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 walk through the first exhibition of the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild, held in 1933 in Blacksburg, VA. In the accompanying show catalogue Allen Eaton of the Russell Sage Foundation describes the variety of hearth brooms to be seen in the hall. “This is an indigenous product of the Highlands. I have never seen a home, however humble, in these mountains that did not have at least one fireplace in it,” he says. “The hearth broom is made of broom straw grown at home or in the region, and tied usually with thongs of some native bark. If a handle is attached it is of course of native wood.”
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.
Cumberland, MD had a large German population in the late 19th century, so when Warren White founded a brewery in 1901, the name German Brewing Company seemed like a natural choice. German beer didn’t sound like such a patriotic idea by 1917. With the U.S. entering the First World War and the resultant anti-Teutonic sentiment, German Brewing’s directors thought it prudent to change the name to The Liberty Brewing Company. Nor would this be the only time the company would be forced to change names due to political pressures.
Next, Leora Rhodes Brooks Franklin (b. 1920), long time resident of Richmond, KY, describes the effects of school desegregation at Richmond city schools in the 1950s. “One of the teachers told us that they have other students grading their papers and all of that. And if the student don’t seem like they want to get anything, you just leave them alone, just pass them on. They don’t have to get it.”
When the dark clouds of war were gathering in the South in the spring of 1861, not everyone embraced the new cause. While some were eager to fight for a secessionist government, many others considered the impending war a wicked, treasonous undertaking and wanted no part of it. Indeed, a majority in the hills of Northwest Alabama, mostly poor yeomen dirt farmers, saw little value or reason in taking arms against the federal government. We’ll take a close look in this segment at an impassioned letter from an Alabama man to his brother imploring the latter not to join the Confederacy.
We’ll wrap things up with a touching letter to her children from Athens County, OH native Maria Dean Foster Brown, in which she shares her grief over the sudden loss of a much loved grandchild. In the 1908 letter she tenderly revisits the death of one of her own daughters 40 years before. “I think there is no one who can so fully understand the extent of your sorrow as myself. I know what it is to put away all the little clothes and the playthings. I had all of that to do.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian yodeling from Jimmie Rodgers in a 1927 recording of “Sleep Baby Sleep.”
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.