Keepsakes for the Heart

Keepsakes for the Heart


Sarah Bishop Hart was born and raised in a world without much to offer her. From the age of five, Sarah’s father forced her to work as a “hired girl” in the homes of wealthy mining executives in the bleak coal fields of southwest Virginia. Sometimes she had food, sometimes she had a place to sleep, sometimes someone noticed she was a little girl and human.

In this remarkable true story, you will meet Sarah and learn of her one fierce desire that kept her alive. She wanted a home of her own someday — one where her children would never discarded.

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The “Color Purple” of the Appalachian Mountains

About the Novel

Based on the remarkable life of mountain woman Sarah Bishop Hart, Keepsakes for the Heart became a best seller when it was originally published in 2004. In fact, it was thought no more original copies remained. Yet, a handful were discovered in the publisher’s storeroom and now available for sale. Each one will be signed by the author.

Keepsakes of the Heart, written by the late Dink E. Shackleford of Keokee and Amelia Townsend of Big Stone Gap, tells the true story of Sarah Bishop Hart, a small, gentle woman from the hills of Southwest Virginia.  She was born into a world without hope. When she was five years old, her father hired her out to a family she had never met. From that day, Sarah never knew a real home or what it was like to have a true family. Keepsakes for the Heart sets the life of Sarah Bishop Hart against the mountains and the coal mines, The Great Depression and two World Wars, the women’s movement, and other upheavals of the 20th century. Sarah’s simple mountain philosophy offers a lesson to anyone who has ever thought about giving up.

Originally published by the Overmountain Press in Johnson City, TN, the novel garnered a 2004 nomination for the prestigious Ragan Old North State Award for non-fiction. This award honors Sam Ragan, poet, critic, publisher, and the first secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

About the Authors

Dink Shackleford was truly a force of nature.  A proud native of Keokee, Virginia and graduate of Keokee High School, Mr. Shackleford was Executive Director of the Virginia Mining Association and active lobbyist for the industry. Throughout his career, Mr. Shackleford pushed to have Southwest Virginia treated on par with the rest of the Commonwealth.

Amelia Townsend, a native of Big Stone Gap, has been a journalist, public relations director and television producer, writer and director. She and Shackleford wrote together until his untimely death from cancer in 2007.  Townsend currently works in public relations in Oakton, Virginia. She runs the Shoestring Theatre Company, which produces plays set in her beloved Southwest Virginia and inspired by real events.