Music in the Cumberland Gap Region

reflects the Anglo-Scotch border influence quite strongly. In style of performance, genre, and instrument selection, the Cumberland music strongly exhibits roots in the borderland from whence its people came.

orSkip ahead to Housing in the Cumberland Gap

Ballad singers typically sing alone without instrumental accompaniment. Ballads often have a haunting, plaintive sound because they are based on modal scales which do not correspond to modern major and minor scales, Consequently, modern systems of harmony are not applicable, and fretted instruments such as the guitar, which are designed on the principle of an equal distance between all whole-step intervals, simply do not sound right accompanying the modal ballads.

The singing style itself is generally stark but discretely embellished by vibrato and grace notes. The ballads are sung with a conspicuous lack of emotion, even during dramatic passages. It seems almost as if the song itself, not the singer, is in the spotlight. Although the singer may use vocal style effectively to set a mood, the subtlety and restraint of the singing reinforce the sense of emotional distance created by third-person narratives.

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the South Fork of the Cumberland River.Knoxville, Tennessee: UT Press, 1981. 195.

More information on ballads, as well as examples...



of the area also reveal cultural ideas about love, violence, etc. in the backcountry and borderlands...

Rachel Biggerstaff, Sue Ann Thompson, Gary Walden

Sackett and Koch in Kansas Folklore (p. 140) define a ballad as "a folksong that tells a story, usually in extremely condensed fashion. Because this separate term exists to describe narrative folksongs, some folklorists have reserved the term folksong for songs which do not tell a story but express an emotion, which may be serious or humorous.

Ballads and folksongs have been an important part of Monroe County's heritage across the years. This we know because of the great numbers of old-timey string bands and individual singers whose repertories and reputations are still known.

Some English and Scottish ballads have been recovered in Monroe County along with a sampling of the hauntingly beautiful songs of early American creation. Neither are here in great abundance at the present. Regretably, no early folklore collections from Monroe County are available to indicate musical tastes of early years. Ballet collections from the 1880s are available however. These handwritten song and ballad texts tell us something about the popularity of certain titles at a given time in history.

The musical genius of Monroe County is lies in the area of local balladry, which chronicles historical occurrences at the grass roots level (the Beanie Short sona is a prime example), and in the sentimental song genre. Sad songs, or tear jerkers as they are often called reflect much of life's experiences and hardships. It is only natural for a people to immortalize in song those things that touch their emotions most deeplv. Common indeed were such titles as "The Blind Child,"' "The Baggage Coach Ahead," "The Prisoner's Song,""The Dream of the Miner's Child," and "Little Joe."

The advent of the record player, radio and television has done much to diminish the folksinging traditions in Monroe County. It is no longer necessary to commit our favorite songs to memory; they are available at the flip of a switch. The following examples reveal that many of the old songs are still remembered and sung in the county. They call to mind once again memories of earlier years when the pace of living wasn't so hectic.

The texts are keyed to scholarly regional collections of folksongs and, when applicable, to the following standard song indexes: Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballad; Malcolm G. Laws, Jr., American Ballads from British Broadsides, and Laws' Native American Balladry.



The popularity of the "Brown Girl" (Child 295) in America is perhaps exceeded only by "Barbara Allen." This particular version was sung by Dimple Savage Thompson.

Oh riddle, oh riddle dear mother, dear / Now riddle us both as one Must I marry Fair Ellen / Or bring the Brown girl home.

The Brown girl has her house and lands / Fair Ellen she has none So that is the reason I say my son / Go bring the Brown girl home.

Lord Thomas went to fair Ellen's inn / And jingled hard at the ring And none was willing as fair Ellen / To arise and let him in.

Lord Thomas, she said, what news, what news / What news have you brought to me? I've come to invite you to my wedding / That's very sad news to me.

Go ask my ma, go ask my pa / Ask them both as one Shall I attend Lord Thomas' wedding / Or shall I stay at home?

She dressed herself in scarlet red / Her maidens all in green Every town she rode around / They took her to be the queen.

She rode and rode 'til she came to his hall / So loudly did tinkle the ring No one was so ready as Lord Thomas himself / To rise and let her in.

He took her by the lily white hand / And led her through the hall And set her down by his own brown bride / Among the ladies all.

Is this your bride? Lord Thomas she said / I think she's awful brown You could have married the fairest young girl / That ever the sun shone on.

Don't run her down, Fair Ellen he said / Don't run her down to me I love much better the tip of your finger / Than the Brown girl's whole body.

The Brown girl had a little pen knife / It was both keen and sharp She put it to Fair Ellen's breast / And pressed it through her heart.

Lord Thomas took her little brown hand / And led her through the hall Drew out his sword, cut off her head / And flung it against the wall.

Go dig my grave, Oh mother, he said / Go dig it wide and deep Bury Fair Ellen in my arms / And the Brown girl at my feet.

He turned the handle toward the wall / The point toward his breast Saying this is the last of three lovers / God send their souls to rest.



Riddle ballads are extremely old and equally rare. This ballad originated in the British Isles years ago in a differe¤t form and under the title "Captain Wedderburn's Courtship" (Child 46). In its present form, sung by Ova Hunter, this ballad is widespread across the United States. Hazel Goodin also contributed a fragmented version.

I gave my love a cherry without a stone I gave my love a chicken without a bone I gave my love a baby with no cryin'. When a cherry is blooming it has no stone When a chicken is pipping it has no bone When a baby is sleeping there's no cryin'.

I'll send my love a palace without any door I'll send my love an apple without any core I'll send my love a chicken without any bone I'll send my love a cherry without any stone I'll send my love a ring without any rim I'll send my love a baby no cryin'. I'll send my love a room and in it she may be And she may unlock it without any key.

How can there be a palace without any door? How can there be an apple without any core? How can there be a chicken without any bone? How can there be a cherry without any stone? How can there be a ring without any rim? How can there be a baby that's not cryin'? How can there be a room and in it she may be? And how can she unlock it without any key?

When the palace is a-building there is no door When the apple's in the blossom there is no core When the chicken's in the egg there is no bone When the cherry's in the bloom there is no stone When the ring is a-running there is no rim When baby is asleep it's not cryin' My heart is the room and in it she may be And she may unlock it without any key.



"Barbara Allen" (Child 84) is perhaps the most popular of all the old ballads that made the trip from England to the New World. Dimple Savage Thompson sang this version. Other versions were sung by Hazel and Myrtle Jobe and Hazel Goodin. Mrs. Goodin calls it "The Rose and the Green Brier."

It was upon a high, high hill / Two maidens chose their dwelling, And one was known both far and wide / Was known as Barb'ra Allen.

T'was in the merry month of May / All the flowers blooming, A young man on his deathbed lay / For the love of Barbtra Allen.

He sent a servant unto her / In the town where she was dwelling Come Miss, O Miss to my master dying / If your name be Barb'ra Allen.

Slowly, slowly she got up / And to his bedside going She drew the curtain to one side / And said, "Young man you're dying."

He stretched one pale hand to her / As though he would to touch her She hopped and skipped across the floor / Young man, she says, I won't have you.

Remember, 'member in the town / 'Twas in the tavern drinking, You drank a health to the ladies all / But you slighted Barbtra Allen.

He turned his face toward the wall / His back upon his darling I know I shall see you no more / So goodby Barbtra Allen.

As she was going to her home / She heard the church bell tolling She looked to the east and looked to the west And saw the corpse a-coming.

Oh hand me down the corpse of clay / That I may look upon it I might have saved that young man's life / If I had done mv duty.

Oh mother mother make my bed / O make it long and narrow Sweet William died for me today / I shall die for him tomorrow.

Sweet William died on a Saturday night / And Barbtra Allen on a Sunday The old lady died for the love of them both / She died on Easter Monday.

Sweet William was buried in one graveyard / Barb'ra Allen in another A rose grew on Sweet William's grave / A brier on Barb'ra Allen's.

They grew and they grew to the steeple top / And there they rew no higher And there they tied in a true lover knot / The rose clung round the brier.



Known widely throughout the eastern United States, "Lord Randal" (Child 12) is another of Monroe County's ballads which came to us from the British Isles. This version was sung by Dimple Savage Thompson.

Where have you been Lord Randal my son Where have you been my handsome young man I've been to the wild wood, Mother make my bed soon I'm weary from hunting and fain would lie down.

Whom did you meet Lord Randal my son Whom did you meet my handsome young man I met with my true love, Mother make my bed soon I'm weary from hunting and fain would lie down.

What had you for supper Lord Randal my son What had you for supper my handsome young man Eels fried in butter; Mother make my bed soon I'm weary from hunting and fain would lie down.

Who got your scraps, Lord Randal my son Who got your scraps my handsome young man My dogs ate them all; Mother make my bed soon I'm weary from hunting and want to lie down.

What did your dogs do Lord Randal my son What did your dogs do my handsome young man They stretched out and died; Mother make my bed soon I'm weary from hunting and want to lie down.

I fear you are poisoned, Lord Randal my son I fear you are poisoned, my handsome young man Yes I am poisoned; Mother make my bed soon I'm sick at my heart and want to lie down.



This is a version of the Wexford Girl (Laws P35), which is widespread throughout the United States. It was sung by Ward Curtis.

When I was but a friendless boy / Just nineteen years of My father bound me to a miller / That I might learn the trade.

I fell in love with one dear girl / With dark and roving eyes, I promised her I'd marry her / If me she would not deny.

Up stepped her mother to the door / So boldly she did say, Oh honey do marry her / And take her far away.

zHer mother she persuaded me / To take her for a wife, Oh, Satan persuaded me / To take away her life.

I asked her for to take a walk, / Over the blooming field so good, That we might have some secret talk / And name our wedding day.

We had not travelled very far / When I looked all around and around, I picked up an old fence stick / And straight way knocked her down.

She fell upon her trembling knees / For mercy sake she cried, Oh Johnny dear don't murder me / For I'm not fit to die.

I took her by her little hand / And threw her around and round, Then I drug her to the riverside / And threw her in to drown.

And I returned to the miller's house / It was ten o'clock that night, But little did the miller know / What I had been about.

He looked at me most earnestly / Said Johnny what bloodies your clothes, I answered her most quickly / I was bleeding at the nose.

About three days and better / This damsel she was seen, Floating by her sister's house / Down in old Knoxville Town.



This version of "The Bramble Briar" (Laws M-32) was sung by Ward Curtis. In earlier versions the Brown Boy is a servant.

In Fairview there lived a rich old merchant He had two sons and a daughter fair A pretty brown boy all robed with danger Come courting of the lily fair.

As they were talking of their lovely courtship Her younger brother overheard He went straight way and told the others And this deprived her of her love. He went straightway and told the others And this deprived her of her love.

Oh early, early the next morning Out into the wild woods all three did go They rambled over hills and mountains And to some dark valley they did go.

They rambled on till they came to a lonely desert; And thar they killed him and throwed They rambled on till they came to a lonely desert; And thar they killed him and throwed.

And they returned back home that evening Their sister asked for the loving one We lost him out in the wild woods hunting And more of him could we ever find >We lost him out in the wild woods hunting And more of him could we ever find.

So early, early this morning Out into the wild woods she did go She rambled over hills and mountains And to some dark valley she did roam. She rambled on till she came to a lonely desert And thar she found him killed and throwed His rosy lips were inclined to hell His dimpled cheeks were aflow with blood.

She kissed him over and over crying He was a bosom friend of mine When she returned back home that evening There brothers asked where she had been You've harmed, you've harmed, you cruel wretches And for the same you both shall hang. You've harmed, you've harmed, you cruel wretches And for the same you both shall hang.

They went out to sea that evening The lightning flared and the wind did roar They both got drowned and it was no wonder That the raging sea proved their overthrow. They both got drowned and it was no wonder That the raging sea proved their overthrow.

Monroe County Folklife. Lynwood Montell Ed. Monroe County, Kentucky: privately published, 1975. 8-16.

Not only ballads of the Cumberland had their origins in the borders of Great Britain. Instruments such as the bagpipes and the fiddle that thrived on the Anglo-Scotch borders are prevalent in the Cumberlands as well.


(pp 38- 9)

Bruce Green

Monroe County has been the home of some of the finest and most distinctive traditional fiddle music in Kentucky. During the last century, old time fiddlers such as Isom Mondav. CooneY Perdue, Wash Carter Finley "Red" Belcner, Tom Biggers, Joe D. Walker, Gilbert Maxey, and Jim Bowles supplied the music for dances and parties, which were a highly important part of Monroe County social life. Of this older order of rural musicians, Jim Bowles remains one of the best.

Jim Bowles has lived in Monroe County almost all his life. He was born in 1903 in Rock Bridge, where his family farmed for most of his early life. Traditional fiddle music was at its peak of popularity at that time, and Jim began to play at an early age:

"I guess I was about ten years old. I'd always play you have those little sticks of stovewood, you know, and I'd get 'em up and saw on 'em, like I was a-fiddling when I was a little bitty feller.

"And my father, times was hard and he had to go to Indiana and make money. Back in them days, there wasn't no money to be got, hardly. "I think then he only made thirty-five dollars a month. And he came through Louisville, and he come to a pawn shop. He bought me a fiddle. And, of course, I learnt several tunes.

I know the first tune ever learnt to play was Steamboat Bill. There was an old colored man, when we lived out on Uncle Jim Carver's place. They had him a-building a barn. I remember hearing him sing, and I kind of picked it up:

Steamboat Bill, steaming down the Mississippi Steamboat Bill, thought I heerd the puffing of the Whippoorwill."

Like all the traditional fiddlers of his day, Jim Bowles learned to play from local musicians. His uncle, Wash Carter, was undoubtedly the most important influence on both his style and repertoire, but he was also influenced by a neighbor named John Brady, a local traveling photographer named Homer Botts, Henry Carver, Tom Biggers, and others. By the time he was about fifteen, Jim was good enough to start playing for dances, and he has continued to do so for most of his life. In addition, he has traveled to Columbia, Glasgow, Scottsville, and other Kentucky towns to compete in old-time fiddler's contests, where he has won dozens of ribbons.

At different times in his life, Jim Bowles played semi- professionally with bands. In the early days of radio, he played with Finley "Red" Belcher, who went on to become a well-known performer in Kentucky before his death in an automobile accident:

"We played all over this country. We played at Tuscola, Illinois. We had a program there. He got us in there Lazy Jim Day. He was on radio. We'd get up and play before daylight, you know. That'd be on that program about four o'clock. And I just got tired of it. We came back here, me and him. We put on a program at Fountain Run, one time acting, you know. We had a man with us, was kind of a comedian. That's been forty or fifty years ago.

"I was always with somebody. We played at Columbia. And then we went oter to Glasgow and played, I don't know how many times. I used to play out at Tompkinsville. I used to play out there for four years every Saturday morning at eight o'clock. Me and Early Botts and this here Biggers. I'd guess that was about '64. We just went on and advertised for them stores and places like that."

Since the death of his wife in 1966, Jim Bowles plays less than he used to. Still, he remains one of the best of the older traditional fiddlers in southern Kentucky. His extensive repertoire includes manY rare and unusual early tunes, such as Christmas, Old Sage Fields, Drunkard's Hiccups, Calico, Mary Marshall, Nancy Dalton, Railroad Through The Rocky Mountains, and There'll Be No Supper Here Tonight, as well as fine versions of popular standards. Stylistically, he plays in the tradition of the best of the eastern Kentucky fiddlers. Many of his versions of tunes are modal in nature and are played with drones, slides and rhythmic tension that few musicians can achieve or imitate. His bowing technique is complex and does not follow a set pattern allowing him to create a very individualistic and emotional sound. Still, his playing is firmly rooted in the musical traditions of the Monroe County area, and he remains today as one of the few faithful practitioners of a dying folk art.

from Benita Howell's A Survey of Folklife Along the South Fork of the Cumberland River

(UT Press: Knoxville, TN)1981, pp 196-200.

Instrumental Music

Before the turn of the century, the fiddle and the five- string banjo were the principal instruments played in the Big South Fork area. The guitar was not played locally until after 1910 and remained only a second ary instrument for old-time musicians. Another Bluegrass instrument, the mandolin, appeared in the area as recently as thirty years ago (the 1950s).

The dulcimer, which is popularly associated with Appalachian music, is completely unfamiliar to most of the local old-time musicians. The dulcimer was known in Wayne County, and one Fentress County family brought an instrument from Claibourne County, Tennessee. Informants familiar with the dulcimer agree that it was used chiefly in playing sacred music.

The harmonica or "French Harp" was a popular instrument in the past, and people also played jews-harps and other novelty instruments purchased from mail-order houses or from peddlers. Homemade flutes and whistles were fashioned from cane or bark cylinders. But the story of traditional instrumental music in the Big South Fork is largely the story of the fiddle and the banjo.

The Fiddle

The fiddle was used in the British Isles and the American colonies before the Big South Fork region was settled, so it probably was present in the area from the beginning. It remained the fundamental instrument, next to which the banjo was of secondary importance and served mainly for accompaniment. The fiddle repertoire (i.e., items which continue to be identified as "old-time fiddle tunes" even when they are played on another instrument) forms the Big South Fork's second major category of folk music. Like folksong, this instrumental music is a composite: it includes ancient Celtic airs ("Soldier's Joy," "Billy in the Lowground," "Rocky Road to Dublin," "Devil's Dream") melodies that originated on the Appalachian frontier ("Cumberland Gap," "Sally ~oodin"'); minstrel shownumbers ("Arkansas Traveler," "Turkey in the Straw," "Listen to the Mockingbird"), and popular tunes of the early twentieth century ("Down Yonder," "Chicken Reel").

Breakdowns or reels make up the standard part of the local fiddle reportoire. Breakdowns are fast dance tunes played in two-four or four-four time, the sort of tunes associated with popular images of mountain fiddle music. Many of these pieces are quite old, with popular counter-parts in the British Isles. Their titles are often obscure and may vary from place to place, or even from performer to performer. Titles also appear to have changed through time, according to information supplied by older informants. Lyrics to quite a few numbers survive and sometimes shed light on the meanings of the titles. However, it is impossible to know whether the words were original or composed later. There are undoubtedly instances of both.

Other fiddle pieces include waltzes, slow-to-moderate dance tunes in three-four time, and hornpipes, sprightly tunes which originally accompanied a kind of solo dance brought to America in the eighteenth century. The hornpipe tunes survive even though the dance has been forgotten, and they are usually played fast like breakdowns.

Some fiddle pieces were not dance tunes at all but were performed as solos. They contain rhythmic intricacies and modal elements which make them unsuited to accompaniment. These numbers were played between dance sets to give the dancers a break and to allow the fiddler to demonstrate his skill. "Bonaparte's Retreat" is probably the most popular survivor of this idiom.

Most fiddle tunes consist of two strains of equal length: a high-pitched part sometimes referred to as the "Fine" and a low part known as the "Coarse." Each part is usually repeated once, but this practice varies from one performer to another. Most tunes begin with the "Fine" and end on the "Coarse" and are played over and over for as long as the dance demands or until the musicians give out. Some tunes, such as "Bonaparte's Retreat," have three parts repeated in this manner.

Fiddle tunes are played in various keys, with the most common keys being D, G, and A, followed by C and F. Fiddlers will occasionally use E and B-flat. Tunes tend to be fixed in certain keys: "Soldier's Joy," for example is always played in D, "Old Joe Clark" in A, "Tennessee Wagoner" in D. Certain breakdowns like "Fire on the Mountain" and "Orange Blossom Special" rock back and forth between two keys. Alternate tunings ("round keys") which let the four open or unfingered strings sound a chord are essential to some breakdowns.

Fiddles are precious heirlooms around the Big South Fork, and every old, well-played fiddle in the area has at least several stories attached to it. Some very old handmade fiddles are still being played by local ancient musicians. In the days before mail-order or store-bought instruments became easy to obtain, fiddles must have been even more cherished than they are today. The fiddle was the most difficult stringed instrument to make, but the Big South Fork had at least one well-known fiddle maker, Hiram Sharp (1885-1976), who lived at Norma in Scott County.

Fiddle-playing style is a highly idiosyncratic matter, and every good fiddler tries to cultivate a distinct sound and technique. Style tends to be transmitted through personal contact and imitation, usually between a parent and child, but occasionally between an outstanding local fiddler and an eager young protege. Fiddling, like other forms of musical expertise, has been a family tradition for the most part, and certain Big South Fork families have long-standing reputations for producing good musicians (see Section V).

In spite of all the individual variation among fiddlers, some generalizations about style are still possible. Local informants themselves recognize two distinct patterns. In the common old-time hoedown or "jig" style, the fiddler may hold the instrument under his chin in the typical violin fashion, or he may play with its bottom resting down against his ribs. He may grasp the bow at the frog, or he may hold it by the as did the European elite musicians of the seventeenth century. The hoe-down fiddler relies on short bow strokes embellished by frequent "digs" in which the upward accentuation of a certain note is produced by applying pressure on the bow as it travels across the string. "Double- noting" in which two adjacent strings are played simultaneously to produce a drone effect (as typified by the bagpipes) also embellishes the hoedown style; some fiddlers, after modifying the bridge of the instrument, even employ "triple-noting."

Another manner of playing, the "smooth" style, was popularized locally by Leonard Rutherford (c. 1900-1954), a well-known Monticello musician identified by many informants as the region's virtuoso fiddler. Exactly where Rutherford learned the syle remains unclear. In smooth fiddling the instrument and bow are almost invariably held in the conventional violin manner. The whole bow, manipulated in slow, smooth strokes, produces a legato effect. Other technical hallmarks of this style include glides, vibrato, slurred notes, and little double-noting.

Because the fiddle was an integral part of folk dancing, and because it seemed to encourage revelry, it was condemned as "the devil's instrument' during the wave of religious fervor that swept the country in the early nineteenth century. Its notoriety lingers on around the Big South Fork today 1n conspicuous ways: in the old simile "as thick as fiddlers in Hell," in the disapproval of square dancing that persists in some quarters, and 1n conservative churches' ban on musical instruments in their services. In some slyly self-conscious ways, local fiddlers maintain the tradition themselves, through the high-spirited revelry suggested by the titles of such tunes as "Devil's Dream," "Hell's Broke Loose in Georgia," or "Dance All Night With a Bottle in My Hand," and by the custom of putting a few sets of rattlesnake rattles in the fiddle, if only for the practical purpose of keeping the soundbox free of cobwebs. `

The Banjo

As for the other important traditional instrument, it is unclear exactly when the five-string banjo entered the Big South Fork region. It assuredly must have been present by the 1870's and it may predate the Civil War. The instrument has African origins and was used by black slaves in the Southeast as early as the 1750's (Epstein 1975). As the blacks became acculturated, they adapted their instrument to play Anglo- American folk dance music. The Americanized banjo began to be used to accompany the fiddle. By the 1830's, a fretless model that otherwise resembled the modern instrument had evolved, and the number of strings--four melody strings plus a drone string running halfway up the neck--was standardized. Popularized by the minstrel shows as part of their burlesque of plantation life, the banjo spread among white musicians while blacks, at the same time, rejected this artifact of their own heritage.

In the Appalachian region, musicians discovered that the fretless five-string banjo was well-suited to playing the old modal melodies that survived in many of their songs and fiddle tunes. A number of open banjo tunings were devised to facilitate the playing of certain songs, and several of these are still used by old-time banjo pickers around the Big South Fork. Factory-made banjos with frets began to appear in the 1800's, but many homemade instruments continued to be made without frets, partly because of tradition and their suitability for modal music, partly because it was difficult to install the frets properly. However, fretted banjos became universal when mail-order and store-bought instruments replaced homemade ones. Frets permitted greater accuracy in noting the instrument, and made possible both the playing of chords and the playing of melody lines farther up the neck of the instrument. This innovation enhanced the development of the Earl Scruggs or Bluegrass three-finger banjo style that is so popular today.

Nineteenth-century methods of playing the banjo were quite different and have recently gained renewed interest among fans of old-time music. The old minstrel show "frailing" or "clawhammer" style called "knocking it" by Big South Fork musicians was probably derived from the Afro-American banjo tradition. In this style of playing, the right hand functions as one rigid unit, with the thumb and index finger held in a "claw" position. Melody strings are sounded with the index finger as the hand moves down across the strings, and the thumb plucks the drone string as the hand moves back up on the following off-beat. Bailey (1972) believes that an African influence may endure in the inherent syncopation common to this manner of playing.

This particular banjo style no longer survives in the Big South Fork area, although the parents of this generation of old-timers did play in this fashion. The prevalent old-time banjo style in the area today is two-finger picking involving the right thumb and index finger, in a manner similar to two- finger banjo styles that have been recorded in Western North Carolina. The index finger picks out the melody, punctuating it in rhythmic downward brushes across the lower strings, while the thumb continues to sound the drone string on the accompanying off-beat and occasionally drops down to play a "drop thumb" lick on the second or third string. When and how this two-finger style came to replace the clawhammer style in the Big South Fork area are interesting questions which informants cannot answer.

Banjo-picking, like fiddling, is very idiosyncratic, and zindividual players have their own unique technical variations even if they all follow the same basic pattern. Drawing on the simpler aesthetic of an earlier time, their understated playing contrasts sharply with the flashy exhibitionistic "virtuosity" of today's Bluegrass banjo style. The folklife study's sample of recorded music includes many fine examples of old-time banjo playing (see Supplement, Catalogue of Music Tapes and Section V).

Played together, the fiddle and the banjo were the foundation for the latter-day string band which developed after the guitar and other instruments appeared in the Big South Fork area around 1910. But into the early twentieth century, "string band" usually meant fiddle and banjo. In one playing style, the banjo closely followed the fiddle line, playing practically in unison with the fiddle. The other style used the banjo more as a rhythmic accompaniment. Both styles are heard on music tapes recorded during the Folklife Study.

Return to Table of Contents

Housing in the Cumberland Gap Region

had its roots in the stone towers of the borderland, so important for protection from frequent raiders from across the border.

or Skip ahead to Place Names in the Cumberlands

Settlers (in the Cumberlands) made the mistake of supposing that the country lacked building-stone, so deep under the loam and verdure lay the whole foundation rock, but soon they discovered that their better houses had only to be taken from beneath their feet. The first stone house in the State, and withal the most notable, is " Traveller's Rest," in Lincoln County, built in 1783 by Governor Metcalf, who was then a stone-mason, for Isaac Shelby, the first Governor of Kentucky. To those who know the blue-grass landscape, this type of homestead is familiar enough, with its solidity of foundation, great thickness of walls, enormous, low chimneys, and little windows. The owners were the architects and builders, and with stern, necessitous industry translated their condition into their work, giving it an intensely human element. It harmonized with need, not with feeling ­ was built by the virtues, and not by the vanities. With no fine balance of proportion, with details few, scant, and crude, the entire effect of the architecture was not unpleasing, so honest was its poverty, so rugged and robust its purpose. It was the gravest of all historic commentaries written in stone. Varied fate has overtaken these old-time structures. Many have been torn down, yielding their well-chosen sites to newer, showier houses. Others became in time the quarters of the slaves. Others still have been hidden away beneath weather-boarding a veneer of commonplace modernism as though whitewashed or painted plank were finer than roughhewn graystone. But one is glad to discover that in numerous instances they are the preferred homes of those who have taste for the old in native history, and pride in family associations and traditions. On the thinned, open landscape nothing stands out with a more pathetic air of nakedness than one of these stone houses, long since abandoned and fallen into ruin. Under the Kentucky sky houses crumble and die without seeming to grow old, without an aged toning down of colors, without the tender memorials of mosses and lichens, and of the whole race of clinging things. So not until they are quite overthrown does Nature reclaim them, or draw once more to her bosom the walls and chimneys within whose faithful bulwarks, and by whose cavernous, glowing recesses, our great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers danced and made love, married, suffered, and fell asleep.

Allen, James Lane. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky and Other Kentucky Articles. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1900. 192-3.

The Cumberland homes

also originated in the cabins first constructed on the English-Scottish border. These cabins reflect the frequency with which homes were re-built due to the continual wars that destroyed them, and also due to the high-level of migration in the borderlands. The Indian battles and migratory patterns of the Cumberland mirror these Anglo-Scotch cultural patterns, as is exhibited--in one instance--in the parallel use of the cabin.

We learn what they brought with them by studying the fruits of their hand and mind and spirit. And what they brought they adapted to the task at hand and in general improved upon it. From the humble one-room log cabin, they added stone chimneys and well boxes and warmhouses. Still later some of the more enterprising residents built what has been termed "log castles." These were the more decorated two-story dwellings with windows and winding stairs, stoups, with gingerbread trimmings throughout. The houses were filled with the most gifted handicrafts. They stocked their rooms with homemade spinning wheels and looms, and from these poured all the clothing, curtains, carvings, carpeting. Men and women made chairs bottomed with hickory bark, baskets of willow, furniture, churns, and carved smaller items for use and show such as dolls and other toys, musical instruments, butter molds, rolling pins, ramrods; and from their own tanned leather they made moccasins and shoes, shoelaces, hunting jackets, shot pouches, harness, bridles, saddles, checkreins. About the farm they made, besides numerous outbuildings, their wagons with wrought iron hardware, sleds, plows, singletrees, harrows, reap hooks and wheat cradles and scythes, corn knives, gristmill stones, grindstones, oxen yokes. Some made their own pewter utensils, clay vessels, earthenware. At the present time with a revival of handicrafts, many of these items are, according to Allan Eaton in his Handicrafts in the Southern Highlands, the best and most artistic handmade goods in all of North America.

Old Greasybeard: Tales from the Cumberland Gap. Leonard Roberts Ed., Detroit: Folklore Associates, 1969. 16-7.

Place Names in the Cumberland Gap

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Anglo-Scotch Place Names in the Cumberland

Not only "Cumberland," but also other regional place names arise from British border names.

or skip ahead to "Foreigners" in the Cumberland

In the spring of 1888 Arthur and his English companions began constructing a town in the sparsely occupied area of Yellow Creek and named it Middlesborough after the successful steel industrial town of Middlesbrough, England. The name was soon shortened to "Middlesboro" except for the early official documents. The town design began with a 100 foot wide thoroughfare running east and west called Cumberland Avenue. Parallel to Cumberland, the avenues were given English names such as Winchester, Doorchester and Ilchester. Streets running north and south were numbered. The three small hills of the area were named Queenabury Heights, Maxwelton Braes and Arthur Heights. To protect the area from flooding a canal was dug to redirect water flow around the residential and commercial development. A rail line was constructed around the town to provide access to the prearranged industrial sites and coal mines. An earthen dam creating an artificial lake three miles long was constructed for the towns water supply. By 1890 there were 16 industries operating and 41 others under construction, 7 hotels and 9 more under construction, 6 banks, 5 churches, a library, school, exhibition hall and a city hall. Over the entrance of one of these buildings is an embossed figure of a dragon confronting a serpent. This scene represents the dragon as the keeper of virtue in constant vigilance against evil, represented by the serpent. This building is located at the intersection of Cumberland Avenue and Twentieth Street called Fountain Square. Many of the sturdy buildings and well engineered municipal facilities are being effectively utilized by the towns inhabitants of today. The water impoundment of Fern Lake is even yet reputed to be among the purest of water sources in the country.

Shattuck, Tom. A Cumberland Gap Area Guide Book. Middlesboro, Kentucky: privately published, 1993. 22.

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The "Foreigner" in the Cumberland

is yet another Cumberland term with Anglo-Scotch origins. Its usage reflects the sense of isolation prevalent in both the borderlands and backcountry, and the resulting dislike of "otherness".

Peoples of the Cumberland gap feel they have "occasion to regard new-comers with distrust, which, once aroused, is difficult to dispel and now they will wish to know you and your business before treating you with that warmth which they are only too glad to show."

Allen, James Lane. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky and Other Kentucky Articles. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 235.

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Temporariness of Homes in the Gap

is not unlike that of the border homes. Both in the Cumberland Gap and in the Anglo-Scotch border regions, frequent battles prevented architecture from thriving. Furthermore, the geographic location of the Cumberland Gap made it into a gateway to the west, an area through which people were travelling as much as a place of settlement. Thus it took on a sense of transience like that seen in the Anglo-Scotch borders for the same reason.

or skip ahead to Fertility in the Cumberlands

The dwellings often mere cabins with a single room are built of rough-hewn logs, chinked or daubed, though not always. Often there is a puncheon floor and no chamber roof. One of these mountaineers, called into court to testify as to the household goods of a defendant neighbor, gave in as the inventory, a string of pumpkins, a skillet without a handle, and " a wild Bill." " A wild Bill " is a bed made by boring auger-holes into a log, driving sticks into these, and overlaying them with hickory bark and sedge-grass a favorite zcouch. The low chimneys, made usually of laths daubed, are so low that the saying, inelegant though true, is current, that you may sit by the fire inside and spit out over the top. The cracks in the walls are often large enough to give ingress and egress to child or dog. Even cellars are little known, potatoes sometimes being kept during winter in a hole dug under the hearthstone. More frequently a trap - door is made through the plank flooring in the middle of the room, and in a hole beneath are put potatoes, and, in case of wealth, jellies and preserves. Despite the wretchedness of their habitations and the rigors of mountain climate, they do not suffer with cold, and one may see them out in snow knee-deep clad in low brogans, and nothing heavier than a jeans coat and hunting shirt.

Allen, James Lane. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky and Other Kentucky Articles. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 236-7.

Because of the temporariness of their dwellings, folk in the Gap had to work together to quickly re-construct their homes. Just as they had in the borderlands, communities came together to help their newest neighbors construct homes and outbuildings.


When someone needed a new barn or house, often the neighbors would come in to help build it, getting it finished in a short period of time.

"All the neighbors would come in. We'd commence' lay the ground rocks for corner stones. We'd lay them first. Then put our sills on, and go to building.

"We'd get it done in about two days. They'd be anywhere from 20 to 25 hands a workin' on it." John Dossey. + + + + "All the neighbors would come in and help. The women would come in and help cook dinner." Gertie Dossey. + + + +

"They had barn railings back in my early days. The barns were built of logs. They'd cut the logs off their farm and then the neighbors'd come in and they'd drag these logs to the spot where they wanted to build the barn. And maybe they d build one big square barn or they might build several little square barns and connect them together. And all the neighbors would help and the women would come and help to get the dinner. It was pleasure and work mixed kindly together for them all to be together. So we have one on our farm today, a big log barn that my husband said was built that way. They came in and raised it, and that was called barn railings." Rosa Walden.

Monroe County Folklife. Lynwood Montell Ed. Monroe County, KY: privately published, 1975. 61.

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Fertility and Family in the Cumberlands

An example of the large number of children in most households of the Gap--and subsequently the lack of privacy, can be seen in the Hensley home in the Cumberlands of Kentucky.

or skip ahead to Clans in the Cumberlands

Sherman Hensley and his wife, Nicey Ann, who was three months pregnant, moved on the mountain in December of 1903. Besides their meager household belongings, they brought with them a small son, a gray mare, two cows, two heifers, a calf and about eighteen hogs.(11) Sherman was twenty one and Nicey Ann was seventeen. They spent the winter in a one room log cabin that had been built earlier by people who had pastured their cattle on the mountain top during the summer. Sherman went on the mountain he said, "to make a living and there was plenty of outlet for stock".(12) By this he meant the remoteness of the area provided plenty of open country to allow his hogs to forage freely on chestnuts and other wild food nutrients provided by the forest. The next year Nicey Ann's brother Andrew Jackson Hensley and his daughter Nancy, who was married to Willy Gibbons, moved to the Settlement. Soon the population grew both by folks moving in, and a fast growing baby population. Nicey Ann and Nancy had a combined total of thirty-two children.

The small community was self sufficient, having no roads or means of communication with the outside world other than a hard walk or horseback ride to the valleys below. Most of the basics of food, clothing and shelter were made or grown. The result of this isolation was a way of life more similar to the pioneer period of 1790-1800 than that of the twentieth century. This community survived until its first and last inhabitant, Sherman Hensley, left in 1951.

Shattuck, Tom. A Cumberland Area Guidebook. Middlesboro, Kentucky: privately published, 1993. 13.

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The Sense of Kin and Clan in the Gap

was very strong in the Cumberland, and reflected the Clans of the borders, as exemplified in the Association and Meetings of the Sects...

or skip ahead to the concept of "amoral familism" in the Gap

Memorializing eventually became an annual affair in conjunction with the Annual Meetings and Associations of the sects. And growing up with these three-day gatherings was another custom, that of the jockey ground, or just good old-fashioned hoss swapping. The people attending the Associations from miles around came in wagons and horseback. On a day in the afternoon, or throughout the whole event for that matter, the men would choose a bottom piece of ground of several acres and trot their nags and mules up and down, calling out, "How'll ye swap?" Men could be seen looking into the mouths of horses, taking little jog-trots up and down the dusty field, clapping the nag's rump with his willow switch, putting harness on mules and making them pull a log up and down the bottom. Of course there were many other kinds of trading, such as in livestock, work swapping, dog chasing, and even a little knife throwing swapping from the fist, sight unseen.

Old Greasybeard: Tales from the Cumberland Gap. Leonard Roberts, Ed. Detroit, Michigan: Folklore Associates, 1969. 9.

Another clear example of such "Kinship and the Community " is discussed in this selection...

Initially, a handful of families formed the core of each settlement and they usually produced many children. Given that some of today's octo genarians report making their first trips to town when they were past twe it is not difficult to understand why young people living in the streambottom communities tended to find marriage partners among their close nei bors. It was not uncommon for sets of brothers to marry sets of sisters, creating "double first-cousin bonds among the offspring.[Editor's note: My grandmother was born in the Cumberland Gap area, and my family has two sets of such double first-cousins.] Siblings and cousins remained in their home territory because they inherited a port. of the family founder's initial land holding. As relatives settled close to one another on land inherited from common ancestors, the community became an extended kinship unit. Kinship bonds were continually strengtheredby the fact that almost all potential marriage partners in the vicinity were linked by some degree of blood relationship.

After a lengthy study of Tennessee ridge communities composed of a few intermarrying families, Elmora Matthews (1965) identified several benefits of marrying kin: it is a means of consolidating land ownership and conserving wealth within families) it strengthens cohesion within the community by continually reinforcing its kinship bonds; and it provides mates who sharecommon experiences and aspirations, who are "expected" end therefore approved of by the community at large.

Where kindred and neighborhood have become coterminous, a formal organization to provide for governance and community services seems less necessary than in communities solidified by no such moral bonds. Neighborly obligations which are also kinship obligations insure mutual aid through informal cooperation. Such kin-based patterns of social interaction have persisted to a great extent in communities within and near the BSFNRRA boundaries, although informants agree that community-wide ­labor exchange began to decline many years ago.

The household survey of BSFNRRA residents (see Appendix I) revealed that social interaction is more frequent with close kin than with neighbors who are related only distantly or not at all. With the exception p churches, organization memberships are almost non-existent, and some church members do not attend regularly. Family activities tend to be non-specific and unplanned with the exception of large family reunions which involve out-of-town relatives. Casual interaction with kin and exclusion of non-kin relationships are reinforced by the continuing practice of living near kin. Typically, adult siblings with families live near one another and near surviving parents. Along the Leatherwood Road and in the Beech Grove section of McCreary County where most of the families affectedby relocation live, there are several clusters of households which form extended families of this kind.

Visible proof of the continuing importance of kinship comes from the large collections of framed family photographs and snapshot albums which are proudly displayed in the living room of every home. Where labor out-migration has caused temporary separations, the photographs make it possible to introduce absent family members to a visiting newcomer. These introductions are an essential part of becoming acquainted.

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knosville, TN: UT Press, 1975. 158-9.

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The "amoral familism" mentioned by David Hackett Fisher is discussed in this selection...

or skip ahead to Wedding Customs in the Cumberlands

Like most of Appalachia, the Big South Fork area was first settled nder frontier conditions. It was some time before formal political and llegal institutions followed the settlers. These frontier communities had some internal resources for social control--the obligations of kinship and a system of ethics derived from their religion. Theirs was a society based on a moral order (see Redfield 1947).

Although some influential authors (e.g. Caudill 1963) still subscribe to the notion that Appalachians are inherently lawless because they are the descendants of outlaws and social misfits who sought refuge in the mountains to evade the legal and social order of the seaboard colonies, scholarly historians have convincingly discredited this myth (see Caruso 1951; Leyburn 1962).

Informal social controls could be effective in Appalachia as in other "folk" societies so long as the settlement was a homogeneous unit based on kinship obligations and a shared moral code. But before the nineteenth century was over, economic development was already placing severe stress on the traditional system of social control. The population grew and became more heterogeneous. New quasi-urban towns and camps sprang up, bringing together people who did not feel that they were members of a community in the traditional sense. Those who abandoned farming for wage work suddenly had extra cash and leisure time, and whiskey was the most convenient means of spending the two simultaneously. Disputation and lawlessness increased under these circumstances. Formal political and legal institutions wer strengthened to deal with these problems, but they did not always coexist comfortably with the traditional pattern of kin loyalty.

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1975. 181.

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Wedding Customs in the Cumberlands

An example of the "wildness" of weddings in the Gap and the borders can be seen in the practice of "shivaree," discussed in this selection...

or skip ahead to learn about the Strong Women of the Cumberlands

Shivaree was the early custom of teasing a married couple on their wedding night. The bride was carried around in a tub at times, and the groom was ridden on a rail.

"When two got married they'd shivaree 'em. They'd get 'em out and ride the man around the house on a rail and the women had to ride in a tub. They never did shivaree us. It was just fun. Nobody didn't get killed or hurt or nothing." Gracie King. + + + + "My husband and I were shivareed when we got married. The way they did it was they got a rail and rode the man on a rail and they put me in the washing tub, and a couple of men carried me all the way around the house in a washing tub." Eva Bybee. + + + + "Got me on a big cedar pole. Cut a cedar pole you know with knots all over it. Come up there and got me up out of bed 'bout midnight, and here they took me around for about a couple of hours and they brought me back and put me in the bed. Didn't do a thing to my wife." Lank Kirkpatrick. + + + + "When a couple got married, why it was a custom in the neighborhood to shivaree the boy and the girl. And they'd go to find out what home they's in. Lots of times the boy and girl would have to slip off and hide to keep them from shivareeing them. But they'd go to the homes; if they caught them there why they had bells and fired guns and they usually had the girls to take the girl out and put her in a tub and carry her around in the tub. And they d put the boy astride a rail and make him ride this rail. They'd take him in a pond. They made us think they were going to shivaree us. They got to the window where we were sleeping and fired some guns and ran around the house a little time, but it wasn't no group that came in to shivaree us; just scared me." Rosa Walden. + + + + Mrs Gertie Dossey: They was a lot of fun. Mr. John Dossey: I went to my uncle's shivaree about two miles from here. We commenced at eight o'clock and wound up at ten-thirty. We had old muskets and double-barrel shotguns loaded with powder and shot. We didn't use no shot that night. Just powder. We jarred out twenty-one window lights out of the house by iust settin' the gun up against the house and bang! bang' bang! Mrs. Dossey: Used to ride 'em on a rail. Mr. Dossey: We made up money and paid for them winder lights. We had a friend, Owen Lawrence, he rung an old dinner bell for two hours and a half, just stood there, it in the night time now. We was keepin' everybody awake and ourselves. too, I guess. But we had a wonderful time. Mrs. Dossey: I've been to 2 or 3 where they'd ride the man on a rail I've seen 'em ride a bride in a tub. + + + + "One of the things that people really looked forward to was when a couple got married, they would have what they called shivaree. Everybody that was going to take part in it, they would slip right easy, and nobody would know they wuz anywhere about until the guns went to shootin'. They would just march around the house shooting guns one right after another. When they would go so many rounds around the house shooting their guns, and then they would go to the door and stick a fence rail through the door and the man would get on the rail and they would ride him around the house on the rail or down the road. Sometimes the women would join in and push the man's wife in a tub and carry her. I was shivareed. They put me on a rail and rode me around, and I fell off of it and I just got up and went in the house and told them that was all the riding on a rail I was going to do." Oral Page.

Monroe County Folklife. Lynwood Montell Ed. Monroe County, KY: privately published, 1975. 72.

Such violent practices of "fun" are also discussed in this selection...

...the semblance of popular joys, and which certainly were not passed over without merriment and turbulent, disorderly fun, were really set apart for the gravest of civic and political reasons: militia musters, stump-speakings, county court day assemblages, and the yearly July celebrations. Still other pleasures were of an economic or utilitarian nature. Thus the novel and exciting contests by parties of men at squirrel-shooting looked to the taking of that destructive animal's scalp, to say nothing of the skin ; thehunting of beehives in the woods had some regard to the scarcity of sugar; and the nut gatherings and wild-grape gatherings by younger folks in the gorgeous autumnal days were partly in memory of a scant, unvaried larder, which might profitably draw upon nature's rich and salutary hoard. Perhaps the dearest pleasures among them were those that lay closest to their dangers. They loved the pursuit of marauding parties, the solitary chase ; were always ready to throw away axe and mattock for rifle and knife. Among pleasures,certainly, should be mentioned the weddings. For plain reasons these were commonly held in the daytime. Men often rode to them armed, and before leaving too often made them scenes of carousel and unchastened jocularities. After the wedding came the " infare," with the going from the home of the bride to the home of the groom. Above everything else that seems to strike the-chord of common happiness in the society of the time, stands out to the imagination the picture of one of these processions--a long bridal cavalcade winding slowly along a narrow road through the silent, primeval forest, now in sunlight, now in the shadow of mighty trees meeting over the way; at the head the young lovers, so rudely mounted, so simply dressed, and, following in their happy wake, as though they were the augury of a peaceful era soon to come, a straggling, broken line of the men and women who had prepared for that era, but should never live to see its appearing.

Allen, James L. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky and Other Kentucky Articles. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 119-20.

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The Strong Women of Borders and Backcountry

The author of The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky and Other Kentucky Stories describes his encounter with one of these strong women....

or skip to learn about illegitimacy in the Gap

In Bell County I spent the day in the house of a woman eighty years old, who was a lingering representative of a nearly extinct type. She had never been out of the neighborhood of her birth, knew the mountains like a garden, had whipped men in single-handed encounter, brought down many a deer and wild turkey with her own rifle, and now, infirm, had but to sit in her cabin door and send her trained dogs into the depths of the forests to discover the wished-for game. A fiercer woman I never looked on.

The greater gender equality, and the status of women as "workers" is exemplified in the settings of equal ground plus hard work in which many husbands and wives met one another. Such community activities are discussed in this selection...

While subsistence farming remained the predominant means of livelihood along the Big South Fork, recreation was tied to work activities, especially labor exchange between kin and neighbors. "Workings" were organized for every task from clearing land, barn raising, and house building, to cornhusking, bean shelling, and molasses making. Strenuous or technically complex work required more manpower, more tools and implements, or more specialized expertise than a single nuclear family could muster; but many of the lighter food preparation tasks could have been accomplished by individual families. These workings were as much social as economic in function, for they provided a socially approved setting in which young people could initiate a courtship. For all of the participants, the burden of monotonous work was relieved by conversation and rewarded by a big dinner spread by the hostess and other women whose families were present. In the more liberal households, the working often ended with square dancing. Even the oldest informants interviewed had not participated in log rollings and barn raisings but had heard stories from their parents or grandparents which described these events. Apparently the means of accomplishing heavy work hadchanged by the mid-nineteenth century. Informal mutual aid with unspecified obligation for future repayment was replaced by some more formal arrangement for hiring extra manpower. Workers were paid in return services, goods, or cash. But corn huskings and bean shellings persisted as community-wide events until well after the turn of the century. These socials are fondly remembered by informants who attended in their youth. "Candy-makings" also provided a pretext for young people to meet. The idea of a "working" was perpetuated but removed from its earlier agricultural context. One informant commented perceptively on workings of various kinds:

All the social activities were connected with the growing and production of food and fiber for the county's people--to benefit around the neighbors. They'd gather up and have a quilting party, gather up and around the neighborhood andhave a bean shelling party or a corn shucking party, and the girls-any girl that found a red ear of corn, everyone in the country would grab her and hug her and kiss her for it. ....Such things as that was all they had back then for amusement. You couldn't sit down and listen at a ball game on the radio or see one on the television or something like that. You made your own amusement, in other words, if you wanted to get out and shoot squirrels or shoot targets, take a gun out and fire it two or three times and get arrested and throwed in the calaboose sometimes for it, if you happen to be a little high. But people 'ud gather up around about and they would have those parties, first one kind and then another. I know I used to go to 'um around here. We'd make candy with a candy-makin' outfit. We'd gather in a bunch and buy the material. I forget what kinds candy we made, but it was pretty good candy and it was made from 30 or 40 cents worth of ingredients. We used to gather up there at _____'s. He had a store back then, and his girls, two or three of 'um. . .we'd always go up there. The girls would make the candy and we'd set there and eat candy. It was the only way we had of meeting other people, was going to some party like that.

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1981. 159-61.

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Pregnancy and Illegitimacy in the Cumberland Gap

Both were high, in the Gap just as they had been in the borderlands. Note, for example, the size of Daniel Boone's family in this selection...

or skip ahead to learn about Child-rearing in the Gap

Along this road(the Wilderness Road) Daniel Boone's eldest son James was captured, tortured and killed by the Indians in October 1773. This was Boone's first attempt to bring his wife Rebecca and eight children, in company with five other families, into Kentucky. If every family were as large as that of Daniel's the caravan must have been quite impressive The Boone children were: James age 17, Squire 15, Susannah 13, Jemima 11, Lavina 7, Rebecca 5, Daniel Morgan 4, and Jesse Bryan not yet 1. James and seven others had somehow got separated from the main group, probably by falling behind having to herd the slower moving farm animals. Though James's group was just a few miles from the main campsite, darkness caught them and they decided to camp for the night. Before dawn the next morning Indians attacked. A black slave was able to escape and hide in a pile of drift wood in a nearby creek but close enough to hear the screams of the unfortunate victims. Seven in the party were killed in this massacre. The grief stricken families buried their loved ones and retreated "forty miles" to the settlement of Castlewood, Va. on the Clinch River.

Shattuck, Tom. A Cumberland Area Guide Book. Middlesboro, KY: privately published, 1993. 21.

Following is another discussion of the high fertility rates of the area

Marriages take place early. They are a fecund race. I asked them time and again to fix upon the average number of children to a family, and they gave as the result seven. In case of parental opposition to wedlock, the lovers run off. There is among the people a low standard of morality in their domestic relations, the delicate privacies of home life having little appreciation where so many persons, without regard to age or sex, are crowded to~ether within very limit

Allen, James L. The BlueGrass Region of Kentucky and Other Kentucky Articles. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 236.

Perhaps in response to the frequency of childbirth, settlers of the Cumberland Gap, just like their ancestors on the Anglo-Scotch border, had many home remedies and superstitions about childbirth...

A woman in labor was attended not only by the local midwife but als by a group of female relatives. The husbands of these women often accom panted their wives and kept the father-to- be company while he waited. A suggests that the men were not always kept out of the labor room, and at least one informant had a grandfather who was a male midwife. He claim that male midwives were not unusual.

After the Stearns camps were established with company doctors in residence or on call, some women chose to have the services of a professional even though their children continued to be born at home. Others preferred midwives, who of late, at least in McCreary County, have been able to tn and receive official state certification. One veteran of sixteen live home births has tried to persuade her granddaughters to have their babie' at home, but without success. She says: "I had all my children at home. I reckon that's the reason I'm living, 'cause they'll kill you if they q you at the hospital. It shortens your days."

It is too simple to conclude that such attitudes toward the haspita which are encountered fairly frequently, merely reflect a fear of modern medicine. Equally important is the belief that personal crisis, whate~e its nature, should be faced at home with the support of the immediate family and the wider community.

Before adequate medical care was readily available, birth and the first few years of childhood were periods of great uncertainty. A rich body of folk belief helped to allay the anxiety surrounding birth-and early childhood. Although prenatal care was unknown, mothers-to-be tried to avoid unusual experiences which they believed might mark their infants After the child was born, it was carefully examined and its early behavic was observed and regulated in an attempt to determine or shape its future character. There were many magical cures for childrens' maladies~and ~n good luck and bad luck omens relating to young children. Morton (1978) provides a well-rounded sample of such beliefs from East Tennessee. 0lder female informants are familiar with these beliefs but do not admit tofollowing them personally during pregnancy and child-rearing.

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1981. 162.

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Childrearing in the Gap

want to learn about tanistry in the Cumberlands?

Of home government there is little or none, boys especially setting aside at will parental authority; but a sort of traditional sense of duty and decorum restrains them by its silent power, and moulds them into respect. Children while quite young are often plump to roundness, but soon grow thin and white and meagre like the parents. There is little desire for knowledge or education. The mountain schools have sometimes less than half a dozen pupils during the few months they are in session. A gentleman who wanted a coal bank opened, engaged for the work a man passing along the road. Some days later he learned that his workman was a school-teacher, who, in consideration of the seventy-five cents a day, had dismissed his academy.

Allen, James L. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky.... New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 238.

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Tanistry in the Gap

can be seen in their reverence for Daniel Boone and other "Representative Corn- Crackers"

(see John McAfee's book by the same title, 1886).

Such tanistry is also seen in the following discussion of the "Benjamin" of a "tribe"...

or learn about superstition in the Cumberlands

Here, we had occasion to extend our acquaintance with native types. Two young men came to the hotel, bringing a bag of small, hard peaches to sell. Slim, slab-sided, stomachless, and serene, mild, and melancholy, they might have been lotos-eaters, only the suggestion of poetry was wanting. Their unutterable content came not from the lotos, but from their digestion. If they could sell their peaches, they would be happy ; if not, they would be happy. What they could not sell, they could as well eat ­ and since no bargain was made on this occasion, they took chairs on the hotel veranda, opened the bag, and fell to. I talked with the Benjamin of his tribe: " Is that a good 'coon dog ?" "A mighty good 'coon dog. I hadn't never seed him whipped by a varmint yit." " Are there many 'coons in this country ?" " Several 'coons." " Is this a good year for 'coons ?" " A mighty good year for 'coons. The woods is full o' varmints." " Do 'coons eat corn ?" "'Coons is bad as hogs on corn, when they git tuk to it." " Are there many wild turkeys in this country ?" " Several wild turkeys." " Have you ever caught many 'coons ?" " I've cotched high as five 'coons out o' one tree." " Are there many foxes in this country ?" " Several foxes." " What's the best way to cook a 'coon?" "Ketch him and parbile him, and then put him in cold water and soak him, and then put him in and bake him." " Are there many hounds in this country ? " " Several hounds." Here, among other discoveries, was a linguistic one--the use of "several" in the sense of a great many, probably an innumerable multitude, as in the case of the 'coons.

Allen, James L. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky.... New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 223-4.

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Beliefs and Superstitutions in the Cumberlands

discussed in this selection...

or learn about deathways in the Gap

Monroe Countians were very superstitious in earlier years. This is reflected in the superstitions and beliefs that have been handed down across the years. These items ranged from death omens and bad luch superstitions to beliefs about certain signs that were used to forecast the weather. All entries have been keyed to Volumes VI and VII of The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, edited by Wayland D. Hand.


There were many beliefs that portended good luck, bad luck, or even death. These ideas were looked upon very seriously. There were many things that the people just wouldn't do if they could get by without it because they felt to do so would bring bad luck. Then there were other things that were sure signs of good luck. There were still other things that, if they happened, the people felt sure someone would die. Listed below are some of these superstitions:

"When you borrow a pocketknife, if it was open, leave it open. If it was closed when you got it, close it back before giving it back to the person. If you don't do this it will bring bad luck." Bonnie Reagan. Brown 2872. "It's bad luck to enter a house through one door and go out through a different door." Rosa Walden. Brown 2969. "It's bad luck to walk under a ladder." Rosa Walden; Bonnie Reagan. Brown 3064. "If you start on a trip and forget something, it's bad luck to go back and get it." Myran Goodwill. Brown 3762. "If a black cat crosses the road in front of you, it's a sign of bad luck." Bonnie Reagan; Ada Gettings; Oral Page. Brown 5185. "If a black cat crosses the road in front of you, you can erase the bad luck by making a cross mark on the window and spitting in it." Rosa Walden. Brown 3830. "I you sneeze with food in your mouth, there would be a death in your family." Oral Page. Brown 4935. "A wild bird in the house means death." Marion Goodwill. Brown 5006. "If strange noises were heard in the house and you didn't know what they were, it was a sign of death." Ada Gettings.Brown 5048. "If your dog howled at midnight, it would mean the death of someone close to you." Myran Goodwill. Brown 5207. "When a hen crowed there would be bad luck if the hen wasn't killed." Betty Page. Brown 5250. "There would be bad luck if a rooster crowed after midnight." Oral Page. Brown 5265. "When you heard the first dove in the spring, you would have to get a lock of cat's hair, bury it, and dance on your heels around it three times. If you didn't do this there would be a death in your family." Earl Walden. Brown 5298. "Deaths occur in series of three." Marion Goodwill. "Always pick all the beans out of your garden. If any of the old beans come up the next year, someone will die." Earl Walden. "You can hold up a piece of cloth and look toward the evening star and there will be some little stars around it. The number of stars indicates how many children vou will have. If one of the stars disappears, one of the children will die." Melinda Hoffman. "When sharpening a straight razor, strap it three times on each side. If you don't do this, you'll cut yourself." MyranGoodwill. "If you find a pin on the floor, don't pick it up if the head is pointing toward you because there is trouble ahead. If the point is toward you, pick it up because trouble is behind you or you'll have sharp luck." Earl Walden. "Always get out of the same side of the bed as when you went to bed. If you don't do this, you'll have bad luck." Willie Montell. "It would bring bad luck to take the ashes out of a stove on Friday." Oral Page. "If a woman came to your house on New Year's Day, you would have bad luck. But, if a man came in first, they would bring good luck." Hazel Montell. "A crowing hen and a whistling woman will come to some bad luck." Ova Kirk. "If you hang mistletoe over the door, the first unmarried person that walks under it will be the first to get married." Rosa Walden. "Never rock a rocking chair unless you're sitting in it. If you do, it means you're due a whipping. " Marian Goodwill. "If you've got a dog, just clip the end hairs off his tail and bury them under your doorstep and he'll never leave home." Lank Kirkpatrick. "Always get married when the hands of the clock point up so the love will be in its cup." Myran Goodwill.

Monroe County Folklife. Lynwood Montell Ed. Monroe County, KY: privaely published, 1975. 87-9.

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Burials and Other Practices of Religion in the Gap

also reflect the blend of lack of reverence and religion of the peoples of the borderlands and backcountry. Death, and religion, were so intimately a part of their lives that these sacred realms became blended with the everyday. Several examples are described in the following selection
or skip ahead to learn about beliefs in magic in the Gap

Some of the folkways of eastern Kentucky people have been stereotyped as quaint and primitive and unlawful. A few only can be touched on here and little more than defined.

One of these customs has been termed funeralizing. But it rightfully should be called the more sacred and traditional term - memorializing. In the mountains there were a few churches but not enough pastors to go round. There were fewer trained preachers than in more populous regions. The people had to be served by the famous circuit riders. These made their rounds in late summer and fall well enough, but in winter and in the busy early spring they could not visit the flooded and shut-in valleys. But life went on in thesevalleys: an elderly brother passed on, and a mother died in childbirth, a couple began housekeeping by parental consent or on the strength of papers from the squire. Children grew into their teens and began to "run wild." In the late spring and summer the ministers would return to their charges. They would baptize the young, hold memorial funerals for the deceased, and hold religious weddings for those couples who already had families started. The funeral services, more sacred and touching than any other events, often occupied an all-day preaching "with dinner on the ground." Very often in the congregation a man (more rarely a woman) would hear the virtues of his dead wife praised while his new wife sat by his side.

Memorializing eventually became an annual affair in conjunction with the Annual Meetings and Associations of the sects. And growing up with these three-day gatherings was another custom, that of the jockey ground, or just good old-fashioned hoss swapping. The people attending the Associations from miles around came in wagons and ahorseback. On a day in the afternoon, or throughout the whole event for that matter, the men would choose a bottom piece of ground of several acres and trot their nags and mules up and down, calling out, "How'll ye swap?" Men could be seen looking into the mouths of horses, taking little jog-trots up and down the dusty field, clapping the nag's rump with his willow switch, putting harness on mules and making them pull a log up and down the bottom. Of course there were many other kinds of trading, such as in livestock, work swapping, dog chasing, and even a little knife throwing swapping from the fist, sight unseen.

Another religious observance developed soon after the Civil War. The mountain people were among the first to set aside a day "to decorate the graves." This day became fixed on May 30 or the nearest Sunday to it. Earlier in the week the menfolk would go to the graveyard and clean off the creepvine and shrubs and remound the sunken graves. Soon as daylight on Sunday the mothers would rise and send their children to pick the flowers of the field and around the house and to cut green shrubs from the hillsides and along the streams. The women would pack every basket on the place with flowers and bulbs to transplant and all the pies, cakes, fried chicken, and pickles and make their way to the meeting house. After Sunday school the congregation would adjourn to the graveyard on the point. There under the largest clump of sassafras trees the preacher would take his stand and talk in a thin wavering voice about "this land of trial and tribulation, where we all totter over the earth until we lay this body down." And after naming those who had come there to rest within the year he would continue, "And we must prepare to meet those who have gone on before and join our loved ones there with no more sorrow and where our tears will be wiped forever from our eyes.¯ Sometime between twelve and two the ministers would "give way" and the people would wind about among the graves scattering their flowers and setting out their shoots of evergreen and roses. Then they would leave the sacred grounds and have dinner together on the hillside.

Old Greasybeard: Tales from the Cumberland Gap. Leonard Roberts Ed. Detroit, Michigan: Folklore Associates, 1969. 8-9.

a discussion of more church-going activities in the Gap follows...

"People would drive far miles to church in an old road wagon. First of all they would drive in an old ox cart; maybe if it was a large family they would hitch a yoke of oxen to the wagon and drive for several miles in a road wagon pulled by a yoke of oxen. I still have an ox yoke, but I don't have any oxen. After the days of the oxen and cattle played out, they got to using horses and mules to pull the wagons with. We would all crawl in the wagon when we started to church and my dad would pick up every lady along the road as long as there was room for anyone to stand. Everybody wanted to ride and we had a lot of fun, now.

"People didn't really dress up to go to church like they do now. I remember they just wore shirts and overalls. They had their "Sunday-go-to-meeting overalls" as they were called. It would be a new pair. Their old ones they wore to go to work in on the farm. The new ones were held in reserve to wear to church. If a feller had a new pair to go to church in, he was really dressed up. A lot of times they would get between a rock and hard place and couldn't afford a new pair of overalls and they would have to wear their old ones to church. I have seen some at church with their old ones on. They would be clean, but they would be patched. But they were just as good as anybody else, I reckon. That is the way everybody felt about it, that clothes didn't make the man. This day and time some people seem to entertain the idea that if a man is well-dressed, he is all right every other way. But as the old saying goes, "Clothes doesn't make the man." Oral Page.

+ + + +
"Now don't call my name. It might not be so good. It was about three miles. We had a big old mare we called Dunbar after a big Dunbar boat. And my mother would get on that horse and one of us would get on her lap and I usually rode behind next to her and another one 'ud get behind me. They had preaching about once aJmonth except the season they had protractive meetings, maybe two, three or everyone of 'em were Baptists! There was an old school house at Center Point. They would meet in that. Everybody sang. One time I remember going and there was just three women there and men, and not a one of them men would lead the singing; and she led it off singing "Amazing Grace, how sweet it sounds." The preacher preached a long time. Sometimes a lot would leave before it was over. They baptised in the river. Everybody went to the baptizing." Anonymous elderly female.
"Well, they call them meetings and revivals, and everybody went to church. Young people, all young people went, cause there won't no other place to go. And after church, well the boys would line up on the outside, and as thou girls come out the door, well they'd walk up to 'em. The boy would say to the girl, "The star, the moon shine is bright; may I see ya home tonight? " And the girl would, if she wanted the boy to go with her, why she'd say, "The stars shine too; I don't care if ya do." Then that meant, that meant, that they had a date with her, with each other. So he'd walk her home. They didn't have no cars, they .just walked along the road." RoyDecker.

Monroe County Folklife. Lynwood Montell Ed. Monroe County, KY: privately published, 1975. 77-9.

yet another perspective on religion in the Gap is given in this selection...

Amid a rural people, also, no class of citizens is more influential than the clergy, who go about as the shepherds of the right ; and without doubt in Kentucky, as elsewhere, ministerial ideals have wrought their effects on taste in architecture. Perhaps it is well to state that this is said broadly, and particularly of the past. The Kentucky preachersduring earlier times were a fiery, zealous, and austere set, proclaiming that this world was not a home, but wilderness of sin, and exhorting their people to live under the awful shadow of Eternity. Beauty in every material form was a peril, the seductive garment of the devil. Wellnigh all that made for ‘sthetic culture was put down, and, like frost on venturesome flowers, sermons fell on beauty in dress, entertainment, equipage, houses, church architecture, music, the drama, the opera everything. The meek young spirit was led to the creek or pond, and perhaps the ice was broken for her baptism. If, as she sat in the pew, any vision of her chaste loveliness reached the pulpit, back came the warning that she would some day turn into a withered hag, and must inevitably be " eaten of worms." What wonder if the sense of beauty pined or went astray and found itself completely avenged in the building of such churches? And yet there is nothing that even religion more surely demands than the fostering of the sense of beauty within us, and through this also we work towards the civilization of the future.

Allen, James L. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky.... New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 209-10.

this selction analyzes the religion of the region, as well

Many Big South Fork communities disappeared from the map when most of residents moved away, their stores and post offices closed, and their one-room schools closed. The institution that remained most vigorous in the face of community dissolution was the church. As long as some residents remain to form a congregation nucleus, the small rural churches continue to function. An overview of church history and belief will help to explain these churches survive in spite of small congregations, limited activities, and the attractions of larger, more active churches in the towns.

The denominations represented by churches in the Big South Fork area include Baptist, Methodist, Presyterian, Congregational, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah'sWitness, Church of God, Church of Christ, Church of the Nazarine, Mormon, and unaffiliated Pentecostal and Holiness groups. A majority of the churches and church members are Baptist. Historically, Baptists dominated the immediate BSFNRRA area and have continued to do so. For these reasons, the Baptists will be the focus of this discussion.

Because Baptist doctrine and church organization inherently preclude a single invariant theology and church doctrine, conflicting schools of thought have flourished and left their traces in frequently encountered denominational labels--Regular Baptist, Separate Baptist, United Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Free Will Baptist, and Primitive Baptist. Still other labels are encountered elsewhere in the South but are not common in the Big South Fork area. An historical overview will help to explain the church names which are most common near the recreation area.

History of the Baptist Denomination

A few English Baptists settled in colonial Virginia and North Carolina. They styled themselves General or Armenian Baptists and adhered to the doctrine of free will (Sweet 1931). The Great Awakening revival movement began in New England in the 1730's although it did not gain a foothold in Appalachia until the last decade of the eighteenth century (Boles 1972; Johnson 1955). The New England revival greatly swelled the ranks of the Baptists; in keeping with Great Awakening theology, the new convertswere Calvinistic predestinarians rather than advocates of free will. These were Congregationalists who were reformed by revival spirit first to become "New Lights" and later to form Separate Baptist congregations when they gave up infant baptism in favor of adult baptism. Soon after 1750, Baptist converts began migrating southward from New England where the Separate Baptists were strong and from Pennsylvania where the Regular Baptists had an active association. The Regulars shared a Calvinistic outlook with the Separates but were less revivalistic and evangelical.

Sweet (1931: 9-10) describes the antagonism the Separates aroused when they came in contact with the General Baptists in Virginia and North Carolina.

The older Baptists in Virginia and North Carolina, as well as other denominations in contact with them, generally disapproved way of the Separates. This disapproval was largely based upon the pulpit mannerisms and type of preaching generally followed by the evangelists, and by the effects they produced upon the Congregation. . .One of the peculiar mannerisms developed by the preachers was the "holy whine," a sing song method of speaking which seems to have arisen with outdoor preaching, and which continued to be practiced by the less educated Baptist ministers of the frontier for many years. . .The Separate Baptists had the reputation for being an ignorant and illiterate set. As is generally the case, the people attracted to the kind of meetings conducted by the Separate Baptist evangelists represented the lower classes economically and educationally.

Membership gains by the Separate Baptists durinq the 1760's and 1770's were in part the result of a popular reaction against civil persecution of Separate Baptist preachers and of general support for separation of Church and State after the Revolutionary War. Both Regular and Separate Baptists emigrated from Virginia and North Carolina to Kentucky and Tennessee when western settlement began. The Regular Baptists established more churches in Kentucky, and the Separate Baptists established more churches in Tennessee. Soon after the turn of the century, however, a new movement to achieve a compromise between the Calvinistic and Armenian positions touched both states. Adherents to the compromise formed the UnitedBaptist Church in 1807-8 (Sweet 1931: 22-27).

Meanwhile, Andrew Fuller had organized the first Baptist missionary society in England in 1792. Sweet (1931: 61) reports that the missionary message was at first warmly received in Kentucky and Tennessee. The Great Awakening spread to Appalachia through the efforts of circuit-riding preachers imbued with missionary fervor. However, by the1820's controversy over missionary activity began to develop, and churches split in consequence. Anti-mission sentiment, which Sweet (1931: 58) interprets asa frontier phenomenon, was especially strong in Tennessee. The anti-mission Baptists rejected the notion that clergy needed special education or that they should be paid salaries. The protest was also directed against what seemed t• be a trend toward more rigid and centralized church organization. On theological grounds, the anti-mission congregations took an extreme Calvinist position that viewed any proselytizing as presumptious tampering with God 's foreordained will for each individual. These views were shared by the Primitive or "Hardshell" Baptists, the Reformer Baptists who were followers of Alexander Campbell, and the Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Baptists, who subscribed to Daniel Parker's view that each individual was born with either the seed of good or of evil, and hence was either elect or damned from birth (Sweet 1931: 67-72).

Sanderson's (1958) history of Scott County sheds some light on the history of the Baptist Church in the immediate Big South Fork area. The United Baptist Church was organized in the area in 1842 and flourished until the 1880's. At that time, controversy over the mission issue caused Scott County Baptists to split into Separate and Missionary Baptists. At present, Missionary Baptist Churches are found in the towns and along High way 27, but further west in the heart of the Big South Fork area, congregations are either Separate or United Baptist.

Some communities have both United and Separate Baptist churches, suggesting factional splits in the past, but church members now do not identify any major theological differences and freely attend one another's services. A Separate Baptist preacher who was asked to explain the origin of the label "Separate" referred to the scriptural injunction, "Be ye separate." He interpreted this verse as a guide for contemporary behavior, not in terms of church history. A United Baptist lay member volunteered his understanding of the difference between Separate and United Baptists: the Separate Baptists believe that a person can be saved today and lostagain tomorrow, so they permit repreated baptisms, the United Baptists believe in one baptism.

Religious Belief
Despite their past or present doctrinal differences, all Baptists subscribe to these basic principles: 1) conversion as a condition of church membership, 2) adult baptism by immersion, 3) individual responsibility to God, and 4) a congregational rather than a centralized form of church governance .

Encouragement of personal intrepretation of the Bible and congregational autonomy have insulated the Appalachian churches from outside influencesand have splintered congregations within the area. Parker (1970) sees in these circumstances a fertile field for the formation of folk religion. Folk religion is evident in widespread regional observances like Decoration Day; in less common practices like faith-healing; and in the rare but heavily publicized snake handling practiced by some Appalachian Holiness sects (see La Barre 1962, Kane 1974). Kane's work and some sketchy informationa obtained from informants suggests that snake handling may persist on the Cumberland Plateau even though both Tennessee and Kentucky have outlawed it. But there is no evidence to suggest that it is practiced in the Holiness churches near the Big South Fork.

Individualism and personalism in religion do not encourage regular church attendance and participation in church-sponsored social programs. The activities of the rural churches reflect the limited resources of their small congregations but also a traditional resistance to participation in organized social groups. The more conservative congregations frown upon associating sports and other common youth program with the church.

The Role of the Preacher and The Lay Member

James Kerr in his analysis of Appalachian religion (1979:71) argues that congregations want preaching, not pastoralism. The preacher who is a neighbor, kinsman, and who works at the same tasks as the rest of the community during the week is a more credible figure than the outsider specialist. Again, the necessity of using part-time, unpaid ministers because of limited financial resources is turned into a virtue.

The call to preach in a rural Baptist church may come toanyone, literate or illiterate, but the novice preacher must gain congregational approval before he is confirmed in his work and ordainedto preach by his fellow preachers. The call has been a stimulus for many preachers to learn to read or to improve their reading in order to study the Bible in depth. Nevertheless, many preachers express the belief that they are divinely inspired during their sermons; they do not prepare before they get up to speak. They generally begin quietly with a particular Bible text, but when they "get going good,"they fall into the "holy whine" noted by Sweet and begin to arouse affirmative responses from the congregation. Despite the extemporaneous content of sermons, the oratorical style employed is highly stylized, and preachers acknowledge that as novices they modeled their preaching after successful preachers whom they admired.

The same egalitarian tendencies which favor the local part-time preacher also promote full and equal participation by lay members in services and church affairs. Their participation takes the form of group prayers, and lengthy personal testimony in addition to the affirmations interjected into the preacher's sermon. Each congregation as a democratic body conducts its own business affairs. In the early days, this function extended beyond church business into the regulation of members' conduct. This aspect of church life will be discussed more fully in the chapter on social control (Chapter Seven).

Church Life

Some of the smaller rural churches no longer have a preacher available for services every week but must participate in a circuit with other churches. Circuit churches may hold services only once a month, and this situation encourages visiting at nearby churches between times. Regular services are held Sunday mornings or evenings, and prayer meetings may also be held on Wednesday evenings. Congregational business meetings and association meetings are often held on Saturday evenings. Special Sunday School programs for the children are seldom provided by the smaller rural churches. One Preacher rationalized this lack with the observation that Sunday School couldn't save anybody; only responding to the preached Word could do that. Emotional conversion rather than a prolongedprogram of religious instruction is the prerequisite for baptism.

Regular weekly and monthly church services and meetings may be attended by only a small core of faithful members, but the revivals which last a full week or longer draw larger crowds to the churches and may produce conversions to swell the membership rolls. Most revivals are now sponsored by a particular church and held in its building, but tent meetings and brush arbor meetings are not unknown. Kerr (1979) identifies revivalism and emotional fundamentalism as important characteristics of Appalachian religion and notes that church participation which may lag at other times of the year is stimulated by revivals. Perhaps the Pentecostal and Holiness sects which currently are gaining members throughout Appalachia are successful because they manage to satisfy these emotional needs more continuously than the older churches.

The following description of the old-time revival matches informant memories in most particulars, but shouting was another characteristic they mentioned. One woman vividly recalls having to climb up on the bench as a small child in order to get out of the shouters' way. She observed that shouting was expected behavior and not always spontaneous, at least this was true of one old lady in the church who always tied her bonnet tightly on her head before beginning to shout.

Many of these early revivals followed along the camp-meeting type of procedure. Whether or not the ministers could carry a tune in a sack" they usually led off with a solo. . .The whole procedure was democratic in keeping with the ideas of the frontier people. Every minister participated in the services which held three or four hours. The entire congregation participated in the singing, and Christians and sinners joined in mass prayer. Some minister or devout man or woman usually led off with the prayer at the mourner's bench, but all joined in as the spirit led them. Sometimes fifty would be praying aloud at one time. . . The revivals usually lasted two to six weeks, depending upon the interest taken. At the close of the revivals the new converts were taken into the church. All the converts came forward, testified, and expressed their desire to join the churchand be baptized. The baptizings were held in May the next spring. These were called the "May Meetings" (Sanderson 1958: 117).

One informant described May Meetings and Association Meetings recalled from childhood. The May Meetings she likened to Easter because everyone attended and the women and girls decked themselves out in new Sunday clothes. The association meetings were held in early fall, usually September. Congregations loosely affiliated together into an association conducted their mutual business at that time, but the week-long meeting also provided an occasion for the host community to entertain and hear all of the visiting preachers.

Another special church observance provides a time for former members of a congregation to reunite, whether they have moved away from the area or simply transferred membership from the family's church to one of the larger town churches. These reunions, called Homecomings, are held at each church sometime during the summer. There is a special church serviceand dinner on the grounds. Tables, sometimes covered by asshed, can be seen near many church buildings in the area; these have been installed to accommodate dinners on the grounds.

Many younger families in the Big South Fork area now are active in the larger town churches which are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. These churches have trained, full-time ministers and a full program of activities, including youth programs for the children. Research conducted throughout Appalachia suggests that more affluent familiesaffiliate with more modernist, less fundamentalist churches while the Holiness sects attract the very poor (Photiadis and Maurer 1974; Garrard 1970).

Most of the BSFNRRA residents surveyed are church members, but many do not participate regularly in church activites. Extremely religious individuals sometimes rationalize their lack of participation- in organized church activities by stating that none of the churches nowadays strictly follows the Bible. Because their religion is oriented toward personal commitment rather than participation in group ritual, Bible-reading and listening to religious broadcasts are very important parts of their lives Some of the gospel programs heard locally have a national or regional distribution, but the most popular are broadcasts of local preachers an singing groups. Although many church buildings attract small congregations, the invisible radio congregationsare large and strong.

Howells, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1981.

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The backcountry did not only have its own forms of religion; it was also distinct in its beliefs about magic, carried over from the Anglo-Scotch borders.

or skip ahead to learn about folk remedies in the Gap

They brought along their beliefs and remedies, signs and superstitions, and made a few observations of their own. There was a belief in witchcraft in early America, brought from the Old World. These beliefs had lost their force by the time eastern Kentucky was settled. Some items remained and some countercharms and witch doctors were used to neutralize them. Nowhere in the hills is there a record of witch trials and executions. Some people still tell stories of bewitchment-dogs that are turned on the back trail, cows that will not give milk, butter that will not come in the churn, a sickness that will not be cured ( see stories 34, 35, and 36 ).

Beliefs of various kinds were sometimes wholly accepted, some partly accepted, some not at all. The use of iron under the bed to cut childbed pain, horseshoes over the door to ward away witches, pokers heated in the fireplace to scare away hawks- these disappeared early and are now barely remembered. One old man of 77 told me about being passed through a split tree trunk to be cured of the phthisic. Omens and weather signs have persisted longer and only now are fading away. Their ancient omens have probably been re-inforced by their experiences with the Indians back on earlier frontiers. An owl hooting, a rooster crowing, especially in the doorway, a dog howling were signs of bad luck or of a death in the family. Weather signs of course were handed down from the Old Country and from the New England almanacs, and the almanac is still sold or given away in country stores. They gave the signs of the zodiac, a year's coverage of the weather, crop dates, when to plant according to the phases of the moon, eclipses, sayings, proverbs and remedies. The mountain folk adapted, improved upon these written records by their own observations. They studied the direction of the wind and rain clouds, saw the animals' habits and customs, plant and tree growth and were able to make good use of these experiences. The largest collection of Kentucky superstitions (many from the hills) totalling about 4000 is in the volume Kentucky Superstitions by Lucy and Daniel Thomas.

There is a persistent and continuing belief in ghosts, walking spirits, haints, and revenants in the region. They are seen as shapes in the road or near graveyards, along stretches of winding creek road and at lonely spots, or where someone lost his life, or in rooms where people died. Foul play leaves the most grisly and lasting spot. Many ghosts are to be seen, some to be heard, some to be felt. Ghosts sometimes walk and have nothing to say, others tell the person that all will be well in the other world, or warn him to stop a certain way of doing, or to help a certain person, or even to go right and return to church. The longer stories of the ghost who wants to see that his murderer is brought to justice, or to see that his family gets his property, or to tell where money is hidden are from Old World archetypes. These in many versions are told throughout the mountains See Nos 4, 5, and especially 16).

Old Greasybeard: Tales from the Cumberland Gap. Leonard Roberts Ed. Detroit, Michigan: Folklore Assoc., 1969. 17-8.

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A variation on such beliefs in magic is seen in the superstitions and folk remedies of the backcountry...

or skip ahead to learn how Cumberland communities responded to illnesses


In Monroe County, just as in most other rural areas across the nation our former generations didn't have access to very much medical technology. There were a few doctors scattered across the area, but they were usually located in the communities, towns, or trade centers. The people that lived away from these areas had an especially hard time obtaining the services of a doctor.

Due to this lack of medical services, the people in these rural areas developed their own beliefs as to how to prevent and cure their diseases. Mr. M. S. Agers illustrated the importance of these remedies when he was talking about a homemade linament freauently used made by his mother: "We had to use it. That was all we had. We could be dead by the time we got to a doctor."

These remedies have been passed on from generation to generation and many are still in use by some people today.

"When a woman was in labor, if you put an axe under her bed, it would cut the pain in two.' Earl Walden. Brown 45.

'Many times a mother, having no baby food would chew the baby's food and then put it in the 6aby's mouth." Rosa Walden.

"If a baby was fretful and crying, they would fix a sugar tit for it. They would put sugar in little bags and let the baby suck on it to pacify him." Rosa Walden. Brown 80.

"If a child wets the bed, feed him fried mouse the next morning and he won't wet the bed any more." Emma McDonald. Brown 279.

"Give babies catnip tea to make them sleep good. " Kate Holland.

"If a child had the thrash (sore mouth), they would take it to some person that had never seen his own father. This person would blow his breath into the child's mouth to cure the thrash." Rosa Walden. Brown 413.

"Wearing an asafetida bag around the neck would keep away contagious diseases." Rosa Walden. Brown 735.

"Wear an asafetida bag around the neck for the tizzy." (A wheezing disease). J. T. Brown. Brown 735-36.

"Set a jug of corn whiskey on top of roots, herbs, and barn and drink it off of them and you won't get sick. " Oral Page. Brown 792-94.

"If a young boy had asthma, they would stand him up against the wall and mark where the top of his head came. As he grew above this mark, the asthma would leave him." Lank Kirkpatrick. Brown 829.

"Sassafras tea is good for the blood." Kate Holland. Brown 895.

"If a person had the chickennox, he should go out in front of the hen house and let the ch~ckens all come out the door over him." Rosa Walden. Brown 1022.

"Wet a paper and put it around an onion and put it in the ashes where there'd be enough heat to bake it. It creates enough juice that you can mix it with sugar and give it to a baby for a cold." Elzady White; Emma McDonald. Brown 1113.

"Polecat grease would clear up a cold." Emma McDonald.

"Wear a greasy rag around the neck for a cold. This was a rag saturated with a mixture of tallow or lard, kerosene, campher, and turpentine." John McDonald.

"Wintergreen tea was good for a bad cold." John Dossey.

"Ground ivy would make babies break out with hives." Elzady White. Brown 1689.

"Poke berry root was used for the itch. The patient was bathed in the water the root was boiled in." Emma McDonald. Brown 1750.

"Rub sulphur and sorghum molasses on the itch anc wear it for nine days." John Dossey.

"Watermelon seed tea was good for the kidneys. " Emma McDonald. Brown 1765.

"Make tea out of sheep manure and drink it to cure the measles." Vaner Tooley; Rosa Walden; Emma Mc- Donald. Brown 1806.

"To stop a nosebleed, take some hot water and salt and sniff it three times." Ova Kirk. Brown 1882.

"If a person has a nosebleed, put a pair of scissors in the bed with him." Oral Page. Brown 1901.

"Put scissors on the back of your neck to stop a nosebleed." John McDonald. Cf. Brown 1901.

"To stop a nosebleed, hold a dime in your mouth. " Oral Page. Brown 1904.

"To keep a nose from bleeding, put a hole through a dime, tie a string through it and wear it around your neck." Rosa Walden. Brown 1906.

"Put a dime under the nose to stop a nosebleed. " Emma McDonald.

"Pour whiskey on red, ripe poke berries and take it for arthritis." Kate Holland. Brown 2015.

"For rheumatism, get a piece of copper wire and tie it around the arm." Oral Page. Brown 2053.

"Red oak bark ooze, made by boiling red oak bark, was used to keep down swelling." Kate Holland. Brown 2324.

"To get rid of a wart, go somewhere and steal a dish rag and rub it over the wart." Rosa Walden. Brown 2597.

"Pick a wart until it bleeds. Get a little stick and break it in the middle. Get a little blood on the stick and go hide it and don't tell anyone where you hid it and the wart will go away." Emma McDonald.

"To stop the hiccoughs, put your nase down in a paper sack and breathe in it." Ward Curtis.

"Corn silk tea was good for the kidneys." Emma McDonald.

"Pumpkin seed tea was good for the kidneys." John Dossey.

"Take castor oil for bad colds." J. T. Brown.

"In case of an injury where the person is bleeding, put a chopping axe under the bed to stop the bleeding." Oral Page.

"Put a piece of fat meat on a bee sting to keep it from swelling." Ward Curtis.

"Don't let a baby nurse its mother while the mother is hot. The milk will be hot and make the baby sick." Rosa Walden.

"Pumpkin seed tea was good for high blood pressure." T Brown

Monroe County Folklife. Lynwood Montell Ed. Monroe County, KY: privately published, 1975. 90-3.

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Besides these home remedies, the backcountry had many other traditional manners for dealing with illness

or skip ahead to learn about Food in the Cumberlands

Illness brought forth various expressions of community support. Whenever economically productive members of a family were disabled, neighbors took over their farm or household chores, brought in prepared food, helped with child care, or did whatever else was needed to keep the family functioning. If the patient required intensive nursing, neighbors spelled the women of the immediate fam~ly at this task. Whether or not their help was needed to provide round-the-clock nursing, neighbors considered it a duty to visit the sick.

Local healers were the primary medical consultants. This was universally true before improved transportation and the Stearns company doctors made professional medical care reasonably accessible. However, even after trained doctors were available, many families continued to prefer home remedies and the advice of local healers. The doctor was called only for the most serious problems or after less drastic forms of treatment had been exhausted without success.

Local medical practitioners included herbalists who treated a variety of ills, midwives, and home dentists who pulled teeth with pliers mace by the local blacksmith or occasionally supplied by some overworkedphysician who hoped avoid practicing dentistry. Although every family knew the most common herbal remedies and grew or collected materials needed for the common house- hold remedies, each community had its specialist whose knowledge was more extensive. This person could be called upon to give advice or prepare special medicines when necessary. A number of the experts traced their special knowledge of herbal medicine back to Indian ancestors.

One Indian doctor, a man who called himself Dr. Medico, seems to have set up a commercial practice near the Wayne-McCreary County line around the turn of the century. He may even have traveled into Fentress County to practice on occasion, but he was exceptional. Most lay healers worked close to home and took no pay for their services. Rather, they could expect favors in return through the community system of mutual aid. In late years when commercial transactions began to supplant labor exchange, lay medical practitioners still did not accept payment because they knew they might be liable to criminal presecution for practicing medicine without a license.

Informants' recollections of early medical practices include a sketch of the country doctor's life as well as anecdotes from the patient's view. One may infer from these reminiscences that most doctors were conentious but nevertheless limited in their training and in the equipment Ipharmaceuticals available to them. In this context, primary reliance local practitioners made technological sense. It also made sense soly as an expression of community values. Wherever possible, the city served its own needs through mutual aid, a practice that simtaneously strengthened community bonds while it minimized unnecessary terference from outsiders. Even today, many old-timers consider capitalization a real misfortune. While they recieve better medical care, they are separated from home and family during their personal crisis, the very time when support from home and family traditionally have been most important and most reassuring.

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1981. 164-5.

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Food in the Cumberlands

required much work and preparation, as it had in the borders of England and Scotland. One type of food that was distinct to the backcountry of America was cornmeal...
or skip ahead to learn about moonshine in the Gap

The grain is ground at their homes in a hand tub-mill, or one made by setting the nether millstone in a bee-gum, or by cutting a hole in a puncheon-log and sinking the stone into it. There are, however, other kinds of mills: the primitive little water-mill, which may be con- sidered almost characteristic of this region; in a few places improved water-mills, and small steam-mills. It is the country of mills, farm-houses being furnished with one as with coffee- pot or spinning- wheel. A simpler way of preparing corn for bread than by even the hand-mill is used in the late summer and early autumn, while the grain is too hard for eating as roasting-ears, and too soft to be ground in a mill. On a board is tacked a piece of tin through which holes have been punched from the under side, and over this tin the ears are rubbed, producing a coarse meal, of which "gritted bread " is made. Much pleasure and much health they get from their "gritted bread," which is sweet and wholesome for a hungry man.

Allen, James L. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky.... New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 232-3.

Greens were also a popular food, both of the backcountry and the borderlands...

Wild Plant Foods
Table 22 lists 86 edible plant species that occur in the Big South Fork area. These potential food sources have not been extens~vely ex- plotted in the recent past, but one may assume that the earliest white settlers along with the Indians once made much fuller use of these re- sources.

Among the potherbs or sallet greens used by informants, poke is the most frequently mentioned and is still collected by a good many informants. However, some families used to gather other greens also yellow dock, sour dock, old field lettuce, pigweed, lamb's quarters, crow's foot, mustard, dandelion, and bullweed. Wild sage rather than cultivated sage sometimes was used to season game and as an ingredient in sausage and souse meat. Roots were used almost exclusively for medicine; however, meadow garlic may have been used in sausage making, and one informant reported collecting and roasting the Indian turnip, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, when she was a girl.

Beechnuts, black walnuts, hickory nuts, and chestnuts were gathered in the fall, and chestnut mast also fattened the semi-wild, semi-domestic hogs ranging free in the woods. Old timers condtend that the chestnut-fattened hogs yielded better flavored pork than animals finished off on grain. The chestnuts are no more, but black walnuts are still a popular wild food.

Among the wild fruits and berries collected both in the past and presently are persimmon, papaw, blackberry, huckleberry, frost grape, and muscadine. The two wild grapes are quite sour but produce flavorful jellies. Muscadines used to thrive in the cleared areas along the O & W railroad tracks, but reforestation has destroyed that former habitat.

Various plants were used to prepare table beverages. Sassafras tea was brewed from sassafras root bark; spicewood bark and twigs, and the leaves of bee balm, also known as Oswego tea, were steeped for table beverages. Many other teas were prepared for medicinal purposes. Persimmons were turned into mildly alcholoic persimmon beer. First the persimmons were baked in corn bread. Then the bread was crumbled into a crock, covered with water, and allowed to ferment for a few days.

Big South Fork residents have been able to use a variety of substitutes for refined sugar. Honey and sorghum molasses are sti11 quite popular, but in the early decades of this century, maples were tapped and the sap was boiled down into maple syrup and sometimes maple sugar. In the process of logging out the area's hardwoods, some fine old sugar groves were lost. An additional natural sweet for children was the balsam exuded from sweet gum trees. This balsam was chewed like chewing gum...

Howell, Benita. Survey, 60.

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Along with foodstuffs, the backcountry shared taste in beverages with the borderlands. The most wellknown of these common drinks was


or skip ahead to learn about the violent recreations of the Cumberland culture

Moonshine is of course the most notorious of all Appalachian beverage. Pure corn whiskey was made at home following procedures quite like those used by ancestors of the Big South Fork settlers hundreds of years earlie in the British Isles. The sweet mash whiskey was kept on hand for medic) purposes, as a general tonic, and for hospitality. Short-cuts that produce an inferior and often dangerous product were introduced once a cash economy created a booming market for whiskey. This discussion with two informant explains the differences between the two kinds of whiskey.

A: Why, they used to make whiskey around our part of the country th everybody nearly made it. They made some good moonshine whiskey then. We'd sprout the malt and go to the barn and dig us a hole in the stables where the manure was--it couldn't never freeze-and bury that box down in there. It'd hold water. We'd put th corn in there--it'd have a lid to it, you see. We'd go every d or two and put warm water in that, and that's the way we sprout the malt corn. See, we had to sorta watch about the revenue too, you know, so whenever we let that lid back down, we'd thro some stalks and ol' hay over that, and may be a mule in there ( the stall). That's the way we sprouted that malt corn. Then you got one of these sausage grinders and run it through that, then was ready to go in that still cap. They'd run a quill down thr that cap and drink that (the still beer). It's good, law yeah. See, it'd form a cap on top of it. You could tell when it got to work. The cap would get thinner and thinner. Directly it'd break up, and she's ready to go in the pot and go to boiling it. They wouldn't put no sugar in that first. That was called sweet mash, that first. That was the corn likker, nothing in but just the corn. Whenever it got boiled off, it got weaker and weaker. Whenever it got down to what we called backin's, then just empty that pot into barrels, and that's when they'd put t, sugar in it. And it'd make more the next time than it did the time, but it wouldn't be as good.

B: That sugar whiskey's what gave people hard liver and everything, but that corn likker, old people used to drink that. They'd keep it in the home and drink it for medicine, maybe. Keep it on the table and all the family had to take a swallow every morning to keep 'em healthy. But after they got to putting that sugar in, made 'em sick, poisoned 'em.

A: Gave 'em jake leg.

B: Made their liver get hard.

A: The revenuers got so hard on 'em they wouldn't half make it. Made it on an old thump keg, they called it. They didn't run it through much of a copper pipe and take that grease (verdigris mixed with corn oil, called bardy grease) out of it.

B. My grandmother said that the way her daddy made it, he d take a yarn sock and put that pipe, let that whiskey run through that yarn sock, and she said there'd be a great big ball of that oldgreen stuff come off that copper. That was poison, and they'd (makers of bad whiskey) just let it go down in, pay no attention to it.

Here is another informant's account of whiskey making after widespread bootlegging, fueled by demand from Streans miners with cash on hand, became the order of the day in river gorge communities just across the state line in Tennessee.

Did you know that cane seed would make whiskey just the same as corn? This man had a still up yonder and wanted me to put up some with him. He had two big homemade barrels, riv out of chestnut flats big at the bottom and sloped up at the top, wooden hoops on 'em, heft 90 gallon apiece. Well, we put a bushel of meal in them, made two run out of that; the still held 45 gallons. Well, one day he said, "Let's make some out of cane seed. We both had a big cane patch, had a barn and crib oiled full of seeds. I said, "That stuff won't make no whiskey." "Yes, it will too." I had a big grist mill in the creek there. We flew in and shelled us off a lot of these cane seeds and we'd go there and grind the seed of a night, then run some corn back through to keep people from knowing.

We worked them up, and boys, it turned up the strongest whiskey, shootfire. And he then wanted to put some sugar in it. I never had put no sugar in whiskey; you'd just cook the slop back and put you sugar in it. I said, "They won't nobody buy that ol' sugar whiskey." "Yes," said, "they will. I know a fellow'll take it every bit for $3.50 a gallon." Well, we got a pair of mules and rode out here to Oneida and went across the railroad there to old man Bailey Cross s and bought 100 pounds of sugar, cost six dollars. We divided that and put it in a meal sack, each one of us just like we had a turn of meal. Throwed it across the mules and carried it back. We cooked them two big barrels back--the slop--divided that sugar, put fifty pounds in each barrel. Boy, that stuff worked off there and gosh, that' d gone two and three gallons of whiskey to the run, a hundred proof. You could buy your malt up here. Used to be a big store up here, Shannon Brothers, they got to ordering this barley malt. It was $7.00 a hundred back then, but a gallon of that would work a fifty gallon barrel just rolling. Used to have to sprout the malt out of corn. It'd take you several days to sprout this malt, then you had to grind hit on a sausage mill.

Howell, Benita. Survey. 108-10.

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The violent undertones of the backcountry and border were often expressed in their games and recreations


"This was a game played on a large wooden board or cardboard. Two types of objects were used. White corn and yellow corn, corn and buttons, and so on. The game was played by two people. Each person would place two of one kind of object on their side of the board. They were desiganated as the foxes.

"The other objects were scattered on the other parts of the board. They were the geese. The fox was supposed to get from one side of the board to the other. He may remove the geese bY jumping them as in checkers, or he may move along the lines ~f the geese aren't in the way." Emma McDonald.


"You're runnin' and they try to hit ye. If they hit ve, they score. If they don't hit ye, ye can pick the ball up and throw it back at 'em. What we called a ball was just made out of old socks. We'd ravel old socks out and wrap them up and make a ball. Sometimes we'd have it covered. Sometimes just natural old string." John Dossey.


"Ye'd say, "hully-gull handful." If they guessed how many, they got all of whatever ye was playing with. If not. they had to make it up to ye with theirs. Say, you'd start with 20 grains of corn. Each person would have that much and each one would try to get the other one's corn." Emma McDonald.


"Doodle bug, coddle bug, ye house is on fire. Doodle bug, doodle bug, ye children will burn. Ye just continue sayin' that and they'll actually come up out of their hole. They're queer little bugs about like ye, no they're not as large as ye index fingernail, hardly. But it's so much fun to see those little hokes movie'." Emma McDonald.


"This was a game where three or four of the kids would be foxes and the rest would be dogs. They would have little "fox dens" made out of sticks and sage grass. The foxes would be safe in the dens and the dogs would try to get them if they came out." Emma McDonald.


"This was done with the fingers. You would stand behind someone and pound on his back and say, 'Bumble-dy, bumble-dy buck, how many horns (fingers) do I hold Up?' You would do that until he guessed the correct number and then you would change places." Emma McDonald.


"They (your friends) lie down and ye take hold of their heels and snake 'em and pull 'em around. " Emma McDonald.


"The group would divide up into two sides. Each side would have a home base and each side would have a stink base. When someone left their home base they could be caught by the other side. If they were caught they were put on the stink. The team that gets most of the other group on their stink is the winner." Emma McDonald.


This was a game where one person would pretend he was doing something and the others would try to guess what it was. Player No. 1: Where are you from? Player No. 2: New Orleans. Player No. 1: What's ye trade? Player No. 2: Lemonade. Player No. 1: Go straight to work and work all day. Player No. 2 would then start pretending that he was doing some common act of work and the rest would try to guess what he was doing." Emma McDonald.


"The kids would form a circle. One person would be the "dropper." He would run around the circle and drop the handkerchief behind someone else. After he dropped it he would then try to get around and back to his place in the circle before the one he dropped it behind caught him. If he made it back then the other one would become the "Dropper," and he would go through the same process." Emma McDonald.


"One child would be the mother and she would have several children. She would send some of the children to the spring to get some water. They would come back without the water, saying they were scared, and that they saw something at the spring. She would send them back and the wolf (another child) would try to get them. If a child was caught by the wolf, then he had to live with the wolf." Emma McDonald.


"The children were divided up into two groups. Each group would have a pile of sticks. They would try to go over and get sticks off of the other pile without getting caught. This group that ran at~t of sticks first was the loser." Emma McDonald.


"The children would line up in a V-shaped line. One child, not in the V would be the wild goose. He would say, 'Wild goose.' The rest would say, 'Ding clang,' and then run to catch the wild goose." Emma McDonald.


"There would be one child in the room without a corner. He would go from place to place saying, 'Puss, I want your corner.' The child in the corner would say, 'I'm not going to give it to YOU.' While he was in one corner, the kids in the other corners would be switching places. The person that is 'it' has to try to get a corner while one of the others is out of it. The person that is caught without a corner then becomes 'it. " Emma McDonald.


"This was a game where one child would ask another child, 'What did your grandmother bring you?' "The other child would then reply, 'A shoe.' Then he would pat his foot

"They would ask the question again. This time he would reply, 'Two shoes.' Then he would pat both feet.

"They would ask the question again. This time he would reply, 'Two shoes and a fan.' He would then pat both feet and make a fanning motion with one hand.

"They would ask the question again. This time the reply would be, 'Two shoes and two fans.' He would then pat both feet and fan both hands.

"After each time, they would ask the question again. Each time he would add something to his answer.

"The next answer would add a pair of spectacles. He would then pat both feet, fan both hands, and blink his eyes.

"The next answer would add a cap. He would then have to pat both feet, fan both hands, blink eyes and nod his head.

"Finally, the last answer would add a box of snuff. He would have to pat both feet fan both hands, blink his eyes, nod his head, and make a blowing motion with his mouth all at the same time." Emma McDonald.


"This was a game where some kids would stack their fists on top of each other. One would have a free hand and he would try to knock the top fist off." Emma McDonald.


"The children would stand some sticks up on end, leaning against each other, forming a pyramid shape. They would then try to push or pull someone into the sticks. The child that they caused to knock the sticks down became the 'mad dog.' He would then try to catch the other kids. Every child that he caught became a 'mad dog' also, and he would help catch the rest of the kids." Emma McDonald.


"One boy and girl was designated as one mother and father and another boy and girl were another mother and father. The rest of the kids were divided up between the two. Each family would choose some stealers.

"One mother or father might send one of the children over to visit the other family. When they would leave their family the stealers would try to get them. The family that lost all their children first was the loser. " Emma McDonald.


"This game started with two people holding hands. The object was to try to catch other people and make the line loneer and get everyone in the line. If they got everyone in theline they would start over again. If the line was broken, they would have to catch these people back again. " Emma McDonald.


"One of the favorite pranks that was done to anyone was the house resining. This was done by taking a piece of string and tying it to a little stick. Then they would stick this little stick up under a board in the weather boarding of the house. Then the person would stretch the string back away from the house and hide somewhere. He would stretch the string out and rub a piece of resin or bee's wax on the string. This would make a very strange and scary noise on the house. Usually it would frighten the occupants of the house unless they found out what caused it. It sounded just like tearin' the weather boardin' off ye house." M. S. Agers.

Monroe County Folklife. Lynwood Montell Ed. Monroe County, KY: privately published, 1975. 67-71.

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Weather lore of the region also reflects a reliance on the seasons and natural cycles...

or skip ahead to learn about backcountry attitudes towards migration

Early settlers learned the resources of the Big South Fork area and they could be put to use to provide almost all the necessities of daily life. Still, a killing frost or flood miqht spell disaster. Anxiety toward the end of a long, severe winter must h&ve been great as food stores dwindled. Enough but not too much rain was critical for a successful growing seasoq Because the weather was of such vital interest, prognostication lore developed from close observation of the environment, primarily existing weather patterns and animal behavior which might be related to future weather events.

Weather lore is one aspect of Big South Fork folklore which has widespread currency. Many old-timers observe that the weather has changed noticeably since they were young, sixty to seventy-five years ago. Spring generally comes later now, and some old dependable guidelines for predicting rain or shine no longer seem to work. One must also note that Gound Hog Day, the traditional time for forecasting the arrival of Spring, should be February 14, not February 2.

The items presented below are only part of the weather lore current in the area, but they represent the body of guidelines vouched for by a single individual, someone with an unusually curious turn of mind who has tried to check out the sayings he has heard over eighty years, qualifying or rejecting those which did not work. Thus these items are one man's actively used store of weather lore.

Changing Seasons

1. It will be three months from the first time you hear a katydid until frost.

2. If the groundhog sees his shadow on Ground Hog Day, there will be forty more days of bad weather; if not, winter is broke. (February 14)

3. Every day it thunders in February, it will frost the same day in May. (If the weather is cloudy, it may not frost, but the temperature will be cold enough for frost.)

Severity of Winter

4. The number of fogs in August determines how many snows there will be the following winter.

5. Thick corn shucks mean a severe winter. Count the layers of shucks to find out how many snows there will be.

6. Many people hold that more dark than light woolie worms presage a sever winter. Our informant watches their behavior: If most of the woolie worms seem to be headed southward, it will be a bad winter.

7. A popping wood fire is a sign that snow is coming soon.

8. If a rabbit stirs early on a snowy day, it will snow again the next day.

Rain or Shine

9. A ring around the moon with no stars inside is a sign of a week's pretty weather, but there will be as many rains as there are stars inside the ring.

10. Warm wind in summer means rain is in store.

11. Rain before seven will end by eleven. (This used to work but has been failing lately.)

12. Smoke rises when fair weather is cominn and falls when bad weather is coming.

13. If smoke from the chimney goes toward the ground, there will be fallin weather.

14. When maple and poplar leaves turn upside down, rain is on the way.

15. Red sky in morning, sailor take warning. Red sky at night, ship's delight.

16. If the sun shines while it is raining, it will rain again the next day.

17. When dew is on the grass, Rain will come to pass.

Working by the Signs

These are the words of a Scott County farmer concerning the freedom and responsibilities of farm management:

Now listen, I want you to understand--anybody that's got a farm, when he wants to work, he works. When he feels like workin', he gets out there and works, and when he don't, he don't have to, don't you see? That's the main thing of farming. . .It's not like when you're out here workin' on a job, you've got to be there or somebody else has got to come in and do your work. And here, when you own your own farm, you're just as free as you can be, you see. Although you do realize when you're gettin' out here and makin' a crop, you've got to make it. There's just one time a year you can make it, and you try and get that done, and then you've got some time. . .Why, it's like this--your farmin' has got to be managed. It all is in the management of your farm. If you will manage it right, it makes it easier on you. And when you plant some stuff, you plant it in order it won't all of it come off at the same time, you see. Now that's the way we plant our garden. We plant some of to come off at one time--And I see some people plantin' their garden plant the whole thing just as quick as they can plant it, all in one day if they could. And then it's all gone at one time, and a lot of the time that a way if they plant too much, they can't take care of all of it. Some of it will ruin or spoil, like their roastin' ears will get too hard before they can can it, put it away, freeze it, or whatever they're coin'. I see a lot of that. But if you'll make different plantin's of it, it comes in at a different time, you see? And you're not in such a strain. You don't have to gather all of it at one time. Makes it a lot easier.

The farmer has a great deal of freedom to plan his planting, cultivating and harvesting of crops, caring for livestock; maintaining his tools and equipment; building or repairing fences or buildings; harvesting timber) and countless other tasks. But mistakes in management of these many activities or simply bad 1uck w~th the weather can ruin him. It is only natural for the farmer to look beyond himself for guidance in planning his work and for reassurance in the face of the risks involved.

Working according to the signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon has provided the needed guidance and reassurance. One believer in signs explained: "There's a whole lot in them signs. It's Nature I suppose, the way the Lord intended. He thought they's just smart enough to catch onto them things." The Biblical justification for following the signs is found in Genesis 1:14: "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, nd for days, and years." And again, Ecclesiastes refers to the ordering of life according to the signs; "To everything there is a season, and a ime to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to ie; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).

A farmer's almanac or an almanac-calendar is used to determine when the moon enters and leaves each of the twelve zodiac signs. The local farmers' co-ops distribute such a calendar. Zodiac charts and interpretations from T.E. Black's booklet, God's Way, are presented in the Foxfire article, "Planting by the Signs" (Wigginton 1972: 212-227). Other almanacs may vary from lack in the details of planting rules presented.

Rules for planting by the signs collected from Big South Fork informants re sometimes contradictory, and there seem to be two different principles nderlying the logic of appropriate signs. One is the association of the odiac signs with the elements fire, earth, air, and water according to the cheme shown in the Foxfire articles (Wigginton 1972: 216). The other principle involves a correspondence between some characteristic of the sign and he kind of growth pattern which is desired or to be avoided. According to he first principle, planting in the head, Aries, should be avoided because ;his is a barren, masculine sign associated with fire. According to the econd principle, however, cabbage should be planted in the head so that it ll form well-shaped, compact heads.

The most consistent rules for planting by the signs collected in the Big South Fork area concern moon phases rather than zodiac signs. And while Black and other astrologers give rules for conducting various activities such as digging and laying foundations, slaughtering, or cutting hair according to zodiac signs, almost all such rules collected in this area relate to moon phase. The sole exception is the belief that any operation involving flood-letting, such as pulling teeth, docking, or castrating, should be done when the sign is away from the affected body part in order to avoid excessive, possibly fatal, bleeding.

An almanac is necessary for following the zodiac signs, and the system is complicated to remember. The principles associated with the waxing and waning moon are less complex, and simple observation will suffice to keep track of the moon's phase. Excerpts from a conversation with a couple plant by the signs confirm these points:

Hus.: We also kind of go by the moon.

Wife: We don't plant in every one of these (zodiac) signs, you see try to plant--

H: --beans when the sign's in the feet.

W:Yeah, and another good sign is when, is in the bowels.

H: The different things works different.

W:Now, a lot of your calendars will tell you when to plant stuff above the ground or underneath the ground. . .planting days by the moon. . .If you sow cabbage seed, you want to do that when the sign's in the head--yeah, for sure--and then not plant corn when the sign's in the arms-- :'

H: --in the knees.

W:Well, for it to come up not plant in the knees cause it'll just curl up and not come up through the ground. But the way it it grows too tall (when planted in the arms).

H: No, that's on the new of the moon.

W:Oh, yeah, when the moon is new the corn grows tall and the ear high and stand right straight up at the end of the stalk.

H: And it don't yield as good.

W:(Plant) Irish potatoes when the sign, when the moon is--

H: --full.

W:Yeah. If you plant on the new of the moon, they'll come right to the top of the ground and get sunburned. . .We always heard its not to plant nothing when the sign was in the heart, but we planted corn one time and forgot to look, and we had a good crop.

H:And a lot of it just depends on the season anyway. My grandmother she couldn't read or write, but she could tell you the day the changed, and the way she'd do it--on her fingers. I couldn't tell you how it was, but she could tell you when it'd change again.

W:Well, it was done from watching and learning it just as it was. There were no calendars or almanacs then.

The following list of rules for working by the signs was compiled from local sources: folklife study informants, rules collected by folklore students of Mrs. Linda Stewart at Oneida High School (n.d.), and items included in Esther Sanderson's County Scott and its Mountain Folk (1958). For purposes of comparison, rules published in the Foxfire article (Wigginton 197) are noted if they conflict with the local material.

Planting by the Signs

Transplant trees when the moon is new in early fall or very early spring.

Plant seed for crops which yield above ground on the new moon and for plan which yield root crops on the old moon.

Plant peas on the new moon in March.

Plant cabbage in the head. Do not plant in the head because it is a barren sign. (Foxfire)

Plant beets in the feet. Plant beets in the heart to keep the string out of them. Do not plant in the heart because it is a death sign. (Foxfire)

Plant Irish potatoes on the full moon. If planted on the new moon they will make potatoes on top of the ground and the potatoes will be sunburned and turn green. Plant potatoes on the first quarter of the moon in April. Plant potatoes in the heart and not in the new moon. Don't plant potatoes on the new moon because they will go to vine instead. Don't plant potatoes in the feet or they will form lots of toes.

Plant cucumbers on the new moon in May, and they will make earlier than if you plant them in April. Plant cucumbers in the arms, and they will grow as long as your arm. Plant cucumbers in the feet or arms. Don't plant cucumbers in the feet, or they'll curl up like toes. Don't plant cucumbers in the bowels.

Plant beans in the arms or in the thighs. Plant beans in the feet or secrets. Plant beans in the feet or bowels. Don't plant beans in the bowels or they will have black spots. (Foxfire) Plant beans in the heart.

Plant corn in the arms. Don't plant corn in the head or it will all go to stalk. Don't plant corn in the bowels or it will rot without coming up. Don't plant corn in the knees or it will buckle and not come out of the ground. Plant corn on the full of the moon so it won't grow so tall. Don't plant corn on the new moon or it will all go to stalk.

When the New Year falls on the dark of the moon, there will be a good fruit harvest. Don't dig potatoes on the new moon or they will rot. Dig sweet potatoes on the first quarter so they won't rot. Harvest in the old moon for keeping. (Foxfire) Dig sweet potatoes on the third or last quarter of the moon so they won't rot.

Building Fences; Making Boards and Shingles

Split fence rails on the old moon; otherwise they will curve.

If you lay the rock foundation for a rail fence on the new moon, it will sink and let your rails down onto the ground where they will rot.

Dig post holes on the old moon and you will be able to tamp them tight. you dig post holes on the new moon, there will be a big mound of dirt over and the post will be loose.

Rive boards on the old moon, and they will lay down flat.

Make shingles and nail them on in the old moon. If you put shingles on roof in the new moon, the shingles will cup up and the roof will leak.

Soap Making

Make soap on the old of the moon, or it will be too strong. If you try to soap on the new moon, it will boil over.

Soap made on the new moon jells best. (Foxfire)

Make soap on the increase of the moon, or it won't lather.

Kraut Making

Make sauerkraut on the new moon to have it firm and white.


Kill hogs on the increase of the moon, or the meat will not shrink.

Slaughtering on the full moon makes meet swell; on the new moon, it shrinks.

Slaughtering on the new moon makes the meat puffy and hard to render. (Fox-fire)

Kil1 hogs on the dark of the moon to make a large quantity of lard.

Slaugher in the knees or feet. (Foxfire)

Animal Husbandry, Personal Care
Wean colts, calves, and children on the new moon.

Wean a child or animal in a sign that does not rule the vital parts of the body. (Foxfire)

Make ear crops to mark stock when the signs are in the legs or feet.

Dock lambs' tails when the sign is in the heart.

Castrate pigs in the feet, when the sign has gone past the affected part. (Foxfire)

Cut your hair in the new of the moon and put it under a rock. It will grow twice as long.

If you cut your hair in Libra, Saggitarius, Aquarius, or Pisces, it will grow stronger, thicker, and more beautiful. (Foxfire)

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1981. 82-9.


In past years the home garden was a very important part of rural America. It is still this way in Monroe County, although the practice has been waning in recent years.

The people of earlier times would raise enough vegetables in their garden to "live on" during the summer and then put enough up to get them through the winter months. When it came time for the people to plant their gardens, one of the first things many of them would do would be look at their Farmer's Almanac to see "if the sign is right" to do their planting.

There are many prevailing beliefs as to when to plant and how to care for their gardens. Listed below are some of them.

"Plant green beans when the sign is in the arms. Ye'll have beans as long as ye arm. " Kate Holland. Brown 8067, 8068.

"Good Friday is a good time to plant beans." Kate Holland. Brown 8067-8081.

"Plant beans in the~full moon." Gertie Dossey.~Brown 8061-8062.

"Plant butterbeans when the sign is in the feet. Ye'll have butterbeans on 'em thicker than the toes on ye feet. " Kate Holland. Brown 8075.

"Plant corn on the old of the moon." Kate Holland. Brown 8121.

"Plant cucumbers when the sign is in the arms." Gertie Dossey. Brown 8167.

"If it frosts on sweet potatoes before they are dug, they will rot." Kate Holland. Brown 8245.

"If potatoes are dug during dog days, they will rot." J. T. Brown.

Monroe County Folklife. Lynwood Montell Ed. Monroe County, KY: privately published, 1975. 89-90.

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Border-derived backcountry attitudes about migration are seen in descriptions of the settlement of eastern Kentucky

or learn about the fort-like pattern of settlement in the Gap

To trace the settlement of Eastern Kentucky we must look at the Cumberland Gap again. There stands one of the important passes in western civilization. The American Revolution over, our people staged one of the greatest folk movements in modern times. To the north the people poured across the Northwest Territory. To the south they skirted the southern tip of Appalachia and settled the Cotton Belt. From the middle reservoirs of population m southern Pennsylvania and Piedmont Virginia and North Carolina the pioneers threaded their way into the Shenandoah Valley and converged on the Cumberland Gap by way of Boone's Wilderness Trail. This movement began in 1775. By 1180 a thousand were able to hold the Great Meadow against constant Indian siege. In the same year 800 Kentucky and Tennessee frontiersmen marched off to King's Mountain to defeat the British. The 1790 census listed nearly 75,000 people in the region, enough to make it the fifteenth state in 1792. Almost 4,000 Kentuckians fought with Mad Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Here they finally defeated the northern Indians who barred the way to the Midwest.

By 1800 the census revealed that no fewer than 220,000 people had entered the new state. They had come to what they called "a Eden of a place." It was the Promised Land. They came not only through Cumberland Gap but also they took "nighcuts" through other gaps in the Cumberland and Pine Mountam ranges -at Pennington and Pine and Pound gaps. And they floated by the thousands down the Ohio Rtver on large unwieldly flatboats. They had to contest every mile of the way. Someone has counted a humdred dead from exposure and Indian arrows on the Wilderness Road in one year, and some 1500 died in like manner in fifteen years along the Ohio water route. In 1814, 2200 Kentuckians strode off with Andy Jackson to subdue the southern Indians and to fight the battle of New Orleans. By 1820 the state had a population of near half a million. The good land of the Bluegrass was taken up and the oncomers swept on down the Ohio to southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and even to Missouri and the Great River before the massive movement slowed to normal migration. It was time to convert the dream of Eden Homesteading into reality.

Nowadays Appalachia is labelled a depressed area, existing in poverty and unemployment. It is commonplace to ask why these people settled here and why they persist in staying on barren ground and clinging to steep denuded hillsides. They came to possess the virgin resources and to live in freedom. Because the Bluegrass region of Kentucky filled up so rapidly, the timber was soon cut and the land enclosed in fields for grain, tobacco, livestock, and horses. The Bluegrass people themselves began to prospect back into the eastern foothills of the state. They found that the settlers of the mountain section had an abundance of everything.

What did they have? What were some of the advantages of the mountain people? In the first place, they were nearer by a hundred miIes to markets in Virginia and on the Seaboard. By way of Pound Gap they had begun to drive their herds of cattle, horses, mules, hogs, sheep, and even turkeys to eastern markets. These goods they traded in the populous cities and returned with packhorses and wagons loaded with hardware, dry goods, salt. They had begun to float their goods and later coal and timber down the winding rivers to the Ohio Valley and the Bluegrass. Secondly, the eastern foothills had an exhaustless supply of the finest varieties of timber-yellow poplar, oak, chestnut, ash, hickory-for building and for fuels. Other fuels began to appreciate in value-coal, oil, gas. They had numerous salt licks, springs, wells and had beg~m to supply themselves and the Bluegrass with this essential. The fast running streams began to be used for transportation and for water power-sawing lumber and grinding grain. Thirdly, they still had a plentiful supply of wild game-elk, deer, bear, turkey, pigeon; and fur- bearing animals-fox, mink, groundhog, coon, possum, polecat And fourthly, the mountain people found that they loved their tangled hills. In their instincts and memory and past experiences they had been safe and free in the marches of the Rhine and Wales and northern England and Scotland, and recently in the American Piedmont. Now in interior America they could con- tinue to develop their sense of freedom and hospitality into an art. No more class or race or economic bars. No more monarchy, no more colonialism or imposed religion. As John C. Campbell puts it in his Southern Highlander and His Homeland, the American mountain people had an independence raised to the fourth power.

Old Greasybeard: Tales from the Cumberland Gap. Leonard Roberts Ed. Detroit Michigan: Folklore Assoc., 1969. 4-6.

Such attitudes about migration led to interesting, informal methods of claiming land in the backcountry of the Cumberland

The land in these mountains is all claimed, but it is probably not all covered by actual patent. As evidence, a company has been formed to speculate in lands not secured by title. The old careless way of marking off boundaries by going from tree to tree, by partly surveying and partly guessing, explains the present uncertainty. Many own land by right of occupancy, there being no other claim. The great body of the people live on and cultivate little patches which they either own, or hold free, or pay rent for with a third of the crop. These not unfrequently get together and trade farms as they would horses, no deed being executed. There is among them a mobile element-squatters-who make a hill-side clearing and live on it as long as it remains productive; then they move elsewhere. This accounts for the presence throughout the country of abandoned cabins, around which a new forest growth is springing up. Leaving out of consideration the few instances of substantial prosperity, the most of the people are abjectly poor, and they appear to have no sense of accumulation. The main crops raised are corn and potatoes. In the scant gardens will be seen patches of cotton, sorghum, and tobacco; flax also, though less than formerly. Many make insuBicient preparation for winter, laying up no meat, but buying a piece of bacon now and then, and paying for it with work. In some regions the great problem of life is to raise two dollars and a half during the year for county taxes. Being pauper counties, they are exempt from State taxation. Jury fees are highly esteemed and much sought after. The manufacture of illicit mountain whiskey -" moonshine "-was formerly, as it is now, a considerable source of revenue; and a desperate sub-source of revenue from the same business has been the betrayal of its hidden places.

Allen, James L. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky.... New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 229-30.

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While migration was frequent in the Cumberland backcountry, when settlement did occur it was necessarily fortified. As on the Anglo-Scotch borders, many settlements were built in the style of the fort, as was Boonesboro, Daniel Boone's first settlement.

or learn about laws and lawlessness in the Cumberlands

When a social band of this description had planted their feet on the virgin soil, the first object was to fix on a spot, central to the most fertile tract of land that could be found, combining the advantages usually sought by the first settlers. Among these was, that the station should be on the summit of a gentle swell, where pawpaw, cane, and wild clover, marked exuberant fertility; and where the trees were so sparse, and the soil beneath them so free from underbrush, that the hunter could ride at half speed. This virgin soil, as yet friable, untrodden, and not cursed with the blight of politics, party and feud, yielded~ with little other cultivation than planting, from eighty to a hundred bushels of maize to the acre, and all other edibles suited to the soil and climate, in proportion.

The next thing, after finding this oentral nucleus of a settlement, was to convert it into a station, an erection which now remains, to be described It was a desirable requisite, that a station should inclose or command a flush limestone spring, for water for the settlement. The contigunty of a salt lick and a sugar orchard, though not indispensable, was a very desirable circumstance. The next preluminary step was to clear a considerable area, so as to leave nothing within a considerable distance of the station that could shelter an enemy from observation and a shot. If a spring were not inclosed, or a well dug within, as an Indian siege seldom lasted beyond a few days, it was customary, in periods of al&rm to have a reservoir of some sort within the station, that should be filled with water enough to supply the garrison, durmg the probable continuance of a siege. It was deemed a most important consideration, that the station should overlook and command as much of the surroumdmg country as possible.

The form was a perfect parallelogram, including from a half to a whole acre. A trench was then dug four or five feet deep, and large and contiguous pickets planted in this trench, so as to fonn a compact wall from ten to twelve feet high above the soil. The pickets were of hard and durable timber, about a foot in diameter. The soil about them was rammed hard. They formed a rampart beyond the power of man to leap, climb, or by unaided physical strength~ to ove~row. At the angles were small projecting squares, of still stronger material and planting, technically called flankers, with oblique port-holes, so as that the sentinel within could rake the external front of the station, without being exposed to a shot from without. Two folding gates in the front and rear, swinging on prodigious wooden hinges, gave ingress and egress to men and teams in times of security.

In periods of alarm a trusty sentinel on the roof of the building was so stationed, as to be able to descry every suspicious object while yet in the distance. The gates were always firmly barred by night; and sentinels took their alternate watch, and relieved each other until morning. Nothing in the line of fortification oan be imagined more easy of constrnotion, or a more effectual protection against a savage enemy, than this simple ereotion. Though the balls of the smallest dimensions of cannon would have swept them away with ease, they were proof against the Indian rifle, patience, and skill. The only expedient of the red men was to dig under them and undermine them, or destroy them by fire; and even this could not be done without exposing them to the rifles of the flankers. Of oourse, there are few recorded instances of their having been taken, when defended by a garrison, gtuded by such men as Daniel Boone.

Their regular form, and their show of security, rendered these walled cities in the oentral wilderness delightful spectacles in the eye of immigrants who had come two hundred leagues without seeing a human habitation. Around the interior of these walls the habitations of the immigrants arose, and the remainder of the surface was a clean-surfed area for wrestling and dancing, and the vigorous and athledc amusements of the olden time. It is questionable if heartier dinners and profounder sleep, and more exhilarating balls and parties fall to the lot of their descendants, who ride in coaches and dwell in mansions. Venison and wild turkeys, sweet potatoes and pies, smoked on their table; and persimmon and maple beer, stood them well instead of the poisonous whisky of their children.

The community, of course, passed their social evenings together; and while the fire blazed bright within the secure square, the far howl of wolves, or even the distant war whoop of the savages, sounded in the ear of the tranquil indwellers like the driving storm pouring on the sheltering roof above the head of the traveler safely reposing in his bed; that is, brought the contrast of comfort and security with more home-felt influence to their bosom.

Shattuck, Tom. A Cumberland Area Guidebook. Middlesboro, KY: privately published, 1993. 90-1.

h3>Boonesboro was not the only fort-like establishment in the Cumberland Gap...

At first they built for the tribe, working together like beavers in common cause against nature and their enemies. Home-life and domestic architecture began among them with the wooden-fort community, the idea of which was no doubt derived from the frontier defences of Virginia, and modified by the Kentuckians with a view to domestic use. This building habit culminated in the erection of some two hundred rustic castles, the sites of which in some instances have been identified. It was a singularly fit sort of structure, adjusting itself desperately and economically to the necessities of environment. For the time society lapsed into a state which, but for the want of lords and retainers, was feudalism of the rudest kind. There were gates for sally and swift retreat, bastions for defence, and loopholes in cabin walls for deadly volleys. There were hunting-parties winding forth stealthily without horn or hound, and returning with game that would have graced the great feudal halls. There was siege, too, and suffering, and death enough, God knows, mingled with the lowing of cattle and the clatter of looms. Some morning, even, you might have seen a slight girl trip covertly out to the little cotton-patch in one corner of the enclosure, and, blushing crimson over the snowy cotton-bolls, pick the wherewithal to spin her bridal dress; for in these forts they married also and bore children. Many a Kentucky family must trace its origin through the tribal communities pent up within a stockade, and discover that the family plate consisted then of a tin cup, and, haply, an iron fork....

Allen, James L. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky.... New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 90-4.

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The violence of the borders and backcountry were both a result of and causes of the informal modes of social control in the regions.

Before official law enforcement made itself felt in the isolated communities along the Big South Fork,and to a considerable extent afterwards, the most effective mode of social control was community opinion rather than law. The most extreme peer pressure was exercised by the church. Here is one description of how churches attempted to enforce proper conduct.

The elders of the church would have to get together and they'd have a meeting or a conference and then they'd decide whether this person should be turned out of the church or whether he could be reconciled and stay in the church.

Q: What was cause for turning somebody out?

A: Different things. If they'd done something that they wasn't supposed to do and wouldn't quit, why, they'd first go to 'em and talk to 'em. If they wouldn't hear 'em, then they'd--at last they'd go three of the members and talk to 'em, and if they wouldn't come into the church and make their acknowledgement and ask for forgiveness and to stay in the church, then they had to bring 'em to the church and the church had to decide on it.

Most persons probably would have found it difficult to withstand this degree of peer pressure and would have made their confession and been reconciled to the other church members, an act which required forgiveness on the part of the church members as well as repentance on the part of the wrongdoer. However, the same informant goes on to describe one case when the process of "churching" (turning an individual out of the church was carried to completion because the accused man refused to make amends.

I remember one time they was a man--it's been so long, it was just after I joined the church--I believe they accused him of stealing a hog. He never would come in, you know, never would make no acknowledgement. But that day they called him to come in to say yes or no, whichever he wanted to do, and he never would. So they called on the members then to gather around and make their decision. You was supposed to hold up your right hand if you wanted it done (the churching), and if you didn't want it done, you'd stay silent.

So then we decided, said, "Well he won't make no acknowledgement, nor he won't do nothin'. All we can do is to put him out of the church." So the members held up their hands. Well, I did too, but I'll declare to goodness, that dawned on my conscience so bad I declare I said I'll never be guilty of that again, and I never did no more.

Q: What happened to the person that had been put out? How did people treat him after that?

A: Well, as far as that was concerned, they was friendly, but he never did come back to church any more. But if you met him or seen him anywhere, why people was friendly with him, you know, spoke to him like usual.

While the churches were not always effective in regulating the behavior of their members and others resisted the call to church membership together, few escaped the demands placed on them by kinship. Kin exted to deal with one another fairly, to give and receive services and trial aid when necessary, and to enjoy one another's hospitality on Its, whether for a few hours or a few weeks. This was the positive side kinship obligations.

There was also a negative side to kinship bonds--the expectation that fly loyalty would marshal allies against the other party to a dispute that the family would protect any member from arrest and conviction, n one known to be guilty. Stories told by Big South Fork informants and newspaper accounts include isolated incidents of vengeance killing or being carried out by a relative of a murder or assualt victim, but prolonged family feuds of the kind that made Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia notorious were unknown in this area.

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1981. 186-7.

One of the manifestations of the violence and the strong clannishness of the backcountry was the occurence of feuds.

... there were the feuds in the hills. Popular media would lead us to believe that feuds were (and are still) a custom of all the people in the mountains. Of all the contesting throughout the world on racial, political, and religious and economic questions, the belated blood feuds that flared up west of the Appalachian range were made notorious bv Victorian sentiment.

Not that feuds are to be condoned or explained away. But they were not a standing custom of the inland people. They simply flared up during confused times and levelled values after the horrors of the Civil War. Law and the legal process was not deeply rooted in the newly formed counties of the region. Men still felt that they were self-sufficient and must defend their own. Besides, the "troubles" in eastern Kentucky did not involve more than one per cent of the people and the number killed in the few small pockets of bad feeling over the period of 1875 to l915 did not cause the homicide rate to fluctuate noticeably over this long period. Possibly a hundred men lost their lives during this period by direct feuding.

Still there were wars and "troubles" in the hills of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee in the aftermath of the senseless Civil War. Though the region in general was overwhelmingly for the Union, many men fought on the other side. And when the smoke had cleared and all had returned (who ever could return), the northern cause had prevailed. But three or more of the later feud chiefs had returned in Confederate uniform. They had gone away proud and independent and had returned-defeated. The merest suspicion of slight or hint of inequality would smite them to the heart. Thousands returning from the Southern cause were welcomed and reintegrated among the common and clever folk. Some few and in most cases the proud officers tried to prove their equality, to themselves and to their people, by running for public office. Generally they were defeated. Tensions rose and unease set in. Somebody felt ostracized and rejected.

The Martin-Tolliver feud of Rowan County drew its first blood in an election day to select a sheriff and other county officers. One of the candidates was an ax-Confederate officer. The balloting was by voice vote. Everybody knew who was preferred and how the contest stood throughout the day. In a voting place in the county seat of Morehead a quarrel broke out. Guns and knives came into play. One man was shot and knife-wounded, as the ballad says:

"Twas in the month of August All on election day John Martin was shot and wounded They say by Johnny Day But Martin could not believe it He could not think it so, He thought it was Floyd Tolliver Who struck the fatal blow.

Tolliver and Martin met several months later, when scars had healed but not hearts. Tolliver was laid in his tomb. The sides fought it out for six years unffl a pitched battle in the county seat laid all the leaders of one side in their tombs.

Anderson Hatfield, a Confederate Captain, returned to his home on the West Virginia bank of Tug and went about raising his family by trading in livestock and other business. In 1873 four or five boys stole out to a mountainside to drink and play cards. A quarrel arose and pistols came to the ready. Two or three were wounded and one lay prone. He was a Hatfield. In the fall of 1881 the farmers drove in their hogs from the mast of the forest. Randal McCoy passed a Hatfield pigpen and saw his mark in an old sow's ears-she had a litter of pigs. The men and hog went to court before the squire-who was a Hatfield. In the summer of 1882, all on election day, the crowd were voice voting and drinking. Names were called and a Hatfield and a McCoy came to fisticuffs. Others chipped in with knives and guns. Ellison Hatfield lay sorely lacerated. Three McCoy broth- ers were arrested and mounted for the long tap to the county seat. At sundown the little cavalcade was accosted by a troop of Hatfields who took the three brothers into custody with the threat that if Ellison died the three would pay the pace. Ellison died a night or two later. Next morning the three McCoys were found on the Kentucky side of the Aver bank, tied to pawpaw bushes-dead. Since the factions lived in separate states, the Hatfield-McCoy raiding, along wi,th a paper battle between the two governors, continued for several years.

These two heinous feuds and several lesser ones brought all the notoriety upon the hapless mountain people. The counties and even the state authorities were unable to bring law and order. The state did furnish counsel and officers on occasion and sent troops to protect citizens and courts in session. Public opinion was so outraged that many innocent and some not so innocent people left the state in anger and disgust. The wounds left livid memorial scars that throbbed with slow-cooling passion. But by the turn of the century the major troubles were over and the lesser ones were contained within a valley or a county. The newer generations were exhausting their energy in more fruitful occupations.

Old Greasybeard: Tales from the Cumberland Gap. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1975. 12-4.

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The endemic violence of the Cumberland Gap was sensed most strongly by travellers passing through the region, unused to the tensions and aggressiveness they perceived in the natives.

skip ahead to see a ballad depicting the violence of the backcountry
One day, five summers ago, I was picking my course, but not without pale human apprehensions. At that time one did not visit Pineville for nothing. When I reached it I found it tense with repressed excitement. Only a few days previous there had been a murderous affray in the streets; the inhabitants had taken sides; a dead-line had been drawn through the town, so that those living on either side crossed to the other at the risk of their lives; and there was blue murder in the air. I was a stranger; I was innocent; I was peaceful. But I was told that to be a stranger and innocent and peaceful did no good. Stopping to eat, I fain would have avoided, only it seemed best not to be murdered for refusing. All that I now remember of the dinner was a corn-bread that would have made a fine building stone, being of an attractive bluish tint, hardening rapidly upon exposure to the atmosphere, and being susceptible of a high polish. A block of this, freshly quarried, I took, and then was up and away. But not quickly, for having exchanged my horse for another, I found that the latter moved off as though at every step expecting to cross the dead-line, and so perish. The impression of the place was one never to be forgotten, with its squalid hovels, its ragged armed men collected suspiciously in little groups, with angry, distrustful faces, or peering out from behind the ambush of a window.

Allen, James L. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky.... NY: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 263-4.

Following is a more objective study of the problem of violence in the backcountry...

The most prevalent kind of violent crime in the Big South Fork area of a hundred years ago was unpremeditated shooting following an argument, sometimes between enemies who bore longstanding grudges, but sometimes between relatives. Elmora Matthews (1965: 107-115) in her study of kin-based communities in the Duck River Ridge area of Tennessee suggests some of the strains which can cause normally cooperative kin ties to turn sour at times. Disputes which might lead to violence occur most often between in-laws and between kin belonging to different generations, such as fathers and sons or uncles and nephews. Conflicts errupt over marriage choices, property distribution, land transfers, and other economic matters. Matthews notes that violence of this kind is most prevalent in the Duck River communities where there is greatest disparity between an egalitarian value system and actual differences in economic status among the nuclear families rising the community.

Within the Big South Fork area, localities most affected by economic boom conditions seem also to have been the most beset by violence. The relationship between alcohol and arguments ending in violence is equally striking. Recongition of this pattern aroused law-abiding citizens against saloons. For example, this item appeared in the Plateau Gazette of January 24, 1884:

The effort made by Glen Mary to rid the village of saloons, and their attendant disorders, assassinations and murders, was recently rewarded by the powers of the four-mile law. A school was started, and the saloons closed, and it was hoped the unenviable character of the village might, in time, be obliterated. Last Saturday, however, by order of the County Court an election was held to incorporate a municipal government in opposition to the incorporated school. The boundaries were so run as to take in but one resident of Glen Mary proper, and then out and in among the miners favorable to the scheme. To get the necessary twenty-one freeholder residents within the boundary, an 8 x 10 lot was deeded to that number of miners. That is how it was done. It is to be hoped the school can be maintained even though the saloons are re-opened, and law and order once again seriously threatened. There seems, too, to be some defect in the four-mile law which is so highly valued in this State, when, as we have seen, it can be so cunningly evaded.

The Sunbright Dispatch of January 2, 1897 carried this report of a series of shootings started because of drinking and carried on because family members became involved in the fray. This may be one of the most sensational incidents of its kind in the area's history but current newspapers contain all too many similar stories.

Helenwood, Tenn., Dec. 30--(Special.)--Last Sunday after- noon at half past one o'clock two men were killed and one wounded at this place as a result of one man being half full of whiskey. That man was Louis Pemberton, who took a Win- chester rifle out of his saloon and started down main street shooting it off, till it aroused Marshall Frank Hughett, who came upon the scene heavily armed. He asked Pemberton to lay down his gun, and Pemberton, holding on to the breech, dropped the muzzle to the ground, but as he did not drop his gun from his hands, Hughett fired upon him with a needle gun hitting him in the side, the ball going through his body.

While all this was going on Jim Pemberton (Louis' father) was walking rapidly down the street and by the time Hughett had fired the elder Pemberton was upon him and fired two shots, one striking him in the shoulder, sidewise. Then they clinched and fell struggling. When the smoke cleared away, Hughett was up and Pemberton was on the ground with two bullet holes in his side, one supposed to have been made by Hughett's wife and the other by Hughett, from which he died thirty minutes afterwards.

After Louis Pemberton fell he rose upon his knees and fired back at Hughett and his deputy, John David, with his Winchester, but without effect. He then fell back in a dying condition when Deputy David shot three shots at him while he was down hitting him each time in the side.

He lived about fifteen minutes after being shot by David.

Trouble following drinking continues to be feared. Experience, as has Puritanism, lies behind the strong disapproval of dancing and parties expressed by many Big South Fork residents, because these were occasions when public drinking occurred. The problem of the past remains has been exacerbated by the presence of the automobile; more deaths injury result from reckless driving while intoxicated.

Historically, economic boom conditions, immigration of outsiders to the area's population, and urbanization were associated with an increase in crime and violence. Some residents fear that intensive recreationa1 development will have the same effect. Control of alcoholic beverages and associated problems will be a key factor in determining whether National Park Service management of the BSFNRRA gains public approval.

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1981. 187-9.

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Ballads of the borders and backcountry also depict the endemic violence that characterized the region. An example is

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Local ballads are often written about feuds, murders, fires, robberies, and various other topics of a sensational nature. The Cumberland River in Monroe and Cumberland counties has contributed more than its share of local ballads. "When Roscoe Cherry killed John Jackson" was collected by Mary Proffitt of Temple Hill from her father in 1959. Roscoe Cherry killed Jonn Jackson, was charged with manslaughter, and was sentenced to the State Penitentiary in January, 1910, from two to twenty-one years.

When John quit work on Mashes Creek,

He said I'm going to see my mother this week.

Then John went down to the Tennessee line

To spend his money on whiskey and wine.

Refrain: Hard times, hard times, the Tennessee line is hard times.

John came back through the steel yard

He saw those men playing those cards

Upon the hill in front of the shack

Went Roscoe Cherry with all the whiskey he could pack.


He gave John one then he gave him two,

He gave him another and he thought it would do

Cherry was out with his pistol, and John with his knife

And Cherry said to John, Your money or your life.


And Cherry was full of whiskey and wine

He mocked poor John as he was dying

Cherry left but he left a trail,

Proffitt caught him with Simmons and Hale.


When they carried him into town

You could hear the funeral all around

John's mother wept and his sister cried

And if it hadn't been for whiskey, poor John would never have died.


Judge Carter to decide the case

He said to Cherry, Are you able to work for fifteen years for killing your neighbor?

When Cherry left, he left on the Frankfort train

His hands and feet were bound with chains.


Monroe County Folklife. Lynwood Montell Ed. Monroe County, KY: privately published, 1975. 20.

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It is false to perceive the natives of the backcountry(and their ancestors in the border regions) as anarchic mobs. The were strongly democratic, and celebrated the institutions that protected such democracy. The following selection exemplifies not only their democratic government, but also many customs of recreation, community, and backcountry hierarchy as well.

or skip ahead to learn about the Leaders in the Gap

The institutions of the Kentuckian have deep root in his rich social nature. He loves the swarm. The very motto of the State is a declaration of good-fellowship, and the seal of the commonwealth the act of shaking hands. Divided, he falls. The Kentuckian must be one of many; must assert him- self, not through the solitary exercise of his intellect, but the senses; must see men about him who are fat; grip his friend, hear cordial, hearty conversation, realize the play of his emotions. Society is the multiple of himself.

Hence his fondness for large gatherings: open-air assemblies of the democratic sort--great agricultural fairs, race-courses, political meetings, barbecues and burgoos in the woods -where no one is pushed to the wall, or reduced to a seat and to silence, where all may move about at will, seek and be sought, make and receive impressions. Quiet masses of people in-doors absorb him less. He is not fond of lectures, does not build splendid theatres or expend lavishly for opera, is almost of Puritan excellence in the virtue of church-going, which in the country is attended with neighborly reunions.

This large social disposition underlies the history of the most social of all his days-a day that has long had its observance embedded in the structure of his law, is invested with the authority and charm of old-time usage and reminiscence, and still enables him to commingle business and pleasure in a way of his own. Hardly more characteristic of the Athenian was the agora, or the forum of the Roman, than is county court day characteristic of the Kentuckian. In the open square around the court-house of the county-seat he has had the centre of his public social life, the arena of his passions and amusements, the rallying-point of his political discussions, the market-place of his business transactions, the civil unit of his institutional history.

It may be that some stranger has sojourned long enough in Kentucky to have grown familiar with the wonted aspects of a county town. He has remarked the easy swing of its daily life: amicable groups of men sitting around the front entrances of the hotels; the few purchasers and promenaders on the uneven brick pavements; the few vehicles of draught and carriage scattered along the level white thoroughfares. All day the subdued murmur of patient local traffic has scarcely drowned the twittering of English sparrows in the maples. Then comes a Monday morning when the whole scene changes. The world has not been dead, but only sleeping Wnence this sudden surging crowd of rural folk-these lowing herds in the streets ? Is it some animated pastoral come to town ? some joyful public anniversary ? some survival in altered guise of the English country fair of mellower times ? or a vision of what the little place will be a century hence, when American life shall be packed and agitated and tense all over the land ? What a world of homogeneous, good - looking, substantial, reposeful people with honest front and amiable meaning! What bargaining and buying and selling by ever-forming, ever-dissolving groups, with quiet laughter and familiar talk and endless interchange of domestic interrogatories I You descend into the street to study the doings and spectacles from a nearer approach, and stop to ask the meaning of it. Ah! it is county court day in Kentucky; it is the Kentuckians in the market-place.

They have been assembling here now for nearly a hundred years. One of the first demands of the young commonwealth in the woods was that its vigorous, passionate life should be regulated by the usages of civil law. Its monthly county courts, with justices of the peace, were derived from the Virginia system of jurisprudence, where they formed the aristocratic feature of the government. Virginia itself owed these models to England; and thus the influence of the courts and of the decent and orderly yeomanry of both lands passed, as was singularly fitting, over into the ideals of justice erected by the pure-blooded colony. As the town-meeting of Boston town perpetuated the follimote of the Anglo-Saxon free state, and the Dutch village communities on the shores of th,e Hudson revived the older ones on the banks of the Rhine, so in Kentucky, through Virginia, there were transplanted by the people, themselves of clean stock and with strong conservative ancestral traits, the influences and elements of English law in relation to the county, the court, and the justice of the peace.

Through all the old time of Kentucky State life there towers up the figure of the justice of the peace. Commissioned by the Governor to hold monthly court, he had not always a courthouse wherein to sit, but must buy land in the midst of a settlement or town whereon to build one, and build also the contiguous necessity of civilization-a jail. In the rude court-room he had a long platform erected, usually running its whole width; on this platform he had a ruder wooden bench placed, likewise extending all the way across; and on this bench, having ridden into town, it may be, in dun-colored leggings, broadcloth pantaloons, a pigeon-tailed coat, a shingle - caped overcoat, and a twelvedollar high fur hat, he sat gravely and sturdily down amid his peers; looking out upon the bar, ranged along a wooden bench beneath, and prepared to consider the legal needs of his assembled neighbors. Among them all the very best was he; chosen for age, wisdom, means, weight and probity of character; as a rule, not profoundly versed in the law, perhaps knowing nothing of it-being a Revolutionary soldier, a pioneer, or a farmer-but endowed with a sure, robust common-sense and rectitude of spirit that enabled him to divine what the law was; shaking himself fiercely loose from the grip of mere technicalities, and deciding by the natural justice of the case; giving decisions of equal authority with the highest court, an appeal being rarely taken; perpetuating his own authority by appointing his own associates: with all his shortcomings and weaknesses a notable, historic figure, high-minded, fearless, and incorruptible, dignified, patient, and strong, and making the county court days of Kentucky for wellnigh half a century memorable to those who have lived to see justice less economically and less honorably administered.

But besides the legal character and intent of the day which was thus its first and dominant feature, divers things drew the folk together. Even the justice himself may have had quite other tha,~ magisterial reasons for coming to town; certainly the people had. They must interchange opinions about local and national politics, observe the workings of their own laws, pay and contract debts, acquire and transfer property, discuss all questions relative to the welfare of the community-holding, in fact, a county court day much like one in Virginia in the middle of the seventeenth century.

But after business was over, time hung idly on their hands; and being vigorous men, hardened by work in forest and field, trained in foot and limb to fleetness and endurance, and fired with admiration of physical prowess, like riotous school-boys out on a half-holiday, they fell to playing. All through the first quarter of the century, and for a longer time, county court day in Kentucky was, at least in many parts of the State, the occasion for holding athletic games. The men, young or in the sinewy manhood of more than middle age, assembled once a month at the county-seats to witness and take part in the feats of muscle and courage. They wrestled, threw the sledge, heaved the bar, divided and played at fives, had foot-races for themselves, and quarter-races for their horses. By-and-by, as these contests became a more prominent feature of the day, they would pit against each other the champions of different neighborhoods. It would become widely known before hand that next county court day " the bully " in one end of the county would whip "the bully" in the other end; so when court day came, and the justices came, and the bullies came, what was the county to do but come also ? The crowd repaired to the common, a ring was formed, the little men on the outside who couldn't see, Zaccheus-like, took to the convenient trees, and there was to be seen a fair and square set-to, in which the fist was the battering-ram and the biceps a catapult. What better, more time-honored proof could those backwoods Kentuckians have furnished of the humors in their English blood and of their English pugnacity? But, after all, this was only play, and play never is perfectly satisfy ing to a man who would rather fight; so from playing they fell to harder work, and through out this period county court day was the monthly Monday on which the Kentuckian regularly did his fighting. He availed himself liberally of election day, it is true, and of regimental muster in the spring and battalion mus ter in the fall-great gala occasions; but county court day was by all odds the preferred and highly prized season. It was periodical, and could be relied upon, being written in the law, noted in the almanac, and registered in the heavens.

A capital day, a most admirable and serene day for fighting. Fights grew like a freshwater polype-by being broken in two: each part produced a progeny. So conventional did the recreation become that difficulties occurring out in the country between times regularly had their settlements postponed until the belligerents could convene with the justices. The men met and fought openly in the streets, the friends of each standing by to see fair play and whet their appetites.

Thus the justices sat quietly on the bench inside, and the people fought quietly in the streets outside, and the day of the month set apart for the conservation of the peace became the approved day for individual war. There is no evidence to be had that either the justices or the constables ever interfered. These pugilistic encounters had a certain law of beauty: they were affairs of equal combat and of courage. The fight over, animosity was gone, the feud ended. The men must shake hands, go and drink together, become friends. We are touching here upon a grave and curious fact of local history. The fighting habit must be judged by a wholly unique standard. It was the direct outcome of racial traits powerfully developed by social conditions.

Another noticeable recreation of the day was the drinking. Indeed, the two pleasures went marvellously well together. The drinking led up to the fighting, and the fighting led up to the drinking; and this amiable co-operation might be prolonged at will. The merchants kept barrels of whiskey in their cellars for their customers. Bottles of it sat openly on the counter, half-way between the pocket of the buyer and the shelf of merchandise. There were no saloons separate from the taverns. At these whiskey was sold and drunk without screens or scruples. It was not usually bought by the drink, but by the tickler. The tickler was a bottle of narrow shape, holding a half-pintjust enough to tickle. On a county court day wellnigh a whole town would be tickled. In some parts of the State tables were placed out on the sidewalks, and around these the men sat drinking mint- juleps and playing draw-poker and " old sledge."

Meantime the day was not wholly given over to playing and fighting and drinking. More and more it was becoming the great public day of the month, and mirroring the life and spirit of the times-on occasion a day of fearful, momentous gravity, as in the midst of war, finan- cial distress, high party feeling; more and more the people gathered together for discussion and the origination of measures determin- ing the events of their history. Gradually new features incrusted it. The politician, observing the crowd, availed himself of it to announce his own candidacy or to wage a friendly campaign, sure, whether popular or unpopular, of a courteous hearing; for this is a virtue of the Kentuckian, to be polite to a public speaker, however little liked his cause. In the spring, there being no fairs, it was the occasion for exhibiting the fine stock of the country, which was led out to some suburban pasture, where the owners made speeches over it. In the winter, at the close of the old or the beginning of the new year, negro slaves were regularly hired out on this day for the ensuing twelvemonth, and sometimes put upon the block before the court-house door and sold for life.

But it was not until near the half of the second quarter of the century thal: an auctioneer originated stock sales on the open square, and thus gave to the day the characteristic it has since retained of being the great market-day of the month. Thenceforth its influence was to be more widely felt, to be extended into other counties and even States; thenceforth it was to become more distinctively a local institution without counterpart.

To describe minutely the scenes of a county court day in Kentucky, say at the end of the half-century, would be to write a curious page in the history of the times; for they were possible only through the unique social conditions they portrayed. It was near the most prosperous period of State life under the old regime. The institution of slavery was about to culminate and decline. Agriculture had about as nearly perfected itself as it was ever destined to do under the system of bondage. The war cloud in the sky of the future could be covered with the hand, or at most with the country gentleman's broad-brimmed straw-hat. The whole atmosphere of the times was heavy with ease, and the people, living in perpetual contemplation of their superabundant natural wealth, bore the quality of the land in their manners and dispositions....

[People travelled from all over to participate in county court day]

A rural cavalcade indeed! Besides the carriages, buggies, horsemen, and pedestrians, there are long droves of stock being hurried on towards the town-hundreds of them. By the time they come together in the town they will be many thousands. For is not this the great stock-market of the West, and does not the whole South look from its rich plantations and cities up to Kentucky for bacon and mules? By-and-by our family carriage does at last get to town, and is left out in the streets along with many others to block up the passway according to the custom.

The town is packed. It looks as though by some vast suction system it had with one exercise of force drawn all the country life into itself. The poor dumb creatures gathered in from the peaceful fields, and crowded around the court-house, send forth, each after its kind, a general outcry of horror and despair at the tumult of the scene and the unimaginable mystery of their own fate. They overflow into the by-streets, where they take possession of the sidewalks, and debar entrance at private residences. No stock-pens wanted then; none wanted now. If a town legislates against these stock sales on the streets and puts up pens on its outskirts, straightway the stock is taken to some other market, and the town is punished for its airs by a decline in its trade.

As the day draws near noon, the tide of life is at the flood. Mixed in with the tossing horns and nimble heels of the terrified, distressed, half-maddened beasts, are the people. Above the level of these is the discordant choir of shrill-voiced auctioneers on horseback. At the corners of the streets long-haired-and long-eared doctors in curious hats lecture to eager groups on maladies and philanthropic cures. Every itinerant vender of notion and nostrum in the country-side is there; every wandering Italian harper or musician of any kind, be he but a sightless fiddler, who brings forth with poor unison of voice and string the brief and too fickle ballads of the time, " Gentle Annie," and " Sweet Alice, Ben Bolt." Strangely contrasted with everything else in physical type and marks of civilization are the mountaineers, who have come down to " the settlemints " driving herds of their lean, stunted cattle, or bringing, in slow-moving, ox-drawn " steamboat" wagons, maple-sugar, and baskets, and poles, and wild mountain fruit-faded wagons, faded beasts, faded clothes, faded faces, faded everything. A general day for buying and selling all over the State. What purchases at the dry-goods stores and groceries to keep all those negroes at home fat and comfortable and comely-cottons, and gay cottonades, and gorgeous turbans, and linseys of prismatic dyes, bags of Rio coffee and barrels of sugar, with many another pleasant thing!.... A surging populace, an in-town holiday for all rural folk, wholly unlike what may be seen elsewhere in this country. The politician will be sure of his audience to-day in the court-house yard; the seller will be sure of the purchaser; the idle man of meeting one still idler; friend of seeing distant friend; blushing Phyllis, come in to buy fresh ribbons, of being followed through the throng by anxious Corydon.

And what, amid this tumult of life and affairs -what of the justice of the peace, whose figure once towered up so finely? Alas ! quite outgrown, pushed aside, and wellnigh forgotten. The very name of the day which once so sternly commemorated the exercise of his authority has wandered into another meaning. "County court day " no longer brings up in the mind the image of the central court-house and the judge on the bench. It is to be greatly feared his noble type is dying. The stain of venality has soiled his homespun ermine, and the trail of the office-seeker passed over his rough-hewn bench. So about this time the new constitution of the commonwealth comes in, to make the autocratic ancient justice over into the modern elective magistrate, and with the end of the a half-century to close a great chapter of wonderful county court days...

Allen, James L. The Blue-Grass Region of Kentucky.... NY: The MacMillan Company, 1900. 87-114.

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The following selection is a more scientific analysis of the politics of the Cumberland backcountry.

Like most of Appalachia, the Big South Fork area was first settled under frontier conditions. It was some time before formal political and legal institutions followed the settlers. These frontier communities had some internal resources for social control--the obligations of kinship and a system of ethics derived from their religion. Theirs was a society based on a moral order (see Redfield 1947). Although some influential authors (e.g. Caudill 1963) still subscribe to the notion that Appalachians are inherently lawless because they are the descendants of outlaws and social misfits who sought refuge in the mountains to evade the legal and social order of the seaboard colonies, scholarly historians have convincingly discredited this myth (see Caruso 1959; Leyburn 1962).

Informal social controls could be effective in Appalachia as in other "folk" societies so long as the settlement was a homogeneous unit based on kinship obligations and a shared moral code. But before the nineteenth century was over, economic development was already placing severe stress on the traditional system of social control. The population grew and became more heterogeneous. New quasi-urban towns and camps sprang up, bringing together people who did not feel that they were members of a community in the traditional sense. Those who abandoned farming for wage work suddenly had extra cash and leisure time, and whiskey was the most convenient means of spending the two simultaneously. Disputation and lawlessness increased under these circumstances. Formal political and legal institutions were strengthened to deal with these problems, but they did not always coexist comfortably with the traditional pattern of kin loyalty. This chapter examines these developments and the two faces of social control-law and lawlessness.

County Formation and County Politics

Organized government came slowly to the upper reaches of the Cumberland Plateau because the population dispersed into wilderness areas faster than roads could be built to connect new settlements with their county seats. The rough wagon roads that were built were impassible in bad weather. Eventually public pressure forced the formation of new counties with county seats more accessible to the pioneer settlements. Morgan County was created from western portions of Anderson and Roane Counties in 1817, and northward expansion over the plateau soon produced Fentress County (1823), then Scott County (1849). Both of these counties included territory which had been in old Morgan County. The northern boundary of Fentress and Scott was not established conclusively until almost 1860 (see Sanderson 1958: 3-4). Kentucky and Tennessee disputed jurisdiction over the territory from the present state line south as far as Oneida, even though this area contained some of the oldest settlements along the Big South Fork. State and county government must have seemed remote indeed to families living in the Williams Creek, Station Camp, and No Business settlements before the jurisdictional dispute was settled.

In Kentucky, it was not until 1912 that McCreary County was carved out of sections of Wayne, Whitley, and Pulaski Counties. Although Perry (1979: 47) asserts that the Stearns Company advocated the status quo and preferred to deal with the three counties rather than with a single local government, other informants hold that Stearns officials favored the new county. They were concerned because the three sets of law officers, based in a distant county seat, were not maintaining order effectively in the back country where Stearns camps were located. Population growth and concentration in the Stearns domain demanded effective formal means of social control.

Another force towards county formation was the desire of local politicians to strengthen their own position. Pine Knot citizens spearheaded the county-formation campaign, assuming that Pine Knot would become the county seat. However, Whitley City (then Coolidge) became a contender an won the referendum. Several informants are old enough to remember the special 1912 Fourth of July celebrations honoring the new county, the con tension between Pine Knot and Whitley City, and the county's earliest referenda and elections. This account describes events in a community near the Wayne County line.

Well, they had a big barbecue at Whitley; they killed beefs and barbecued the whole beef, maybe a hog or two, and plenty of whiskey. And then they had a barbecue at my Dad's (in western McCreary County). A year later, me and my brother 'd find pints of whiskey hid behind logs, where they'd hid it and got too drunk to go back and find it. . .Them used to be days back then. A feller'd be runnin' when they had big barbecues, they'd maybe be three or four runnin' for judge, three or four for clerk, three or four for jailer, and two or three for sheriff, and they really worked too--made big speeches you know. And they always had somebody out a givin' out the whiskey, see, to vote for 'em. . .

The toughest time they ever had in this county, the county seat when it first come, it was at Pine Knot. And they got a 'lection up to vote for it to come to Whitley. . .I remember there was two men voted for it to stay at Pine Knot. They (other residents of the community) found it out late that evening, and they cut them a pole and some hickory whips and followed them two men plumb home. Well, if they'd caught 'em afore they got home, they'd a put 'em on that pole and killed 'em. They's two people voted fer it to go to Pine Knot; that made 50 or 75 people mad; and if they'd caught 'em, they'd a killed 'em, there wasn't no question about it.

Q: Politics was pretty wild and wooly back then, wasn't it?

A: Oh, hit was tough back them days. Yeah, boy. You had to be very careful who you told you'd vote fer. Now if you told 'em wrong man that the majority was fer, you's in trouble. You either turned over and voted right, or left out, one. You didn't stay around.

Q: Did people get in trouble selling their votes to both sides? What happened to them when they got found out?

A: They'd usually have to leave the county. They'd take off to Wayne County or some other county. They couldn't stay around. That's the way with these two fellers who voted for the county seat to go to Pine Knot. They soon sold out and went to Wayne County.

The local historians Sanderson (1958: 85-99) and Perry (1979: 180204) frankly admit that old-style politics was full of mud-slinging campaigns, vote buying, ballot box stuffing, and other strong arm methods. The heat of the campaign might explode into violence at the slightest provocation, especially when whiskey was on hand to add fuel to the fire. Even law officers or potential law officers were not immune to these outbursts. In fact, back when western McCreary County still belonged to Wayne County, two candidates for sheriff met at a voting house on election day, exchanged a volley of insults, and finally shot each other dead.

Howell, Benita. A Survey of Folklife Along the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Knoxville, TN: UT Press, 1981. 181-3.

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Because the backcountry politics were so democratic, leaders had to earn the support of the people. Backcountry "elite" most often gained their status through hero-like responses to the same dangers that faced their constituents.

We here present brief outlines of some of the other more prominent western pioneers, the kindred spirits, the Boones of Kentucky. High spirited, intelligent, intrepid as they were, they can never supplant the reckless hero of Kentucky and Missouri in our thoughts. It is true, these men deserve to have their memories perpetuated in monumental brass, and the more enduring page of history. But there is a sad interest attached to the memory of Daniel Boone, which can never belong, in an equal degree, to theirs. They foresaw what this beautiful country would become in the hands of its new possessors. Extending their thoughts beyond the ken of a hunter's calculations they anticipated the consequences of buts and bounds, officers of registry and record, and courts of justice. In due time, they scoured a fair and adequate reversion in the soil which they had planted and so nobly defended. Hence, their posterity, with the inheritance of their name and renown, enter into the heritage of their possessions, and find an honorable and an abundant residence in the country which their fathers settled. Boone, on the contrary, was too simple-minded, too little given to prospective calculaffons, and his heart too much in what was passing under his eye, to make this thrifty forecast. In age, in penury, landless, and without a home, he is seen leaving Kentucky, then an opulent and flourishing country, for a new wilderness and new scenes of adventure.

Among the names of the conspicuous backwoodsmen who settled the west, we cannot fail to recognize that of James Harrod. He was from the banks of the Monongahela, and among the earliest immigrants to the "Bloody Ground." He descended the Great Kenhawa, and returned to Pennsylvania in 1774. He rmc~lo L~rmll ~r`~!~iml~l~ll4: with a nartv of his friends at the famous contest with the Indians at the "Point.'' Next year he returned to Kentucky with a party of immigrants, fixing himself at one of the earliest settlements in the country, which, in honor Of him, was called Harrodsburg.

Nature had molded him of a form and temperament to look the formidable red man in the face. He was six feet, muscular, broad cheated, of a firm and animated countenance, keen and piercing eyes, and sparing of speech. He gained himself an impenshable name in the annals of Kentucky, under the extreme disadvantage of not knowing how to read or write! Obliging and benevolent to his neighbors, he was brave and aotive in their defense. A successful, because a persevering and intelligent hunter, he was liberal to profuseness in the distribution of the spoils. Vigilant and unerring with his rifle, it was at once directed against the abundant game for the sake of his friends rather than himself; and at others, against the enemies of his country. Guided by the inexplicable instinct of forest skill, he could conduct the wanderer in the woods from point to point through the wilderness, as the needle guides the mariner upon the ocean. So endowed, others equally illiterate, and less gifted, naturally, and from imstinct, arranged themselves under his banner, and fearlessly followed such a leader.

If it was reported that a family, recently arrived in the country, and not yet acquainted with the backwoods modes of supply, was in want of food, Harrod was seen at the cabin door, offering the body of a deer or buffalo, which he had just killed. The commencing farmer, who had lost his oxen, or plow horse, in the range, and unused to the vocation of hunting them, or fearful of the Indian rifle, felt no hesitancy, from his known character, in applying to Harrod. He would disappear in the woods, and in the exercise of his own wonderful tact, the lost beast was soon seen driving to the door.

But the precincts of a station, or the field of a farm, were uncongenial a range for such a spirit as his. To breathe the fresh forest air-to range deserts where man was not to be seen-to pursue the wild deer and buffalo-to trap the bear and the wolf, or beside $he still pond, or the unexplored stream, to catch otters and beavers-to bring down the wild turkey from the summit of the highest trees; such were the congenial pursuits in which he delighted.

But, in a higher sphere, and in the service of his coun,try, he united the instinctive tact and dexterity of a huntsman with the bravery of a soldier. No labor was too severe for his hardihood; no enterprise too daring and forlorn for his adventure; no course too intricate and complicated for his judgment, so far as native talent could rude it. As a Colonel of the militia, he conducted expeditions against the Indians with uncommon success. After the country had become populous, and he a husband and a father, in the midst of an affectionate family, possessed of every comfort-such was the effect of temperament, operating upon habit, that he became often silent and thoughtful in the midst of the social circle, and was seen in that frame to wander into remote forests, and to bury himself amidst the unpeopled knobs, where, in a few weeks, he would reacquire his cheerfulness. In one of these excursions he disappeared, and was seen no more, leaving no trace to determine whether he died a natural death, was slain by wild beasts, or the tomahawk of the savage.

Among the names of many of the first settlers of Harrodsburg, are those that are found most prominent in the early annals of Kentucky. In the first list of these, we find the names of McGary, Harland, McBride, and Chaplain. Among the young setHers, none were more conspicuous for active, daring, and meritorious service than James Ray. Prompt at his post at the first moment of alarm, brave in the field, fearless and persevering in the pursuit of the enemy, scarcely a batBe, skirmish or expedition took place im which he had not a distinguished part. Equally expert as a woodsman, and skillful and successful as a hunter, he was often employed as a spy. It is recorded of him that he left his garrison, when short of provisions, by night, marched to a forest at the distance of six miles, killed a buffalo, and, loaded with the choice parts of the flesh, returned to regale the hungry inhabitants in the morning. He achieved this enterprise, too, when it was well known that the vicinity was thronged with Indians, lurking for an opportunity to kill. These are the positions which try the daring and skill, the usefulness and value of men, furnishing a criterion which cannot be counterfeited between reality and resemblance.

We may perhaps in this place most properly introduce another of the famous partisans in savage warfare, Simon Kenton, alias Butler, who, from humble beginnings, made himself conspicuous by distinguished services and achievements in the first settlements of this country, and ought to be recorded as one of the patriarchs of Kentucky. He was born in Virgirua, in 1753. He grew to maturity without being able to read or write; but from his early exploits he seems to have been endowed with feelings which the educated, and those born in the upper walks of life, appear to suppose a monopoly reserved for themselves. It is recorded of him, that at the age of nineteen he had a violent contes,t with another competitor for the favor of the lady of his love. She refused to make an election between them, and the subject of this notice indignantly exiled himself from his native place. After various peregrinations on the long rivers of the west, he fixed himself in Kentucky, and soon beoame a distinguished partisan against the savages. In 1774, he joined himself to Lord Dunmore, and was appointed one of his spies. He made various excursions, and performed important services in this employ. He finally selected a place for improvement on the site where Washington now is. Returning one day from hunting, he found one of his companions slain by the Indians, and his body thrown into the fire. He left Washington in consequence, and joined himself to Colonel Clark in his fortunate and gallant expedition against Vincennes and Kaskaskia. He was sent by that commander with dispatches for Kentucky. He passed through the streets of Vincennes, then in possession of the British and Indians, without discovery. Arriving at White River, he and his party made a raft on which to cross with their guns and baggage, driving their horses into the river and compelling them to swim it. A party of Indians was concealed on the opposite bank, who took possession of the horses as they mounted the bank from crossing the river. Butler and his party seeing this, continued to float down the river on their raft without coming to land. They concealed themselves in the bushes untiI night, when they crossed the river, pursued their journey, and delivered their dispatches.

After this, Butler made a journey of discovery to the northern regions of the Ohio country, and was made prisoner by the Indians.... He escaped; and being endowed, like Daniel Boone, to be at home in the woods, by a march of thirty days through the wilderness he reached Kentucky.

In 1784, Simon Kenton reoccupied the settlement, near Washingon, which he had commenced in 1775. Associated with a number of people, he erected a blockhouse, and made a station here. This became an important point of covering and defense for the interior country. Immigrants felt more confidence in landing at Limestone. To render this confidence more complete, Kenton and his associates built a blockhouse at Limestone. Two men, of the name of Tanner, had made a small settlement the year preceding at Blue Lick, and were now making salt there. The route from Limestone to Lexington became one of the most general travel for immigrants, and many stations sprang up upon it. Travelers to the country had hitherto been compelled to sleep under the open canopy, exposed to the rains and dews of the night. But cabins were now so common, that they might generally repose under a roof that sheltered them from the weather, and find a bright fire, plenty of wood, and with the rustic fare, a most cheerful and cordial welcome. The people of these new regions were hospitable from native inclination. They were hospitable from circumstances. None but those who dwell in a wilderness, where the savages roam and the wolves howl, can understand all the pleasant associations connected with the sight of a stranger of the same race. The entertainer felt himself stronger from the presence of his guest. His offered food and fare were the spoils of the chase. He heard news from the old settlements and the great world; and he saw in the accession of every stranger a new guaranty of the security, wealth, and improvement of the infant country where he had chosen his resting place.

Among other worthy associates of Boone, we may mention the family of McAfee. Two brothers, James and Robert, emigrated from the county of Botetourt, Virginia, and settled on Salt River, six miles from Harrodsburg. Having revisited their parent country, on their return they brou~t with them William and George McAfee. In 1777 the Indians destroyed the whole of their valuable stock of cattle, while they were absent from Kentucky. In 1779 they returned, and settled McAfee's Station, which was subsequently compelled to take its full share in the sufferings and dangers of Indian hostilities.

Benjamin Logan immigrated to the country in 1775, as a private citizen. But he was a man of too much character to remain unnoted. As his character developed, he was successively appointed a magistrate, elected a member of the legislature, and rose, as a military character, to the rank of general. His parents were natives of Ireland, who emigrated, while young, to Pennsylvania, where they married and soon afterwards removed to Augusta County, Virginia.

Benjamin, their oldest son, was born there; and at the age of fourteen lost his father. Charged, at this early age, with the care of a widowed mother, and children still younger than himself, neither the circumstances of his family, of the country, or his peculiar condition, allowed him the changes of education. Almost as unlettered as Tames Harrod. he was a memorable example of a self-formed man. Great natural acuteness, and strong intelleotual powers, were, however, adorned by a disposi- tion of uncommon benevolence. Under the eye of an excellent father, he commenced with the rudiments of common instruction, the soundest lessons of Christian piety and morality, which were continued by the guidance and example of an admirable mother, with whom he resided, until he was turned of twenty-one.

His father had deceased intestate, and, in virtue of the laws then in force, the whole extensive inheritance of his father's lands descended to him, to the exclusion of his brothers and sisters. His example ought to be recorded for the benefit of those grasping children in these days, who, dead to all natural affection, and every sentiment but avarice, seize all that the law will grant, whether equity will sanction it or not. Disregarding this claim of purnogeni,ture, he insisted that the whole inheritance should be parceled into equal shares, of which he accepted only his own. But the generous impulses of his noble nature, were not limited to the domestic circle. His heart was warm with the more enlarged sentiments of patriotism. At the age of twenty-one he accompanied Colonel Beanquette, as a sergeant, in a hostile expedition against the Indians of the north. Having provided for the comfortable settlement of his mother and family on James River, Virginia, he moved to the Holston, where he settled and married.

Having been in the expedition of Lord Dunmore against the Indians, and having thus acquired a taste for forest marches and incident, he determined, in 1775, to try his fortunes in Kentucky, which country had then just become a theme of discussion. He set forth from his mother's family with three slaves, leavmg the rest to her. In Powell's Valley he met with Boone, Henderson, and other kindred spirits, and pursued his journey towards Kentucky in company with them. He parted from them, before they reached Boonesborough, and selected a spot for himself, afterwards called Logan's Fort, or Station.

In the winter of 1776, he removed his family from Holston, and in March, arrived with it in Kentucky. It was the same year in which the daughter of Col. Boone, and those of Col. Calloway were made captives. The whole country being in a state of alarm, he endeavored to assemble some of the settlers that were dispersed in the country called the Crab Orchard, to join him at his cabins, and there form a station of sufficient strength to defend itself against Indian assault. But finding them timid and unresolved, he was himself obliged to desert his incipient settlement, and move for safety to Harrodsburg. Yet, such was his determination not to abandon his selected spot, that he raised a crop of corn there, defenseless and surrounded on all sides by Indian incursion.

In the winter of 1777, and previous to the attack of Harrodsburg, he found six families ready to share with him the dangers of his selected spot; and he removed his family with them to his cabins, where the settlement immediately united in the important duty of palisading a station.

Before these arrangements were fully completed, as the females of the establishment, on the twentieth of May, were milking their cows, sustained by a guard of their husbands and fathers, the whole party was suddenly assailed by a large body of Indians, concealed in a canebrake. One man was killed, and two wounded, one mortally, the other severely. The remainder reached the interior of the palisades in safety. The number in all was thirty, half of whom were women and children. A circumstance was now discovered, exceedingly trying to such a benevolent spirit as that of Logan. While the Indians were still firing, and the inmates part exulting in their safety, and the o~ezs mou~ng over thedr dead and wounded, it was peroeived that one of the wounded, by the name of Harrison, was still alive, and exposed every moment to be scalped by the Indians. All this his wife and family could discern from within. It is not difficult to imagme their agonizing condition, and piercing lamentations for the fate of one so dear to them. Logan discov- ered, on this occasion, the same keen sensibility to tenderness, and insensibility to danger, that characterized his friend Boone in similar predicaments. He endeavored to rally a few of the small number of the male inmates of the place to join him, and rush out, and assist in attempting to bring the wounded man within the palisades. But so obvious was the danger, so forlorn appeared the enterprise, that no one could be found disposed to volunteer his aid, except a single individual by the name of John Martin. When they had reached the gate, the wounded man raised himself partly erect, and made a movement, as if disposed to try to reach the fort himself. On this, Martin desisted from the enterprise, and left Logan to attempt it alone. He rushed forward to the wounded man. He made some efforts to crawl onward by the aid of Logan; but weakened by the loss of blood, and the agony of his wounds, he fainted, and Logan taking him up in his arms, bore him towards the fort. A shower of bullets was discharged upon them, many of which struck the palisades close to his head, as he brought the wounded man safe within the gate, and deposited him in the care of his family.

The station, at this juncture, was destitute of both powder and ball; and there was no chance of supply nearer than Holston. All intercourse between station and station was cut off. Without ammunition the station could not be defended against the Indians. The question was, how to obviate this pressing emergency, and obtain a supply? Captain Logan selected two trusty companions, left the fort by night, evaded the besieging Indians, reached the woods, and with his companions made his way in safety to Holston, procured the necessary supply of ammuniffon, packed it under their care on horseback, giving them direoffons how to proceed. He then left them, and traversing the forests by a shorter route on foot, he reached the fort in safety, in ten days from his departure. The Indians still kept up the siege with unabated perseverance. The hopes of the diminished garrison had given way to despair. The return of Logan inspired them with renewed confidence.

Unifying the best attributes of a woodsman and a soldier to uncommon local acquaintance with the country, his insffnotive sagacity prescribed to him, on this journey, the necessity of deserting the beaten path, where, he was aware, he should be intercepted by the savages. Avoiding, from the same calculation, the passage of the Cumberland Gap, he explored a track in which man, or at least the white man, had never trodden before. We may add, it has never been trodden since. Through canebrakes and tangled thickets, over cliffs and precipices, and pathless mountains, he made his solitary way. Following his direcffons implicitly, his companions, who carried the ammunition, also reached the fort and it was saved....

[He was engaged in several battles with native Americans]

No sooner were his wounds healed, than we find him in the forefront of the expedition against the Indians. In 1779, he served as a captain in Bowman's campaign. He signalized his bravery in the unfortunate battle that ensued, and was with difficulty compelled to retire, when retreat became necessary. The next year a party traveling from Harrodsburg towards Logan's Fort, were fired upon by ~e Indqans, and t~vo of them mortally wounded. One, however, survived to reach the fort, and give an account of the fate of his wounded companion. Logan immediately raised a small party of young men, and repaired to the aid of the wounded man, who had crawled out of sight of the Indians behind a clump of bushes. He was still alive. Logan took him on his shoulders, occasionally relieved in sustaining the burden by his younger associates, and in this way conveyed him to the fort. On their return from Harrodsburg, Logan's party were fired upon, and one of the party wounded. The assailants were repelled with loss; and it was Logan's fortune again to be the bearer of the wounded man upon his shoulders for a long distance, exposed, the while, to the fire of the Indians.

His reputation for bravery and hospitality, and the influence of a long train of connections, caused him to be the instrument of bringing out many immigrants to Kentucky. They were of a character to prove an acquisition to the country. Like his friends, Daniel Boone, and James Harrod, his house was open to all the recent immigrants. In the early stages of the settlement of the country, his station, like Boone's and Harrod's was one of the m!ain pillars of the colony. Feeling the importan,ce of this station, as a point of support to the infant settlements, he took effectual measures to keep up an intercourse with the other stations, particularly those of Boone and Harrod. Dangerous as this intercourse was, Logan generally traveled alone, often by night, and universally with such swiftness of foot, that few could be found able to keep speed with him.

In the year 1780, he received his commission as Colonel, and was soon after a member of the Virginia Legislature at Richmond In the year 1781, the Indians attacked Montgomery's Station, consisting of six families, connected by blood with Colonel Logan. The father and brother of Mrs. Logan were killed, and her sister-in-law, with four children, taken prisoners. This disaster occurred about ten miles from Logan's Fort. His first object was to rescue the prisoners, and his next to chastise the barbarity of the Indians. He immediately collected a party of his friends, and repaired to the scene ot action. He was here joined by the bereaved relatives of Montgomery's family. He commanded a rapid pursuit of the enemy, who were soon overtaken, and briskly attacked. They faced upon their assailants, but were beaten after a severe conflict. William Montgomery killed three Indians, and wounded a fourth. Two women and three children were rescued. The savages murdered the other child to prevenk its being retaken. The other prisoners would have experienced the same fate, had they not fled for their lives into the thickets.

It would be very easy to extend this brief sketch of some of the more conspicuous pioneers of Kentucky. Their heroic and disinterested services, their lavish prodigality of their blood and property, gave them that popularity which is universally felt to be a high and priceless acquisition. Loved, and trusted, and honored as fathers of their country, while they lived, they had the persuasion of such generous minds as theirs, that their names would descend with blessings to their grateful posterity.

Editorial note: The above selection in no way reflects the editor's political beliefs. The editor apologizes for any portrayals in this old text of the Native American as barbaric or savage; such portrayals are due purely to the time period in which the above selection was written.

Flint, Timothy. Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone. James K. Folsom Ed. New Haven, CT: College and University Press, 1967. 132-43.

The settlers of the backcountry, recalling the liberty they enjoyed on the Anglo-Scotch borders, most often migrated to the Cumberland Gap (and other backcountry areas) to find more "elbow room" and freedom of living. Daniel Boone was perhaps the most famous of these liberty-loving settlers.

In 1787 commenced the first operations of that mighty engine, the press, in the western country. Nothing oould have been wider from the anticipations, perhaps from the wishes of Boone, than this progress of things. But in the order of events, the tran~on of unlettered hackwoods emigrants to a people with a police, and all the engines of civilization was unoommonly rapid. There was no other paper within five hundred miles of the one now established by Mr. Bradford, at Lexington. The political heartburnings and slander that had hitherto been transmitted through rough oral ohannels, were now conoentrated for circulation in this gazette.

In April, 1792, Kentucky was admitted into the Union as an independent state; improvements were steadily and rapidly progressing, and notwithstanding the hostility of the Indians, the population of the state was regularly increasing until the peace which followed the victory of Gen. Wayne. After which, as has been observed, the tide of emigration poured in,to the oountry with unexampled rapidity.

Litigation in regard to land titles now began to increase, and continued until it was carried to a distressing height. Col. Boone had begun to turn his attention to the cultivation of the choice tracts he had entered, and he looked forward with the consoling thought that he had enough to provide for a large and rising family, by securing to each of his children, as they became of age, a fine plantation. But in the vortex of litigation which ensued, he was not permitted to escape. The speculators who had spread their greedy claims over the lands which had been previously located and paid for by Boone, relying upon his imperfect entries, and some legal flaws in his titles, brought their ejeotments against him, and dragged him into a oourt of law. Here the old hunter listed to the quibbles-the subtleties, and to him, inexplicable jargon of the lawyers. His suits were finally decided against him, and he was cast out of the possession of all, or nearly all the lands which he had looked upon as being indubitably his own. The indignation of the old pioneer can well be imagined, as he saw himself thus strips, by the quibbles and intricacies of the law, of all the rewards of his exposures, labors, sufferings and dangers in the first settlement of Kentucky. He hecame more than ever disgusted with the grasping and avaricious spirit-the heartless intercourse and technical forms of what is called civilized society.

But having expended his indignation in a transient paroxysm, he soon settled back to his customary mental complacency and self-possession; and as he had no longer any pledge of consequence reqarding to him in the soil of Kentucky and as it was, moreover, becoming on all sides subject to the empire of the cultivator's axe and plow, he resolved to leave the country. I He had wi~ed with regret the dispersion of the band of pioneers, with whom he had hunbed and fought, side by side, and like a band of brothers, shared every hardship and every danger; and he sighed for new fields of adventure, and the excitement of a hunter's life.

Influenced by these feelings, he removed from Kentucky to the Great Kanawha; where he settled near Point Pleasant. He had been informed that buffaloes and deer were still to be found in abundance on the unsettled bottoms of this river, and that it was a fine country for trapping. Here he continued to reside several years. But he was disappointed in his expeatations of finding game. The vicinity of the settleme~ts above and below this unsebtled region, had driven the buffaloes fom the country; and though there were plenty of deer, yet he derived but little success from his trappqng. He finally commenced raising stock, and began to turn his attention to agriculture.

While thus engaged, he met with some persons who had returned from a tour up the Missouri, who described to him the fine country bordering upon that river. The vast prairies -the herds of buffaloes-the grizzly bears-the beavers and others; and above all, the ancient and unexplored forests of that unknown region, fired his imagination, and produced at once a resolve to remove there.

Accordingly, gathering up such useful articles of baggage as were of light carriage, among which his trusty rifle was not forgotten, he started with his family, driving his whole stock of cattle along with him, on a pilgrimage to this new land of promise. He passed through Cincinnati on his way thither in 1798. Being enquired of as to what had induced him to leave all the comforts of home, and so rich and flourishing a country as his dear Kentucky, which he had discovered, and had helped to win from the Iodians, for the wilds of Missouri? "Too crowded," replied he-"too crowded-I want more elbow room." He proceeded about forty-five miles above St. Louis, and settled in wbat is now St. Charles County. This country being still in the possession of the French and Spanish, the ancient laws by which these territories were governed were still in force there. Nothing could be more sunple than their whole system of administration. They had no constitution, no king, no legislative assemblies, no judges, juries, lawyers, or sheriBs. An officer, called the Commandant, and the priests exercised all the functions of civil magistrates, and decided the few controversies which arose among these primitive inhabitants, who held and occupied many things in common. They suffered their ponies, their cattle, their swine, and their flocks to ramble and graze on the same common prames and pastures-having but few fences or inclosures, and possessing but little of that spirit of speculation, enterprise, and money-making, which has always characterized the Americans.

These simple laws and neighborly customs suited the peculiar habits and temper of Boone. And as his character for honesty, courage, and fidelity followed him there, he was appointed Commandmant for the district of St. Charles by the Spanish Commandmant. He retained this comnand, and continued to exercise the duties of his office with credit to himself, and to the satisfaction of all connected, until the laws of the United States went into effect.

Flint, Timothy. Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone. James K. Folsom Ed. New Yaven, CT: College and University Press, 1967. 176-8.

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