Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Ashe County Oral History

Collection of interviews with notable Ashe County residents

The oldest interview subject of the Oral History Project, Martha Harmon Harman (her maiden and married names were both pronounced the same, but spelled differently) was 99 years old at the time of this recording. She recalls her family history and memories of growing up in Watauga County.

Part 1

00:00 Birth and parents

1:40 Early life on farm

3:00 Brothers and Sisters

3:15 Brother killed by falling tree

6:00 Funeral for brother

8:50 Family’s home on Beech Mountain

9:50 Father and uncle’s Civil War service

11:50 History of Harmons in America

14:35 Great uncle Mast poisoned by slaves

17:35 Childhood chores

20:15 Christmas traditions

24:00 Easter traditions

25:00 Sources for Dye


Part 2

00:00 Flax

1:40 Sheep shearing

4:50 School at Beech Creek

16:20 Discipline from Parents

18:20 Drying apples

19:17 Death of Mother

24:00 Making alcohol


Part 3

00:00 Making Lye Soap

4:00 World War I / Nephews killed

7:30 Changes over life

8:46 Trading fox hides for shoes

10:23 Making dresses

12:11 Molasses making

13:19 Getting flour

14:54 Keeping Bees

20:00 Baptizings and church services

25:45 Cable Battle (shootout with whiskey gang)


Part 4

0:00 Mother knitting

1:20 Courting practices

5:50 Childbirth

7:50 Making diapers and clothes

10:48 Canning for first time

15:58 Differences from mother’s life

16:50 Clothes washing

20:45 Home Remedies

29:55 Soap Making procedure


Part 5

1:35 Staying active in 90s / diet

5:00 Home Remedies (Jerusalem Oak / Wormseed)

9:22 Knitting Machine

14:13 Travel to nearest store

15:28 Making shingles for Watauga high school

20:05 Flour, cornmeal and buckwheat

23.20 Homemade pine torches

24:09 Making pine tar

26:01 Grafting apple trees

30:00 Hair care


Part 6

0:00 Hair care continued

0:55 Makeup

2:05 Hairstyles

3:12 Brothers and sisters names

5:10 Wild Cherry and Burdock tea / Mullien syrup

6:40 Floods

12:00 Children’s name

13:25 Curing meat

18:00 Uses for Hickory

20:14 Making splits for chair bottoms

21:50 Elections

22:30 Getting to vote as woman for first time

25:05 Improvements from modernity