Well, I was born’d a coal miner’s daughter
In a cabin on a hill in Butcher Holler
Loretta Lynn, the beloved American country crooner was indeed a coal miner’s daughter from a place called Butcher Hollow in rural Kentucky.
If you want to hear the full song, here it is.
Butcher Hollow is located in Johnson County Kentucky, just outside the town of Van Lear, which was constructed by the Consolidation Coal Company in the early part of the 20th century.
Butcher Hollow is pronounced by locals as “Butcher Holl-er“, giving it that down-home twang. Butcher is the surname of Loretta Lynn’s maternal family.
Loretta Lynn Webb was born in 1932 and lived her early years in this small home in Butcher Hollow with her parents and 8 siblings.
As I was reading about Loretta’s childhood home, I discovered that the Kentucky shack was also the childhood home of singer/musicians Crystal Gayle, Peggy Sue, and Jay Lee Webb.
What?! I had NO IDEA that Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle were sisters. I probably can’t even name a Crystal Gayle song, but I was in love with her in the 1980’s – that long, long never-ending hair!
I always thought she was Canadian. In any case, this little cabin was home to all these very musical siblings, the most famous of which is Loretta Lynn.
Since 1986, one of Loretta’s non-famous siblings – Herman Webb – has been giving tours of the family homestead for $5 a person. If you make the trip down twisting Kentucky country side roads, you will get a personalized welcome and lots of sentimental stories from Herman, a living treasure of Americana.
The house dates back to 1901. I have read conflicting accounts of whether Loretta was actually born in this house or not. But we do know that she was the second born of the 8 siblings.
I’m not sure what the square footage of this cabin is, but it is on the small side, and there only 3 rooms downstairs and 2 upstairs. Picturing a family of 10 in total living here is very humbling.
Have a look inside…
The house is furnished with actually family pieces.
As you can see in these photos, thousands of visitors to the home have left their autograph on the walls for posterity.
Pictured below in the kitchen is the official tour guide – one of Loretta’s brothers – Mr. Herman Webb.
This is the place where all the fried chicken went down. (Who remembers country cooking with Crisco & Loretta?)
After the mines closed down, the family moved on and the cabin was occupied by a cousin until the 1970’s. It had no electricity or running water and the “facilities” are an outhouse out back.
The walls are filled with memorabilia and family mementos.
It’s fascinating to see the real-life spaces where famous people grew up – and the actual furniture they used. (Another humble abode of a famous person that I covered is Richard Nixon’s childhood home.)
If you want to read a really great piece written by someone who actually toured Butcher Hollow cabin, I highly recommend this article on Gadling.com. It really gives the flavor and thrill of touring the old shack if you are unable to visit in person.
I think I saw the bio-pic movie Coal Miner’s Daughter when I was younger, but I don’t remember much of it. Time to dust off the old VHS. I can’t get the song out of my head!