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 what was the largest carbon factory in the world in 1911. The most widely used black pigment, carbon black is virtually pure carbon, made from the incomplete combustion of petrochemical oils of gases. It is widely used even today as a filler in the rubber industry and as a UV stabilizer in plastics. Godfrey L. Cabot of Boston, MA chose to site his carbon factory in Calhoun County, WV, close to the booming oil fields of that era.
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.
Next, we’ll peek over the shoulders of newspaperman Louis Pilcher as he describes the comings and goings of one D.Y. Combs, one of Hazard Kentucky’s most influential men in the early 20th century. “Having leased his fields of the best coal to large coal operators,” says Pilcher, “it is believed that everybody’s D. Y. is destined to be in the near future one of the richest men in these rich fields, but nobody believes that he will dress in purple and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day, for D. Y. doesn’t care a snap for all that sort of thing, being as plain and simple as the proverbial old shoe.”
There is no more sacred spot in upper South Carolina than the Old Stone Church and its adjoining cemetery, where many of South Carolina’s most distinguished dead lie sleeping. The old church stands as a silent tribute to the piety and heroism of our first settlers, many of whom came over the mountains from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina to make their homes in this beautiful but savage wilderness.
We’ll wrap things up with a tale from Elbert William R. Ewing, Esquire, who opened his career having to prosecute a boyhood friend for murder in Wise County, VA. This situation made the newcomer so nervous that he asked the judge to excuse him from the case. Which the judge would not do. “I went to my office almost wild with despair, grief and the weight of the unsought responsibility. Suddenly I recalled having heard of George A. Ewing as a successful lawyer. Rushing out, I wired him : ‘Have just been appointed to prosecute so and so. Have recently gone to the bar. For the sake of the Ewing name will you help me?’
And, thanks to the good folks at the Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian harmonica from Jake Krack in a 2006 recording of the classic “Hell Broke Loose in Georgia.”
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.