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 Cherokee myth titled “The Man Who Married The Thunder’s Sister.” It was transcribed by ethnologist James Mooney, who interviewed Cherokee storytellers extensively between 1887 and 1890 and published the myths in a Smithsonian Institution book.
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.
Barbara Frietchie’s story has been immortalized in plays, poems, and local Frederick, MD lore. The story relates that a 96 year old widow draped the Union flag from her window as Confederate troops rode by. Stonewall Jackson saw the display and ordered his troops to shoot the flag. Frietchie is reported to have said, “Shoot if you must this old gray head, but spare your country’s flag.”
Makes for great storytelling; the problem is, when you go back to primary sources, the details don’t quite add up to that exact story.
Until the late 1950’s, when changes in federal and state laws, along with changing economic realities doomed the practice, many companies issued tokens, or scrip, for use by their employees in company run stores. This was especially widespread in the coal fields of Appalachia, where many miners also lived in company owned towns. In these company towns, or “coal camps,” the only store in town was usually owned or run on behalf of the coal company.
“West Virginia has not, up to the present time, done much with its scenery except to mar it, mutilate it, and burn it up,” stated the WV Conservation Commission in its 1908 annual report. “A good many things must be done before West Virginia will take its due rank as a resort for tourists, health seekers, and sightseers.” The report goes on to spell out a few suggestions.
We’ll wrap things up with an article by Bessie Coleman Robinson of Calhoun County, AL. Robinson wrote a regular column on the early history of the county for The Anniston Times, which published from 1932-1943. In this piece she discusses local Creek Indian settlements and mound burial practices.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Jimmie Rodgers as he yodels his way through the 1928 recording “Dear Old Sunny South By the Sea.”
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.