Highlights from 37th annual Appalachian Studies Assn Conference

Posted by | March 28, 2014

Stay tuned for this Sunday’s live podcast from the

37th Annual Appalachian Studies Association Conference

Marshall University

Huntington, WV.

 

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Book Excerpt: ‘Images of America: Guyandotte’

Posted by | March 27, 2014

Bob WithersPlease welcome guest author Bob Withers. Withers is a retired reporter and copy editor for the Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, WV, and a Baptist pastor. He has authored or coauthored 15 books and numerous articles in internationally circulated magazines. The Withers family tree’s roots go back to the 19th century in Guyandotte, and the author has memorialized the historic neighborhood of Huntington in the new Images of America series book, “Guyandotte,” (Arcadia Publishing), a 127-page book chock full of historical photos that together tell many of its stories. We’re pleased to present an excerpt of it here.

 

Peaceful Delaware and Wyandot Indians populated the area that became Guyandotte, VA, in the 16th century. Rock quarries where the Indians made arrowheads and petroglyphs have been found and authenticated by the West Virginia Historical Society. The first white men known to visit the area were French explorer Rene Robert LaSalle and his party in 1670. The first signs of civilization were a crude river landing and a few log cabins.

Guyandotte cover

In 1772, John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore and Virginia’s royal governor, acted as agent for King George III in granting 28,627 acres along the Ohio River and the lower Guyandotte and Big Sandy rivers to John Savage and 59 others who had served under George Washington at the Battle of Great Meadows, PA, in the French and Indian War. The acreage included all of the original site of Guyandotte.

The community’s growth started almost immediately. In 1802 William Huff was appointed a constable “for the neighborhood of the mouth of the Guyandotte” and a year later, Thomas Buffington established ferry operations across the Guyandotte and Ohio rivers. In 1804, Methodist Bishop Frances Asbury, headquartered in Baltimore, sent William Steele to Guyandotte to form a congregation in answer to a petition from a hundred residents requesting “a preacher.”

In 1805, ’06 and ’07, 8,000 bearskins were shipped from the mouths of the Big Sandy and Guyandotte rivers. When Cabell County was carved out of Kanawha County in 1809, Guyandotte was designated as its first county seat, and in 1810, Virginia’s General Assembly chartered Buffington’s 20 acres as the town of Guyandotte.

River tradesman James Gallaher of Gallipolis, OH, floated his home down the Ohio to Guyandotte by flatboat in 1810, and reassembled it on Guyan Street. Thomas Carroll, an Irish carpenter and stonemason, bought the home in 1855, and he and his widow operated it as an “ordinary” (inn) called Carroll House.

By 1831, a daily stagecoach ran from Washington DC, and Richmond, VA, to Guyandotte, where passengers made connection with Ohio River steamboats. The stagecoaches continued until 1873, when Collis P. Huntington’s Chesapeake & Ohio Railway was completed between Richmond and Huntington, WV, a town three miles west of Guyandotte that the railroad mogul built and named for himself. West Virginia had become a state in 1863.

The Methodist congregation generated significant growth in the region. The original building was the site of the area’s first grammar school, which covered the first eight grades. Eventually, members built a subscription school for higher education, choosing attorney John Laidley as chairman of its trustees. Laidley organized the school in 1837 and named it Marshall Academy after United States Chief Justice John Marshall. Later, the school became Marshall College, and, since 1961, it has been Marshall University.

This painting, done in pastels by young traveling French artist Felix-Achille Beaupoil de Saint-Aularie, shows the village of Guyandotte as seen from the Ohio shore in 1823. At least 20 buildings are in sight, as well as a side-wheeler, flatboats, and scows. The artist, de Saint-Aularie, has painted himself and his horse into the scene. (courtesy of Barbara Bias and Lori Wolfe).

This painting, done in pastels by young traveling French artist Felix-Achille Beaupoil de Saint-Aularie, shows the village of Guyandotte as seen from the Ohio shore in 1823. At least 20 buildings are in sight, as well as a side-wheeler, flatboats, and scows. The artist, de Saint-Aularie, has painted himself and his horse into the scene. (courtesy of Barbara Bias and Lori Wolfe).

The Guyandotte church came to be known as the mother of Methodism in the region, since it spawned four churches in downtown Huntington. Marshall Academy also enabled a Presbyterian church to get its start on the Virginia side of the Ohio River.

Once the Civil War broke out, the town’s Confederate sympathizers became the hostile hosts of Camp Paxton, a Union recruiting center. The “southern” Methodist church and several other buildings in town were commandeered for use as storage depots. A Union soldier who fell asleep on a pile of hay in the church’s balcony awoke to find that a cow had managed to to get to the hay. Both soldier and bovine were startled, and the cow jumped out of the balcony, breaking her leg.

Guyandotte’s split personality was bound to ignite deadly trouble sooner or later. Confederate Col. John Clarkson’s 8th Virginia Cavalry and Brig. Gen. Albert Gallatin Jenkins’ Border Rangers encircled the town with about 700 horsemen on Sunday evening, Nov. 10, 1861, as many townsfolk and recruits from Camp Paxton were settling down in the pews of the “northern” Methodist church to hear the preaching of the Rev. J.C. Wheeler, a Union officer himself. The Confederate forces stormed into town and took control of the camp. When their attack was finished, 10 Union recruits lay dead and at least 10 more had been injured. The Confederates lost three cavalrymen to death and 10 more to injuries.

As the Confederates withdrew from town on Monday morning with prisoners in tow, the steamer SS Boston appeared, moving slowly up the Ohio from Ceredo, 10 miles west, and carrying about 200 hitchhiking soldiers from the 5th Virginia Infantry who had learned of the attack. The steamboat crew landed briefly at Proctorville, OH, to pick up several members of the Ohio Home Guards, then tied up on the Virginia side about a mile above Guyandotte. The Union soldiers and their sympathizers then marched into town, and hearing reports of collaboration between some of the townsfolk and the Confederate cavalry, flew into a rage and burned most of the town – including a Baptist church, the principal hotels, and the homes of the town’s most prominent secessionists. The Union troops melted down the Baptists’ bell to make souvenir rings for the troops. The southern Methodist church was either burned or fell into ruins and was torn down.

One of Guyandotte’s best known citizens was Virginia Ruth “Ruthie” Egnor, who was know to millions of television viewers as Dagmar in the 1950s. Here, she and her little dog Shakespeare have come home for a family visit on August 12, 1957. Ruthie’s big break came in 1950 or 1951, when she starred with Jerry Lester and Morey Amsterdam on NBC’s ‘Broadway Open House.’ (courtesy of the Herald-Dispatch).

One of Guyandotte’s best known citizens was Virginia Ruth “Ruthie” Egnor, who was know to millions of television viewers as Dagmar in the 1950s. Here, she and her little dog Shakespeare have come home for a family visit on August 12, 1957. Ruthie’s big break came in 1950 or 1951, when she starred with Jerry Lester and Morey Amsterdam on NBC’s ‘Broadway Open House.’ (courtesy of the Herald-Dispatch).

Mary Carroll, Thomas Carroll’s spunky wife, saved her historic home from the flames. Although ill and confined to bed, she saw the soldiers approaching with lit torches and rushed out into the street, crying and begging the troops to spare the house because she could not move her husband. The soldiers extinguished their torches.

Carroll House also played a role in the community’s association with the town’s first railroad. It was there that Collis Huntington first came when his surveyors were looking for a place to locate the C&O Railway’s original shops. But he was offended after his horse, tied up outside the Carroll home, blocked the sidewalk and the mayor fined him $10. Huntington ordered his surveyors to continue their search across the Guyandotte River. Although the town lost its chance to be a major rail terminal, Huntington still frequented the Carroll House to enjoy its gourmet cooking.

It turns out that the Civil War claimed yet another casualty. Guyandotte never recovered from its fiery mortal wound sustained during the conflict. People began moving to the new town of Huntington, causing Guyandotte to lose some of its most talented leadership. Youngsters left town as soon as they were old enough. Despite the fact that the town staged a gala centennial in 1910, Guyandotte just, in the words of one newspaper report, “quit trying.”

In the spring of 1911, less than a year after the centennial, the idea of Guyandotte being annexed by the City of Huntington was submitted to a vote of the people. On April 11, the town council canvassed the vote and found 260 for and 70 against the plan. The council declared Guyandotte to be a part of the City of Huntington and adjourned sine die.

 

People who mail a $27 check to the author at 313 Main Street, Huntington, W.Va. 25702 will receive an autographed copy of the book, which has been published by Arcadia Publishing in Mount Pleasant, SC.

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175 Years Later: Documenting the Historic Buildings of the Trail of Tears

Posted by | March 26, 2014

This piece by Amy Kostine originally appeared March 18 in Southern Rambles. Kostine is the Trail of Tears Project Historian at the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University. The article is reprinted here with permission.

 

This segment of the Bell Route of the Trail of Tears, located in Village Creek State Park in Arkansas, was once part of the old Memphis to Little Rock Road.

This segment of the Bell Route of the Trail of Tears, located in Village Creek State Park in Arkansas, was once part of the old Memphis to Little Rock Road.

It has been 175 years since more than 15,000 Cherokee were forced from their homes to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) on the Trail of Tears. Have you ever thought about the roads the Cherokee took or the buildings they passed by and asked yourself how much of this historic landscape still exists? With the hope of answering that question, the Center for Historic Preservation (CHP) is partnering with the National Trails Intermountain Region of the National Park Service to conduct a nine-state survey to identify and document historic buildings associated with the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Over the last year, we have been out on the road driving the Trail’s routes and documenting its incredible sites.

Cherokee traveling on the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears crossed the Cumberland River in Nashville by way of a covered toll bridge. This ca. 1819-1822 abutment is all that remains of the bridge today. Photo courtesy of the Native History Association.

Cherokee traveling on the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears crossed the Cumberland River in Nashville by way of a covered toll bridge. This ca. 1819-1822 abutment is all that remains of the bridge today. Photo courtesy of the Native History Association.

Despite modern development and improvements, the historic landscape of the Trail of Tears remains rich in material culture. From roadbeds to buildings to even a rare bridge abutment, physical reminders of that bygone era still dot the landscape and offer a tangible connection to the past. Sometimes these important resources are difficult to identify from the many changes they have undergone over the years, but if you look hard enough and start peeling back the layers of time, then you will see clues that point to the age of these resources. Dig a little deeper into the historic records and you might even uncover a little-known story that offers an eyewitness account of the Trail of Tears.

Take the Brown-Cathey-Grimmitt House in Maury County, Tennessee, for example. The western section of the house pre-dates the Trail of Tears and was built by Thomas D. Cathey. His nephew, Alexander Blair Cathey, built an addition to the east of the original house many years later. The house continued to change over the years, obscuring its original design.

The portion of the Brown-Cathey-Grimmitt House that Thomas D. Cathey built as it appears today.

The portion of the Brown-Cathey-Grimmitt House that Thomas D. Cathey built as it appears today.

Alexander Blair Cathey was just 12 years old when a detachment of approximately 1100 Cherokee, 60 wagons, and 600 horses led by John Benge passed by the family home on the Trail of Tears. Seventy years later, Alexander penned his memory: “On Saturday night [the Cherokee] camped at Chappell’s ford and on Sunday they moved to Love’s branch where they stayed all day. A great many people went to see them, some of the Indian half-breeds were quite wealthy, owned slaves and rode in fine carriages.” You can almost imagine the Cathey family standing on their property in 1838, looking north to the Cherokee encamped approximately one mile away on Love’s Branch.

This map depicts the location of the Benge Route, Love’s Branch, and the Brown-Cathey-Grimmitt House (TRTE-TN-MU-01).

This map depicts the location of the Benge Route, Love’s Branch, and the Brown-Cathey-Grimmitt House (TRTE-TN-MU-01).

The Brown-Cathey-Grimmitt House is just one of many buildings with storied connections to the Trail of Tears. To date, we have completed documenting buildings in Illinois and Kentucky and are nearly finished in Tennessee. In the coming months, we will be wrapping up survey work in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and North Carolina, followed by Georgia later in the year. The final report of our findings will be completed in early 2015. So far we have identified approximately 170 buildings with known or possible connections to the Trail. Many are simply “witness buildings,” meaning that they were standing at the time when detachments passed by and therefore “witnessed” the removal. Others are homes of Cherokee or places where they camped or purchased food or supplies. The reality, though, is that many buildings have already been lost, even before their association to the Trail was rediscovered, providing us with an urgent reminder of the necessity and importance of this survey work.

Gray's Inn, Todd County, KY.

Gray’s Inn, Todd County, KY.

Special thanks to Bill Bostick, Bob Duncan, Cindy Grimmitt, and the Native History Association. Stay tuned for more blog entries on the Trail of Tears. In the meantime, explore the Trail in Tennessee and download the Tennessee Trail of Tears brochure or request a printed copy by contacting Amy Kostine at Amy.Kostine@mtsu.edu.

One Response

  • Joan McCarty says:

    My grandmother had an elderly lady paint an original picture of the Vann House, about 100 yrs ago. It now hangs in my living room.

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One with Nature

Posted by | March 25, 2014

William Barłram’s historic explorations and illustrations put mountain botany lovingly in focus

The following article by Suzannah Smiłh Miles ran originally March 4 on the WNC Magazine site. It is reprinted here with permission.

 

He traveled on horseback, and much of the time, he traveled alone. William Bartram was one of America’s earliest adventurer-naturalists, an unassuming Quaker who was something of a recluse. He shunned public accolades, yet he became internationally famous for his rich descriptions of the flora and fauna he discovered in the Southeastern wilds in the mid 18th century. Today he is considered the father of American botany.

William Bartram. Courtesy

William Bartram.

Born in Philadelphia in 1739, Bartram’s explorations occurred when the continent was still new to most European settlers, a paradise of plants and wildlife that hadn’t yet been discovered or named. At the time, botanical findings were far more important than merely locating a new ornamental for the garden. The formative nation’s economy was largely dependent on what was grown on the land, and plants and their various uses—from food to medicine to clothing—were of significant socioeconomic importance.

In that momentous time, Bartram made enormous contributions to science by simply doing what he loved best: hunting for flowers. His Southeastern travels began in 1773, and over the course of five years, he traveled 2,400 miles, exploring parts of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and the Carolinas, collecting, recording, and rendering illustrations of his finds. In the spring of 1775, his journey brought him to the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Starting on horseback from the Rabun area and Keowee on the Georgia/South Carolina border, he began the climb upward. Taking Indian trails and following creeks and rivers, his route took him across Hickory Gap to the area that, today, is the town of Franklin, then across the high ridges to the Nantahala range, where he was stunned by the expansive mountains before him. They were “vast and varied, perhaps not to be exceeded anywhere,” he later wrote, offering a vista of “power and magnificence, a world of mountains piled upon mountains.”

Bartram’s love of nature had come to him by birthright. His father, John Bartram, established the first botanical garden in America on his farm near Philadelphia in 1730, and later served as the colonies’ Royal Botanist for King George III. His colleagues included such notables as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, with whom he co-founded the American Philosophical Society in 1743.

The black-throated blue warbler (Dendroica caerulescens) can still be spotted along the Bartram Trail today. Courtesy

The black-throated blue warbler (Dendroica caerulescens) can still be spotted along the Bartram Trail today.

“Botany and drawing were his darling delight,” the elder Bartram once said of his son. Early on, William’s artistic abilities became evident. He received a classical education, but was largely self-taught when it came to art. Still, he was so good that he caught the eye of Benjamin Franklin, who proposed that the young William apprentice under him as an engraver, an offer Bartram rejected in favor of other pursuits, namely the mercantile business.

Bartram spent much of his 20s striving for success as a merchant, first near his uncle’s coastal North Carolina plantation, Ashwood, and later in Philadelphia. Though botanical excursions around Ashwood and a plant-gathering trip to Florida in 1765 helped prime him for the next chapter in his life, by 1770, Bartram was nearly bankrupt and returned to his family’s nursery near Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter, he was hired by Dr. John Fothergill, one of the world’s foremost botanists, to search the Southeast for native species.

During his expedition, Bartram chronicled some 358 species, 150 of which were new to science at the time. Yet it wasn’t the scale of his findings so much as the way he wrote about them that brought him acclaim. Perhaps due to his Quaker upbringing, he believed that “the immediate finger of God” was at work in every flower and that “a portion of universal intellect [was] diffused in all life.” As a result, Bartram’s accounts of his travels were both descriptive and inspirational.

His writings also helped change attitudes about Native Americans. Bartram lived with the Seminole, Creek, and Cherokee, learning their ways. His descriptions of their tribal life and culture showed, perhaps for the first time, that these were not hunter-gatherer savages, but intelligent, sophisticated people who lived in complex societies.

One of the best examples of his interaction with the Cherokee came during his visit to the village of Whatoga, near present-day Franklin. On entering the village, he noted how each family’s property was neatly marked by grass borders and orderly patches of corn and beans. Met by the chief—“a man universally beloved,” Bartram wrote—he experienced “the most perfect and agreeable hospitality conferred on me by these happy people.”

“My venerable host gracefully and with an air of respect, led me into an airy, cool apartment, where being seated on cabins, his women brought in a refreshing repast, consisting of sodden venison, hot corn cakes, [etc.], with a pleasant cooling liquor made of hommony well boiled, mixed afterwards with milk,” Bartram recounted. After dinner came the ritual smoking of the pipe, and the chief then favored the explorer with an ultimate token of respect: He ordered that Bartram’s horse be fed corn, which was “conferred on those only to whom they manifest the highest esteem, saying that corn was given by the Great Spirit only for food to man.”

Rhododendron punctatum. Courtesy

Rhododendron punctatum.

Bartram’s chronicles of his journey through the Southeast may have often been lyrical, but he never steered far from his main goal—the study of botany. He would wax poetic about a particularly stunning view, but follow that with a description using the Latin nomenclature of the flowers, plants, and trees in the area.

He exemplified that dichotomy when he wrote, “My imagination thus wholly engaged in the contemplation of this magnificent landscape, infinitely varied, and without bound, I was almost insensible or regardless of the charming objects more within my reach: a new species of Rhododendron foremost in the assembly of mountain beauties, next the flaming Azalea, Kalmia latifolia [mountain laurel], incarnate Robinia [locust tree], snowy mantled Philadelphus inodorus [scentless mock orange], perfumed Calycanthus [sweetshrub], [etc.].”

He not only studied plants’ intricate passage from seed to bud to bloom, he marveled at their many uses. For example, he tracked the countless ways they were utilized by the Indians for making medicine, seasoning food, and curing meat—even the way they were used for building, such as how the Cherokee constructed houses with trees “stripped of their bark, notched at their ends, fixed one upon another, and afterwards plastered well, both inside and out, with clay well tempered with dry grass, and the whole covered or roofed with the bark of the Chestnut tree or long broad shingles.”

While Bartram stayed in the mountains for only a month, he would remain in North Carolina for another seven years, working on his findings at his uncle’s plantation before returning to Philadelphia to continue his father’s work at the nursery. He spent the remainder of his life devoted to study, illustrating botanical discoveries and working tirelessly on new findings. He continued literally until the day he died—July 22, 1823—when an aneurism took his life only minutes after he’d been writing a description of a plant.

Bartram never married, but the legacy this gentle, thoughtful man left is as timeless as the mountains he so eloquently described. Today, the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society keeps the botanist’s joy of noticing and noting the wonders of the natural world alive through a memorial trail that follows, as closely as possible, the route he traveled in the state.

In the opening sentence of Bartram’s Travels, his popular account of his journey through the South, he wrote that the world is a glorious place, “furnished with an infinite variety of animated scenes, inexpressibly beautiful and pleasing, equally free to the inspection and enjoyment of all his creatures.” Indeed, we are blessed that in Western North Carolina, much of what Bartram saw and admired still remains, awaiting our own inspection.

Follow Bartram’s Footsteps

Map by

The North Carolina section of the Bartram Trail begins on the N.C./Georgia border and winds northwest to Cheoah Bald, traversing Wayah Bald, the highest point on the path at 5,342 feet. Maintained by the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society and blazed with yellow rectangles, this 74-mile section can be tackled in small segments or in full. A 50-mile loop that connects with the Appalachian Trail is also an option. For more information and trail maps, visit ncbartramtrail.org.

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All We Need Is Love: A Project of the Ohio Valley Young Preservationists

Posted by | March 24, 2014

The following article by Elizabeth Paulhus and Rebekah Karelis appeared originally March 17 in West Virginia Executive magazine. It is reprinted here with permission.

 

Driving through downtown Wheeling, WV, it can be easy to overlook the old buildings that flank each side of Main and Market streets. Motorists are more likely to focus on traffic lights or be too busy searching for a place to park. With the decline of pedestrian walking and downtown shopping opportunities, the truth is that people just do not spend much time walking around—much less looking at—the buildings in downtown Wheeling. In many cases, people who have spent their entire lives in Wheeling may not have ever appreciated the architecture and environment of our downtown.

Several members of OVYP proudly stand in front of their decorations on this 1837 Greek Revival Church on 12th Street, affectionately called “Old Blue” by the group. OVYP and the Wheeling National Heritage Area Foundation are in the process of buying and rehabbing this 177-year old structure. Photo by Glynis Valenti

Several members of OVYP proudly stand in front of their decorations on this 1837 Greek Revival Church on 12th Street, affectionately called “Old Blue” by the group. OVYP and the Wheeling National Heritage Area Foundation are in the process of buying and rehabbing this 177-year old structure. Photo by Glynis Valenti

In October 2012, a group of young, energetic, and preservation-minded individuals came together to form the Ohio Valley Young Preservationists (OVYP). The group is passionate about Wheeling and shares the common goal of preserving the history, culture and buildings of Wheeling and the greater Ohio Valley.

As the group began discussing potential projects to undertake, one member suggested a “lovescaping” campaign that would coincide with Valentine’s Day. The All We Need Is Love campaign aimed to draw attention to historic buildings in downtown by decorating them with hearts and other Valentine-themed media. OVYP enlisted the collaboration of individuals, families, classes, college clubs and others to create decorations for an adopted building and encouraged adopters to incorporate some of the history of the building into the decorations. For example, the former Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel building was adorned with a heart that read, “Brace Yourself. I’m a Steel.” In total, eighteen buildings were festooned with hearts as part of the inaugural campaign.

Many months after the “lovescaping” was completed, OVYP received some great news. Although the goal of the campaign was simply to have people stop and look at Wheeling’s architecture, one man did more than this. After his attention was drawn to the hearts decorating the Professional Building at 1300 Market Street (one of Wheeling’s better-known gems), Glenn Elliott explored the possibility of buying and rehabilitating the structure. He is now the proud, new owner of the Professional Building, much to the excitement of OVYP.

This year, the “lovescaping” campaign was even bigger and better. Local downtown businesses joined in the decorating process. In total, thirty-two buildings were shown love this year. The Ohio Valley Young Preservationists hope that these simple messages of love might melt the heart of another potential investor and convince them to invest their love (and capital) in downtown Wheeling.

Mt. Wood Cemetery, a National Register property, was adopted by OVYP this past year. The group is working on an individual burial marker survey, and members have been taking part in monthly cemetery workdays where they level and reset fallen gravestones. Photo by Bekah Karelis

Mt. Wood Cemetery, a National Register property, was adopted by OVYP this past year. The group is working on an individual burial marker survey, and members have been taking part in monthly cemetery workdays where they level and reset fallen gravestones. Photo by Bekah Karelis

OVYP works in other ways to bring life to Wheeling; they recently partnered with the Wheeling National Heritage Area Foundation to purchase an 1837 Greek Revival Church in the downtown area. The two partners plan on rehabbing the structure and converting it into a community arts center. For more information on that project or to donate to the rehab effort, check out http://wheelingheritage.org/milestones/bluechurch/.

To learn more about OVYP and our other projects, like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OVYoungPreservationists. Or send an email to ovyp.info@gmail.com.

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