Oral History of Margaret Tysinger of Lantz Mill, Virginia (August 24, 2007)


In these excerpts from an oral history with Margaret Tysinger, conducted by Elissa Blake Free and William Ward Nooter on August 24, 2007, she describes how deaf and hearing people lived alongside each other, creating the shared signing community of Lantz Mill. They recorded the oral history while driving around the Lantz Mill area. Born in 1911, Tysinger was raised by her father and paternal grandparents in Lantz Mill after her mother died, when she was two years old.


—Page 51—

Margaret Tysinger (MT):  That Wetzel house I was talking about is right across from the big house.  And then the little house down below belongs to the McGarvey, the big house it belongs to them. So the next two houses in the lane is where the deaf mutes lived.

Elissa Blake Free (EF):  Oh is that right? Tell us more about them.

MT: Well, of course they don’t live there any more, but they lived there and they, one of them had two girls and their mother and father couldn’t hear nor talk, but they could…and then –

EF: What were their names?

MT: Christian. And then one below had two children, a girl that couldn’t hear or talk, so she was sent to Staunton, to school up there, but the boy could talk hear and talk.  And then on top of the hill there was a variety of them, some of them could hear and some of them couldn’t; some of them would have the funniest things . . . one of them was a trimming trees and he cut the limb off he was sitting on, so he come down to the store and he was

—Page 52—

telling, and he had, I know when we went back to the house, had I know that this would have happened I would not have cut trees for your father today.

EF:  You say living up on the hill, which hill?

MT:  After you get if you keep on this road and go down to down, it’s a real high hill you see from here I guess almost.

EF: The big house, the Hite house?

MT: No.  It’s still on the road.  It’s not too far from –

EF: Towards Edinburg?

MT:  Yes, toward Edinburg. It sets up high.  

—Page 60—

EF: Let’s talk some more about the mill.  We’re looking at them fixing it up. 

MT: Well the only thing I can say about it, I’m glad to see it being fixed up because it’s really old, I did have the date you know of the building but I – 

—Page 61—

EF: Okay was there something here?

MT:  No there’s never been a house here.  

EF:  Okay, but you said there was a cider mill?

MT: Yeah the cider mill was right along there where that car is.  

EF: Apple cider?

MT:  Yes.

William Ward Nooter (BN): How was that run Mrs. Tysinger, was that on the same water wheel or was it separate power?

MT:  No, they had separate power. I just don’t know when you’re not any more than six or seven, you don’t think of how things is done.

EF:  What about this, is this the same?

MT:  No, that was built after I can remember.  And we’re going to make a left hand turn well okay 

EF:  We’re turning left on McGarvey Road.

BN:  Which should be Clem Road.

EF:  Should be Clem Road but it’s not unfortunately.  Okay we’re making the left.

MT: The house on the left was a two-story house and it burned and they made this out of it. Now they used the same foundation and I think it

—Page 62—

was just the upper part that burned and so they used

EF:  So it was right in that exact spot. Who lived there? What house was that?

MT: That was Fravel’s, and different people. When I was just a wee little girl there was, a family by the name of Fravel lived there.

BN:  That’s not where the deaf mute people lived?

MT:  No. Yeah, this is where the Christians lived.  That was the first ones, well, I guess I don’t know if he built it, but they were the first ones that lived there.  And then this other one this was here, the Christians lived in too. They were the deaf mutes.

EF: This is also on the left, actually maybe we can pick up the number.  This is 57 McGarvey Road.  So this is an old house.

MT: This is an old house.

EF: This was here when you were little?

MT:  Yes.  Now the one on the right here was an old house, real old house.

EF: Yeah, tell us about who lived there?

MT: They were deaf mutes too.  Except they are the ones that had the son, he could hear and talk. And he went away to work and he married a real

—Page 63—

nice woman and there was nothing wrong with the people that lived here, they were just a little different you know, and of course, now I never learned the sign language, but my daddy and my aunt and everybody in my family did, I don’t know why I didn’t.  And the name of Holler’s is the first ones that lived here that I ever heard of.  

—Page 108—

MT:  Now here the house on the left, is one of the Christian’s houses. And that’s old. 

EF: Okay, so that was a Christian house?

MT: Where the deaf mutes lived.

BN: And then where was their shop?

MT:  The garage and the shop was back in there and the shop burned.

EF:  On this site more or less?

MT:  Yes.  It was right in –

EF:  Maybe that could be it.

BN:  Joe Miller told us that was a new one, and that burned.

MT:  No, that was the old one where he built the caskets and there’s still a piece of it you can see.

EF:  Is this anything?

MT: That really belonged to a Christian man too. This down here from the time, I ever, I mean it was here, when, I’ve got memory.

APA Citation:
Tysinger, Margaret, Free, Elissa Blake & Nooter, William Ward. Oral History of Margaret Tysinger of Lantz Mill, Virginia (August 24, 2007). (2023, April 11). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Tysinger, Margaret, Elissa Blake Free, and William Ward Nooter. "Oral History of Margaret Tysinger of Lantz Mill, Virginia (August 24, 2007)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (11 Apr. 2023). Web. 21 Apr. 2024
Last updated: 2023, April 11
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.