Maggie and Buck: Coal Camps, Cabbage Rolls, and Community in Appalachia

Sitting beside the springhouse at her home in Meadowview one day, Margaret saw Buck come walking over the hill, on his way to visit her father. Family lore insists it was the proverbial love at first sight for both of them. Within the year, they snuck across the state line, from Virginia to Tennessee, and married, lying about Maggie’s age. She gave birth to their first child a little more than one year later. Maggie and Buck Spriggs with their son Preston, ca. 1925. All images courtesy of the author unless otherwise noted.

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Maggie and Buck: Coal Camps, Cabbage Rolls, and Community in Appalachia

by Donna Tolley Corriher
Southern Cultures, Vol. 20, No. 2: Summer 2014

"Maggie's neighbor-women saw a young woman just like themselves, with no children to feed, trying to build a life, and so they helped her, unquestioning in recognition that she would help them in return. This was so."

She was the only child born to parents with children from earlier marriages. America Lewis and James Henry Spiva had married for companionship, and to help each other raise those children. Each had lost a spouse to death. Their marriage culminated with Margaret Elizabeth, their last child and something of a surprise. America was forty-two years old and James was sixty-one. They were living in Meadowview, Washington County, Virginia, just outside Abingdon.