Listen Here: Appalachian History Weekly podcast posts today

Posted by Dave Tabler | July 13, 2014

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 Barbara J. Butler. Butler is a member of Shady Grove Cemetery Dahlonega, LLC. “On May 10, 1872,” she tells us, “my 2nd great grandfather, Jacob Saine, deeded two acres of land to help his community start The Methodist Episcopal Church South. The log cabin/school was called Shady Grove Cemetery and Grave Yard. A number of my ancestors are buried there. Since 2008, family members have been fighting the battle to get ownership of Shady Grove away from The United Methodist Conference of Gainesville, Ga.”

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.

It probably should have been named William Christian Lake, considering the multi-generational efforts of the Pulaski County, VA community to preserve that man’s legacy. Instead, both the dam across the New River and the reservoir it creates were named for Graham Claytor, who just happened to be a senior executive of American Gas and Electric Company, the utility that built the dam in 1937-39.

“Museum exhibits and the understanding of shared history evolve at the Lillian E. Jones Museum,” says Megan Malone, director of this Jackson, OH institution. “The current exhibit of ‘Exploring Our Heritage …through wood’ is the perfect example of both statements, because history is simply not a singular experience that belongs to any one group of people.”

We’ll wrap things up with an oral history excerpt with WV deer tanner Kerth Snyder from Marshall University’s Oral History of Appalachia Collection. “We just, I used to flesh them by hand, used to air ‘em by hand. I used to do everything by hand. If I counted my time at normal wages, I’d have to have two or three hundred dollars per hide to come out and make wages.”

And thanks to the good folks at the Blue Ridge Institute Archives at Ferrum College, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from ‘Georgia Slim’ & Ivey Rutland in a 1950s recording of Chicken Reel.

So call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian history.

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Upcoming play delves into Frankie Silver saga

Posted by Dave Tabler | July 11, 2014

The following article by Brianne Fleming ran July 8 in The News Herald [NC]. It is re-posted here with permission.


The legendary story of Frankie Silver will be retold in Burke County again this weekend in a one-woman play entitled “Silver Shadows…a birthin,’” which is meant to give the audience more insight into what really happened in Silver’s life that led to her ultimate downfall.

Kim Cozort, who is the education director at Flat Rock Playhouse in Flat Rock, has written and conceived the play herself, along with her husband, Kenneth Kay, who directs it.

Kim Cozort and Kenneth Kay.

Kim Cozort and Kenneth Kay.

This is the 62nd show they have been involved in together, Cozort said of her and her husband, who have been married for almost 25 years.

“We love the work and we love each other,” she said. “We think the camaraderie with the work has helped us with the work and as a couple.”

Cozort, who is from Drexel and now lives in Flat Rock, said she was completely intrigued by the story of Frankie Silver since the first time she learned about it in her fourth-grade history class.

“I’ve been writing this for a very long time,” she said. “The story just stayed with me. When I started getting older, I thought, there’s more to this. I thought, what happened, and did it really happen the way they say?

“I started investigating a little more. I didn’t want to just know the facts, I wanted to know who Frankie was. Who was that person, and how can I make them real?”

Frankie Stewart Silver is known as the woman who was hanged in Morganton for murdering and dismembering her husband, 19-year-old Charles Silver, with an axe in the cabin that they shared with their 13-month-old daughter Nancy on Dec. 22, 1831. Silver’s family then helped her escape from jail and disguised her as a boy, but she was caught and returned to prison before her execution. The parts of Charles’s body were discovered at different times, and there are three separate graves for him at the Silver family cemetery in Mitchell County, North Carolina.

Cozort said she has been rehearsing the play for about six weeks now. It will be different from other plays about Silver’s life because one person will be playing the part of eight to 12 characters, Cozort said.

“It’s only me,” she said. “It’s unique in the fact that I’m doing all these different characters. Finally, we’re able to do this at the courthouse, and that’s unique as well. Frankie, while she was in the prison, probably heard it (the courthouse) being built. I wanted to do it in an intimate space, and I’m really excited about that.”

A photo of Frankie Silver’s gravestone, along with many other photos and trial documents, are viewable in a room at the History Museum of Burke County, NC.

A photo of Frankie Silver’s gravestone, along with many other photos and trial documents, are viewable in a room at the History Museum of Burke County, NC.

Dr. William Harbinson, a music professor at Appalachian State University, will be playing original music from Appalachian culture, Cozort said.

“He wrote some beautiful music,” she said. “I’m very excited about that.”

The play will be performed on the 181st anniversary of the day Silver was hanged, which was July 12, 1833.

“It’s very significant, and it takes us back to the idea that she was real, not just a story,” Cozort said. “Something happened to her for this to happen, and I’m hoping to make that a little clearer to the audience.”

It is important for the people of Burke County to know about parts of their history, Cozort said.

“All of this took place in Burke County,” she said. “For people to celebrate their history, their heritage and know a little bit more about what life was like in their community, I think that is significant.”

It also is important to display other parts of Frankie’s life, besides the basic things that people have already heard, Cozort said.

“I just want to give a little more of who Frankie was,” she said. “People tend to think of her as just a woman who chopped up her husband and that was it. There are other factors I want people to be aware of.”

Cozort said she wants to provide the audience with another view of Frankie Silver’s story.

“There are a couple of characters that I invented, but this is all done from factual research,” she said. “I interviewed a lot of the family, and I really want it to be about Frankie’s life in 1830. It was a hard way to live, and I just want to give people another take on it, let them slow down and see exactly what life was like in that time period.”

Although it has been a challenge transitioning from playing character to character, she has enjoyed writing and creating the play, and hopes to see it performed in the future, Cozort said.

“This premiere is (so) I can see if it works and if my story is clear,” she said. “The advantage of having my husband and I working together (is) we already have ideas about the next incarnation, and have already thought of ways to add a little more.

“I would love to do it again. I’ve had such a good time working on it.”

Cozort said the show’s sponsors include the Town of Drexel, Cozort Builders, John Ervin Jr., Drexel Discount Drugs, Sossoman Funeral Home and Crematory Center, Donnie Powell and Don and Maxine McCall.

The play will be performed on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Old Burke County Courthouse. General admission tickets for adults are $20 and $10 for students 12 to 18 years old. The show is not recommended for those under 12 years old. For tickets, call the Historic Burke Foundation at 828-437-4104.

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New Exhibit Offers a Different Way of Looking at Wood in Jackson County, OH

Posted by Dave Tabler | July 10, 2014

Megan MalonePlease welcome guest author Megan Malone. Director at the Lillian E. Jones Museum since 2012, Ms. Malone is a graduate of the University of Dayton with B.A. in Communication. Her professional experiences include newspaper reporting at ‘The Canton Repository’ and the ‘Dayton Daily News,’ and public information work at the Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities.


Museum exhibits and the understanding of shared history evolve at the Lillian E. Jones Museum, which is known as Jackson County, Ohio’s home for history, culture and education.

The current exhibit of “Exploring Our Heritage …through wood” is the perfect example of both statements because history is simply not a singular experience that belongs to any one group of people.

On display inside the Jones Museum are 31 different delightful pieces of wood carvings by Ralph Poetker, who is a long-time resident of Jackson County. These pieces, on display through August, are wonderful and fun in their own right, showing not only the perseverance and skill of the carver, but also what is important to him personally, and his interests.

Ralph Poetker

Ralph Poetker

Displaying Poetker’s work was the original focus of the summertime exhibit, but it grew.

I knew I wanted an audio dimension to the exhibit to add life. Visitors to the museum’s Arts Room linger over the Fletcher Benton Collection watching DVDs with the voice of the artist, a 1949 Jackson High School graduate and a world-renowned sculptor.

Then I remembered the wonderful 2005 DVD “A Forest Returns: the success story of Ohio’s only National Forest” as told by Ora E. Anderson, a former Jackson Herald newspaper editor of the 1930s. Anderson talks of the deforestation that came out of Jackson’s iron furnace heydays. Before iron there were the salt boilers that ultimately brought Ohio statehood in the early 1800s through this region’s natural resources.

That is a different way of looking at wood’s role in Jackson County.

For museum visitors, there is no overlooking the Jones Museum’s beautiful hardwood floors, refinished in 2012. The narrow boards are of a distinct size that is repeated in many of the early 1900’s houses in the neighboring Broadway/South St. area. Floor refinishers often wonder about the unusual size boards. Who knows where the boards came from for all the homes and why the special size? The Jones Museum building was first used as a home in 1867, then purchased by the Jones family in 1921 with a few renovations by the architect who built the Cambrian Hotel in 1900.

Ralph Poetker's newest carving, ‘Wild Horse Saloon’ has 15 characters.

Ralph Poetker’s newest carving, ‘Wild Horse Saloon’ has 15 characters.

Then there’s the 8-foot wooden fish weathervane, planed in Jackson in 1856, still on display in the museum’s main area from the April-May Jackson High School History exhibit. ‘The Fish,’ as it was known, sat atop Central School, the city’s first high school, until the building was demolished in 1931.

Quickly, the exhibit development jumps to all the different ways we have used wood in the past and in the present.

The archives of the Merillat Cabinetry plant that made high-end oak cabinetry for 35 years are now a part of the museum’s permanent collection, after the facility closed in March. A few personal contacts and phone calls brought an opportunity for wood samples from Ohio’s extension services that show all the different types of hardwoods currently growing in the area. The woodcarvers who meet monthly in Jackson say they might visit the Jones Museum to share the process of woodcarving for pleasure. Another unexpected personal contact shared business contacts with preeminent saw mills in the area that do work across the state and the nation.

Wood is not just history, it is modern day tourism and industry.

Suddenly, it’s about more than Ralph Poetker’s carvings. But truly nothing about history, culture or education is singular. It is all about the exploration of the shared experience.

The Jones Museum at 75 Broadway St. in Jackson, OH is open Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Admission is free to the museum. Private appointments to explore the museum’s permanent collections can be easily arranged by contacting Director Megan Malone by phone at 740-286-2556 or email at For online information, visit or see what’s happening on Facebook/The Lillian E. Jones Museum.

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Community breathes life into restored pavilion

Posted by Dave Tabler | July 9, 2014

Year after fixes, historic structure sees resurgence

The following article by Jeff Gill ran in the Gainesville Times on June 30. It is re-posted here with permission.


The Chattahoochee Park pavilion has a colorful history, but its present-day operations have been lively as well.

More than a year after restoring the 100-year-old structure off Lake Lanier, the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7 has been busy leasing it out for a variety of functions, from weddings to reunions. The Phoenix Rising Veterans Drum Circle meets there every other Wednesday.

The American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7’s Chattahoochee Park Pavilion on Lake Lanier was recently renovated and is now seeing more rental activity. On June 28th the 2004 Lakeview Academy class reunion was held there.

The American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7’s Chattahoochee Park Pavilion on Lake Lanier was recently renovated and is now seeing more rental activity. On June 28th the 2004 Lakeview Academy class reunion was held there.

“Since we got that (renovation) done and we decided to rent the (post) building, I’m renting it about every Saturday,” said Dave Dellinger, senior vice commander for the post.

The pavilion, which sits off Lake Lanier at the end of Riverside Drive, was part of an amusement park, Chattahoochee Park, built about 1900 on the banks of what was then Lake Warner. An electric streetcar line was built from downtown Gainesville to the area.

Georgia Power bought the park in 1923 and operated it as an employee retreat until 1955. When Lake Lanier was completed in 1958, most of the buildings of Chattahoochee Park were covered by water, leaving behind just the pavilion.

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, included the aging pavilion in its 2012 list of the state’s top 10 “Places in Peril.”

“The pavilion has a large amount of rotting timbers that are in need of repair and replacing,” stated the Georgia Trust website in its report on the property.

Gainesville City Council later voted to spend $25,000 for building materials to restore the pavilion, with the work done by Georgia Department of Corrections crews.


In return, the post agreed to allow the city to use the building to promote tourism and to conduct public safety training exercises for a 10-year period.

A dedication ceremony is set for Aug. 9 at the pavilion. The American Legion is inviting Gov. Nathan Deal, a post member, as well as Georgia Power, HCCI and city officials. A brass plaque is being made describing the dedication and giving a brief history, Dellinger said.

The building rents for $200, plus $75 for cleanup, for up to 50 people. The charge goes up $50 per 50 additional people.

“There’s nothing in town that’s anywhere near that cheap,” Dellinger said. “But it’s something we want to do for the public, to have something available for them at a minimum cost that just covers our expenses.”

Taylor Kizziah, involved in Lakeview Academy’s 10-year reunion activities at the pavilion on Saturday, grew up very familiar with the American Legion.

“My grandparents live right across the cove on the island … so I’ve seen events there my whole life, Fourth of July and all that,” she said.

The pavilion turned out to be “the perfect location.”

“They allow you to bring in your own food and beverage, there are pretty waterfront views and places where we can play games,” she said. “And there’s power and water hookups and a shaded area.”

The American Legion also has worked to spruce up the main post building, using a Home Depot grant and volunteer labor.

In September 2012, crews underwent a one-day blitz of renovations, including putting down new carpeting, laying new drainage lines, installing new landscaping and restoring a monument bearing a faded plaque with the names of World War I veterans.

What: Dedication of the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7’s Chattahoochee Park pavilion

When: 11 a.m. Aug. 9

Where: 2343 Riverside Drive, Gainesville

Contact: 770-534-7091

Dellinger said he would like to get another Home Depot grant for landscaping around the pavilion.

Another area of concern is the road leading to the wooden structure.

“It has really eroded,” Dellinger said. “We’re working hard getting somebody to pave it for us, but we also try to keep a good fund to help veterans.

“We’re always getting a call from somebody to help pay their car repair bill, electric or water bill, and rent.”

The American Legion is always to happy to accept donated labor.

“If somebody would come out their with equipment, we’ll pay for the supplies,” Dellinger said.

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Whipping does not always conquer a child’s spirit, but I never have known a dash of ice water on his spine to fail

Posted by Dave Tabler | July 8, 2014

The habits of these folk, as I remember them when I was a child, were generous and hospitable. There was much rivalry between women in household matters. Certain recipes in pastry and pickles and medicine were handed down in families from generation to generation. There were few formal dinners, but cover for the accidental guest was always laid on the supper table.

Everyday life then was merry and cordial, but it needed a wedding or a death to bring out the deeper current of friendly, tender feeling in these people. Death was then really an agreeable incident to look forward to, when one was sure to be lauded and mourned with such fervent zeal.

The belief in education as the chief good was as fervent and purblind as now. Every county had its small sectarian college: the boy, if he were poor, worked or taught in summer to push his way through.

But while the ordinary life of these people was thus wholesome and kindly, their religion, oddly enough, was a very different matter. The father of that day believed that his first duty toward his child was to save him from hell. The baby, no matter how sweet or fair, was held to be a vessel of wrath and a servant of the devil, unless he could be rescued.

To effect this rescue the father and mother prayed and labored unceasingly. The hill of Zion, up which they led the boy, was no path of roses. Above was an angry God; below was hell. They taught him to be honest, to be chaste and truthful in word and act, under penalty of the rod.

The rawhide hung over the fireplace ready for instant use in most respectable families. The father who spared it on his son felt that he was giving him over to damnation. Often the blows cut into his own heart deeper than into the child’s back, but he gave them with fiercer energy, believing that it was Satan who moved him to compassion.

As most pleasant things in life were then supposed to be temptations of the devil, they were forbidden to the young aspirant to Heaven. The theatre and the ballroom were denounced; cards, pretty dresses, and, in some sects, music and art, were purveyors of souls for the devil. To become a Christian meant to give up forever these carnal things.

Parents who were not members of any church also taught their children self-denial. Did a boy cut his finger, the first howl was silenced with: “Not a word! Close your mouth tight! A man never cries!” The same adjurations were given when the whip was being applied to his back.

A high-tempered child was held by many intelligent parents to be possessed with a kind of demon, which required strong measures for its expulsion.

“You must break his spirit and then he will obey you,” was the universal rule. In my childhood I once heard a bishop, who I am sure was a kindly, godly man, say: -
“Whipping does not always conquer a child’s spirit, but I never have known a dash of ice water on his spine to fail.”

It was believed that, once conquered, the child would yield implicit obedience to his parents and in that unreasoning, unquestioning obedience lay his one chance of safety. Had not God appointed them his guardians during the years when his brain and soul were immature?

Then there came to parents successive pauses of doubt, of inquiry. There were heard at first timorous suggestions of “moral suasion.” Was the soul really reached by a rawhide on the back? Why not appeal to the higher nature of the child? Why not give up thrashing and lure him to virtue by his reason? The child who was old enough to sin was old enough to be redeemed. Why not then bring about the awful change of soul called conversion, in infancy?

This theory, urged in practice by pious, zealous people, caused, half a century ago, a sudden outbreak of infant piety. I do not speak irreverently. There is nothing on earth so near akin to God as one of his little ones. Our Lord, when he would set before his apostles an example for their lives, placed a child, pure, humble, and innocent, in their midst. But he did not send that child out to preach the Gospel.

excerpt from Bits of Gossip, 1904 autobiography of Rebecca Harding Davis (1831-1910), author & journalist raised in Wheeling, WV

One Response

  • Myra Richmond Henry says:

    Reading this excerpt from the eye of an 1830′s child helped to bring to memory my own childhood. As a child of the 1950′s I believe at times I too felt childrearing must be akin to ‘beating the devil out of them!’ It seemed that all punishment was to be accepted without a sound or a tear and that any and all things ‘fun’ were of the devil. Apparently, the only way to break a child of an unsuitable behavior was to beat it out of them. Reasoning with a child was unheard of, as most parents were only mimicking their own childhood punishments. It appears that 100 yrs. later things had not progressed as one could only have hoped. Now I want to read this book!!

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