Listen Here: Appalachian History Weekly podcast posts today

Posted by | October 7, 2012

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 Julia McHenry Howard’s observations of high society in Oakland, MD. “Thomas Hunt Morgan, winner of the Nobel Prize for biology in 1933, and known before his death several years ago as the greatest living biologist in the world, received his first schooling in what I understand was a log cabin schoolhouse in Oakland,” says Howard in A Summer Home in the Mountains from 1953. “He and his cousin, Charles McHenry, were great rattlesnake hunters and amassed a trophy of rattles which I still own.” Julia McHenry Howard has lots more to say about the extended family of her great grandfather, Francis Scott Key, composer of The Star Spangled Banner.

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.

Glass bottle trees originated in ninth century Kongo during a period when superstitious Central African people believed that a genii or imp could be captured in a bottle. Legend had it that empty glass bottles placed outside, but near, the home could capture roving (usually evil) spirits at night, and the spirit would be destroyed the next day in the sunshine. One could then cork the bottles and throw them into the river to wash away the evil spirits.

Coin collectors today consider the hobo nickel a numismatic treasure, a tribute to long- forgotten folk artists who often literally carved for their supper. The Buffalo nickel debuted in 1913, but it wasn’t until the Great Depression struck that hobo nickel carving reached its peak. During this period, buffalo nickels were the most common nickels in circulation.

“During the 1870s, William Murphy of Greenville, SC, wandered through these North Carolina mountains making music every day,” John Preston Arthur tells us in his 1914 historical vignette A Wandering Minstrel He. “Like Stephen Foster, he was regarded as a half-vagabond, but he was tolerated for the pleasure his enchanted violin gave whenever he drew his magic bow across its strings.”

We’ll wrap things up with a walk through The Vardy School. The Tennessee establishment, completed in 1929 and in operation until the 1970s, was a mission school that offered educational opportunities to members of one of America’s least-known ethnic groups: the Melungeons.

And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by the Pickard Family in a 1929 recording of Buffalo Gals.

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.

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