Elmer Atkins



Download Full Text (9.3 MB)


Atkins, Elmer




1 audio file (running time: 1:00:04)

Interview Number


Location of Interview

Sperryville, Virginia

Date of Interview



Records the reminiscences of Elmer Atkins, who was born and raised near Beech Spring, Virginia prior to the establishment of Shenandoah National Park in 1934. Describes his home and family life, schooling, holidays and community events. Among the topics discussed are farming, raising of livestock, log homes and the local bark peeling industry. Includes references to revival meetings, wakes and funerals, herbal remedies, moonshining, the Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919 and the chestnut tree blight that decimated the species in the early decades of the 20th century. Mr. Atkins also comments on the forced eviction of his family and neighbors to make way for the construction of the national park.


The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Personal Names

Atkins, Elmer, 1906-1993, Interviews

Family Names

Atkins family; Dodson family; Claytor family.


Mountain people -- Blue Ridge Mountains -- Social life and customs; Mountain life -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History; Mountain people -- Virginia -- Shenandoah National Park -- Social life and customs; Rural poor -- Virginia; Farm life -- Appalachian Region, Southern; Country life -- Appalachian Region, Southern; Agriculture -- Appalachian Region, Southern; Food habits -- Appalachian Region, Southern; Influenza Epidemic, 1918-1919 -- Anecdotes; Chestnut blight; Folklore -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History; Holidays -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History; Traditional medicine -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.); Funeral rites and ceremonies -- Appalachian Region, Southern; Distilling, Illicit -- Virginia; Revivals -- Virginia; Bark peeling -- Virginia -- Rappahannock County -- History; Forest products industry -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History; Land use -- Government policy -- United States.

Place Names

Beech Spring (Va.) – History; Sperryville (Va.) -- History; Rappahannock County (Va.) -- History; Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- Manners and customs; Shenandoah National Park (Va.) -- History, Local.


Smith, Dorothy Noble, 1915-1999; Northrup, Jim


Marston, Sharon G.

Collection Title

Shenandoah National Park oral history collection

Collection Number

SdArch SNP

Streaming Media

Media is loading
(SNP004) Elmer Atkins interviewed by Dorothy Noble Smith and Jim Northrup, transcribed by Sharon G. Marston



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.