Tag Archives: appalachian history

Empress of the Blues

When Bessie Smith sang the blues she meant it. Smith (1894-1937) was the greatest and most influential classic blues singer of the 1920s. Dubbed “The Empress of the Blues,” Smith embodied the blues feeling, while her songs, drawing from her sordid lifestyle, rang true with rural and urban audiences alike. Smith was born on April […]

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Hickory chickens are underfoot this month

‘Hickory chickens,’ or ‘dry land fish,’ don’t have anything to do with chicken, fish or hickory. They are morel mushrooms and they’re in season right about now. Look for 3 varieties throughout Appalachia: morchella esculenta, which can be found under old apple or pear trees when the oak leaves are about mouse-ear size; morchella angusticeps […]

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Chattanooga woman strikes out Babe Ruth

On April 2, 1931, world famous New York Yankees sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were struck out by a 17 year old female pitcher named Virnett ‘Jackie’ Mitchell in Chattanooga, TN. “I don’t know what’s going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball,” grumbled Ruth off-field. “Of course, they will never […]

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We got along well with them. Of course, we knew our limitations

“My parents were share croppers. My mother and dad separated in, I guess it may have been ’36 that they separated, and my daddy continued to work on the farm, and my mother went to Richmond and stayed and took care of babies and she got a job in Fayette County where she was called […]

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The feud that erupted over John Gunter’s estate

One of the first whites to settle in Marshall County, AL was John Gunter (1765-1835), a Scotsman who migrated from North Carolina after the Revolutionary War. Gunter came to the great bend of the Tennessee River near the present Veterans’ Memorial Bridge around 1785, where he was fortunate to find a salt deposit. He decided […]

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