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High Mountains Rising

High Mountains Rising: Appalachia in Time and Place

Richard A. Straw
H. Tyler Blethen
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    High Mountains Rising
    Book Description:

    This collection is the first comprehensive, cohesive volume to unite Appalachian history with its culture. Richard A. Straw and H. Tyler Blethen's High Mountains Rising provides a clear, systematic, and engaging overview of the Appalachian timeline, its people, and the most significant aspects of life in the region. _x000B__x000B_The first half of the fourteen essays deal with historical issues including Native Americans, pioneer settlement, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, industrialization, the Great Depression, migration, and finally, modernization. The remaining essays take a more cultural focus, addressing stereotypes, music, folklife, language, literature, and religion. _x000B__x000B_Bringing together many of the most prestigious scholars in Appalachian studies, this volume has been designed for general and classroom use, and includes suggestions for further reading. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09260-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-6)
    Richard A. Straw

    In 1970, late in my undergraduate career at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, I became involved with a group of students who were interested in learning more about the Appalachian region. Little did I know at that time that I was about to become part of an academic and cultural renaissance that would eventually result in my involvement in producing this introductory collection of essays on the history and culture of Appalachia. There is more than a little irony in how this came about.

    One of our projects was an attempt to add courses on Appalachia to the curriculum because...

  5. 1 Native Americans
    (pp. 7-16)
    C. Clifford Boyd Jr.

    The southern Appalachians of the early historic period (the seventeenth through early eighteenth centuries) were home to the Cherokees, who had a total population of possibly 20,000 at the beginning of this period. The Cherokees occupied settlements along river valleys in five geographically distinct areas. These settlement groups included the Lower Towns in the Piedmont of northeastern Georgia and northwestern South Carolina; the Middle, Valley, and Out Towns in the Blue Ridge of southwestern North Carolina; and the Overhill Towns in the Ridge and Valley province of eastern Tennessee.¹ The Cherokee language was part of the larger Iroquoian language family,...

  6. 2 Pioneer Settlement
    (pp. 17-29)
    H. Tyler Blethen

    Antebellum Appalachia was a land of immigrants. When they entered the region in the mid-sixteenth century, Europeans and Africans were only the most recent arrivals in a land that had first been settled by Native Americans some 10,000 years previously. The Cherokee dominated southern Appalachia in the sixteenth century, but there were also Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Shawnees. Together the population of these complex agricultural societies, in the late Mississippian stage of their development, was 25,000 to 60,000 people. They combined the cultivation of corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, and tobacco with hunting, gathering, and fishing. It was a way of...

  7. 3 Slavery and African Americans in the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 30-45)
    John C. Inscoe

    The life stories of two black men embody much of the African American experience in Appalachia in the nineteenth century. One spent most of his life as a slave; the other was born into slavery but came of age as part of the first generation of Southern blacks to grow up after emancipation. One was as obscure when he died as he was throughout his lifetime; his story we know only because of the detective work of a modern historian working through the meticulous records left by his owners. The other went on to become the most prominent African American...

  8. 4 The Civil War and Reconstruction
    (pp. 46-58)
    Gordon B. McKinney

    The years between 1860 and 1877 were a time of disruption and discord in the Southern mountains. Political, social, and economic life underwent enormous changes, and communities and families were torn asunder by war, the end of slavery, and financial collapse. For a variety of reasons, these events often became the focus of national attention and created the images and interest in Appalachia that would lead to the creation of the Appalachian stereotype. Despite the apparent revolutionary changes in the region during these years, there were also strong threads of continuity.

    As the United States plunged into the controversies that...

  9. 5 Industrialization
    (pp. 59-73)
    Ronald L. Lewis

    The Appalachia created by the late-nineteenth-century local color writers was a “strange land and peculiar people,” as one of them wrote. Their construction emphasized spatial and cultural isolation and presented Appalachia as a remnant of America’s frontier.¹ Whatever its literary merit, this view obscures the reality that industry has always played an important, if not always leading, role in the region’s history. Several historical paradigms seek to explain the industrial transition in Appalachia, but the perspective presented in this chapter is that industrial enterprises, such as coal, salt, timber, iron, and agricultural processing, have long been important to the Appalachian...

  10. 6 The Great Depression
    (pp. 74-87)
    Paul Salstrom

    The 1960s saw the growth of what was called the back-to-the-land movement. One part of that movement involved a group called the School of Living that had started in 1936 during the depths of the Great Depression to help people learn to support themselves from the land. In the 1960s the group was busy setting up rural apprenticeship programs. After leaving the apprenticeships, many of the younger participants bought land in Appalachia, where land prices (as of 1970) still ran as low as $17 an acre. In rural Appalachia, those new “homesteaders” found themselves welcomed by senior citizens who still...

  11. 7 Migration
    (pp. 88-100)
    Phillip J. Obermiller

    This chapter is a study of the streams of individuals and families moving out of the region now known as Appalachia. It does not describe how the area was initially populated by Native Americans, then by Europeans and Africans, because these topics have been examined in other chapters.¹ Our interest here is not in migrants who became Appalachians but in Appalachians who became migrants.

    It is appropriate to focus on Appalachian migration because of the distinctive composition and patterns in the movement of the region’s population. However, this approach does not justify the assumption that Appalachian migration is somehow unique....

  12. 8 Stereotypes
    (pp. 101-113)
    David C. Hsiung

    What images does the wordAppalachiaevoke? Perhaps one sees parallel ridges of steep, densely wooded mountains, narrow valleys, twisting rivers, small cabins surrounded by gardens and a handful of livestock, and generations of thin, bearded men and pale women surrounded by a throng of children. And what are the people like? As this chapter’s title hints, they may appear to be poor, lazy, isolated, violent, illiterate, and hard-drinking but perhaps also as having common sense, the spirit of individualism, a strong sense of loyalty, and a deep knowledge of their environment.

    Such images come from the countless references to...

  13. 9 Music
    (pp. 114-134)
    Bill C. Malone

    “Carry me back to the mountains, back to my home sweet home.” Roy Acuff, “the Smoky Mountain Boy,” sang those lines often as his theme song on the Grand Ole Opry. Like many of the songs about the Southern mountains, this one was written by a northerner, Carson Robison, one of the pioneers of commercial hillbilly music. Acuff used the song as an affectionate recollection of his home in the Tennessee hills near Knoxville. For Robison and the rest of us, “Carry Me Back to the Mountains” conjures up an almost mythical place and a special kind of music.


  14. 10 Folklife
    (pp. 135-146)
    Michael Ann Williams

    Folklore is the study of artistic and expressive behavior in everyday life. Folklorists often focus on the aspects of artistic expression that are passed on orally or learned by example in informal situations, things that most people label as “traditional.” However, folklorists realize that new traditions constantly emerge in our lives, and something does not need to be old to be folklore. The concept of “folklife” expanded traditional folklore studies beyond verbal and musical traditions to study the wide range of material and spiritual, as well as oral, expressions.

    Folklorists study a variety of cultural groups, based, for example, on...

  15. 11 English Language
    (pp. 147-164)
    Michael Montgomery

    Because language is inseparable from human experience and interaction and because it reflects the complexity of human life, there are many ways of looking at the English language in Appalachia. These perspectives help us understand the history and nature of mountain speech, its forms and functions, and perceptions and ideas about it that have been prevalent for decades and remain embedded in the American mind. John C. Campbell’s famous observation of eighty years ago that Appalachia was “a land . . . about which, perhaps, more things are known that are not true than of any part of our country”...

  16. 12 Literature
    (pp. 165-178)
    Ted Olson

    In a 1977 article surveying Appalachian literature through the 1970s, scholar and author Jim Wayne Miller illuminated a dilemma inherent in interpreting the literary heritage of Appalachia, a dilemma that has challenged scholars since the early 1960s, when initial attempts were made to assess the existence of a distinctively “Appalachian” literary canon distinguishable from the literature of the American South. Should the main focus of Appalachian literary study be on the works themselves (that is, should we analyze creative writings from the region or by regional authors primarily to discern their qualities as literary works)? Or might Appalachian literature also...

  17. 13 Religion
    (pp. 179-196)
    Deborah Vansau McCauley

    Religion in Appalachia is as diverse as the landscape it encompasses. In the region’s cities and county seats one can find followers of most any faith practiced in the United States, from American Baptist to Bahai to Antiochian Orthodox to Zen Buddhist, with at least a bit of every flavor in between. Yet Appalachia has been targeted by most mainline Christian denominations as home mission territory, primarily in the expanses of its rural areas, where its people have been deemed largely “unchurched.” That is because Appalachia is also characterized by a distinctive, regionally specific religious tradition to which its “unchurched”...

  18. 14 Modernization, 1940–2000
    (pp. 197-220)
    Ronald D Eller

    World War II marked an important watershed for Appalachia. The outbreak of fighting in Europe temporarily eased the distress of many mountain families left struggling by the collapse of the industrial era a decade before. As early as 1938, coal production began to recover slowly as operators reorganized their mines in anticipation of wartime markets. With the entry of the United States into the conflict itself, demand for mountain labor and natural resources rose once again. The expansion of war industries stimulated interest in Appalachian coal and timber, and the new aircraft plants, steel mills, ordinance factories, and uniform manufacturers...

    (pp. 221-230)
    (pp. 231-234)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 235-240)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-241)