FATHER AND SON
D: D’your father ever tell you any, ’bout any spirits er anything like ‘at? People . .
B: Uh, he didn’ b’lieve in that stuff.
D: He didn’?
B: Nosir, he didn’ b’lieve in that stuff. Yeah, he said he seen his dad one time, just as plain, he said. Now he wouldn’ b’lieve in that stuff. You couldn’ get him tuh b’lieve in all, none uh that stuff. He didn’ pay no ‘ttention tuh that stuff. They’d tell him that stuff, an’ he’d say that ‘uz nuthin’. But he said him an’ his dad wuz camped out, uh huntin’. An’ he said, he said he, a’terwhile he heared his dad shoot, an’ he said he knowed he’d killed a deer, er bear, er sum’n’ b’cause, he said, he never shot at anything ‘less it was a deer er bear when they’s out in th’ woods, he said. He said he put on th’, had th’ coffee warm an’ ever’thing, an’ a’terwhile he said he, gettin’ late in th’ evenin’, he said. An’ a’terwhile, he said, he looked out an’ seen his dad uh comin’. He said he watched him comin’ . . . . . . said he
D: Said what?
B: Said he got uh big far built so he could be warm when he come in. Then he said he, he waited an’ waited, an’ he said he, he didn’ come. He said he jus’ wondered wher’ he’d stopped at. He said he looked ag’in an’ he said he didn’ see him no place. An’ he said he thought he’d go down there. He said he waited uh right smart while an’ he didn’ come. An’ he said he thought he’d go down there where he seen him, an’ see what ‘uz wrong, he didn’ come. He thought he’d fell er sump’n’. An’ he jus’ went down there an’ he said he couldn’ see nobody ner nuthin’ ner no sign uv him. An’ he said, he looked around there, an’ he said, nuthin’ uv him. An’ a’terwhile he said he commenced kinely gittin’ scared he said, ’bout that. An’ he said he went back tuh th’ camp, an’ he said he waited, an’ a’terwhile, he said, just as it uz uh gittin’ dark, he said, his dad’ come. An’ he said, “Now I wanna know one thing, where have you been er what have you been uh doin’? Where wuz you at?” he said. “When you come up there,” he said, “an’ where did you go to?” he said. “Why,” he said, “I never come there,” he said, “at that time.” Said, “I wa’n’t even there.” An’ he killed uh deer. “Why,” he said, “I wasn’t even there,” he said. “By gosh,” he said, “I jus’ come on straight,” he said, “right on t’ th’ camp,” he said. “Why,” he said, “I seen yuh,” an’ he,. . . .”Why,” he said, “you never seen me because,” he said, “I wasn’t there,” he said, “at that time.” He swore it wuz him just as shore, he said, now. He didn’ b’lieve in that stuff, nosir. You needn’ tell him that stuff, ’cause he didn’ b’lieve in it. He said that ‘uz him, he said, b’cause he seen him an’ watched him come fer uh good long way, an’ he said it right, not very fur from th’ camp, he said, wher’ they uz camped. An’ he said, his dad said, that he’d never been there.
D: What d’you reckon it’d been?
B: Don’ know. He said he didn’ know, but he said he’d studied over that time after time, he said, what that could uh been. No, they, you couldn’ tell him ’bout them things. And uv uh night, he wasn’t afraid of th’ night either.
The Hammons were living, during the mid 1700s, in the wilderness of Kentucky, in what Maggie called “the Indian Nation” with only one other family nearby. This was near enough to an Indian community for visiting to occur (see attached story ‘The Indian Nation’ below). It was into the same kind of wilderness in West Virginia that they moved, although the Native American Indians were no longer present. Practical jokes in this setting would have been unheard of due to the basic dangers inherent to existence in the wilderness.
This wilderness in Pocahontas County was made up of hundreds of thousands of acres of virgin forest, and was surrounded by small settlements on either side. While the American Civil War had been in full bloom, there was virtually no movement through the forest because it was so impenetrable. The danger then became the diseases, infections, climate, food and wild animals. The music of the Hammons was an extension of this kind of life, which very much included the isolation. According to Maggie, Grandpa Hammons once told me “It was 13 years before a stranger ever darkened my door”. ￼