Tag Archives: appalachia

Al Capone comes to Appalachia

Did Chicago mobster Al Capone ever set foot in Johnson City, TN? During the 1920s the town was nicknamed Little Chicago. A reference acknowledging crime ties to the north? Or nothing more than an expression of local pride in the railroads, three of which ran through town? Big Chicago was known as a railroad center […]


Way down yonder in the paw paw patch

Call it the American Custard Apple or the West Virginia Banana, but it’s neither apple nor banana. It’s the Paw-paw (Asimina trilob), the largest native fruit of North America, and it grows throughout Appalachia. There are about seven other members of the genus Asimina, all growing in the southeastern U.S. Mature pawpaw trees produce fruits […]


Cab Calloway plays Cumberland

Some of America’s most famous entertainers of the 1930s era, because they were African-Americans, were barred from staying in Cumberland, Maryland’s mainstream hotels. Such notable musicians as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and others often stayed at the Davis Tourist Home while on tour. These stays were often a week at a time when […]


A road opens — bring on the flying machines!

“The old mud road is a road that leads down to perdition. The improved road leads upward to a better land; to better homes; to a better and broader civilization,” said West Virginia Governor Ephraim Morgan as he, along with the mayors of Kingwood and Terra Alta, untied the ceremonial ribbons and let the barrier […]


When the Grand Jury met, he was not there to appear against me

The following was brought by my father’s first cousin, Roy Hodges, to the family gathering following my uncle’s funeral in 1985. It was handwritten, and in pencil. James Pinkney Pittman (1855-1946) was the grandfather of my father, Victor Randolph Pittman, Jr. The handwritten text ended in mid-sentence on the last page of the steno pad. […]

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