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 look at Kentucky’s Pack Horse Library Project. This program, begun in 1935, was aimed at providing reading materials to rural portions of Eastern Kentucky with no access to public library facilities. Librarians riding horses or mules traveled 50 to 80 miles a week up rocky creekbeds, along muddy footpaths, and among cliffs to deliver reading materials to the most remote residences and schools in the mountains. Some homes were so remote that the book women often had to go part of the way on foot, or even by row boat.
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.
Pearl rush fever gripped the residents of Clinton, TN at the turn of the 20th century. Picturesque accounts published in the local papers reported hundreds of persons camping at various points along the streams, some in tents and some in rough shanties, and others going from shoal to shoal in newly built houseboats. They were described as easy going, pleasure loving people, the men women and children working hard all day, subsisting largely on fish caught in the same stream, and dancing at night to the music of a banjo around the camp fires that lined the banks.
“How could he be a Republican?” asked a young Rose Slemp of her great uncle, Colonel Campbell Slemp. “This question, the grown- ups in the family did not even attempt to answer. I overheard, as I often did when I was not supposed to be listening, Grandmother ask her daughter, Hagan, to please call Carroll, her only son, at once. She explained that there was a matter she must discuss with him now. Grandmother’s request was due to the fact that she felt that her son, who was twenty-one, and would cast his first vote in the upcoming election, must hear from her a fair appraisal of her brother, Campbell. The decision, she told her son, was to be made by him and without any pressure from the fact that ‘your Uncle Cam is my brother, but your Father was a Democrat – always a Democrat – and your Uncle Cam has not always been a Republican.’”
Plott Coon Hounds are the only breed of the original six breeds of coon hounds without British influence in their ancestry. The other five breeds can trace their ancestry back to the fox hound, but the Plott Hound is the exception. And of only four dogs known to be of American origin, it’s also the only known breed to have been developed in North Carolina, where it is currently the state dog.
We’ll wrap things up with a series of daily ‘dispatches’ written in 1902 by James Calloway Campbell of Madison County, GA. Campbell’s dispatches to his children and grandchildren are both newsy and philosophical, a summing up of his world view. “What have become of Gip and Hatty? I recon they are looking after their own business, I hear nothing from them. I note there is nothing pure now, from the pulpit down, every thing is corrupt. Selfishness and money is all the religin. Most all is in the brod road. They say there is no hell fire. You most keep in the narry road.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Ernest Thompson in a 1924 recording of Red Wing.
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.