“THIS PLEASANT LAND: A BLUE RIDGE HISTORY” OFFERS INSIGHT TO WELSH HERITAGE IN THE
WAGS Mbr. #1088, Jean Thomas Schaeffer shares the following for WAGS members and friends:
“My father's new book, titled THIS PLEASANT LAND: A BLUE RIDGE HISTORY, is written by Max S. Thomas (of Welsh descent - descended from Charles Thomas who lived during the 1700s and early 1800s in the Floyd-Franklin-Patrick County, Virginia area).
Published posthumously and just off the press, the book is a 250-year history and begins with the first settlers to the middle
This Pleasant Land is a 250-year chronological history of the border areas of Floyd,
The book is a local history but it is written within the context of what was happening in the outside world during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The paperback book has about 200 pages and begins with the first settlers coming to the area. The book goes on to explain how certain events impacted the local people – events such as the American Civil War and Reconstruction, the American chestnut blight, the Great Depression, the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and World War I and II.
The last half of the book is a collection of the author’s earlier writings on a variety of topics such as early music, the language of the area, early roads, the mountain economy, country stores, old-time tools, fences, foraging, early marriages, women and their lives, photography, weather, geology, critters and maladies that caused problems, passing on, old-time medicine, communicable diseases. One chapter tells about Sparrel Tyler Turner who represented the area in the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia State Senate. The book has twenty photographs, including a picture of Turner.
Speaking about the manuscript he wrote, Max Thomas said, “I am a fifth-generation descendant of the first settlers in this part of the
Jean Schaeffer has this to say about her father’s book: “In publishing my father’s book, I have made every effort to be true to his writing and intent. He wanted people to know about the Appalachian heritage of this area, and he wanted them to understand the local history within the context of what was going on in the outside world. He knew what he had to tell was extraordinary. His was a generation that served as a bridge, beginning with the most basic way of life typical of the nineteenth century and evolving into the modern technological age of the late twentieth century. He was a farmer and school teacher. Having lived on the same piece of land for almost ninety-three years, he was drawn to it in a way that a native will understand. Beyond that, he wanted to know all he could and studied about the area the way a scientist or historian studies. He learned from his grandparents and other people, he learned from books, and he learned from his own observations about the natural environment. He knew first-hand about the land and its people and he wrote about them continually. He was interested in everything and was blessed with an excellent memory throughout his life. He was a deep and divergent thinker, and he wrote this history the way he thought and talked – like a conversation he might have had with a visitor on his back porch.”