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 WV’s Philippi Covered Bridge got built, presented by guest narrator Roxy Todd. This segment originally ran on the Traveling219 Project site that Todd heads up. She and her team of journalists have recorded over thirty life and community histories from West Virginians who have lived near that state’s US 219. They’re also reviving the work done by the WPA West Virginia Writers’ Project and the writing those earlier writers did for the publication, West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State, which is now out of print.
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.
“Suppose that, one of these days when I’m out hunting, or looking for rare plants, I should stumble upon a moonshine still in full operation,” asks Horace Kephardt in this 1913 interview with a North Carolina moonshiner from Our Southern Highlanders. “What would happen? What would they do?”
Jesse Jewell (1902-1975) started what was to become Georgia’s largest agricultural crop— poultry. The now $1,000,000,000 a year industry has given Gainesville the title “Poultry Capital of the World.” Jewell pioneered vertical integration—the combining of all phases of the business, such as raw materials, processing, and distribution, within a single company—in the poultry industry. At the helm of J. D. Jewell, Inc. for more than twenty years, Jewell was a key national leader of the poultry industry.
“When we came to the rail fence surrounding the house there was an old man and woman standing in the doorway. The old man wore a slim beard reaching down to his waist, and the old woman was throwing out dish water.” J. Frank Browning discusses growing up in Sang Run, MD, a town that in the early 20th century was full of ginseng collectors, moonshiners … and ghosts. “No one believed our story about the old man and woman, as the house had been unoccupied for many years, and no one answered the description of these two old people. In later years I learned that a tragedy of some sort had occurred in that log-house.”
We’ll wrap things up with a look at the ancient method of bending trees to mark woodland trails used by the Cherokee in Southern Appalachia. In marking a trail, after bending and fastening the young trees, a Cherokee would usually carve upon them his individual or clan insignia. Not every tree along the route of travel was bent, it being advisable to do so only at intervals. Natives were thus able to follow a pre-established trail by continuing in the direction indicated from one bent tree to the next.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Ernest “Pop” Stoneman in a 1926 recording of John Hardy.
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.