• A visit to Union 2013. If you grew up in Union, West Virginia and you have not been able to return to Monroe County recently, chances are you will enjoy a little tour of Union and the area.

    View a Picture Tour of Union & Monroe County.


Christmas Eve On the Bowyer Family Farm by Sheila Bowyer Kline

Christmas Tree at at the Bowyer Family Farm


“Flyin’ Reindeer”, we’d better be quiet” I whispered to my sister, Linda as we snuggled further down into the mountain of quilts thrown across our bed

We were waking on Christmas Eve morning and our Bowyer Family Home was filled with the aroma of the cedar tree that Daddy had cut the day before from the fields on our farm. The wonderful smell eased the cold and even seemed to melt the sprinkles of ice that were clinging to our bedroom windows covered with plastic to help ward off the chill of Father Winter.

Linda said to me, “Let’s count sugar plums”, and I replied, “Ah, that’s silly! We are way too old for that. How about we count how many oranges and apples Mommy and Daddy will have on the table? And we have to put sugar sticks in the oranges like we do when we visit Grandma and Grandpa Brooks in Snowflake!” Sister Linda shook her head in agreement.

You see, back then oranges and apples were special treats as money wasn’t spent on too many items that as a part of farm life weren’t considered necessary for survival. To us youngins’ the best part of having an orange was that we got to plunge a sugar candy stick into the middle of it and suck it dry – our Grandma Effie Brooks, who lived in Snowflake in Greenbrier County, had taught us how to twist the sugar stick in, and then lap up every luscious drop of juice in about 10 seconds flat. Now I considered that something worth hankering for in my dreams!

Brisk winds were whistling outside, snow was swirling, and it was toe wigglin’ cold in our room as the morning firewood would not appear until it was time for Daddy to set ablaze, “The Morning Warm-Up”, provided by the little King heater that jumped to attention when Daddy removed the lid and shoved in its start of the day meal. Our “Bearer of Warmth” came through the door with an arm full of just chopped kindlin’ with a cheerful wake-up call of “Baby girls, time to rise and shine”. We knew warmth was on its way, but we had to hurry as we had 10 minutes from fire’s start before our kindlin’ eater’s first meal was nothing but cold embers, so no time was wasted in getting dressed. We were extra anxious for this day to begin!

Yes, we sure were cold, but our spirits and enthusiasm were undaunted because it was Christmas Eve and we were warmed by the thoughts of the special celebration to unfold by nightfall. Just what was so exciting?

Our parents had been married on a very cold Christmas Eve in Union, Monroe County, WV many years before, and since that first eve they’ve celebrated their anniversary with plans that included the spirit of Christmas. It was for us a meal that transformed ordinary to a banquet fit for Mama, “The Snowflake Queen”, her beloved husband, “The Keeper Of Her Heart”, and children – eldest daughter Sheila, “The Queen of Sheba”, second born Linda, “The Princess of Possum Holler”, and son, “Prince Baby Billy”. Only our best china, crystal, and silver bought in Germany while Daddy was serving in the Army would grace the table for such a grand event. Another delectable memory of our vittles included the oysters Mama always fried. It’s beyond me as to how she found the money to buy them, but she did and they are to this day one of my fondest memories of Christmas on our Bowyer Family Farm.

Our breakfast was just the beginning of a day that included a multitude of Christmas Eve yummies. We’d have a luscious roast from one of the Polled Hereford cows raised on our farm, a fresh killed turkey stuffed with cornbread dressing, home canned applesauce, biscuits waiting for huge dollops of Mama’s famous blackberry jam, and a vegetable medley from those grown in our garden – all cooked the country way on our wood stove. We enjoyed every morsel, but only after a toast of Champagne by my father heralded the meal’s start. Mama’s way of showing love for our family was expressed in poems she wrote and read to us.

And of course, we three kids were anxious to open our presents. Brother Billy could hardly sit still as he expressed that he knew Santa Claus was going to leave him the Matchbox racing set he had asked for. My sis and I knew our gifts included gowns sewn by Mama that were so special we were not allowed to see them until the hour of present opening had arrived. Mama wanted to make sure they were a surprise so we had to keep our eyes tightly closed while we tried them on as she pinned here and there to insure a perfect fit. After all, they were attire to be worn for The Bowyer Family’s grandest event of the year!

The opening of gifts was held in the parlor of our home where the homespun decorated cedar tree gave us the true feeling of the season. It was as cold as the ice frozen on the pond back by the old log house outside, but the air inside was warmed by the love we shared as we exchanged brightly wrapped gifts and snacked on ribbon candy, chocolate crème drops, and peppermint candy canes while sipping on spiced egg nog.

On the eve of our Christmas after the day’s celebrations, we held hands and took time as a family to be thankful for the true meaning of Christmas. The birth of Jesus was honored by reading Scripture, and singing carols. We went to bed with our hearts full of love and thankfulness for the fellowship of family – for that’s what Christmas was all about for The Bowyer Family!

Sheila Bowyer Kline-Dedicated to my loving family and The Second Creek Community Families whose lives revolved around the importance of sticking together!

Sheila's Dad

Sheila's Mom

Sheila's brother Billy with racing set


By:  Sheila Bowyer Kline – Class of 1964

A story from her “Second Creek Chronicles”