Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

The Battle of Stones River

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

One hundred and forty-eight years ago today . . .

After Gen. Braxton Bragg’s defeat at Perryville, Kentucky, October 8, 1862, he and his Confederate Army of the Mississippi retreated, reorganized, and were redesignated as the Army of Tennessee. They then advanced to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and prepared to go into winter quarters. Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans’s Union Army of the Cumberland followed Bragg from Kentucky to Nashville. Rosecrans left Nashville on December 26, with about 44,000 men, to defeat Bragg’s army of more than 37,000. He found Bragg’s army on December 29 and went into camp that night, within hearing distance of the Rebels.

At dawn on the 31st, Bragg’s men attacked the Union right flank. The Confederates had driven the Union line back to the Nashville Pike by 10:00 am but there it held. Union reinforcements arrived from Rosecrans’s left in the late forenoon to bolster the stand, and before fighting stopped that day the Federals had established a new, strong line. On New Years Day, both armies marked time. Bragg surmised that Rosecrans would now withdraw, but the next morning he was still in position. In late afternoon, Bragg hurled a division at a Union division that, on January 1, had crossed Stones River and had taken up a strong position on the bluff east of the river. The Confederates drove most of the Federals back across McFadden’s Ford, but with the assistance of artillery, the Federals repulsed the attack, compelling the Rebels to retire to their original position.

Bragg left the field on the January 4-5, retreating to Shelbyville and Tullahoma, Tennessee. Rosecrans did not pursue, but as the Confederates retired, he claimed the victory. Stones River boosted Union morale. The Confederates had been thrown back in the east, west, and in the Trans-Mississippi.

To visit the Stones River National Battlefield Park:  Click Here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Kind of Blog: Cemetery Explorers

Its author says...

I created this blog to show people that cemeteries are wonderful places full of history, architecture and sometimes an occasional ghost story. I hope everyone enjoys what this blog has to offer whether you're an amateur explorer, history buff or just somebody willing to learn about these beautiful places...

To explore some cemeteries: Click Here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The National Archives' New Online Public Access Prototype

Washington, DC. . . The National Archives and Records Administration’s new Online Public Access prototype is being made available to the public as of Monday, Dec. 27, 2010,

The National Archives’ flagship initiative in our Open Government plan is to develop online services to meet the 21st century needs of the public. It is also a key component of our agency’s Transformation Plan, to be customer-focused and ensuring our nation’s heritage is accessible to all.

The Online Public Access prototype is the public portal that provides access to digitized records, and information about our records. It also provides a centralized means of searching multiple National Archives resources at once. Currently, researchers perform separate searches in the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) for catalog descriptions, histories and biographies; Access to Archival Databases (AAD) for electronic records; and The new interface illustrates a streamlined search experience for users, searching across all of these resources.

The prototype currently contains all of the data from ARC, and seven series from AAD, containing 10.9 million permanent electronic records. Additionally, the prototype provides access to one million electronic records currently in the Electronic Records Archives, which are not available elsewhere online.

The National Archives will add additional functionality in the coming year, including an image zooming feature that will enable users to zoom and pan our online holdings, and social sharing through Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.

The National Archives is asking the public for feedback to ensure a user-friendly search and display.

To try the prototype: Click Here.

To view a demonstration video: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Online Genealogical Software

There are many genealogical software programs designed for personal use which are installed and used on your own computer. But what do you do if you want to have multiple users sharing and updating the same database from different locations? One answer is to use online genealogical software and databases.

For a detailed review of the some of the available options by the inimitable Dick Eastman of Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter: Click Here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Benefits of Thinking About Our Ancestors

The British Psychological Society
Research Digest Blog

Psychologists have shown previously that thinking about our own mortality - 'where we're going' - prompts us to shore up our cultural world view and engage in self-esteem boosting activities. Little researched until now, by contrast, are the psychological effects of thinking about where we came from - our ancestors.

Anecdotally, there's reason to believe that such thoughts are beneficial. Why else the public fascination with genealogy and programmes like the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? Now Peter Fischer and his colleagues at the Universities of Graz, Berlin and Munich have shown that thinking about our ancestors boosts our performance on intelligence tests - what they've dubbed 'the ancestor effect'.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mountain Stewards

In the fall of 2003, the Mountain Stewards began to restore some of the traditional trails that meander throughout the Southern Appalachians. The origins of some of these mountain trails date to the time of the Cherokees. Others were built by the early pioneering families. Still other were constructed by logging companies and some were put in by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. All of these trails remain in existance. Indian Trail Trees dot the region, remnants of the Native American culture before the white settlers arrived in the nineteenth century. Settlers left their mark as well. Home sites can still be located and the debris from the stills of the moonshiners that once haunted these mountains still stand in some of the hollows. Aside from the occasional sign of our ancesters' presence, these trails weave through the natural wilderness of the oldest mountain range on the planet.

To check out their web site: Click Here.

Note: This site has a good deal of information and many pictures. Be sure to see the sections on their Trail Tree Project and Indian Trails Project.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Brightest and Best"

“On Old Christmas Eve we’d sit fore the fire and Mom and Dad and Granny’d atell us about the baby Jesus born in a stable on this night, and they’d say that if we’d go out at midnight we’d see the elderberry bush blooming in the fence corner right in the snow, and that if we’d peep in through a chink in our stable and make no racket atall we’d see the cow and the old mule kneeling, paying honor to the little King of Kings. Then maybe Granny’d sing us her Christmas carol, “Brightest and Best,” in the old mountain tune, and we’d all sing some…That used to be our Christmas.”

Jean Ritchie, Singing Family of the Cumberlands
University Press of Kentucky, 1988

Brightest and Best

Hail the blest morn
See the Great Mediator
Down from the regions of Glory descend!
Shepherds, go worship the Babe in the manger,
Lo, for the a guard the bright angels attend.

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us Thine aid
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on His Cradle the dew-drops are shining
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining
Maker and Monarch and Savior of all.

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Shall we not yield Him in costly devotion,
Odors of Edom and offerings divine,
Gems of the mountains and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest and gold from the mine?

Note: Jean Ritchie (born in 1922) is the best known and most respected singer of traditional ballads in the United States. Born in Viper, Kentucky, she comes from a family of musicians who have preserved folk traditions for generations.

This Melungeon Studies blog entry was lifted shamelessly from a back issue of Dave Tabler's ever-excellent Appalachian History blog.

To visit it: Click Here.

For more on Jean Ritchie: Click Here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Littell's Living Age: The Melungens, March 1849

We give to-day another amusing and characteristic sketch from a letter of our intelligent and sprightly correspondent, sojourning at present in one of the seldom-visited nooks hid away in our mountains.

You must know that within ten miles of this owl's nest, there is a watering-place, known hereabouts as 'black-water Springs.' It is situated in a narrow gorge, scarcely half a mile wide, between Powell's Mountain and the Copper Ridge, and is, as you may suppose, almost inaccessible. A hundred men could defend the pass against even a Xerxian army. Now this gorge and the tops and sides of the adjoining mountains are inhabited by a singular species of the human animal called MELUNGENS.

The legend of their history, which they carefully preserve, is this. A great many years ago, these mountains were settled by a society of Portuguese Adventurers, men and women--who came from the long-shore parts of Virginia, that they might be freed from the restraints and drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government. These people made themselves friendly with the Indians and freed, as they were from every kind of social government, they uprooted all conventional forms of society and lived in a delightful Utopia of their own creation, trampling on the marriage relation, despising all forms of religion, and subsisting upon corn (the only possible product of the soil) and wild game of the woods.

These intermixed with the Indians, and subsequently their descendants (after the advances of the whites into this part of the state) with the negros and the whites, thus forming the present race of Melungens.

For the complete article: Click Here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Indian-Pioneer Papers

University of Oklahona
Western History Collections

The Indian-Pioneer Papers oral history collection spans from 1861 to 1936. It includes typescripts of interviews conducted during the 1930s by government workers with thousands of Oklahomans regarding the settlement of Oklahoma and Indian territories, as well as the condition and conduct of life there. Consisting of approximately 80,000 entries, the index to this collection may be accessed via personal name, place name, or subject.

To search or browse the collection: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Native American Records at the National Archives

Records include but are far from limited to:

# Selected Documents from the Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1793 - 1989
# Records of Controversies, 1867 - 1879
# Kern-Clifton Roll of Cherokee Freedmen, January 16, 1867
# Alexander Gardner Portraits of Tribal Delegations to the Federal Government, 1872 and Southeastern Idaho Reservations, 1897
# Wallace Roll of Cherokee Freedmen in Indian Territory, 1890
# Applications for Enrollment in the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898 - 1914
# Index to the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory, 1898 - 1914
# Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory, 1898 - 1914
# Correspondence of Pine Ridge Day School Inspector J. J. Duncan, February 9, 1910 - September 6, 1916
# American Indians, 1881 - 1885
# General Correspondence File of the Albuquerque Indian School, 1881 - 1936
# Index to Applications Submitted for the Eastern Cherokee Roll of 1909 (Guion Miller Roll)
# Records of the U.S. Court of Claims, Completed Guion Miller Roll

For more on these and many, many other Native American records on file at the National Archives: Click Here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wantabes and Outalucks

Searching for Indian Ancestors in Federal Records

By Kent Carter
Director, National Archives, Fort Worth Branch

Every year, the staff of the Fort Worth Branch of the National Archives gets thousands of letters from people all over the United States who are trying to prove that an ancestor was an Indian. These researchers comprise what must be one of the largest "tribes" in North America, the Wantabes. People wantabe an Indian for a variety of reasons but most are not successful in their efforts to find proof and thus join the ranks of another very large "tribe", the Outalucks. Many people fail in their genealogical research because they are not familiar with the records of the Federal government which relate to the American Indian. Hopefully, the following information will help researchers avoid becoming an Outaluck.

As with most genealogical research, the best results are obtained by beginning with yourself and working your way backward in time. It is virtually impossible to begin with Pocahontas and Captain John Smith and work your way forward. With the exception of Emmett Starr's Old Cherokee Families and a few similar works, there are very few published genealogies of famous Indians. There is no computer that will provide you with a list of all Geronimo's descendants.

Interviewing family members, especially at picnics and reunions when they may be in a good mood and willing to talk, often provides enough basic information about names, places of residence, and approximate dates of birth and death to allow you to begin the search.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Morgan's Christmas Raid

After the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky on October 8, 1862, Union General Don Carlos Buell was relieved of command and replaced with William S. Rosecrans. Rosecrans renamed the Army of the Ohio and changed the name to the Army of the Cumberland. With his new Army, Rosecrans pushed into Southern territory. In order to keep his army feed and well supplied, he needed to keep the Louisville & Nashville Railroad operating at full capacity. Rosecrans made sure that the Louisville & Nashville Railroad was heavily defended with stockades at the tunnels and bridges.

Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, the “Thunderbolt of the Confederacy”, was a Kentucky native and knew the Louisville & Nashville Railroad well. He decided that the best place to disrupt Rosecrans supply line was at a pair of one hundred foot high trestles that ran for about five hundred feet. They were located below Louisville, Kentucky, just north of Elizabethtown, and ran through Muldraugh’s Hill. After consulting with Confederate General Braxton Bragg, commander of the Army of Tennessee, Bragg gave Morgan permission for his raid.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Guerilla Warfare in Kentucky

In 1863, 1864, and 1865 guerilla warfare plagued Kentucky. Some of the most notorious, bloody thirsty men roamed Kentucky pillaging, looting, and killing. Men like Sue Mundy, Champ Ferguson, Henry Magruder, William Quantrell, and Sam “One Arm” Berry, committed atrocious crimes on not only Union forces but also the general population. Who were these men and how did Kentucky become the center stage for guerilla warfare? This article will focus on the causes behind guerilla warfare, on some of the most notorious guerillas in Kentucky, and their demise.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: Tomorrow a raid into Kentucky by the famous Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan will be described in detail.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Big Changes at

By Dick Eastman

The web site has received a major facelift. This site is operated by the National Archives and Records Administration. Now the information is easier to search than ever before.

The website is the public face of a year-long series of changes: from an enhanced social media presence, a revamped Federal Register website and a new Archives researcher wiki space:

* A new homepage selected by user feedback
* Interactive map of Archives locations nationwide
* Streamlined access to historical documents and military service records, which 81 percent of Archives website visitors said they were looking for
* Sections organized by topic, which focused on the needs of both everyday browsers and experienced researchers
* Links to social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Archives blogs

The No. 1 goal, according to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, was making the site more usable.

To continue reading: Click Here.

To visit the revamped National Archives web site: Click Here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Appalachian Region Maps

University of Kentucky Appalachian Center

Maps that cover the Appalachian Region, as designated by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The maps were compiled at the UK Appalachian Center using various data sources. Clicking on the JPG link will open a low quality version of the map in your browser window. Clicking on the PDF link will open a high quality map in Acrobat Reader, if that is installed.

To see the maps: Click Here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Historic Map Works Switches to Digital

By Dick Eastman

Charles Carpenter Sr., owner of Historic Map Works, says the company has now digitized millions of maps, atlases and images that previously took up too much space in the company's old location. The project cost $5 million and took five years to complete. The company is hoping to capitalize on the rising interest of genealogy, a multi-billion dollar industry.

Now that Historic Map Works has digitized its entire collection and holds the licenses to those products, Carpenter says the firm is ready to increase paid website subscriptions and will soon launch a Facebook application that will incorporate its search engine, Historic Earth. Carpenter expects both to be available by the end of this year.

The company has more than 2 million images of documents, fine prints, maps and other records online and more than 226,000 images that are geocoded, which means a user can drag an older map of a city or town over a current map to see how various communities have evolved over time. "We have the largest digital collection and online collection in the world," he says. In a room adjacent to Carpenter's office five servers run 240 to 250 terabytes of data, he says. A terabyte is equal to 1,024 gigabytes.

The Historic Earth application, launched last year, allows users to enter a location by city or town in the United States and a few other countries and learn about its evolution from the early 1400s to 2002. The company's website has 15,000 to 20,000 registered users and sees 2,000 site visits per day.

For more information: Click Here.

To visit Historic Map Works: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Review: Uneven Ground

Failed Policies, Flawed Theories
And the Tragedy of Postwar Appalachia
Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008
ISBN 978-0-8131-2523-7
By Ronald D. Eller

Reviewed by Kevin Barksdale
Published on H-Appalachia (March, 2009)

In Uneven Ground, historian Ronald D. Eller offers a Braudelian narrative of the social, economic, and political transformation of Appalachia after the Second World War. Focusing primarily on the relationship between relief and development efforts and the deteriorating postwar mountain communities and economy, Eller’s study stands as an indictment of failed governmental policies, faulty theories and models, and corporate greed and irresponsibility. From the acceleration of Appalachia’s postwar economy to the contemporary grassroots efforts to halt mountain-top removal mining practices, Uneven Ground covers a staggering amount of historical terrain and fills a long-overdue gap in the region’s historiography.

Uneven Ground’s six chapters are chronologically organized around the region’s most significant socioeconomic developments and challenges as well as the policies, policymakers, and organizations engaged in attempting to bring “progress” to mountain communities. Chapter 1 recounts the transformative decade following World War II in Appalachia. Eller argues that the expansion of Appalachia’s postwar economy was “flawed” and ultimately led to “growth without [infrastructural] development” (p. 11). As the coal industry boomed amid soaring markets and technological innovation, Appalachia experienced debilitating out-migration, increased absentee land ownership, environmental devastation, agricultural collapse, rising unemployment, and limited non-resource extraction economic development. Confronted with an increasingly desperate regional constituency, Appalachia’s political leadership proved ineffective in transcending the region’s corrupt “feudal political system” and providing resolutions to the systemic problems within the mountains (p. 35). The failure of native political leaders to offer solutions to rising regional poverty and economic inequality led to the widespread belief that federal intervention within the mountains was necessary to improve life in Appalachia.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Membership Records Management for Genealogical and Historical Societies

Announcing a web site dedicated to a project for developing a records management system for genealogical and historical societies.

PURPOSE overcome the problems of genealogical and historical societies that do not own their own computer, do not have an office or paid staff to maintain records, whose officers are geographically separated with no access to a centrally maintained paper record filing system, where officer turnover often results in inconsistent methods of member record keeping, and where officers have varying degrees of aptitude with computer usage.

The solution is to use resources that may already be available to a society if they have a hosted website of their own. With a web database for member records, including contact information, dues status, a surname directory, and members' skills and interests data, the society's key officers can access the membership data on a need-to-see basis and avoid conflicts in record keeping and duplication of effort.

To read more: Click Here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coal Creek

War and Disasters

Coal Creek Miners
The miners of Coal Creek, in Anderson County, Tennessee, left their mark on history. They fueled the industrial revolution. They fought the Tennessee Militia to abolish the use of convict miners by private industry during the Coal Creek War of 1891 to 1892. About 300 Coal Creek miners, many of them veterans of the Coal Creek War, perished in mine disasters in 1902 (Fraterville) and 1911 (Cross Mountain). Mine disasters like these raised public awareness of the hazards of mining, resulting in advances in mine safety practices. In the early part of the 20th century, thousands of coal miners died in the United States each year. In 2004, coal mining fatalities in the U.S. numbered 28. Here’s their story.

For the story of the Coal Creek War and the mining disasters of 1902 and 1911: Click Here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

In the Tunnel

Miners with Open Flame Lamps, September 1908. Gary, West Virginia
When men first began to tunnel into the earth to remove coal, open flame lamps or candles were the only devices to light one's way. If a miner opened a pocket of lethal gas, the lack of oxygen could not only snuff out his open flame light — a warning too late — but the lives of miners also could be snuffed out. This is why miners often carried caged live canaries into the tunnels. Canaries are more sensitive than humans to diminished oxygen and poisonous gases and provided an early warning to miners. Even more obvious, an open flame could trigger an explosion or fire.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bacon's Rebellion

And the Defeat of the Saponi Tribes
At Occoneechee Island

By Linda Carter

The story of the Great Trading Path, centered at Occoneeche Island in what is now Clarksville, VA, is inextricably intertwined with that of Bacon's Rebellion — the first rebellion American colonists were to wage against British governmental authority. It's fascinating how the paradigm with which one approaches a story colors one's perception of it. During the heyday of American expansionism, from the days of Andrew Jackson and his Removal policy towards Indians east of the Mississippi, on through the institution of hereditary slavery and later Jim Crow, researchers saw Bacon as something of a hero, an early version of George Washington, perhaps. The Virginia governor, William Berkeley, was painted in the light of a corrupt despot.

It wasn't until the 1950's, when thoughtful academics were horrified by the witchhunt tactics of McCarthyism, and inspired by the first stirrings of the Civil Rights Movement, that Bacon's Rebellion began to be seen in an entirely different light. Elements of evidence were uncovered in England, namely Governor Berkeley's own account of Bacon's rebellion, which cast Bacon as a genocidal supremacist, while Berkeley saw himself as the "liberal" civil servant, trying to maintain an honorable and just treatment of neighboring nations.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Virginia Native History

AT THE dawn of the seventeenth century, three distinct groups of Indian tribes, representing three different linguistic stocks, occupied the territory that is now Virginia. Along the coast and up the tidal rivers to their falls were the many palisaded settlements of the Algonquian group, the Powhatan confederacy, enemy of the Siouan stock composed of the Monacan and Manahoac federations that spread from the banks of the upper James and the headwaters of the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers to the Allegheny Mountains. The bellicose and scattered Iroquoian stock was represented by the Conestoga (Susquehanna) tribe of nearly 6oo warriors living in fortified towns near the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay; the Rickohockan or Rechahecrian (who are identified with the Cherokee by most ethnologists, as the Yuchi by John Reed Swanton), occupying the mountain valleys of the southwest; and the Nottoway in the southeast.

During their first years in Virginia the colonists of the London Company found along the rivers and coast some 200 villages under the leadership of Wahunsonacock, known to the colonists as Powhatan. This chief of an Algonquian confederation, which consisted of about 2,400 warriors, had inherited the territories of the -Powhatan, Arrowhatock, Appamatuck, Pamunkee, Youghtanund, and Mattapament, to which, by later conquest, he had added other tribes, bringing the number under his dominion up to 30 of the 36 'King's howses' or tribal capitals, Werowocomoco, on the left bank of the York River, was Powhatan's favorite, and the one in which, as a prisoner in 16o8, Captain John Smith first saw the powerful chieftain.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Core List of Tennessee Books Suggested for Public Libraries

By the Tennessee State Library and Archives


Ball, Randy. Abandoned: forgotten places of East Tennessee. Rogersville, Appalachian Images, Pub., 1995. A photograph album of northeast Tennessee, black & white pictures taken by Randy Ball.

Beverley, Robert. East Tennessee almanac. Franklin, NC, Sanctuary Press, 1992. Illustrated encyclopedia treating geography, climate, culture, history and politics, economics of eastern Tennessee.

Brewer, Alberta and Carson Brewer. Valley so wild: a folk history. Knoxville, ETHS, 1975. A history of the Tellico River Valley and dam.

Buchanan, Jane Gray. Early inns and taverns of East Tennessee: a photoessay. Knoxville, East Tennessee Historical Society, 1996. Black & white photographs of eastern Tennessee inns, images & text by Jane Gray Buchanan.

Seymour, Digby G. Divided loyalties: Fort Sanders & the Civil War in east Tennessee. Knoxville, ETHS, 1982. Narrative treatment of east Tennessee in the Civil War.

Stokely, Jim. Encyclopedia of east Tennessee. Oak Ridge, Childrens Museum, 1981. Short, illustrated articles on the people, places and events in eastern Tennessee.

Temple, Oliver P. East Tennessee and the Civil War. Cincinnati, The R. Clarke Co., 1899 (reprinted 1972 by Burman Books). Detailed historical account of the Civil War era in eastern Tennessee.

For other regions and statewide sources: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

East Tennessee Doctor

Inspires Medical Students to Help Under Served Communities

The beautiful Appalachian mountains of Hancock County are home to some 6,600 people. Most of them wouldn't dream of living any place else, at least that's the story Dr. John Short tells. After his residency 14 years ago, he returned to his home town of Sneedville.

"You have to enjoy it, you have to want to be in a small town to practice in a small town."

It's a place where everybody knows everybody and Dr. Short is just about everybody's doctor.

"He's a good friend too, very good friend," Patty Gibson says.

Patty's daughter graduated high school with the town doc. She's one of Dr. Short's many homebound patients. Two days a month he makes house calls for patients who can't get out to see a doctor.

To continue reading this story from WBIR in Knoxville and/or watch the original news story reported from Sneedville: Click Here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Appalachian Journal

A Regional Studies Review
Appalachian State University

Appalachian Journal, founded in 1972, is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed quarterly featuring field research, interviews, and other scholarly studies of history, politics, economics, culture, folklore, literature, music, ecology, and a variety of other topics, as well as poetry and reviews of books, films, and recordings dealing with the region of the Appalachian mountains.

Back issues may be ordered; their tables of content are available online.

The visit the Appalachian Journal's web site: Click Here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fire Up the Christmas Pudding!

Not every place has the distinction of being named after a Christmas treat. Tradition holds that Pudding Ridge, NC, in western Davie County, got its name one rainy day in February 1781 during a Revolutionary War engagement. British General Cornwallis was driving his troops through the soggy hillsides in hard pursuit of American General Nathanael Greene, before finally battling his rival near the current day site of Guilford College in Greensboro. The crossing at Dutchman Creek, until the early 1900s the main crossing toward Yadkin County, was so boggy and thick with mud that it reminded the British of pudding (by which they meant “Christmas pudding.”)

The name stuck with the colonists, who would have been as familiar with Christmas pudding as their rivals and understood the reference immediately. Fortunately most Appalachian traditions associated with this classic seasonal treat have a much more positive connotation than that of being chased by enemies through the mud.

For more, including a 19th century recipe for Christmas pudding: Click Here.

Note: Another winner from Dave Tabler and his Appalachian History blog!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Whimmydiddle and the Flipperdinger

Computer games haven’t always dominated the world of childrens’ toys. Two classic wooden folk toys, the whimmydidle and the flipperdinger, have been enjoyed by children for hundreds of years throughout Appalachia. These toys were handmade by people for their own use. Many of the designs for such folk toys were passed down from one generation to the next.

To read the rest of this article, including diagrams, on Dave Tabler's highly recommended Appalachian History blog: Click Here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

National Genealogical Society's 2011 Family History Conference

The National Genealogical Society is pleased to announce that registration has opened for next year's Family History Conference, which will be held at the Charleston Area Convention Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston, SC 29418, 11-14 May 2011. The Society selected Charleston because of its significance in American history. In addition to attending the NGS 2011 Family History Conference, participants will have an opportunity to tour Charleston's historic buildings, churches and homes as well as its many museums and research facilities. The National Genealogical Society anticipates 2,000 genealogists from around the country will attend next year's event.

April 2011 will mark the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War at nearby Ft. Sumter, so the four day family history conference will feature talks on both Revolutionary War and Civil War records. More than seventy-five nationally recognized speakers will provide over one hundred and eighty lectures on a wide variety of topics including research in South Carolina and the surrounding states, migration patterns, religious records, research methodology, and problem solving. The conference program will also include lectures about researching various ethnic groups including Germans, Cherokee, African Americans, Huguenots, Irish, Scots, and Scots-Irish.

Special Saturday workshops include an all day beginner's workshop, "Genealogy 101: Getting Started with Family History" and a "Kids' Kamp" for children and young adults ages eight through sixteen.

An exhibit area with more than one hundred exhibitors will be open and free to the public Wednesday through Saturday including the latest in genealogical software, online research providers and DNA testing services.

For more information and registration: Click Here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Native American Resource Center

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

The mission of the Native American Resource Center is to educate the public about the prehistory, history, culture, art and contemporary issues of American Indians, with special emphasis on the Robeson County Native American community; to conduct scholarly research; to collect and preserve the material culture of Native America; to encourage Native American artists and craftspersons; and to cooperate on a wide range of projects with other agencies concerned with Native America.

Our museum contains exhibits of authentic Indian artifacts, arts and crafts. These items come from Indian people all over North America, from Abenaki to Zuni. Many other items come from North Carolina Native Americans, with special emphasis on Robeson County Indian people. Particular focus is placed on the largest North Carolina tribe, the Lumbee.

To visit: Click Here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sundown Towns

A sundown town is a town that is or was purposely all-White. The term is widely used in the United States and Canada in areas from Ohio to Oregon and well into the South. Even in Canada many towns in Southern Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec were sundown towns prior to 1982, when it was outlawed. The term came from signs that were allegedly posted stating that people of color had to leave the town by sundown. They are also sometimes known as “sunset towns” or “gray towns”. The term is less common in suburbia and on the East Coast, even though the concept was still prevalent in those places. Residents were often systematically excluded from living in or sometimes even passing through these communities after the sun went down. This allowed maids and workmen to provide unskilled labor during the day. They came into existence in the late 19th century during what sociologists have described as the nadir of American race relations. Sundown towns existed throughout the United States, but more often were located in the northern states that were not pre-Civil War slave states. There have not been any de jure sundown towns in the country since the legislation in the 1960s inspired by the American Civil Rights Movement, though de facto sundown towns and counties, where few if any black families live, are still exist.

The definite work on sundown towns is James Loewen's Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism. New York: The New Press, 2005.

For an excellent article on sundown town written for The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture: Click Here.

For an interview with James Loewen: Click Here.

For James Loewen's Sundown Towns web page: Click Here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Confederate Pension Records

From the National Archives

The agencies listed below are repositories for Confederate pension records. The veteran was eligible to apply for a pension to the State in which he lived, even if he served in a unit from a different State. Generally, an applicant was eligible for a pension only if he was indigent or disabled. In your letter to the repository, state the Confederate veteran's name, his widow's name, the unit(s) in which he served, and the counties in which he and his widow lived after the Civil War. Some repositories also have records of Confederate Homes (for veterans, widows, etc.), muster rolls of State Confederate militia, and other records related to the war.

For information on procedures and fees for requesting copies of records, contact the appropriate repository.

For the list of agencies: Click Here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

GeneaQuilts: A System for Exploring Large Genealogies

By Anastasia Bezerianos, Pierre Dragicevic, Jean-Daniel Fekete, Juhee Bae, and Ben Watson

IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 
Vol. 16, No. 6 November/December 2010, pp. 1073 - 1081

Abstract—GeneaQuilts is a new visualization technique for representing large genealogies of up to several thousand individuals. The visualization takes the form of a diagonally-filled matrix, where rows are individuals and columns are nuclear families. After identifying the major tasks performed in genealogical research and the limits of current software, we present an interactive genealogy exploration system based on GeneaQuilts. The system includes an overview, a timeline, search and filtering components, and a new interaction technique called Bring & Slide that allows fluid navigation in very large genealogies. We report on preliminary feedback from domain experts and show how our system supports a number of their tasks.

The paper is available online in its entirety at the authors' web site which also includes a descriptive video, which should be viewed before reading the paper, a number of examples of the use of this new technique, and software for implementing on your computer.

To visit the web site: Click Here.

Note: The IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, one of its journals surely being a most unlikely place to find a genealogical innovation.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Review: Appalachian Winter Hauntings

Weird Holiday Tales from the Mountains

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen Book Critic

"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens can be credited with furthering the art of the ghostly or horrific and scary Christmas story, but the tradition goes back well before the great English writer published his novella in December 1843.

As Michael Knost points out in his introduction to "Appalachian Winter Hauntings: Weird Holiday Tales from the Mountains" (Woodland Press, 134 pages, $14.95), edited by Knost and Mark Justice, the reason Santa Claus left a lump of coal for naughty children was to burn them! The eleven stories in the book delve into ancient legends from various countries that reinforce the scary side of Christmas. Santa's merry elves were originally demons who were said to eat unworthy children.

Dickens -- and American writer Washington Irving with his 1822 novel "Bracebridge Hall" -- helped sanitize the holiday to create an idealized version of Christmas in a society torn asunder by the rapid industrialization of England and the United States -- a common theme in writing by Dickens who experienced it himself.

Of course, perhaps the best attempt to create a jolly Santa was "A Visit from St. Nicholas" published anonymously in 1823 and generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863). It inspired the classic Coca-Cola ads and created the images we think of today with Santa and his reindeer -- and jolly, not bloodthirsty elves.

Appalachian Winter Hauntings features eleven bone-chilling stories -- by many of the preeminent storytellers in the business --that are appropriate to the Appalachian region and relative to the heart of the holiday season.

Contributors include: Ronald Kelly, Brian J. Hatcher, Patricia Hughes, Steve Vernon, S. Clayton Rhodes, Steve Rasnic Tem, Sara J. Larson, Scott Nicholson, J.G. Faherty. EmmaLee Pallai, and Elizabeth Massie. The texture is gritty and the stories are moving.

The collection features cover art by Kerem Beyit ( and begins with a suitably scary story by Ronald Kelly, "The Peddler's Journey," which turns on the element of a tiny carved horse that comes to life. There's a nice O'Henry surprise ending.

"Yule Cat" by J.G. Faherty takes place during the "longest night of the year....the night when ghosts ride the winds and the Yule Cat roams in search of lazy humans to eat." It's told by a grandfather to his grand kids, who pooh pooh the story as an old grandpa's tale -- until they face the Yule Cat.

"A Soul's Wage" by Brian J. Hatcher brings together two friends from Kentucky and West Virginia in a Baltimore bar. Preston, from Kentucky, buys highly collectible coal mine scrip from his West Virginia pal Derek. Both men came to the big city to seek their fortunes and have succeeded -- they think. The scrip is the McGuffin in this story -- which turns on the uncertain job security of our present time.

Old School Christmas demons figure in "The Christmas Bane" by S. Clayton Rhodes. Myron "Lefty" Bohach has been apprehended by Carbon Hill's police chief, Dalton Strecker, and is languishing in a jail cell at Christmas time. Strecker apparently wants to redeem career criminal Lefty as he tells him how to avoid the clutches of a character called Krampus, the dark side of St. Nicholas.

The stories are well written and should make people who think they are fortunate this holliday season feel better about their lives -- or maybe not! Readers have come to expect good regional writing from Chapmanville, WV based Woodland Press LLC, and this latest collection won't disappoint.

For more information: Click Here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Surviving an Appalachian Winter

It's pleasant to look through a window at white stuff blanketing the ground, toast one another around the ski lodge, or watch television in a centrally-heated house. How different times were for our predecessors in the Appalachian region, the hardy English and Scottish settlers who made their way to these hills in the late 1700's, and for the Cherokee Indians who used these lands as hunting grounds.

In the earliest days of pioneer settlement, preparations for winter actually began early in the autumn, according to John Peterson, Educational Director for Hickory Ridge Homestead in Boone. "In winter and late fall, you'd usually start hunting to stock up on your meat," Peterson says. "But hunting was something you could do all winter long. Since you didn't have any crops to tend, you could focus on your hunting. You had deer, turkey, elk, and buffalo here in the late 1700's."

To continue reading:  Click Here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Taking Care of Your Own Archives

By Catherine Shteynberg
The Bigger Picture
The Smithsonian Institution Archives Blog

As many of you may know, last week, as a part of the Smithsonian’s October Archives Month celebrations, Smithsonian Institution Archives experts answered your questions about your own personal archives. The Facebook Q&A session we held over at the main Smithsonian Facebook page was a great success, and so we wanted to highlight some of the interesting questions that came out of the session. A big thank you, again to you all for your wonderful questions, and a big thumbs up to our two experts, Nora Lockshin, SIA’s Paper Conservator, and Lynda Schmitz Fuhrig, SIA’s Electronic Archivist, for taking the time to answer these questions.

For answers to such questions as:

How do you remove photographs from an old album that is falling apart or damaged?
What is the best way to store old photographs, family papers and documents?
If I am going to scan items in order to preserve them, what resolution should I scan them at, and what file format do you recommend?
Should I take digital photographs of analog photographs, documents, backup?

...and more: Click Here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Bonus Entry

For a simple Thanksgiving Day gift: Click Here.

Hint: Once you follow the link, scroll down for the words.

The First Thanksgiving was Held Where?

By Dick Eastman

Where was the first Thanksgiving held in North America? If you guessed Plymouth, Massachusetts, guess again. In fact, that probably was not even the second or third Thanksgiving, although we cannot be certain.

For the story behind the story: Click Here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Family Memories at Thanksgiving

By Pam Henson
The Bigger Picture
The Smithsonian Institution Archive Blog

What better time to capture family memories and stories than when you and your relatives gather to celebrate Thanksgiving? For the past several years, several organizations have encouraged families to listen to one another and record family history over the Thanksgiving weekend. StoryCorps, for example, has launched The National Day of Listening. So put down that pumpkin pie and forget about the mad dash to the mall. When the parade is over, sit down with an older family member and ask them about their lives, their memories, their stories. Many families have started to ask older family members to tell stories at the Thanksgiving dinner table—memories that provoke more memories and stories. It’s a wonderful way to connect older generations with newer ones, and to create a shared family tradition.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chronology of Robert Benge

Chronology of Robert Benge, aka Chief Bench
Copyrighted by Don Chesnut, 1997

(Click to Enlarge)
Robert Benge was born circa 1760 probably in the Cherokee village Toquo to John Benge and Wurteh, a Cherokee. Robert grew up to be the most notorious Cherokee in history. He was so feared in the central Appalachian areas of present-day Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, that the settlers admonished their children by saying, "if you don't watch out, Captain Benge will get you."

Toquo was a Cherokee village on the Little Tennessee River in present-day southeastern Tennessee. Robert grew up as a Cherokee, but with his red hair, European look, and his good command of English, he could also pass as a pure Euro-American. He used this double identity to good effect in his raids against the settlers. He was known as Captain Benge, Chief Benge, Chief Bench, or just The Bench. If he had a Cherokee name, it is not known.

Robert's father was John Benge, an Indian trader who lived among the Cherokee, and his mother was Wurteh who was part of an influential Cherokee family.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hawkins County Historical Markers

A number of Hawkins County’s historic sites are designated by historic markers placed by the Tennessee Historical Commission.  Listed below are the locations, titles and texts of the THC historical markers in Hawkins County.

Gov. McMinn’s Home
Near here was the site of “New Market”, home of Joseph McMinn, Revolutionary veteran, Governor of Tennessee, 1815-1821, and Indian agent for the Cherokee from 1823 to his death near Calhoun, on the Hiwassee River, in 1824. He is buried there.

First Settlers
About 1 1/2 miles west and north of here, in Carter’s Valley, Joseph Kinkead and John Long, first known pioneers to what later became Hawkins County, settled in 1769-70. The valley is named for Col. John Carter, who first settled here and later became a prominent member of the Watauga Settlement. Marker located on U. S. 11W, 3 miles west of Sullivan County line.

Patterson’s Mill
On the site of this mill, Robert Patterson built a fort about 1775, shortly thereafter a mill. It was one of the two stations at which the settlers took refuge during the Cherokee raid under The Raven in 1776. Marker located on U. S. 11W in Church Hill.

Carter’s Store
One mile west is the site of the store established by John Carter and William Parker. This store was pillaged in the Shawnee raid in 1774; at the Sycamore Shoals Treaty in 1775, the proprietors were awarded the whole Carter’s Valley as reparation. Marker located west of Church Hill.

Rice’s Mill
On the site of this mill, Henry Rice built and fortified a mill in 1775. Here, in 1776, the settlers took refuge from warring Cherokee. In April, 1777, Capt. James Robertson and eight other pioneers had a fight with 30 or 40 Cherokee here, in which Frederick Calvatt was scalped. Marker located on U. S. 11W, 2 miles west of Church Hill.

New Providence Church
One-half mile west is this Presbyterian Church, established in Carter’s Valley in 1780 by Rev. Charles Cummings and Rev. Samuel Doak. It was moved to its present location in 1815. A cemetery is at the old site.  Marker located on U. S. 11W, 6.5 miles west of Church Hill.

Great Indian War Path
From here north to the Virginia boundary at Bristol, the highway parallels this ancient and important Indian trail.  South of here the War Path was east of the highway, crossing the Holston at Dodson’s Ford.  Marker located on U. S. 11W, 2 miles west of Surgoinsville.

Mitchell’s Hollow
About two miles southwest, about 1780, young Joab Mitchell, who had successfully made the trip to the North Fork of the Holston bringing salt for the besieged garrison at Big Creek Fort, was ambushed and mortally wounded by Indians. Beating them off, he galloped his horse to the fort, where he died.  Marker located on U. S. 11W, 1 mile northwest of Yellow Store.

Thomas Gibbons
Born in Surry (now Sussex) County, Virginia, in 1734, he settled here in 1778, having been forcibly ejected from a homestead about 12 miles east by one Robert Young. The courts of Spencer County, State of Franklin, met in his house 1785-1787. On June 4, 1787, the first county court of Hawkins County, North Carolina, met here. Gibbons died in 1811.  Marker located on U. S. 11W, at Blevins Road at Big Creek.

Michael Looney
7.9 miles north was the homestead of this pioneer, veteran of Lord Dunmore’s War and of the Revolution, originally from Botetourt County, VA. Among his descendants were Joseph Emerson Brown, governor of Georgia during the Civil War, Joseph Mackay Brown, also a governor. Looney is buried in the family cemetery. Marker located on U. S. 11W at Rural Road 2366.

Big Creek Skirmish November 6, 1863
4 miles southwest, to the north of Big Creek, the Confederate cavalry brigades of Gen. Sam Jones, coming from Rogersville, and of Col. Henry Giltner, coming from Surgoinsville, caught between them the 2nd Tennessee Mounted Infantry (Federal) and a detachment of the 7th Ohio Cavalry, and captured the whole force. Marker located on U. S. 11W 2.2 miles east of Rogersville.

Amis House
About 1 1/2 miles south is the stone house built by Thomas Amis between 1781 and 1783. He was Captain and Commissary of North Carolina troops in the Revolution; and original member of the Society of the Cincinnati, and legislator. He established here a distillery, forge, store and tavern, at which many notables stopped.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Once in a Blue Moon

Blue Moon of Kentucky
By Bill Monroe, 1947

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.

There is a blue moon today. And there is much confusion as to what actually constitutes a blue moon.

For the facts: Click Here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hawkins County Guidebook

The 2009 Hawkins County Guidebook is designed to introduce
newcomers to the county and to serve as a resource and information guide for its long-time residents

It was more than two hundred and a few odd years ago when a man named Carter settled in a beautiful valley. The state of North Carolina
granted him a huge amount of land. There, he established a store and a home. From these humble beginnings, Hawkins County has grown into a progressive community with bustling towns, diverse industries and peaceful farms.

One of the oldest Tennessee counties,Hawkins County was first established as a separate North Carolina county on January 6, 1787, when the state legislature divided Sullivan County, North Carolina. The original county was quite large, extending from the North Fork of the Holston River southwestwardly almost reaching present-day Chattanooga. Other counties, or parts of counties, later created from Hawkins include Hancock, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Roane, Meigs and Hamilton. Prior to its creation by North Carolina, the county was Spencer County, State of Franklin.

To see the guidebook: Click Here.

Note: The Hawkins County Guidebook is in PDF format and is about 30 MB in size.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Melungeon History — Research and Resources

Belk Library Special Collections
Appalachian State University


This pathfinder contains materials pertaining to the ethnically unknown group, the Melungeons. Here you will find general history, cultural studies, linguistic studies, genetic studies and nonfictional works about the Melungeons and their communities, from their first discovery by early explorers, to the most recent research. The works in the pathfinder also contain information pertaining to the theories of the Melungeons origin.

A good Introduction to the history of the Melungeons and Melungeon research can be found in:

Everett, C. S. "Melungeon History and Myth." Appalachian Journal . ASU APP COLL STACKS: F216.2 .A66. See v. 26, #4 (1999), pp. 358-409.

To continue: Click Here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Journal of Appalachian Studies

The Journal is a refereed journal published twice per year by the Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) with support from the Marshall University. It is the official journal of the ASA, a multi-disciplinary organization for scholars, teachers, activists, and others whose work focuses on the Appalachian region. The Journal of Appalachian Studies supersedes earlier publications of the ASA, including Proceedings and the Journal of the Appalachian Studies Association.

Individual subscription rate is $50 per year (student rate $30, proof required), and includes membership in the Appalachian Studies Association Tables of content for all issues are available online and back issues of interest may be ordered.

For more information: Click Here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Uncovering the Trail of Ethnic Denial: Ethnicity in Appalachia

An Excerpt From
Diversity in the U.S. South
Carol D. Hill and Patricia E. Beaver, Editors
Southern Anthropological Society

There is a pervasive idea that Appalachia is inhabited by white people of northern European ancestry. While social scientists, journalist and novelist all acknowledge the presence of the occasional "other," white ethnic homogeneity is an assumption underlying most references to the region. The story may include a few black people in the towns, still fewer Indians localized on the Cherokee reservation, and a sprinkling of new ethnicities like Asians and Hispanics, but they don't really figure into regional history. Cultural analysis has consistently begun with Anglo-Saxon/Scotch Irish cultural domination.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Appalachian Studies Bibliography

Cumulation 1994 - 2008
Courtesy of West Virginia University


Agriculture and Land Use
Appalachian Studies
Archaeology and Physical Anthropology
Architecture, Historic Buildings, Historic Sites
Arts and Crafts
Civil War, Military
Coal, Industry, Labor, Railroads, Transportation
Description and Travel, Recreation and Sports
Economic Conditions, Economic Development, Economic Policy, Poverty
Environment, Geology, Natural History, Rivers, Parks
Ethnicity and Race, African Americans, Immigrants, Native Americans
Frontier and Pioneer Life, Pre-Industrial Appalachia
Health and Medicine
Literature, Language, Dialect
Mass Media, Stereotypes
Migration, Population, Urban Appalachians
Politics and Government
Social Conditions, Social Life and Customs

To consult this 652 page bibliography: Click Here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Rogersville Heritage Association

The Rogersville [Tennessee] Heritage Association is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of historic buildings and historic areas in Rogersville, to the ongoing heritage education of Rogersville’s citizens, and to the improvement of the economic structure of Rogersville through cooperative efforts with the City of Rogersville and the Rogersville-Hawkins County Chamber of Commerce.

The Heritage Association has been instrumental in helping beautify the downtown historic area. It owns and maintains the following historic Rogersville properties:

* Hale Springs Inn
* Crockett Spring Park
* Joseph Rogers Tavern
* The Old Tavern House
* Tennessee Newspaper & Printing Museum

For more information; Click Here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Elrod Falls

Amazingly one of the most beautiful and accessible water wonders in East Tennessee remains a somewhat secluded area still waiting for people to discover it. Once you go, you will not only know why this is a must see; you will also know why not many people have found it.

Elrod Falls is in Hancock County about 10 miles from Sneedville. Elrod actually consists of a series of three waterfalls cascading off a steep ridge. From the parking lot at the base of the first falls, a quick stroll will get you into quick view of what most people refer to as Elrod Falls.

There are two pools of water at the base of the first fall with the closest being a popular spot for swimming. There are plenty of rocks to sit on and gaze at the water cascading down the flat rock wall. The pool of water at the base reaches a depth of about seven or eight feet, but is very narrow and several rocks in the bottom of the pool make it easy "walk" across. There is even a point on the left side of the falls where nature has carved out a seat where you can sit and let the water fall all over you.

As you look across the creek you will notice the start of a trail that will lead you up to Elrod Falls 2.0 and 3.0

For more information,including directions: Click Here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Civil War in Knoxville

Knoxville, a small city of about 3,700 people according to the 1860 census, was strategically very important to the Confederates during the Civil War. The shortest rail route from Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, to Chattanooga and hence the rest of the South was through Knoxville. Without Knoxville in Confederate control, supplies, soldiers and information had to travel longer routes on either side of East Tennessee.

Equally important to the Confederates were the food stuffs and natural resources, such as saltpeter and copper, that could be supplied by East Tennesseans. And, of course, if Knoxville was important to the Confederates, it would be important to the Federal forces for the same reasons.

Knoxville and East Tennessee held a unique position in the Confederacy. Although Tennessee voted to join the Confederacy, East Tennessee remained throughout the war staunchly Unionist. To complicate matters, Knoxville was a blend of Union and Confederate supporters. This combination would ensure that Knoxville and East Tennessee saw their share of political and military fighting during the Civil War.

Knoxville was the home of one of the most intense Union supporters, William Brownlow, editor of the Knoxville Whig newspaper. Even after Tennessee voted to join the Confederacy, Brownlow kept up his attack on the Confederacy and its leaders. Finally the Confederates imprisoned Brownlow, later forcing him into exile outside of Tennessee where he lectured and wrote to further the cause of the Union. After the war he was elected governor of Tennessee.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: Governor Brownlow holds a very special place in Melungeon studies.

For more on that: Click Here and Click Here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Jamestown Records of the Virginia Company of London

The Jamestown Records of the Virginia Company of London, part of the Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress, uniquely illuminate a critical era of early American history. Jefferson incorporated them into his own papers because he recognized their great historic value. This essay by Sylvia R. Albro and Holly H. Krueger, Senior Paper Conservators at the Library of Congress, tells the remarkable story of how these records were rescued from disintegration and suggests some of the many ways in which the physical conservation of historic documents is vital to the acquisition and preservation of historical knowledge. In this online presentation, the original Jamestown Records may be seen in Volumes 16 and 17 of The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 8.

To continue reading: Click Here.

To see the Jamestown Records: Click Here.

For a timeline of the Jamestown Records: Click Here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Old West Point Applicant Letters Being Put Online

Years before leading his vastly outnumbered troops to their doom at Little Bighorn, a young George Armstrong Custer was described as accurate in math.

Nearly 30 years before his March to the Sea laid waste to a large swath of Georgia, William Tecumseh Sherman was deemed a "fine energetic boy."

And two decades before he would earn the nickname "Stonewall," Thomas J. Jackson's dreams of a military career got a boost from a man who would help start the Civil War.

Those are some of the tidbits gleaned from more than 115,000 U.S. Military Academy application documents being posted online for the first time by The Provo, Utah-based genealogy website said Tuesday that the information can be viewed for free starting Thursday — Veterans Day — through Sunday.

For more information: Click Here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

DNA Testing for Genealogy

What Can It Do For You??

Paper by MHS Board Member Roberta Estes

DNA testing for genealogy didn’t even exist a few years ago. In 1999, the first tests were performed for genetic genealogy and this wonderful tool which would change genealogy forever was born for the consumer marketplace from the halls of academia.

Initially we had more questions than answers. If it’s true that we have some amount of DNA from all of our ancestors, how can we tell which pieces are from which ancestor? How much can we learn from our DNA? Where did we come from both individually and as population subgroups? How can it help me knock down those genealogy brick walls?

In just a few short years, we have answers for some of these questions. However, in this still infant science we continue to learn every day. But before we discuss the answers, let’s talk for just a minute about how DNA works.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One-Step Web Pages

A One-Step Portal for On-Line Genealogy

By Stephen P. Morse

In the “old days” genealogical research was done by traveling great distances and then going through dusty archives or using microfilm readers. But the advent of the World Wide Web has changed that. Today much of the data useful to genealogists has been put on websites and can be accessed from the comfort of home.

Unfortunately, many of these websites are not easy to use. And those that are don’t always offer all the versatility that is possible. For that reason I have created alternate ways of accessing some of these websites. In addition I have developed some of my own databases and programs to facilitate doing genealogical research. These are all collected together under what I call the One-Step website.

The name “One Step” was chosen when I developed my first search tool, which allowed for searches through the Ellis Island records. A search done from the website involved many steps, whereas my search tool was able to do it all in one step. Hence I called that tool “Searching the Ellis Island Database in One Step.” Little did I realize that, by choosing such a name, my website would become branded and I would be forced to use One-Step on all subsequent tools. I almost called that early tool “Searching the Ellis Island Database with Fewer Tears,” in which case this paper would be about the Fewer Tears website.

In this paper I’ll present an overview of what the One-Step website has to offer and, in doing so, will introduce other resources that are available on the web.

To continue reading: Click Here.

To go directly to the One-Step Portal: Click Here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Burned Counties

The phrase "burned counties" was first used for research in Virginia where many county records were destroyed in courthouse fires, or during the Civil War. The strategies for researching places where a local courthouse or repository was wiped out by flood, fire, war, or cleaning-streak clerks are useful in similar situations all around the United States, Canada, and throughout the world.

For a good deal more on this subject: Click Here.

Note: Even when the usual records have not been destroyed, it's always good develop alternate sources to confirm and expand on them.

For more on Virginia burned counties in particular: Click Here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Barthell Coal Mining Camp

Dating back to 1902, Barthell was the first of 18 mining camps belonging to the Stearns Coal and Lumber Co.

With love and hard work, we have reconstructed the Barthell Coal Mining Camp from old photographs along with oral and written history.

Located just 7 miles west of Stearns, KY off Highway 742, Barthell Coal Camp offers personal guided tours, good country cooking, and cozy Company Houses with modern amenities and old-fashioned charm for overnight stays. The camp also includes facilities for family reunions, meetings, and other special occasions.

For more information: Click Here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bell County, Kentucky Coal Camp

These pictures were all taken towards the end of 1945 in Bell County Kentucky. They show a brief view of life in a Coal Camp. There were literally hundreds of camps just like these spread out through out the Kentucky Highlands. Life was hard, short and difficult for the families that retrieved millions of dollars worth of coal from the mountains. Unfortunately, for the families of the miners and for the region as a whole, the profits went to interests outside the region. Large mining concerns stole the coal from the hills and gave almost nothing in return.

To view the pictures: Click Here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Blue Fugates of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky

Six generations after a French orphan named Martin Fugate settled on the banks of eastern Kentucky's Troublesome Creek with his redheaded American bride, his great-great-great great grandson was born in a modern hospital not far from where the creek still runs.

The boy inherited his father's lankiness and his mother's slightly nasal way of speaking.

What he got from Martin Fugate was dark blue skin. "It was almost purple," his father recalls.

Doctors were so astonished by the color of Benjamin "Benjy" Stacy's skin that they raced him by ambulance from the maternity ward in the hospital near Hazard to a medical clinic in Lexington.

Two days of tests produced no explanation for skin the color of a bruised plum.

A transfusion was being prepared when Benjamin's grandmother spoke up. "Have you ever heard of the blue Fugates of Troublesome Creek?" she asked the doctors.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Passports of Southeastern Pioneers, 1770-1823

Indian, Spanish and Other Land Passports for Tennessee, Kentucky
Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, North and South Carolin

By Dorothy W. Potter

The southern states east of the Mississippi were in a territory that was for a long time under Spanish or Indian jurisdiction. By law, only persons issued passports were allowed to enter the southeastern territories, and so the passport records have the largest body of data relating to the pioneers to the Southeastern United States. Dorothy W. Potter spent eight years doing research in the records of the War Department, the State Department, the archives of the individual states, as well as records of the Spanish and the British in West Florida. So she has assembled a complete collection of the passports and travel documents issued to individuals and families going to the Mississippi Valley area from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

A limited but fully searchable preview of this work is available from Googgle Books.

To access: Click Here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gaia Family Tree

Gaia Family Tree was conceived with the intention of creating innovative, easy-to-use and fun genealogy software that is accessible to consumers who are looking to build their family tree. The goal is to simplify the process of managing a family tree by offering a complete tool; one that best utilizes established industry standards and formats. From starting your family tree to enriching it, the process has never been as fun and as easy as Gaia Family Tree makes it. And best of all, the product is free of charge.

To have a look: Click Here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

At Great Expense, Railroad Bypassed First Black-founded Town in the US

Ignoring topography, efficiency, expense and even their own surveyors' recommendations, regional railroad officials in the mid-19th century diverted a new rail line around New Philadelphia, Ill., "the first town in the United States planned, platted and legally registered by an African American," a University of Illinois researcher reports. The bypass pushed what would have been a fairly straight, even run of railroad tracks from Griggsville, Ill. to Hannibal, Mo., in a wide, hilly arc around New Philadelphia.

The findings, reported in Historical Archaeology, are the result of an exhaustive review of railroad company records, maps, government orders, land deeds, surveys, engineering reports and newspaper accounts from the period.

Founded in 1836, New Philadelphia began as an audacious experiment that tested the limits of racial tolerance in a country divided by slavery. Decades before the Civil War, black and white families lived and worked together in New Philadelphia. Frank McWorter, a Kentucky slave who had managed to buy his wife's freedom and then his own in the early 1800s, bartered for land in Illinois and later expanded his holdings to build the town. Over the years, McWorter rescued several other slaves, bringing them north to Illinois.

To continue reading this summary: Click Here.

To read the entire paper, in PDF format: Click Here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Virginia Records, 1606-1737

Now Online at the Library of Congress

The Virginia Records volumes were part of Jefferson's personal library. These volumes were very fragile when Jefferson first collected them, can only be handled with the greatest care today, and are generally not made available for researchers except in microfilm format. Their presentation here, online, makes this unacknowledged treasure widely available to the public for the first time in an easily accessible format.

To consult the collection: Click Here.

Even if you're not up to delving into these primary records, the accompanying early Virginia timeline is of interest.

To see it: Click Here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Brown Mountain Lights

A true ghost story is found in the hills of Burke County, NC, where the eerie Brown Mountain Lights dance along the ridgeline of a low-slung mountain in the famous Linville Gorge wilderness. On clear, moonless nights, especially in March and October, observers see orbs of light rise from the mountaintop and dance along the ridge before rising and fading into the air. The lights are of various colors, and some even change shades while they are in view.

Brown Mountain is rather nondescript. It rises 2,600 feet at the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and is a long, flat ridge with few distinguishing marks. But when the sun goes down, all eyes nearby turn to its summit hoping for a glimpse of the legendary lights.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: Both today's and yesterday's blog entries come from Dave Tabler's always-recommended Appalachian History blog,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Story of the Wampus Cat

In Missouri they call it a Gallywampus; in Arkansas it’s the Whistling Wampus; in Appalachia it’s the just a plain old Wampus (or Wampas) cat. A half-dog, half-cat creature that can run erect or on all fours, it’s rumored to be seen just after dark or right before dawn all throughout the Appalachians. But that’s about all everyone agrees on. In non-Native American cultures it’s a howling, evil creature, with yellow eyes that can supposedly pierce the hearts and souls of those unfortunate enough to cross its path, driving them to the edge of sanity.

Cherokee folklore, which is filled with tales of evil spirits lurking in the deep, dark forests that surrounded their villages, offers a different view of the Wampas cat.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: I can remember my grandfather in Arkansas talking about wampus cats (the article above not withstanding, he did not call it a whistling wampus).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Alexander Goins

Alexander Goins was the subject of a ballad written about 1844 by Gabriel Church of Wise County, according to Blue Ridge Institute who displayed the ballad on its website.

Alexander Goins, an itinerant peddler who frequented the area of Big Stone Gap, was killed in 1844 by thieves in Wise County [then Lee County]. Goins was ambushed by George Hall and his band of renegades, but he escaped to the house of Eli Boggs. Unfortunately for Goins, Boggs was in collusion with Hall. Offering to show Goins another route out of the area, Boggs led Goins into a trap, where Hall's men were hiding, and Goins was shot and killed.

V. N. "Bud" Phillips of Bristol, Virginia, a great-great grandson of Eli Boggs, wrote in June 1994 that Alexander Goins was buried on the Boggs farm located near Stonega, Virginia. He mentioned that he had searched for the grave, but was uncertain that he had found it.

John Andrew Boggs wrote February 17, 2000:

“The Virgil L. Patterson book notes that Eli was born in 1781 and died August 8, 1869 at the age of 81 years. He shows Eli living first at the mouth of Calhoun Creek in Wise County, Virginia. Then later he moved to the headwaters of the Cumberland River in Kentucky, settling on the mountain above the mouth of Franks Creek.

Jack D. Brummett wrote: ‘Eli Boggs moved across the mountain from the area where his father settled in Big Stone Gap, Virginia to near Eolia, in Letcher County, Kentucky.’

Virgil L. Patterson, compiler of the ‘Boggs Family History’ and organizer of Boggs Family Association, had this to say about Eli:

‘In his old days he was partially paralyzed and would sit on his front porch reading a large family Bible and singing Baptist hymns. He would give good advice to the young people gathered around. He died the day of the 'great sun eclipse' and was buried in the old Boggs Cemetery on top of the mountain above Eolia.

Tradition has it that Eli, while living in Wise County, was implicated in the murder of Alexander Goins, a man of the Melungeon people of southwest Virginia and east Tennessee. The murder supposedly took place on a ridge of Nine Mile Spur of Black Mountain known as Goins Ridge and about 300 yards northwest from where Mud Lick Creek empties into Callahan Creek.

There are two versions of the killing, one handed down by the Maggard family who has Boggs ancestry and one by the Church family, with Goins connections. The Maggard version is that Goins was a horse stealer and a bad man in every respect. The late John P. Craft, a respected citizen of Wise County, says Goins stopped overnight with Craft’s grandfather Maggard on Cumberland River the night before he was killed.

When Goins was getting ready to leave the next morning, he pulled down a fine deerskin from the wall, and without as much as 'by your leave' cut the skin into strips which he hung on his saddle horn and rode away. Maggard knew his reputation as a killer and let him go in peace. Mr. Craft believed Eli Boggs and his neighbors did kill Goins, but that they did it because he had previously stolen their stock and not for his money.

The Church family version is that Alexander Goins was a respectable trader dealing in fine horses which he drove from Kentucky to South Carolina to sell. On one of his trips, as he was returning home, he was ambushed for his money on Callahan Creek, near the present mining town of Stonega, Virginia.

He escaped the ambush and traveled down the stream to the home of Eli Boggs, where he had stayed on other trips through the country. Boggs was a member of the ambushing party, and the next morning he offered to show Goins a near way up the Nine Mile Spur. The robbers waited at the spot where the trails crossed.

As Goins approached, they shot him and he fell dead from his saddle near the mouth of Mud Lick Creek. No one was ever legally charged with Goin's murder. The old Boggs Cemetery referred to by Virgil is actually the Rice-Collier Cemetery and is located on the Scotia Mine property in Eolia.

Eli's headstone was erected by Dr. James Preston Boggs, and inscribed there is the statement that James L. Boggs was born in Ireland. Much of the data above appears in the Emory L Hamilton Manuscript as well.”

Another version of the incident, according to Blue Ridge Institute is that Goins himself was an evil man and was shot by defrauded settlers.

For another take on this story and the lyrics of the "Poor Goins" ballad: Click Here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


African Ancestored Genealogy

AfriGeneas is a site devoted to African American genealogy, to researching African Ancestry in the Americas in particular and to genealogical research and resources in general. It is also an African Ancestry research community featuring the AfriGeneas mail list, the AfriGeneas message boards and daily and weekly genealogy chats.

To visit this award-winning site: Click Here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Free African Americans

Of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina
Maryland and Delaware

By Paul Heinegg

The history of the free African American community as told through the family history of most African Americans who were free in the Southeast during the colonial period

Winner: The American Society of Genealogists' Donald Lines Jacobus Award

Winner: The North Carolina Genealogical Society Award of Excellence in Publishing

Two books you can read on-line containing about 2,000 pages of family histories based on all colonial court order and minute books on microfilm at the state archives of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Delaware (over 1000 volumes), 1790-1810 census records, tax lists, wills, deeds, free Negro registers, marriage bonds, parish registers, Revolutionary War pension files, etc. There are also another 5,000 pages of abstracted colonial tax lists, Virginia personal property tax lists, census records, etc., under "Colonial Tax Lists..."

To explore this extensive and important research: Click Here.

For more on Paul Heinegg and his work: Click Here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Washington County, Virginia Notes

Washington County was organized in 1776-77 with land taken from Montgomery County and Fincastle County.

On December 9, 1785, 307 men of Washington County signed a petition addressed to the Virginia House of Burgesses reqesting the formation of a new county from the western area of Washington County. The petition suggested a line be "fixed along Clinch Mountain and Montgomery line to the Carolina line" to separate them from Washington County. These inhabitants include those in settlements of Clinch River, Mocason Creek, Powells Valley, north branch of Holstein River, and "others." Russell County, Virginia was created in that year. No Gowens [or spelling variations] appeared on the petition.

The list of petitioners, transcribed by Rhonda S. Robertson was published in "The Southwest Virginian," Vol. 1, No. 3 in Wise, Virginia:

“H. SMITH, David WARD, Alexr. Barnett, Andw. COWAN, Sam'l ROBINSON, Charles BICKLEY, James LEITH, James BUSH, James WHARTON, David COX, Ben GRAVES, John McFERRAN, Moses DAMRON, Lazarus DAMRON, John DAMRON, Edw. STAPLETON, Isaiah STILLS, James OSBURN, James McKENNEY, Wm. BOWLAND, Abrm. HAYTER, Jos. CARTER, James GIBSON, John MCCULOCK, Thomas PRICE, Jr., James HARRIS, John BAKER, Joel GALLAHER, Thos. PRATER, Wm. GILMORE, Charles HAYS, Wm. VAUGHN, Wm. SMITH, Shadrick MONTZ, Edward SMOTE, James ALLEY, Sr., James ALLEY, Jr, Samuel ALLEY, Peter ALLEY, John ALLEY, Hosea ALLEY, David ALLEY, Patrick PORTER

Saml. PORTER, John PORTER, Richd. PORTER, John MONTGOMERY, Stephen OSBURN, Jeremiah HERRIL, Christopher COOPER, Sammuel STALLARD, Alexr. RITCHIE, Thos. CARTER, John CARTER, Norris CARTER, John CARTER, Jr, Daniel YOUNG, Ambrose FLETCHER, Richard FLETCHER, Jos. BLACKMORE, Wm. Cen. DUNCAN, Alexr. RITCHIE, Jr, Wm. McDUEL, Hamelton CROCKETT, Jos. BLACKMORE, Townsend DUNCAN, Namrod HADDON, James DUNCAN, Peter NICHOLSON, Benj. NICHOLSON, Alexr. CROCKETT, Edwd. YOUNG, John WRIGHT, John JACKSON, James ELKINS, Drury ELKINS, James JONES, David MUSICK, Electius MUSICK, Henry SKAGGS, David SKAGGS, Simon COCKRELL, Henry DICKSSON, Jr, John KINKEAD, Arthur BOWEN, Wm. HAMOND, Robert BENHER, Archalus BREMLY, Jonathan CUNNINGHAM.





James LANDRIX, John GIBSON, Wm. PRICE, George PUCKETT, Zachariah KINDERIK, David PREES, Daniel PRICE, Thos. JOHNSTON, Richard PRICE, Alexander SEAL, Henry HAMBLEN, John BRISTER, Michal LORD, Abrm. BEAVERS, Wm. ROBERTSON, Robt. McFARLAND, Absolom ROBERTSON, Jacob ROBERSON, George McCOY, Robt. McCOY, John WAGG, David CALHOOLN, Joseph McFARLAND, Robert MCFARLAND, Jr, John ENGLISH, Robt. CRAIG, Thos. BIRD, Wm. BIRD, Wm. McPIKE, Voluntine CHOAT, Thos. WALLIN, Stephen WALLIN, Robert TATE, Jr, Rober TATE, Sr., Frederick FRILEY, Martin FRILEY, John FRILEY, Wm. OSBORN, Lewis WALTER, Yeah STILS?, Josh WHITELY, Wm. BLANTON, Thos. M. MAHEN, Thos. HOBBS, Ephraim HATFIELD, Zachariah PRICE, Isaac ELAM, John COWEN, F. J. COLVILL.


Butler Goins, “colored” died May 15, 1889 from flux at age 1 year, according to Washington County Death Records. His parents were Alec Goins & Esther Goins.

Clementine Goins, “colored” died April 1889 from “old age” according to Washington County Death Records. She was 75 years old.

Eliza Goins,”colored” died March 30, 1896 from consumption, according to Washington County Death Records. Her parents were Frank Goins and R. Goins. She was 17 years old.

George W. Goins and Mary C. Goins of Washington County were applicants for Confederate pensions, according to Sheila Steele Hunt, genealogist of Kingsport, Tennessee who compiled “Confederate Pension Applicants of Washington County, Virginia.”

Russill Gowan was appointed, along with John King, William McBroom and Abraham Rice, to appraise the estate of William Cole, deceased August 17, 1779 in Washington County.