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 transcript of a guest post from the Appalachian History blog by Matthew Burns of Pendleton County WV. Burns, who authors the Appalachian Lifestyles blog, relates the intriguing story of his great-great grandmother, who through various romantic twists and turns was the sister of her step-mother, and sister-in-law to her father.
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 we’ll listen to early 20th century Smoky Mountain guide Wiley Oakley spin a tall one about shooting a whole slew of turkeys with just one shot. ‘Born and rared’ in Gatlinburg, Oakley warns us right at the outset that any time his tales are true he won’t yodel at the end of the story.
“We need to be less aware of the picturesque, amusing or distressing differences, and more keenly conscious of the kinship of the mountain people with their kind elsewhere and everywhere,” states University of NC professor E.C. Branson, in a 1916 study comparing mountain poverty to statewide poverty benchmarks. “Otherwise we shall bring to noble effort in the mountains a certain disabling attitude that is fatal to success.”
Her work was published by a well known Boston editor for several years before he discovered that she was not a man. Tennessee author Mary Noailles Murfree, better known as Charles Egbert Craddock, was considered a master in delineations of mountain character, and in her descriptions of mountain scenery. We’ll hear a selection today from her 1897 work “The Young Mountaineers / Short Stories.”
John C.C. Mayo’s life story could have been lifted straight from the pages of Horatio Alger. He was born a poor mountaineer in Paintsville, KY. By the time of his premature death in 1914 at age 49 of Bright’s Disease, Mayo had amassed a fortune in the neighborhood of $20,000,000, making him Kentucky’s wealthiest man. He started as a schoolteacher but quickly learned how to buy up coal-rich land on the cheap.
We’ll wrap things up with an anecdote from the autobiography of Elkins WV preacher Troy Robert Brady (1906-1999). Reverend Brady was invited to the home of an Ohio River family after leading a revival service one evening. The family was used to keeping a lantern burning all night in the large room where the reverend was to sleep along with 4 teenage girls and a son. It was bad enough that he had to change his clothes in the open, but then the creaky bed assigned to him had bedbugs.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Cousin Emmy (Cynthia Mae Carver) in a 1940 recording of “Arkansas Traveler.”
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.