Like so many during the COVID-19 pandemic, Donna Karnes Peyton had extra time on her hands.
She had recently moved from Kentucky to Tennessee to be closer to her daughter, Tracy, and her family and was practicing social distancing. While spending time with her, she began to reminisce about her time growing up in the community of Elva located in the western section of Marshall County, near Graves County.
After sharing a story from her childhood, Tracy commented that she had never heard that particular story. She wondered if other memories from that time of her mother’s life might come to mind if she began writing her stories down.
There was a bit of urgency to composing these memories as Donna was expecting her first great-grandchild. Tracy thought a book of family memories from her Mom’s childhood would be a wonderful gift to not only the entire family, but especially the grandchildren and great-grandchildren yet to come.
So, Donna got busy writing about this happy time in her life for her family. She was actually born in Detroit, Michigan. Her parents, like so many others, moved north during a time when jobs were plentiful. As soon as they had enough money saved to build a home, they built a new house close to their family in Elva and moved back when Donna was ready for first grade.
She writes about the farm her father, Ernest Karnes, owned; the one-room school she attended; how the people of the community came together to help each other with hog killing; quilting; and cleaning the cemetery. She also writes of the values passed on to her by her mother, Leona Barnes Karnes, and other family and members of the community.
Her grandparents, Dow Barnes and Emma Wallace Barnes, were middle-class farmers who sold their goods in Paducah near the Market House. They would wash and polish the car and dress up for the occasion. “Papa Barnes” would wear his white shirt, dress pants and straw hat. “Mama Barnes” wore her nice dress, hat and gloves. They had a sense of pride they instilled in Donna. They were proud as farmers, and proud to offer for sale the results of their hard work.
There are also treasured family recipes and many pictures of beloved family members.
The book is entitled, “A Place Called Elva.” Donna is hoping she will inspire others to write their memories for the coming generations.