Edward Eugene Blackburn was born on August 29, 1893 to Alex (b. 1852 – d. June 1, 1926) and Rhoda Howell Blackburn (b. February 12, 1856 – d. December 6, 1934). He was married to Ollie Clawson Blackburn (b. July 29, 1893 – d. June 1985). He grew up in the Todd community of Ashe County and served in the U.S. Army during the First World War with the 318th Field Hospital of the 80th Division. He experienced combat in France, which is briefly mentioned in the interview.
Many affectionately knew him as “Brother Ed” or “Uncle .” The Reverend Ed Blackburn and his wife took over the leadership of The Tabernacle, a non-‐denominational Holiness church across the hill from his childhood home. This church later became the Blackburn Community Church, was originally started by his father around 1910. His uncle was U.S. Congressman Edmond Spencer Blackburn (b. September 22, 1868 – d. July 21, 1912) who served in 1901-03 and 1905-07.
During the interview Ed Blackburn talks about growing up in rural Ashe County. Topics include explaining the rules to a game called “dare base,” and his experience working at a grist meal and laying railroad track as a young man. He also discusses the railroad in Todd, timber stripping, religion, and family.