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 one Henry Harvey Fuson describing everyday life in the tent cities erected during the construction of Middlesboro, KY in the 1890s. “Killings were common, and not infrequently several men would fall in a single fight. Not always were the victims feudists; sometimes they were other mountaineers or “Yellow Creekers;” sometimes from the ranks of the newcomers, among whom was the usual ratio of brawlers, criminals, and shady characters.”
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 our next segment, we’ll present a selection from Kentuckian Sarah Ann Jackson’s ‘My Journal for 1835.’ In this excerpt, Jackson struggles with the difficulty of finding employment as a schoolteacher and weighs various suitors who appear in her life. The diary was found between the walls of an old house in Laurel County, KY, but there is nothing that tells us if it was written in that place or how it came to be there. It was the only item found there.
One dark night in the early 1850s a well-known minister of the gospel was passing a lonely stretch of Booger Swamp on horseback, when suddenly an apparition appeared before him. Halloween’s around the corner. Here’s a little haint tale for the occasion from Putnam County, Tennessee.
Speaking of haints, are your premises safe against haints, furies and other such ornery spirits? Has the neighborhood seen a sudden upsurge of bottles dangling upside down in the trees? Legend has it that empty glass bottles placed outside, but near, the home could capture roving (usually evil) spirits at night, and the spirit would be destroyed the next day in the sunshine. Come explore the bottle tree with us.
We’ll wrap things up with the story of the Wampus Cat. In Missouri they call it a Gallywampus; in Arkansas it’s the Whistling Wampus; in Appalachia it’s the just a plain old Wampus cat. A half-dog, half-cat creature that can run erect or on all fours, it’s rumored to be seen just after dark or right before dawn all throughout the Appalachians. But that’s about all everyone agrees on.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from the Coon Creek Girls in a 1944 recording of ‘Banjo Pickin’ Girl.”
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.