Episode 23 - Founder's Day

(22 March 1979)
Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Ralph Waite.
Music: Alexander Courage


This synopsis is dedicated to Ellen Corby who passed away on April 16, 1999 at the age of eighty-seven years. Ellen Corby was born in Racine, Wisconsin as Ellen Hansen. She appeared in more than one hundred movies, including It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Shane (1953), Sabrina(1954), Vertigo (1958), and Support Your Local Gunfighter(1971). Her performance as the lovelorn aunt in I Remember Mama earned her a 1948 nomination for the Academy Award. She was best known and will be lovingly remembered as Grandma Walton, appearing in the 1971 television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story that inspired the television series The Waltons. Goodnight, Grandma, and thank you.

William Atkins, May 1999


"In our house all of us had that strong and very personal link with other generations, so that past and present sometimes blended with unexpected results. None of us knew from what ancestral source my brother Jason's love of music had sprung, just that it built up in him until it had to be expressed. As he neared Graduation, Jason found himself returning to that source for inspiration, and it was nearly to prove disastrous".


Grandma looks on as Jason despairingly struggles with his final music composition before graduation from the Keinberg Conservatory of Music. Elizabeth does not understand the title "Polyphonic Overture"; thinking it sounds too stuffy. Adding to Jason's frustration, Ben and Cindy are loudly talking in the living room. After complaining about the commotion, Jason blares out, 'Just leave me alone'. He leaves for the Baldwin house as Miss Mamie and Miss Emily discuss how they will preserve their historical artifacts and, especially, to whom they will pass on the recipe to 'The Recipe' when they die. The sisters let Jason use their piano to compose. As they watch and listen to him their attention turns again to the organization of their memories. Jason indicates that with these troubled times many people are worried about preserving the past. The Baldwin sisters suggest they share their relics of the past with the community.


At Ike's store, Miss Mamie and Miss Emily discuss with Corabeth, Ike, and Mary Ellen their plans to 'salute and preserve the past' in a Founders' Day. The special event would be a gathering of all families who first settled the area. Corabeth suggests a committee composed of herself, the Baldwin sisters, and Mary Ellen.


John finds Jason in the barn trying to develop his composition. Jason admits he feels limited by the rules imposed by his professor. John suggests he listen to his own voices. The family talks about Founders' Day, except Grandma and Jim Bob who do not like the idea. Grandma is against including within the festivity her precious diary of Rome Walton, the first pioneer and first Walton to settle the Mountain.


Miss Mamie and Miss Emily find a document they believe to be the oldest one they possess. The letter states that their Papa's great-great-grandfather Fitius Lewis Baldwin left Culpepper County to became the first settler of the Mountain in Jefferson County. The sisters now believe Walton's Mountain should have been named Baldwin's Mountain. Late in the night, Elizabeth finds Jason struggling at the piano. He reminisces of the trouble that John-Boy faced while writing his first novel. Elizabeth reminds her brother that John-Boy wrote about the things he knew and cared about. The uncertainty Jason has been facing lifts as he asks Elizabeth to listen to an unfinished composition that focuses on familiar surroundings. Jason has found his way as he erases the old title, renaming the new composition 'Appalachian Portrait'.


In the morning, John finds a rejuvenated Jason still working at the piano. Over breakfast, the family discusses the feature entertainer for Founders' Day. Grandma walks over to Jason and indicates her choice. Everyone agrees that Jason's composition is perfect for the day of remembering. Ike and Corabeth's search over family records finds that Isaac Edelbert Godsey homesteaded on the first mountain of size due west of Scottsville in Jefferson County. The entry proceeds to say that a full year passed before another settler arrived. The Godsey's now believe Walton's Mountain was erroneously named.


The Baldwin sisters ask advice from Ike and John about to whom they should leave the formula to their Recipe when they die. After the two agree to help Miss Mamie and Miss Emily enter the store for a committee meeting. Over tea the committee members argue who really was the first settler in the area.


Jason shows his new composition to Professor Bowen who is outraged that it ignores the formal musical conventions he assigned. Jason invites him to Founders' Day but the professor could care less about attending the function. After supper, Jason tells the family that his professor may flunk him because his composition is too contemporary for his tastes. The family also discusses the claims of the Godsey's and the Baldwin's. When family pride comes in doubt Grandma produces the diary of Rome Walton. John reads the passage where Rome confronts his second freezing winter on the Mountain in the year 1766. During this year Rome writes where Fitius Baldwin arrives with the finest whiskey he had ever tasted. A later excerpt tells where Isaac Walton took supper during Rome's tenth year on the Mountain.


John and Elizabeth invite Professor Bowen to Founders' Day. He does not listen to John but Elizabeth gives the professor the book Walton's Mountain, saying it describes what her father was trying to say.


At Founders' Day, the Baldwin sisters announce they will donate their house as a Founders' Hall for a collection place of all the community's artifacts. John welcomes everyone to the special event. He says it is not really important who was the first settler in the area, but it is more important that families have lived and worked on the Mountain for generations. At this time, Professor Bowen arrives now aware of Jason's feelings. John introduces Jason who uses his music to express his memories of Walton's Mountain.


"There is something within us that tells us all we will ever know about ourselves. There is a destiny that tells us where we will be born, where we will live, and where we will die. Some men are drawn to oceans, they cannot breathe unless the air's scented with the salty mist. Others are drawn to land that is flat, and the air is sullen and as leaden as August. My people were drawn to mountains, they came when the country was young and they settled in the upland country of Virginia that is still misted with a haze of blue which gives those mountains their name. They endured and they prevailed, through flood and famine, diphtheria and scarlet fever, through drought and forest fire, whooping cough and loneliness, through Indian wars, a Civil War, a World War, and through the great Depression, they endured and they prevailed. In my time I have come to know them."


"Grandpa, in memory I touch your face, a distance from me now, I feel you near. The coyote will disappear from the earth, and the whooping crane will follow the passenger pigeon, but you will endure through all of time."


"Grandma, I touch your hand, and when I do I touch the past. I touch all the small ships that brought us to this country, and all the strong, brave women who faced a frontier and made it home."


(Olivia and John) - "Strength and love came together here, so not the same they did not seem a pair, bound together they were so much one, all I ever want is what they've had so long, and lived so well."


(Jason) - "A brother with an alien name, the ancient Jason went searching for the Golden Fleece, our Jason makes voyages every day, and never leaves the mountain."


(Mary Ellen) - "A first baseman grown to wife and mother, soft and stronger as she grew."


(Ben) - "A temper always at the ready hides the best of him, but I know my brother as my friend."


(Erin) - "A pretty girl deepens into beauty, impatient for time to pass and bring her love."


(Jim Bob) - "His head most often in the clouds causes the rest of him to stumble, but seldom really fall."


(Elizabeth) - "A little sister full of wonder and far enough behind to be a joy."


(Ike and Corabeth) - "And closest family were our neighbors, linked to us in ties as strong as blood."


(The Baldwin sisters) - "Gentility and graciousness lived there too, the past flowing into the present, the present blending with yesterday."


"I have walked the land in the footsteps of all my fathers, back in time to where the first one trod, and stopped, saw sky, felt wind, bent to touch mother earth, and called this home. This mountain, this pine and hemlock, oak and poplar, laurel wild and rhododendron, home and mountain, father, mother, grow to the sons and daughters to walk the old paths, to look back in pride, in honored heritage. To hear its laughter and its song. To grow to stand and be themselves one day remembered. I have walked the land in the footsteps of all my fathers. I saw yesterday and now look to tomorrow."


Elizabeth: Daddy?

John: Yes Honey?

Elizabeth: Was Rome Walton my great great-great-great-grandfather?

John: Well let's see - he was Pa's great-great-great-grandfather, so that makes him your - no, that's wrong there's too many greats.

Elizabeth: But don't you know, Daddy?

John: Why don't you look it up in the family Bible, Honey?

Elizabeth: That's great, Daddy, really great!

Everybody: Goodnight Elizabeth.....

Elizabeth: Goodnight everyone.



The license plates on the Baldwin sister's car are 992-869 Virginia.

The Baldwin sisters say their Papa's great-great-grandfather Fitius T. Baldwin settled in the area, but later it is learned from Rome Walton's diary that his name was Fitius Lewis Baldin.

Ike says his great-great-grandfather Isaac Edelbert Godsey was the first Godsey to settle the Mountain.

The Walton's say Rome Walton was the first settler on the Walton, arriving sometime during the year 1765.


Also appearing:

Ike and Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley and Ronnie Claire Edwards); Miss Emily and Miss Mamie Baldwin (Mary Jackson and Helen Kleeb); Professor Bowen (Dean Jagger); Cindy Walton (Leslie Winston); John Curtis (Michael and Marshall Reed), Music Student (John Dayton), The Radio announcer (Hank Stohl).