Ep.15 - The Search

  Original Airdate: January 1, 1976
Writer: Paul West
Story: Ellen Corby
Director: Harry Harris


  Olivia, Jim-Bob and Elizabeth become lost when their truck breaks down on the way to visit an old friend. They run into a series challenges that allows Jim-Bob to shine as he puts the lessons he has learned from his Father and Grandfather to practice.


  "We lived close to the land on Walton's Mountain and we felt a natural kinship with the forest which surrounded our home. It was our playground, a source of food and shelter, and a livelihood for our family. In the lore of our mountains there were stories of travelers who had been lost in the forest. One summer's day that legend became a terrifying reality."



Jim-Bob finds the brooding hen, Betsy, in the barn. Grandpa gives him an education on chickens and how they survive despite not being the smartest of animals. At dinner Olivia says that she wants to take Jim-Bob and Elizabeth to meet her friend Frances Taylor in Buckingham County. John asks Ben and Jason to change the tire on the truck so that they doesn't get a flat on their trip. Olivia decides to take the hen to Frances as well. The next day while on their way they encounter a construction road block and have to take a rough road detour. When the tire blows out that Ben and Jason failed to change they become stranded in the middle of nowhere near Benton's Hollow. Betsy the chicken flies off and Elizabeth wanders after it and becomes separated from her Mama and Jim-Bob. They find her but then discover that they are lost. Jim-Bob steps up and helps them through the challenges of their ordeal.


Back at the Walton's Ike stops by to report a phone call that he got saying that Olivia had not arrived at Frances Taylor's. Grandpa, John-Boy and John go out looking for them. They discover that they hadn't made it out to the other side of the road block. On the way back they spot the truck where it ran off the road. They begin to look for them and discover a marker that Olivia and the kids had made. John-Boy heads back to round up some more help.


Jim-Bob spots some smoke and they find a mountain camp that belongs to a family of moonshiners. Olivia asks for some water but the moonshining Mother and her two sons are suspicious that more people will come looking for them and discover their operation. They load up their truck with their still and moonshine supplies as well as Olivia and her children.


Back at home John-Boy has rallied Jason, Ben, Ike Godsey, Horace Brimley and his hound dog Homer to join the search. As they leave Mary Ellen and Erin break down in a fit of worry. Grandma sets them to work washing floors and cleaning windows. When they ask if she has any feelings she quips that no she is just a mean old woman but she knows that the best remedy is to keep them busy and minds active on activities other than worry.

The moonshiners drop Olivia and the children off along the trail but they still don't know where the main road is. Olivia suggests that they walk east. A storm begins to pick up. The search party finds the old bootlegger camp and signs that Olivia and the children were there. They lose the trail but eventually find more markers that Jim-Bob has built to show their path.

Olivia and the children stop for a rest and a snake spooks Elizabeth but her Mama knows that it is just a King snake and picks is up to show her that it is harmless. Jim-Bob finds a creek and catches a fish the way his Grandpa taught him. He also finds some watercress and wild onions for them to eat. They then come across a hungry black bear and Jim-Bob throws the fish to the bear to ease their escape. They consider taken shelter in a hollow of a old dead tree but Jim-Bob warns them that Grandpa calls it a widow maker saying that you never know when it will fall down. The bear returns but Jim-Bob bangs some rocks together like his Daddy taught him to scare it away. Lightning hits the old tree they had thought to stay in and knocks off a limb. Jim-Bob then hears another noise but it turns out to be John who gathers up his missing family into his arms. The rest of the search party gather around and soon the family is back home all together again around the dinner table.


  "One member of the family was not to make it home. Betsy the broody hen found and hatched her eggs out there in the woods and for years after, perhaps to this day, a flock of chickens gone wild could be found in the vicinity of a big bramble bush in Benton's Hollow."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • This story was written by Ellen Corby who plays Grandma on the show.

Additional Cast:


Guest Stars: Helen Craig (Mountain Woman), Robert Sorrells (Older Son), Red Currie (Younger Son) with: Bill Smillie (First Flagman) Edmund E. Villa (Second Flagman), Wilford Brimley (Horace)

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