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. Just click below to start listening:
We open today’s show with an exploration of the folklore that says the stork delivers babies. North America’s only native stork, the wood stork, has a summer range that extends from its Gulf Coast wetlands nest areas north to Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. But the physical presence of wood storks hardly explains why ‘stork stories’ are so prevalent in areas of the US where wood storks never venture. The folk tales and beliefs that Appalachia’s German immigrants brought to their new home are a better place to look.
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.
It’s late winter: the maple sap is starting to rise. In our next segment, western Maryland resident George Benson Kuykendall describes maple sugar making time in a 1919 family geneaology. His uncle, Isaac Kuykendall, purchased a 670 acre farm near Huttons, in Garrett County, MD in 1881. “Those were sweet times, indeed, for everybody concerned in making maple sugar,” Kuykendall tells us. “Every step of the process was watched by them with frequent libations of the fresh sap–that which had been boiled to a more syrupy consistence, and with scraping of the kettles for the sweet, sticky maple wax.”
February is Black History Month. West Virginia educator Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves, was pivotal in its development. Dr. Woodson authored numerous scholarly books and magazine articles on the positive contributions of blacks to the development of America. He reached out to schools and the general public through the establishment of several key organizations, and founded Negro History Week (precursor to Black History Month).
Old Fort: the name says it. It is indeed one of the oldest towns in western North Carolina, and it was originally a fort, built by the colonial militia before the Declaration of Independence. Once called “Gateway to the West,” the settlement served as the westernmost outpost of the early Thirteen Colonies.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at how the Panic of 1907 affected Appalachia. In early 1907 consumer goods prices were high and continuing to increase, a situation set in motion by too easy credit. Most glaringly, the money center banks of New York City owed their depositors more money than the whole country possessed, real money and ‘credit money’ combined. The system couldn’t sustain itself that way any longer.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Berea College Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Cousin Emmy in a 1940 recording of Arkansas Traveler.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.