Farming Series: Eldridge McComb

March 28, 2014 |

Eldridge McComb spent much of his life farming in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. The stories he told spanned generations, from memories of the 1930s to his thoughts on modern day agriculture. Eldridge passed away in 2007. In exploring this area’s farming history, Traveling 219 listened to these interviews, recorded in his later years, to look at the story of local agriculture through the eyes of a local farmer [for more stories in the Traveling 219 Farming Series, click here].

“I can remember the big depression – it didn’t bother us in here. Well, over here there was the Burr family that raised sheep and in here they raised sheep. And all of ‘em was tight with what money they had. They had plenty to eat. They didn’t hardly know there was anything goin’ on.”

Early photo of Eldridge working on the farm.

“It used to be everybody had a small bunch of sheep and milk cow and butchered their own meat and part of them raised their own grain. They lived off what they could raise. It was that way all over. Everybody raised a field of corn, kept a cow and a hog and chickens and… a big lot of ‘em made a run of cane molasses every year. Then later years some jobs turned up and some of ‘em quit raisin’ their gardens a few of them and quit keepin’ their milk cow and a lot of ‘em quit keepin’ their chickens. And teams of horses went the way of about everything else on account they got a small tractor.”

“It’s all changed. The little farms like that’s all gone. Just a handful of the ones that farmed all in here is left. Acres of it’s gone with trailers and all that stuff where people made a livin’ off it years ago.

You know how they write that down as progress of man, ain’t it?

I feel that it’s just clutterin’ up the natural beauty of what we had. “

Eldridge’s farm.

“I just always kind of hung to all the old ways I could. It seemed to me like that was the best – maybe it ain’t? Know a little bit how to build things and to repair the things you have. How to raise different varieties of vegetables that produce you more. If everything else went, you could live.” 

Eldridge in later years.

“Land is sort of sacred. Not everybody has some of it. It’s kinda hard to explain the way you feel about it. It might be rough and it might be rocky but it’s yours.”

This story was produced by Megan Moriarity of the Traveling 219 project. The project is a production of Allegheny Mountain Radio, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the West Virginia Humanities Council, and Americorps VISTA.

For more stories in Traveling 219’s Farming Series, click here!


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Category: Blog, Collections, Farming Series, Food & Farming, Marlinton to Lewisburg, Stories

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