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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau

Far Hills

This is one of my regular views when I am out walking. Almost every time I take in this view I think of my grandmother, my Mother's mother. She loved these mountains, and I have always thought how nice it would have been for me to have shared "my" side of them with her. She spent most of her life where she could view "her hills," as she like to call them. She was born in Millboro, Bath County Virginia in 1883. Today this is a sleepy, unincorporated community in the Blue Ridge mountains. She attended "finishing school" at Lewisburg Female Institute in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Founded in 1812 and originally named Greenbrier College, the school was closed during the Civil War. It was reopened in 1875 and given the Female Institute name at that time. Lewisburg is in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains, and in 2016 was named the "Happiest Mountain Town" in a reader poll conducted by "Blue Ridge Country" magazine. In September of 1902 she headed off to Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Spartanburg, located in the north western part of South Carolina, is noted for its "picturesque views" of the Blue Ridge. In the spring of 1903, while visiting a friend in Westminster, South Carolina, she met David Norris, who was to become the love of her life. She had to leave Converse after just one year because her family could not afford the expense of furthering her education. She realized then that she was now of an age that she needed, as she wrote in her memoir, "to bestir myself and at least pay some of my own bills." She answered an ad for a teacher's position in a little school in Fort Spring, West Virginia. It, too, is in site of the mountains. She only taught school for the 1903-04 school term and then returned to live with her parents, who were then living in Waynesboro, Virginia, yet another mountain town. In June of 1905, she married David Norris and moved to Westminster, South Carolina where they lived until 1914 when they moved to Greenville, South Carolina, which she would call home for the rest of her life. They had three homes there, the last one they built on land on the side of Paris Mountain, just outside of Greenville. They moved into this house in 1959. It was a lovely home with lots of big windows facing "her hills," and, not surprisingly, they named this home "Far Hills" because of these views. Her's were the eastern side of the very same ones that I see daily from the western side. I feel a real personal connection to my Grandmother, not only because I am her namesake, but also because I, too, find comfort and peace when looking at them.

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