Across the Yew Pines – The Hammonses: Descendents of the Frontier
A film by Dwight Diller (4 DVDs, about 4 hours)
Across the Yew Pines is an opportunity to spend some time in the company of the Hammons family, who were born and raised on the Williams River in East Central West Virginia. Their great- great-grandfather was born in the latter half of the 18th Century in the ‘Indian Nation,’ and the family moved north from there, through virgin forest, to Webster Co and Nicholas Co, eventually settling in an isolated location on the Williams River, where the surviving members were born around the turn of the 20th Century.
This journey brought them through Indian country, the Civil War, and the start and end of the logging boom. Journeying alongside them, and carried by them, came the music, the banjo and fiddle tunes, the many songs, and the family stories that made up their own history. These shared memories are portrayed here in four DVDs that contain original recordings made during visits to the Hammons’ home. Conversation, music and stories have been woven together, with many still photographs taken at that time set against footage of the forests in which they lived, plus some film of the Hammons at their home, and of the logging industry that formed a part of their early life.
These four DVDs, each lasting one hour, have been put together with the aim of allowing the Hammons to tell us their own story, in their own words, at their own pace, and in their own way. The past is allowed to flow without interference into the present, giving us a glimpse of an earlier way of life. A CD is included with the transcription of the stories, so that they can be followed while listening to the DVD. The transcription follows as faithfully as possible the dialect spoken by the Hammons. It also contains an introduction to the series, a list of the tunes and stories used, some additional history of the times, and acknowledgements.
Dwight Diller is a native son of the East Central Mountains of West Virginia. He is a musician in the old West Virginia mountain music tradition, and has been teaching this music and its culture for over 40 years. He always had an interest in the old stories of his own family, as well as those of other people in this area, when he was a small boy, and his meeting and subsequent friendship with the Hammons was a continuation of this.