A racy book, full of the thrill of mountain adventure

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 12, 2016

In winter one must draw the little hickory split chair close to the hearth, for most of the heat from the great glowing fire goes up the chimney. The house may have a small window-sash immovably built in. Often there is none. The woman cooks breakfast before sun-up, and supper after dark, by the smoky light of a tiny kerosene lamp with no chimney. It is difficult to carry lamp chimneys long distances in saddle-bags.

There are many homes where even the moderate luxury of kerosene is not found. A sliver of pine knot gives an even more smoky light, and occasionally a “ladle” is used. It is preferably made by a blacksmith, an iron saucer with a handle to hang it by. Narrow strips of cotton cloth, twisted or plaited together, are laid in the ladle in grease. The end of the rag is hung over the edge and ignited. Its illumination is not measured in candle power.

The Land of Saddle-bags
by James Watt Raine

The Land of Saddle-bags is one of the three most important books from the early twentieth century that, according to Dwight Billings (a contributor to the 1997 reprint), have “had a profound and lasting impact on how we think about Appalachia and, indeed, on the fact that we commonly believe that such a place and people can be readily identified”. Originally published in 1924, it was advertised as a “racy book, full of the thrill of mountain adventure and the delicious humor of vigorously human people.”

James Watt Raine, Berea CollegeJames Watt Raine provides eyewitness accounts of mountain speech and folksinging, education, religion, community, politics, and farming. In a conscious effort to dispel the negative stereotype of the drunken, slothful, gun-toting hillbilly prone to violence, Raine presents positive examples from his own experiences among the region’s native inhabitants.

In 1906 Raine became an English instructor at Berea College in Kentucky, where one of the courses he taught was on English and Scottish ballads. He eventually submitted several course proposals – all apparently denied by the college – that would have allowed him to grant credit upon a student’s successfully collecting a certain number of ballads from the student’s home territory. However, Raine persisted in his ballad collecting activities.

Raine – an actor, playwright, and author – ultimately headed Berea’s English and drama departments. He was much in demand as lecturer for cultural entertainment programs on through to his retirement in 1939. He died on February 12, 1949, age 88, in Berea, Kentucky.

source: www.berea.edu/hutchinslibrary/specialcollections/saa06.asp
The Land of Saddle-bags, by James Watt Raine, 1997, University Press of Kentucky

2 Responses

  • Keith Salter says:

    I am unable to listen to any current podcast.
    Are you still running them on your site?
    I can only get as current as 2014 podcasts.
    Thank you,

  • Dave Tabler says:

    They run through Halloween 2014. After that being an admin on the Appalachian Americans group on Facebook started devouring my time. Something had to give, and the podcast was it.

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Outrunning a North Georgia Home Guard

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 11, 2016

erford harrisonPlease welcome guest author Erford A. Harrison of Cleveland, GA. “These stories about my ancestor George Harrison are from tales I remember being told to me by my father and uncles, and from information supplied by my cousin Earl Harrison, a great-grandson of the James Harrison mentioned below. I have heard very similar versions of some of the same stories from other branches of the Harrison clan.

“I can offer no proof of the validity or accuracy of many of these incidents, since this is the first attempt that I know that has been made to write down any of them. However, I can remember the old Thomas Faulkner house, and it was laid out just as described in George’s stories. Also, the rotting remains of the large hollow tree in the the ‘Sheep Hole’ were still there when I was a small boy. I was always told that this was the log in which Uncle George hid after his escape from the Home Guard.”



When the Cherokee Indians were removed to Oklahoma, the land in upper Hall and lower Habersham Counties along the Chattahoochee River was among the land that was parceled out to settlers by various land lotteries.

One settler who drew a land lot — which reached from the Chattahoochee to the top of the highest ridge between the river and Big Mud Creek — was Rubin Harrison, my great, great grandfather. Rubin had a rather large family by two wives, the last being Margaret Harrison. One of Rubin’s older children was Henry Harrison, my great grandfather. Henry married Jane Loggins from the White Creek area of what is now White County.

When the Civil War came along, Henry, who was in the Home Guard, was too old for the conscript, but he had some younger siblings who were prime candidates. Two of these were James and George. George, who was born September 16, 1840, is the central figure in the story as it has been told to me by my father, uncles, and various other sources — including some from the ‘enemy’ camp.

The Confederate Home Guard (1861–1865) worked in coordination with the Confederate Army, and was tasked with helping track down and capture Confederate Army deserters. Home guard units also acted as "plantation police," charged with making sure blacks had passes that permitted them to be out and about. Courtesy Library of Congress.

The Confederate Home Guard (1861–1865) worked in coordination with the Confederate Army, and was tasked with helping track down and capture Confederate Army deserters. Home guard units also acted as “plantation police,” charged with making sure blacks had passes that permitted them to be out and about. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Most of the settlers of this area were small farmers; few if any owned slaves. Most came down from Virginia and other areas of the Appalachian Mountains, and not from the lower areas of the state.

They were from a very different culture than the large plantation owners farther south, and consequently had very different views on politics.

From the information I have been able to gather, there was not much sympathy for the Confederate cause in the mountains of Northeast Georgia.

Peter Faulkner, a large land and slave owner in the Holly Springs area of North Hall County, was in charge of the conscript for the Pea Ridge area of Hall County. According to George Harrison, most of Faulkner’s relatives were in the Home Guard, and sought to conscript the likes of George and his brother James for the Confederate Army.

The two brothers weren’t having any of it. They and several others from this area fled home and hid out along the Chattahoochee, sleeping most of the time in the ‘Rock House,’ a large overhanging rock just above the Bull Shoals, overlooking the Sleep Hole.

Faulkner’s Home Guard knew these men were in the area, and spent many hours trying to track them down. George and his friends, having the sympathy of the local people, made this task rather difficult and frustrating for the Home Guard. Jane Loggins Harrison (and I am sure many of the other local folk) helped feed and conceal these six to eight ‘deserters’ who roamed the Chattahoochee Basin eluding capture.

One of the hot spots of the Home Guard’s search was the home of Henry and Jane. It was strongly suspected they were concealing some of the deserters. In fact, George and James (and possibly others in their group) ate regularly at Jane’s table. When it was okay for them to come to the house, Jane would hang the dish towel on a line above the wash bench on the back porch. If someone came to the house, Jane would go to the back porch and remove the dishrag from the line. George and his group did not dare come to the house if they did not see the signal.

Confederate boots. Courtesy Heritage Auctions/Dallas

Confederate boots. Courtesy Heritage Auctions/Dallas

Living on the run required resourcefulness. At one time, George was captured briefly, but managed to make his escape, and came out in better shape than before he was captured.

As his captors quizzed him about his fellow conscript dodgers, George looked down and noted that the conscriptors all had almost new boots. He thought of his own worn out shoes and quickly devised a plan.

George told them that since they had captured him, he would show them where his friends were to be sleeping that night, and would help capture them.  When night fell, he led them to a hill above the river and informed them that his friends would be sleeping at a spot near the top of the hill; if flushed out, they would run down the hill and turn down the river. He stationed them at the foot of the hill along a trail that he claimed they would be taking as they made their escape.

He picked out a Home Guard who had what he thought was near his boot size and had that man accompany him back up the hill. They were supposedly going to get on the hill above the sleeping men and startle them, causing them to run in the direction of the waiting conscriptors. When they had gone part way up the hill, George informed his captor that they must remove their shoes, since the slightest noise would wake his friends, causing them to run in the wrong direction.

George was very familiar with the area and led his captor in a maze of directions until he was sure he had him confused, and then he yelled “There they go!” George ran in the darkness directly to where their shoes were left. He picked up the new boots left by his captor and ran off into the night with a good pair of boots for his night’s work.

At some time during the middle of the winter George and a Smith man from the Skitts Mountain area were again captured in or near the Rock House. They were tied around the neck with ropes and led behind riders on horseback from there to the home of Thomas Faulkner, a nephew of Peter Faulkner.

About this time, Thomas had built a kitchen for his house. He built it plantation style — that is, not directly connected to the house, but joined by a walkway. The kitchen had a large rock fireplace in which was built a hot roaring fire. Thomas had a ‘government still’ on his place and had just ‘run off’ some apple brandy.

George and James Harrison hid out in "Rock House," a large overhanging rock just above the Bull Shoals of the Chattahoochee River, overlooking the Sheep Hole. It would have looked very much like this. (This image was taken on the Island Ford Branch of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area; photo by Wayne Hsieh/Flickr)

George and James Harrison hid out in “Rock House,” a large overhanging rock just above the Bull Shoals of the Chattahoochee River, overlooking the Sheep Hole. It would have looked very much like this. (This image was taken on the Island Ford Branch of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area; photo by Wayne Hsieh/Flickr)


Having ridden several miles on horseback with their captives walking behind, the Home Guard group was in a festive mood, but very cold from the ride. The brandy was very inviting to the captors, and as soon as the room got warm George and his friend could see they were somewhat drunk. George started loosening the noose about his neck bit-by-bit. The Home Guards were preoccupied with getting warm and celebrating the capture of their two deserters, and did not notice.

As the room became hotter and the celebrants became drunker, George begged permission to move back from the fire, since he was accustomed to sleeping outdoors with no fire. He claimed he was uncomfortably hot. Approval was granted, and as time wore on, George asked permission to open the door slightly, as he and his friend needed to cool off from the heat of the giant fireplace.

With the door half open and the ropes loosened from their necks, the captives watched for the right moment. They threw the ropes from around their necks and bolted out the door onto the walkway between the kitchen and the ‘Big House.’ They made a right turn off the walkway straight into the hole that had been dug to get red clay to ‘daub’ the chimney and fireplace in Thomas’ new kitchen.

To add to their misery, there was by this time an inch or two of snow covering the ground. In spite of all this they were able to scramble out of the hole ahead of their drunken captors, and run back to the river. A large, hollow pine tree had fallen, with the top end in the Sheep Hole.  George crawled into this log and lay there all night listening to his captors search for them up and down the river bank.

The day after the escape George and Smith went to the foot of Skitt Mountain, where Smith’s uncle had a farm. They slaughtered one of his sheep, built a fire, and cooked and ate all they could hold. A lot had transpired since they had last eaten. They carried the balance of the meat to the owner.

Nonetheless, soon after this episode they were either captured again, or grew tired of running: both George and James were enlisted into the Confederate Army as privates in Company E, 16th Regiment, Georgia Infantry, on November 1, 1863.

Postscript: Although George Harrison was bodily inducted into the Confederate Army, his sentiments were not. After a few months his unit was posted very close to Union forces in Tennessee. He crept across no-man’s land, joined the Union Army, and was discharged at the end of the war as a Union veteran.


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Chocolate covered cherries for Valentine’s Day? Classic!

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 10, 2016

William E. Brock’s company wasn’t the first to mass market the delightful French concoction in the US. That distinction goes to the New York City firm Cella’s Confections, which began large scale production in 1929. But Brock Candy Company was well positioned to become a major competitor.

During the 1930s, Brock introduced its own chocolate covered cherries, which quickly became a nationwide favorite. That particular candy not only helped the company survive the lean Depression era but would remain one of its biggest sellers for the next 60 years.

By 1930, William E. Brock had already been in the candy making big leagues for more than two decades. Born in North Carolina, he’d been a traveling salesman for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. when, in 1906, he decided to settle down in Chattanooga, TN. He borrowed money and invested with some associates in a small wholesale grocery shop, which also held a candy shop, the Trigg Candy Company.

Brock Candy Company in Chattanooga TN1952 photo of the Brock Candy Company in Chattanooga. Here chocolate covered cherries receive the bottom coat of chocolate.

Brock continued the candy making operation, which consisted of handmade penny and bulk candies, peanut brittle, peppermints, and fudge. Using the experience and connections he had made as a traveling salesman, he sold primarily through former clients in small country stores.

Three years later, he bought his partners out and reincorporated the company as Brock Candy Company.

Sugar rationing during World War I hampered the business, but in 1920 the company introduced a five-cent peanut stick that became a big seller. In the early part of that decade it modernized its factory, installing automatic moguls (a starch molding machine).

Next, Brock eliminated all slab confectionery items, such as peanut brittle and fudge, which were products already produced by many manufacturers, making that area extremely competitive. Instead, Brock concentrated on launching new lines of jelly and marshmallow candies, using the new automated moguls. Also during the 1920s, Brock worked with the DuPont Company to develop and test the packaging of candy in cellophane bags. His company was one of the first candy makers to use cellophane bags, and it influenced the entire candy industry.

Brock found innovative ways to deal with the problems presented by the Depression. When the bank moratorium of 1933 made it impossible for Brock workers to cash their paychecks, Brock collected his daily receipts from local retailers of his candies and paid his employees in cash.

In addition to his prosperous candy manufacturing, William E. Brock also had involvements in insurance and banking interests. He became a trustee of the former University of Chattanooga, now the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Emory and Henry College, and also Martha Washington College.

Undoubtedly because of his high visibility in the public affairs of Chattanooga, Brock was appointed U.S. senator by Tennessee Gov. Henry Horton in September 1929, after the death of Sen. Lawrence D. Tyson in a Philadelphia sanitarium. Sen. Brock Sr. was elected for a short term in 1930 and served until March 1931. He was considered a Woodrow Wilson Democrat.

His son, William, Jr., succeeded him to head the company. By the time of his death in 1950, Brock Sr. had built his family-run company into the South’s—and Appalachia’s—largest candy maker.

sources: http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.php?EntryID=B088



One Response

  • Martha Harris Brown says:

    My Grandfather, James Bibb Harris, worked for Brock Candy Company all of his life, and my grandparents were friends with the Brock family. Thank you so much for posting this history and giving me more insight into his experience! My Grandfather lived on 14th Street in Chattanooga and took the trolley to work every day. He passed away in the mid 1960s. My grandparents were so grateful that he was able to keep his job during the depression, and it was so interesting to read about how Mr. Brock managed to pay his workers. My grandparents actually met at the factory, as my grandmother also worked there before they were married.

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The only Kentucky county to be abolished

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 9, 2016

In early 1904, with the growth of the western end of Carter County, KY, residents there sought to form a new county. They broke away, along with some citizens of Rowan and Elliott counties, to form Beckham County, named for then-Governor John CW Beckham, who signed the legislative act on February 9.

GC Brooks, appointed County Judge, established formal offices, with the county seat in Olive Hill. It wasn’t long, though, before legal questions over the formation led to the county being dissolved by state action. Eighty days long, to be exact. On April 29, 1904, the Court of Appeals ruled that the new county failed to meet constitutional standards of size and population. Beckham is the only county in Kentucky to be abolished.

Olive Hill, Carter County KY

Birds eye view of business district, Olive Hill, Kentucky U.S. 60.



Mt Sterling [KY] Advocate
May 11, 1904 Wednesday

“The legislative act creating the county of Beckham was declared by the Court of Appeals to be unconstitutional and void in that it violates Sections 68 and 64 of that instrument, which sections prohibit the reducing of the area of the counties from which a new county is made, to less than four hundred square miles, their populations to less than 12,000 and the line within ten miles of an old county seat.

“The decision was given by the court in agreed cases of Carter County against Zimmerman and Brooks, here on appeal from the Carter Circuit Court and it is a reversal of that court, which sustained a demurrer and refused to allow the county of Carter to be heard in the matter. The court here says this was an error and remands the cases for further proceedings.

“The lower court practically admitted all the allegations of the petition as to the territory involved, but took the ground that the judicial department of the State government could not go behind the bill creating the new county proposed and inquire into the facts upon which the General Assembly acted.

“The court, in passing upon the question, says that the provisions of the Constitution are as binding upon the General Assembly as upon an individual and as mandatory and that it is proper for the courts to inquire into findings by the Legislature, and it has authority to ascertain whether the provisions of the Constitution as to area. Population and location of lines are followed by the General Assembly in the formation of a new county.

John C. W. Beckham, Governor of Kentucky, 1900-1907. Library of Congress.

John C. W. Beckham, Governor of Kentucky, 1900-1907. Library of Congress.

“The allegations of the petition of Zimmerman were that the county of Beckham was created out of parts of the counties of Carter, Elliott and Lewis; that the part taken from Carter county leaves it with only about 250 square miles; that the county line between Beckham and Carter counties, runs within less than two miles of the county seat of Carter county; that Elliot county, before any territory was taken from it had less than 400 square miles and was by the act reduced to far less than that; that the area of Carter County was 354 square miles, the area of Lewis county 454 square miles, and Elliott County 274 square miles; that the new county line runs within six miles of Grayson, the county seat of Carter and within seven miles of Vanceburg, the county seat of Lewis County; that the area of Beckham county does not exceed 286 square miles; that Lewis County is reduced to 300 miles, Elliott to 234 miles; that the population of Beckham county is less than 12,000 and that its establishment reduces Carter and Eliott to less than 12,000 each.

“In discussing the case, the court here in brief says…It is insisted for the appellate that the boundary of the county, as given in the act, will not close and IN FACT TAKES IN PART OF THE STATE OF OHIO…The rule is that the court will inspect the whole act, and if the actual intention of the Legislature can be thus ascertained, the false description will be rejected or words substituted in the place of these used by mistake, so as to give effect to the law. IT IS NOT PRESUMED THAT THE LEGISLATURE INTENDED TO INCLUDE IN THE COUNTY A PART OF THE STATE OF OHIO.

“The constitutional objection to the act is more serious. It is earnestly maintained for appellee that the constitutional restrictions as to area and population or location of the county line are for the guidance of the legislators, and that when the Legislature has acted it is incompetent for the courts to inquire into the correctness of the legislative…

“Carter County had by the geological survey an area of 544 square miles, Elliott County 270 and Lewis County 450; total 1, 264, as given in the official report of the Bureau of Agriculture, so that Carter County can properly contribute only 144 square miles to the formation of a new county, Elliott, nothing and Lewis only fifty square miles. We must therefore take judicial notice that only 194 square miles can on this basis be cut from these counties without infringing the mandate of the Constitution…

“If any of these conditions are wanting, the act is in violation of the Constitution and void. The Circuit Court erred in refusing to allow the petition of Carter County to be filed. He also erred in sustaining the demurrer to plaintiff’s petition. Judgment reversed and cause remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.”

sources: www.wgohwugo.com/cartercohistory.pdf


The Southwestern Reporter, Volume 80, May 4-June 22, 1904, by West Publishing Company, St Paul

6 Responses

  • Tom Paine says:

    I thought I knew my Kentucky history but this is a new one on me. Very interesting.

  • jack scott says:

    I have never heard any thing about any of this before. Its very interesting though.

  • Donna Holbrook says:

    Never knew this. It’s interesting. My mother is from Hitchins and my dad is from Leon. I was raised in Boyd County. Most of my family is from the Carter County area. I have never heard anyone of them mention this before.

  • Charles Wallace says:

    This county (Carter) would have been much off had Beckham County remained. The west end has always been a drain on the east end.

  • Richard Short says:

    I agree with Charles. Although Olive Hill is a drain on Grayson, I firmly believe that Olive Hill would begin to prosper as an independent county. There is little desire to build on a town whose tax revenue is controlled by a secondary city. If it was ever appealed I am sure that a larger part of the population would go with a split county. Olive Hill has more in common with Morehead than Grayson. maybe Grayson should be part of Boyd County and Olive Hill Rowan.

  • Tim Fultz says:

    Acutally I had heard this, Mr. Willard Roseberry was a history teacher at OHHS in the 1960’s when I attended. He was instrumental in having a historical marker placed near the old cemetery west bound on US-60 near Rayborns Auto Parts. I think this marker is still there, I drive by every day but haven’t paid much attention to it after 45-50 years. It speaks of Beckham County. Hope it is still there, sure it is.

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The accidental town

Posted by Dave Tabler | February 8, 2016

There is a town in Maryland’s westernmost county of Garrett that got its name from a happy accident. In 1750, Maryland settler George Deakins was granted 600 acres of land as a payment of a debt from England’s King George II. Deakins sent out two corps of engineers, each without knowledge of the other, to survey the best land in this area. When the two crews presented their findings, to their surprise and to Mr. Deakins’ satisfaction, they had both marked the same oak tree as their starting and returning points. Doubly vindicated that this land was prime, Mr. Deakins had it patented “The Accident Tract.”

The house in the background was the first English Lutheran Parsonage in Accident. The land was purchased from Eli McMillen on September 15, 1881 for one hundred dollars. Collection Family of Mary Miller Strauss /Ruth Enlow Library/Western Maryland Regional Library

The house in the background was the first English Lutheran Parsonage in Accident. The land was purchased from Eli McMillen on September 15, 1881 for one hundred dollars. Collection Family of Mary Miller Strauss/Ruth Enlow Library/Western Maryland Regional Library

The town was eventually settled by the Dranes. James Drane moved to the area in 1803 from Prince George’s County, which was part of the Maryland tobacco belt. Apparently Drane intended to turn his farm into a tobacco plantation. However, the climate of Garrett County proved unsuitable for growing tobacco, and he turned to normal farm crops.

The Dranes lived in a log cabin built by James’ brother-in-law William LaMar in 1797. LaMar owned Flowery Vale, a 900 acre tract of land. Half a century later, most of the town of Accident was built on that land; the Accident tract was incorporated into the Flowery Vale tract. James Drane added an addition to the cabin shortly after he arrived, giving the building a total of six rooms; three upstairs and three down.

Although it wasn’t the first log cabin in Garrett County, by the mid-1900’s the Drane House had been occupied by successive families for over 150 years. The last owners of the house were members of the Heinrick Richter family who purchased it in 1856. They leased it to a number of people; the last family left in 1952.

From the early 1950s, Mrs. Mary Miller Strauss, an Accident native who taught in the elementary schools of the Garrett County public school system for 33 years, took an active lead in the restoration of the Drane House. She ultimately made possible the placement of the Drane house on the National Registry of Historical Homes. The Accident Cultural and Historic Society was formed in 1987, and one of its main projects was the restoration of the Drane house. Restoration of the house, now owned by the town, began in 1992.

Accident MDPhoto caption reads: The Richter Tannery is located where the smoke is spewing from the stack. It was built in 1872. The Drane House is located to the right of the picture. (It cannot be seen.)

This tannery in Accident MD was operated by John Richter and later his son Adam for 56 years. Hides were tanned by the vegetable tannin method, using tannin obtained from the ground rock oak bark, furnished to the plant before World War I for four dollars and fifty cents a cord. It was put out of business in 1928 by the development of large tanneries.

sources: Western Maryland Regional Library

Accident+MD appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history Drane+House Garrett+County+MD Richter+Tannery

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