“So good to be back home again.”
Country music icon Loretta Lynn painted a rich picture of her childhood at Butcher Holler in Van Lear’s coal mine country. The love and nurturing behind the lyrics of the autobiographical Coal Miner’s Daughter continue to resonate with legions of fans.
“People relate to her music,” says Lynn’s younger brother, Herman Webb. “It’s just plain old country.”
Webb steps naturally into the role of tour guide for visitors to the Loretta Lynn Birthplace. He owns Webb’s General Store, about 2 miles down the road from the mountain cabin where the Webbs raised eight children, including the self-taught guitarist and songwriter who became, in her own words, “the first to ever go into Nashville, singin’ it like the women lived it.”
The house is a little over 100 years old and, according to Webb, about 85 percent is original to the time period of the Webb siblings’ 1930s/1940s childhood, right down to the bedroom suites.
“I’ve done a few things to make it stout, but the rest is original,” Webb says. And although he says visitors are often surprised that nothing is “fixed up real fancy,” they like it because it’s original.
Visitors have come from every state, as well as Japan, South America, Scotland, Australia, China, and many other countries. Movie, television, and country music stars have also come to pay their respects, including George Hamilton, Turtleman (Ernie Brown Jr.), cast members of The Appalachian Outlaws, George Jones, “First Lady of Country Music” Tammy Wynette, and many musicians getting started in the business.
“Loretta is a legend,” says Webb of his multi-Grammy Award-winning superstar sibling. “There weren’t a lot of women singers when she started in the business.”
Lynn was the first woman to win Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards in 1972, and she received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
Says Webb: “She just does her thing.”