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 WV raised innkeeper who was hailed as the “hotel man of the half century” in 1950. From a 13-year-old bellhop at Wheeling’s McLure House to a business giant and multimillionaire—Ellsworth Milton Statler (1863-1928), virtually without benefit of formal education, climbed to the pinnacle of the hotel business.
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.
Next, we offer up the tale of Sure Shot Bessie, written by a WPA writer for North Carolina’s Writer’s Program during the Depression. A mountain man builds his best gun ever from a hunk of magnetic iron given him by a stranger. Come to find the gun never misses its mark. The puzzled owner asks a local teacher how this could be. “And what do you suppose that perfessor¬ feller says? He says it’s all according to the laws of physic. Says all them animals been feeding on things growed full of iron. That puts iron in the critters, and the iron in the critters draws the bead on my magnetic gun barrel.”
Jesse Hilton Stuart was a Kentucky poet laureate and author of more than a dozen novels and autobiographical works. Just as William Faulkner spent a career drawing on life in Oxford, MS to create a rich portrait of his fictional Yoknapatawpha County, so Stuart came back again and again for inspiration to his native Plum Grove, KY and the foibles of its mountain men and women.
“In 1996, on my last visit to San Toy, Ohio, I had to stop and ask directions twice,” says guest author Matt Zuefle of his search for Ohio’s Little Cities of Black Diamonds. “Driving down a long, unpaved road to the bottom of a deep, wooded valley, I came to a crossroads with a signless post marking the intersection. This was the San Toy of my seeking. My very own Appalachian city of Cibola. I had heard about it since I had starting working in the area, and now I had found it.”
We’ll wrap things up with a look at the work of Maryland writer Sara Roberta Getty (1880-1973). Getty chronicled the goings on in Cumberland, MD and the surrounding area starting in 1924, right up to her 88th year. She dedicated her 1930 book Maryland Melodies “to the Queen City of the Alleghenies and her warm hearted people who to me have been a never failing source of encouragement and inspiration.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Clarence Ashley in a 1931 recording of My Sweet Farm Girl.
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.