We post a new episode of Appalachian History weekly podcast every Sunday. You can start listening right away by clicking the podcast icon over on the left side of your screen. If you’d rather grab the show off itunes for later listening, click here.
We open today’s show with a look at the strange world of Myrtle Corbin, who was born in Tennessee and raised in Blount County, AL. She was married to the same man for 40 years, and raised 4 healthy children on their farm together with him. Oh, and she had 4 legs.
You learned about the Gold Rush in school, didn’t you? San Francisco even named its football team after the Forty-Niners. But THAT gold rush happened 21 years after America’s first gold rush got underway, in Georgia’s Lumpkin County. Georgia gold fever burned till the close of the nineteenth century, and Dahlonega attorney Wier Boyd placed himself in the midst of the myriad legal dealings that resulted.
Next up, meet Edsel Martin. He liked to refer to himself as the ‘mountain misfit of North Carolina.’ That understates the case just a tad. He was in fact a widely celebrated instrument maker, musician and artist whose work can be found in the Smithsonian Institution and the North Carolina Museum of History. In this piece he’ll tell you a bit about how he makes dulcimers.
If you were bold enough to take a car trip over Letcher County Kentucky’s Pine Mountain in the 1920s, you’d need to make sure you had a water pail, hand tire pump, jack, tube patches and glue, three quarts of motor oil, a gas can, assorted tools, wrenches, hammers and screwdrivers. We’ll let local resident Clifton Caudill show us how to do the driving.
Life ran smoothly for Walter Phillips, his wife and six kids after the family moved from New Jersey to Cranberry, NC, where Walter became a foreman with the Cranberry Iron & Coal Co. But then Walter died unexpectedly at the age of 44. His widow died only two short years later, leaving the six children stranded. Walter’s son Thomas Jay Phillips, in this excerpt from his autobiography, explains how the young ones got out of that terrible jam.
We’ll wrap things up with a close look at the 1887 ad copy for Thompson’s Bromine-Arsenic Springs Water. Yes, arsenic. This Saltville ,VA company was confident that their product was “the only combination of the kind ever discovered in this or any other country, and is destined to become the most extensively used natural mineral water in the world.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers in a 1926 recording of “White House Blues.”
So, call your old blue-tick hound up on the porch, fire up your corn-cob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.