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 4th century European Christmas folktale that has survived and been carried into Appalachian tradition. ‘The Holly Tree’ tells how the gentlest of the trees took Joseph and Mary under its boughs to hide them from the Roman soldiers who were in hot pursuit, during the holy family’s flight to Egypt. But the soldiers spared no tree in their search, and started to whack back the holly’s branches. It looked as though the soldiers would discover the holy family for certain, but then a miracle happened.
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.
Of all the 19th century Welsh settlements in America, the most famous is that of Brynyfynnon in eastern Tennessee, established in 1855 by Welsh preacher Samuel Roberts of Llanbrynmair, Wales. The settlement got off to a rocky start with court disputes over title to the lands. And the arrival of the Civil War several years later sealed the unhappy fate of the venture. Samuel Roberts was an ardent abolitionist. Northerners were baffled as to why he and his followers remained in Tennessee; many locals viewed his colony as a sort of 5th Column working for Northern interests. The center couldn’t hold, and the colony collapsed.
Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich is the all time bestseller in the success motivation field, with over 100 million copies sold around the world. The world famous author and speaker got off to a lousy start. By the age of 12, Hill tells us, he was a pistol toting ne’er do well in Pound, VA. But his new stepmother, Martha Ramey Banner, saw the boy’s potential and bought him a typewriter. “It was a turning point in my young life; it opened a new world for me,” says Hill.
West Virginian Colonel Ruby Bradley was the US Army’s most highly decorated nurse. Bradley served in both WWII and the Korean War, and was only the 3rd woman to achieve the rank of Colonel in the US Army. During her service she was awarded 34 medals and citations of bravery, and was also the recipient of the Florence Nightingale Medal, the Red Cross’ highest international honor.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at one of southeastern Ohio’s most historic mills. The western Algonquin called it the ‘Mooskingom,’ and to the Narragansett tribe it was the ‘Mooshingung’ —water clear as an elk’s eye. The Muskingum River, which empties into the mighty Ohio River from the furthest point in Columbiana County, is at 112 miles long the longest river lying wholly within Ohio. And the last remaining mill on the Muskingum River is the Stockport Mill in the town of the same name.
And, thanks to the good folks at Juneberry78s.com, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from A.A. Gray and 7 Foot Dilly in a 1930 recording of Tallapoosa Bound.
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.