Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blue Ridge Online

Blue Ridge Online is [an] online welcome center for the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains of the eastern United States. Here you will find information about attractions, accommodations, outdoor activities, shopping and everything you need to make your mountain vacation the getaway of a lifetime.

From you can browse and discover unique places to stay and things to do throughout the mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia and more.

To visit Blue Ridge Online: Click Here.

Note: This is very much a commercial site which is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with the MHS in any way, but it has extensive lists of Appalachian events and places of interest, as well as an abundance of travel information which may also be of interest, especially if you are planning a trip to the region.

Friday, January 30, 2009

First People of Tennessee

And the American Southwest

This site, focusing on Tennessee, is a logical extension of the site presented in yesterday's blog entry.

To visit: Click Here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Indian Land Cessions in the American Southeast

Colonial Period Indian Land Cessions
In the American Southeast
And Related Documents

This site describes itself as an overview but is actually rather comprehensive, with many applicable documents and maps available online.

To visit: Click Here

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hening's Statutes at Large

Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia
from the first session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 [to 1792]

By: William Waller Hening

The first twelve volumes of this historically very important collection published in 1823 are online with the next and final volume, 1789-1792, expected to go online in May of this year.

The visit the collection: Click Here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Online Dictionary of Elizabethan English

This site not only includes an online dictionary of Elizabethan English but other cultural and historical information about the Elizabethan Age, all pertinent to the early colonial period in America which immediately followed.

To visit the site: Click Here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Old Petition Names 249 Powell Valley Settlers

From Dr. Miller McDonald's book Campbell County Tennessee USA: A History of Places, Faces, Happenings, Traditions, and Things

To read this 1813 petition: Click Here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Atlantis in Appalachia?

By C.J. Pitzer

Ever thought it could happen in your own back yard? Visualizing your home sinking down to the dark depths forever arouses nightmares and primal fears. And yet this scenario became a reality in 1938 for those living along the [Tygart] river a few miles south of Grafton, West Virginia.

To read this tragic story: Click Here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Overmountain Men

The Overmountain Men were American colonial militiamen in the American Revolutionary War from west of the Appalachian Mountains, mainly in areas that now comprise parts West Virginia, northeastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and southwestern Virginia. They played an important role at the Battle of Kings Mountain, and also fought at the Battle of Cowpens and elsewhere.

To read about the Battle of Kings Mountain: Click Here.

To read about the Battle of Cowpens: Click Here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Papers of the War Department: 1784 to 1800

Fire destroyed the office of the War Department and all its files in 1800, and for decades historians believed that the collection, and the window it provided into the workings of the early federal government, was lost forever. Thanks to a decade-long effort to retrieve copies of the files scattered in archives across the country, the collection has been reconstituted and is offered here as a fully-searchable digital database.

To access: Click Here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Louisa County Genealogy and History

The historian and genealogist and eminent Melungeon researcher Dr. Virginia DeMarce once said that the question of the origin of the "mysterious" Melungeons could be answered with three words: Louisa County, Virginia.

To visit Louisa County's GenWeb site: Click Here.

To visit the Louisa County Historical Society's web site: Click Here.

To locate GenWeb sites for other counties of interest:: Click Here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Melungeon History

By Jack Goins
MHS Vice-President for Heritage
Author of Melungeons and Other Pioneer Families

The purpose of this article is to reveal the factual history of the Melungeons using the same records early historians used to locate and Identify the Melungeons. These records establish the beginning of the only settlement of people who were known and called Melungeons 1800-1900. They were identified in court, newspapers and census records as free persons of color and it was common knowledge who some of them were and where they lived. The records included in this article are the only reason we are discussing Melungeons today, because if not for these records in Tennessee no one would have known the Melungeons ever existed. Military, land, tax and court records established the fact that the Melungeons came with and were part of the original pioneer settlers as they moved west. No records have been found calling them Melungeons in all the other places they lived prior to settling on Newman Ridge and Blackwater areas of East Tennessee and adjoining Lee County, Virginia. This gives credence to the old witnesses who said they were given this name by their white neighbors who lived here among them.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion [1940]

Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion, one of the holding of the Library of Virginia, discussed yesterday, was originally compiled during the Depression by the workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Virginia. First published in the American Guide Series in 1940, it was sufficiently popular to receive three more printings in 1941, 1946, and 1947. Out of print for nearly half a century, it was finally re-issued by the Library of Virginia in 1992.

This guide, which is quite extensive, provides a look at Virginia in 1940 and, perhaps just as importantly, insight into how its authors saw Virginia and its history. It is of particular interest to note that its section on African-Americans is relatively generous for the times even though Walter Plecker, the racial "purity" obsessed head of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics, and white supremacy were in their heyday. Its treatment of the Indians of Virginia, however, is exceedingly ungenerous and reflects Plecker's contention that there were no longer any Indians living in Virginia.

To read the guide: Click Here.

Walter Plecker, with his special abhorrence of people of mixed race ancestry, including the Melungeons, must be turning over in his grave today as just such a person takes the oath of office as the 44th President of the United States, and does so having carried his own state of Virginia.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Library of Virginia

Collections include books, magazines, newspapers, state and Federal publications; county and city government records, state government records, architectural drawings and plans, Bible records, business records, organization records, personal papers, genealogical notes and charts; maps, rare books, broadsides, sheet music, posters, prints and engravings, postcards, paintings, sculpture and photographs.

Only a very modest amount of this material is available online but many of the collections are indexed online.

To visit: Click Here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Southern Appalachia Railway Museum

The Southern Appalachia Railway Museum (SARM) is a non-profit organization located in Knoxville, Tennessee, dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and operation of historical railroad equipment, and the preservation of the railroad history of the Southern Appalachia Region. The club sponsors the operation of the Secret City Scenic excursion train in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

To visit the museum's web site: Click Here.

Note: Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find upcoming railway excursions and, perhaps the best part of the site, pictures of previous excursions.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Blue Moon of Kentucky

Well, it's a new year, and one with a blue moon in it to boot, though you'll have to wait a bit on that: the blue moon doesn't make its appearance till December 31. Although we had a blue moon last May, don’t take it too much for granted: just under 3% of all full moons are blue moons.

Blue moon of Kentucky, keep on shining,
Shine on the one that's gone and proved untrue;

Blue moon of Kentucky, keep on shining,

Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue.

It was on a moonlight night, the stars were shining bright;
And they whispered from on high, your love had said goodbye.

Blue moon of Kentucky, keep on shining,

Shine on the one that's gone and said goodbye.

---Bill Monroe, Blue moon of Kentucky (1947)

To learn all about blue moons: Click Here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Graysville Melungeons

Tennessee Anthropologist
Vol. IV, Number 1 (1979)

The Graysville Melungeons
(A Tri-Racial People in Lower East Tennessee)

By Raymond Evans


Located approximately 30 miles north of Chattanooga, the community of Graysville, Tennessee contains one of the most stable Melungeon settlements in the state. Field work in the community conducted in conjunction with archival research demonstrates that the Melungeons, who now compose more than half of the local population, came from Hamilton County durning the latter half of the nineteenth century. Census records and other archival sources indicate that prior to comming to Hamilton County they had lived in Virginia and North Carolina. In Graysville, the Melungeons strongly deny their Black heritage and explain their genetic differences by claiming to have Cherokee grandmothers. Many of the local Whites also claim Cherokee ancestry and appear to accept the Melungeon claim.The racist discrimination common in Hancock County and in other Melungeon communities is absent in Graysville. Here, the Melungeons interact in all phases of community life,and exogamy with local Whites is common practice.- Goins- and the term "Melungeon" is not used by the people or by their neighbors. Recent field observations of the Graysville Melungeons differ in no way from that of any other small southern Appalachian community.

To read this paper: Click Here.

Note: While the term Melungeon has been applied to these people by various authors, including the author of this paper, and this paper is often cited in a Melungeon context, it was not used by them or by their neighbors. Their connection, if any, to the people in and around Hancock County, Tennessee who were historically known as Melungeons is problematical.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Grainger County Genealogy and History

Grainger County, Tennessee, the county immediately to the south of Hancock County, is the only Tennessee county named after a woman, Mary Grainger, who married Governor William Blount and became First Lady of the Territory South of the River Ohio, the territory from which Tennessee was created.

To visit its GenWeb site: Click Here.

To locate GenWeb sites for other counties of interest:: Click Here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Virtual Jamestown

Virtual Jamestown is a product of collaboration between Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, and the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia. Support also comes from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Research Project, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy

To visit this extensive collection of online material pertaining to the Jamestown colony and the early exploration of Virginia: Click Here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Writers & Mountains

Produced and Hosted By
The University of North Carolina at Asheville

It is dangerous to put labels on anything in the mountains. This collection of web pages, however, will attempt to provide the user with material that often labels the literary products coming from authors who wrote in or about western North Carolina. This material is prepared to supplement research on writers as they have experienced the geography, history, and literature of the western area of the state and have written both fiction and non-fiction. It is not intended to be comprehensive in scope, but will evolve as new material is located and determined to be of value to those interested in both mountains and writers from the western North Carolina region.

To visit this extensive online presentation: Click Here.

Note: Do not be deterred by the lengthy and rather academic documentation at the top of the page: The presentation proper is accessed through a collection of links at the bottom of the page and contains a wealth of interesting material, literary and otherwise.

Monday, January 12, 2009

USGenWeb's United States Digital Map Library

Another large digital map collection.

To visit: Click Here.

Here is one example which may be of interest:

Indian Cessions in Tennessee

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tennessee Coal Ash Spill Devastates River

NPR Weekend Edition, January 10, 2009

Even before 1 billion gallons of coal ash sludge flooded the land and fouled the Emory River in Eastern Tennessee, decades of industrial contamination and farm runoff had left the river polluted and made some fish unsafe to eat.

But now the December 2008 spill has transformed part of this already endangered river into something that barely resembles a river at all.

To read the whole NPR story: Click Here.

The coal ash sludge came from a coal-fired Tennessee Valley Authority power plant.

For the TVA's account of the story: Click Here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More on the Civil War in Southeast Kentucky

The War on Civilians
Breathitt, Letcher, Perry, Owsley, Leslie & Wolfe Counties
Researched and compiled by Marlitta H. Perkins

Late August 1862:
Col. Benjamin E. Caudill begins recruiting for the 13th KY Cavalry [CS]. His camp is near Whitesburg, Letcher Co. "I have not been at home sins the first of November Caudill came to that settlement about the last of August and was there the last I heard of them. What we all raised there is all destroy, I have to move my family from there..."
[Hiram Hogg Letter #1]

While Capt. South and Lieut. E. C. Strong were recruiting, some of their men had gone over on the South Fork and shot at Bill Strong, then a soldier just out of the Union army, having deserted and returned home. That fired him up, and he went to making up a company of his own men and killing nearly every Southern citizen he found.
[G. W. Noble, pp. 23/24]

To continue reading: Click Here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tennessee Melungeons of Hawkins/Hancock County

Research Notes
By Virginia DeMarce, Ph.D.
Past President of the National Genealogical Society

This study is limited to the Tennessee Melungeons of
Hawkins/Hancock County (with what can be learned
specifically about them in the counties from which their
ancestors came, and the counties to which members of their
families moved). It does not use the term "Melungeon"
generically to describe tri-racial or possibly tri-racial
settlements in the remainder of Tennessee's counties, much less
all over the Upper South.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tom Gish, Noted Appalachian Publisher, Dies at 82

Tom Gish, publisher of The Mountain Eagle newspaper of Letcher County, Kentucky for more than fifty years, died on November 21, 2008 at age 82.

To read about his long and eventful publishing career: Click Here.

My branch of the Maggard family migrated from Letcher County to Arkansas around 1890. By the late 1950s, with my great grandfather Elihu Maggard dead more than thirty years, the memory of our connection to Letcher County had been essentially forgotten. At that time Bud Phillips, the husband of one of my grandfather's half-sisters, began trying to research the family history but could get nowhere until my grandfather happened to remember that when he was a boy his father once talked about Whitesburg, Kentucky, the county seat of Letcher County. Bud wrote to The Mountain Eagle asking if there were any Maggard families in Letcher County -- which was a little like asking if there are Kennedy families in Ireland -- the ultimate result of which was the Maggard family history Coming Down Cumberland.

If you have an interest in Maggard family history, Coming Down Cumberland is certainly recommended. Indeed, it is one of only two books ever written on the subject. I will caution you, however, that everything in it prior to the coming of Samuel Maggard and his wife Rebecca Robertson to what is now Letcher County is, so far as I can tell, highly speculative and without any real documentary foundation.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hawkins County Genealogy and History

The records of Hawkins County, Tennessee, from which Hancock County was created, are vital to Melungeon studies.

To visit its excellent GenWeb site: Click Here.

To locate GenWeb sites for other counties of interest: Click Here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

East Tennesse State University

Center for Appalachian Studies and Services

The Center for Appalachian Studies and Services at East Tennessee State University was established in 1984 as a Tennessee Distinguished Center of Excellence. In 1986 the Center was named one of the top five centers in the state, and it became recognized as an Accomplished Center of Excellence in 1987. The Center documents and showcases Appalachia's past, celebrates its cultural heritage, and promotes an understanding of the influences that shape its identity.

To visit: Click Here.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Documenting the South

Documenting the American South includes twelve thematic collections of primary sources for the study of southern history, literature, and culture, with an emphasis on North Caroline, the site belongint to the University of North Carolina.

To visit: Click Here.

Be sure not to miss the 1863 story of the Civil Watr refugee from East Tennessee who fled to the North!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Appalachian Treks

It is high time I introduced you to this beautiful photographic blog, with travel directions and commentary, dedicated to the natural wonders and beauty of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia.

For a real treat: Click Here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The State of the Stills

No, not Tennessee. Well, not just Tennessee.

The subject of moonshine has come up on this blog more than once. Lest you think it thing of the past in Southern Appalachia, you should read this recent piece in the Knoxville Voice:

Still in Motion
May 15, 2008
By Lisa Slade

The moonshine industry is thriving in Appalachia, if you know where to look.

To read all about it: Click Here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Berea College Appalachian Center

For more than one hundred years, Berea College has served the people of Appalachia primarily through education and through other appropriate services. The work of the Appalachian Center stems from this commitment and is intended to:
  • Give concentrated leadership to Berea’s Appalachian activities
  • Stimulate student and scholarly interest
  • Bring together existing outreach programs and to guide the creation of new services
  • Relate Berea College’s efforts to those of other Appalachian institutions
  • Serve the nation as a source of information about the Appalachian Region
To visit the Appalachian Center and learn about its work: Click Here.