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 up with a Jack Tale for Christmas. Jack gets a shotgun under the tree on Christmas day, and to hear him tell it, on his first time out with his new prize possession bags 24 largemouth bass, 1 large grey squirrel, 2 fat rabbits, 1 very large slightly damaged deer, and a 2000 lb. prize bull. And he wouldn’t pull your leg on that, would he?
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.
William Ganaway Russell had the good fortune to buy a farm exactly halfway between Walhalla SC and Highlands NC. There was no railway service between Walhalla and Highlands in the mid-nineteenth century. Travelers would have to ride horseback or via stagecoach on the Highlands Highway for two days to get to Highlands, 30 miles away. And waiting for them at the end of their first day’s ride, along the banks of the Chattooga River near the old Cherokee settlement of Tsatugi, sat the Russell farmstead and inn.
Christopher Stahley was a foot grenadier in Napoleon Bonaparte’s old guard. He fought bravely in Napoleon’s ranks in over 50 major engagements. From the Egyptian campaign to the 1812 push towards Moscow, he narrowly escaped death a thousand times over. “There were 480,000 of us who went forth to glory [in 1812],” he relates. “Less than half that number returned. In 1822, in company with my wife, I emigrated to America. I bought a farm and settled down near Somerset, OH. Then began my disasters.”
Kentucky began a campaign in the 1880s to attract Western European immigrants to the state, which had been losing population to America’s new westward movement at alarming rates. The Kentucky Bureau of Immigration, the State Geological Survey and the newly created Bureau of Agriculture, Labor & Statistics worked together to send agents abroad, loaded with broadsides and pamphlets, to describe Kentucky’s bright future prospects. The Swiss jumped first, as you’ll hear in this segment on Die Kolony Bernstadt.
We’ll wrap things up with the Cherokee Legend of the Stone Crosses. As the sky grew dark, the Indians sang a death song to honor this beloved man of peace whom they called the Son of the Creator, says the legend. All of the animal nations of the forests soon came and stood by them. Because of their sorrow, the Cherokee began to cry. Their tears soon covered the ground.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from musicians at the Williams family reunion in a 1973 recording of Breakin’ Up Christmas.
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.