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 an investigation of a flying machine that pre-dated the Wright brothers by 29 years. Choestoe, GA farmer Clark Dyer experimented with a flying machine made of lightweight cured river canes and covered with cloth. Drawings on the flyleaves of the family Bible, now in the possession of one of Dyer’s great, great grandsons, show how he thought out the engineering technicalities of motion and counter-motion by a series of rotational whirligigs. He built a ramp on the side of the mountain and succeeded in getting his flying machine airborne for a short time.
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 Jeff Forrester of Kingsport, TN weighs in on the joy of carving hiking sticks: “I cut a small sapling in the woods behind my house—raw materials are easily found in the forests of the central and southern Appalachians. I sanded it nicely, attached a lanyard cut from an old leather belt, and gave it a good coat of lacquer. The enjoyment of both hiking and woodworking had come together for the first time for me.”
“Police estimated that before his arrest in 1931 he had killed fifty victims,” says guest author David Sibray about Harry Powers, who is known widely today as the ‘West Virginia Bluebeard.’ “He confessed to killing only those five whose bodies were found buried next to his ‘murder garage,’ wherein he bound and gassed his victims and watched in delight as they died.”
We’ll wrap things up with a look at the life of Kentucky native Nancy Green, who was the first person to portray the Aunt Jemima character. Her pancake exhibition booth at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair drew so many people that special policemen were assigned to keep the crowds moving. The Davis Milling Company received over 50,000 orders, and Fair officials awarded Nancy Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship. The milling company proclaimed Green ‘The Pancake Queen,’ and signed her to a lifetime contract.
And thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from the Georgia Yellow Hammers in a 1927 recording of I’m Saved.
So call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian history.