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by Paul Saunders

"Heartbeats of Nelson" is a history book about Nelson County, Virginia. It begins with stories of life in the mountains of Nelson County just prior to the Civil War and ends with stories of Hurricane Camille.

The author spent seven years assembling stories of the past. He interviewed citizens all over the county about their lives. Many of those interviewed were in their eighties and nineties and two were over a hundred years old. Some were veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam; others were those who survived the horrors of Hurricane Camille; many others were those who have spent a lifetime in Nelson. They poured out graphic and touching stories of "the way it was" and told of their love for the land and the people.

Here are stories of farm life, country stores, tobacco, the James River & Kanawha Canal, the role of the country doctors, moonshining, the Depression, and the schools. There are stories of the apple and peach orchards, the plants at Piney River, and the soapstone industry. Here also are stories of Crabtree Falls, the Montebello Fish Hatchery, hunting and fishing, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the communities in-between. Heartbeats of Nelson depicts the everyday stories of those who grew up in Nelson during that era when many lived here, worked on the farms and industries, and spent their lives in sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

"Down on the Farm" by Paul Saunders-- Jim has asked me to write about Piney River and the farm, the people and the memories of goings-on here. I accepted Jim’s challenge. I will call these little stories, 'Down on the Farm!' I do love this place with a passion. For the seven years in my life while I was away in the Army, at Va. Tech, and working in agricultural activities away from home, my one goal was to come back to Piney River and live. I am happy that I did. Welcome aboard as I share with you some of my life!


  • Both books are available for purchase at The Farm Market!