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 story from the boyhood of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant, the 18th U.S. President and Union general-in-chief during the Civil War, grew up in Georgetown, OH, the son of an Ohio tanner. In this segment from Grant’s memoirs he describes trading a horse with a Kentucky farmer when he was fifteen. Trouble was, the horse had never pulled a carriage before. Grant bought it anyway, much to his regret when halfway home the horse starting bucking the carriage wildly. It says quite a bit about the future soldier how he solved the problem, as you’ll hear.
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.
On Oct. 14, 1980, Stella Fuller Day was proclaimed by the mayor of Huntington, WV to acknowledge her lifelong efforts in helping the poor and disadvantaged of that community. And in 2008 she was posthumously inducted into the Greater Huntington Wall of Fame for her 60 years of service. But she wasn’t always so well honored. After 25 years of exceptional service with the Huntington chapter of the Salvation Army she was expecting to be nominated for the top job in the post. But she left under a cloud, bitter at the back room politics of it all. The story has a silver lining, however, and one that she herself did not anticipate.
Even in the 1930s he thought of himself as both a journalist and a hiker in equal measure. “I’ve learned,” said Louisville, KY native Howard Hardaway in a late life interview, “that the most interesting places are not right on the road. On the back roads, at the little country stores where the road crews gather for a quart of milk and a moon pie, that’s where you find some real historians.” In this excerpt from a Louisville Courier-Journal article he introduces us to some backwoods characters from Clinton County, KY.
“You want to know when l really entered public life. I did not enter; I was shot into it, as by a catapult, and I learned politics in front of Gatling guns and Mauser rifles,” says Rebecca Latimer Felton. Until late in her life, Felton saw her career as tied completely to her husband’s. William Felton served three terms (1875-81) in the U.S. Congress. From 1884 to 1890 he served another three terms in Georgia’s state legislature. In this selection from Mrs. Felton’s book “Country Life in Georgia in the Days of My Youth” she furiously attacks North Georgia politicians who made millions off the convict lease system of the late nineteenth century.
We’ll wrap things up with a quick look at the song ‘Liza Jane,’ an old mountain ballad. Two influential recordings were made of the tune in the 1920’s which helped spread its popularity among early country musicians.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Gerry Dempsey, Ian Jacks and Tom Joad in a 2004 recording of the traditional tune “St. Anne’s Reel.”
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.