Thomas E. Wagner and Phillip J. Obermiller's African American Miners and Migrants documents the lives of Eastern Kentucky Social Club (EKSC) members, a group of black Appalachians who left the eastern Kentucky coalfields and their coal company hometowns in Harlan County.
Bound together by segregation, the inherent dangers of mining, and coal company paternalism, it might seem that black miners and mountaineers would be eager to forget their past. Instead, members of the EKSC have chosen to celebrate their Harlan County roots. African American Miners and Migrants uses historical and archival research and extensive personal interviews to explore their reasons and the ties that still bind them to eastern Kentucky. The book also examines life in the model coal towns of Benham and Lynch in the context of Progressive Era policies, the practice of welfare capitalism, and the contemporary national trend of building corporate towns and planned communities.
Edited by Robert J. Higgs, Ambrose N. Manning, and Jim Wayne Miller
These two volumes constitute the most comprehensive anthology of writings on Appalachia ever assembled. Representing the work of approximately two hundred authors—fiction writers, poets, scholars in disciplines such as history, literary criticism, and sociology—Appalachia Inside Out reveals the fascinating diversity of the region and lays to rest many of the reductive stereotypes long associated with it.
Intended as a sequel to the widely respected collection Voices of the Hills, edited by Robert Higgs and Ambrose Manning and published twenty years ago, these volumes reflect the recent proliferation of imaginative and critical writing about Appalachia—a proliferation that suggests nothing less than a renaissance of collective self-assessment. The selections are organized around a variety of themes (including "War and Revolution," "Feuds and Violence," "Nature and Progress," "Dialect and Language," "Exile, Return, and Sense of Place," and "Majority and Minority") and reveal both the radical changes the region has undergone as well as the persistence of certain defining features.
The title Appalachia Inside Out refers in part to the fact that Appalachia has never existed in timeless isolation from the rest of country and the world; rather, it has both absorbed outside influences and exerted influence of its own. The title also indicates the editors' effort to look not only at the visible Appalachia but at the forces that underlie its history and culture. What emerges in these pages is an Appalachia both familiar and strange: a mirror of lived life on the one hand and, on the other, a haunted realm of unimaginable loss and bewitching possibility.
The Editors: Robert J. Higgs is professor of English, emeritus, at East Tennessee State University and the author of Laurel and Thorn: The Athlete in American Literature.
Ambrose N. Manning is professor of English, emeritus, at East Tennessee State University and a noted collector of folk songs and folklore.
Jim Wayne Miller, a poet, novelist, and essayist, is a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Intercultural Studies at Western Kentucky University.
The two volumes of Appalachia Inside Out constitute the most comprehensive anthology of writings on Appalachia ever assembled. Representing the work of approximately two hundred authors-fiction writers, poets, scholars in disciplines such as history, literary criticism, and sociology-Appalachia Inside Out reveals the fascinating diversity of the region and lays to rest many of the reductive stereotypes long associated with it.
In the late 1960s, Malcolm Terence left his job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times to look for adventure and may have found more than he bargained for. The era had triggered unprecedented social and political changes in America, tectonic shifts that challenged war and the social order that oppressed people along lines of class, gender, and race. One branch was a back-to-the-land movement, and Terence, who had just traveled for a year managing a rock band, strayed into Black Bear Ranch, a commune just starting in a remote corner of the Klamath Mountains near the California-Oregon border.
Black Bear Ranch still exists, but many of its early residents eventually returned to urban civilization. A few, Terence among them, stayed on in neighboring river towns. Some tried logging, others gold mining, and some tried growing marijuana, all with mixed success. The local mining and timber communities had a checkered opinion of their new hippie neighbors, as did the Native tribes, but it was the kind of place where people helped each other out, even if they didn’t always agree.
When wildfires grew large, Terence and other veterans of the commune joined the fire crews run by the US Forest Service. In between, the Black Bear expats built homesteads, planted gardens, delivered babies, and raised their children. They gradually overcame the skepticism of the locals and joined them in political battles against the use of herbicides in the forest and the Forest Service’s campaign to close all the mining claims. As in the best of organizing efforts, the organizers learned as much as they led.
Beginner’s Luck will appeal to anyone who experienced life on a commune in the 1960s–1970s or who wants to learn about this chapter in modern American history. Terence offers insight into environmental activism and the long history of conflict between resource exploitation and Native American rights without lecturing or pontificating. With wit, humor, and humility, his anecdotal essays chronicle a time and place where disparate people came together to form an unlikely community.
Jonathan Williams’s poetry has been described as brilliant, sensuous, lyrical, quirky, suave, vital, joyful, sardonic, melodious, passionate, alive, pyrotechnic. This new, much enlarged edition of Blues and Roots displays all of the above. Williams has tramped the Appalachian Trail for decades, botanizing, jotting down specimens of authentic American speech, graffiti, superstitions, and nostrums—always curious, alert, and affectionately attentive. Blues and Roots focuses on the linguistic horizon of Appalachia in lyrics of wonder and light, of wit and comic incongruity, in found poems of the speech of his mountain neighbors. Publishers Weekly said of the earlier edition, “One of the most beautiful and evocative tributes to the Appalachians and its people yet published.” Blues and Roots is a fine celebration; Wiliams is a joyful ringmaster.
Around 1800, a Revolutionary War veteran named Micajah Frost came to the Cumberland Mountains of East Tennessee and cleared a portion of virgin forest in what is now Anderson County. Others followed, and eventually this small area was dotted with settlers. In the years since, those settlers and their descendants witnessed the strife of the Civil War, the rise of the coal-mining and logging industries, the coming of the railroad, and countless smaller upheavals. Drawn largely from the memories of long-time residents, this delightful book revisits two hundred years of history in the communities surrounding what was locally called Windrock Mountain.
The stories Augusta Bell recounts take us from Oliver Springs—which had its origins in the grist mill Moses Winters built in 1799 and which later became a “boom town” with a fashionable resort hotel—to places like New River Valley, Graves Gap, and Duncan Flats. She depicts the everyday lives of the mountain people as well as the extraordinary events that sometimes shattered those lives—such as the Coal Creek War of 1891–93, in which miners squared off against state militia, and the two mine explosions that came a few years later, sealing up 268 men deep inside the mountain. Bell also tells of happier times, as when the famous Windrock Mine opened above Oliver Springs in 1909.
Tapping a rich lode of folklore and oral tradition, along with other historical sources, Circling Windrock Mountain offers a view of Appalachian life that defies old stereotypes. Far from being static, the communities described here saw an amazing variety of changes to which they adapted with resilience and ingenuity.
The Author: Augusta Grove Bell, a writer who now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been a newspaper reporter and teacher. From 1958 to 1970, she lived in Anderson County, Tennessee, where she worked for the Oak Ridger and wrote feature stories that form much of the basis for this book.
A sophisticated inquiry into tourism's social and economic power across the South.
In the early 19th century, planter families from South Carolina, Georgia, and eastern North Carolina left their low-country estates during the summer to relocate their households to vacation homes in the mountains of western North Carolina. Those unable to afford the expense of a second home relaxed at the hotels that emerged to meet their needs. This early tourist activity set the stage for tourism to become the region's New South industry. After 1865, the development of railroads and the bugeoning consumer culture led to the expansion of tourism across the whole region.
Richard Starnes argues that western North Carolina benefited from the romanticized image of Appalachia in the post-Civil War American consciousness. This image transformed the southern highlands into an exotic travel destination, a place where both climate and culture offered visitors a myriad of diversions. This depiction was futher bolstered by partnerships between state and federal agencies, local boosters, and outside developers to create the atrtactions necessary to lure tourists to the region.
As tourism grew, so did the tension between leaders in the industry and local residents. The commodification of regional culture, low-wage tourism jobs, inflated land prices, and negative personal experiences bred no small degree of animosity among mountain residents toward visitors. Starnes's study provides a better understanding of the significant role that tourism played in shaping communities across the South.
The Dark Corner: A Novel
Mark Powell University of Tennessee Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3616.O88D37 2012 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
“The best Appalachian novelist of his generation.”
—Ron Rash, author of Serena and The Cove
"The Dark Corner is one of the most riveting and beautifully written novels that I have ever read. Trouble drives the story, as it does in all great fiction, but grace, that feeling of mercy that all men hunger for, is the ultimate subject, and that's just part of the reason that Mark Powell is one of America's most brilliant writers."
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff
“Mark Powell’s third novel powerfully tackles the ongoing curses of drugs, real estate development, veterans’ plights, and other regional cultural banes that plague an Appalachia still very much alive and with us as its own chameleon-like animal. Brimming with fury and beauty, The Dark Corner is a thing wrought to be feared and admired.”
—Casey Clabough, author of Confederado
“Powell’s work is so clearly sourced to the wellspring of all spiritual understanding—this physical world…He is heir to the literary lineage of Melville, Conrad, Flannery O’Connor, Denis Johnson, and Robert Stone.”
—Pete Duval, author of Rear View
A troubled Episcopal priest and would-be activist, Malcolm Walker has failed twice over—first in an effort to shock his New England congregants out of their complacency and second in an attempt at suicide. Discharged from the hospital and haunted by images of the Iraq War and Abu Ghraib, he heads home to the mountains of northwestern South Carolina, the state’s “dark corner,” where a gathering storm of private grief and public rage awaits him.
Malcolm’s life soon converges with people as damaged in their own ways as he is: his older brother, Dallas, a onetime college football star who has made a comfortable living in real-estate development but is now being drawn ever more deeply into an extremist militia; his dying father, Elijah, still plagued by traumatic memories of Vietnam and the death of his wife; and Jordan Taylor, a young, drug-addicted woman who is being ruthlessly exploited by Dallas’s viperous business partner, Leighton Clatter. As Malcolm tries to restart his life, he enters into a relationship with Jordan that offers both of them fleeting glimpses of heaven, even as hellish realities continue to threaten them.
In The Dark Corner, Mark Powell confronts crucial issues currently shaping our culture: environmentalism and the disappearance of wild places, the crippling effects of wars past and present, drug abuse, and the rise of right-wing paranoia. With his skillful plotting, feel for place, and gift for creating complex and compelling characters, Powell evokes a world as vivid and immediate as the latest news cycle, while at the same time he offers a nuanced reflection on timeless themes of violence, longing, redemption, faith, and love.
MARK POWELL is the author of two previous novels published by the University of Tennessee Press, Prodigals and the Peter Taylor Prize–winning Blood Kin. The recipient of National Endowment for the Arts and Breadloaf Writers’ Conference fellowships, as well as the Chaffin Award for fiction, he is an assistant professor of English at Stetson University.
Davis Grubb University of Tennessee Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3513.R865F66 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
“Dark violence and piebald absurdity share an uncertain border, and now and then some mythmaker on his day off, like Grubb, manages to write within this certainty. A fine book, written for the hell of it, which is a splendid reason.”—Time
Set in the Appalachian backcountry in the midst of the Great Depression, Fools’ Parade traces the adventures of three ex-convicts who become involved in a wild and woolly chase along the Ohio River.
Convicted murderer Mattie Appleyard has just served forty-seven years in Glory Penitentiary. His release puts him in possession of a check for $25,452.32—the result of his having salted away his meager earnings in the Prisoner’s Work-and-Hope Savings Plan of the local bank. With his friends Johnny Jesus and Lee Cottrill, he plans to open a general store that will compete with the company store in Stonecoal, West Virginia.
Unfortunately, banker Homer Grindstaff, prison guard Uncle Doc Council, and Sheriff Duane Ewing have no intention of allowing Mattie to realize his ambitions. Mattie’s efforts to cash his check set a deadly pursuit in motion and introduce the reader to a host of colorful characters and a vividly recreated regional and historical background. Good and evil meet head-on in this novel that is, by turns, warm and humorous, rousing and tumultuous.
The Author: Davis Grubb (1919–1980) was the author of ten published novels, the most famous of which was Night of the Hunter. Both that book and Fools’ Parade, originally published in 1969, were made into motion pictures.
Helvetia: A Swiss Village in the Hills of West Virginia explores the unique founding and development of a community nestled within the wilderness of Appalachia. Established in 1869, this tiny Swiss settlement embodies the American immigrant experience, reflecting the steadfast desire of settlers to preserve cultural traditions and values while adapting to new and extraordinary surroundings. From ramp suppers to carnivals, traditional architecture, folk music, and cheese making, this book documents a living community by exploring the ethnic customs, farming practices, community organization, and language maintenance of Helvetia residents. Drawing upon a diverse body of resources such as Swiss and American archival documents and local oral accounts, this chronicledepicts the everyday social and economic life of this village during the past two centuries. Helvetia celebrates a small community where residents and visitors alike continue to practice a Swiss American culture that binds an international history to a local heritage.
Long out of print, this reissued edition of the history of Helvetia contains a new introduction, a concise index, a bibliography, an appendix of foreign-born immigrants, and an exquisite photographic essay featuring archival images of a Swiss village still thriving within the isolated backcountry of central West Virginia.
Musically complex and intellectually sophisticated, Louise McNeill’s imagery and rhythms have their deepest sources in the West Virginia mountains where she was born in 1911 on a farm that has been in her family for nine generations. These are rooted poems, passionately concerned with stewardship of the land and with the various destructions of land and people that often come masked as “progress.”
In colloquial, rural, and sometimes macabre imagery, Louise McNeill documents the effects of the change from a farm to an industrial economy on the West Virginia mountain people. She writes of the earliest white settlements on the western side of the Alleghenies and of the people who remained there through the coming of the roads, the timber and coal industries, and the several wars of this century.
The reappearance of Louise McNeill’s long out-of-print poems will be cause for celebration for readers familiar with her work. Those reading it for the first time will discover musical, serious, idiosyncratic, and startling poems that define the Appalachian experience.
Harriette Simpson Arnow Michigan State University Press, 1997 Library of Congress PS3501.R64H86 1997 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
Michigan State University Press is proud to announce the re-release of Harriette Simpson Arnow's 1949 novel Hunter's Horn, a work that Joyce Carol Oates called "our most unpretentious American masterpiece."
In Hunter's Horn, Arnow has written the quintessential account of Kentucky hill people—the quintessential novel of Southern Appalachian farmers, foxhunters, foxhounds, women, and children. New York Times reviewer Hirschel Brickell declared that Arnow "writes...as effortlessly as a bird sings, and the warmth, beauty, the sadness and the ache of life itself are not even once absent from her pages."
Arnow writes about Kentucky in the way that William Faulkner writes about Mississippi, that Flannery O'Connor writes about Georgia, or that Willa Cather writes about Nebraska—with studied realism, with landscapes and characters that take on mythic proportions, with humor, and with memorable and remarkable attention to details of the human heart that motivate literature.
In 1960, renowned Nevada writer Robert Laxalt moved himself and his family to a small Basque village in the French Pyrenees. The son of Basque emigrants, Laxalt wanted to learn as much as he could about the ancient and mysterious people from which he was descended and about the country from which his parents came. Thanks to his Basque surname and a wide network of family connections, Laxalt was able to penetrate the traditional reserve of the Basques in a way that outsiders rarely can. In the process, he gained rare insight into the nature of the Basques and the isolated, beautiful mountain world where they have lived for uncounted centuries. Based on Laxalt’s personal journals of this and a later sojourn in 1965, The Land of My Fathers is a moving record of a people and their homeland. Through Laxalt’s perceptive eyes and his wife Joyce’s photographs, we observe the Basques’ market days and festivals, join their dove hunts and harvests, share their humor and history, their deep sense of nationalism, their abiding pride in their culture and their homes, and discover the profound sources of the Basques’ strength and their endurance as a people. Photography by Joyce Laxalt.
RICHARD CURRY West Virginia University Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS3553.U6665L67 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Richard Currey's Lost Highway has attracted a legion of admirers since its initial publication in 1997. The book depicts the epic struggle of an ordinary person living his dreams and following his passion. Lost Highway is the story of Sapper Reeves, a gifted country musician from the small town of Maxwell, West Virginia. Sapper’s story covers the events of more than half a century, from his birth in a poor coal mining town through his travels on the back roads of Appalachia in search of recognition and respect. Along the way, Sapper’s embattled love for his wife and struggle to come to terms with his combat-wounded son form the basis of his artistic and personal redemption.
Loving Mountains, Loving Men is the first book-length treatment of a topic rarely discussed or examined: gay life in Appalachia. Appalachians are known for their love of place, yet many gays and lesbians from the mountains flee to urban areas. Jeff Mann tells the story of one who left and then returned, who insists on claiming and celebrating both regional and erotic identities.
In memoir and poetry, Mann describes his life as an openly gay man who has remained true to his mountain roots. Mann recounts his upbringing in Hinton, a small town in southern West Virginia, as well as his realization of his homosexuality, his early encounters with homophobia, his coterie of supportive lesbian friends, and his initial attempts to escape his native region in hopes of finding a freer life in urban gay communities. Mann depicts his difficult search for a romantic relationship, the family members who have given him the strength to defy convention, his anger against religious intolerance and the violence of homophobia, and his love for the rich folk culture of the Highland South.
His character and values shaped by the mountains, Mann has reconciled his homosexuality with both traditional definitions of Appalachian manhood and his own attachment to home and kin. Loving Mountains, Loving Men is a compelling, universal story of making peace with oneself and the wider world.
In The Mountain, geographers Bernard Debarbieux and Gilles Rudaz trace the origins of the very concept of a mountain, showing how it is not a mere geographic feature but ultimately an idea, one that has evolved over time, influenced by changes in political climates and cultural attitudes. To truly understand mountains, they argue, we must view them not only as material realities but as social constructs, ones that can mean radically different things to different people in different settings.
From the Enlightenment to the present day, and using a variety of case studies from all the continents, the authors show us how our ideas of and about mountains have changed with the times and how a wide range of policies, from border delineation to forestry as well as nature protection and social programs, have been shaped according to them. A rich hybrid analysis of geography, history, culture, and politics, the book promises to forever change the way we look at mountains.
This is the first book to celebrate the life and writing of one of the most charismatic Southern leaders of the middle twentieth century, Don West (1906-1992). West was a poet, a pioneer advocate for civil rights, a preacher, a historian, a labor organizer, a folk-music revivalist, an essayist, and an organic farmer. He is perhaps best known as an educator, primarily as cofounder of the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee and founder of the Appalachian South Folklife Center in West Virginia. In his old age, West served as an elder statesman for his causes.
No Lonesome Road allows Don West to speak for himself. It provides the most comprehensive collection of his poetry ever published, spanning five decades of his literary career. It also includes the first comprehensive and annotated collection of West's nonfiction essays, articles, letters, speeches, and stories, covering his role at the forefront of Southern and Appalachian history, and as a pioneer researcher and writer on the South's little-known legacy of radical activism.
Drawing from both primary and secondary sources, including previously unknown documents, correspondence, interviews, FBI files, and newspaper clippings, the introduction by Jeff Biggers stands as the most thorough, insightful biographical sketch of Don West yet published in any form.
The afterword by George Brosi is a stirring personal tribute to the contributions of West and also serves as a thoughtful reflection on the interactions between the radicals of the 1930s and the 1960s.
The best possible introduction to his extraordinary life and work, this annotated selection of Don West's writings will be inspirational reading for anyone interested in Southern history, poetry, religion, or activism.
Meredith Sue Willis’s Out of the Mountains is a collection of thirteen short stories set in contemporary Appalachia. Firmly grounded in place, the stories voyage out into the conflicting cultural identities that native Appalachians experience as they balance mainstream and mountain identities.
Willis’s stories explore the complex negotiations between longtime natives of the region and its newcomers and the rifts that develop within families over current issues such as mountaintop removal and homophobia. Always, however, the situations depicted in these stories are explored in the service of a deeper understanding of the people involved, and of the place. This is not the mythic version of Appalachia, but the Appalachia of the twenty-first century.
Prodigals: A Novel
Mark Powell University of Tennessee Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS3616.O88P76 2002 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
“A haunting, evocative novel. In Prodigals, Mark Powell depicts a lost American landscape—the small towns and logging camps of the South during World War II, with their subculture of fugitives and transients. I can't get the desperate hero out of my mind.” —Cary Holladay, author of Mercury
In the late summer of 1944, fifteen-year-old Ernest Cobb flees into the dense forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Behind him, in his South Carolina hometown, the girl he thought he had impregnated is being buried. Her shooting death was not Ernest’s doing, but Ernest fears that he will be implicated in it anyway. With little sense of where he is going or how he might survive, the boy makes his way northward.
Ernest’s journey brings him into the company of outsiders and drifters—an often violent subculture at the tattered fringes of wartime America. An aging mountain hermit, who was once a glassblower, rescues Ernest from the wilderness and nurtures him for a while. Eventually, Ernest finds himself in Asheville, North Carolina, where he goes to work as a dishwasher and rents a dingy room that he soon shares with a new girlfriend. When that relationship falters, Ernest accompanies an amiable but reckless friend, a boy called June Bug, to work at a logging camp. There they meet Jimmy Morgan, a wounded war veteran with his own dark secret. The convergence of these lost souls and their chance discovery of an injured child lead to further tragedy. By the end, the once-naive Ernest has begun to comprehend the gaping loneliness that defines much of human existence, but he has also come to sense the possibility of transcendence in the fleeting connections born of love.
With Prodigals, Mark Powell makes an impressive fiction debut. The author’s keen ear for dialogue, his understanding of character and motive, and his lean, taut language will make this novel linger long in the minds of readers.
The Author: Mark Powell lives in Mountain Rest, South Carolina. He studied creative writing at the University of South Carolina.
Set in the ruins of his family’s strip-mined homestead in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, award-winning journalist and historian Jeff Biggers delivers a deeply personal portrait of the overlooked human and environmental costs of our nation’s dirty energy policy. Beginning with the policies of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, chronicling the removal of Native Americans and the hidden story of legally sanctioned black slavery in the land of Lincoln, Reckoning at Eagle Creek vividly describes the mining wars for union recognition and workplace safety, and the devastating consequences of industrial strip-mining. At the heart of our national debate over climate change and the crucial transition toward clean energy, Biggers exposes the fallacy of “clean coal” and shatters the marketing myth that southern Illinois represents the “Saudi Arabia of coal.”
Reckoning at Eagle Creek is ultimately an exposé of “historicide,” one that traces coal’s harrowing legacy through the great American family saga of sacrifice and resiliency and the extraordinary process of recovering our nation’s memory.
John Ehle University of Tennessee Press, 1998 Library of Congress PS3555.H5R63 1998 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
"In The Road John Ehle's skill as a storyteller brings an early episode of road building in the North Carolina mountains to rich and vivid life. Hardship and humor, suffering and dreams are the balance for survival in a landscape that makes harsh demands on its intruders. Ehle lets us experience this place, people, and past in a fully realized novel."—Wilma Dykeman
"The Road is a strong novel by one of our most distinguished authors. Muscular, vivid, and pungent, it is broad in historical scope and profound in its human sympathies. We welcome its return with warm pleasure."—Fred Chappell
Originally published in 1967, The Road is epic historical fiction at its best. At the novel's center is Weatherby Wright, a railroad builder who launches an ambitious plan to link the highlands of western North Carolina with the East. As a native of the region, Wright knows what his railway will mean to the impoverished settlers. But to accomplish his grand undertaking he must conquer Sow Mountain, "a massive monolith of earth, rock, vegetation and water, an elaborate series of ridges which built on one another to the top."
Wright's struggle to construct the railroad—which requires tall trestles crossing deep ravines and seven tunnels blasted through shale and granite—proves to be much more than an engineering challenge. There is opposition from a child evangelist, who preaches that the railroad is the work of the devil, and there is a serious lack of funds, which forces Wright to use convict labor. How Wright confronts these challenges and how the mountain people respond to the changes the railroad brings to their lives make for powerfully compelling reading.
The Author: A native of Asheville, North Carolina, John Ehle has written seventeen novels and works of nonfiction. His books include The Land Breakers, The Journey of August King, The Winter People, and Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. Among the honors he has received are the Lillian Smith Prize and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award.
A remarkable chronicle of southern mountain life in the early 20th century
The Road to Wildcat recounts the travels in North Alabama in the mid-1920s of Eleanor Risley (suffering from diabetes), her asthmatic husband, Pierre, their dog, John, and a Chinese wheelbarrow named Sisyphus that held their travel goods. Advised to make the walking tour for improvement of their health, the group left Fairhope in south Alabama and walked hundreds of miles in the southern Appalachians for months, sleeping out under the stars at night, or in a canvas tent or an abandoned building, cooking their fresh-caught foods over campfires, and accepting the generosity and advice of the mountain people they met, some of them moonshiners and outlaws.
During their sojourn across the rural wilderness, they enjoyed fiddlin’ dances in rickety halls, joined Sacred Harp singers, learned about the grapevine telegraph, saw the dreadful effects of inbreeding, and attended “Snake Night” at Posey Holler (a religious revival that included snake handling). Published in segments in the Atlantic Monthly in 1928 and 1929 and then reorganized into book form, the travelogue is a colorful record of the culture, customs, and dialect of the southern mountaineers of that era.
THE SAFETY OF DEEPER WATER
Tim Poland West Virginia University Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS3566.O419S34 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
When Sandy Holston is on dry land, she’s nothing special: a nurse who wears her hair in a ponytail and prefers a fishing lure as an earring. But once she dons waders, picks up a fly rod, and steps into a river, she becomes a remarkable, elegant fisherwoman who’s at peace with the world.
After surviving her marriage to Vernon - her violent, incarcerated ex-husband - peace is just what Sandy needs. So she moves to Damascus, a small town on the Ripshin River, where she plans to enjoy the fishing and the solitude. Finally she is on the brink of a life she desires in a place she loves. But as the Ripshin’s trout mysteriously die off, and as Sandy grows closer to a reclusive neighbor who has a propensity for fishing naked, her plans are put in jeopardy. Will Sandy be able to find peace - in the river or out - once Vernon is released from prison and fulfills his promise to hunt her down?
Spirits of Just Men tells the story of moonshine in 1930s America, as seen through the remarkable location of Franklin County, Virginia, a place that many still refer to as the "moonshine capital of the world." Charles D. Thompson Jr. chronicles the Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935, which made national news and exposed the far-reaching and pervasive tendrils of Appalachia's local moonshine economy. Thompson, whose ancestors were involved in the area's moonshine trade and trial as well as local law enforcement, uses the event as a stepping-off point to explore Blue Ridge Mountain culture, economy, and political engagement in the 1930s. Drawing from extensive oral histories and local archival material, he illustrates how the moonshine trade was a rational and savvy choice for struggling farmers and community members during the Great Depression.
Local characters come alive through this richly colorful narrative, including the stories of Miss Ora Harrison, a key witness for the defense and an Episcopalian missionary to the region, and Elder Goode Hash, an itinerant Primitive Baptist preacher and juror in a related murder trial. Considering the complex interactions of religion, economics, local history, Appalachian culture, and immigration, Thompson's sensitive analysis examines the people and processes involved in turning a basic agricultural commodity into such a sought-after and essentially American spirit.
As a youth in Denver, Donald Mace Williams developed an affection for high mountain country. After a journalistic career spent mostly on flat lands, he set out to rediscover what was special about country above timberline. He hiked the high alpine in four of America's major ranges-the Rockies, Sierra Nevada, Cascades, and northern Appalachians-and in his narrative of his travels, he tells us what he saw and learned and who he met. Having visited some of these areas when younger, Williams compares his psychological and physical responses as an older man and how his ideas about how to treat the environment have evolved. A recurring theme is the compromises that people such as he make between the pull of mountains and freedom and the responsibilities of making a living in the lowlands. Mainly, he observes and experiences what is distinctive about the timberline environment.
Throughout his book, Williams gently informs readers regarding timberline history, nature, weather, and archaeology; high altitude physiology; and environmental concerns. Frequently, he recounts encounters with interesting and varied people he meets on the trails: a young British hiking companion who has come back to Colorado to repeat a climb on which, a year previously, his two fellow climbers died; a pilot who climbs isolated peaks in the Sierra Nevada in search of bouillon-can scrolls signed by famous early mountaineers; a "Literate Farmer" who pauses on a mountain trail in Vermont to discuss Robert Frost.
Donald Mace Williams is a retired journalist who has worked for such newspapers as The Wichita Eagle, Newsday, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas, has published one previous book (Interlude in Umbarger: Italian POWs and a Texas Church); poems in Western Humanities Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, and South Dakota Review; and a short story in Southwest Review. He now lives in Texas.
To Make My Bread
Grace Lumpkin University of Illinois Press, 1959 Library of Congress PS3523.U54T6 1995 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
A story of the growth of the
new South, To Make My Bread revolves around a family of Appalachian
mountaineers—small farmers, hunters, and moonshiners—driven
by economic conditions to the milltown and transformed into millhands,
strikers, and rebels against the established order. Recognized as one
of the major works on the Gastonia textile strike, Grace Lumpkin's novel
is also important for anyone interested in cultural or feminist history
as it deals with early generations of women radicals committed to addressing
the difficult connections of class and race. Suzanne Sowinska's introduction
looks at Lumpkin's volatile career and this book's critical reception.
Originally published in 1932
"[The book's] meaning
rises out of people in dramatic conflict with other people and with the
conditions of their life. . . . [Lumpkin] treats her theme with a craftsman's
and a psychologist's respect. The novel springs naturally from its author's
immersion in and personal knowledge of her absorbing subject material."
-- The New York Times
"Unpretentious . . .
written in a simple and matter-of-fact prose, and yet reading it has been
a more real, more satisfying experience than that which almost any other
recent work of fiction has given me. I cannot imagine how anyone could
read it and not be moved by it." -- The Nation
"A beautiful and sincere
novel, outstanding." -- The New Republic
“Carson Brewer at his absolute best.” – Sam Venable
Carson Brewer on…
Snow was nice and crunchy underfoot. Not crunchy like peanuts or cornflakes. Rather, it was a silky whispery crunchy.
You can bury your nose deep in the cool violet bed and smell the mix of life and death while pondering the unceasing cycle of each into the other.
Lem Ownby…has plowed oxen, mules, and horses on the forty-four acre farm on Jakes Creek. But he has never owned or driven an automobile.
The Author: Carson Brewer was a reporter and columnist for more than forty years. His columns on conservation issues and on the Great Smoky Mountains earned him the E.J. Meeman Conservation Award (twice) from the Scripps-Howard Foundation, the Golden Press Card award from the Society of Professional Journalists (which also named a scholarship in his honor in 1984), and the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from the Knoxville Writers Guild. He died on January 15, 2003.
The emergence into pop culture of quaint and simple Ozarks Mountaineers—through the writings of Vance Randolph, Wayman Hogue, Charles Morrow Wilson, and others—was a comfort and fascination to many Americans in the early twentieth century. Disillusioned with the modernity they felt had contributed to the Great Depression, middle-class Americans admired the Ozarkers’ apparently simple way of life, which they saw as an alternative to an increasingly urban and industrial America.
Catherine S. Barker's 1941 book Yesterday Today: Life in the Ozarks sought to illuminate another side of these “remnants of eighteenth-century life and culture”: poverty and despair. Drawing on her encounters and experiences as a federal social worker in the backwoods of the Ozarks in the 1930s, Barker described the mountaineers as “lovable and pathetic and needy and self-satisfied and valiant,” declaring that the virtuous and independent people of the hills deserved a better way and a more abundant life. Barker was also convinced that there were just as many contemptible facets of life in the Ozarks that needed to be replaced as there were virtues that needed to be preserved.
This reprinting of Yesterday Today—edited and introduced by historian J. Blake Perkins—situates this account among the Great Depression-era chronicles of the Ozarks.