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 little haint tale for Halloween from Putnam County, TN. One dark night in the early 1850s, goes the story, a well-known minister of the gospel was passing a lonely stretch of Booger Swamp on horseback, when suddenly an apparition appeared before him. We recommend you listen to this segment of our podcast with the lights all turned up high.
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 to an account of family hog butchering from Depression-era Martinsburg, WV. “The scent of locust wood smoke and the sound of crackling fires permeated the early morning scene on hog butchering day,” says Kenneth A. Tabler (b. 1926) in his autobiography The Day is Far Spent. “Granddaddy Ambrose, an adroit butcher and meat cutter, readied himself for the evisceration process by donning a white apron. First he removed the pig’s head, then dashed more hot water over the carcass, using his newly sharpened butcher knife to shave any remaining spots that were not completely clean. This procedure was repeated as necessary until the smooth and pinkish skin was free of hair and bristles.”
“People in the hotel were reluctant to go on the 2nd floor,” recalls bellman Booker T. Sherrill about a famous 1936 murder at Asheville’s Battery Park Hotel. “I was off duty during the time of the murder and was not questioned, but there were bad feelings about this. Some think it was never solved. Some think the son of the manager was to blame. It upset this city and it took 8-10 years for the people to relax. Room #224 was permanently blocked.”
It has become common knowledge that Cyrus H. McCormick invented and manufactured the mechanical reaper, but it was actually his father’s genius as a simple inventor that led to the family’s riches and renown. According to research compiled by Norbert Lyons, Cyrus’ mother Polly encouraged her husband Robert to give Cyrus his inventions as a gift and allow Cyrus, the assertive and most business minded member of the family, to make the most of it.
We’ll wrap things up with a letter written by a member of Gallipolis, Ohio’s French 500 to a friend in Paris. In October 1790, Gallipolis was settled by a group of French immigrants, many of who were fleeing the French Revolution and seeking refuge in America. At that time Gallipolis was pure wilderness and the French, primarily artisans and craftsmen, were totally unprepared for what they would find.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by the Carolina Twins in a 1928 recording of One Dark and Rainy Night.
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.