Writing Our Appalachian Family History

In late December 2009, several members of my family, the Lucy Hubbard/ Sherman Oxendine family along with my first cousins, members of the Genell Oxendine/ Glen Jackson family met in the days following Christmas to write our first volume of stories from our combined families. Many of these were fascinating tales had been handed down from generation to generation. We all felt that it was up to us, the eldest of both clans, to record these rich family stories and traditions for future generations, our children’s children. This longing to save these stories generated our desire to write our first book.

Our first volume entitled, Our Family Stories: Written from the Heart Vol. I contained 38 entries including poetry, stories, songs, Appalachian expressions, folklore and traditions. To date, it contains the most stories of all our other books. Each family member was asked to write a personal narrative of something that had happened to him/her or to another family member during their lifetime.

Three of our family members were already published writers including my sister, Linda Oxendine and a first cousin, Jakalyn Jackson who had published a book on Knox County History for fourth grade students. Also, my father, Sherman Oxendine had written numerous articles for the Knox Countian, the publication of the Knox Historical Museum. Having a history professor for a father who did a lot of historical writing and research paved the way for us: Dora Sue, Linda, Sharron and Bill Oxendine along with first cousins: Jakalyn, Leanna and Glenna Jackson to carry on the tradition of writing about our rich family heritage.

These books of family stories are destined to become our families’ legacies. Since our first published book in 2009, our family has continued to meet once a year after Christmas to write, edit and print our newest volume. Volume 7, completed on Dec. 29, 2015, contains a brand new book of stories, which vary in content from serious, to comical, to historical. Over the years, we have collected stories from grandchildren as young, as four as well as some which were found in the personal papers of my father, mother and Aunt Nell resulting in several stories being printed posthumously.

All of our family members who have contributed stories have grown in his/her skill as a writer. We all offer positive feedback and help each other with editing. In each year’s newest book production, we have our own unique role whether it is editor, proofreader, formatter or designer. At the end after all stories are completed and everything is printed, we work in assembly line fashion inserting stories into plastic sleeves which are then bound in three- ring binders to be handed out to each individual family. 

Through this article, I hope that other Knox Countians will strive to preserve their own unique family histories.

For more information on how to begin to write your own family stories contact Dora Sue Oxendine Farmer at 606-546-3940.