These mountain people are Americans — Americans in descent and sentiment

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 13, 2015

“Our study of the situation at Rabun Gap [GA] gives us the keenest interest in Mr. Ritchie, principal of the Rabun Gap Industrial School, himself a mountain boy and struggling to place the school on a firm financial basis,” report the United Daughters of the Confederacy to members in their 1908 Minutes of the Annual Convention.

Student making a cake, Rabun Gap Industrial School, Rabun County, Georgia, 1905

Student making a cake, Rabun Gap Industrial School, Rabun County, Georgia, 1905

“He needs a fifty thousand endowment fund. We would like to widen our circle of influence by individually interesting others to help Mr. Ritchie raise this essential endowment fund.”

The UDC’s 15th annual convention was held in Atlanta that year, and the Mr. Ritchie alluded to was Andrew J. Ritchie. Like the founders/presidents of private schools both then and now he had to continually go round with hat in hand to well heeled organizations and individuals willing to donate to his fledgling school. Heading for face time with moneyed backers in Atlanta would have made perfect sense.

Ritchie’s Rabun Gap Industrial School was still brand spanking new at the time, having been built between 1903-05. In 1906 Ritchie published a pitch brochure to help solicit additional donors; it’s a good bet this prospectus made its way into the hands of the UDC’s board of directors. In selling his school to a wide circle of possible contributors, Ritchie made a strong case for the value of mountain culture and why it should be nurtured.

And what was the argument Ritchie made to influential Atlantans for his obscure school, tucked away as it was in the far away and forgotten corner of NE Georgia?

“The county in which the work has been projected is the county in which I was born and reared,” he begins in The Rabun Industrial School and Mountain School Extension Work Among the Mountain Whites (by one of them). “These mountain people are my own people. I know their great potential worth, and the privations and destitutions by which they are surrounded. The disadvantages under which they labor are so great that no material improvement of their educational status is possible in this generation unless they shall have assistance from the outside, and unless some one shall undertake to secure this assistance for them by enlisting the interest of the outside world in their condition.

“These isolated mountain people are not only lacking in education but are lacking in social and economic efficiency. They are without community spirit and incentive to community action. They have no large social life, and are to a sad degree without wholesome moral and social standards. Their religious life is in a dormant and decadent condition. Their industrial and economic life is notably inefficient and improvident.

Students preparing recipes in home economics class, Rabun Gap, Rabun County, Georgia, not before 1905

Students preparing recipes in home economics class, Rabun Gap, Rabun County, Georgia, not before 1905

“They need not only education which will develop their latent intellect and talent, but also education which will develop their industrial and social activities. They need to learn how to live and how to work, not only to own their homes as most of them do, but to make them more comfortable and wholesome, and to cultivate their mountain farms in a scientific and intensive way. They need to learn the value of time, to acquire skill and efficiency, to cultivate thrift and frugality, and to make the most of their resources.

“The work is one of educational missions. It seeks to supply educational means and educational endeavor in a vast isolated field in which these are lacking. It is a mission work which undertakes to help people help themselves. The mountain people are to be used as far as possible in working out their welfare. The work has not been thrust upon them, but has been projected as their own. Outside aid is solicited on condition that they do what they can themselves. This they are being brought to do to a remarkable degree.

“The educational problem of the South is a white problem as well as a negro problem. It is the problem of the illiterate whites of the mountains as well as the illiterate negroes of the lowlands. It is a white problem as to what shall be done through the education of the white man for the proper solution of the problem of the negro, as well as to what shall be done through the education of the white man for himself.

Student at work at shop at Rabun Gap Industrial School, Rabun Gap, Rabun County, Georgia, not before 1905

Student at work at shop at Rabun Gap Industrial School, Rabun Gap, Rabun County, Georgia, not before 1905

“The solution of the educational and economic problem of the negro is being found in education which provides industrial training, and much is being done, by both North and South, for the uplift of the negro in this direction. I plead for a like provision for the vast armies of unschooled and untrained whites in the isolated mountain districts about whose condition little is known and for whom little provision is being made.

“Of the 210 counties in the South in which upwards of 20 per cent of the white voters are unable to read and write, the greater number are found grouped together in the heart of this mountain region in which the population is almost entirely white.

“In the area centering about the converging corners of the state, of which it forms a part of a map of 140 contiguous counties, … more than 90 per cent of voters are white, and more than 20 per cent of these are unable to read and write.

“The Southern mountain region, lying in the heart of the South and comprising in one body the entire mountainous areas of the South east of the Mississippi, is the home of three and a half millions of white people. In its isolated position it has for a hundred years formed the neglected backyards of the states of which it forms a part. In the meantime it has furnished a sturdy American yeomanry which has rendered conspicuous service throughout our national history. Sam Houston, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and Abraham Lincoln are types of the men it has produced.

“This great region forms today a middle territory between the two sections recently divided by the Civil War. It likewise forms an intermediate territory of national integration between these two sections. These mountain people are Americans — Americans in descent and sentiment. They have always stood for the integrity of the nation.

“Their patriotism has always been national rather than sectional. They were foremost among the nation’s founders, and have been foremost among its defenders. They form today the largest and most distinct body of original American stock on the Continent. It is from the great reserve of this virile stock which they constitute that the purest American blood is to be transmitted to future generations. Shall it not be likewise that in their inherent patriotism and in their development by education are to be found the best reinforcements for the solution of the problems which concern alike the South and the Nation, and for the preservation of the highest American ideals?”

sources: Minutes of the Annual Convention, Volumes 13-15
By United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1908

The Rabun industrial school and mountain school extension work among the mountain whites (by one of them), self-published by Andrew J. Ritchie, 1906

One Response

  • Thanks Dave, I enjoyed this one. Back in my teen years we would make an annual day trip with my church’s youth group to visit what is now the Rabun Gap Nacocce school.

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Away back in the early days they had disagreed

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 12, 2015

“This valley is perhaps 3 miles long and a mile wide and is one of the prettiest and most tranquil in all Ohio. It was settled by men and women of a rather serious turn of mind and given largely to moral and religious work. In all the settlement there never were more than 2 or 3 habitual drunkards and very little moral laxity on the part of women. Naturally there were some neighborhood disagreements and quarrels. One of these I approached as I walked forward.

“There was a devil’s lane between the Chris Buck farm and that of George Karr, the father of the man I had just left on the shady bench.

Kristi Moore of Millersport, OH, the 3rd Great Granddaughter of Chris Buck, visited his grave in 2015. “Although the farms are gone now,” she says, “a relative of mine believes this picture is indeed what is left of that Devil’s Lane.”

Kristi Moore of Millersport, OH, the 3rd Great Granddaughter of Chris Buck, visited his grave in 2015. “Although the farms are gone now,” she says, “a relative of mine believes this picture is indeed what is left of that devil’s lane.”

“Away back in the early days they had disagreed about something and each built his own line fence. It was the only one I ever saw and was some 12 feet in width. The Bucks were thrifty citizens and soon conceived the idea of using that lane to permit their cattle to go to and from the back end of their farm. In time, however, it grew up to bushes and was a blemish on the landscape. Those in the disagreement have long since passed on, but the old overgrown lane is still there.

“Arthur Buck, a grandson of the original owner, lives in the neatly whitewashed home, and he and his ancestral enemy are perfectly good friends – but still they do not clean out the old lane.”

Charles Hartley
October 12, 1921
discussing Nease Settlement
Meigs County, OH


article updated in June 2015

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He aimed to give Grit’s readers courage and strength

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 9, 2015

Always keep Grit from being pessimistic. Avoid printing those things which distort the minds of readers or make them feel at odds with the world. Avoid showing the wrong side of things, or making people feel discontented. Do nothing that will encourage fear, worry or temptation… Wherever possible, suggest peace and good will toward men. Give our readers courage and strength for their daily tasks. Put happy thoughts, cheer and contentment into their hearts.
—Dietrick Lamade, Grit publisher from 1882-1936

Future baseball Commissioners Happy Chandler and Ford Frick did it. Poet Carl Sandburg and singing cowboy Gene Autry did it. Astronaut/U.S. Senator John Glenn, Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harlan Sanders, and actress Loretta Lynn all did it. They sold door-to-door subscriptions to Grit newspapers when they were kids.

Dietrick Lamade started out as a 23-year-old assistant press foreman for the Williamsport, PA newspaper The Daily Sun and Banner. In December 1882, the newspaper began a Saturday edition titled Grit, which included local news items, editorials and humorous tidbits. Lamade set the first headline for the new edition.

Dietrick Lamade, Grit newspaper publisherLamade was born Feb. 6, 1859, in Goelshausen, Baden, Germany, the fourth child of Johannes and Caroline Lamade. When he was 8, the family immigrated to the United States. Less than two years after the family settled in Williamsport, Johannes Lamade died, leaving Caroline to care for nine children. The older children went to work to help support the family, and young Dietrick apprenticed at a local German weekly newspaper. He spent the next 10 years working in newspaper offices and printing plants.

In 1884, the young man seized the opportunity to help revitalize a small weekly newspaper, The Times. However, the man who purchased the paper became ill and put the physical plant on the market. At the same time, Sun and Banner staff were planning to end Grit.

Lamade persuaded two men – the editor of Grit and a printer – to join him in a partnership to purchase the good will and reputation of Grit as well as The Times’ printing plant. They intended to launch Grit as an independent Sunday newspaper.

No one seems to know how the name ‘Grit’ came to be—perhaps because sheer grit was how the newspaper survived those early years. After the first year, Lamade had had seven partners, and the newspaper maintained a mountain of debt, even though circulation continued to increase.

Convinced that small-town thinking and values were the bedrock of American liberty and freedom, Lamade filled Grit with useful information and stories that stressed the good humor, patriotism, religion, and family values of rural Americans. In Grit they found a reflection of their interests and their world. Over time, Grit also offered features that appealed to its readers.

Lamade knew that local readership would not be sufficient to keep the new publication going, so he began traveling the region searching for sales agents and news correspondents.

During one of his trips in 1885, Lamade sold his partners on the idea of a contest – still legal in those days – in which readers would send in coupons for chances at winning various prizes. The drawing was held Thanksgiving 1885, with three out-of-towners and two local subscribers winning the five grand prizes. When the dust cleared, Grit had 14,000 subscribers and $400 in the bank – with all bills paid. The partners gave themselves a raise, from $12 a week to $15.

GRIT’s first issue was dated “Saturday evening, December 16, 1882."

GRIT’s first issue was dated “Saturday evening, December 16, 1882.”

About 1891 Lamade started using newsboys, and in later years girls also, to sell Grit directly to the public – and the newspaper began to expand to small towns across the country. Newspaper sales taught generations of young salespersons industriousness, responsibility, and resourcefulness.

Grit‘s influence kept growing throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Eventually it would become one of the first newspapers in America to feature color photographs and fictional supplements. At the paper’s 50th anniversary in 1932, the paper reached approximately 400,000 people across the nation. Lamade retired from the paper a few years later in 1936. What had started as a one-room business with six employees now employed 200 people.

Dietrick Lamade died October 9, 1938.

10,000 Famous Freemasons from K to Z Part Two, by William R. Denslow, Harry S. Truman, Kessinger Publishing, 2004

One Response

  • Karen Talley says:

    My great grandmother, Kate Lamade was Dietrich’s sister. I would Really like to find any information on her genealogy.

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The boyhood attraction was there for a higher life

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 8, 2015

His beginnings were humble; he was born the son of an immigrant Scottish coal miner in the company town of Lonaconing, MD. But John Gardner Murray (1857-1929) rose to the heights of the Episcopal Church on the national level, becoming the first elected Presiding Bishop in 1926.

penny postcard of Lonaconing MD Until the church began electing a Presiding Bishop in 1925, the fifteen previous holders of that office had automatically assumed the position by being the most senior bishop in the House of Bishops, measured by their dates of consecration.

The following ‘Tribute From a Boyhood Friend,’ published in the Baltimore Sun on October 8, 1929 shortly after Bishop Murray’s death, gives a sense of the man’s character formation at the start of his remarkable journey.


Now that the high tributes have been paid to the great leader of the Protestant Episcopal Church, the writer wishes to give a word of remembrance of the boyhood and youth of John Gardner Murray.

One year his senior, I think of him as far back as a boy’s memory can go and always with satisfaction. Born in Lonaconing, he often reminded me after he became bishop that my father was the physician that brought him into the world.

For awhile I was a year ahead of him at school, remembering back to the eighth year. He was soon in the same classes, and as the school years passed, he grew larger and stronger, and to me as a lad handsomer than any boy I knew. I found myself as a youth of 15 holding this boy of 14 before me as an ideal character, for in the mining town where boys heard on every side that one must “sow his wild oats” he had clean thoughts, clean lips and a clean life.

The day comes before me when (15 years of age) I stood with John and two other schoolmates in the vestibule of the school and we talked of having “found God,” and what we should do concerning the church. I united with the church and soon went to Ohio to school. John did not join the Methodist church for some time, but as he put it to me later “I became a mule-driver in the Jackson mine.” Of the right sort, I am sure.

The lines of our lives did not often meet, but when they did he seemed the older, and the boyhood attraction was there for a higher life. This summer I found a letter that I had written to my father from my first charge as a minister fifty years ago, telling him of a long letter from John, giving his plans for his lifework, asking about Drew Theological Seminary, and whether as a local preacher he could get a small church to help pay expenses. He entered Drew that October, 1879, remaining two years when he was called West to help support the family on account of the death of his father.

Bishop John Gardner MurrayPortrait from 1896-1903 period, when Rev. Murray was rector of the Church of the Advent in Birmingham, AL.

It is well known what a successful businessman he was, both in Kansas and Alabama. He kept his connection with the Methodists until 1887, when he was confirmed in the Protestant Episcopal Church in Alabama.

When the call came in 1903 to become rector of St. Michael’s and All Angels’, Baltimore, he phoned me to come to the church and talk the matter over. He was in high spirits, for he had taken Mrs. Murray to “dear old Cony,” as he called it, that he might show her the small house where he was born. He ought not have been disappointed that no one recognized the tall, handsome man as he walked through the town, but what an ovation they gave him in the store when they found out that he was John Gardner Murray!

This letter is not to call attention to the great churchman, but to tell of the influence of one boy upon another boy, the unconscious influence of a pure minded schoolmate that wrought for nobler living.

Frank Gibson Porter
Baltimore, Oct. 8, 1929


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Tricked into pushing one of the best mowers in the county

Posted by Dave Tabler | October 7, 2015

The Leader
October 4, 1917
Meigs County OH


From the Interesting and Eventful Life of T.H. Gold of Bedford

By invitation the editor of The Leader was a guest Sunday of the venerable Mr. and Mrs. T.H. Gold of Bedford.

David Stansbury, who Mr. Gold says was one of the best men he ever met, wanted a hand to help mow with a scythe in the meadow. Could Tom Gold mow? He would try. Mr. Stansbury told Tom Gold that another hand would be present to mow. Stansbury broke the information confidentially that the hand aforesaid had the reputation of soldering[sic] on the job, and he would like to have young Gold crowd him a little to get a good day’s work out of him.

Next morning Tom Gold was in the meadow bright and early, with his scythe in perfect condition. It was then that Gard Neer appeared, climbed over the fence, whet his scythe, gave a look at the meadow and then took the lead to split it in the middle. Tom followed. Mr. Neer never stopped.

hay baling, by Albert J EwingFaster and faster he went, and Tom exerting every muscle to catch up. Catch him he couldn’t. He couldn’t keep in speaking distance. Reaching the farther side, Mr. Neer whet his scythe and was backswathing his way back long before the struggling Tom had gotten across. Tom whetted his scythe and was desperately trying to make a good finish. It was no go. Gard Neer was a bear cat, beside whom Tom was a helpless novice.

At 10 o’clock, when young Tom Gold was doing anything but crowding his companion, so wet with sweat that there wasn’t a dry thread on him, he chanced to look back and there lay David Stansbury bursting his sides in the cut grass with laughter. Mr. Gold didn’t tell us so but we have a suspicion that Mr. Gold now thinks he had been coached to push one of the best mowers in Rutland Township. If so, it was a naughty trick on the part of David Stansbury, but Mr. Gold enjoys it to this day all the same.


Meigs+County+OH hay+baling appalachian+humor appalachia +appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history

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