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 North Georgia tale from Interesting Bits Of Habersham County History, a series of un-published articles by one Addie Bass. Many years ago, a Frenchman, calling himself Eugene Pinard, came to Clarkesville, no one knew for what reason. He was a mysterious character, stern and reserved, saying nothing of his past, except a few vague hints of a dark past of crime and piracy. A chest of rich clothing and silk and velvet seemed to corroborate his story of having been on a pirate ship.
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.
Native West Virginian Dr. Patrick W. Gainer dedicated the balance of his life to a personal crusade to revitalize folk traditions, and to elevate the image and self-esteem of the Appalachian people at a time when derogatory stereotypes flourished. His Appalachian folklore course at West Virginia University, where he taught in the English Department from the end of WWII till his retirement in 1972, “was perhaps the most popular class ever offered on campus,” according to a biography on the West Virginia History & Regional Collection website.
“An interesting story is told of another Anderson, SC man of long ago,” says Louise Ayer Vandiver in her 1928 book Traditions and History of Anderson County. “He was Walter M. Gibson, and lived near Sandy Springs. He was an adventurer, and it is said was once prime minister of the Sandwich Islands.
Ah, southern Appalachian balds, those curious subalpine meadows. From northern Georgia to southwestern Virginia, there are scores of such grassy peaks sprinkled along the Appalachian mountain chain. They are an enigma, being largely devoid of trees and other woody vegetation where one would normally expect to see a continuation of the surrounding forest.
We’ll wrap things up with a short excerpt from a 1978 talk given by Mrs. Mary Chiltoskey to the Western North Carolina Historical Association. In it she describes the ancient Cherokee sport of chunkey games. “Now anybody could play chunkey: boys, girls, old men, old women, anybody, but usually boys played it. One thing about playing chunkey; you didn’t have to get into any special gear. You didn’t have to have shoes with cleats on them; you didn’t have to have a certain shaped bat or a ball that was a certain size. You just had to have a stick. Any old stick would do.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by J. W. Day in a 1928 recording of Way Up On Clinch Mountain.
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.