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 the story of the White Caps of Sevier County, TN. This vigilante group formed in approximately 1892 by citizens who wished to rid Sevier County of individuals (mostly women) whom they deemed lewd or adulterous. Their modus operandi was to leave the offending party a note signed “White Caps,” occasionally accompanied by hickory switches, warning them to leave town. If this tactic proved ineffective, the group escalated to whippings. In 1896 a cold blooded murder by two White Cappers finally brought the law down upon them.
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.
The Glades are Maryland’s largest and most open mountain peatland. They are of great scientific interest because they are fed solely by rainwater (an ombrotrophic system), and contain peat up to a 9 foot depth. This area is one of the oldest examples of mountain peatland in the Appalachians.
Annie Taylor could get away with anything she pleased at school. Her father Champ was feared in Catawba Falls, NC by every teacher who had ever tried to rein her in; he’d threatened to kill several, and had literally run one out of town. Then Annie crossed swords with Miss Daintry Graham one day in class, and got the whipping of her life. It wasn’t long before Champ came in search of Miss Graham. Here’s Daintry Graham’s telling of the story.
Next, we’ll hear an old Kentucky folktale titled ‘Old Farmer Was A Miser Of The Worst Kind! His Love Of Gold Led To Great Misery,’ as told by McCreary Roberts in ‘Kentucky Explorer’ magazine. The title pretty much gives away the end of the story, but Roberts spins a colorful yarn in the course of making the moral point.
We’ll wrap things up with a nod towards St. Patrick’s Day. Kentuckians have long shared, among other things, their love for horses, whiskey making and music with the Irish. Listen carefully to Eastern Kentucky’s fiddlers and you‘ll hear the refrains of Irish jigs and reels. And Kentucky’s buck dancing, or clogging, is a particularly vigorous and often undisciplined cousin to the Irish jig. And so March 17 is not just any ordinary day in Kentucky. It’s time for Eastern Kentucky vs. State, corned beef and cabbage, and of course parades.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from an anonymous Scottish band in a 1920s recording simply labeled: “Scottish music played at an informal house session on fiddles, guitar, dulcimer.”
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.