A Musical Marriage: Lester and Linda McCumbers of Calhoun County, West Virginia
By Kim Johnson
Lester and Malinda McCumbers have known each other their whole lives. They were married in December 1937 at the age of sixteen. “Linda had the whole world to pick from, and she picked me,” Lester said. “We walked across the hill about five miles to Joe McClung’s house. He was a Methodist preacher who lived on Mill Fork, and we got married in the road in front of his house, then walked back.”
“That walk back was our honeymoon,” Linda added. “My dad and Lester’s dad hitch-hiked over to Grantsville to get our wedding license. We set up housekeeping on Mount Run, and have lived here ever since."
Today Lester and Linda McCumbers have a large close-knit family of 9 children, 25 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great-grandchildren. Singing, dancing, and playing music have always been a large part of the McCumbers family’s life. Their son Bill is a guitar player and singer, while his brother Tim plays both guitar and bass. Their daughter Joan and son-in-law Paul Cottrell have a band called High Mountain Bluegrass. Roger played the banjo and also sang. Beatrice, Joan and Tammy are all enthusiastic dancers, and Tammy sings as well.
There was always music in the McCumbers’ home, and before radio and television, that music was homemade. Linda’s father Galry was a good singer and an agile back-step dancer. He played the banjo in the clawhammer style and also the jews harp. Linda’s mother Ada [Cottrell] McCumbers often sang old ballads while tending to the children and doing other household chores. Ada’s sisters Sarah [Cottrell] Schoolcraft and Phoebe [Cottrell] Parsons were also singers, and as a little girl Linda learned such songs as “Pretty Polly” and “Barb’ry Allen” from them.