29 July 2009

About

Believe it or not, I actually had people at BlogHer, when presented with my cards that read "Confessions of a Coal Miner's Granddaughter," ask me Are you really a coal miner's granddaughter?

Really? You actually think that I would pull some crazy name for a blog like that out of my ass and not actually be the granddaughter of a coal miner? If I was going to pull a stunt like that, wouldn't I just call this blog "Confessions of a Coal Miner's Daughter?" I mean, if I'm going to fake a coal mining reference for the title of my blog, why not just hang onto the coat tails of Loretta Lynn. Right?

Whatever.

My grandfather was a coal miner for the Kingston Pocahontas Coal Company in Kingston, West Virginia, a tiny little town overlooking Paint Creek. Unfortunately, Kingston no longer exists except in the hearts and minds of the people who lived and loved there. Grandpa Frank was also a fiddle and guitar player who loved to play any gospel or bluegrass song he could remember. In fact, his fiddle sits next to me as I type this. I never knew him (he passed five years before my birth) but I like to think that I inherited his musical inclinations and love of bluegrass. If I could go back in time, I would find him and have a fiddle/hammered dulcimer jam session.

His father's and grandfather's surnames were Scarborough, like the town in England. Both Levi and Issiac Scarborough were coal miners as well and when working for the New River Company in Scarbro, West Virginia, had their names changed by the coal company. Scarborough was too difficult to spell. Scarbro was easier. So, even my maiden name was determined by King Coal.

My Grandpa Frank and Grandma Sally are buried in South Charleston, West Virginia, but the rest of my Scarbro relatives can be found on a hillside, not far from Kingston, overlooking Paint Creek. When the coal company mined out one mountain in particular, they handed it over to the families to bury their loved ones. It's there that my father and uncle found their final resting places. Oh, and cousin Penny's leg. But that's a whole other story.

Being a native West Virginian, from a coal mining family, is part of who I am and I wanted to include that as part of my blog identity. Incidentally, I suppose I could have also named this blog Confessions of a...

Farmer's Granddaughter
Homemaker's Granddaughter
Policeman's Daughter
Artist's Daughter

But the night I started this blog, nearly two years ago, I was watching Coal Miner's Daughter and had just recently found a box full of old Scarbro family pictures. Grandpa Frank's photo jumped out at me and I knew he had to be up there, in the banner of my blog, welcoming my readers.

So, there you have it. Yes, I'm actually the granddaughter of a West Virginia coal miner.

And no, I'm not married to my cousin.

20 comments:

HEATHER said...

I never doubted for a moment dear. Hope you are feeling better.

bourbonmama said...

I'm a coal miner's grand daughter, too. My Papaw mined in Keyoke, WV. I never got to meet him, either.

Annie said...

With 2 uncles who mined for years, I know what you mean. I'm so glad that you hold up your WV upbringing and heritage. We often get such a bad rap - but what a wonderful place in so many ways. Thanks for your pride!

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Don't even get me started about companies and governments (uh, hello Uncle Sam) who change family names for convenience. Ugh. Great post, babe. Just goes to show that there ARE people out there who would front about it; otherwise, why even ask?

Employee No. 3699 said...

I know you're not married to your cousin...at least not a first cousin!

Hope you're feeling better.

Momisodes said...

I love your closing statement.

Thank you so much for sharing some of the story behind your blog and family.

We visited family in West Virginia last year, and it was simply gorgeous there.

sybil law said...

My grandfather was also a coal miner, and a moonshiner, and Cherokee. He was the greatest man - his patience was astounding.
I miss him.

Merrily Down the Stream said...

I LOVE bluegrass. Maybe I have a little miner in my history too! But I think I might be pure shanty Irish...

A Free Man said...

I think I knew all of this already, but then I guess I've been around for a while. I would be an insurance salesman's grandson or a shopowner's grandson - doesn't have quite the same lyrical ring does it?

Father Muskrat said...

I'm glad I got to hear this story firsthand at breakfast before reading it here!

My blog should be Abusive Alcoholic's Grandson. Sounds cool, doesn't it?

Maybe I'll stick with Muskrat.

Jeni said...

Three out of four of my great-grandfathers were coal miners. Both of my grandfathers were coal miners and my Dad, also worked in the mines a lot over his 44 years on the planet. Plus, from what I have learned of my Dad's family tree, it appears at least one of my great-great-great Grandfathers from Scotland was also a coal miner! Yeah - some deep roots there, huh? My family coal mining though was primarily in central Pennsylvania although my maternal grandfather and one of his brothers, did work for a coal company in another coal town in West Virginia -Tunnelton!
One really has to admire the people who plied this trade for so many years and for having the strength to go back into those holes in the ground day after day, after day!

Patois said...

Second cousin?

;)

Faiqa said...

West Virginia is a beautiful state with some of the nicest people I have ever met in it.

I love that you know so much about your family's history and find it extremely fascinating.

Lynda said...

Not to detract from the sweet, sentimental post about your grandfather, but OMG your family buried a leg?!

HAHAHAHA! That is awesome!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Other Heather - Thanks, hon. :) I am feeling better. At exactly the 3-week mark I began to feel human again.

Bourbon Mama - Us coal minin' families? Got to stick together. :)

Annie - It's just crazy that people think we're a bunch of moonshinin', coalminin' idiots but seriously? Even the coal miners and the moonshiners are nice, wonderful, fiercely independent people.

NATUI - And that's what surprises me. I know wonder, because of simple question, do any of those women who asked me that question at BlogHer, lie about something on their blogs? Hmmm....

Employee No. 3699 - Hee hee! Definitely not my first cousin! I'm sure if we research back far enough, we're all cousins somehow. :)

Momisodes - It is a most beautiful state. I'm biased, though. :)

Sybil Law - Woo hoo! He trumped my grandpappy! Moonshine. Ahhhh, I get happy just thinking about it.

Merrily - Hey, Irish is awesome. We'll take it! :)

A Free Man - Nope. No poetry in those blog titles. A Free Man is quite awesome. :)

Father Muskrat - Oh, Lord hon. Now I just want to hug you.

Jeni - So many people would ask me if my family was from Pennsylvania. And I never thought of PA as a huge coal mining state but I've been proven wrong. That whole area (PA, WV, KY) is just riddled with coal. And you truly did (and still do) need nerves of steel to go down into those mines.

Patois - Hee hee! Maybe sixth cousin, twice removed? :P

Faiqa - Thanks, hon! Now, let me tell you about the cousin who turned a prison into a B&B...

Lynda - Dude. Seriously. I'm not even kidding.

Team Russi said...

Great post! WV is a beautiful state. My brother and his family live there. I moved one step closer to "cool" when I played "Take Me Home, Country Roads..." for my very homesick WV niece this summer.

Very cool to know so much about your roots!

Titanium said...

You do have to wonder wildly about those who asked you such a question...

My all time favorite question- 'are you really a woman?'

Nah... I just play one in this movie we call 'life'.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Team Russi - I have a kids' book that consists of the lyrics of "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and some awesome graphics. The kids love it when I sing the book to them.

Titanium - Seriously?!? You've been asked that? I think you are in the right, then, if you smack them. :)

Ed said...

Hi just wanted to say that my grandfather was also a coal miner in W.V. and we also have the name Scarbro,very rare to hear of others with the spelling that way.Both my parents were born in W.V.(chareleston in a housing community called orchard manor)

Teri said...

I am also a Granddaughter of a coal miner,from Montcoal WV. Family in Beckly and Whitesville.Mills,Cameron and Webb are some of my family surnames.My father moved to Chicago at 18 and became a Chicago cop...so we have 2 things in common.Love you web site...lots a familiar similarities...