Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles

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Ram-shackled Walls House Fond Memories

By SHENA HILLMAN

     Take nails, hammers, saws. Add plenty of lumber and a house can be built-raised and structured. It can contain a bedroom, kitchen and all the necessities.

     However, that does not make a house a home. There must be living and love built into the framework.

     long many of Scott County's scenic roads, remnants of old homes stand in tribute to the families that lived there. They tower above valleys and cringe in quiet corners of a forest. Many are now ram-shackled, but stand as a reminder of the lives of the people who inhabited them and gave them life.

     Their graying walls no longer ring with the laughter of children and the talk of older folks. The windows are no longer brightly illuminated by the love inside. The beauty is in their simplicity, their woodwork, and a lingering look at another time and way of life.

     Driving along one of Scott County's beautiful back roads, it's easy to find these old storehouses of history and intrigue. A once stately home in the Nickelsville area now sits faded to a friendly shade of gray. Perched on the rise of a knoll nestled between two rolling hills, the brown porch sags, possibly from the weight of years of memories.

     Here's the story the old house holds: It belongs to Mrs. Pearl Dingus of Nickelsville, widow of the late Robert Dingus. She still stays at the house from time to time. Her husband was the grandson of the house's second owners, Henry and Mary Salyers.

     Henry and Mary moved into the house around the turn of the century. The house looked on as Mary and Henry set up housekeeping and started a family. Both Henry and Mary are remembered as colorful characters. Henry was, according to Mrs. Dingus, "always dancing 'round with the younger ones and kicking up his heels." Mary was not typical herself. The house often rang with her laughter and the sound of her spinning wheel. She loomed her own cloth and the house smelled of the tobacco from the pipe that she smoked.

     The house watched as their family increased. Mary and Henry had three Children, Lillian, Luther and Rosie. The house protectively held their childhood and watched as they grew into adults and left the homeplace.

     Mary Salyers grew ill in the late 1930ís and passed away in 1943. She was remembered as an active, loving lady. Mary died in the house that had witnessed so much of her life.

     Lillian, daughter of Mary and Henry, had married John Hop Dingus and their son, Robert, bought the house. He and his wife Pearl and their three small children, Darrell, Wilma and Lowell, moved into the house in 1945. The family's youngest child, Wanda Jean, was born there. Earl Dingus told how Henry Salyers (or "Daddy Salyers" as he was called) lived with them until his death in 1961. She recalls a bitter-cold January funeral for the 97-year-old.

     Pearl (as she asked to be called) is a spry, smiling lady. On a tour of the house, she tells some of her best and worst times there, never sounding unhappy or losing the twinkle in her eyes.

     "There's a bunch of memories in that house," Pearl said. "I can remember Robert wanting me to go to church on Sundays; but, heavens, there was never less than 30 people over for Sunday dinner. "

     Happy stories abounded during the visit with the family. There were antics of children and older folks to remember. Happy, joyous, laughter had filled the house, as well as pain and crying. It had tasted the sweetness of birth and the bitterness of death. It now stands in tribute to the loving people who had given it life.

     That little house on the hill had been so much more than its appearance now divulges. Not just a house-it had been a refuge, a shelter. It had been a home.

Mrs. Earl Dingus Opens Door On The Past
She Still Stays occasionally In House of Rich History


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