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 an oral history from one William T. Brown of Burke’s Garden, VA. He’s the first to admit that he was never much of a student, but as you’ll hear from his detailed verbal chart of who married whom, and who begat whom, he’s very much a scholar of social relationships in Burke’s Garden.
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.
It was born from a foreclosed company, and in the end had so little value as a railroad that it was simply abandoned rather than sold. Georgia’s Tallulah Falls Railway owners had a grand plan to connect to various other southeastern lines, but that plan was never implemented. Let’s take a look at what happened along the way.
Next, we’ll review “Spruce Pine,” the latest in Arcadia Publishing’s ongoing ‘Images of America’ monographs on small towns across America. It’s fitting that the book will release here in the US market on Sept 28. Locals of this western North Carolina community may appreciate that the book’s appearance coincides with the anniversary of the two week trek of the Overmountain Men, who made their way from Virginia and across the Blue Ridge during the Revolutionary War, passing through the area en route to the famous King’s Mountain battle of October 7, one of the turning points of that war in the southern theatre.
Have you ever seen a bread sponge? Christina Grueser saw plenty of them while growing up in Pomeroy, OH. “It was a foamy looking mess of stuff,” she tells us in this oral history. “But you had to keep it warm because cold will kill yeast no matter whether you make a sponge or just bake as people do now. Well, whether anybody else was warm or not, that sponge had to be. Because if it wasn’t you didn’t have any bread.”
Yes, Nashville has the Grand Ole Opry and the big name recording artists. But Bristol, the town that straddles the Tennessee/Virginia border, stakes its claim as the birthplace of country music. Victor Talking Machine Co. was the first record producer to catch wind of the (to them!) fledging “hillbilly” music scene (it wasn’t called country music in the 1920s). Come peek over producer Ralph Peer’s shoulder and see what he was up to in the summer of 1927.
We’ll wrap things up with a 1912 newspaper report that alludes to the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud. Dr. Edwin O. Thornhill at the time was a respected physician and businessman in Mullens, WV, and apparently wasn’t cowed by much. But he made the mistake of crossing Willis Hatfield, eldest son of “Devil Anse” Hatfield, and it cost him his life.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Ernest Stoneman and the Sweet Brothers in a 1928 recording of “I Got a Bulldog.”
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.