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 nod to Valentine’s Day. We KNOW lovers everywhere are preoccupied that day, but what about everyone else? Here’s a day in the life as reported in the February 14, 1930 edition of the Clinch Valley News in Raven, VA.
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.
Of all the 19th century Welsh settlements in America, the most famous is that of Brynyfynnon in eastern Tennessee, established in 1855 by Welsh preacher Samuel Roberts of Llanbrynmair. The settlement got off to a rocky start with court disputes over title to the lands. And the arrival of the Civil War several years later sealed the unhappy fate of the venture. Samuel Roberts was an ardent abolitionist. Northerners were baffled as to why he and his followers remained in Tennessee; many locals viewed his colony as a sort of 5th Column working for Northern interests. The center couldn’t hold, and the colony collapsed.
Next, we’ll hear the odd tale of Montague and Duck Moore of Rocky Mount, VA, accused by neighbors of practicing witchcraft. During the Depression the Federal Writers’ Project sought to compile anthologies of oral history, folklore, and music. The Virginia Writers’ Project (VWP) was the state-sponsored segment of the Federal Writers’ Project. The VWP collected over 3,850 items from 62 counties between mid-1937 and mid-1942. In 1991 Thomas E. Barden published 150 of the pieces from the VWP Collection in ‘Virginia Folk Legends,” from which this oral history was taken.
Mary Harris Jones (1830-1930), better known as Mother Jones, was an American labor organizer and one of the founders of the Social Democratic party and the Industrial Workers of the World . Her August 1912 speech to striking coal miners in Charleston, WV was one in a series of organized activities which were blamed for violence in the state’s coal fields, and led to her conviction of conspiracy to commit murder, which was later commuted. Here’s an excerpt from the last portion of the speech.
We’ll wrap things up with an impassioned letter from an Alabama man to his brother imploring the latter not to join the Confederacy. When the dark clouds of war were gathering in the South in the spring of 1861, not everyone embraced the new cause. While some were eager to fight for a secessionist government, many others considered the impending war a wicked, treasonous undertaking and wanted no part of it. Indeed, a majority in the hills of Northwest Alabama, mostly poor yeomen dirt farmers, saw little value or reason in taking arms against the federal government.
And, thanks to blogger Norm Morrison of Juneberry78s.com we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by The Allegheny Highlanders in a 1927 recording of “A Trip to New York.”
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.