To read our first blog click here: http://www.matneygathering2009.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 11, 2011


As we pause to honor those people who have served our country over the years and who are in the war zone today, let us remember the contributions our family has made to freedom in our country.  From World War I through the Vietnam War, men whose strength and ability to survive some of life's most horrendous situations took the wisdom of the mountains, the love of family, and faith that sustained them into combat:
Hoyle Hayes Shook - Army WWI - Belgium & France
Zeb V. Shook - Army -WWII - Northern Africa & Italy
Carroll Shook - Army -WWII - Europe & Asia
Tom Shook - Navy -WWII - South Pacific
Stuart Shook - Navy -WWII -
Quentin Shook - Navy -WWII - South Pacific
Rhonda H. Shook - WWII
Hade Smitih - Army -WWII - Europe
Bill Rominger - Army Paratrooper -WWII - South Pacific
Ray Romano (husband of Betty Ann Michael Shook) - WWII
Betty Ann Romano - WWII
Errol F. Shook - Army -Vietnam
Kenneth Wilson - Army -Vietnam
Donald Smith - Army -Vietnam
Steve Rominger - Navy -Vietnam
Bill Rominger - Army -In service in Germany
Glenn Shook - Army -In servicd in Hawaii
Mitchell Shook - Army - Iraq


James Shook - Honored for Exemplary Service to Appalachian State University

Service to Appalachian's faculty, staff and students is a focus of James Shook, an information technology manager for a "walk-in center" that's part of the university's Technology Support Services (TSS). Under Shook's leadership, the center's six full-time employees and 30 student employees resolved more than 6,000 computer support requests in the 2010-11 academic year.
"The computer support center has become one of the most important resources on campus for the students that are away from home and employees who would have to (spend) at least a couple hundred dollars for each repair instance," one nominator wrote. The center works on an average of 150 computers a week.
Shook was also praised for his mentoring of his student employees. "I have seen James dedicate himself to finding student employees at TSS full-time positions after graduating by contacting business and personal contacts. I could never have anticipated that my boss at TSS would be so involved and helpful to his employees," a nominator wrote.
Another person wrote that, "I came to ASU not knowing anyone and leaving my family six hours behind. My coworkers quickly became my family. That is a direct result of James Shook. He is fully committed to the support center and each and every student and staff member that works there."

For the entire article about ASU's outstanding staff awards, see: http://today.appstate.edu/staff-awards-2011/

Larry Shook - Recipient of Mayland's 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award

Larry Shook, who received his BS (1986) and MA (1988) in Mathematics Education from ASU, now teaches mathematics at Mayland Community College, and has been chosen to receive Mayland’s 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award.  Prior to coming to Mayland, he taught at Lees-McRae College, where he received the Edgar Tufts Faculty Award for Excellence in teaching, the Alpha Chi Outstanding Educator Award, and was recognized as a Distinguished Faculty Mentor.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


    Here it is November, a time to remember and be thankful for those who have been so special to us. We are so grateful to have Rhonda in our lives; his memory is with us always.
    His early years on the farm were very hard but filled with adventures with brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends, which he recounted with such joy.  Farm life was very hard from killing a hog in early winter or taking care of the farm animals or putting up hay to tending the garden and canning.
    His best friend was Willie Rupard whose venture into the Army delighted Rhonda so much.  Willie couldn’t see in one eye so Rhonda stood behind him and told him the answers on the vision test. Rhonda’s time overseas was spent at one time guarding prisoners and at times being a driver, but some things he didn’t share so much.  They came back from overseas about the same time, which brought tears to his eyes.  He couldn’t reconcile his feelings when Willie passed away a year before Rhonda.
    Rhonda had a special horse that took him by buggy to movies in Banner Elk.  He hitched the horse outside, saw the movie, and as he got in the buggy would say, “go home,” and the horse went home; sometimes Rhonda even went to sleep.
    One time he, Audrey, and Pauline went to the store and bought cold drinks, (Audrey’s first Dr. Pepper) and Rhonda charged them to Daddy.  They went home and told Mama who immediately gave them money and made them go back and pay.
    He also related that sometimes walking at the end of Pigeon Roost Road, he would soak his feet in a ladies spring and drink the milk that was sitting in the spring.
    In 1950 he and Gert came to Maryland and began their lives together with nothing.  He   would ask for odd jobs, walk 4 or 5 miles, doing the best work he could, which led to other jobs.  One of his favorite stories was accidentally letting a borrowed car run off the hill into their outhouse; a wrecker has to rescue the vehicle.  He borrowed a car from a Catholic church, took out the back seat, drove to a lumber mill, and filled the car to the brim with wood scraps, which they used for heating and cooking.  One of his jobs was hanging dry wall and that led to him building his own dry wall business; at one time it was the most successful dry wall business in Maryland.  Once they could afford a bigger house, they began a lifetime of letting different people live with them until they could live on their own.  The giving never stopped.
    Rhonda loved his sons, Gary and Ronnie, who worked with him and saw the good and bad of hard work and business.  Some tolls he regretted but wanted to give the best to his family.  Some men who worked for him for about 30 years honored him as their best friend and teacher.  His work ethic was non-stop, getting the next contract, taking care of his employees, and especially providing for his family.  He was the taskmaster at its’ best—doing the right thing!!
    One of Rhonda’s greatest accomplishments was building a church, taking a year out of his work to get it built.  His final service was held there.  He also sponsored a church in Puerto Rico.  He bought old school buses, had them repaired, took them to the Baltimore port, and shipped them to the church there.  He and Gert also donated much to building a part of Liberty University.  He had rental properties in Baltimore and made sure Gert bought gifts for the children at Christmas.
    In addition to the dry wall business he owned a building supply store, until retirement neared, and big companies like Home Depot came into vogue.  When going out of business, he could have given his suppliers a percentage amount by law, but no, Rhonda made sure that his suppliers received the full amount for their products.  What an example for all of us!
    Rhonda took great pride in the farm, always having a big garden with plenty to share and can, caring for his horses, chickens, ducks, geese, oh, those goats, whose babies had to be cared for by hand, and a peacock which took a flight to Annapolis but was found after a plea on TV.  He had a pet ferret, which followed him everywhere through the fields and came running at the sound of his voice.  How sad when the ferret died.  We can hear him laughing now recounting how his Mastiff dog sent some young folks climbing on the barn roof in the middle of the night, and he had to get them down.  That dog was big as a horse but gentle as a lamb with Rhonda.  Most of the time he had German Shepards as guard dogs.
    Rhonda loved his family and worried so much about them.  After making trips “down home” he couldn’t wait to get back to Gert.  He worried so much about her.  His grandchildren and his great granddaughter filled his and Gert’s life with pride and joy.  
    Rhonda was very patriotic and proud of his WWII service in the Army.  In his last months, after making his bed in the morning, he would put two flags, his Army cap and pictures at the foot of his bed.   Rhonda, we love you and miss you more than words can say and treasure your memory always…

Sunday, August 7, 2011


(NOTE: The following is an excerpt from a group of stories written by Zeb Shook entitled "Some Tales, Some True:  Confusion Has Met Its Masterpiece."  I have no idea about what year he put these together, but I do believe the stories Daddy tells about his family fall into the "mostly true" category.  Enjoy!)

Grandpa Michael had some sheep on the Beech Mountain and needed to check on them.  It had been snowing and then melted a little, turned cold again and ended with a crust on top of the snow.  Grandpa carried a dishpan with him and a bag of shelled corn.  After he got through with the feeding and making sure everything was well with the sheep, he started home.

The lay of the land where he had his sheep was just right to ride down the smooth hillside.  Since he had nothing but the dishpan to try his luck on riding down, he sat down in the dishpan, and away he went.  The faster he was going, the more the friction was against the bottome of the pan.  He tried to stop but couldn't. When he got to the bottom of the hill, he had one giant blister on his rear end. He literally burned the bottom of the dishpan out.....(Tanya note:  That part might be a bit of a tall tale on Zeb's part!)

Another thing that always brought a good, hearty laugh while watching him work was the way his toes made his shoes turn up.  He was picking cherries along with my cousins when they heard a noise.  Grandpa was hanging up in the tree by his toes and looking down to the ground where his bucket and cherries were splattered all over the place. In moving, he lost his hold on a limb and dropped his bucket of cherries and  he almost fell out of the tree.  In doing so, his turned up toes made his shoes catch on a limb to keep him from falling flat on the ground.....

The only time I every worked in tobacco was helping Grandpa set the plants.  It was cold and damp, and I nearly froze to death.  After that one time, I never set tobacco again, but he and Grandma had a good crop to see that fall.  One time after setting the tobacco, I was visiting with him. He wanted to show me how well the polecats took care of the cutworms and other tobacco worms.  About every few feet, you could see a small hole where the skunk had dug out a cutworm. Grandpa said he wouldn't take a war pension for the skunks....

Grandpa started to Boone one day, and Uncle Tom (Ada's husband)  drove by and wanted to know if he could give Grandpa a ride. Grandpa had a paper bag with him in which he had placed a half-gallon of cherry and blackberry wine, which he was taking to Boone for a friend. (Tanya here:  I'm sure Grandpa had a healthy portion of the wine that was supposed to go to the friend!)  Grandpa placed the wine on the back seat, and before he and Uncle Tom had traveled a mile, the jug exploded. Uncle Tom asked, "What was that?" Grandpa replied, "That was my ration." He gave his friend half of the remaining wine and rationed the rest to himself!  (Tanya note:  I'm sure Grandma Michael wasn't fond of rationing the wine to anyone!)

Friday, July 22, 2011


(Thanks to Norma Carroll Shook Phelps, oldest daughter of Tom Shook for sharing this article she had in her family files.  It comes from The (Watauga) Democrat  in 1900 and was re-published in 1960 in the weekly column entitled "Sixty Years Ago". )


Old Time Bear Hunt Recalled

 Sixty Years Ago
December 20, 1900

        On the 7th inst, a party consisting of  Clarence Mason and Robert Farris, Norman and James Shook, Emanuel Brewer, Larkin Townsend, and James Cornell, eight of  Watauga's hardy mountaineers, went on Grandfather Mountain to hunt for a bear.  After traveling some distance their dogs bayed and they made great haste to the spot indicated by the noise.  Not knowing however that a bear den was near, but after an examination they discovered bruin in a dark cavity in a cliff, he being about the mouth of the whole in which in all probability was selected for his winter quarters.
        Bruin's movements indicated that he looked upon this high-handed invasion of his premises with disfavor, as the men were armed with six guns and an ax, he considered it nothing short of forcible trespass.  Cornell shot, the ball striking the bear above the eye.  Other snapped, but owing to the dampness their guns failed to discharge.  In about a minute after the shot the bear made for the mouth of the den, and as he passed one of the dogs snapped him on the hind leg.  The bear turned and caught the dog in his arms, wounding him seriously in several places.  About this time Monroe Shook shot him with a rifle.  The bear arose to his hind feet, released the dog and ran, but the dogs pursued him so closely that he was bound to stop at intervals for a fight, the hunters trying in vain to get close enough for another shot, but the bear would again flee.  This manner of procedure was kept up for three miles.  At about night one of the party gave him a third shot.
        He was lying stretched on the ground as if he was dead and the dogs standing around him.  Cornell fired, the ball striking him in the shoulder.  He rose and ran, going over a cliff fifteen feet high, snorting, growling and biting off laurel and other shrubs in his path.  The dogs pursued him some distance and again brought him to bay.  As night had now fallen the party concluded to camp on the trail.  They built a fire, arranged to spend the night, and the dogs soon returned.
        The next morning the chase was resumed, and the party was gratified to learn that the bear had not moved from the place where the dogs had left him.  He was still lying down and bleeding but the dogs soon had him up again, and before the parties could get in shooting distance he took his departure.  He would only go about fifty feet at a time and then stop and fight the dogs.  He kept this up for a distance of about two miles, retreating on the approach of the hunters, but finally getting tired of  constantly retreating, he took his stand in a cluster of laurel, where he would pitch first at one dog and then another, and while there he was again shot three times.  He ran a short distance and again stopped in another laurel thicket.  Charles Farris got within ten feet of him and snapped, but his gun failed to fire.  Townsend, not knowing the consequences that might follow, climbed about thirty feet in a tree almost directly over the bear.  The bear went a little farther and stopped for the final fray.  Cornell got behind a tree and as he was passing around it and was almost in the act of shooting, the bear made for him in a great rage with his mouth open for a fight.  Cornell fired, the bear turned and jumped on a log, and Cornell shot him again, and as the bear fell back, he caught Brewer’s dog in his arms.  Brewer, fearing the fate of his dog, could stand it no longer.  He rushed toward the bear, unarmed, and it took two strong men to hold him back.  But in the meantime Brewer had his pants torn off him, and in the excitement put them on hind part before.
        After the bear appeared to be dead, he was shot twice more for fear there would be a great mistake made.  When Townsend saw the bear going towards Cornells with open mouth he made for a tree and climbed about thirty feet and it took some little argument to persuade him that bruin was dead before he could be induced to come down, and I am informed that four of the men toward the closing exercises thought it safer to be perched from twenty to thirty feet in the timber than to be on the ground.
        The next thing was to get the animal out.  It took five and six of these strong men at a time to get him to the road half a mile away, where he was skinned and quartered.  Then each couple of the party bore off in triumph a quarter of the wild king of the Grandfather to the house of Mr. McRae, the Scotchman, whose residence is on the Yonahlossee Road about three miles from where the bear was brought into the road.  After depositing the game with Mr. McRae , the party proceeded to their respective, the most of whom live near Banner Elk, reaching home near midnight, tired and worn.  John Farris started at once for the treasure with wagon and team, reaching home the next night.
        The bear was very fat and weighed something over 400 pounds net, the fat in some places measuring near six inches in thickness and the hide measures eight feet in length.
        The writer had the pleasure of eating some of the meat, which was very fine.  I have but little doubt that this was the same bear that was caught in a trap by Samuel Aldridge, son of Harrison Aldridge, Watauga’s famous bear hunter two or three years ago, as this bear had a missing toe, corresponding with the toe left in the trap of Mr. Aldridge.    

L. D. LOWE  Banner Elk, N.C. (author)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Tom Shook (son of Ada & Tom) forwarded me a copy of a page Aunt Ada and Uncle Tom had written down for him shortly before Tom’s death.  A couple of the names are difficult to read, so if anyone who reads this can make corrections, please let me know. 
I.          Etta Baird Michael (Grandma Michael)
A.       Etta’s grandparents:
William (?) Bident Baird & Mary Harmon (daughter of Cutliff Harmon) Baird.
1.        Children
a.        Frank, who married Kathleen Moody
b.      William Carter, who married Sarah McNabb
c.       David Franklin, who married Elizabeth Wagner
d.      Jackson Baird, who married Tempi (sp?) Shull
e.      Carroll Baird (went west & died)
f.        Susan Baird, who married James Lawrence.

B.       Etta’s family:
Parents: Sarah McNabb & William Carter Baird
1.       Children:
a.        William Monroe Baird (wife: Sarah Clark)
b.      Ebben Baird (wife: Mary Wilson)
c.       James C. Baird (wife: Mary Gifford / Sifford?)
d.      David (wife: Alice Michael)
e.      Ginslia (?) (husband: John Matney)
f.        Alphonso (wife: Rosa Hubbard)
g.       Etta (husband: Greene Michael)
h.      Ethel (husband: J. L. Triplett)

II.                 Riley Greene Michael (Grandpa Michael)
(Greene’s grandparents: Riley & Mary Watson Michael)
A.       Greene’s parents:  Larkin F.  & Martha Greene Michael
1.       Children
a.        Filmore (wife: Malinda Rominger)
b.      Nannie (husband: Charlie Welch)
c.       Greene (wife: Etta Baird)
d.       Etta (husband: John Shoemaker)
e.      Thursa (husband: William Shoemaker)
f.        Lee (wife: Carrie Taylor)
g.       Walter (wife: Blanche Smith)
h.      Carrie (husband: Coy Yates)
i.         James (wife: Maude Greer)

III.               Riley Greene & Etta Baird Michael
A.       Children
1.        Dulcie Ruth Michael (husband: Hoyle Hayes Shook)
2.       Ada May Michael (husband: Thomas Tope Shook)
3.       Grady Michael (wife: Myrtle Bryant)


I.                    James Dalton Shook (Grandpa Jimmy)
A.       James’s parents: Fredrick & Myra Pope Shook
1.        Children:
a.        John Shook (wife: Becky Calloway)
b.      Joe
c.       Jacob
d.      George (wife: Clarica Cornell)
e.      Henry (wife: Ginsey Aldridge)
f.        Monroe (wife: Mary Berry)
g.       James (wife: Sallie Hayes Gragg)
h.      Fannie (husband: Joe Brewer)
i.         Polly (husband: Joshua Townsend)
j.        Lydia (husband: Manuel Brewer)
k.       Nancy: (husband: ? Fox

II.                  Sarah (Sally) Hayes Gragg Shook (Grandma Sally)
A.       Sally’s parents: Joel & Eliza Hodges Hayes
1.        Children:
a.        William
b.      John
c.       Larkin Adams
d.      Joe
e.      George
f.        Sarah (Sally) (husband: ? Gragg and then James Dalton Shook)
g.       Mollie (husband: Billy Mast)
h.      Jennie (husband: James Whitehead)
i.         Julia
j.        Nannie (husband: Calvin Trivette)
k.       Addie (husband: Zeb (Jeb?) Mayberry)

III.               James Dalton & Sally Hayes Gragg Shook
1.        Children
a.        Grace (husband: Ralph Gwaltney)
b.      Hoyle Hayes (wife: Dulcie Ruth Michael)
c.       Thomas Tope (wife: Ada May Michael)

NOTE: Prior to marrying James Dalton, Sally was married to ? Gragg and had the following children:
1.       Blanche Gragg Frank
2.       Belle Gragg Calloway
3.       Onie Gragg Baird
4.       Lizzy Gragg Townsend
5.       Also had three little boys who passed away.


A.     Dulcie Ruth Michael marries Hoyle Hayes Shook in 1919
1.        Children:
a.        Zebulon Vance (wife: Mary Stevenson, aka, Steve)
b.      Ada Mildred (husband: Hade Smith)
c.       Ida Pauline (husband: Gentry North)
d.      Rhonda Hayes (wife: Gertrude Potter)
e.      Audrey Madeline (husband: William Rominger)
f.        William Bradley (wife: Mabel Jones)
g.       Homer Larry
h.      Errol Flynn (wife: Patsy Ruppard)
i.         Belinda (Linda) Ann (husband: Ken Orr)
j.        Helen Joyce: (husband: Kenneth Wilson)

B.     Ada May Michael marries Thomas Tope Shook
1.        Children:
a.       Carroll Linney Shook (wife: Angie  / Elaine
b.      Thomas Frederick (wife: Betty Nichols/ Carol Roberts)
c.       Arthur Quentin Shook (wife: Masako)
d.      Stuart Hodges Shook (wife: Wilma Yates)

C.      Grady Michael marries Myrtle Bryant
1.       Children:
a.       Betty Ann (husband: Raymond Romano)
b.      John Paul (wife: Fran Goodrich )
c.       Jackie Lee  (Jack) (wife: Dorothy Crisp)


There were about 100 of us gathered on Saturday, July 2nd, for the second reunion of the Shook / Michael families.

Evelyn Michael Gunter (daughter of Paul Michael), her husband, Kelly, and their family (Rebecca, Matt & Aaliyah Gunter) represented Grady & Myrtle Michael's family.

All of Tom & Ada Michael Shook's sons, Tom, Quentin, and Stuart, were present with members of their families.

Six of Hoyle & Ruth Michael Shook's remaining 7 children attended. 

Steve Shook, 92, wife of Zeb (deceased), was the eldest relative in attendance, followed by Hade Smith, 91, and Tom Shook, 90.

Clara Michael, her son, Dean & wife, Judy, represented Walt Michael's family.

A true highlight of the day was to see Pauline Shook North and A. Quentin Shook (in from Japan) together again.  They were inseparable!

The remaining list of attendees is way to long to list here.  Here are a few photos:

 (l to r:  brothers Quentin, Stuart & Tom Shook)

 (Quentin Shook & Pauline Shook North)

 (Daughters of Ruth & Hoyle Shook: front Linda Orr, Pauline North / back: Audrey Rominger, Joyce Wilson, Mildred Smith)

 Group pictures - it takes two to get us all in...

(Posted by Tanya Shook Wilder)