Life and Art of
Southwest Virginia Museum


Lila Marshall was born Lila Suzanne Lawson in 1908 in the small community of Sandy Ridge near Coeburn, Virginia. Lila attended the Fairview School in Sandy Ridge. It was in the same community that Lila met her soon-to-be husband.

Lila and Clifford Marshall, a coal miner, were married around 1926 and reared nine children. They had six boys and three girls. Two of the children were fraternal twins. The family moved to Weber City, Virginia in Scott County in 1939, and at that time Clifford started farming. Clifford died from a heart attack in 1955.


Lila started doing needlework while she and Clifford lived in Coeburn, and in 1952, Lila became interested in making corn shuck crafts. She had watched one of her sister-in-laws make a doll, and then taught herself how to make corn shuck crafts. She began selling her dolls in 1955. Her first doll was sold for 50 cents.  After the death of Clifford, she supported her family by selling her crafts.

Lila joined the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild, located in Asheville, North Carolina in 1959, and remained a member until her death in 1994. The Guild traveled and demonstrated their crafts in many areas. Lila, along with the other members, demonstrated the lost art to Lady Byrd Johnson in 1965 and also at the Smithsonian in 1967. The ladies crafts were showcased in a display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Lila, with the aid of her daughter, Phyllis and daughter-in-law, Jeanie, made corn shuck flower arrangements that were used at a White House luncheon honoring the wives of U.S. Senators in 1977. During the Christmas season of 1978, one of Lila's nativity scenes, was used to decorate the fireplace mantel in the den of the home of Vice President Walter Mondale.



The Southwest Virginia Museum is a member of the American
Association of Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the Virginia Association of Museums.




With a love for this art, Lila taught her daughters and some of her daughter-in-laws to do corn shuck crafts. There are eight family members who enjoy corn shuck crafts and four members who enjoy other types of crafts, such as decorating pinecones, bark, and other items from the woods. In 1972, Lila opened Shuckery and Woods Pretties in Nicklesville, Virginia so her family would have a center to work on their crafts and a location for their wholesale business.

The Marshall Family continues the tradition of corn shuck crafts and has now taught this lost art to a fourth generation. Ms. Marshall's corn shuck dolls, which were displayed in the museum, were donated to the Southwest Virginia Museum on June 25, 1988. Corn shuck crafts made by family members were also on display.


Lila died at the age of 86 in August, 1994. She was laid to rest in Holston View Cemetery in Weber City. She was survived by nine children, 17 grandchildren, and 27 great grandchildren.


Special Thanks ...

The Southwest Virginia Museum would like to thank Ms. Phyllis Combs, daughter of Lila Marshall for her willingness to loan many of the photographs, corn shuck crafts, as well as the beautiful arrangement which was displayed during the museum exhibit. We would also like to thank her for sharing Lila's life story with us.