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 the story of how colonial Virginia governor Lord Dunmore decided to settle the western boundary line dispute with Pennsylvania by forcibly taking possession of Pittsburg, or Fort Pitt, and attaching it to the colony of Virginia. When challenged by Pennsylvania, Dunmore admitted that the land had indeed once belonged to Pennsylvania, but asserted it was lost to that colony because she allowed the French to take possession of it, and that when Great Britain recaptured it, in the French and Indian War, the title was vested in the crown, and that, as Virginia was a Crown Colony, the title passed to that colony rather than to Pennsylvania, which was a proprietary government.
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.
“I was 10 years old when the First World War stopped,” says Guysville, OH native Emma Barnhill in her oral history conducted with the Countdown to Millenium Oral History Project. “I had an uncle over there in the war. It was rough, they was in those trenches y’know, and things. My mother made taffy and sent it to her brother for Christmas, and he got it, he said and then he sent me a piece to read in church and I knew two verses. ‘In Flanders field the poppies rose,’ and something about crosses rows on rows, but I remember that.”
Benton MacKaye was the first person to propose the idea of an Appalachian Trail, which he did in October of 1921. He grew up in Shirley Center, Massachusetts, reading the work of American naturalists and poets and taking long walks in the mountains of Massachusetts and Vermont. MacKaye sometimes claimed that the idea for the trail was born one day when he was sitting in a tree atop Stratton Mountain in Vermont.
“Did you ever wonder why you came home from the carnival empty handed?” asks writer Sam Brown in this June 1930 article from Modern Mechanix. “Remember how you tried to ring the bell by hammering the catapult or how you tossed ring after ring trying to win a cane? Swindled? Well, maybe! Listen how the operators gimmick their games so that you can’t win. It may save you money or help you win.”
We’ll wrap things up with the story of how the post office came to Pine Mountain, KY. The great difficulty in attracting one was that most of the locals could neither read nor write; mail is after all a form of written communication. One man, William Creech (1845-1918), took it upon himself to tackle the issue. He made a first attack on the problem by urging each of his neighbors to send off to both of the leading mail-order houses for their catalogues. If the son-in-law of the family had a different name, Creech asked the farmer to send it off twice. Whenever the necessity arose, which was often, he wrote the cards of request himself.
And, thanks to the good folks at Juneberry78s.com, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Uncle Jimmie Thompson in a 1926 recording of Lynchburg.
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.