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 look at the phrase “What in tarnation?” It’s one of a wide variety of euphemistic expressions of surprise, bewilderment or anger that arose in 18th and 19th century America. Perhaps due to our Puritan legacy, Americans were, during this period, especially creative in devising oaths that allowed us to express strong emotions while still skirting blasphemy.
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.
In 1782 Tennesse Governor John Sevier had a question for the then 90-year-old Oconostota, a Cherokee, who had been the ruling chief of the Cherokee Nation for nearly sixty years. Sevier asked the Chief about the ancient peoples who had left the “fortifications” in his country. The chief told him: “they were a people called Welsh and they had crossed the Great Water.” If true, this fits with the known history of 12th century Welsh Prince Madoc ab Owain Gwynedd, who sailed from Wales to explore the New World in 1170 A.D., hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus.
It’s the whispering foil, the flexatone, or simply, the musical saw. Some consider the musical saw an American folk musical instrument believed to have gotten its start somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains in the 19th century (oh, I suppose we can allow that carpenters and lumberjacks all over the world have discovered that their tool could make sounds, but still….)
Arizona Houston Hughes (1876-1969) taught elementary school in Avery County, NC for 57 years. In 1953 she was honored by the state, receiving the North Carolina Teacher of the Year award at the annual North Carolina Teacher’s Conference in Asheville. She was selected as honor teacher because of her record as the State’s active teacher with the longest continuous record.
In early 1904, with the growth of the western end of Carter County, KY, residents there sought to form a new county. They broke away, along with some citizens of Rowan and Elliott counties, to form Beckham County, with the county seat in Olive Hill. It wasn’t long, though, before legal questions over the formation led to the county being dissolved by state action. Eighty days long, to be exact. Beckham County has the distinction of being the only Kentucky county to ever be abolished.
We’ll wrap things up with the brief history of the Dagmar car. Hagerstown, MD industrialist Mathias P. Möller named the luxury sedan after one of his daughters. Only a few hundred were built from 1922-1926 at prices upwards of $6,000.00. By comparison, the autos produced by Ford and Chevrolet during the same era sold for approximately $500.00. Not even the endorsement of Miss America 1924 could keep wealthy clients interested in the coupe.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Ray Barger in a 1970 recording of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”
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.