Nora Swango Stanger: Forever from Lawrence County

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2022

I’ve just returned from a three-day trip, taking students from Sinclair Community College in Dayton to discover the richness of Lawrence County.

Our student population included students from Appalachian heritage and some who never knew ‘Appalachia’ existed.

In addition, we shared this trip with international students representing Egypt, Pakistan, Congo, Kenya and Peru.

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The focus of the past 30 years of my professional life has been to promote the richness and beauty of our region. Too often, outsiders consider our people to be “less-than” based on stereotypes and the social construction of images of Appalachia created by the media.

The saddest truth is that many of our people have adopted the same “less-than” attitudes about ourselves and we have stayed in the shadows of American society much too long.

During this trip, my colleagues and I were able to deconstruct many of those images for our students. My prayer is that you will see the strengths of our people in a new light as well.

Below is the introduction to our evening presentation at Ohio University Southern campus. I have had requests to share this, and so I am taking advantage of this avenue through The Ironton Tribune to do just that.

By the way, many of you were present during this event. Your powerful belief in our culture and our history had a huge impact on my students.

“My name is Nora Swango Stanger. I am the daughter of Emma Jean Swango, the granddaughter of Dempse and Nora Mitchell, the great-granddaughter of Steve and Rena Turner.

I am the sister of Ruth, Mike, Amy, Linda, Garry, Ella and Tresa.

I am the wife of one husband and mother of two daughters: the aunt of 17, great-aunt of 34 and great-great-aunt of one.

My people have been known here for a hundred years.

I am from carrying water from the well and filling up the coal & wood boxes before bed.

I am from hunting wildflowers like Jack-in-the Pulpit, Trilliums and even Ginseng.

I am from climbing sandstone boulders and swinging from grapevines.

From Gum Stump, Aarons Creek, White Holler and Coal Bank Road

From Waterloo, Arabia, Aid, Getaway, Greasy Ridge and Dog Fork.

I’m from listening to Whip-or-wills on hot summer nights and Bob Whites calls in the morning.

I’m from working in Burley tobacco and cleaning off abandoned cemeteries for Decoration Day.

I’m from shopping at Mann’s Market and playing in the courthouse lawn.

I’m from high school bands marching in the Christmas and Memorial Day Parades.

I’m from county fair 4-H competitions and eating soup beans at Pioneer Days in Proctorville.

I’m from riding Greyhound buses to parts unknown and returning in cars bought with my own money.

I’m from risking to move away and longing for home.

I’m from birth at General Hospital, to layout at Phillips Funeral Home and rest at Bradshaw cemetery.

No matter where I lay my head, I am Lawrence County.”

Nora Swango Stanger, a Lawrence County native and Appalachian outreach coordinator for Sinclair Community College, can be reached at