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 a rare Carolina plant, startia galacifolia, or Oconee bells, that the great American botanist Asa Gray termed “perhaps the most interesting plant in North America.” This has little to do with its beauty (modest) or its elusiveness (legendary), but rather with the role shortia played in the greatest scientific drama of the 19th century: the debate over Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species.’
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.
Think of Harper’s Ferry, WV, and three names come to mind, says guest author Bob O’Connor, whose article ‘How Thomas Jefferson’s Rave Review put Harper’s Ferry on the Map’ ran in the just published premiere issue of Panhandle magazine. The three names are Robert Harper, a builder and millwright for whom the town is named; George Washington, who placed the federal arsenal there in his second term as president; and abolitionist John Brown, whose 1859 raid often is credited for bringing about the Civil War. But it is Thomas Jefferson who has a rock and a view down the river named after him thanks to his famous visit on Oct. 25, 1783.
We’ll wrap things up with a letter written by a member of Gallipolis, Ohio’s “French 500” to a friend in Paris. In October 1790, Gallipolis was settled by a group of French immigrants, many of whom were fleeing the French Revolution and seeking refuge in America. At that time Gallipolis was pure wilderness and the French, primarily artisans and craftsmen, were totally unprepared for what they would find.
And, thanks to the good folks at Juneberry78s.com, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from the Shelor Family in a 1927 recording of “Big Bend Gal.”
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corn-cob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.