Monthly Archives: November 2014

Book Excerpt: ‘Unionists in Virginia’

Summing up the scene Virginia Unionists faced at the end of March, 1861, “So March ended in Richmond with the Unionists remaining in solid control of the Virginia State Convention – and with public support in the state solidly in their favor. Ominously for the peace of the nation, March ended in the nation’s capital with the president, his cabinet, the military high command and all their subordinates in a state of extreme turmoil and confusion. It was a scene from a tragic-comic opera, as the first days of April will attest.”

Referring to the defeat of the first Ordinance of Secession, “In a stunning victory for the Unionists, Harvie’s Ordinance of Secession was defeated by a vote of ninety to forty-five. Of the forty-five votes for the Ordinance of Secession, 70 per cent came from the black belt counties of the Piedmont and Tidewater regions of the state (representing the Slave Power), a handful came from heavily enslaved pockets in the Southwest Region and, as previously noted, three votes came from the Northwest region, where those three delegates were clearly not representing the wishes of their constituents.”

Finally, a summary comment regarding these men who risked their political careers, indeed for some their lives, to save the nation from war, “In hindsight, it is easy to see the reasoning of many Virginians in relation to their Unionism. In mid-April 1861, looking forward, and not knowing that war would soon envelope them, these men were loyal, patriotic Americans who believed the leadership of the country would not desert them. In the end, the heroic Unionists of Virginia were betrayed by the politicians in Washington – and be the aristocrats in their very own state.”

To their enduring credit, “The Unionists of Virginia felt there was a better way than that of total war.”


The Mountain Memories Project

Please welcome guest author Craig Lam. Craig is a 28 year old father of two with a passion for history & genealogy. Craig currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley with family ties into the Blue Ridge mountains that run along the Valley. Craig’s passion for history has fed a desire to make a difference in […]


Book Review: ‘Beyond the Briar Patch: Affrilachian Folktales, Food and Folklore’

Lyn Ford, a nationally recognized Affrilachian storyteller, has a remedy to transcend such rifts between us. Through African-influenced stories and folktales from Appalachia, she reminds us of our common humanity: for “when [we] share one another’s stories, [we] can’t stay enemies.” Ford recently published her second book of tales, Beyond the Briar Patch, in which she intimately retells her own interpretations of what she refers to as ‘home-fried’ tales from her childhood.

Home-fried tales are organic, from the grit of our familial habitation: “from childhood summers shared with storytelling with my father…and my maternal grandfather, Pop-Pop[s]…and bedtime-story readings with my mother….” They are stewed in the pot of hardscrabble living—its humor, its wit, its cleverness, its lessons, its trickeries and its sophistications. Home-fried tales are from the thorny briar patch, the dense and tangled thicket of life many are born into. These tales are informed from all aspects of culture: life, history, racial tensions, romance, music, food, laughter, death and so much more. Most importantly, they are universal tales with full-bodied flavors that all of us are familiar with no matter where we call home.


Saving the Himler House

Many Hungarian immigrants worked in American coal mines, and Mr. Himler saw a need for these miners to receive news from both America and Hungary, along with information about job openings and American citizenship. Mr. Himler penned the first issue of Magyar Banyaszlap while he was waiting for his peddling customers at a Holden,WV mine. Magyar Banyaszlap was self-supporting within five months and soon had a following of 60,000 miners. Some of the issues of Magyar Banyaszlap were published in both Hungarian and English, and the success of Magyar Banyaszlap inspired Mr. Himler’s life-long career in journalism.

The residents of Himlerville were primarily Hungarian immigrants who came to America to live and work. By 1922, there were 100 miners’ homes in Himlerville, and 1,000 Himlerville residents. Mr. Himler’s home and the home of Eugene Lang, Treasurer and Secretary of Himler Coal Company, were located in the town of Himlerville, and the town also is reported to have contained a company store, a theatre/opera house, a school, the Himler State Bank, St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, an ice cream parlor, a bakery, a powerhouse, a round house for locomotive maintenance, a building for community gatherings, the Himler Coal Company and Magyar Banyaszlap Office, and a community park in the middle of town. The Himlerville community had its own culture, its own way of life and prosperity, and according to the July 28, 1976, edition of The Martin Countian , “… the people who were a part of Himlerville surely have a lot to be proud of. Himlerville will go down in Martin County history as a strong force in helping shape the county’s future.”

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