We post a new episode of Appalachian History weekly podcast every Sunday. Check us out on the Stitcher network, available on mobile phones, in-car dashboards and tablets worldwide. Share the show with friends via automatic Facebook Timeline integration and with one-click Twitter, Facebook and email icons. Just click the icon below to start listening:
We open today’s show with a look at the largest Waldensian colony in the world outside of Italy, in Valdese, NC. The Waldensians (or Waldenses), are a Christian sect founded in the 12th century by Peter Valdo, a merchant of Lyons, France who lived only a short time before St. Francis. Toward the later part of the 19th century many Waldenses emigrated to North and South America to form missionary colonies.
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 guess I got on to the main of it —I know that Jesus Christ died to save sinners,” says Lola Simmons in this 1938 (or 1939) oral history published in Such as Us: Southern Voices of the Thirties. “I don’t see where they’s any way to keep me and Calvin out of Heaven. Calvin moved away from the mountains to keep a killing from happening. That clears what’s said about not killing. We ain’t never stole and have always told the truth. We never brought false witness against nobody. They’s more to it, but I counted them off one day and we is all right.”
Next, we’ll hear a harrowing family tragedy written in 1890 by one Dr. Chester Bullard, of Snowville, VA. “A childless couple was my father’s nearest neighbors. During my Brother Stillman’s infancy, they were—or professed to be—very fond of him, which induced my parents to leave him in their care while making a visit of several days to relatives. On going to the house for the child after their return they found it deserted.”
Robert Moses “Lefty” Grove is one of only 24 major-league baseball pitchers to win 300 games or more, and he reached the 300 win plateau in fewer games than any pitcher in history. A talent scout from the Baltimore Orioles spotted him shortly after he’d begun pitching for the Martinsburg, WV, Mountaineers farm team, and began negotiations to sign him. During talks a storm leveled the outfield fence in Martinsburg; the Baltimore scout, in order to get Grove, agreed to pay the price of a new one – which meant Grove went to the Orioles for $3500, or the price of a fence. “I was the only player,” Grove said later, “ever traded for a fence.”
We’ll wrap things up with a fierce 1911 editorial urging the passing of a Prohibition amendment, from Madison County, KY native Frances Estill Beauchamp. “We mean death to the distillery and the brewery,” she says, “and on the way to that end we will lend a hand to put out of commission all their retail agents, provided we are not expected to halt or turn aside from our great purpose to free this Nation from the liquor traffic by National Political Prohibition.” Beauchamp was president of the Kentucky chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union from 1895-1923.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Charlie Bowman and The Hillbillies in a 1926 recording of East Tennessee Blues.
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.