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 an excerpt from interviews of coal miner Joseph Ozanic, Sr. (1895-1978). Ozanic discusses the conflict between the Progressive Miners of America (of which he was president) and John L. Lewis’ United Mine Workers of America. The interviews were conducted by Rex Rhodes in 1972, and by Barbara Herndon and Nick Cherniavsky in 1974.
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.
Fulton Caldwell opened his personal diary with details of a trip from Ohio to Iowa in December 1859. His careful list of all expenses clues the reader in right away to a man concerned with the details. “Fulton Caldwell, now a prosperous farmer and a leading citizen, was born on the Caldwell homestead in 1833,” says his biography in the History of Noble County [Ohio] from 1887. “He was brought up a farmer, and has followed that occupation principally.”
Henry Reed (1884-1968) of Glen Lyn, VA was known not only as a fiddler, but as a banjoist who finger-picked the banjo with all his fingers, and as a harmonica player who could play all the notes of complicated dance tunes on that instrument. The overwhelming majority of the tunes in Henry Reed’s repertory were learned by ear and retained by memory. His music is a testimony to his own artistic sensibility and simultaneously to the fertile ferment created by the coming together of the musical imagination of three continents to fashion the fiddle tunes of the old frontier.
“The Blue Ridge Railroad was called the Old Blunder Buss in those days,” says South Carolina writer Mary Cherry Doyle in her 1935 book Historic Oconee County, South Carolina. “The people seemed not to realize the importance and the great future of the railroads.”
We’ll wrap things up with a look at the life of Charles and Laura Driskill, of Ft Payne, AL. “The Driskills have lived in the home they live in now since 1915,” says this May 28, 1941 article in the Fort Payne Journal. “The lawns and the flowers are wonderfully kept. Mrs. Driskill looks after the flowers, which she loves. Mr. Driskill takes no interest in the flowers, except to enjoy their beauty. But he looks after the vegetable garden. He said that no plow has been in his garden for ten years. He digs the soil with a fork.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Library of Congress ‘Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier’ Collection, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Henry Reed in a 1967 recording of Betsy Likens.
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.