A Life Lived: Linda Whitehead Hughes cultivated her love for growing things

Published 8:46 am Wednesday, September 4, 2019

There’s an old U.S. Marine Corps saying: “No one ever drowned in sweat.”

Linda Lou Whitehead Hughes was never a Marine, but she, too, would tell you that nobody has ever drowned in sweat from working hard. Linda was not afraid to get dirty and work hard for what she wanted in life.

Linda died August 25 at the age of 96, and hard work was all she had ever known.

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Linda was the daughter of the late Lloyd and Hettie Ward Whitehead. Her father’s family were some of the earliest settlers in Dennis Cove.

Linda was a graduate of Cloudland High School, and her determination was proven early in life when she would either walk or ride a mule to attend high school. Oftentimes she would stay with someone during the school year. “She had a love for learning, and it stayed with her all her life,” said Brenda Bridgeman, Linda’s only living daughter.

Linda for several years taught school at the one-room school in Dennis Cove. “She taught grades one through eight, and she enjoyed it. She would have made an excellent teacher if she could have gone on to college and got a degree,” Brenda added.

Linda and her husband, Nathan Hughes, had six children, three of whom are still living: Brenda, Bill and Lloyd.

When the family’s home burned in Roan Mountain when the children were small, the family eventually ended up in Watauga before moving back to Hampton in later years to take care of Nathan’s mother and father.

In the meantime, Linda worked at several jobs to save money to buy their Watauga home. “She raised tobacco and vegetables, which she sold to the cannery. She grew cabbage, beans, peppers, all kinds of vegetables. Mama could grow anything and she loved to work in the garden. She gave a lot of the vegetables she grew in her garden to friends and neighbors. She loved her vegetables, but she loved people more,” Linda shared.

In addition to growing vegetables, Linda at one time worked at the old Line & Twine, at Magnavox, as well as Scott Farms and Hayes Apple Orchard in Roan Mountain.

In addition to having a green thumb, Linda had a knack for crocheting and quilting. “Moma enjoyed piecing quilts and quilting them. Everything about her quilts was done by hand. She was always busy doing something even when she sat down,” said Brenda.

Brenda also shared that her mother was an excellent cook. “She made the best biscuits…they were three times bigger than most biscuits you buy somewhere today. Every meal she made biscuits and cooked apples flavored with brown sugar and cinnamon. She canned many of her vegetables, which we enjoyed during the winter months. She was a good manager. Her garden stuff was what we ate. She could cook a great tasting pot of beans, seasoned with streaked meat,” Brenda said.

“Mama was a smart person. She had written a lot about Dennis Cove Mountain and the people who lived there. She kept a scrapbook, which contained clippings from the newspaper about World War II, obituaries of family members and people who lived on the mountain. It had all kinds of interesting things in it,” Linda exclaimed.

In addition to reading, Linda enjoyed religious music and hymns. Her favorite song was “Beulahland.”

Linda made it a goal to read her Bible every day, and she also enjoyed reading children’s books.

“My mother was a wonderful person. She was a hard worker and had a lot of heartaches. Three of her children died before she did, as did her husband at the age of 60. My daddy was a hard worker, too. He was a millwright. She also had three grandchildren who preceded her in death,” Linda shared.

Linda’s reply to a friend, who noted that Linda’s life had been one of hard work and full of heartache, was that the Lord never promised her an easy life. All he promised was Heaven if she put her faith and trust in Him.

Linda Whitehead Hughes was just a humble, hard-working woman. But, she knew what was important.