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 piece by guest blogger Tipper Pressley, author of the widely loved blog ‘Blind Pig & the Acorn.’ She looks no further than her own backyard to illustrate 3 or 4 common plants that have a long history of medicinal uses in Appalachia.
Dr. William Glass of Sissonville, WV braved snowstorms, muddy roads and flooded river crossings to ride by horseback up into the hollers to reach his patients. In this oral history segment he shares some harrowing incidents where he and his horse were nearly swept away and drowned.
‘Musty’ is one of those old-fashioned words you don’t hear used much anymore. You might on occasion refer to a damp basement that way, and that’s about it. But in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the word struck fear in the hearts of mountain folk. We’ll take a look at the connection between musty corn and the disease pellagra.
“While I am not one of the people about whom I write,” novelist Will N. Harben told a reporter in a 1905 interview, “my childhood and most of my life was spent amid such scenes as I have attempted to portray. Those people and the customs and conditions of their lives are as real to me as your own family life is to you.” Harben goes on to share with us the methods he uses to develop his characters.
Some of the engineers and conductors, when talking in private, predicted all sorts of doom and destruction due to befall the railroad now that the Virginia and Southwestern had hired a woman—no, a girl—to handle routing and sidetracking orders for the trains. But 17-year old Georgia Harmann, the first telegraph operator hired by that railroad, proved them quite wrong in the end.
We’ll wrap things up with a 1976 article by Carl Freeman. His father ran a typical country store in North Carolina at the turn of the 20th century, and Freeman opens the old accounts books to us. The books tell quite a bit about people and the times. Changes in attitudes, customs, dress, and even the thinking of the people in a given community can be plainly detected and charted from those old transactions.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Ernest Thompson in a 1924 recording of “Red Wing”, a turn-of-the-century sentimental popular tune by Kerry Mills.
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.