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 fresh perspective on the man who assassinated President William McKinley in 1901. According to more than one reputable source, says guest writer Larry Shockley, McKinley’s assassin, Leon Czolgosz, lived in Kanawha City, WV, where he was said to be employed at a nail mill as a wire drawer shortly before he took McKinley’s life. But recently located historical evidence points to the conclusion that this popular story is based more upon myth than reality.
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.
Next, we’ll peek over the shoulders of Eva & Edith Watson, who, while hoeing cotton in Madisonville, TN one July day in 1927, discovered a hoard of over 80 ancient buried coins, some dating back to 1795. “Needless to say work on the farm was suspended for most of the day,” reported the Maryville Times. “The girls said that when they found the coins, part of them were stacked together. There was no box, pot or any sign of anything in which the money had been hidden. All the money was unusually well preserved, considering its age. As the coins were dug up they appeared as though they had just been dropped in the sand.”
“A town once meant as many things as there were people in it,” observed George A. Mosel of his childhood years at the turn of the 20th century in Steubenville, OH. “A town was so many little things you have long forgotten— putting a pan of fudge out in the snow to cool; the itch of measles; the glow of pink candles on a birthday cake; the warm gooey taste of corn meal mush on a frosty morning; the sting of cold blisters, chapped hands, and arnica on a skinned knee. Such vagrant thoughts are like saving string, all the accumulated sounds, sights and smells you picked up along the way, piece by piece, bit by bit, some bright and smooth, some you wanted to save and some you’d just as soon forget, but all irrevocably tied together in an untidy growing ball and stored away in the back of your mind.”
We’ll wrap things up with a look at ‘Sled Day,’ December 1. “The reason for using bells on a sleigh was not only for merriment but primarily for safety,” says Eric Sloane in his 1967 book ‘A Cracker Barrel.’ “A sleigh was a silent vehicle and a fast one, which its driver often found the greatest difficulty in stopping. Furthermore, everyone wore ear muffs or some other sort of ear-covering in the early days, so that winter pedestrians were practically deaf. Just as lights and horns are now required on the highway, bells were once a “must” for all winter traffic.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers in a 1934 recording of their biggest hit, ‘Down Yonder.’
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.