Legend of Mammy Jane: An Uneducated Girl Becomes the Lady of the Manor in Appalachia

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The Legend of Mammy Jane: An Uneducated Girl Becomes the Lady of the Manor in Appalachia, is a West Virginia classic first published over 20 years ago. The book takes place in the hills of West Virginia just before it became a state. It tells the story of Mammy Jane, a gutsy, smart, hard-working 17-year old who quickly grows into womanhood after she marries a widower with five children.

Her story is one of romance, hardship, devotion, hard work, grief, and love of family. It ...

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Overview

The Legend of Mammy Jane: An Uneducated Girl Becomes the Lady of the Manor in Appalachia, is a West Virginia classic first published over 20 years ago. The book takes place in the hills of West Virginia just before it became a state. It tells the story of Mammy Jane, a gutsy, smart, hard-working 17-year old who quickly grows into womanhood after she marries a widower with five children.

Her story is one of romance, hardship, devotion, hard work, grief, and love of family. It spans several generations and gives a fascinating and detailed account of daily life in West Virginia during and after the Civil War. Starting with next to nothing, Jane teaches herself what she needs to know to raise a family, build a home, and eventually become a prosperous landowner.

This plucky heroine of questionable birth was born Labanna Jane, a name quickly shortened to Jane when she becomes a hired girl at age ten. With no formal education, at this tender age she begins work for a family during the wife’s "laying-in," quickly getting the children and family fed and the house cleaned while the baby is delivered. After her two-week stint she uses her two silver dollars to buy things for her mother and brother.

Several years later she is working for another family when she meets handsome Tom Jarvis, and becomes his wife at seventeen. Soon thereafter her new husband tells her he is leaving to fight for the Union. She accepts his decision without complaint, and is left to care for his farm and five children.

But Jane is resourceful. She quickly figures out she can sell eggs, butter and baked goods to Union soldiers stationed nearby. She soon has the older children learning to do more chores on the farm. She figures out how to get the cow to give more milk and the chickens more eggs. She impresses her neighbors with her cooking, as they help raise her barn. As her savings grow, she starts acquiring surrounding properties.

This amazing story is told plainly, like a good West Virginia folktale. It includes authentic and humorous remedies and sayings. It explains traditional rituals of the day including burials, births, and weddings. Mammy Jane’s story is one you will never forget.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780938985068
  • Publisher: Quarrier Press
  • Publication date: 9/3/2006
  • Pages: 405
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2010

    Heritage

    My wife is reading the book for the first time after I took her to the family farm just before Memorial Day. We spent the day with Irene cleaning around the graves of Thomas P and Labanna Jane along with Calvin and William "Wild Bill's" grave placing flowers on all of them including Martha's. It has been a long standing instruction by "Mammy Jane" to place flowers on the grave of Tom's first wife. Even though the time lines of the book are not accurate to the real life of "Mammy Jane", the determination and standards of my great great grandmother are vivdly portrayed in Sibyl's book. Sitting in Tom's rocking chair looking over the creek from the upstairs porch and thinking how fortunate I am that Sibyl placed pen to paper to describe the life and times of a family evolving in the hills of West Virginia.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 15, 2014

    This is the story of my stepfather's family. Ironically enough,

    This is the story of my stepfather's family. Ironically enough, after reading it and sharing the tale with my current principal (I am a teacher), he and I discovered that he is also related to my stepdad, to Mammy Jane! He even produced a family picture showing Tom Jarvis (my principal's great-great-great uncle)! My stepdad and mom traveled to W. Virginia to visit the old house and cemetery. Beautiful story! Incredible connections discovered all these years and miles later!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    Great Book!!

    This book was recommended to me by a childhood friend, and I wasn't disappointed! Growing up in West Virginia, my mother being from Calhoun County, we both read the book, and can relate to the determination of a woman who worked hard from sun-up to sundown. We know what it's like to stretch a dollar, tilling the ground, and putting up potatoes and other vegetables for the winter months ahead. Strong ties to the land, to family, and to our faith in God, are attributes of the Appalachian way of living. Helping out neighbors in time of need, having pride in our heritage, and enjoying everyday life - including an occasional dip in the creek, are fond memories of growing up in the hills. This book is a great read, one hard to put down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2008

    Wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What a beatiful story. I laughed and cried. Sometimes in the same sentence. If you have any southern upbring and know of the hard work it takes to make something out of nothing. If you do not have a southren upbring and know not much of this thread bear life, then this is a wonderful way for you to learn. It will take your breath away. Outstanding book. Will defentily read it again.

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