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 a look at the WV family that brought us Mother’s Day. It took the individual effort of each Jarvis, mother and daughter, over two generations to forge the holiday we recognize today. And it’s a story with a twist.
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.
Nothing about Kentucky born Baseball Hall of Famer Earle Combs was commonplace except his throwing arm; that seemed ordinary only because he shared the Yankee outfield with Bob Meusel and Babe Ruth, both exceptional and accurate throwers. Combs was a dangerous hitter, a fleet, graceful outfielder, and the best leadoff man baseball had yet seen. In the annals of “Murderer’s Row” he is celebrated as first in line of that wrecking crew.
It was the Chesapeake & Ohio’s first luxury passenger train – the Fast Flying Virginian, or F.F.V. It debuted on May 11, 1889, shortly after the Ohio River Bridge between Covington, KY and Cincinnati opened, and it ran daily between New York, Washington, and Cincinnati. Any Virginia aristocrat of the era would’ve instantly recognized C&O’s not-so-veiled reference to the “First Families of Virginia.”
Today, it’s Tennessee’s largest historic district. During the Great Depression, the Cumberland Homesteads community came into being as part of a nationwide New Deal agrarian movement to create subsistence farm communities to aid out-of-work, rural residents. Cumberland Homesteads was one the first of 33 similar communities built between 1934 and 1938, and eventually consisted of 250 homes, a school, a park area, as well as a stone water tower and governmental buildings.
We’ll wrap things up with the story of the Russell farmstead and inn. William Ganaway Russell had the good fortune to buy a farm exactly halfway between Walhalla SC and Highlands NC. There was no railway service between Walhalla and Highlands in the mid-nineteenth century. Travelers would have to ride horseback or via stagecoach on the Highlands Highway for two days to get to Highlands, 30 miles away. And waiting for them at the end of their first day’s ride, along the banks of the Chattooga River near the old Cherokee settlement of Tsatugi, sat the Russell farmstead and inn.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Blue Ridge Institute Archives at Ferrum College, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by the Wheat Valley String Band in a 1984 recording of Black Mountain Rag.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.