The Conflict  (12 September 1974) 49/3/1

Written: Jeff Rosebrook, Director: Ralph Senensky, Music: Arthur Morton


"When I was growing up on Waltons Mountain, I had a tendency to think of myself and my immediate family as the only Waltons, but that wasn't true, we were part of a great clan. There were other mountains and many other Waltons who lived farther up in the Blue Ridge. They were part of the family who's way had scarcely been touched by the passing of time. We were a family born to share a kinship with the seasons, always gratefully accepting that which the land gave, but living in the knowledge that weather and misfortune could take it away. One summer we were to learn that man also could take away what the land had given".



The Waltons return from a wonderful picnic near Blue Rock Creek, where Aunt Martha Corrine, her son Boone, her great-grandson Wade, and his wife Vera live. They sing “Clementine” and “On Top of Old Smokey” while driving home. Grandpa explains to the children about their family that lives near Blue Rock Creek. After seeing the construction signs for a new highway and park passing through the area, he wants to visit their relatives to make sure they are okay. But, John and Olivia feel the children are tired and it is too late to detour to Henry’s place. John assures Zeb that they will drive up first thing tomorrow. Grandma comments how Boone passed around his white lightning at his wife’s funeral (just last year) soon after she was put into the ground. But when they arrive home the family finds Boone and Wade waiting for them. Zeb tells them they were just on the “Ridgeline Route” but John wouldn’t let him visit. The men-folk talk about Blake, who is in charge of building roads for the government through their land. He is demanding they access money for their land, and that they pack up and relocate to the flatlands. John-Boy listens to their plan to stay-put and fight the government if necessary. Martha Corrine plans to “make a stand”. Zeb states that they will be at their place tomorrow morning. John-boy can’t believe that they are really serious about fighting the government. John says they will be there, but will not bring any guns.


In the morning, the construction of roads and parkland continue with big machines as trees are felled and land altered. The Waltons drive up to Henry’s place as Jason plays the harmonica and Zeb sees a sign that tells the government to “STAY OUT”. Martha Corrine tells the Waltons that she doesn’t see one single rifle among the group. John states that they don’t think that guns will solve the problem. Martha Corrine asks John-Boy where he stands, and John-Boy says, “I stand by my Daddy.” The matriarch of the family introduces Vera to the family; saying that when her baby is born four generations will be living on the land. She tells the girls to pick blackberries and keep whatever she doesn’t use, and tells the boys to pick one Indian arrowhead apiece. Zeb announces that, “We’re here for a council of war!” The men pass around moonshine under the watchful and disapproving eye of Olivia and Esther. They talk about Blake who says they have three days to move or the United States marshals will forcefully take the land. Martha Corrine isn’t impressed with the smell of gasoline and rubber tires over her tomato garden.


As the girls pick blackberries Elizabeth mentions that if a fight results Grandpa won’t be shot because he says that he’s become so tough that bullets won’t go through him. They are soon chased by some of Martha Corrine’s pigs and are forced to climb a fallen tree. They yell for help. John-Boy looks at the pigs in a pen near the house while Martha Corrine, John, and Grandpa talk about the impending danger. John-Boy abruptly says that if they do have to move, they will be welcome to settle on their Mountain. Martha Corrine says, “That’s your land, and this is ours!” John-Boys responds with, “Yes Ma’m.” Mary Ellen tries to scare off the pigs, but is forced back onto the tree trunk. When they resume yelling the boys come running to their rescue. They soon see that the girls are trapped by pigs, and abrupt with laughter. They call them “scarety cats” while they drive the pigs away.


Martha Corrine watches as Lucas Avery approaches the house. He is a politician that represents her in the Virginia legislature. After talking with Blake, Lucas tells her than Blake promised to stop blasting for the next three days if she would look at the government houses. Lucas explains that the government is trying to build the country out of the Depression, and the majority of people are not the hundreds of people living up and down these hollows. Martha Corrine decides to look at the government housing. But, her family is mad at her decision. Olivia follows Vera, while Lucas leaves. Martha Corrine says, “Being afraid is the most powerful kind of anger”. Olivia tells Vera how she wishes her life could always go on in the same way. Olivia wonders if Vera is afraid, but Vera says that Wade will take care of her. Olivia says she is afraid because John-Boy goes off to college and he will experience things she has never seen before. Vera thinks she should not let him go, but Olivia says she cannot stop him from exploring the outside world. She suggests that she and Wade not be afraid to see the good things that the world has to offer.


The girls make homemade ice cream with the blackberries, while the boys break ice. They combine everything into the ice cream maker and begin cranking. Eventually, Olivia opens up the top, and Elizabeth gets the first lick, Martha Corrine, the second, and John, the third. At the cabin, John-Boy, Wade, and Vera sit by the fire. Wade asks John-Boy if he is married, and John-Boy chuckles, “No, I’m only eighteen”. Wade comments he is nineteen. Wade walks outside for more firewood, while John-Boy admires the woodcarvings that Wade cut. Martha Corinne talks about meeting her husband Henry while the family looks on. They met at a mill on the James River that was just above Scottsville. Henry’s father worked at the mill when they met, she was ten years old and he was eleven. They were married when she was fifteen and he sixteen. He worked at the mill until the war broke out, then enlisted with Stonewall Jackson, and later fought was Jubel Early. Two years later he returned from the war and in 1865 they walked up to the mountain, and placed boundary stones for their house. Later she gave birth to Boone, and Henry (who died in infancy). Martha Corinne excuses herself so she will be fresh to look at houses tomorrow, the first time since 1865. Grandma helps her upstairs.


In the morning, Zeb finds Boone already with a filled can of worms for fishing. They walk toward Blue Rock Creek, as John-Boy looks on. Wade mentions that he has been watching over Zeb like a “mother hen”. Wade comments about how little they have hunted and fished together recently. Zeb responds that he’s had to help John with providing for his family. Wade and John-Boy leave to chop wood. John-Boy watches as Wade and Vera kiss. Vera says that the wood they are about to cut will be used to make their baby’s cradle. Zeb says that the dam that Blake plans to build on Blue Rock Creek could have prevented Boone’s son’s house from floating down river at the last flood. Boone says he does what pleasures himself the most: “hunt, fish, cut timber, and make a little whiskey”. While they fish and talk one of Blake’s men takes a drink from the opposite shore of the creek. Zeb and Boone wonder what to expect from Blake today. John places Jason in charge of the other children while he, Olivia, and Grandma show Martha Corinne the new houses. Jason tells the children to do their chores after John drives away.



John-Boy and Wade cut down a tree and trim its branches as they talk. John-Boy wonders if Wade has considered selling his carvings. Wade asks John-Boy what made him a writer. John-Boy theorizes that the common blood flowing through their bodies made him a wood carver and him a writer. They talk about Wade’s journey into other men’s worlds. John-Boy quotes Henry David Thoreau saying, “It is as fitting for a man to build his own house, as it is for a bird to build its own nest.” Esther shows Martha Corinne the new house that offers indoor plumbing including hot and cold water in the bathroom sink and a mirror on the vanity. Martha Corrine says that “its bad to look at a mirror at night”. Martha Corinne is fascinated by the electric lights as she turns them off and on. Olivia says “it’s a nice house”, but Martha Corinne adds, “it didn’t take much time building it, too!” Martha Corinne feels suffocated in the flat lands. John says it looks like the property contains about twenty acres, half being cleared. Martha Corinne says that her husband Henry said, “You live with your land, and you die with your land.”


Back at the cabin, John-Boy can’t believe that in a few weeks, he’ll be going off to college and here he is in the midst of an old-fashion feud and fighting. Grandpa tells his grandson that this is fought-for land and he needs to decide how much of a Walton he believes himself to be. At the house, Wade drives up looking for John. Jason tells him he is showing Martha Corinne the new houses. Wade waits, as the children look on, wondering what is going on. As they drive back from the flat lands, Esther and Martha Corinne talk in the bed of the truck. Martha Corinne says, “Giving up your home is like giving up a good part of yourself”. Esther says that moving away doesn’t mean you have to give up what you believe. Jim-Boy asks Wade why he got a tattoo, and Wade responds that it was part of being in the Navy. Just then John drives up. Wade informs Martha Corinne that Blake lied, starting to blast at the crack of dawn. Martha Corinne reverses her decision about moving, ready to return home. John goes to see Lucas Avery hoping to talk things out.


That night at the cabin Vera sings while John-Boy walks to Blake’s camp. Blake as at Brightwood, but his two men say they will relay the message that John is talking with Senator Avery to reach a compromise. But, the men are really more interested to know that John is away from the area. As John-Boy walk back he runs into Grandpa, who is upset with his grandson for going “into the enemy’s camp”.


The next day, at the cabin, Zeb and Boone walk down the road to relieve John-Boy of guard duty. Grandpa is still visibly upset with John-Boy, telling him to go inside for breakfast. Inside Martha Corinne brings him a breakfast of hot biscuits and coffee. She asks about the college he’s going to, never having any schooling. She says that you can learn a lot by just looking at the world, but would like to study history and plants. Wade piles rocks for the foundation of their new house, as Vera brings him breakfast. They look at each other, and then hug. Wade talks about using walnut for the furniture, from the stand of walnut trees on the land of Vera’s grand-daddy’s. While Vera tells Wade that the baby didn’t sleep well last night an explosion is heard.


Bulldozers dig up the ground and trucks drive it away. Martha Corinne tells them to drive the truck to the end of their property, and to give the first person that crosses that line a “load of double-O buckshot”. John-Boy tries to convince them to work out something, rather than to fight right off the bat. Martha Corinne says she will depend on the “men” in the family that are willing to defend their property. Grandpa, Martha Corinne, and John-Boy stand next to the truck while Martha Corinne states that defending your property may cause family members to be killed, telling John-Boy that such things are not taught in college. John-Boy calls them “all fools” for trying to fight the federal government, saying he doesn’t think the government is “right”, only that their way is “wrong”.


John-Boy points to the distance, showing a vehicle with United States marshals and Black standing next to it. Both groups size up the other. Wade gives a gun to John-Boy. At the office of the “Legislative Council of Parks and Highways for the Commonwealth of Virginia”, Avery and John plead their cause. John tells the men that there is a difference between city-folk and mountain folk. Their way of life hasn’t changed much since their ancestors first settled the mountains. They don’t understand progress, and are frightened to move when the last time that they had moved was in 1865. All they know is that they have a bit of land and it is slipping away from them. John adds that the young people can adapt, but the old folks should be allowed to spend their remaining years in peace, rather than in violence. Back at the cabin explosions are heard as the family waits and wonders, with the ever-standing Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Grandpa places his hand on John-Boy’s shoulder. Martha Corinne walks to the grave of her deceased husband Henry. She cries, not knowing what will happen today, but knowing that they will stick together. She wishes their trouble was “easy trouble”. Back at the truck Vera joins Wade as he yells that they can’t leave nothing alone. John-Boy looks on with his gun in his hand, fingering his high school senior class ring. Suddenly the marshals’ truck starts forward. Martha Corinne joins the group as Blake stops and reads Martha Corinne her eviction notice. She responds, telling Blake to go back. But the law officers drive forward as the Walton’s cock their guns. John-Boy suddenly runs toward the truck, trying to make on last attempt to settle this peacefully. But they force themselves around him as gunfire from both sides erupts. John-Boy runs toward the marshals, and one shoots him. As he falls, Zeb runs toward his fallen grandson yelling out “Johnny”. Blake tells them to put down their rifles. Just then John and Avery arrive. John rushes his son to the doctor, as Zeb helps. Avery tells Martha Corinne that the governor turned them down. In response Martha Corinne succumbs to the bloodshed and that decision. She agrees to give up. She tells Blake to leave, saying, “We can do our own packin’.”


Later, they pack their belongings onto the truck as Martha Corinne sweeps the house floor. She tells John-Boy that she would like to give the spinning wheel to his sisters as a present. She finishes the cleaning, wanting to leave the house as clean as when they first moved in. She reminisces the day she and Henry were married, saying, “I wore liliacs and he smelled of bay rum.” A smile comes across her face, but is quickly erased as reality sets in. She leaves the house that she has called home since 1865.


"The house is gone now, along with the animal shelters and out-buildings. The forest is grown up and there is no sign that once a man and a woman struggled there to raise a family and make a life for themselves. Only the tiny graveyard endures, not far from where the house itself stood. With Martha Corinne's eviction from Blue Rock Creek our link with our pioneer past was broken, but it remains with us today in our heritage, in our history and in our pride. Martha Corinne died in 1939, she was buried on the mountain beside her husband and infant son. Wade and Vera settled in the south-western part of the state, where Wade built their home and began a career which saw him become one of the country's most talented woodcarvers. Boone Walton was killed by a truck as he crossed the highway one night in 1943. He was carrying 2 gallons of moonshine".


Elizabeth: Mama, you promised me that song, and you forgot.
Olivia: First thing in the morning, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: I'd sleep better if I heard it now.....
Olivia (sings):

            There's an old spinning wheel in the parlour
            Spinning dreams of the long, long ago
            Spinning dreams of an old-fashioned garden
            And a maid with her old-fashioned bow.

Elizabeth: You too, Daddy.
Olivia & John (sings):

            Sometimes it seems I can hear her in the twilight
            At the organ softly singing 'Old Black Joe'
            There's an old spinning wheel in the parlour
            Spinning dreams of the long, long ago.

Elizabeth: Goodnight Mama and Daddy.
Olivia: Goodnight, Elizabeth.
John: Goodnight, Elizabeth.



The season is late summer, just before the start of school.

The license plates on John’s truck are T825-41.

Aunt Martha Corrine Walton is the wife of Henry Walton. She died in 1935, and was buried next to her husband and infant son.

Henry Walton is Zeb’s oldest brother.

Cousin Boone Walton is the son of Martha Corrine. He died in 1943, after being hit by a car while crossing the highway carrying two jugs of moonshine.

Wade Walton is the Greatgrandson of Martha Corrine; and the Grandson of Boone. Wade has just returned from service in the United States Navy, after lying about his age (he is currently nineteen).

Vera Walton is the daughter of Ben Mouren of Hampton, Virginia. Ben died of lung disease in 1929. She is the wife of Boone. Vera is pregnant with their first daughter.

Wade and Vera settle in the southwest part of Virginia. Wade eventually became one of the country’s leading wood carver.

The lyrics for the song “Clementine” can be found at: The lyrics are: In a cavern, in a canyon, Excavating for a mine, Lived a miner, forty-niner, And his daughter, Clementine. Oh, my darling, oh, my darling, Oh, my darling Clementine, You are lost and gone forever, Dreadful sorry, Clementine

The lyrics for the song “On Top of Old Smokey” can be found at: The lyrics are: All covered with snow, I lost my true lover, From courtin' too slow. From courtin' too slow, dear, From courtin' too slow, I lost my true lover, From courtin' too slow.

The gravestone of Henry Walton states: “Henry Walton 1845-1921 Beloved Husband of Martha Corrine”.

Olivia and John sing the song “The Old Spinning Wheel” (that can be found at whose lyrics are: There's an old spinning wheel in the parlor, Spinning dreams of the long, long ago. Spinning dreams of an old fashioned garden, And a maid with her old fashioned beau, Sometimes it seems that I can hear her in the twilight. At the organ softly singing "Old Black Joe." There's an old spinning wheel in the parlor, Spinning dreams of the long, long a go.


Also appearing:

Martha Corinne Walton (Beulah Bondi), Boone Walton (Morgan Woodward), Wade Walton (Richard Hatch), Vera Walton (Lindsay V. Jones), Blake (Mills Watson), Lucas Avery (Paul Fix), Senator Burgess (William Quinn), Senator Rogers (Bill Erwin), Flagman (Casey Tibbs), Slim (Harry Pugh), Construction Worker (Randolph Dobbs), Oldest Boy (Hilliard Livingston), Youngest Boy (Eddie Rayden).