Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Land of Saddle-bags

The Land of Saddle-bags: A Study of the Mountain People of Appalachia

James Watt Raine
Foreword by Dwight B. Billings
Copyright Date: 1924
Edition: 1
Pages: 330
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Land of Saddle-bags
    Book Description:

    This charming account of life in Appalachia at the turn of the century is one of the three most important books from the early twentieth century that, as Dwight Billings writes in his foreword, have "had a profound and lasting impact on how we think about Appalachia and, indeed, on the fact that we commonly believe that such a place and people can be readily identified." Originally published in 1924, it was advertised as a "racy book, full of the thrill of mountain adventure and the delicious humor of vigorously human people." James Watt Raine, professor of English literature and later head of the English and drama departments at Berea College from 1906 until his retirement in 1939, provides eyewitness accounts of mountain speech and folksinging, education, religion, community, politics, and farming. In a conscious effort to dispel the negative stereotype of the drunken, slothful, gun-toting hillbilly prone to violence, Raine presents positive examples from his own experiences among the region's native inhabitants.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4869-4
    Subjects: History, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xliv)
    Dwight B. Billings

    Especially since the publication in 1978 of Henry D. Shapiro’s intellectual history of the idea of Appalachia,Appalachia on Our Mind: The Southern Mountains and Mountaineers in the American Consciousness, 1870-1920, Appalachian scholars have vigorously investigated the social origins of the notion that the mountain South is “a coherent region inhabited by an homogeneous population possessing a uniform culture.”¹ With the publication of this present edition of James Watt Raine’sThe Land of Saddle-bags, the University Press of Kentucky makes available to contemporary readers one of the most important early books on mountain life, a book that has had a...

    (pp. xlv-xlviii)
    James Watt Raine
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introducing Ourselves
    (pp. 1-16)

    ONE infers from the picturesque stories in the magazines that the Southern Highlander or Appalachian Mountaineer is in person tall, hairy, gaunt, and loose, his joints apparently tied together with bits of string. His garments consist usually of trousers and the remains of a shirt, surmounted by an enormous flapping hat. As to occupation, he is represented for the most part as sitting rather permanently on a rail fence gazing at very intelligent and well-dressed visitors; or, more sketchily, running a moonshine still; or shooting down his enemies in a feud. For which purposes he is picturesquely decorated with an...

    (pp. None)
  7. CHAPTER TWO The Spell of the Wilderness
    (pp. 19-30)

    THE Appalachian Mountain chain extends along the Atlantic coast from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the low lying lands on the Gulf of Mexico. It is cut almost in half by the two rivers—Potomac and Monongahela. The southern half of this mountainous country is the home of those people variously referred to as “Southern Highlanders,” “Southern Mountaineers,” or “Appalachian Mountaineers.” They usually call themselves “Mountain People.”

    Some thirty years ago this sweep of territory crossing so many state lines was whimsically but happily named “the State of Appalachia.” It is about six hundred and fifty miles long and...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Adventurers for Freedom
    (pp. 33-62)

    THE Mountain People have not a strong sense of history. Even personal traditions are vague. “My foreparents came in through Hurricane Gap, date of four (1804). Where did they come from? Hit were Virginia they moved from, but the McKee generation was Irelandish. I reckon they come from ’cross the water. Granny never knowed whar the Carriers come from.” But the history of these people is written into the fabric of America far more indelibly than in their memories. Besides documentary evidence, we have abundant testimony in their family names, their language, their customs, their traditions, their characteristics, and their...

    (pp. None)
  10. CHAPTER FOUR Elizabethan Virtues
    (pp. 65-92)

    IT is perhaps inevitable, but none the less unfortunate, that most of those who write about the Mountain People do not live among them. It is very easy to portray oddities instead of fundamental and vital traits. The outsider naturally notices peculiarities and describes them. These are thereupon taken to be representative, when they may be decidedly exceptional. This does not mean that we should expect everyone to agree with our own observations. It is doubtless true that if a thousand outsiders who had observed Mountain People and Mountain conditions for over a year should be consulted, they might not...

    (pp. None)
  12. CHAPTER FIVE Mountain Speech and Song
    (pp. 95-124)

    THE language of the Mountain People has been much maligned. It is neither careless nor degraded. Its difference from “United States English” does not indicate a corrupt falling away from modern speech, but rather a survival from the speech of an older day.

    There are three aspects of the situation which it were well to distinguish.

    (1) In the Mountains our ears are not assailed by slang. The use of slang, the continual iteration of some pet phrase, usually picked up readymade, to express widely different meanings, tend to impoverish the vocabulary and weaken discrimination in the use of words....

  13. CHAPTER SIX Moonshine and Feuds
    (pp. 127-160)

    “WHY do those Mountaineers make moonshine?” Well, why did your great-great-grandparents make it? They turned their barley and corn into whiskey, their fruit into brandy, and their blackberries into cordial. That was as regular a part of a thrifty housewife’s program as the canning of fruit and vegetables is today. Somewhere along the line between these highly respected ancestors and yourself the practice of making New England rum or Virginia brandy was discontinued as not quite suitable for a deacon or a vestryman. Gradually these other products fell into disfavor also, until within a generation or so even the old...

    (pp. None)
  15. CHAPTER SEVEN The Mountains Go to School
    (pp. 163-188)

    THE education of any community is more dependent than we realize upon facility of transportation and communication. Sparsely settled populations are never able to support good schools. Children from widely scattered families always have a somewhat ragged record of attendance. In pioneer places where sudden emergencies are constantly arising, the larger or more dependable children are frequently kept at home to help in this or that unforeseen need. Then, there is always a tendency on the frontier to measure one’s ability by the practical tasks that confront every dweller there. The qualities necessary for success, or even for survival, are...

    (pp. None)
  17. CHAPTER EIGHT The Religion of a Stalwart People
    (pp. 191-204)

    THE Mountain People are unusually religious. Their religion, it is true, is not very dainty. It is the religion of a stalwart, independent people. If occasionally there is some admixture in it that might disturb refined appetites, let us remember that Cromwell’s Ironsides also had some over-robust, not to say disagreeable, qualities, yet they were unquestionably devout and heroic men. No student of human nature will sneer at the sincere religion of the fierce men who followed Gideon or King David, the psalmist.

    The Mountain man has an inherited conviction of God, a vivid sense of His management of the...

  18. CHAPTER NINE Health and Happiness
    (pp. 207-218)

    “COME right in, Miz Lombard. You ketch’d me this time shore. I’m mightily tore up, and everything ontidy, but I’ll find ye a chair.

    “I been up the holler, sittin’ up all night with Sally Ann’s baby. Hit’s jest a week old.

    “Yes, mighty puny. Atter I’d studied on it consid’able, I ’lowed hit’s head were sprung, so I bound its head with a cloth I tore up.

    “Then I thought maybe hit were liver-growed. You don’t know what that is? Well, you take the child by the right hand and left heel, and make ’em touch behind. Then I...

    (pp. None)
  20. CHAPTER TEN Wealth and Welfare
    (pp. 221-238)

    EVERY Mountain problem, whatever other elements enter into it, is largely a rural problem. Eighty-one per cent of the Mountain People are rural, that is, they live in places with a population of less than one thousand. In Virginia the rural population rises to eighty-three per cent, in Georgia to eighty-five per cent, in North Carolina to eighty-nine per cent, in Kentucky to more than ninety per cent of the total population of the Mountain area of the state. In North Carolina there are in the whole Mountain area only six places with more than one thousand population, in Kentucky...

    (pp. None)
  22. CHAPTER ELEVEN The Challenge
    (pp. 241-260)

    WHATEVER is done for the Mountains should be done at once. The industrial invasion dispossesses the people, breaks down their old standards and usages, and grinds them down into a poverty not only of purse but of living, which their free and leisurely existence heretofore has peculiarly unfitted them to survive. But whatever is done, they must do for themselves; it cannot be done for them; a regrettable number of the two hundred educational enterprises started in the Mountains by earnest and kindly people have failed or have had only fragments of success because the benefactors have, with generous impulses,...