Just Around the Corner; Custer — former home of Loretta Lynn

As of the year 2000, there were 299 residents in Custer, a small town just south of the Canadian border. Back in the 1950s-early ’60s, there was one special resident: Loretta Lynn, before she became a country star.

Loretta, then 14, and her 21-year-old husband, Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, moved to Custer from Kentucky in search of a better life.

The Lynns spent 14 years in Custer, raising four children (two more children would be born in 1964, after the Lynns moved away). While Doolittle looked for jobs, he’d often leave Loretta and the children alone for days at a time. Loretta did what she could to earn money for food.

“Before I was singing, I cleaned house; I took in laundry; I cooked for ranch hands; I picked berries. I worked seven days a week. I was a housewife and mother before I was an entertainer. And it wasn’t like being a housewife today. It was doing hand laundry on a board and cooking on an old coal stove. I grew a garden and canned what I grew.” (Source:  NW Prime Time.)

It was during this time that she began singing to herself and writing music, to pass the time.  Doolittle encouraged her and bought her a $17 guitar when she turned 18. After many performances at local bars and halls, she would eventually record her first record, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” in 1960, followed by a string of hits:

“Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”
“You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”
“Fist City”
“Coal Miner’s Daughter”
“Woman of the World (Leave My World Alone)”
“You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly”

Her themes included marital problems, women’s rights and motherhood.

She has often visited Custer after becoming famous. “Every time I go up there, I start looking for a little house. I may not leave this time,” she said in a 2001 interview with the Seattle P-I.

She currently lives in  Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

Coincidentally, Saturday, March 7 was the 40th anniversary of the release of the autobiographical movie, Coal Miner’s Daughter.

 

  1. Hello, am trying to find a picture of the home Loretta lived in Custer, are there any photos

    1. I have never seen any. It may be long gone. Have you found any since this article was published?

  2. According to my wife who was born and raised in the area, her home was on the corner of Sunrise and Lynden Birchbay roads. No longer there and was torn down many years ago. Why? who knows. You’d think it would have been a historical site.

  3. I understand that my grandfather’s cousins, Clyde and Bob Greene, helped Loretta and her husband when they moved to Washington, and they were good friends as long as they lived.

    1. Yes Leone Seidel, I’ve been told Loretta and her husband Oliver (Doolittle) Lynn also known as Moonie for his moonshine escapades, worked for Bob and Clyde Greene (both gone now) on the Greene Bros. Dairy farm located on Loomis Trail rd. and Enterprise rd. cooking, cleaning, canning, and doing misc. farm work etc.
      I also heard for a short time while working for Bob and Clyde Loretta and Oliver lived in a very small house (now gone) on Loomis Trail rd. owned by Bob and Clyde Greene. As Loretta started having children they had to move to a bigger house I believe to be the one on sunrise rd. which wasn’t much larger and lived there till they out grew that place.
      From what I’ve heard, the Greene Bros. big farm house had many photos & pictures of Loretta displayed throughout the house. I also heard that when the last Green Brother passed away Loretta was out on tour and she took time out to fly in and be at his funeral.
      I have a few old photo’s of Loretta back in those days but this site won’t let me post them. My mom was good friends with Hank and Bonnie W. who also worked on the farm for Greene Bros. for many years.

      1. Hi Ray, I live in Custer and would love to see the pics you have of Loretta in Custer. Is it possible to see them?? Thank you! Andrew

      2. Thank you Ray! I was lucky enough to be your neighbor when I was still sucking my thumb .. wow 50 years ago!

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