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Pre-industrial Appalachia. Agriculture A number of new grasses were introduced into the region by European settlers. Timothy is named for Timothy Hanson,

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Presentation on theme: "Pre-industrial Appalachia. Agriculture A number of new grasses were introduced into the region by European settlers. Timothy is named for Timothy Hanson,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Pre-industrial Appalachia

2 Agriculture A number of new grasses were introduced into the region by European settlers. Timothy is named for Timothy Hanson, who distributed it in Virginia and North Carolina prior to the Revolutionary War. Red and white clover and orchard grass are also non-native.

3 “Weeds” introduced by Europeans include winter cress, yellow rocket, prickly lettuce, English plantin, bitter cress, Queen Anne’s lace, common yarrow, field pennycress, common chickweed, shepherd’s purse, bitter nightshade, henbit, wild garlic. Flowers introduced include star-of Bethlehem, multiflora rose, dandelion, oxeye daisy, wisteria, bouncing Bet, violets, butter- and-eggs, daylily.

4 The honey bee, another European introduction, was called English flies by the natives. A near subsistence agriculture was practiced in the mountain region. Surpluses could be traded in the towns, and livestock could be driven to markets. Meat could be preserved and transported by river.

5 Weise notes one hog drive by James Layne of Floyd Co. KY. In 1842 Layne drove 225 hogs from Floyd Co. to Lynchburg VA. For his hogs he received $1,029. Layne was one of the wealthier Floyd Countians. He owned a gristmill, a general store, and 19 slaves.

6 Prior to industrialization, population was sparse. Valley land had already been claimed by the colonial aristocracy. Settlement takes place in the narrower valleys, coves, and finally hollows.

7 TABLE ONE Population, by River and County., River/County18501880190019101920 Levisa Fork Johnson3,8739,15513,73017,48219,622 Floyd5,71410,17615,55218,62327,427 Pike5,36513,00122,68631,69749,477 Tug Fork Martin-3,0575,7807,2917,654 Kentucky River Leslie 3,7406,7538,97610,097 Perry3,0925,6078,27611,25526,042 Letcher2,5126,6019,17210,62324,467 Kentucky /Levisa Knott- 8,70410,79111,655 Cumberland River Bell-6,05515,70128,44733,988 Harlan4,2685,2789,83810,56631,546 Source: US. Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Note: Counties are listed under the river that runs through them. Part of Pike County is on the Tug Fork, but the majority of its land and population is on the Levisa. Weise, Grasping at Independence

8 The case of Floyd Co. KY is probably typical. “By measurements of population, land occupation, and farm acreage, Floyd County had become by 1860 essentially settled and established. “Migrants into Floyd County, whether they squatted on unoccupied land or attempted to obtain legal title, entered a region covered by a maze of conflicting and overlapping land claims. Between 1816 and 1835, the State Land Office in Frankfort controlled the dispensation of vacant land.

9 “Anyone wanting to claim a piece of property had to secure from the office a warrant, which allowed him to locate and survey a certain number of acres. The claimant then had to return a record of the survey to the land office, which, within about six months, issued a land patent conferring official title. Most likely, groups of warrant holders would hire one person to enter all their surveys at one time. In 1835, the state legislature transferred to the counties responsibility over land distribution within their boundaries, making the process much easier for settlers who did not want to make the long trip to Frankfort.

10 “Often the warrants issued by the Land Office overlapped earlier grants, some given by Virginia before Kentucky became a state in 1792 and some given by Kentucky before it reorganized its land distribution system in 1815. A few of the Virginia warrants embraced hundreds of thousands of acres, but most ranged from two thousand to thirty thousand acres. Unfortunately, the manner in which Virginia parceled out land was, as one historian has observed, "notorious for its wasteful inefficiency," causing the state to issue grants far exceeding the amount of land actually available.

11 “Kentucky's method after 1792 was no better. By 1800, Kentucky and Virginia together had issued grants to almost four million acres on the Big Sandy, about twice as much land as actually lay within the Big Sandy watershed. The Virginia grantees and descendants rarely settled or even surveyed their holdings, and they did not defend their titles in suits filed by settlers, who could claim title after fifteen years of occupancy and paying taxes. Consequently, the Kentucky Land Office and the counties disregarded Virginia grants and reissued patents for the same land, resulting in a mass confusion of land titles and contradictory claims that caused no end of headaches for those who professed themselves to be legal property owners.” (Weise 28)

12 Class There is a view of pre-industrial Appalachia as a Jeffersonian ideal: independent people with strong family values, egalitarian but committed to helping one another in time of need.

13 As late as 1982, Eller writes: “The absense of highly structured communities and formal social institutions contributed to the evolution of a comparatively open and democratic social order in the mountains. Not until late in the nineteenth century did significant economic differences begin to create conscious class distinctions among mountain residents. Unlike the rest of the South, where the emergence of commercial agriculture spawned a highly stratified social system based on black slavery (and later on tenancy and sharecropping), the self-sufficient, family-based economy of the southern moutains served to inhibit the growth of a rigid social hierarchy.”(9)

14 Both Billings & Blee and Weise have shown that class structure was indeed present, and affected educational opportunities, marriage, and access to power. Industrialization will widen the gap between haves and have-nots, but it is not the sole source.

15 “Whiteness” also becomes significant in pre- industrial Appalachia. While many NC and GA Native Americans became prosperous, even slave owning, farmers, removal proved success could be quite temporary. Scholars are just learning to “read” for race beyond the black/white distinction. The following passage from James Brown’s Beech Creek shows what we need to look for.

16 “Until 1899, when the Carters moven en masse onto Flat Rock Fork, people in the Laurel and Beech neighborhoods had few personal relationships with the Carters… Undoubtedly, however, the Carters’ reputations were known. The Carters were viewed as savages, and many people accounted for their actions by noting that Dick Carter’s wife was supposed to have been a full-blooded Indian. As one old man said, ‘They’s connected with Indians and had sort of a wild attitude. I saw one of the old women—Vicie Carter [wife of Dick Carter]. She’s mighty Indian-looking, about seven feet high and dark- skinned too… They’s want to hunt and fish of the summer.” Another old man recalls: ‘They had preculiar ways. They lived more like Indians than anything else I can think of. Never did have nothing. Lived hand to mouth. All I ever knowed did.’” (19)

17 “Carter” is a pseudonym. Dwight Billings has told me the real family name. It is a common Eastern KY name, and one that has been identified as “melungeon.”

18 Religion Williams discusses the tremendous role played by Francis Asbury in the spread of Methodism. Methodism represents a break within the Anglican church over the form of worship and predistinarianism. John Wesley was strongly influence by the Dutch theologian, Jacob Arminius.

19 Arminius held, contrary to Calvin, that man had free will, that salvation was open to all, and that God’s grace was resistible. Herein is the theological justification of evangelical Christianity. Evangelical Christianity, on the frontier, takes the form of the camp meeting.

20 One of the most noteworthy was the Cane Ridge Revival in Bourbon Co. KY.

21 Cane Ridge Meeting House


23 Racoon John Smith (1784-1868)

24 John Smith was born in Sullivan Co. TN of a German father and Irish mother. He was raised regular Baptist of the strictest order. Barton W. Stone was a Presbyterian, educated in North Carolina, minister at Cane Ridge, who declared “The Last Will and Testament of the Cane Ridge Presbytery.” Thomas and Alexander Campbell were West Virginians. All sought the “restoration” of the New Testament Church.



27 The Primitive Baptists have their origin in a reaction to the “New Light” emergence of evangelism and missions. Since God, before the beginning of the world, had already chosen the elect, then it was only arrogance that led others to presume they could save souls. Thus the Primitive or “hard shell” Baptists opposed mission, evangelism, Sunday Schools, revivals, etc.

28 Primitives are conservative on other issues as well, including segregation of the sexes during worship, the exclusion of women from preaching and other ministerial activities, an educated and professional clergy, and often strict dress codes. Old Regular Baptists, like the Primitives, reject missions. They hold, however, to “election by grace” rather than to “particular election.” Individuals may seek grace, but God elects who receives it.

29 Old Regulars may be much more exuberant in their worship. In both traditions, people tend to join later in life than in most fellowships. People may attend for many years before joining the fellowship. While Regular Baptists hold to particular election, they nevertheless may have revivals, engage in evangelism, and even have “Sabbath Schools.”

30 All three of the above have preserved an unique style of singing. Hymns are lined, and instruments are not used. Free Will Baptists, with roots in Wales, are Armenian, as the name implies. They tend to accept more modernism than others. Missionary Baptists are highly evangelistic. While some congregations reject “modernism,” others are even associated with the Southern Baptists.

31 Among all these groups, closed communion is nearly universal. Adult baptism is the rule, though the more liberal judge the age of consent to be early teens. The ministry is reserved to males. Footwashing is a common practice.

32 The Pentecostal-Holiness movement also has roots in the Wesleyan revivalism of the frontier. As a distinct movement, however, it is 20 th century.

33 Its 1908 statement includes: We believe the pentecostal baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire is obtainable by a definite act of appropriating faith on the part of the fully cleansed believer, and the initial evidence of the reception of this experience is speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance (Luke 11:13; Acts 1:5; 2:1-4; 8:17; 10:44-46; 19:6).

34 An anomaly within that movement is the handling of snakes during the worship service.

35 Most sources say it began in the Church of God, Cleveland TN. However, John Fox Jr. recorded observing snake handling in GA in the 1890s. At least one 18 th century traveler observed natives handling snakes.

36 Patriarchy What Billings and Blee (13) call “Appalachia’s patriarchal moral economy, an agricultural system that featured subsistence farming, kinship cooperation, and various strategies of survival”

37 and Weise (56) calls “household localism,” come to dominance in pre-industrial Appalachia. Religion, particularly in its Baptist manifestations, enforce patriarchy.

38 English, and then American, property law contribute mightily to patriarchy. Married women are either not allowed to have property in their name at all, or are prevented from conveying property without the consent of the husband. WVA does not reform its law until 1931.

39 As late as the 1890s married women in Kentucky could not make wills, be the guardian of their children, receive wages earned, or own or inherit property. See Josephine Henry, 1889Josephine Henry, 1889 Tennessee’s Married Women’s Emancipation Act was passed in 1913.

40 Thus one avenue open to men for obtaining property was to marry a woman who had property or who might inherit property. But for the women, marriage meant the loss, or at least loss of control, or property. Controlling property was a means of controlling the extended family where land is the only means of living.

41 Debt A small merchant class developed in the towns, supplying the rural community with basic commodities and perhaps some luxury good. Members of this class, as well as the few professionals, doctors and lawyers, also speculated in land.

42 Appalachia, indeed most of rural America, was cash poor. There simply was not enough currency in circulation. Much of the exchange was made by circulating IOUs or by “keeping it on the book.”

43 When there was an economic downturn, these debts would be called in. Those who could not pay would lose their land, often at county auction. This pattern where periodically the big fish would get to eat the little fish repeats itself continuously in rural America, from Daniel Boone to Willy Nelson.

44 “…by 1804, several entrepreneurs including Hugh White were employing slave labor to manufacture salt on Goose Grek, a tributary of the Kentucky River, where they operated thriving mercantile businesses as well. According to his carefully kept ledger, Hugh White extended credit to ninety-five accounts for goods worth more than ƒ2,922 (the equivalent of nearly $10,000) in 1806…” (Billings & Blee, 28)


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