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 origins of a 1930s pop tune. Some know the song as Nancy Brown, others as The West Virginia Hills. The ditty tells the tale of Nancy Brown, who throws over one suitor after another until she finds the man she’s been waiting for: “A city slicker with hundred dollar bills.” They live happily ever after, until…
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’ll listen in on a 1939 Federal Writer’s Project interview with Fletcher, NC farmers Jane & Jim Riddle. “All our folks was farmers,” says Mrs. Riddle, “back up in the mountains. No, I don’t know when they settled there, or where they come from. Jim’s people and my people lived in the same cove. I’ve known him all my life. His brothers and my brothers all farm.
Out on Maryland’s early 19th century western borderlands, Meshach Browning (1781-1859) gained firsthand folk wisdom on the habits of rattlesnakes, and how to cure their bite. Browning was a backwoodsman, hunter and explorer of the watersheds of Maryland’s North Branch Potomac and Youghiogheny Rivers. He has been celebrated as the state’s most famous frontier hunter.
“Well, I have killed the best friend I have got,” says one Eugene Beck to the Rabun County, GA sheriff after he shoots his wife late one evening in 1881. In this partial court transcript, Beck is indicted for the murder of his wife, Ella Beck. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He was convicted for life at the state penitentiary, where he later died of blood poisoning while working in the coal mines as a convict in May, 1890.
We’ll wrap things up an overview of The McPhail Angus Farm, in the vicinity of Seneca, SC. The farm has been a locally significant farm for more than one hundred years; it illustrates twentieth century developments in agriculture in the South Carolina upcountry, most notably the transition from a traditional dependence on growing cotton as a cash crop to raising cattle as a major source of farm income.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Traditional Museum Collection, Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Oscar ‘Red’ Wilson in a 1993 recording of Walking in the Parlor.
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.