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 guest scholar Dr. Darren Reid, of Scotland’s University of Edinburgh. In this excerpt from his podcast ‘The Adventures of Daniel Boone,’ Dr. Reid examines the fact that Daniel Boone’s autobiography was ghost written by a man named John Filson. “Have you ever considered how Filson might have altered or embellished the stories told to him?” Dr. Reid asks us. “Might he have edited or altered the material in order to make it more exciting, or perhaps to push a personal or political agenda on the public?”
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, guest author Hilda Downer, an Appalachian poet who teaches English at Appalachian State University, considers why it is that Appalachian bluegrass musicians often put rattlesnake rattles in their instruments. “Usually, the explanation provided by mandolin players is that ‘Bill Monroe did it this way,’ “ she explains. “Why did Bill Monroe do it that way, though? One account is that Monroe believed the rattle settled the dust in his mandolin, providing a deeper clarity of sound.”
Guest author Matt Ravenscroft began teaching Historical Methods Research at Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg, MD in 2011. By the end of each year’s class, his students have created a full-length DVD documentary on some aspect of the area’s history. “Has the Historical Research Methods class helped students further along in their careers?” Well, Ravenscroft tells us, “I did have one student apply to the Air Force Academy, and when he was being interviewed the people who select the cadets didn’t ask him about any other class except Research Methods. They were very pleased with what we had done to record the oral histories of local veterans.” The student was accepted into the academy.
We’ll wrap things up with a letter written by a former Chattanooga resident, one George A. Barrows. It captures perfectly the gold fever that swept the region and the nation shortly after the yellow nuggets were discovered in Alaska’s Yukon. News reached the United States in July 1897 at the height of a significant series of financial recessions and bank failures, and held out hope for adventurers willing to try their luck. In this letter Barrows describes the mishaps that struck when he lit out for the gold fields.
And, thanks to the good folks at Berea College’s Southern Appalachian Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian harmonica music by Sam Smiley in a 1991 recording of Old Red Rooster.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.