James has learned from experience that everyone has a piece of the story and that, like the smallest of clues in a treasure hunt, each of those story pieces has value. Across four decades, he has researched and gathered the stories of the people and communities of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains: stories of good times and difficult times, oft’ told tales of fun and adventure, and stories shared in hushed tones too personal to be repeated.
James is often asked where he finds these stories.
“Oh,” he replies, “living rooms, kitchens, front porches, back porches or leaning against a shelf at the neighborhood store; in hospital rooms, at family reunions, birthday get-togethers, funerals, country auctions, apple butter boilin’s, community potlucks, hymn-sings, church homecomings, or sometimes just riding together to one of these events. The place has never seemed to matter.
“[Virginia governor] Lord Dunmore concluded to settle the boundary line dispute with Pennsylvania by forcibly taking possession of Pittsburg, or Fort Pitt, and attaching it to the colony of Virginia. “In 1771 the Colonial troops had been withdrawn from Pittsburg, and Fort Pitt was abandoned, so that in 1774 when John Connolly, sent by Lord […]
The cabin doesn’t look like much. Tucked into a stand of trees and covered in vines, its log walls and stone chimney slightly off-kilter, the neglected building has sat empty for years. But its humble appearance belies a big slice of history: In 1864 it served as the birthplace of Charles Young, an African-American colonel who fought discrimination to build a remarkable military career.
Young, who was born to enslaved parents but grew up free after his family escaped to Ohio and his father served in the Civil War, was just the third African-American to graduate from West Point in 1889. His accomplishments include a stint as a professor in the military sciences department at Wilberforce College in Ohio (where he befriended colleague W.E.B. Du Bois) and service as a member of the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.
For a long time, this was all the back story I shared with classes of kids regarding my interest in the civil rights movement. Then one day, a young lady raised her hand. “There’s more to it, isn’t there?” she said. “Yes,” I replied. “So, give already,” she said. “I’m too ashamed,” I replied.
A totally inadequate response. I recognized. So now I tell it all when I visit a school.
Please welcome guest book reviewer Roberta Schultz. Schultz is a singer with the trio, Raison D’Etre, and a Teaching Artist and Performing Artist on the Kentucky Arts Council’s rosters. Her review of the recently published ‘Kentucky Hauntings’ was originally aired on Cincinnati NPR affiliate WVXU in October. While the interest in ghost stories seems […]