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 tale of how Aaron Burr, former Vice President of the United States, hatched a plan to form a new country fashioned from the Louisiana Purchase territories. He also proposed to conquer Texas and the rest of Mexico to add to this western nation. Burr and his followers planned to head down the Mississippi to New Orleans to confer with James Wilkinson, the U.S. Army’s ranking general and one of Burr’s oldest friends. Wilkinson almost went along with the treasonous plan.
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.
Journalist Lois Kleffman answers the question “What was it like in Moore Hollow, KY after the mines got started?” Her article in the Jackson County Sun discusses boom times in the 1930s, shanty towns, mine deaths, and scrip with a keen eye for the offbeat detail. Odis Isaacs, for example, relates to her that little Johnny Johnston would “spit your eye full of tobacco juice, and he smoked cigars when he was five or six years old.”
Divorce filings might on first glimpse seem to be a dry source to examine for broader social mores, but this excerpt from the divorce case between Walter E. McDaniels and Anna C. McDaniels, filed in Knox County [TN] Fourth Circuit Court in July 1926 holds some telling surprises. “The defendant shows plainly that she is an Italian,” states the plaintiff, “is possessed of a wicked and malignant heart and that she is fatally bent on mischief, and is unforgiving, like most of foreigners.”
“We did not have electricity until I was about eight or nine years old,” says Marshall, NC native Jerry Plemmons (b. 1938) in this next oral history segment. “That was when we moved to Walnut Creek. That was basically [just] the lights. A little later on we were able to buy a refrigerator, and that was a marvelous thing to come into the house. The first thing we got rid of were the oil lamps; that was an event and a nice step up, but it wasn’t like we had televisions and all the conveniences that we have now.”
We’ll wrap things up with the story of how Duke Power flooded the upcountry of South Carolina to harness hydroelectric power (and enable nuclear as well) from the resulting lakes Keowee and Jocassee. The Cherokee name Jocassee means Place of the Lost One, and what a fitting description that is: some of the most ancient and significant Native American and early European archaeological sites in the Southeast felt the onrush of the Keowee River’s dammed waters.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Ernest Stoneman in a 1924 recording of “The Titanic.”
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.