Hetty Swindall Sutherland
Charter member of Historical Society of Southwest Virginia
2004 marks the year of the passing of the last charter member of Historical Society of Southwest Virginia This beautiful lady lived to be 102 years young. She and her husband, E. J. Sutherland, were staunch supporters of perserving the history of the people and places of southwestern Virginia.
Hetty Sutherland, 102, Clintwood, Va
From the 1994 edition of the Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia published by the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia comes this lovely tribute to a Appalachian lady "legend":
Southwest Virginia's Living Legend
Submitted by Marjorie A. Sutherland, daughter-in-law
Southwest Virginia Historical Society's charter member Hetty Jane (Swindall) Sutherland is from sturdy pioneer stock, and she so proudly bears the two favorite names her Grandfather Austin gave her when she was born on December 14, 1901. Hetty's was a special name to him, for both his wife's step-grandmother and his second daughter were given this beautiful name, The name Jane is special because both of our member Hetty's grandmothers were Martha Jane. She has lived an exemplary life and brought Hetty S. Sutherland honor to the name and family it represents. She is lovingly and respectfully called 'Miss Hetty' by her many friends, relatives, and associates.
Miss Hetty was born in a log cabin on the old Swindall homeplace located right in the curve of the Pound River opposite the mouth of Camp Creek. She walked to Camp Creek School as a child. At that time, Dickenson County Schools lasted only five months, ending in December. Wise County schools ran two months longer, so she was glad she could stay at Grandpa Austin=s for two months each year and attend Austin School on Bear Pen Creek. When the first Wise County Post Office was established in Grandpa Austin=s home, it, too, was given the name 'Hetty.'
After finishing Elementary School, she secured a second-grade teachers certificate and taught two terms at Honey Camp and Camp Creek, before attending National Business College at Fort Worth, Texas. She returned to Dickenson county in September, 1921, and was greeted at the door by Ma Ardelia Austin Swindall, who said, 'Your Pa has found you a job! 'Pa' was Milburn Eddie Swindall, and he had found her a job as secretary to John W. Flannagan, attorney for W. M. Ritter Lumber and Clinchfield Coal Companies. She later was employed by Cumberland Bank and Trust Company, the Department of Social Welfare, and the Dickenson County Home Extension Service. She also served as Court Reporter for Dickenson County, and as secretary in 1948 for the world-famous Clintwood all-woman Town Council, the first in Virginia.
Hetty Jane Swindall was married to Eliha Jasper Sutherland on September 11, 1926, in a ceremony officiated by her grandfather, Elder John Calvin Swindall. A month later, they moved into the lovely hilltop home he had built in Clintwood called "Sunset Hill." They raised two sons, William Hubert and James Douglas. She and her husband were instrumental in establishing the John Counts of Glade Hollow Family Reunion in 1936. Her husband, E. J., was its first president and was its genealogist until his death in August, 1964, when Miss Hetty took his place as genealogist.
Miss Hetty has always been and continues to be active in many community organizations and activities. She was a charter member of Southwest Virginia Historical Society on March 6, 1961,and was elected its first secretary. She was elected treasurer in 1965 and served in that position for several years. She was elected treasurer in 1965 and served in that position for several years. She was elected to life membership in recent years. She was also a charter member of Dickenson County Home Demonstration Club and the Dickenson County Historical Society, and is a member of the Big Sandy Valley Historical Society and of Mountain People and Places. She likes to attend Little Zion Old Regular Baptist Church, established by her grandfather J. C. Swindall, who preached the doctrines of the church.
Her many honors include the establishment of the Hetty Swindall Sutherland Archives of Dickenson County Historical Society at the Dickenson County Library at Clintwood, selection as Dickenson County Woman of the Year, and celebration by the town of Clintwood of her ninetieth birthday on December 14,1991. In thanking the townspeople, she surprised everyone by remarking that this was the very first birthday party she had ever had!
She has always liked people and continues to be very public spirited, giving her noblest and best to the building and betterment of Southwest Virginia, even to the pick-up of litter along the route of her daily walks through the town of Clintwood in Dickenson County, Virginia. These walks usually include stops at the post office, frequently to mail genealogical materials to correspondents and buyers of her own publications; at the library, to gather genealogical information as well as the daily news from newspapers; at the Clintwood Senior Center, for lunch and a visit with friends and relatives.
Her mind is quick and her memory long, for she can name off ancestors of almost anyone in Dickenson County. On rides along the back roads of the county, which are a particular pleasure to her, she gives a running account of who lives or once lived in homeplaces along the route. She especially enjoys the trips to the places of her childhood in or near the region locally known as "South of the Mountain." She finds a source of strength there, for a new vitality springs from the precious memories of her past.
Miss Hetty has accomplished much in her almost ninety-two years, and still has much more to do. She continues to be a very active genealogist and always finds time for anyone who wants help in finding
his >roots.= She has carried high the torch of enlightenment left to her by her late husband, Judge E. J. Sutherland. For over fifty years he collected a vast amount of Southwest Virginia history, folklore, and genealogy, from which she draws her resources, continuing the work he started and making his dreams become reality. She has edited and published several books from this material, including ASome Descendants of John Counts of Glade Hollow. She is presently in the process of preparing a second edition of this book, adding new material and updating it to the present generation.
Miss Hetty Sutherland is truly a living legend for Southwest Virginia!
Return to Southwest Virginia Historical Society
Last updated: June 12, 2004