An Ode to Appalachian Women

We are the mothers of the mountains We are the women of the wilderness We call the mysterious hills and hollers home We are the remnants of the old world dream We still speak the language of those who sacrificed for freedom We are the carriers of ancient wisdom We are the agents of our…

Civil War Wedding Crashers

Southern Appalachia was not immune to the misfortunes of the Civil War. In fact, the region possessed many of the Confederacy’s necessary resources, such as wheat, salt, and lead. These sites became insatiable targets for the Union Army, which spent a great deal of time, money, and lives trying to claim the resources for the…

Apalachen History

  Appalachia is an incredibly distinct yet diverse word, everyone has his or her own opinion of what it represents. It conjures up such images of everything from majestic mountaintop sunsets, deep forest glens, and cozy little cabins to trailer parks, meth labs, and extreme xenophobia. The fact that one word can elicit such a…

Twelfth Night: An Appalachian Christmas Story

An Appalachian history blog wouldn’t be complete without a Twelfth Night explanation, so here it is! Merry Old Christmas!   Anyone who knows anyone from Appalachia is certainly well aware of the stereotype surrounding his/her apparent stubbornness. As a native Appalachian of a dozen generations, I can personally attest to the truth of this behavioral trait….

Saltville, Virginia 1924: The Year Without a Christmas

Nestled in a small river valley in the heart of Southwest Virginia, present-day Saltville is little more than a dot on the map. As evidenced by the town’s name, this particular area in the valley has historically been rich in salt deposits. The salt in this valley attracted prehistoric animals into its environment like mastodons,…

When West Virginia Got the Best of Old Jack

During the American Civil War, the picturesque Shenandoah Valley was one of the most vital locations for both the state of Virginia and the Confederacy. Nestled neatly between the wall of Blue Ridge Mountains on the east and the imposing Allegheny Mountains on the west, the roughly 200 mile long valley famously grew a plethora…

Reflections

The recent American presidential election and its outcome has forced me, and many others, to reflect on the state of our society. We’ve ruefully floated around questions like: Is this what American stands for? Is this the legacy that we want to leave? What do we tell the children? What about my marriage? My healthcare?…

Joara: Spain’s Roanoke Island

In 1587, John White sailed away from the fledgling English colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina over which he governed. He left with every intention of returning to a thriving settlement exactly where he left it. But as fate would have it, White returned a year later to a deserted colony with only a vague…

Frankie Silver and the Curse of Southern Honor

Legend says that the state of North Carolina executed its first white female on July 12, 1833.[1] This story began in 1831 when the unfortunate woman reported that her husband, Charlie, went missing during a hunting trip sometime before Christmas of that year. After an exhaustive search, a neighbor named Jack Collis found evidence of…

The Old Carter Place

I was fortunate enough to have my maternal Great-Grandmother in my life until I was 21. She was born in 1912 (after the sinking of the Titanic, so she often joked about how she was at least younger than it) and lived to be 97 years old. Even though she spent most of her teenage…

Kings Mountain National Military Park

On this day in 1780, a determined Patriot militia unit of about 900 ragtag Southern Appalachian frontiersmen met and defeated the renowned British Major Patrick Ferguson and his Loyalist forces on Kings Mountain, South Carolina in the short span of one hour. The Battle of Kings Mountain is undeniably the most significant and under-acknowledged event…

The Melungeon Conundrum

Now you better act right or the Melungeons will get you! In Appalachia, the older generations generally use that threat as a means to terrify unruly children into behaving. The fear of being kidnapped by the Melungeons has continued to loom heavily over the heads of young mountaineers for generations. Because what’s more scary as…