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 time famous Confederate spy Belle Boyd visited Knoxville. Belle had left Virginia on the advice of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. She asked in a letter to him if it would be safe for her to return to her Virginia home to see her family. He advised against it and she left to come to Tennessee to stay with relatives in the Knoxville area. The adoring crowds in Knoxville, learning of her arrival, insisted she give a speech.
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.
In February 1997, a group of people with a shared interest in Southeast Ohio’s history worked with Ohio Arts Council to form Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area. The organization aims to establish a heritage area in Southeast Ohio which would recognize the region’s history and culture. “What always has fascinated and impressed me,” says the group’s president Tom O’Grady, “was how much of what is done out there is done by individuals and volunteers who have no resources, and when you start supporting those efforts, the great strides that they can make with some financial support.”
The Sharpsburg High School gym, built by the WPA in 1936, was once the pride of that Kentucky town. The school was a community center for decades. Everyone in town, it seems, has a story associated with the gym and its rolling roofline. The school closed in 1963, and was torn down. The gym stayed, but the building deteriorated. Trees grew out through its empty windows. Finally, in 2006, the city began a plan to reclaim the gym.
Next, we’ll feature a book excerpt from John Norris Brown’s new book Images of America: Harriman. A native of that Tennessee town, the author teaches political science and history at Roane State Community College. “It is the author’s sincere wish,” Brown tells us, “that this book will help reignite interest in preserving the history of the “Town that Temperance Built.” There is much in the town’s past to be proud of, and there is much about its future that looks bright.”
We’ll wrap things up with a talk with NYC based filmmaker Chelsea Moynehan. She and her husband Andrew have just this weekend premiered their documentary ‘Big Mocassin,’ about the lives of 4 people living in southwest Virginia. “Big Moccasin stems from a deep, personal connection with Appalachia,” Chelsea told us. “It is a place that I visited quite often as a young girl. It was the birthplace of my grandmother and grandfather, and the home of my relatives.”
And thanks to the good folks at the Southern Folklife Collection, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from the Red Fox Chasers in a 1928 recording of Mississippi Sawyer.
So call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian history.