Oral History

Harley Rush Alderman Interview

Interviewee: Harley Russell Alderman
Interviewee: Remon (Weeks) Alderman
Interviewer: Rachel Witt
Interviewer: Amanda Wagner
Burks Fork, Willis, Virginia

Various oral history media and documents

  • 46 page printed transcript
  • descriptive summary
  • catalog record
  • 26 photo prints
  • 117 minute mp3 audio recording
  • 3 audio cassette tape sides

Rush and Remon Alderman describe their years as a farm family in the Buffalo Mt. area, Willis, Floyd County, Virginia.  Music, family, and church were highly important parts of their lives.  Rush tells of his carpentry work, his bout with scarlet fever as a boy, local soapstone uses, early road construction techniques with rock crushers, and his father’s blacksmithing. Remon describes her seventeen years of teaching school locally at one-room, two-room, and elementary schools. At one point, Rush picks up a banjo and plays a few tunes. On this topic, Rush describes the Buffalo Mountain Stomping Grounds as a gathering place for picnics and music, especially on the first of May, Willis Community Day. Playing guitar and banjo from the age of eleven, Rush relates, “I played with a string band of me and my brother and a fiddler, Fred Spence.  . . . This pretty little spot there, they always gather around that, you know, and some would be a-dancing and yes, having a big time out there.” The Aldermans have been married for sixty-five years and enjoy the company and the good will of their neighbors.

chestnuts; one-room school, garden, horse, sheep, geese, turkeys, chickens, beef, hogs, soapstone, construction, good neighbor, scarlet fever, haunted, blacksmithing, banjo, guitar, hospital, baseball, mines, dance, molasses, wheel, rainbow trout
Bio Sketch

Harley Russell “Rush” Alderman  (1916-2008), son of Homer and Tilitha (Slusher) Alderman, grew up working on the family farm in the Buffalo Mountain, Burks Fork area of Floyd County, Virginia. He attended the one-room Harris School nearby. Mr. Alderman farmed and worked as a carpenter for twenty-seven years, also working one time for the Virginia Department of Highways during road construction, and briefly in a WV coal mine. Mr. Alderman married Remon Weeks in 1936, and the couple raised their family in a house that they built themselves. With their son Lonzie, Rush founded the “Good Intentions” country gospel singing group, traveling to Detroit, Canada, Florida, and Nashville to perform. The group recorded ten albums and a number of cassette tapes. In the media clip shown here, Rush plays the tune “Where the Soul Never Dies” on his banjo.


The Buffalo Mountain Series was directed by the Floyd Story Center at the Old Church Gallery, where the complete archives are held.  The Alderman interview was conducted by Radford University students Rachel Witt and Amanda Wagner. The project was guided by a collaborative community-university partnership with Radford University anthropology professor Dr. Melinda Bollar Wagner, whose classes, Anthropology 411: Appalachian Cultures, and Anthropology 121: Honors Cultural Anthropology, collected a wealth of place-based stories. Generations will be enriched by the recordings of all who shared their memories. Thank you all.