In A Nutshell

The two-year grant project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to processthe backlog of the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection was successfully completed last month. Running from September 2012 to November 2014, the grant provided funding for a full-time processing assistant and for the purchase of archival supplies. The processing was completed by Project Archives Assistant Trevor McKenzie (the grant-funded position) and Processing Assistant Anita Elliott under the direction of Processing Archivist Cynthia Harbeson, who served as project manager.

As a result of this project, a total of 1,917.14 linear feet of previously unprocessed, and therefore inaccessible, materials were processed. This total was 707.14 linear feet (or 58%) more than the 1,210 linear feet outlined in the grant proposal. The project also resulted in the creation of 456 new finding aids (or guides to the collections) and the revision and enhancement of finding aids for an additional 75 selected collections. These finding aids are all online and searchable through our Special Collections website. The collections themselves are available for use in the Dougherty Reading Room, located on the 4th floor in Special Collections.

The image seen here is from AC.806: Charles Town (West Virginia) in a Nutshell, 1900. It was one of the collections processed through the grant project. Text by Cyndi Harbeson.

The Two [West] Virginias

From the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, the State of Virginia existed as two separate entities: the Confederate allied government in Richmond and the Union allied government in Wheeling. Following the Second Wheeling Convention in July 1863, the 48 northwestern counties of the Old Dominion formed the State of West Virginia. Despite this political shift, new lines drawn on the map changed little of the personal loyalties which existed from township to township, household to household. Above is a roll of West Virginians who continued to serve the Confederate cause despite the fact that their homes were once again within the borders of the United States. 

Many of the soldiers listed on this Roll of Honor died on familiar soil in the vicinities of White Sulphur Springs, Scary, and Guyandotte. The latter locale was the only town on the Ohio River to vote for secession and formed a strong opposition to their Union neighbors in the community of Ceredo. Unionists within the state rejoiced when Guyandotte was captured by Federal troops and razed to the ground. One reporter for the Wheeling Intelligencer remarked, "It ought to have been burned two or three years ago." A century and a half later, Guyandotte and Ceredo are practically united by the expansion of the City of Huntington, which now covers the ground once fought for by neighbors with different visions of the same home.

Image from AC.892: Roll of Honor of West Virginia Soldiers Who Fought for the Lost Cause, 1883.

Old Seldom and Doubly Dear

Dr. Fred Delp was a dentist and illustrator from Rural Retreat, Virginia. Delp and his wife, Dorothy, used the medium of charcoal to preserve and create scenes of country and small town life, childhood, and fables. His works were featured in A Bit O' Sunshine, a book of poetry by hardware salesman and fellow Rural Retreatian James McChensey Prickett. The collection contains originals of Delp's charcoal sketches used in Prickett's book as well as several other original pieces.

Images from A Bit O' Sunshine by James McChesney Prickett (1928). AC.897: Fred Delp Artwork contains matted originals of Delp's charcoal sketches. "Rural Retreatians" is a correct term in common use and known by this author, who is a native Rural Retreatian. 

You Can't Go Home Again (At least not with these matches. . .)

Matchbox advertising the Braden-Hatchett Thomas Wolfe Collection found in AC.1098: John Idol, Jr. Papers. Originally located in Memphis, Tennessee, the collection was gifted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by William Hatchett and Eva Braden Hatchett.  The collection contains personal and professional correspondence and financial papers from the desk of novelist Thomas Wolfe as well as an extensive clippings file of articles on Wolfe and his works. For more on the collection, now housed at Wilson Library, Chapel Hill, click here.

Muncey Gaultney

Muncey Vance Gaultney was a fiddler, writer, and all around character from Ashe County, North Carolina. Born into the Healing Springs community in July 1906, Gaultney gravitated toward music at an early age and first learned to fiddle from his grandmother. He patterned his style after local fiddling legend G. B. Grayson and played a number of rarely heard tunes such as "The Walls of Jericho" and "Chicken in the Bread Tray." Alongside his musical abilties, Gaultney worked hauling and selling furniture and shrubbery, but eventually moved in to dealing antiques. An avid reader, he took courses in music and science at Appalachian State and wrote his own songs and poetry. In his later years Gaultney wrote regularly for The Plow [see collection AC.877: The Plow (Periodical) Collection], a magazine dedicated to mountain life in southwest Virginia and western North Carolina. Here are some samples from his column, entitled "Memories of Ashe County":

When I was a young 'un I had to hoe corn, plant beans, mow grass with a scythe, and I would wish for it to rain so I wouldn't have to work. But after I grew up, I found out that work was the thing I needed to know. Pitching horshoes and fooling around with a fiddle or banjo didn't make nothing to last or buy any clothing. Now I am getting along in years, I like to recall this and live a little in the past. [from The Plow, August 19-31, 1977.]

Well, the old sage said, man will grow weaker and wiser. That's true to some extent, but I have to say I haven't gotten any wiser, just weaker...

Today, I would like to talk about Uncle Emmit Long, a former resident of Healing Springs in Ashe County. He was a man of many talents, a shoemaker, hunter and trapper, a good fisherman, and a good clawhammer banjo player. He was also a good neigbor who spent many hours at my old home. He would spend the night and talk about the old days. He told what he called "hant tales." There were some good ones, and when I was young I would be afraid to go to bed after hearing them. He was an interesting talker. He wore a mustache and I never saw him in a dress suit. It was always overalls. His byword was, "By gum."....

The old song of the 1920's comes to mind... "Be kind to a man when he's down"... Sometimes it is difficult to do so, but no matter what type of person he is, God gave him or her His own likeness, so be kind to your neighbor and do good to those who spitefully use you. Bye now, keep plowin', "Gee, Buck, let's go to barn!"

-M. V. Gaultney, Jefferson, NC [from The Plow, October 14-31, 1977]

Images from AC.1097: Jefferson Post Records. To hear a clip of Muncey Gaultney speaking and fiddling "Uncloudy Day", click here.

Carl Ross Papers

Carl Augustus Ross, Jr. (1931-1988) was born in Spring Place, Georgia to Carl and Rosa Smith Ross. Ross received his Ph.D. from University of Georgia in and worked as a History professor at Appalachian State University from 1966 to 1988. He acted as the director of the Center for Appalachian Studies from 1984 to 1988 and taught classes in Appalachian History.

The Carl Ross Papers is a collection of Dr. Carl Ross' academic research and students papers, predominantly from his classes on Appalachian Culture and History. The collection includes a large body of student papers and bibliographies collected from Ross' Appalachian History students, along with a few reports on non-Appalachian subjects. Materials on the Brinegar Cabin, located on the Blue Ridge parkway, include ephemera, blueprints, and transcribed interviews. Academic files include course materials as well as paperwork related to Dr. Ross' position as Director of the Center for Appalachian Studies. Civil War materials include information on Civil War historic sites and living history programs, particularly the reenactment organized by Dr. Ross at Camp Broadstone. Also included are ephemera and notes related to events, lectures, and conferences and Dr. Ross' correspondence and personal files. Research materials are primarily related to the Appalachian Region and include the letters of the Kimbrough Family, 1866-1887, along with a photocopied diary of a Confederate soldier, J. W. Dugger. Photographs include Ross family photographs, historic images of Watauga County, Civil War reenactment pictures, photograph of convicted murderer Lloyd Frazier, and photographs from student papers. Oral history audiocassettes from Ross' student focus on western North Carolina and East Tennessee.

Image from a student paper on "Feuds and Violence in Southern Appalachia" in AC.193: Carl Ross Papers, 1866-1989, undated.

Snapshot: The Birchfields of Roan Mountain

Bill Birchfield (top) and his father, Joe Birchfield (bottom), members of one of the preeminent families in the history of Appalachian string band music. You can watch footage of them playing the old Tennessee fiddle tune "Rattletrap" here. To learn more about the history of the Birchfields and their band, the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, you can visit their webpage.

Photograph of Bill Birchfield from AC.877: The Plow Collection. Photograph of Joe Birchfield from AC.850: Jack Jeffers Photography Collection.

Modest Lamplighter

The continued story of Appalachia remains firmly connected to the history of the growth and evolution of rural America. From generation to generation, farmers within the region have balanced the growing and raising of crops and livestock for their own subsistence with a strong involvement in the wider sphere of commercial agriculture. One of the most engaging examples of the constant link between heritage and economics is represented in the breeding of cattle. Just as familial ties and last names are important in the daily commercial interactions of many Appalachian communities, the knowledge and recordkeeping concerned with tracing bloodlines of cattle still allows for the same sort of ordination and nominal weight at auctions and markets throughout the region. 

Sharing relatively the same geographical origins of many of the earliest mountain settlers, Hereford cattle first emerged as a distinct breed around the vicinity of Herefordshire, England sometime around the 17th Century. Characterized for their bulky build, red body, and white face, the breed became further solidified in its attributes during Britain's Industrial Revolution as farmers selectively bred cattle for higher beef yield to export and feed the growing non-farm workforce. Although three Herefords were brought to Kentucky by Henry Clay in 1817, the breed truly became seated on the continent with the herd developed by William Sotham and Erastus Corning of Albany, New York in the 1840s. The "Jr. Modest Lamplighter 4" pictured above is an example of one of the prime Hereford lines proliferated across America. A 1949 edition of The Polled Hereford World names descendants of the Lamplighter pedigree on farms in the vicinties of Lewisburg and Washburn, West Virginia.

Image from AC.876: Paul Weston Photographs, 1966. For anyone interested in finding out more on the early history of Herefords and the society who produced them see James MacDonald and James Sinclair's "History of Hereford Cattle" (1886).