James Oliver Shell was born on January 26, 1891 in Shell Creek, Tennessee where his grandfather owned a farm and worked as a carpenter. His father died when he was two months old, so his mother reared the children living with her father. Mr. Shell had one sister, a half-‐sister, and four half-‐brothers. As a young man James O. Shell moved to the Heaton community of Avery County North Carolina and was a farmer and served as the postmaster in Heaton from 1914 to about 1953. He died on July 4, 1980 at the age of 88.
During the interview James O. Shell reflects on working his farm, local politics, and playing baseball as a youth. He discusses log rollings, corn shuckings, and the how neighbors helped each out. Some other topics he discusses are Tweetsie Railroad, homemade coffins, local cemeteries and playing baseball.