Feuding in Appalachia

 

This article is called “Feuding in Appalachia” and gives an overview of the progression and formation of a stereotype in Appalachia.  “Modern American images of feuding are defined by the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s; that is, we assume feudists to come from a specific class- the uneducated, rural poor- and to inhabit a specific place- the mountains of southern Appalachia.”  Before Hatfield-McCoy’s, feuding was thought to occur only between the upper class and “respectable” middle class citizens.  After the Hatfield McCoy feud, negative stereotypes began to form.  Later, there was a shift and multiple feuds began to break out in Kentucky.  The newspapers, specifically the New York Times and The Courier, had a huge guiding hand to the development of American views during this time.  The headlines of the New York Times began to shift views from “southern violence” to “Kentucky violence”.  They reported that this violence breaking out was due to their political problems and racial issues.  As time went on, the stereotype began to really take form.  In 1885, mountaineers living in poverty began to be picked out as the center of “family feuding”.  After two murders in tow Appalachian countries Bell and Harlan, Kentucky, for the first time, was accused of “producing” individuals who had “defective character traits”.  This is a completely unsupported claim, mainly because violence is everywhere, but because the newspaper was reporting it in a certain area, that’s where everyone thought violence was.  The Times essentially shaped the present day stereotype about Appalachians.  In an article, they said Appalachian mountaineers are more “savage, degraded, and lawless then other Americans”.  The Courier that was not as judgmental towards Appalachians said that they just needed to have a better legal system and economic system.  Later, The Courier changed their opinion, and said Appalachian mountaineers were savages and needed to establish a church and become more “civilized”.  A story written by John Fox had the largest impact of American views on southern Appalachians.  His story portrayed Appalachian people as murderous savages that lived in extreme poverty.  In this story, Fox essentially dehumanized them and separated them from the rest of the culture.  All of these negative stereotypes of Appalachians seem to be built solely on over exaggerations and stretches of the truth.  The newspapers, stories, politicians, etc. during this time period all focused on the negativity of Appalachia.  When everything you see in the media discusses one opinion with no other views, most of society will adopt the same views without knowing the full story.

Pudup, M. B., Billings, D. B., & Waller, A. L. (1995). Appalachia in the making: The mountain South in the nineteenth century. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

 

Ghosts, Boundaries, and Names

This reading is called “Ghosts, Boundaries, and Names” by John Alexander Williams.  It is about the boundaries of Appalachia and surrounding areas, how they formed, and how they have changed over time.  “…studies of the folk arts or folk artists have concluded that Appalachia is home to a distinctive and important regional variant of American culture.”  This article gives information and multiple examples of how Appalachia has helped influence and form American culture.  At first, the only real distinct landmarks were highways, such as I-81.  I-81 connected the Caroline Piedmont, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, and some of Mississippi.  Other less distinct paths such as the Carolina Road allowed people to travel and move around Appalachia.

I-77 was later built, allowing immigrants to expand and explore further.  Max Meadows is right off an I-77 exit and is known as “one of the oldest landmarks” in this area.  The Max Meadows land has fertile soil for farming, large forests, and “ridge-and-valley” provinces that is well known to Appalachia today.  The log house that resides in Max Meadows is said to be “the most enduring symbol of Appalachia” because it shows how important the travelers work and determination to make a life, in addition to the abundant forests, was to the development of Appalachia.

In the areas that are now Appalachia, people were known as “mountain people”, making things for themselves, using their natural resources, and living off the land.  I believe this is a huge characteristic of Appalachia today.  As Appalachia began to take form, it became a huge mining region, causing wealthy companies to buy out the land, and force the Natives living there to leave.  In many instances, the Native Americans claimed hunting lands and refused to let the Europeans settle there, sometimes leading to bloody battles over the land.  Many natives to Appalachian land got moved and forgotten, while white settlers gained all the money and power.

Particularly in my hometown, there are not a whole lot of “ghost” boundaries.  I live in a very well developed town without much open land.  The land that is left, is mostly being developed.  I see the prominence of ghost boundaries in my hometown mostly with small forested areas that have been “claimed” by developers who may want to build on the land.

A big issue addressed in this article is that Appalachia has no real “agreed-upon boundaries”.  This makes it difficult for historians to attempt to look at Appalachia as one region.  Most people agree that the word “Appalachia” usually means in the mountains or highlands, even though a huge part of it goes right through the Great Valley.  Eventually, parts of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina were established as Appalachian territory.  While the boundaries and even pronunciation of Appalachia varies all over the country, it is agreed upon that Appalachia represents a very important cultural aspect of America.

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“What City Do You Consider to Be the Capital of Appalachia? (commute To, Metro) – General U.S. – Page 3 – City-Data Forum.” What City Do You Consider to Be the Capital of Appalachia? (commute To, Metro) – General U.S. – Page 3 – City-Data Forum. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.

Williams, John A. Ghost, Names, and Boundaries. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

The Cherokee

“Though the civilization program had only limited success among most tribes, reformers delighted in chronicling Cherokee progress toward the normative standards of white society.” This quote emphasizes how narrow minded the “white society” was.  They did not realize that just because the Cherokees lived differently, didn’t make them out of the norm or savage.  The two articles are named “Cherokee Accommodation and Persistence in the Southern Appalachians” and “Appalachia in Time and Place”.  The Cherokee Indians previously lived in multiple areas such as Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  These Natives had a very traditional way of life, hunting, fishing, growing crops, making tools, and constructing villages for survival.  They did not have a single government that they were ruled by, instead they had chiefs and people of “higher power” that were recognized and respected in the tribe.  Eventually, white people came to where the Cherokee resided and tried to teach them their ways.  The white government tried to come and change everything about the Cherokee culture to reflect a more American way of life.  Traditionally, women in the Cherokee tribe worked the fields and provided much manual labor for the families.  Due to the ‘Cult of True Womanhood” women were encouraged to give up their previous ways and become more domesticated, restricted to doing cooking, cleaning, and sewing.  In addition to converting the Cherokees to a more patrilineal focused culture, the government aimed to convert all natives to their Christian ways.  They believed that the only way to control or “civilize” natives.  This was a problem for many of the Cherokees because their religion was based on the belief that animals, plants, bodies of water, and other objects contained a soul, and therefor were worshiped.  This is extremely different from Christian beliefs.  The Cherokees were forced to move from their villages, even though they had treaties saying they had rights to the land, and had to convert from small villages to widespread log cabins.  Before long, the Cherokees had completely transformed from their traditional ways to a mix of tradition and American ways.  They adopted a written constitution and had “Elites” that essentially ruled over the people.  Once the colonial period hit, the Cherokees were essentially dependent on English trade goods.  Even though the Cherokee adopted all these foreign ways, they were never fully accepted in society.  In some states, they were not even recognized at citizens and were still considered savages.  I think this is a very good example of how corrupt and non-accepting people/governments can be.  People assumed just because the Cherokees did not live their lives exactly the same as them, they were “uncivilized” or “savage”.  Clearly, this is not true as the Cherokee Indians had a very effective system of living and survived quite well.  I believe that by changing their culture, they took away the tradition and uniqueness of the society as a whole.  Once the Americans had “infiltrated” their community, aspects of their lives changed forever.

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IMAGES, WEEK 7. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from http://www.irwinator.com/126/wk7.htm

Pudup, Mary Beth., Dwight B. Billings, Altina L. Waller, and John L. Finger. Appalachia in the Making: The Mountain South in the Nineteenth Century. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 1995. Print.