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 the story of milk sickness, a 19th century malady that caused thousands of deaths throughout Appalachia and the upper Midwest. In 1838, an Ohio farmer named John Rowe discovered the cause of the disease, but because his findings differed from those of a famous Cincinnati doctor, they were ignored. Another 90 years went by before mainstream medicine came right back to the conclusion John Rowe had reached, and the disease was finally cured.
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 heard that June beetles made a sweet sound while flying around,” says Lilly Ann Parks Adams of her girlhood summers in Wayne County, WV during the 1880s. “I loved music, and the method to acquire this living music box was to fasten a long thread to one of the bug’s hind legs.” Of course, she had to catch and keep one first.
We’ll wrap things up with an interview with 87 year old Helen Lewis, who over her long career as a teacher, activist and author has served as Director of the Appalachian Center at Berea College, Director of Appalshop’s Appalachian History Film Project, and Director of the Highlander Research and Education Center. “I wasn’t interested in picking up broken pieces in these rural communities,” she says of her life’s work, “but with changing the system itself—I wanted my students working for real social change. That’s what social work is all about, it seems to me.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Carl Jones and James Bryan in a 2002 recording of the classic fiddle tune “Baby Ben.”
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.