“Stories of the feud-ridden, ignorance-shrouded people of the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia have been published far and near and throughout the land the common belief is that every cove harbors a moonshine still, and every home has its feuds. We are taught that the gruff mountaineer has a stern, cold heart; that he is suspicious; and that with his long ‘hog’ rifle, he will shoot at sight a person who wears a clean shirt or a stiff hat.
“And in defense of what he believes to be an erroneous impression concerning the people in the mountains of the South one of the workers of the University, himself from the mountains of Georgia, writes:
The typical Southern mountaineer lives in Southeast Kentucky, Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Northeast Georgia, and a small portion of Northern Alabama. Here for more than a century has been evolving a peculiar and distinct type of people.
Shut off from an influx of foreign immigration, deprived on the use of railroads and other modern blessings until a comparatively recent time, separated from the life with characterizes the American city today, these people continued to grow as their hardy forefathers grew, plain, simple, strong, roughly gentle and warmly hospitable. As the result of such a growth, we have the Southern mountaineer of today, a pure, undefiled, type of sturdy Americans.
Contrary to belief, they are deeply consecrated. The primitive type of church still exists in the remote districts. With a pastor who receives the princely salary of from $25 to $100 a year, the church, of course, is not strong financially. The rural church generally has a membership of considerable strength in proportion to the population; in fact, a great many more members in proportion to the population than one finds in the city churches.
The people are, as a rule, intensely consecrated, and though they adhere to the strictest and most literal interpretations of the Bible, they are most practical and devoted in their Christianity. They believe in the command, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ even though in rare instances a community may be riven by a deadly feud. They religiously observe the Sabbath; no ball games and touring pleasures for them. Sundays are spent in church going and visiting after church.
Simple, quiet, unobtrusive, they pursue ‘the even tenor of their way’ each day. Not rich, often abjectly poor, they are fairly happy; yet, an intensity of devotion and an acuteness of desire lead many a boy or girl from his or her humble home. They want to know things; the call of the world outside has found a response in their hearts; they dream, they aspire, they struggle.
Deeply consecrated and sustained by an unconquerable religious devotion, in these hills, they feel as it were, the heartbeat of God. So in a region which has known sorrows and disappointments, here, there, in this community and that, some young man, some young woman is emerging into a new life where an infinite service can be rendered.
JW Morland, “Wellsprings of Consecration,”
Mountain Herald Vol. 28, no. 1 (Jan. 1925)
Lincoln Memorial University (Harrogate, Tenn.), Extension Dept.
Lincoln Memorial University Press
Digital Library of Appalachia