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We open today’s show with the story of a family fight over land inheritance. Jonathan Hager, Sr. was a wealthy landowner in western Maryland by the early 1770s, and had already established the Washington County town that bears his name today. By this time both his children were grown, and he was in the process of transferring a quantity of his land holdings to his daughter and her husband. “The first time that Daniel Hiester, Jr., and his wife visited her father at Hagerstown, Mr. Hager invited them both to ride over the land with him,” says an 1895 history of Hager and his descendants. “Mr. Hiester went with his father-in-law to see the land which was to be given to himself and wife. Mr. Hager took pains to point out the quality of the land which he intended to give.” But ten days later, before he had the chance to sign any official land transfer papers, Jonathan Hager was killed in a freak accident. A nasty family fight broke out.
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.
“The Yellow-billed Cuckoo,” by columnist Emma Bell Miles, published in the Chattanooga News on June 30, 1914, was one of the Fountain Square Conversations, written as dialogues between the animal visitors to the Chattanooga landmark. “Now, they tell about me, again and again, that I don’t make a nest, but lay my eggs in the home of another bird, being too lazy to bring up my own babies,” complains the Cuckoo to any bird who’ll listen. “Of course it’s a slander.”
On August 7, 1806 Polly Reaves, her 3 children, and 2 neighbors all confirmed a most unusual site in the sky above Chimney Rock in Western North Carolina. ‘She turned towards the Chimney Mountain, and discovered a very numerous crowd of beings resembling the human species, but could not discern any particular members of the human body, nor distinction of sexes; that they were of every size, from the tallest men down to the least infants; that there were more of the small than of the full grown, that they were all clad with brilliant white raiment; but could not describe any form of their garment; that they appeared to rise off the mountain south of said rock, and about as high; that a considerable part of the mountain’s top was visible about this shining host, that they moved in a northern direction, and collected about the top of Chimney Rock.”
New Straitsville, OH was considered the Bootleg Capital of Ohio during the Depression. Its population of enterprising ex-coal miners concealed dozens of illegal moonshine stills in the area’s hollows and abandoned mineshafts, selling it to a nation desperate for a stiff drink.
We’ll wrap things up with reminiscences of the Cloverdale, GA community by Brody Hawkins, who was born there in 1927 and has lived there all his life. “Dr. Spencer Middleton and I go back a long ways,” Hawkins notes. “I’m known to most people as Brody, but my real name is Ernest Middleton Hawkins. I was delivered by Dr. Middleton, who told my daddy that the delivery was free if he would name me after him.”
And, thanks to the good folks at Juneberry78s.com we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Irish fiddle music by Packie Dolan of County Longford in a 1927 recording of Mullin’s Fancy.
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.