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 author Eva Nell Mull Wike. Dr. Wike’s first book, The Matheson Cove — In the Shadow of the Devil’s Post Office (2006) won the “Robert Bruce Cooke Family History Award” from the North Carolina Society of Historians in 2007. She is currently on book tour for her most recently published book, Fiddler of the Mountains—Attuned to the Life and Times of Johnny Mull, about her uncle. Here, she shares with us the story of how the book came to be.
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.
William Christopher “W.C.” Handy is the acknowledged ‘Father of the Blues’ and composer of such American musical standards as St. Louis Blues and Beale Street Blues. His father served as pastor of the Greater St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Florence, AL, where sacred hymns and spirituals sowed early seeds of musical inspiration in young W.C.
During World War II Kanawha County, WV officials tried in vain to convince the Civil Aeronautics Agency to build a government financed airport in Charleston as part of the war effort. “Too much grading needed,” the government claimed. The county went ahead anyway, and undertook the largest grading project on a commercial airport ever attempted, financed initially by a $3 million state bond issue. Once the project was underway and clearly succeeding, Congress agreed to kick in some financing to help complete the job.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at the nationally followed murder trial of one Edith Maxwell of Pound, VA. Maxwell, accused of killing her father on July 20, 1935, attracted the attention and support of newspaper, magazine, and radio reporters, as well as women’s organizations, across the United States and Canada. The media coverage the case received for nearly two years rivaled that given to the Scopes “monkey trial” of the 1920s. By the end of Maxwell’s ordeal, even Eleanor Roosevelt had gotten involved. Why the national spotlight?
And thanks to the good folks at the Blue Ridge Institute Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from ‘Georgia Slim’ Rutland in a 1950 recording of Billy on the Lowground.
So call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian history.