Maggie Hammons Parker (top), Edden Hammons (center), the Hammons Family (bottom)

Listen to “Diggin’ Potatoes”

Listen to “Queen of the Earth & Child of the Skies”

The Hammons Family

Pocahontas County

Edden Hammons, 1876-1995
Pete Hammons, 1861-1955
Maggie Hammons Parker, 1899-1987
Sherman Hammons, 1903-1988
Burl Hammons, 1907-1993
Lee Hammons, 1883-1980
Currence Hammons, 1898-1984
Mintie Hammons, 1898-1987
Dona Hammons Gum, 1900-1987

The Hammons family came to West Virginia from Kentucky before the Civil War, eventually settling in Webster, Pocahontas, and Randolph counties. Many family members were known as some of the finest musicians in the mountains, playing and singing an ancient repertoire and holding on to nearly lost performance styles. The list above names several of the best-known musicians in the family.

Edden Hammons was considered to be the best fiddler of the lot and appeared in a World War II-era newsreel, fiddling for President Franklin D. Roosevelt at The Greenbrier hotel. In 1947, WVU professor Louis Chappell recorded 50 of his fiddle tunes. Wider recognition came in the 1970s when neighbor and local musician Dwight Diller became acquainted with the Hammonses and began a long and thorough examination of the family, its history, and their music.

Dwight was soon joined by Alan Jabbour and Carl Fleischhauer from the Library of Congress and a steady stream of other, mostly young and urban, musicians and folk music lovers. Recordings were made, interviews were transcribed and published, and people from many backgrounds became fascinated by this rustic family and their rural mountain heritage. Recordings of the family’s music has been released by WVU Press, the Library of Congress, Rounder Records, Dwight Diller, and the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College.