4 min read

Chapter One

Chapter One

Born a coal miner's daughter ... and, no. I'm not Loretta Lynn although our beginnings may have been similar. My teenage mother was in love with a coal miner who married a young and pregnant girl in Ohio a few months before my story began.

My bio-dad had been a coal-miner in West Virginia from a very young age. There is also a record of him being employed at a steel mill in Lorain, Ohio, which is where he most likely met my bio-mom. But, the story gets complicated which you'll soon learn.

According to the nurse who worked with the doctor who delivered me, my life began in a small apartment above the General Store in Terra Alta, West Virginia, a small coal mining town deep in a mountain region population in 1950 was 1,649. Terra Alta is part of the Morgantown metropolitan area.

The Story: Fact? or Fiction?

When I met my biological mother (hereafter referred to as "bio-mom"), she was able to shed some light on my mysterious beginnings. Whether they are fact or fiction, there is no way to know since all parties are now deceased. I like to think I can build a history on what she told me, but I admit that much of it is fill-in-the blanks story-telling. I'll share more about my bio-mom and bio-dad and their families later.

When I was searching for information about my bio-family, I located the name of the doctor who delivered me. He still had an office in Terra Alta, so I called the number and his nurse answered the phone. I told her who I was and my bio-parents' names and she shared what she was able to recall about that day. Again, how much is actually fact or fiction, there's no way to know.

The Nurse's Story

There came a call from a frantic young man; his "wife" was in labor and needed the doctor. While the doctor was with another patient, his nurse came to the address that happened to be a little room above the General Store in the coal-mining town. She went in and my bio-mom was lying on the bed, obviously very pregnant and in active labor. A quick examination confirmed that she was close to delivery.

She sent my bio-dad to get the doctor who hurriedly left his office and arrived just in time. He quickly assessed the situation and prepared his patient for delivery. She had no complications during labor and it wasn't long until she pushed a little girl into the world to take her first breath. My bio-dad stood by watching, cloaked with guilt since he had just witnessed a similar scene in Akron as his wife delivered his first child, also a girl, just a few months before.

It remains a mystery how this confused young man managed to keep a wife with a newborn and stand there next to my bio-mom as she delivered another child only six months later. Suddenly, he had two mouths to feed on his meager salary.

After the doctor finished tending the young mother and seeing the newborn was thriving, he and the nurse left the young couple to tend to their new child. That's where the nurse's story ends. That's where my bio-dad's troubles intensified.

Hard Decisions

My coal mining bio-dad knew he had to return to Ohio to be with his wife and baby or the double life he was leading would be quickly discovered. But at the same time, he knew my bio-mom deserved some special attention with her new baby. Decisions were made. Trouble was not far off for both of them.

I admit feeling bad for them both, caught in a situation with no good outcome. The mistakes they made, whether or not intentional, began a web of wrong decisions and life-altering emotional pain that would one day impact more than just them.

It had to be the most difficult situation for my bio-dad. Whether or not my bio-mom knew he was married, also with a new baby, I don't know – she never said. Whether she did or not, her life continued to fall apart in ways she never imagined, and life for him was no different.

And ... that was my Birth Day: May 5, 1951, in Terra Alta, Preston County, West Virgina. But, don't think for a minute that I was a mistake ... God has always had a plan for Mary Louise Dugger-Stockwell.