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 commentary on the feuds of Breathitt County, KY by guest author T.R.C. Hutton. Dr. Hutton teaches American History at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He received his doctorate from Vanderbilt University in 2009. His articles have appeared in Reconstructing Appalachia: The Civil War’s Aftermath and Blood in the Hills: A History of Violence in Appalachia, both published by the University Press of Kentucky. Bloody Breathitt is his first book, and we’re pleased to present an excerpt from it here.
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, a breathless closeup report of events in New Martinsville, WV during one August week in 1925. Glamorous screen star Gloria Swanson had swooped in with her entourage from New York to film “Stage Struck,” about a small town waitress who gets her big break on the local showboat. It was a box office disaster. “About the only people who made any money out of Stage Struck,” moaned the show’s producer afterwards, “was the guy in New Martinsville who owned the hotel and the showboat.”
“Those who never lived in a mountainous country,” says John Preston Arthur in his 1914 book Western North Carolina, a History, “are often surprised at the sight of what we call sleds, slides or sledges, made of the bodies of small trees with crooked ends, turning upward like those of sleigh runners.”
We’ll wrap things up with a frontline seat at the 1920 Tennessee state session to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, which would give women the right to vote. By the spring of 1920, 35 states had already ratified. Thirty six states were required to ratify the Amendment in order for it to formally become part of the Constitution, and so all national suffrage effort that summer became intensely concentrated on winning the 36th state.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Smithsonian Institution’s Folkways Records, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Junie Scruggs in a 1957 recording of the traditional tune Cripple Creek.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.