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 story of the dramatic crash of the airship USS Shenandoah in southeast Ohio on September 3, 1925. At 3 A.M. a storm began to brew in the northwest, and a few minutes later Commander Zachary Lansdowne, the skipper of the Shenandoah, was back in the control car. The Shenandoah was making little progress against a strong head wind. Lansdowne ordered the man at the elevator controls to bring the ship down to 2,000 feet, in an effort to find a hole in the wall of wind. It was useless.
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.
Next let’s follow the Keil family as they emigrate from Charleston to what was then the farthest wilderness of Upland South Carolina. The family’s farm is significant as an example of the evolution of an antebellum farmhouse from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, and also symbolizes the role that a German immigrant family played in the settlement and development of Walhalla and Oconee County in SC.
“Wealth, great wealth, is now collectively possessed by the people of Tazewell,” observed William Cecil Pendleton in his ‘History of Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia: 1748-1920.’ What would they do with it, he wondered? Would the generation then coming of age be taught that money, position, power, idleness, and luxury are the prime essentials of an advanced civilization?
Before the organization of the Diamond Match Company in 1867, there were in existence throughout the United States over thirty match factories, several of which were found in Kentucky and West Virginia. The typical match factory consisted of anywhere between one and a dozen workers, often children, making matches entirely by hand in cramped and poorly ventilated conditions and for a very small wage. Soon after the turn of the twentieth century public concern nationwide was aroused over the health menace created by the manufacture of matches from white phosphorus.
Huntington, WV born Tom Kromer dedicated his novel about the Great Depression’s suicidally down and out to “Jolene, who turned off the gas.” Kromer refused to romanticize the life of the hobo who had to hit the rails. “Where are they going? I do not know. They do not know. He hunts for work, and he is a damn fool. There is no work. He cannot leave his wife and kids to starve to death alone, so he brings them with him. Now he can watch them starve to death.”
We’ll wrap things up with an 1881 article from Cumberland MD’s ‘Evening Times’ about a famous local incident. We already know from the name of the mountain outcropping how the story will turn out, but nonetheless the stirring romance between settler Jack Chadwick and a beautiful young Indian woman makes the ending of “Lover’s Leap” that much more heart wrenching.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Adam Rennie and his dance band in a 78 RPM recording of “Scottish Reform.”
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.