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 excerpt from the journal of Daniel Trabue. In his youth Trabue (1760-1840) served as a Virginia soldier in the Revolutionary War. We’ll follow him through the Cumberland Gap tracking Indians as part of an expeditionary group authorized by the Virginia legislature; he admits he wasn’t always as fearless as a soldier was expected to be.
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 trace the career of Ida Cox, a pioneering blues singer who, along with Gertrude “Ma” Rainey and Bessie Smith, founded the female blues genre. As Smith and Rainey achieved success and popularity, Cox’ record company countered by promoting her as the “Uncrowned Queen of the Blues.”
In the belly and guts of the Depression, Elmer Mullenax never succumbed to the great temptation to which so many did succumb—jump off a skyscraper, blow your brains out with a shotgun, or just go to bed and never get up, become an invalid, first through fear and then complete physical collapse. His son Foster tells us how his parents reacted when the family’s West Virginia lumber business went bankrupt.
Anderson, SC was the first city in the United States to have a continuous supply of electric power and the first in the world to create a cotton gin operated by electricity. William C. Whitner, a native of Anderson, was largely the man responsible for the place becoming known as “The Electric City.”
Though few Civil War battles were fought there, Southwestern Virginia was critically important to the Confederacy. One reason was the salt works in Saltville, which provided the Confederacy’s main source of salt, used as a preservative for army rations. Two battles took place there in an effort to control the works.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924), who left an indelible mark on children’s literature. Her writing provided a path to the secret garden in all of us that is often lost in adulthood. But her own childhood was far from idyllic. Her family was hurled from upper middle class comfort in Manchester, England to hard scrabble poverty in New Market, TN. Her rise from there was nothing short of amazing.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Arthur Kuykendall in a 1965 recording of the classic “Ain’t Gonna Rain No More.”
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.