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 the story of siblings Molly and Harry Dotey. They came from one of the richest families in turn of the century Stuebenville, OH. She married a German baron; he idled away days collecting art and nights at the opera in Pittsburgh. She ended up in a WV poorhouse, he in the Massillon Insane Asylum.
We’ll pause in between things to catch up on a Calendar of Events in the region this week, with special attention paid to events that emphasize heritage and local color.
Scholars and archaelogists have been duking it out over the authenticity of the Grave Creek Stone since it first surfaced in 1838. Local amateur archaelogists in what was originally called “the Flats of Grave Creek” and is today Moundsville, WV reportedly found the stone during the first recorded excavation of Grave Creek Mound, and the arguments began immediately.
By the time 31 year old Loraine Wyman made her way to Kentucky in 1916, she already had a strong training in, and knowledge of, many of the original English folk songs that Kentucky’s early settlers had carried in with them. Wyman, accompanied by Howard Brockway, a composer and arranger, was among the first persons to systematically search for folk songs in the Southern Appalachians.
Next, a letter written by former Chattanooga resident George A. Barrows captures perfectly the gold fever that swept the region and the nation shortly after the yellow nuggets were discovered in Alaska’s Yukon. News reached the United States in July 1897 at the height of a significant series of financial recessions and bank failures, and held out hope for adventurers willing to try their luck. In this letter Barrows describes the mishaps that struck when he lit out for the gold fields.
After seeing and hearing the squealing pigs, bawling calves and cows, the preaching, string music, black faced comedians, political speeches, humorous conversations and crying babies, you could not come away without a lasting impression of first Monday, an open air farmer’s market in Scottsboro AL that started up in 1918. Sue Williams, of the WPA Alabama Writer’s Project, describes her impressions 20 years into the market’s existence.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at an old African American funerary practice in North Carolina—the creation of memory jugs. It’s easy to conclude that memory jugs existed as inexpensive memorials for poor families who couldn’t afford headstones for loved ones. But that explanation too easily overlooks the influence of Africa’s Bakongo culture on slaves brought to America.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Walter Ford in a 1991 recording of the traditional mountain tune “Cherokee Shuffle.”
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.