Tag Archives: history of appalachia

Decoration Day

An important tradition symbolic of the vital place of family in Appalachian life is Decoration Day, usually held on a Sunday in June. Families gather at rural churches and cemeteries to honor the memory of deceased family members. A few days earlier, neighbors and kin gather to mow the cemetery grass, clean the graves, and […]

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The shack out back

Tennesseans called it the “la-la.” Elsewhere known as the john, the shanty, the shack, the throne, the shed, the relief office—it was the humble outhouse. The little buildings “out back” were as important as any building built before indoor plumbing. This was the building you located as soon as possible when you came to visit, […]

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A (future) noted West Virginian befriends Charles Dickens

The year he turned 44 years old, in 1864, Joseph Hubert Diss Debar was appointed WV commissioner of immigration by Governor Boreman; during his tenure he produced the only handbook for immigrants to be published in the state, printed in English, German and Swedish. He was Doddridge County’s first representative to the newly created West […]

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We got by, I guess

“Well, always when they’d get up, you know, early, they’d go feed their horses to get ‘em ready for the day’s work. And then they plowed with a turning plow. They’d hook the horses to that turning plow, you know, and plow. Whatever they done on the farm, they used the horses. Just had the […]

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But there was a class, and they were the poor white trash

There was a class that were ignorant and no-account. They never had much of a chance; you’ve got to say that for them. Once in awhile, one of them would sort of pull himself up by his bootstraps and make something of himself. He’d work hard enough and not give everything to his no-account relatives. […]

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