Tag Archives: mendota-cemetery

Mendota Cemetery Quilt “Mendota Crossroads” 031219

We started on the Mendota Cemetery Quilt about eight weeks ago. We named it Mendota Crossroads because of all of the fabric crossing back and forth. The majority of the fabric was donated by local quilter Chris Schanzenbach; my sister’s friend, Judy Shannon; and a few pieces from a friend of mine, Edwina Proctor, in Naples Florida.

The fabrics used are blues, reds, green, golds and browns and muslin. Lots of strips sewn together followed by lots of cutting with the rotary cutter. Those rotary cutters are ‘the thang!”


The blue really pops when the quilt is all laid out. We started laying the red blocks and the muslin squares. Doing this is easier when done on hardwood as you have a straight ruler of sorts to work with.

Added a few more pieces here…here’s where it started coming to life.

Below is where we ended it. This is the center of the quilt. We are swapping colors around to ensure that we do not have a lot of “like-minded” colors grouping together. Lots of foot pushing during this phase as we use our feet and toes to move the blocks! Again, I am loving how the blue really pops. I like bold colors.

So that is where we are on this March day. After this picture was made–plus a few more shifts of color– the diagonal rows were all pinned and the sewing began. It’s going to be a beauty.


Five More Days

We’re five days from the Third Annual Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit.  At breakfast this morning at Mt. Vernon UMC’s Sonrise Service, Dale Jett casually asked “do you think many people will come?”    Ohmigosh why did he ask  me?  Now I’m worried I’ll let him down.

Banners went up last night.  Mike and I put this one up on Rick Begley’s property in Gate City, so anyone coming into Gate City from Highway 58 should see it.   We’ve also put them up in Hiltons and in Mendota.   Next year, I’d like to put one up in Benhams and two more in Gate City.    We are so thankful for Pepsi for helping us with the banners.  I did not know who to contact this year since Pepsi Bottling of Lee Highway closed, but the store manager of Food City’s Euclid Avenue store, Raymond, stepped in and helped me out.  Naturally, I find that Raymond lives in Hiltons–no wonder he is a gentleman.

Dale Jett Show

We’ve mailed postcards to everyone in the 24270 zip code as well as handed them out.    I’ve got a little western theme going on this with postcard.

Dale Jett Card front


We’ve placed 75 posters around the Bristol/Abingdon/Gate City/ETSU areas.   Next year, I’m asking the Scott County Vocational School’s Graphics Department to design the poster.  I can’t wait to see what those young creative minds can do, and I’m hoping if Domtar helps us again, they could judge it. Just early ideas. By the way, we cannot say enough about Domtar Paper and Jeff Chamberlin for helping us with seed money for this event. We love them, and we stretch every dollar.


We’ve requested media help with our benefit.  Oscar interviewed with Joe Tennis who gave us a nice write up in the Bristol Herald Courier. Many thanks to Joe! Here’s the link.   We’ve also got an upcoming feature article in both the Kingsport Times-News and the Scott County Virginia Star. I’ll link those into this post when they publish this week.   Please look for them.

The Mendota quilt is almost ready, and the raffle tickets are here–done so professionally for me by the students at Scott County’s Vocational School.  Buying 1500 tickets in the past, with shipping, ran us right at $50.   This was much more affordable with our tiny budget.  I sold my first 70 to Laura Cash and Tracy Leonard.  Thanks ladies!    Oscar Harris, the Poor Valley Girls and I will be on WCYB at noon on Tuesday, April 22, and I’ll have this quilt with me as I”m going to ask the viewers to help me sell tickets in all 50 states.     I wonder if they’ll ask me to sing, too?  Ha ha !  Mt. Vernon also has a beautiful quilt made by Linda Nunley, but I do not have a picture of it.

Mendota Cemeter Quilt 3

Gerald Booher is President of the Mendota Cemetery Association and he’s been getting the food together.   There are a lot of details in putting together even a small benefit such as ours.   While we’re planning on grilling hotdogs, we’ll be serving food in the Mendota Community Center’s cafeteria.   I will need to make sure everyone knows to go into the cafeteria to see both Mendota and Mt. Vernon Cemetery Quilts and to purchase food.  I hope the smell of the hotdogs on the grill brings them down.  Today I made a…well...interesting…chalkboard to help direct them to the cafeteria.  Here’s some bits and pieces of it.

I Love Mendota

And…this is a true one. If you have a “boney” butt, bring yourself a cushion!

Seats are Hard

And finally…the disclaimer that we like to share with first timers to Poor Valley…


Thanks so much for reading RiverCliff Cottage, and I hope if you are reading this and live nearby, you’ll make the trip out to Mendota on Friday night.  Don’t dress up.  Come as you are.   The music is truly world class.


Meeting With Jessica Fischer of the Kingsport Times News

Today Oscar Harris and I met with Jessica Fischer of the Kingsport Times News since she is doing an article on our Dale Jett & Hello Stranger event that will be held on Friday, April 25.  If you are reading this, please try and come.    It’s at the Mendota Community Center, and it’s such a wonderful event.  Dale, Oscar and Teresa seldom get to play for the local audience so this event is as special to them as it is to everyone who attends. Oscar’s daughter, Heather Pace, and the Poor Valley Girls open the event at 7:00 pm. Dale, Oscar and Teresa will come on at 8:00 pm.

We met at Mt. Vernon Church in what we still call “Maces Springs” but now is officially Hiltons, Virginia.   I arrived first and walked through the cemetery to remind myself why we have this benefit. It’s our fundraiser for the Mt. Vernon and Mendota Cemeteries. I’ve blogged about the Mendota Cemetery several times, but not Mt. Vernon. Can you believe it was snowing while I was walking around?  It’s April 15, and it’s snowing!

Headstone 1


Mt. Vernon Cemetery — I see names I am familiar with…Bays, Faust, Hensley and Harper to name a few.

Mt. Vernon Cemetery Tombstones

There are also some famous people…beloved to many.   When A. P. Carter passed, my father was a pallbearer.

A.P. Carter's Headstone

Sara Carter Bayes…”Anchored in Love.”

Sara Carter Headstone

I called Joe Carter “Uncle Joe.” He sang about a girl from Mendota who drove a Toyota. He called me  “WT’s girl”. WT was my father’s nickname. I think he actually knew me as “Todi” but was afraid I”d be offended. I would not have been. Todi was my father’s nickname for me.

Joe Carter Headstone

Jeanette Carter….probably one of the most beloved women in Virginia and possibly Nashville. Jeanette was a lunch lady at Hiltons, but she was not afraid to dream and her vision created a legacy for Carter Family music at the Carter Fold. When I think about a hiking and biking trail between Benhams and Mendota, I consider Jeanette my inspiration. She was one of a kind. I’ve been looking at the shape of her tombstone and wondering if it’s shaped like an autoharp — that was her instrument.

Jeanette Carter Headstone

I noticed quite a few Barkers buried here. My family cemetery is in Mendota, but I’m sure there are relatives here, too, since I am a Barker.  A restful place.    This is a cemetery filled with believers.    Look at Jeanette’s stone above…”deliverance has come.”

Mt. Vernon Cemetery

It was freezing cold, so I went inside the church and Jessica arrived soon. She is wonderful and reports for the Kingsport Times-News. Everyone in this area looks for Jessica’s name in the newspaper…what she has written, etc. We are so proud! Her father is the recently retired pastor of Darthula Baptist in Hiltons, Layton Bentley.

Jessica and I talked a bit and Oscar joined us. We discussed all the reasons we have this benefit, what Dale Jett & Hello Stranger are doing musically, and how much we need for people to come to Mendota on Friday, April 25.


Oscar arrived just a few minutes after Jessica, and we asked him to pose with the autoharp. I know I’ll hear this autoharp come in with a sweetness that will capture everyone’s attention when they play “Farmer’s Prayer” on Friday, April 25. If that was the only song played that evening, it would still be worth the trip.

Oscar and Autoharp

Our article will be out in a few days. Watch for it in the Kingsport-Times News!


Where Is Ruth’s Quilt Today?

Today Chris, Marie and I purchased fabric for the 2014 Mendota Cemetery Quilt. It’s going to be a beauty…A Heartbreaker…A Quilt to Love….and I’ll post on that later this week. But today’s post is about another quilt. Do you remember this quilt?

Quilt 3

Of course you do! I had it on my Facebook page and on RiverCliff Cottage numerous times asking if you’d like to buy a chance on the quilt. I was begging! Every week! This was the 2013 Mendota Cemetery Quilt. So many hours went into making this quilt. Chris Schanzenbach led the process. She is one of the most gracious women I know. Her hands at work…

Quilt 6

Machines whirring along. This is Margie — if we were in high school, and obviously we’re not, Margie would be voted “Best All Around.”  Definitely.

Quilt 4

This quilt raised almost $2,000 — all of which went to the Mendota Cemetery. It will be put to good use. The drive of the cemetery was resealed this past summer. We love that cemetery on the hill.

The quilt came to life as “I’ll Fly Away” and that is what is stitched onto the label of the quilt. See my name? Yes! I helped a teeny, tiny (really teeny, tiny) bit!  Everyone has a talent…Patsy is our lead sales person…I’m the PR person…Margie does it all…Chris is the lead quilter.   Linda is right in there with Chris.  Everyone pitches in.

Quilt 2

Initially, we drew for the quilt during the Mendota Homecoming. Over 1400 tickets had been sold spanning 42 states and 8 countries. Pretty cool for a little country quilt.

Quilt Tickets

The very first ticket sold was to Mrs. Ruth Rice, and that ticket turned out to be the winning ticket. Amazing.

Ruth Rice's Winning Ticket

In a very generous decision, Ruth’s family (she has been ill and is of an age where she does not get out), decided that the quilt would be immediately donated back to the Mendota Cemetery Association to be “re-raffled”. We called it “Ruth’s Quilt.” It just seemed right. More tickets were purchased, and a little under 600 tickets were sold between August and December for Ruth’s Quilt. I bought approximately 100. I wanted that quilt. I bragged that I had about a 1 in 5 chance of going home with the quilt. During the Mendota Christmas Dinner, we had the second drawing for the quilt. Chris reached in and drew out Billy Carrier’s name. Billy is Ruth’s son-in-law. It was settled. The quilt was meant to reside with the Rice/Carrier family. We laughed, congratulated Billy and went home. I recall my sister Nancy and I saying on the way home that “we just were not meant to have that quilt.”  Drat!

Screech!  Not so fast!!

That same night, Patsy and Billy called and said they wanted to drop in for a minute. They arrived at about 10 pm. They were carrying the “I’ll Fly Away”…”Ruth’s Quilt.” Billy, who I have known all my life along with Patsy, wanted to give me the most amazing gift I’ve ever received. I told him…then them…”No!”   It was too much! Seriously! I really said that! They reached out with the quilt, and oh…you might as well know…I jumped up and down! I was so happy!!

My Quilt

So now you know. I have “I’ll Fly Away…”Ruth’s Quilt.” Here it is draped over the chair. It’s actually moving to the bedroom in the spring, and I’ll show you pictures.

And the disclaimer…The person who sold a bunch of the tickets has ended up with the quilt!!   Please understand it was all above board!   And I’m in love with it. Please don’t hate me because I have this beautiful treasure.   I walk by it and touch it. I think of Ruth…I think of Billy and Patsy…I think of Chris…and I understand that “loving your neighbor” is not just words in Mendota, Virginia. We don’t always agree…we are all different…but we do love one another.

Thank you Billy and Patsy Carrier.


Hendrick’s and Mendota Cemeteries

Mary McCroskey asked if I wanted to go take pictures today. Yes! She’s a good photographer, and she knows I need help. We headed out to two area cemeteries…the Hendrick’s Cemetery and the Mendota Cemetery.

The Hendrick’s Cemetery is surrounded by Steve and Mary’s property, so that’s where we went first.   It is a beautiful place.  Peaceful.  I overexposed this picture a bit, but I like it that way.

Hendricks Cemetery

I visited the grave of one of my mother’s high school boyfriends. Hello Tom Hendricks.  Tom remained a bachelor all of his life and was a good friend to my parents. Tom’s resting place is  appropriate…his grave is in site of the house he lived in (which is now my friend Helene’s home)  and he’s in view of Clinch Mountain, the North Fork, and the cows.   If there was a tobacco patch nearby, the setting would be perfect.

tom Hendrick's Grave

The cows are used to quietness up here on the hill.

Cows IN the Field

This must be a smart cow…her number is 2345. Hello cow!

cow 1

Look! She laughed at me!

Counting cow

We also visited the Mendota Cemetery. I’ve included pictures of this cemetery before, but I was looking for something today. I’d written about Peter Livingston Barker several times (see here and here) , and I knew he was buried in this cemetery but I could not find his grave.

Today, I found it. Hello Peter Livingston Barker…Hello Grandfather!

Peter Barker's Grave

There are lots of Barkers in this cemetery because there are lots of Barkers in Southwest Virginia. We moved to Ohio when I was nine years old. We had our first phone at that time! I recall looking in the phone directory for a familiar name but there were only 22 Barkers in all of Cincinnati! I could not believe that there were not a lot of Barkers in Ohio!! I made up my mind to get back to Mendota and soon! We didn’t last 24 months.


The Benfield girls (more lifelong Mendota friends), and I used to cut through the woods near the cemetery going to and from their house before and after school when I spent the night with them. Here’s the path…we used to walk it with our books on our heads.


This is my favorite picture from today’s visit. Mary–there might be hope for me!

Big Tree

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage. During the past 4 weeks, this blog had a little over 1200 visits and 2500 page views. Thank you for doing whatever you are doing that encourages others to stop by. I greatly appreciate it!! XXOO Eva


Up On The Hill In Mendota

I took my camera out today and decided to take you to the Mendota Cemetery. Over a century ago, the Hamilton family donated this land as a cemetery for our community.    I love this place. My father died when I was barely 16, and I found peace walking up the hill to visit with him. When I got my driver’s license, it was one of the first places I visited…on foot.  I could not wait to show him my license. The Mendota Cemetery sits on a hill, and as you top the hill you’re greeted by a magnificant tree. I can see mother and daddy’s graves in this picture.

Mendota Cemetery Tree

Old boxwoods planted generations ago…

Mendota Cemetery 1

A restful place.

Mendota Cemetery 2

The road goes in a circle.  The grass is tall today, because we have been receiving so much rain.

Ahh…there’s our mountain in the horizon.   Are you a mountain person or a water person?  I’m a mountain person.  I never feel safe unless Clinch Mountain is at my back.

Mendota Cemetery 4

Here’s my car, Cracker, recovering from her dog bite which you can learn about here.  (A dog actually bit my car and pulled the back fender out before she was two weeks old. Crazy.)

Mendota Cemetery 5

And look at this…James Stickley. James was in the Virginia Infantry for the Confederate States of America. He survived that war, and it looks like he lived to be about 80. The Civil War…what I was taught to call “the late unpleasantness” by a teacher in the little school at the bottom of this hill.

Confederate Stickley

Maintaining this cemetery is important. It’s a cemetery that continues to serve the families in the Mendota area with our time-honored practice of never charging a family in need.   It’s not just a Southern thing.  It’s a Mendota thing.  It’s a Poor Valley thing…an Appalachian thing.   We respect our heritage and those who rest in this quiet place on the hill.


What Matters…Edith Jewell Millard Benfield

It is the day after the Mt. Vernon/Mendota Cemetery Benefit held right here in Mendota.    I could go on and on about the level talent of Dale Jett, Teresa Jett and Oscar Harris of “Dale Jett & Hello Stranger”  as well as Heather, Mary and the other women making up the “Poor Valley Girls” bring to this benefit.    World-class talent right here in Mendota, Virginia–I‘m not exaggerating.  Ask anyone who attended.    Things went well last night.   Many hands  worked toward a successful benefit to raise money for the Mt. Vernon and Mendota Cemeteries.    Those not from this area might wonder why we bother as cemeteries are not places for the living…right?  It’s different here.

My friend Joann Vicars unearthed a treasure on Thursday.    Edith Millard Benfield is one of the reasons we work on this benefit.     I miss her as I miss my own mother.  I remember how she smelled when she hugged me and whispered “Let me mother you when you need it since your mother is gone.”   

Edith in Wedding Gown

Edith Millard Benfield…mother of Katie, Lisa (my lifetime close friend), Nancy and Benny.   She was Harold’s wife.   I cropped the above picture (not with scissors…with software) out of the newspaper clipping Joann found. There’s no date on the clipping but this is what it says…

Miss Millard Is Bride of Mr. Benfield

Miss Edith Jewell Millard, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Worley J. Millard, of Mendota, Virginia became the bride of Mr. Harold Lloyd Benfield, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Floyd P. Benfield of Elizabethton, Tennessee on Friday, July 4, at the Mendota Methodist-Baptist Church, Mendota, Virginia.

The Rev. A. F. Barker, former pastor of the bride, performed the ceremony using the double ring service.

The altar decorations were white baskets holding large bouquets of whit and pink gladioli and snapdragons, against a background of native green.  Branching candelabra held white cathedral tapers and white tapers burned in each of the windows.

Nuptial music was given by Mrs. June Thompson, pianist, Miss Hattie Bridgeman, of Bristol, and Mr. Frederick Smith, of Mendota.  Miss Bridgeman sang, “Because” (d’Hardelot) and Mr. Smith gave “I Love You Truly”.  During the ceremony, Mrs. Thompson played “Always”.  The traditional wedding marches were used.

Miss Eva Millard, was her sister’s maid of honor.  She word a pink marquisette gown fashioned with a close fitting bodice and full skirt, pink mitts, and carried a nosegay of pink and white rose buds.

Little Miss Dottie Millard, sister of the bride, wore a dainty floor length frock of pale blue organdy and carried a basket of white rose petals.

The brunette bride, who was given in marriage by her brother, John E. Millard, wore a wedding gown of white marquisette over taffeta, designed with a tightly fitting bodice, peter pan collar and short puffed sleeves.  She wore long white net mitts and her finger tip veil was of illusion with a matching cornonet.   Her flowers were a colonial nosegay with a white orchid.

Mr. Berlin Benfield, served the flowers, as best man, and the ushers were Mr. Herman Leonard, and Lach Hicock of Bristol.

Mrs. Millard  mother of the bride, wore blue crepe with white accessories and corsage of white gardenias.

Following the wedding trip through Virginia and Washington, Mr. and Mrs. Benfield will be at home at 624 Cherry Street, Bristol, Tennessee.  For traveling the bride wore a white linen suit, with matching accessories.  Her corsage was a white orchid taken from her bridal bouquet.

Mrs. Benfield, is a graduate of Hamilton High School and Bristol Commercial College.  For the last three years, she has been employed as bookkeeper for  Hooks-English Infirmary, Bristol, Tenn

Mr. Benfield is a graduate of Elizabethton High School and attended King College.  He is an employee of Red and Slumpler Confectionery, Bristol, Va.


I enjoy living in the age we live in, but the past is important, too.  We are enriched by the past.   If you attended last night’s benefit, thank you for supporting our two historic cemeteries.   These country cemeteries matter. 

And thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.




Mendota Cemetery Quilt 2013

Hi! I’ve been gone for a few days. Well, not gone, but not online. I’m back!! I’ve missed you!!

When I started blogging in April, one of the earlier  posts  involved our Mendota and Mt. Vernon cemeteries and the fundraising that supports the upkeep of these cemeteries.  Dale Jett and Hello Stranger put on an amazing show right here in Mendota during May.  Here’s our talented and kind pals….

That show also was the kickoff of our quilt raffle. Both were very successful. And fun!

Now…present day!   It’s time to get ready for 2013! In just a few weeks, we’ll be setting the date for the 2013 benefit; and earlier this week, a few of us met in Kingsport to purchase fabric for the new quilt.

We planned to visit several quilt shops, but we found exactly what we needed at a shop called “Heavenly Stitches Quilt Shoppe” on Ft. Henry Drive in Kingsport. One of the owners, Paul, was there,  and we yakked it up with him. Very nice.

The quilt we’re making is a “flying geese” pattern, so this year’s quilt will be called “I’ll Fly Away.” Recognize that? “I’ll Fly Away” is a song made popular by the Carter Family and one that Dale, Oscar and Teresa sing regularly and DO AN AWESOME JOB!! It all ties together. Beautifully.

And Heavenly Stitches has lots of fabric to choose from…a rainbow of color!

Fabric Array at Heavenly Fabric

Here’s the fabric we selected for the new quilt.  The first one in the lineup…the black and blue…was the “inspiration” fabric.

Fabric for Mendota, Virginia Cemetery Quilt

Since I’m a quilter wannabe and not a true quilter, I can only tell you the little bit I know about the fabric selection…you have to have a dark and then a light for this quilt.

Mendota Cemetery Quilt - The Chosen Ones

We’ll have several work days on the quilt, and I’ll be participating. I’ll take you along and show you the progress of how these fabric selections become a beautiful quilt.

Paul, the owner of Heavenly Fabrics, invited us to look around at some of the quilts on display.

Black Quilt at Heavenly Stitches

Have you heard of the Shiloh Baptist Quilters in Benhams (Bristol, Virginia)?   I’m not sure what the relationship is or how this quilt ended up at Heavenly Stitches, but Paul said this is their work.




The Winner of the Mendota Quilt

After months of planning, buying fabric, cutting, sewing and coordinating the work of others,  the 2012 Mendota Cemetery Quilt “Common Ground” came to life.  More months followed of selling tickets, and then  it came to a climatic end at the Mendota Homecoming today when the winner was drawn.

Chris was the ring leader of the Mendota Cemetery quilt.  Without her, there would be no quilt.   She’s been out of town all summer helping a family member.   She’s back–and just in time to draw the ticket.

Over 1600 tickets were sold.

I had about 1/16 chance in winning. It didn’t matter. Today was not my day. It was Libby’s day!

Libby bought a $1 chance from my neighbor Margie. Next week, she’ll be enjoying the Mendota Cemetery Quilt called “Common Ground.” I would like to be a fly on the wall when Margie calls her and tells her!!

This was not my original post for today but I was so excited I had to share it. Living in a rural community means many things…and today, these things are all good.

We’re already whispering about next year’s Mendota Cemetery Quilt.  I’ll take you along when we get the fabric.   We’ll be working hard to top this one.


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