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 right 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 world of the 19th century blacksmith. “A few years ago the blacksmith was the very heart and center from which the great machine world grew,” says Thomas Hidden in his 1944 book ‘Sons of Vulcan.’ “In your grandfather’s time the blacksmith shod horses, made plough points, built wagons and carriages, and made all kinds of tools and implements. He could turn his hand to making guns or clocks or locks and keys.”
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.
“I was 10 years old when the First World War stopped,” says Guysville, OH native Emma Barnhill in her oral history conducted with the Countdown to Millenium Oral History Project. “I had an uncle over there in the war. It was rough, they was in those trenches y’know, and things. My mother made taffy and sent it to her brother for Christmas, and he got it, he said and then he sent me a piece to read in church and I knew two verses. ‘In Flanders field the poppies rose,’ and something about crosses rows on rows, but I remember that.”
“I will speak of one story that used to excite my childish sympathy and interest to the highest degree,” relates Addie Bass in her 1927 magazine article ‘Interesting Bits Of Habersham County History.’ “Many years ago, a Frenchman, calling himself Eugene Pinard, came to Clarkesville, GA, no one knew for what reason. He was a mysterious character, stern and reserved, saying nothing of his past, except a few vague hints of a dark past of crime and piracy.”
On October 14, 1947, West Virginian Chuck Yeager became the first man to pilot the Bell X-1A faster than the speed of sound, above the California desert at Muroc Dry Lake Bed. “We just didn’t know what would happen when we reached the speed of sound,” he said in later years, “because we didn’t have any wind tunnel data. People really just didn’t know. It was ignorance. They thought that an airplane would never go faster than sound, because of the shock waves that built up on it. But that really didn’t make any difference to me. I could care less. It’s your job to try it. And that’s the way it worked out.”
We’ll wrap things up with the story of Benton MacKaye, who was the first person to propose the idea of an Appalachian Trail, which he did in October of 1921. He grew up in Shirley Center, Massachusetts, reading the work of American naturalists and poets and taking long walks in the mountains of Massachusetts and Vermont. MacKaye sometimes claimed that the idea for the trail was born one day when he was sitting in a tree atop Stratton Mountain in Vermont.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from the Melotone Quartet in a 1963 recording of ‘Every Hour and Every Day.’
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.