burns in the cab of a steam engine was challenging. Railroad families describe how crewmen had to cover their bodies completely to avoid inhaling the deadly fumes or receiving burns from exhaust or injury from falling brick in the structures of those long narrow tunnels.  Stories and people of a different time and place, a different way of life, run intently through my mind as I search eagerly to find where I fit in. I remember the Railroader coming home from work, usually in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours, with black coal dirt all over his face and clothing. Overalls and cap that were freshly washed, starched and ironed only 16 hours prior, now carried ground in stains and that peculiar yet familiar smell; the same smell of our basement when the coal bin was full, and where we loaded the stoker to feed our furnace. No matter the hour, the Railroader’s wife would rise and start a fresh pot of coffee to drip while she made biscuits and fried bacon or sausage and eggs. He would eat a hardy meal, head to bed and often, in less than 8 hours, would hear from the call office to report to duty, only to do it all over again. Everyday, seven days a week, weekends and holidays – the railroad never slept. Most Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the Railroader was at the throttle on a mine run, a pusher, a time-freight or if seniority presented itself or (he would say, “as luck would have it”)  the coveted Powhatan Arrow. As the youngest of four children, I had been given plenty, but I had no concept of the sacrifice that he (and she) made for us. Strangely, it’s only now that I even begin to understand that dad and others like him endured extremely harsh conditions in providing for their families. BUCKLAND LW  & BUCKLAND  LW_jr_RR 2013-08-24 02.10.38 I indeed went to Roanoke to welcome her home to the shops where she originated. Saturday, May 30th.  Wearing the t-shirt that honored by dad,  I left Hotel Roanoke and walked across the street to meet up with Tom and Bob Gordon at the O. Winston Link Museum located in the Historic Norfolk & Western Passenger Station. 2015-05-31 12.51.54

The brothers are the sons of Neb Gordon, N&W Engineer and friend of the Railroader. Tom’s wife Karen, daughter and family joined us on that historic day around noon. Bright sunshine and a nice breeze was perfect weather to await the completion of J 611’s run from the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer. As I swapped stories with others, someone in the crowd called out my name. I turned around to see Wanda Hale Crawford, her husband and grandson standing above. Wanda’s father, Jim Hale also worked for N&W. Their family and ours went to the same church when we were growing up and our parents were friends. Although J611 was a bit late of her scheduled arrival, the reported  70,000 people were awe struck and emotional when she rounded the curve coming into the yard and in front of the Historic Norfolk & Western Passenger Station downtown. Folks with cameras and media reporters lined the bridges over the rail yard and sprawled over the green grassy hillside in front of Hotel Roanoke. 611’s steam and black smoke bellowed atop the shiny newly painted body of the streamlined beauty. When the Norfolk Southern engineer Darin Bridger blew the whistle making that anticipated noise, the crowds roared with excitement and pride. WATCH HERE The couple in front of me had tears running down their face, Wanda Hale’s grandson waved his hat and got so caught up in the moment that he missed videoing the train. I too, took it all in but contained my emotions, all the while thinking that dad would have been oh so happy to be the man behind the throttle. After all, he loved railroading.

If he had worked past 65 years old, his pension would have been reduced, so he complied reluctantly. He once said to me, “don’t ever let anyone tell you that the day you retire is a happy day”.

It was a day worth remembering, a train worth celebrating and a man worth honoring. And in memory of those gone and honoring those who are still with us: – the Norfolk & Western Railroad family.

L.W. Buckland, Sr.
L.W. “Buddy” Buckland, Jr.
Larry C. Buckland
Robert C. Buckland, Sr.
R. Cecil Buckland, Jr.
Charles N. Buckland
Walter Buckland
George R. Buckland
Asa C. Davis
Richard McHaffa
Neb B. Gordon
Ernie Hoback
S.O. Siple
Sandy Ball
? Wright
? Warner
Duck Ellis
Flop Quillin
Mr. Spangler
Clyde Barre
Corky Whitley
Jim Hale

BUCKLAND LW Engineers Picnic

Engineers left to right: Siple, ? Sandy Ball, LW Buckland Jr., ?, Wright, ? , Warner, ? Front – ?, Duck Ellis, Charles Buckland, Flop Quillin These men usually went by their initials, but many I have forgotten. If you know them or can identify the ?, please comment. Thank you

BUCKLAND LW Eng Picnic

Duck Ellis, Neb Gordon, LW “Buddy” Buckland, Robert Buckland, ?, ?

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Standing with J611 Steam Engineer, Bob Saxton at Virginia Museum of Transportation, May 31, 2015.

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J611 at the Virginia Museum of Transportation

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Not sure of many of these older fellows, but Neb Gordon stands 2nd from right.

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I believe this was Mr. Spangler’s birthday celebration. I recognize only a few; please comment if you know others. Seated left with red jacket, Mr OW Siple. ? my uncle Robert Buckland next to Mr. Spangler. My cousin, Richard McHaffa, LW Buckland, Jr. ? Standing Flop Quillin in tan jacket and my brother Larry Buckland in white sweater.

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The 1218 at the Virginia Museum of Transportation on May 31, 2015. I imagine that dad ran this engine as well, but have not found documentation yet.

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The 2156 at the Virginia Museum of Transportation on May 31, 2015. DAD, LWB, Jr. ran this engine as documented in his time books.

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The campaign to #FireUp611 caught my attention a little over a year ago when I began to follow the posts on Facebook and the website. I couldn’t help but wonder if my dad had actually run the great streamline steam engine back in the glory days. Pulling out his old time books gave me the documentation that I needed to prove that he not only worked J611 along with his father L.W. Sr., but he documented runs on all J Class engines, 600-613 in a 1954 time book. He also worked the 2156 (documented) that sits along side J611 at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, and likely the 1218 – but I have not confirmed that engine in his time books. No 611 was one of fourteen Class ‘J’ passenger locomotives built for the Norfolk & Western Railrway between 1941 and 1950 and the only one in existence today. Simple lines, a bullet nose and a Tuscan red stripe made the Js stand out as one of the most beautiful streamlined steam locomotives ever designed.    

 

Reminiscing Tree Ornaments and other Christmas Nostalgia

It’s that time of year when I usually have the house decorated for Christmas and almost all the presents purchased, wrapped and under the tree. hum -Not so this year!

Along with aging – comes a slowing, savoring of life and a choosing to use time for really important things. This year, we stayed with the season of Thanksgiving for awhile before moving on into the hustle and bustle of the commercial extravaganza America calls “the holidays”.

Like so many times before, my husband willingly put up our 9′ artificial tree on Friday. It’s not a fun chore, but this is his gift to me, and I appreciate it more than he knows. It’s an old tree that we purchased the first year we moved into this house. (2000)  Each limb has a certain slot and each row of slots has to be careful filled with just the right color-coded stem. It’s tedious work and each year as we drag the oversized, duck-taped box out of the garage, we declare that we’ll get a new, lighted tree right after Christmas when they go on sale.

But once our large round blue spruce is adorned with lights, ages-old rose garland and collected ornaments, we realize that the newer versions can’t possibly be as beautiful as “our” tree… so we never go to the tree sale. Maybe this year will be different.

Today, I turn on Michael Buble Holiday setting a mood for pilfering through many plastic storage containers of ornaments. So many deeply special ornaments are tucked securely inside their own little box with handwritten notes as to their origin. As I open the first ones, my mind slips away into fond memories of when I first put that ornament on our tree and who’s generosity and thoughtfulness brought that bauble to our home. I smile with thankfulness at each glimpse as if that was the first time I had seen the specially chosen ornament.

toKTfromGRAMMY1986  Lion from Grammy Birdhouse TenThousandVillages grammytokt  HummelfromGrammy

Precious little booties that came from Grammy on Katie’s first Christmas (1986) and more throughout the years; the lion, the carousel horse and the metal Hummel.

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The love birds and heart I purchased for us in 1985. The wooden bride & groom from Grammy on our first Christmas and the star tree topper for a very small tree so many years ago.

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Sister’s beloved nativities – and Sarah’s remembrance of dancing with the Moscow ballet.

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Kerry’s jumper from way before me and two ornaments from Liz – the ball from Spain when she was flying.

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Artful and thoughtfully created gifts from Suzanne Conner, Debbie Reber & Ten Thousand Villages. So many people, such kind memories.

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sheilafromkevins   NancyWaugh

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A Wedgwood Blue Jasper Ornament from Susan who never really liked us – but she had great taste in expensive ornaments so we kept it on the tree! Sheila brought a fox and squirrel which I love. Nancy Waugh, a dear lady in whom I found Bluefield in common. She was from WV and me VA, but we hold them close in our heart. The Danish ornament (2002) from cousin Edith in Denmark, the train from Karen and angel from my sweet friend Anne. … and in spite of my utmost care to package all the glass ornaments carefully in molded paper apple trays from Albertson’s these many years , there is an occasional breakage.

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My most favorite and  heart-warming ornament this year is from the hand of Joanna Francis (www.joannafrancislivingwell.com). I purchased this from her last December as she celebrated her last Christmas this side of heaven and commissioned her to paint a bird’s nest piece. She was an amazing example of how to accept the challenges life gives and how to make the most of each treasured day was are privileged to enjoy. I cherish what little I actually knew her, but recognize what a huge impact she made on me and so many others. It was her relationship with Christ that made the difference. “The joy of the Lord” was her strength.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season filled with fun, family and fond memories. Remember to let go of small stuff and embrace what it truly important as we celebrate the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Happy Birthday Jesus!

 

 

Saluting the Heros in Our Family & Yours!

Thank you to all those who have served for our freedom. We honor you.

David Buckland Military

David Forrest Buckland

Brian Buckland

Brian Keith Buckland

Ellis Haynes Buckland

Ellis Haynes Buckland

BUCKLAND La Ch Bu

Larry Charles Buckland

Billy Mundy

Billy Foster Mundy

MILITARY BUCKLAND Charles Top right

Charles Nye Buckland (top right)

Copy of Walter Edward Buckland

Walter Edward Buckland

Richard McHaffa

Nathaniel Richard McHaffa

 

Leaman Davis

Leman Clifton Davis

If you are family and I don’t have you listed, please inbox me on www.Facebook.com/TheRailroadersDaughter . I’ll be honored to post your name and a photo if you have one.

On this day…. Larkin & Larkin!

This is a very special day as I wish my nephew, William Larkin Buckland, a  very Happy Birthday. Will, I hope your day is full of joy and celebration!

BUCKLAND Buckeye Will 10-8-98 8-14 20in BUCKLAND William Larkin Buckland

BUCKLAND Wm Larkin Buckland BUCKLAND William Larkin Buckland 4 BUCKLAND William Larkin Buckland 1  2013-04-26 06.37.48

I remember my dad, too;  the Railroader for whom Will was named, Larkin Watson Buckland, Jr.

According to thinkbabynames.com, Larkin l(a)-rkin,  a boy’s name is of Irish and Gaelic origin, and the meaning of Larkin is “rough, fierce”. Larkin is not a popular first name for men but a very popular surname or last  name for all people (#1421 out of 88799). (1990 U.S. Census)

BUCKLAND LW Jr 1965

The Railroader loved his grandchildren so much and he would have delighted in having Will named after him. His grandchildren loved him too and were sad when he passed away in 1993.

One granddaughter wrote about her grandpa…

My hero is definitely my grandpa. I love him a lot! When I was little, my grandpa would take me out on a boat. I would blow a whistle and scare the fish away, but he didn’t mind. I’d spill the fish and let them go, but he just laughed.

I was very troublesome when I was little. Everyone would yell at me. I’d go to my room and talk to my toys. My grandpa would come in and tell me everything would be fine as long as I wore my smile.

In the summer, we went to visit him in the hospital. He gave me an apple and told me it would keep the hospital away. I laughed.

On November 6th I went to Mac & Bob’s with my dad. A few hours later, my dad called. My hero had died. I wasn’t laughing anymore, I was crying.

Now when I think of him, I think, “My hero”.

Christa Buckland (age 10)

BUCKLAND Christa at Joella BUCKLAND Christa 4th grade

BUCKLAND Christa -

 

BUCKLAND LW JR Funeral 1993