St. Charles, VA

“St. Charles is a small, incorporated, rural coal mining community of approximately 370 people in the upper part of Lee County, Virginia. Several hollows branch out from the town itself with a total population of 2780. This is essentially the area north of Stone Mountain to the Kentucky line bordered on the West by Route 421 proceeding to Harlan, Kentucky, and eastward to Jordan Branch just west of the community of Keokee.

There are no red lights in all of Lee County–the only semblance of one is a yellow warning light in the county seat, Jonesville. In the last census, Lee County was the poorest in Virginia, and the mining area in the northern section (location of St. Charles) is the poorest in the county. St. Charles remains the Democratic stronghold in spite of the fact that Lee County has turned fiercely Republican in the last six years. Eighty per cent of the people in the county are on welfare, and most are no longer able to work because of heart and lung conditions. Many are still awaiting black lung benefits. Governmental regulations about black lung benefits are constantly changing, and there are still 21,000 cases pending: some St. Charles people have not heard anything since they filed four years ago.”

–Excerpt from “Final Report: Appalachian Project Rural Student Health Coalition VI 1974,” PDF page 32.

Related People:

J. Thomas “Tom” John, M.D.

I am a bit late in getting my bio in, best done in the earlier stages of pending dotage. I am originally from Laurinburg NC a small farming and, then, textile community in the eastern part of the state. I… Continued

Tish Crane Rainey

Profile: [Contributed by Tish Crane Rainey, March 2017] I participated in the Student Health Coalition the summer of 1975. I had just finished my first year in nursing school at Vanderbilt with an eye on becoming a nurse midwife. That… Continued

Cathy Barrow Heck and Jeff Heck

[Written by Cathy Barrow Heck] I was absolutely sold on the Appalachian Student Health Coalition upon seeing the video as a nursing student in the fall of 1973. The idea of a team of students working in partnership with rural… Continued

Rebecca Joffrion Ingle

[Contributed by Rebecca (Becca) Joffrion Ingle] I was born in Starkeville, MS in 1952, but grew up from age 5 in Huntsville, Ala. This small, sleepy Alabama town exploded in growth and diversity during those years with the coming of… Continued

Related Stories:

Stories: “I will always be grateful for the gifts that the work and the people of those summers gave to me.”

[Story contributed by Angela Carroll Healy, M.D.] Dear All, Seeing the videos and reading the memories of other Coalitioners has made me want to share what working with the Student Health Coalition meant to me. I was a Brooklyn girl,… Continued

1976 St. Charles Health Clinic, VA

After the 1975 health fair In St. Charles, Virginia, the local health council worked tirelessly to build a permanent clinic. By 1976, that clinic had opened to the public. And over time, it grew into a network of 12 regional… Continued

Related Resources/Links:

Interview with Mary Herr by Jessie Wilkerson, May 19 2011, Southern Oral History Program, UNC Chapel Hill

Mary Herr was born in Springfield, Ill. in 1940. In 1978 she moved to Cherokee, N.C. where she has worked on many community development projects, primarily in legal aid services. Herr begins the interview by discussing her family history; a… Continued