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 the well known tale of the Greenbrier Ghost. On January 23, 1897, Elva Zona Heaster Shue of Lewisburg WV, a bride of three months, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs leading to the second floor of the log house where she lived with her new husband. Her case remains to this day a one of a kind event in the American judicial system … the only case in which the word of a ghost helped to solve a crime and convict a murderer.
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.
To some Appalachian farmers, it was simply an aggressive weed tree cluttering old fields. Others believed its wood could prevent chicken lice, and so used it to build chicken houses and chicken roosts. But sassafras’ most famous attribute has always been the healing properties of the springtime tea –a spring tonic- made from its roots.
Dorothy Elizabeth Seawall was Catholic. Her husband James was not. Mr. Seawall told the Knoxville court in their 1927 divorce proceedings “that the defendant knew his affiliations before their marriage, and that she, a Catholic, could not convert him to her belief, and therefore, and for no other cause, deserted him and his home.”
You learned about the Gold Rush in school, didn’t you? San Francisco even named its football team after the Forty-Niners. But that gold rush happened 21 years after America’s first gold rush got underway, in Georgia’s Lumpkin County. Georgia gold fever burned till the close of the nineteenth century, and Dahlonega attorney Wier Boyd placed himself in the midst of the myriad legal dealings that resulted.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at the curious origins of our most common Easter tradition — the Easter Bunny. There’s no story in the Bible about a long-eared, cotton-tailed creature known as the Easter Bunny. So how did rabbits get connected with Christ’s crucifixion?
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Ernest V. Stoneman in a 1928 recording of Down on the Banks of the Ohio.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.