Expecting a visit from the Easter Bunny shortly?

Posted by Dave Tabler | March 25, 2016

Bunny is derived from the old or Middle English root word “bun” and describes a rabbit, a young one in particular. Rabbits are small furry mammals that belong to the order Lagomorpha. If you happen upon a rabbit in the wilderness of Appalachia, it will definitely have come from the Leporidae family, and will usually be one of three different species of cottontails that inhabit the eastern United States.

Eastern Cottontails Silvilagus floridanus are the most abundant rabbit found here. Appalachian Cottontail Sylvilagus obscurus and New England Cottontail Sylvilagus transitionalis are similar in appearance to the Eastern, but each has differences in coloration unique to their species. Debate exists whether the latter two species should be classified as one species or two.

If you live in suburban areas and small towns and see a rabbit or two or three, usually these will be Eastern Cottontails. They prefer bushy undergrowth with mixed habitats. Outside suburbia, a little bit of analysis may be needed to determine which species is present. Physical differences can be too subtle for the average observer. The Appalachian and New England Cottontails are found more in wooded, mountainous areas with higher elevations but Easterns may live there as well.

All three cottontail species found in Appalachia have brown fur and fairly long ears that give them excellent hearing ability. Full grown rabbits normally weigh several pounds. Rabbits hop because their hind legs grow longer than the front legs. Most memorable about these animals is their cottontail, a white ball of fur.

It’s too late to hunt fresh rabbit for your Easter dinner; regular hunting season ended in February.

If you happen to see the Easter Bunny while out enjoying nature, please let him or her know to be very careful. Four leaf clovers may be popular lucky charms, but so too is a rabbit’s foot.

May you have a Joyous Easter.




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The true pork pie hat

Posted by Dave Tabler | March 24, 2016

The Kingsport Times
Kingsport, TN
Sunday, March 24, 1935

“Pork Pie” is the Newest Style Note in Hats

The fabled phoenix, that marvelous bird endowed with the power to rise from its own ashes, finds a match in the pork pie hat. Some twenty years or so ago this hat was a favorite among the young ladies. For some reason this vogue passed, leaving no more trace than the lost continent Atlantis.

Found! The Pork Pie

Last summer, Americans traveling abroad noticed many of the summer dressed Englishmen wearing the bi crowned hat. They were quick to take the revived style back to America. It made its first appearance in the famous Eastern tennis matches. From there it traveled to the East-West polo matches and then on to the Eastern universities. This spring it is meeting with an enthusiastic reception from coast to coast.

But Why “Pork Pie”?

Many stories have sprung up concerning the origin of this odd name. It’s really very simple. It resembles in shape the round everyday pork pies that are a daily feature in the window of every self-respecting English baker. And from this rather ordinary part of the Englishman’s menu, the pork pie hat takes it name. The true pork pie hat is so made that it cannot be worn successfully except when telescoped. However, the pork pie that is the most popular in this country is the one that can be telescoped or revised as an ordinary snap brim at the wearer’s option.

Rough or Smooth, It’s Still Pork Pie

The dark brown, smooth finished pork pie was first on the fashion field. For this reason it is the one most seen. The dark patterned, not-too-fuzzy type of hat is gaining many adherents as is the dark green color. The lighter weight pork pie with the two ventilation punches directly above the bow will be seen during the warmer spring days.

Magill pork pie hatBefore leaving the pork pie, it is well to mention that many of these hats are worn with the crown punched in front. Now just a word to those who want real hat style. Although you can take apart any old felt hat and revise it into something that looks like a new style, it is never as satisfactory as the hat that is blocked to be worn in a certain manner.

With all this talk about pork pies and more pork pies, don’t think that the snap brim hat is relegated to the junk heap. On the contrary, influenced in its proportions a great deal by this new style as well as by the Tyrolean chapeau, the snap brim retains its lead as THE hat.

2 Responses

  • Tomaso says:

    Good stuff!

    I have a brown wool felt pork pie hat made by Christy’s of London, it’s my favourite hat. A timeless classic that can be worn casually with jeans or when you’re dressed to the nines!

  • […] it and wearing it with a nice pair of jeans shouldn’t be a problem.  The name, according to appalachianhistory.net, comes from the fact that the hat “It resembles in shape the round everyday pork pies that […]

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Happy Eostre!

Posted by Dave Tabler | March 23, 2016

One can hardly talk about Easter traditions in Appalachia without referencing German traditions, since the region is so heavily settled by immigrants from that country. The first known reference to the Easter hare and its eggs appears to be German, in a book dating from 1572: “Do not worry if the Hare escapes you; should we miss his eggs, then we shall cook the nest.” The Easter hare (or Osterhase), was once regarded by the Germans as a sacred animal.

The Easter basket tradition also has its roots in the German folklore of the Easter hare. The day before Easter some German children in Swabia make little nests of straw, moss or twigs, known as the “Hare’s Garden” (Hasengärtle), so that the Easter hare will know where to leave his eggs when he makes his deliveries during the night. Residents of Odenwald put a miniature house covered with moss in the garden and children are told that the Easter hare will come & put colored eggs in it.

easter bunnyIn German households there is spring cleaning and decorations are brought into the home, budding twigs, crocuses and daffodils – which are known as Easter bells (Osterglocken) in Germany, willow and birch, the first shoots of grasses, or wheat sprouts. Easter trees, small trees or branches, decorated with eggs, have long been a part of German Easter celebration.

German settlers brought these traditions to the United States in the 18th century, and by the 19th century the Easter hare had become the Easter bunny, delighting children with baskets of eggs, chocolates, candy, jelly beans and other gifts on Easter morning.

Eostre, or Eastre, was the Teutonic Goddess of Fertility. Her symbol is the egg, symbolizing fertility in nature and rebirth from the long winter months. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the Vernal Equinox (spring).

According to the 8th century Benedictine monk Venerable Bede, writing in Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, the name Easter is derived from the Norse Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. The German name for Easter is ‘Ostern.’ In myth Ostara is said to have amused children by turning her bird into a rabbit, the rabbit then laying colored eggs much to the delight of the children. Bede described the worship of Ostara among the Anglo-Saxons as having died out by the time he began writing.

sources: www.accuracyingenesis.com/happy.html
An Egg at Easter: A Folklore Study By Venetia Newall, Routledge, 1971

One Response

  • Hello, I am from Nuremberg, Frankonian in Germany, and my children always made Hasengärtle, when they were young. So I am very astonished and amused to read it here.

    Happy Easter wishes, Sieglinde Graf

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This old auto was trapped in the rising waters

Posted by Dave Tabler | March 22, 2016

It was the city’s worst flood up to that time. The March 1924 deluge left most of Westernport MD, which sits in a valley at the confluence of the North Branch of the Potomac River and Wills Creek, under water.

March 1924 flood in Westernport MDOriginal caption: This was the scene March 29, 1924, just after the Westernport-Piedmont bridge washed out from high waters of the raging Potomac River. Heavy snows followed by a warm rain brought on the trouble.

A nor’easter had struck on March 10th and 11th, bringing between 10 to 15 inches of heavy snowfall to Maryland’s Allegany and Garrett Counties. High winds during those two nights blew down utility poles and crippled telephone, telegraph, and lighting systems.

Several weeks were required to restore wire service, and railroad and inter-urban electric schedules were interrupted until poles could be removed from tracks. The loss of poles and wires was estimated at nearly $1 million.

March 1924 flood in Westernport MDOriginal caption: This old auto didn’t quite have the horses to make it home and was trapped in the rising waters at 3rd and Lyons Street, Piedmon. The William Frederick residence is in the foreground with Trinity Methodist Church immediately behind.

Another nor’easter struck on the 21st, this time dumping 15 to 20 inches of snow locally. The month’s heavy snow left many roads blocked, and winds produced high drifts in some cases 15 to 20 feet high. There was 3 to 4 feet of snow covering the mountains. Then, on March 28, the temperature topped 70 degrees at Cumberland.

Heavy rains moved in overnight into the 29th, with over an inch and a half falling in 6 hours. By 8 am, the gauge on the Potomac in Cumberland had already risen almost 4 feet from the previous day. The Potomac rose at a rate of 1 foot per hour until 3 pm, then 1.5 feet per hour until 6 pm, when it peaked at a height of 19 feet and 2.5 inches. Westernport was 5 to 6 feet under water. A family of 5 were drowned at Kitzmiller.

The Luke mill halted operations for about three weeks due to damage from the high waters.

The entire Luke mill was flooded. A total of 289 motors and related pieces of equipment were underwater. No. 3 machine basement was filled with mud and sand up to the level of the windows. The mill’s water intake also received damage from the raging waters.

Mr. Allan Luke was Mill Manager at the time, with “Pop” Baker serving as Chief Engineer. Baker inspected the flood damage in the mill yard on horseback.

Ferry boats were kept busy after the flood taking passengers from one side of the river to the other. A month after the flood, the Western Maryland Railway Bridge had been repaired, but the highway bridge between Westernport and Piedmont was still out.

—‘The Great Flood of 1924,’ April May 1969 newsletter, Westvaco Fine Papers Division/Luke, MD

Westvaco (then called West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company) wasn’t the only key business in town decimated by the flood. The town’s other major employer, the American Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Company, also experienced production delays and financial problems because of it.

Damages resulting from the flood ran between $3 million and $4 million (around $36-48 million in 2009 dollars).

The 1924 flooding was the final nail in the coffin of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The canal, which ran from Cumberland to Georgetown alongside the Potomac River, had been in operation since 1850. But the costly repairs that would have been required weren’t worth it for a business already deep in financial woes.

March 1924 flood in Westernport MDOriginal caption: Transportation takes many forms when necessary. This is the ferry boat that was put in operation after the bridge washed out.

sources: http://modern-us-history.suite101.com/article.cfm/western_maryland_floods_of_1924


April May 1969 newsletter, Westvaco Fine Papers Division/Luke, MD: http://usgwarchives.org/md/allegany/history/1924flood1.jpg

One Response

  • Jeremy Bradley says:

    2 corrections, the creek mentioned in Westernport is George’s, not Will’s, and the other town is Piedmont, not Piedmon..
    Interesting article nonetheless.

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Every boy around, practically, carried a Barlow knife

Posted by Dave Tabler | March 21, 2016

Most of the boys carried an old Russell Barlow pocket knife. You could get a one blade at a store for fifteen cents and a two-blade—that is, a long blade and a short blade—for a quarter. So every boy around, practically, carried a Barlow. Not the brand of Barlows that you see for sale in stores, because the manufacturers of the old Barlow discontinued that line many years ago, because they could not maintain the quality and still sell them at the cheap price that they were selling them at.

ad for a Russell Barlow knife, 1920‘Popular Science,’ Dec 1920, ad for Russell Barlow knife, manufactured by John Russell Cutlery Co. of Greenfield, MA.

There was a big beech tree situated on top of a little hill that you had to go up going out to the schoolhouse. The tree was in the bend of the road, not too far below where that old house was recently torn down over from the graveyard there on the old county road.

On that big beech tree, I know the first time I saw it, it looked a little weathered then, someone had carved a magnificent picture. It was a large cowboy, from the waist up. He had a strong profile, he wore a sombrero, he wore a kerchief around his neck held by a ring in the kerchief, he wore a leather shirt with fringes hanging down from the sleeves, he had on cuffs.

The cuffs he wore were up above the wrist, maybe six inches long made out of leather. It showed those so plainly. He also had some gloves which had fringes hanging down. He was delicately carved in a realistic manner. If I remember right he had on cross gun belts with a pistol in each holster. It didn’t show all of it. The artist didn’t go that far. He was in a natural position.

It was a magnificent carving on that big beech tree. Thousands of people over the years saw the carving. I was never able to find out who carved it, but no one seems to know. But, it must have taken a great deal of time. I remember it was there for at least twenty years, maybe not hardly twenty years, but nobody tried to carve anything else on it or spoil it.

Probably if it were today and when someone had carved it, it would have been vandalized that night or the day after. This is just a comment on our society the way it is this day and time and how it was at that time. I passed it many times going to and from school.

The old state road up Elkhorn Creek was not built until 1936. When the road was built out there the beech had already begun to die and the bark was shredding up and breaking, and the cowboy’s torso and all of the magnificent details were drying out and obliterated.

I think the state people, the state contractor, had to cut down the beech in building the road. I have regretted so many times that I did not go out and take that bark off that tree when they were getting ready to destroy the tree. I don’t think any objections would have been made because the tree was going to be destroyed anyway.

But I have never been able to find out who carved that picture of that cowboy. Apparently, it was someone from out west and a person of great artistic talent, because it was in such intricate detail. In fact, just about every time I went by there as a boy, I had an urge to go west and to become a cowboy and dress like that. You know how boys are.

Clyde Mullins (1914 – 1989)
Elkhorn City, KY
online at www.dickensoncounty.net/clyde.html

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