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 the life of Leo J. Beachy (1874-1927), who is thought to have taken ten thousand photographs a year on five inch by seven inch glass plates of the people and places in his beloved Garrett County, MD between the years 1905 and 1927. It’s astonishing to consider that by the time he gave up his teaching career at the age of 31 to pursue his passion full time, he’d somehow found ways to prevent his multiple sclerosis from slowing this pace.
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.
More than 696,286 people of Irish ancestry live in Kentucky. That’s second only to the descendants of Germans. They have been there for hundreds of years, even before the great migration caused by the potato famine of 1845-6. And so March 17 is not just any ordinary day in Kentucky. It’s time for Eastern Kentucky vs. State, corned beef and cabbage, and of course parades.
One of the most venerable of Georgia pioneers was Col John W. Gray, who lived for seventy nine years at Adairsville, before that town, halfway between Chattanooga and Atlanta, was founded. His father settled there in 1833, at which time the Indians were so numerous and the whites so scarce that the lad’s playmates were chiefly the papooses. Colonel Gray was one of the best known men in North Georgia. As a young man he went West in search of gold as one of the forty niners, but ere long he returned.
Author Wilma Dykeman (1920-2006) pioneered and popularized the concepts of Appalachian Studies and Appalachian Literature. Her focus on the role of the mountain woman in her family and the community is perhaps reflected best in her novels “The Tall Woman” (1962), “The Far Family” (1966), and “Return the Innocent Earth” (1973). In this next segment, we’ll listen to an excerpt from “The Tall Woman.” The main character, Lydia McQueen, wants to build a school for the children in her valley, but one of the men in town, Ham Nelson, opposes the idea.
We’ll wrap things up with the story of a man known simply by his middle name, Levoid. He was a restless soul, traveling here and there, looking for that elusive something and never finding it. James Levoid Bryant (1918-1941) was very popular with acquaintances, but unfortunately started drinking at an early age. He liked to play the part of the hobo, travelling around the United States on trains, sometimes getting into mischief.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Frank Blevins & His Tar Heel Rattlers in a 1927 recording of Sally Ann.
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.