Happy Memorial Day!

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 25, 2015


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Agricultural education in WV, a 1923 update

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 22, 2015

Agricultural education throughout the State, and scientific farming, have developed within the last fifty years. Most of the progress has been made within the last decade. These developments are closely related to the College of Agriculture at the West Virginia University, founded in 1867.

Very few courses in agriculture were taught at the university in the earlier years of its existence. The university catalog of 1872 listed William E. Fontaine as the first instructor in agriculture. He taught chemistry and natural history in addition to all the agriculture. Woodville Latham, who succeeded Mr. Fontaine, taught agriculture, physics and chemistry.

First Agricultural Experiment Station, West Virginia University

First Agricultural Experiment Station building, remodeled from West Virginia University’s Armory, 1888-89.

In 1885 A. R. Whitehill was appointed instructor in agriculture, chemistry and physics. In 1890 T. C. Atkeson was appointed professor of agriculture, and later became Dean of the college.
The first student who received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture was John W. Johnson, in 1894.

The school gradually developed until it now has 307 students and more than thirty instructors, some of whom are dividing their time between teaching and research work. For 1921 the number of graduates with the bachelor’s degree in agriculture was thirty-four.

The State Agricultural Experiment Station was organized in 1888 with John A. Meyers as first director. The Experiment Station was established for the purpose of conducting investigational work in various branches of agriculture. Most of the investigational work is conducted in laboratories and on the State farms near the College of Agriculture. These farms contain about a thousand acres of land and are devoted to livestock, dairy, agronomy, poultry and horticulture. Experiments for the purpose of determining the best methods of farming are performed on each of these farms.

The State Board of Agriculture was organized in 1891 and continued until 1912, when it was abolished. In 1891 the State legislature adopted the policy of making annual appropriations to aid in conducting farmers’ institutes and other work for promoting agricultural interests and industries.

Perhaps the most important work of the Board of Agriculture was the support and direction of farmers’ institutes, the first of which was held at Buffalo, Putnam county, in 1895. In 1920
126 fanners’ institutes were held with an attendance of nearly 11,000 people.

When the Board of Agriculture was abolished its work was continued by the newly created State Department of Agriculture, whose duties are largely regulatory through police power in the field of agriculture.

Agriculture extension work was started in West Virginia in 1907 under the supervision of D. W. Working; and in 1912 the Extension Division of the College of Agriculture was formed.

Since 1891 considerable advance in agriculture has been made through the influence of farmers’ institutes, better communication, and various farmers’ organizations. In the decade after 1850 agricultural societies were formed in Marshall, Monongalia, Jefferson, Cabell and Ohio counties.

Crowds of people around market stands at unidentified Fair, ca. 1915. Photo taken from WV Agriculture Extension Agent Report. Collection of West Virginia and Regional History Center; image 048195.

Crowds of people around market stands at unidentified Fair, ca. 1915. Photo taken from WV Agriculture Extension Agent Report. Collection of West Virginia and Regional History Center; image 048195.


Within the last few decades farmers’ organizations have sprung up throughout the State. The Farmers’ Alliance was perhaps the first farmers’ organization of any considerable strength in West Virginia. But little of the work of this organization has survived to the present time. The Grange came next, and is still active in several sections of the State.

The organizations which have affected the farmers of West Virginia most — the Extension Service and the Farm Bureau — can be traced directly to a meeting of the State Horticultural Society at Keyser in 1909. At this meeting steps were taken to establish horticultural societies in the counties throughout the State, resulting in their organization in many counties.

In 1912, with the financial help of various business men’s organizations — such as the Board of Trade in Wood, Ohio, and Kanawha counties — county agricultural agents were brought into these counties to work with these county agricultural societies. The Extension Service of the College of Agriculture developed from this small beginning.

In 1922, the Extension Service had twenty-four members of the administrative staff and “specialists,” thirty-five county agricultural agents, eleven home demonstration agents, five men conducting cow-testing associations, forty-four agents of boys’ and girls’ clubs, and a few additional assistants.

The county Farm Bureau also evolved from the county agricultural societies. The West Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is composed of the county farm bureaus which (in 1922) have a membership of about 20,000. Each county farm bureau is composed of a number of local clubs — farmers’ clubs, farm women’s clubs, and boys’ and girls’ clubs.
The work of these various organizations may be summarized as “a country life movement in West Virginia.”

The work of the Extension Service has not been limited to teaching the rural people how to earn more money. It also encourages the things that tend to make a more satisfying rural life.

Home canning demonstration, Extension Department, West Virginia University. Report of WV State Board of Control, Vol. IV, Part II, 1916. West Virginia Historical Photographs Collection, image 017370.

Home canning demonstration, Extension Department, West Virginia University. Report of WV State Board of Control, Vol. IV, Part II, 1916. West Virginia Historical Photographs Collection, image 017370.


Excerpt from “History of West Virginia, old and new, in one volume, and West Virginia biography, in two additional volumes,” by James Morton Callahan, 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc., Chicago


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The persistent myth of ‘The State of Dade’

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 21, 2015

“This year notes the 65th anniversary of Dade County [GA] rejoining the Union through a ceremony that was held on the Courthouse Square in 1945,” says the article in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, State of Dade, Camp No. 707’s May 2010 newsletter. “Come celebrate the anniversary of the event at the “State of Dade” Heritage Festival May 21st and 22nd, 2010.”


Here’s how the SCV told the story of the State of Dade:

“In May of 1860, the Georgia General Assembly was locked in debate at the State Capital in Milledgeville, GA.  Several days were spent hotly debating the question of Georgia’s secession from the Union.

“Up from his seat in the back of the Senate rose a representative from Dade County by the name of Robert H. Tatum. ‘Uncle Bob,’ as he was fondly called, gained the floor and shouted out the fiery speech, which has become both legend and law: ‘By the gods, gentlemen,’ the old man said,  ‘If Georgia doesn’t vote to immediately secede from the Union, Dade County will secede from Georgia and become The Independent State of Dade!!!’

“A few days later when Georgia had still not seceded from the Union, the fighter made good his promise. He hurriedly left the Capital and by trains, buggy, and then horseback, came to the village of Trenton, where he called for a public meeting. The countrymen and townspeople gathered on the Courthouse Square where Bob Tatum stepped up and told the crowd of the arguments and the endless debates going on at the Capital.

“A vote was taken that very day on Trenton’s Courthouse Square and led by Bob Tatum; Dade County seceded from the state of Georgia.”

On July 4, 1945, over 4,000 people attended a celebration at Trenton when Dade graciously struck the Confederate banner, raised Old Glory and rejoined the Union.  This celebration attracted national attention and even a congratulatory telegram from President Harry S. Truman.  Everyone enjoyed the occasion and it left a lasting impression in the minds of Georgians.

One of these minds belonged to E. Merton Coulter, one of Georgia’s most respected and best-loved historians.  In “The Myth of Dade County’s Seceding from Georgia in 1860,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 41, Dr. Coulter looked very carefully at the records and concluded that this most popular story was not true.

Unidentified woman sitting on the steps of the Dade County Courthouse displaying both an American flag and a Confederate flag during the 1945 Fourth of July celebration in Trenton, GA. Courtesy Kenneth Rogers Photographs, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

Unidentified woman sitting on the steps of the Dade County Courthouse displaying both an American flag and a Confederate flag during the 1945 Fourth of July celebration in Trenton, GA. Courtesy Kenneth Rogers Photographs, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

In point of fact, Dade’s two delegates to the secession convention did vote against the secession.  However, Dade County did not secede from either the Union or the state of Georgia.

When the state as a whole seceded from the Union in January 1861, Dade Countians immediately joined the Confederate Army in quantity. They served their new nation well in units like the Yancey Invincibles, the Lookout Dragoons, the Dade County Invincibles and the Raccoon Roughs, who wore coonskin caps.

During the Civil War more than 40,000 soldiers traveled through the area on their way to Chickamauga, building themselves a road to carry their equipment and munitions. The Battle of Chattanooga resulted in some minor skirmishes in the county. Dade County men saw action at Manassas (1st and 2nd), Fredricksburg, Cold Harbor, Gettysburg, Vicksburg and most of the major battles.

Rep. Bob Tatum remained in the Georgia state legislature through at least 1863. In a June 29, 1863 letter responding to backers (published in Southern Confederacy, Atlanta, GA, Vol III, No 122) who were encouraging him to run for another term, he stated “At the close of the last session of the Legislature the state of the health of my family and the absence of my sons in the army, who have also been in bad health, determined me to retire from public life and give my entire attention to my family and my private affairs.”

As for the State of Dade, it did exist in a physical sense until 1940.  Dade is tucked into the northwest corner of the state behind the steep slopes of Lookout Mountain.  Until the completion of Georgia 143 (Old S.R. 2), Dade was accessible only from Alabama or Tennessee unless the traveler had the skill of a mountain goat.

E. Merton Coulter, "The Myth of Dade County's Seceding from Georgia in 1860,"

First page of E. Merton Coulter’s article “The Myth of Dade County’s Seceding from Georgia in 1860.”

“For a mountain county, the roads are fair,” noted George White about Dade County in his 1849 book Statistics of the State of Georgia. “Isolated from the world, the people seem to care for nothing except the supply of their immediate wants. Hospitality is eminently their characteristic. The stranger is greeted with a hearty welcome, and his conversation listened to with evident signs of pleasure. In this county, the refinements of polished society do not exist.”

Until the all-weather road went through, Dade had been tied to the economy of Chattanooga.  Maybe the celebration on July 4, 1945, was a belated announcement that the State of Dade was ready to join Georgia culturally, physically and economically.

Whether the story had a true basis or not may be irrelevant.  The story was believed, and continues to be believed, by enough people so that it has become viable cultural folklore, which is almost as good as history.

You can still find the SCV ‘State of Dade’ story quoted at the top today on Facebook. Currently it’s labeled: ‘Legend and Lore of Dade County’s Secession from the Union,’ followed by an article titled ‘Actual History of Dade’s Return to the Union’ which more clearly separates fact from fiction.


Sources: E. Merton Coulter, “The Myth of Dade County’s Seceding from Georgia in 1860,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 41 (December 1957): 349-64.

Retired Senior Volunteer Program, ed. and comp., History of Dade County, Georgia (Summerville, Ga.: ESPY Publishing Co., 1981).

Newsletter Of State Of Dade Camp No. 707, Vol 15, No 5, May 2010
online at www.stateofdade.com/pdf/MayNewsletter2010.pdf


Tatum letter: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/GADADE/2010-11/1290110668

Statistics of the State of Georgia, by George White, publ by W. Thorne Williams, Savannah, 1849.

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Yeahoh, Yahoo or Bigfoot?

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 20, 2015

Long before it became the brand of a search engine, the creature whose uttered cry gave it a name haunted Kentuckians. Daniel Boone told tales of “killing a ten-foot, hairy giant he called a Yahoo,” says John Mack Faragher in a 1992 biography of Boone. The Yahoos are hairy man-like creatures in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, one of Boone’s favorite books. Boone and his explorer companions, it should be noted right from the get-go, threw around many of the terms used in that book rather liberally.

Jonathan Swift“[Boone] was encamped with five other men on Red River,” Theodore Roosevelt relates in his Daniel Boone’s Move to Kentucky (1897), “and they had with them for their amusement ‘the history of Samuel Gulliver’s travels, wherein he gave an account of his young master, Glumdelick, careing [sic] him on a market day for a show to a town called Lulbegrud.’

“In the party who, amid such strange surroundings, read and listened to Swift’s writings was a young man named Alexander Neely. One night he came into camp with two Indian scalps, taken from a Shawnee village he had found on a creek running into the river; and he announced to the circle of grim wilderness veterans that ‘he had been that day to Lulbegrud, and had killed two Brobdignags in their capital.’ To this day the creek by which the two luckless Shawnees lost their lives is known as Lulbegrud Creek.”

Folktale scholar Hugh H. Trotti suggests that Boone’s tall tales may be the origin of some of the Bigfoot tales in North America. Could the term “Yeahoh” used for such a creature in the following story simply be a corruption of Swift’s “Yahoos”?

Once upon a time they’s a man layin’ out, and he went to a cave. And he was layin’ out in there and the Yeahoh come and throwed a deer in to him — something would come every day and throw a deer into him, and leave out. On time that Yeahoh come and got down in there wuth him and not long after that she had a kid. Then one time he took a notion to leave her and he would go to leave and she wouldn’t let him go. She’d make him come back. A-finally he got out and he got on a ship going to cross the waters. And he got started and rode off and left her. And she stood there and hollered and screamed after him. And when she seen he’d got away from her and she couldn’t go, why she tore the baby in two and throwed one half in after him.

—Told by Nancy McDaniel of Big Leatherfoot Creek, Perry County, KY to folktale collector Leonard Roberts, who published it under the title “The Origin of Man” in South From Hell-fer-Sartin (1955).

So okay, if Kentuckians heard it passed down from Boone, who got it from Swift, how did Swift learn of Yahoo tales? Or did he simply spin them from his imagination? One possible clue: though Nancy McDaniel’s tale is told in the hills, it mentions ships and “crossing the waters” as the escape route for the captive human.

Tales of women shipwrecked or marooned on an island populated by monkeys or apes, fed and housed by a dominant monkey and forced to cohabit and bear it offspring, before escaping and seeing their hybrid children murdered by the irate simian parent, may have arisen in early 16th century Portugal, and also exist in similar forms in the Americas and across Asia. The idea of a “semi-human” was also floating through scientific circles in the first half of the 18th century: in 1758 Carolus Linnaeus theorized that a form between man and ape existed, which he named Homo troglodytes.

Daniel BooneLinguist Richard Stoney carefully states that Swift, a lover of wordplay, drew from many language sources, each of which refer to various personality facets of the Yahoos. But he also turns up the following morsel published in Australian Aboriginal Words in English (1835): “The natives are greatly terrified by the sight of a person in a mask calling him ‘devil’ or Yah-hoo, which signifies evil spirit.”

And from the 1844 edition: “They have an evil spirit, which causes them great terror, whom they call ‘Yahoo’ or ‘Devil-Devil': he lives in the tops of the steepest and rockiest mountains, which are totally inaccessible to all human beings, and comes down at night to seize and run away with men, women or children, whom he eats up, children being his favourite food…The name… of Yahoo being used to express a bad spirit, or ‘Bugaboo’, was common also with the aborigines of Van Diem[e]n’s Land [Tasmania]…”

The tribes mentioned here are located in the region around Botany Bay (near Sydney and slightly westward), site of the first British settlement in Australia in 1788. Gulliver’s Travels was written in 1726. Did the aborigines, like early Kentuckians, absorb Swift’s tale from the new colonists and make it local, or did Swift, to create his characters, draw on much older aboriginal folktales, possibly passed along to him by seafarers pre-dating Cook? The debate continues.

Sources: Curious Legend of the Kentucky Mountains, by Leonard Roberts, Western Folklore, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Jan., 1957), pp. 48-51
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John Matthews, Caitlin Matthews, 2006, Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer, by JM Faragher, 1992, New York: Henry Holt & Company
Did fiction give birth to Bigfoot?, by HH Trotti, 1994, SKEPTICAL INQUIRER 18(5): 541-2.

Daniel+Boone Yeahoh Yahoo Nancy+McDaniel Perry+County+KY appalachia appalachian+mountains+history appalachian+history

5 Responses

  • Bryce Jackson says:

    According to Faragher, Neely did not kill two Shawnee, but two buffalo at a salt lick. Brobdignags were a race of giants, hence the connection to buffalo. There was no Shawnee village in the area of Lulbegrud creek.

  • […] possible that these legends derive from the Yahoos of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.) (http://www.appalachianhistory.net/2010/07/yeahoh-yahoo-or-bigfoot.html.) In the Midwest, legends of the Kenmore Grassman sprung up in Ohio in the late 1800’s and in the […]

  • […] Yahoo was described as a “ten-foot, hairy giant,” and has served as the basis for many Sasquatch legends in the two centuries that followed, according to Appalachian […]

  • Sandra Parker says:

    Years ago, I read of royal european families who took their hairy over large born due to incestial relations to Montana USA and left them to live in the wild.

  • Marvin Swain says:

    Some people have suggested the bigfoot are what’s left of Neanderthals. I believe this could be true. The evidence suggests they had bigger brain cavities than humans do. This would explain their ability to hide so efficiently.

    And it has been speculated that that is the reason we have tales of intermarrying; they are a type of human.
    And as far as their hiding, we all know how men love to kill what they don’t understand and take what they want.
    Look at the reward — 1 million dead or alive. I’m surprised some big hairy mountain man has not been shot and submitted as a bigfoot!

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One of the oldest Confederate veterans

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 19, 2015

Warren County, Virginia Civil War Reunion Photo - 1897

Today, in our town, one of our grand old veterans of the ’61 gang passed the 96th milestone of his journey through this ever-changing world. “Uncle George” —as he is familiarly known— Burnett, one of the few remaining veterans of the Civil War, is still hale and hearty at this ripe old age, and says “temperance in all things, faith, hard work, lots of patience, and the goodness of the Almighty Father” are some of the main reasons he has attained this age.

He is, possibly, one of the oldest veterans left in our county, and is still active taking long daily walks. His vision is not quite as keen as the day near Petersburg he spied the “Yank” nestled close up against a log as the boys in grey had ‘em on the run. He walked over to this “Yank,” who was trembling with fear, and poked him in the ribs with his old trusty rifle and said, “Come out of there, Yank, and get behind these columns of grey, and we’ll not kill you for sometime yet.”

He is still able to read the Clinch Valley News and looks forward to this paper. He is known all over the western end of the county, and his honesty, straight forwardness, and sincere dealing with all of his fellow men is a known trait. He owes no man and says when the Master of all things calls him to a better world, he is ready to go. His home is located near the top of Claypool Hill, and his towering figure, now slightly stooped, is often seen along the road, taking his daily walks.

As we see that sparkle in his eyes, we wonder if he isn’t happy basking in this sunset time of life, with memories of a well-spent life, and hope of a glorious future in that “purple valley” beyond. His many friends wish for him many more happy birthdays; tho’ there may not be “many” these friends want to see Uncle George reach that one hundred mark. ‘Tis fine to live by a fine old neighbor like you, Uncle George, and we want you to stick around for several more years.

Clinch Valley News
Tazewell County, Virginia
May 19, 1936

One Response

  • terry marcum says:

    I like to here old stores about Appalachian history this is great to here I wish that there was more stores about Appalachian live in the coal fillds

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