Questions of class and gender in Appalachia have, in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and the runaway success of Hillbilly Elegy, moved to the forefront of national conversations about politics and culture. From Todd Snyder, a first generation college student turned college professor, comes a passionate commentary on these themes in a family memoir set in West Virginia coal country.
12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym is the story of the author’s father, Mike “Lo” Snyder, a fifth generation West Virginia coal miner who opened a series of makeshift boxing gyms with the goal of providing local at-risk youth with the opportunities that eluded his adolescence. Taking these hardscrabble stories as his starting point, Snyder interweaves a history of the region, offering a smart analysis of the costs—both financial and cultural—of an economy built around extractive industries.
Part love letter to Appalachia, part rigorous social critique, readers may find 12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym—and its narrative of individual and community strength in the face of globalism’s headwinds—a welcome corrective to popular narratives that blame those in the region for their troubles.
In 1990, the New York Times wrote, "Government corruption was not invented in West Virginia. But there are people who contend that West Virginia officials have done more than their share over the years to develop state-of-the-art techniques in vote theft, contract kickbacks, influence peddling and good old-fashioned bribery, extortion, fraud, tax evasion and outright stealing." While investigating such events as the Invest Right scandal, Thomas Stafford, a former journalist for the Charleston Gazette, would find himself in a very precarious position. As a reporter he felt obligated to tell the whole truth, and he believed in the need to serve the public and those West Virginians who were being abused by a political machine.
In Afflicting the Comfortable, Stafford relates such tales of the responsibility of journalism and politics in coordination with scandals that have unsettled the Mountain State over the past few decades. His probing would take him from the halls of Charleston to the center of our nation's ruling elite. Guided by his senses of duty, right, and fairness, he plunged head first into the misdeeds of West Virginia's politicians. His investigations would be the preface to the downfall of a governor and an adminstration that had robbed the state and the citizens of West Virginia for years.
In the first book-length study of Storer College, Dawne Raines Burke tells the story of the historically black institution from its Reconstruction origins to its demise in 1955. Established by Northern Baptists in the abolitionist flashpoint of Harpers Ferry, Storer was the first college open to African Americans in West Virginia, and it played a central role in regional and national history. In addition to educating generations of students of all races, genders, and creeds, Storer served as the second meeting place (and the first on U.S. soil) for the Niagara Movement, a precursor to the NAACP.
An American Phoenix provides a comprehensive and extensively illustrated history of this historically black college, bringing to life not just the institution but many of the individuals who taught or were educated there. It fills a significant gap in our knowledge of African American history and the struggle for rights in West Virginia and the wider world.
• Choice 1988 Outstanding Academic Book
• Named one of the Best Business Books of 1988 by USA Today
A veteran reporter of American labor analyzes the spectacular and tragic collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s. John Hoerr’s account of these events stretches from the industrywide barganing failures of 1982 to the crippling work stoppage at USX (U.S. Steel) in 1986-87. He interviewed scores of steelworkers, company managers at all levels, and union officials, and was present at many of the crucial events he describes. Using historical flashbacks to the origins of the steel industry, particularly in the Monongahela Valley of southwestern Pennsylvania, he shows how an obsolete and adversarial relationship between management and labor made it impossible for the industry to adapt to shattering changes in the global economy.
Named the BEST LGBTQ+ MEMOIR of 2022 by Book Riot
Named a New York Public Library Best Book of 2022
“Commands your attention from the first page to the last word.” —Morgan Jerkins “I’m glad this memoir exists . . . and I’m especially glad it’s so good.” —Vauhini Vara, New York Magazine
When Neema Avashia tells people where she’s from, their response is nearly always a disbelieving “There are Indian people in West Virginia?” A queer Asian American teacher and writer, Avashia fits few Appalachian stereotypes. But the lessons she learned in childhood about race and class, gender and sexuality continue to inform the way she moves through the world today: how she loves, how she teaches, how she advocates, how she struggles.
Another Appalachia examines both the roots and the resonance of Avashia’s identity as a queer desi Appalachian woman, while encouraging readers to envision more complex versions of both Appalachia and the nation as a whole. With lyric and narrative explorations of foodways, religion, sports, standards of beauty, social media, gun culture, and more, Another Appalachia mixes nostalgia and humor, sadness and sweetness, personal reflection and universal questions.
In the early nineteenth century, a ten-mile stretch along the Kanawha River in western Virginia became the largest salt-producing area in the antebellum United States. Production of this basic commodity stimulated settlement, the livestock industry, and the rise of agricultural processing, especially pork packing, in the American West. Salt extraction was then and is now a fundamental industry.
In his illuminating study, now available with a new preface by the author, John Stealey examines the legal basis of this industry, its labor practices, and its marketing and distribution patterns. Through technological innovation, salt producers harnessed coal and steam as well as men and animals, constructed a novel evaporative system, and invented drilling tools later employed in oil and natural gas exploration. Thus in many ways the salt industry was the precursor of the American extractive and chemical industries. Stealey's informative study is an important contribution to American economic, business, labor, and legal history.
In this paperback edition of An Appalachian New Deal: West Virginia in the Great Depression, Jerry Bruce Thomas examines the economic and social conditions of the state of West Virginia before, during, and after the Great Depression. Thomas’s exploration of personal papers by leading political and social figures, newspapers, and the published and unpublished records of federal, state, local, and private agencies, traces a region’s response to an economic depression and a presidential stimulus program. This dissection of federal and state policies implemented under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program reveals the impact of poverty upon political, gender, race, and familial relations within the Mountain State—and the entire country. Through An Appalachian New Deal, Thomas documents the stories of ordinary citizens who survived a period of economic crisis and echoes a message from our nation’s past to a new generation enduring financial hardship and uncertainty.
As the long boom of post-World War II economic expansion spread across the globe, dreams of white picket fences, democratic ideals, and endless opportunities flourished within the United States. Middle America experienced a period of affluent stability built upon a modern age of industrialization. Yet for the people of Appalachia, this new era brought economic, social, and environmental devastation, preventing many from realizing the American Dream. Some families suffered in silence; some joined a mass exodus from the mountains; while others, trapped by unemployment, poverty, illness, and injury became dependent upon welfare. As the one state most completely Appalachian, West Virginia symbolized the region's dilemma, even as it provided much of the labor and natural resources that fueled the nation's prosperity.
An Appalachian Reawakening: West Virginia and the Perils of the New Machine Age, 1945-1972 recounts the difficulties the state of West Virginia faced during the post-World War II period. While documenting this turmoil, this valuable analysis also traces the efforts of the New Frontier and Great Society programs, which stimulated maximum feasible participation and lead to the ultimate rise of grass roots activities and organizations that improved life and labor in the region and undermined the notion of Appalachian fatalism.
This is as closely-knit an anthology as you are ever likely to see. It is as though a large, extended family were drawing on the same store of family stories, jokes, symbols, landscapes, animals, trees, language, and vernacular. How many snakes are in this book? How many foxes, possums? Fossils? And how very many coal mines? But it is not merely local references that unites these writers. There is a larger vision that ties these works together.
"The connection is not so much in mutual influence, though there is some of that, but in each writer’s total immersion in place. Even those writers who no longer live in the state remember the feel, the physical texture, the overwhelming and enfolding vegetal surround of the place." Editor, Irene McKinney
By 1930, Huntington had become West Virginia's largest city. Its booming economy and relatively tolerant racial climate attracted African Americans from across Appalachia and the South. Prosperity gave these migrants political clout and spurred the formation of communities that defined black Huntington--factors that empowered blacks to confront institutionalized and industrial racism on the one hand and the white embrace of Jim Crow on the other. Cicero M. Fain III illuminates the unique cultural identity and dynamic sense of accomplishment and purpose that transformed African American life in Huntington. Using interviews and untapped archival materials, Fain details the rise and consolidation of the black working class as it pursued, then fulfilled, its aspirations. He also reveals how African Americans developed a host of strategies--strong kin and social networks, institutional development, property ownership, and legal challenges--to defend their gains in the face of the white status quo. Eye-opening and eloquent, Black Huntington makes visible another facet of the African American experience in Appalachia.
The Blackwater Chronicle
PHILIP P. KENNEDY West Virginia University Press, 2019 Library of Congress F247.T8K4 2002 | Dewey Decimal 917.5485
West Virginia University English Professor Timothy Sweet edited the second volume in our West Virginia and Appalachia series. The Blackwater Chronicle by Philip Pendleton Kennedy was originally published in 1853, but this wilderness travelogue about the exploration of Canaan Valley has appeal far beyond that time and region. In fact, it was originally published in New York and London, and even in a German edition. This often humorous and always fascinating story, told by Kennedy about the journey he and his colleagues took into yet unexplored territory, will make the reader long for days when there was still wilderness on this continent. It will also be of interest to the outdoorsman and should be viewed as an environmental cautionary tale.
The Book of the Dead
Muriel Rukeyser West Virginia University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3535.U4A6 2018 | Dewey Decimal 811.52
Written in response to the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel disaster of 1931 in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, The Book of the Dead is an important part of West Virginia’s cultural heritage and a powerful account of one of the worst industrial catastrophes in American history. The poems collected here investigate the roots of a tragedy that killed hundreds of workers, most of them African American. They are a rare engagement with the overlap between race and environment in Appalachia.
Published for the first time alongside photographs by Nancy Naumburg, who accompanied Rukeyser to Gauley Bridge in 1936, this edition of The Book of the Dead includes an introduction by Catherine Venable Moore, whose writing on the topic has been anthologized in Best American Essays.
Coal is West Virginia’s bread and butter. For more than a century, West Virginia has answered the energy call of the nation—and the world—by mining and exporting its coal. In 2004, West Virginia’s coal industry provided almost forty thousand jobs directly related to coal, and it contributed $3.5 billion to the state’s gross annual product. And in the same year, West Virginia led the nation in coal exports, shipping over 50 million tons of coal to twenty-three countries. Coal has made millionaires of some and paupers of many. For generations of honest, hard-working West Virginians, coal has put food on tables, built homes, and sent students to college. But coal has also maimed, debilitated, and killed.
Bringing Down the Mountains provides insight into how mountaintop removal has affected the people and the land of southern West Virginia. It examines the mechanization of the mining industry and the power relationships between coal interests, politicians, and the average citizen. Shirley Stewart Burns holds a BS in news-editorial journalism, a master’s degree in social work, and a PhD in history with an Appalachian focus, from West Virginia University. A native of Wyoming County in the southern West Virginia coalfields and the daughter of an underground coal miner, she has a passionate interest in the communities, environment, and histories of the southern West Virginia coalfields. She lives in Charleston, West Virginia.
This innovative curriculum book provides key materials, resources, and tools to help secondary educators prepare their students to be engaged citizens of their community, state, nation and world. Five complete units of instruction, based on West Virginia Content Standards and Objectives, provide meaningful lessons while being mindful of the transition from tangible text to more digital curricula:
•Rights of the Individual
•Freedoms of the Individual
•Responsibilities of the Individual
•Beliefs Concerning Societal Conditions
Additional features of the curriculum include:
•24 lessons that provide specific teaching and learning strategies
•4 culminating activities for enrichment opportunities
•A matrix illustrating the West Virginia Content Standards and Objectives covered
•A matrix illustrating compliance with the National Council for the Social Studies Standards
•A curriculum toolbox that provides over 70 engaging web sites to visit and explore.
A border county in a border state, Barbour County, West Virginia felt the full terror and tragedy of the Civil War. The wounds of the Civil War cut most bitterly in the border states, that strip of America from Maryland to Kansas, where conflicting loyalties and traditions ripped apart communities, institutions, and families. Barbour County, in the mountainous Northwest of (West) Virginia, is a telling microcosm of the deep divisions which both caused the war and were caused by it. By examining and interpreting long-ignored documents of the times and the personal accounts of the people who were there, Clash of Loyalties offers a startling new view of America's most bitter hour. Nearly half of the military-age men in the county served in the armed forces, almost perfectly divided between the Union and the Confederacy. After West Virginia split with Virginia to rejoin the Union, Confederate soldiers from the regions could not safely visit their homes on furlough, or even send letters to their families. The county's two leading political figures, Samuel Woods and Spencer Dayton, became leaders of the fight for and against secession, dissolved their close personal friendship, and never spoke to one another again. The two factions launched campaigns of terror and intimidation, leading to the burning of several homes, the kidnapping of a sheriff, the murder of a pacifist minister, and the self-imposed exile of many of the county's influential families. The conflicting loyalties crossed nearly all social and economic lines; even the county's slave owners were evenly divided between Union and Confederate sympathies. With a meticulous examination of census and military records, geneologies, period newspapers, tax rolls, eyewitness accounts, and other relevant documents, Clash of Loyalties presents a compelling account of the passion and violence which tore apart Barbour County and the nation.
In the mid-1970s, Nancy L. Abrams, a young photojournalist from the Midwest, plunges into life as a small-town reporter in West Virginia. She befriends the hippies on the commune one mountaintop over, rents a cabin in beautiful Salt Lick Valley, and falls in love with a local boy, wrestling to balance the demands of a job and a personal life. She learns how to survive in Appalachia—how to heat with coal and wood, how to chop kindling, plant a garden, and preserve produce.
The Climb from Salt Lick is the remarkable memoir of an outsider coming into adulthood. It is the story of a unique place and its people from the perspective of a woman who documents its burdens and its beauty, using words and pictures to tell the rich stories of those around her.
The stories of vibrant eastern European Jewish communities in the Appalachian coalfields
Coalfield Jews explores the intersection of two simultaneous historic events: central Appalachia’s transformative coal boom (1880s-1920), and the mass migration of eastern European Jews to America. Traveling to southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southwestern Virginia to investigate the coal boom’s opportunities, some Jewish immigrants found success as retailers and established numerous small but flourishing Jewish communities.
Deborah R. Weiner’s Coalfield Jews provides the first extended study of Jews in Appalachia, exploring where they settled, how they made their place within a surprisingly receptive dominant culture, how they competed with coal company stores, interacted with their non-Jewish neighbors, and maintained a strong Jewish identity deep in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. To tell this story, Weiner draws on a wide range of primary sources in social, cultural, religious, labor, economic, and regional history. She also includes moving personal statements, from oral histories as well as archival sources, to create a holistic portrayal of Jewish life that will challenge commonly held views of Appalachia as well as the American Jewish experience.
Early Art and Artists in West Virginia is copiously illustrated with 136 plates accompanying the essays on portraiture and landscape painting, which form the first half of the book. A similar number of smaller illustrations in full color bring life to a biographical directory in the second part of the book, which contains nearly one thousand known painters who worked in West Virginia. Many West Virginians will find their family names in this directory, and some will doubtless locate the information here that they have long sought in order to learn more about a painting in their family's possession. The book is supported by an extensive bibliography on the state's artistic heritage and a full index to both the directory and the essays.
The sixty-three fiction writers and poets within this anthology delve deep into the many senses of place that modern West Virginia, the core of Appalachia, inspires.
Throughout this collection, we see profound wonder, questioning, and conflicts involving family, sexual identity, class, discrimination, environmental beauty, and peril, and all the sorts of rebellion, error, contemplation, and contentment that an intrepid soul can devise. These stories and poems, all published within the last fifteen years, are grounded in what it means to live in and identify with a complex place.
With a mix of established writers like Jayne Anne Phillips, Norman Jordan, Ann Pancake, Maggie Anderson, and Denise Giardina and fresh voices like Matthew Neill Null, Ida Stewart, Rajia Hassib, and Scott McClanahan, this collection breaks open new visions of all-American landscapes of the heart. By turns rowdy and contemplative, hilarious and bleak, and lyrical and gritty, it is a collage of extraordinary literary visions.
One of the first new interpretations of West Virginia’s origins in over a century—and one that corrects previous histories’ tendency to minimize support for slavery in the state’s founding.
Every history of West Virginia’s creation in 1863 explains the event in similar ways: at the start of the Civil War, political, social, cultural, and economic differences with eastern Virginia motivated the northwestern counties to resist secession from the Union and seek their independence from the rest of the state. In The Fifth Border State, Scott A. MacKenzie offers the first new interpretation of the topic in over a century—one that corrects earlier histories’ tendency to minimize support for slavery in the state’s founding.
Employing previously unused sources and reexamining existing ones, MacKenzie argues that West Virginia experienced the Civil War in the same ways as the border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware. Like these northernmost slave states, northwestern Virginia supported the institution of slavery out of proportion to the actual presence of enslavement there. The people who became West Virginians built a new state first to protect slavery, but radical Unionists and escaping slaves forced emancipation on the statehood movement. MacKenzie shows how conservatives and radicals clashed over Black freedom, correcting many myths about West Virginia’s origins and making The Fifth Border State an important addition to the literature in Appalachian and Civil War history.
First published in 1975 and long out of print, Folk Songs from the West Virginia Hills is a major work of folklore poised to reach a new generation of readers. Drawing upon Patrick Ward Gainer’s extensive ethnographic fieldwork around West Virginia, it contains dozens of significant folk songs, including not only the internationally famous “Child Ballads,” but such distinctively West Virginian songs as “The West Virginia Farmer” and “John Hardy,” among others.
Folk Songs from the West Virginia Hills stands out as a book with multiple audiences. As a musical text, it offers comparatively easy access to a rich variety of folk songs that could provide a new repertoire for Appalachian singers. As an ethnographic text, it has the potential to reintroduce significant data about the musical lives of many West Virginians into conversations around Appalachian music—discourses that are being radically reshaped by scholars working in folklore, ethnomusicology, and Appalachian studies. As a historical document, it gives readers a glimpse into the research methods commonly practiced by mid-twentieth-century folklorists. And when read in conjunction with John Harrington Cox’s Folk Songs of the South (also available from WVU Press), it sheds important light on the significant role that West Virginia University has played in documenting the state’s vernacular traditions.
Davis Grubb University of Tennessee Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3513.R865F66 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
“Dark violence and piebald absurdity share an uncertain border, and now and then some mythmaker on his day off, like Grubb, manages to write within this certainty. A fine book, written for the hell of it, which is a splendid reason.”—Time
Set in the Appalachian backcountry in the midst of the Great Depression, Fools’ Parade traces the adventures of three ex-convicts who become involved in a wild and woolly chase along the Ohio River.
Convicted murderer Mattie Appleyard has just served forty-seven years in Glory Penitentiary. His release puts him in possession of a check for $25,452.32—the result of his having salted away his meager earnings in the Prisoner’s Work-and-Hope Savings Plan of the local bank. With his friends Johnny Jesus and Lee Cottrill, he plans to open a general store that will compete with the company store in Stonecoal, West Virginia.
Unfortunately, banker Homer Grindstaff, prison guard Uncle Doc Council, and Sheriff Duane Ewing have no intention of allowing Mattie to realize his ambitions. Mattie’s efforts to cash his check set a deadly pursuit in motion and introduce the reader to a host of colorful characters and a vividly recreated regional and historical background. Good and evil meet head-on in this novel that is, by turns, warm and humorous, rousing and tumultuous.
The Author: Davis Grubb (1919–1980) was the author of ten published novels, the most famous of which was Night of the Hunter. Both that book and Fools’ Parade, originally published in 1969, were made into motion pictures.
Goshen Road: A Novel
Bonnie Proudfoot Ohio University Press, 2020 Library of Congress PS3616.R68G67 2020 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Goshen Road is an elegiac, unvarnished, and empathetic portrait of one working-class family over two decades in rural West Virginia, with sisters Dessie and Billie Price as its urgently beating heart. Bonnie Proudfoot captures them, their husbands, and their children as they balance on the divide between Appalachia old and new, struggling for survival and reconciling themselves with past hurts and future uncertainties as the economy and culture shift around them.
The story opens in 1967 with a logging accident and the teenaged Lux Cranfield’s headlong plunge into the courtship of Dessie—a leap he takes not only in the wake of his near-death experience but to exchange his bitter home life for a future with the Prices, a family that appears to have the stability and peace that his own lacks. Within the year Lux and Dessie marry. Meanwhile, Dessie’s rebellious younger sister, Billie, fights her way through adolescence with an eye toward an escape of her own, only to land with Lux’s friend Alan Ray Munn and settle into a life of hardship. Ultimately, the voices and passions of Dessie, Billie, Lux, Alan Ray, and the Cranfield children build on one another to create an unforgettable chorus about the promises and betrayals of love—and what it takes to preserve a family when everything else is uncertain.
From 1909 to 1913, Governor William Glasscock served the state of West Virginia as an ardent progressive and reformer. In his inaugural address he proclaimed government "the machinery invoked and devised by man for his benefit and protection” and good government the guarantor of the happiness, prosperity, success, and welfare of the people. Governor William Glasscock and Progressive Politics in West Virginia recounts the life and work of West Virginia’s thirteenth governor. Born during the Civil War, Glasscock witnessed a country torn by sectional, fratricidal war become a powerful industrial nation by the turn of the twentieth century. Author Gary Jackson Tucker demonstrates how Glasscock, along with others during the Progressive Era, railed against large and powerful political and economic machines to enact legislation protecting free and fair elections, just taxation, regulation of public utilities, and workmen’s compensation laws. Never hesitating to use the power of the state to stand firm against racism and mob rule, and placing his own personal safety in jeopardy, Glasscock won the praise and admiration of average people. Glasscock’s four years in office took his own health and financial security from him, but left behind a better government—a good government—for the people of West Virginia.
The Great Kanawha Navigation
Emory L. Kemp University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000 Library of Congress HE630.K36K45 2000 | Dewey Decimal 386.3097543
The vision of a central waterway connecting tidewater Virginia with the Ohio River to rival the Erie Canal persisted for decades during the 19th century. The idea was at first fostered by the commonwealth of Virginia and then reincarnated as the Central Water Line, which was endorsed by the federal government. It was a grand vision, and though never implemented, the Great Kanawha Navigation nevertheless became a highly successful regionally controlled waterway that developed the rich resources of the Kanawha Valley. Emory Kemp has compiled a comprehensive history of navigation on the Great Kanawha River, detailing the industrial archaeology of this waterway from the early 19th century, and offering a detailed case study of a major 19th- and early 20th-century civil engineering project that would significantly advance the nation's industrial development.
Using the early unsuccessful attempts to connect the James River and western waters as a background, The Great Kanawha Navigation emphasizes technological innovation and construction of navigational structures on the river. With the river men championing open navigation during favorable stages of the river, and at the same time clamoring for controls to ensure navigation during periods of low flow, the Corps of Engineers responded with the concept of the movable dam to provide a cost-effective means of moving bulk cargo, especially coal, salt, lumber, cement, and chemicals, along nearly 100 miles of the Great Kanawha River. The Great Kanawha Navigation employed a series of ten locks and dams and became a laboratory for the use of movable dams in the United States, using first the French Chanoine shutter wicket dam and then the German Roller Gate dam. The innovative technology of the ten dams, the volume of freight carried and the management of the system by the Corps of Engineers made this one of the most significant public works in the nation. Each of the two systems provided cost-effective and environmentally sound means to tap the rich mineral resources of the Kanawha Valley. By any measure, the Great Kanawha Navigation has been one of the more successful ventures of the Corps of Engineers; Kemp has provided extensive photographs, illustrations, diagrams, and maps to further emphasize the construction of the various hydraulic structures. The result is an interesting and significant blend of biographical, technical, political, geographical, and industrial history that will delight historians of technology and the region.
The Handywoman Stories
Lenore McComas Coberly Ohio University Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS3553.O227H36 2002 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Sometimes it's possible to pick up a book and hear the words being spoken by the characters as if you were sitting across the table from them. This is the sensation you'll have as you read through The Handywoman Stories by Lenore McComas Coberly.
Whether the story describes the civil defense preparations of a small West Virginia town in World War II, the same town years later dealing with an influx of hippies, or the return of a woman to her roots after decades up north, the voices are convincing and true. “I nearly got kicked in the head by a cow before I learned that if you use your full strength pulling milk, you won’t get much milk,” says one. “To see Zevelda the way she was that Sunday is, well, not something you're very likely to see,” says another.
The Handywoman Stories themselves are driven by characters shaped by the place they have lived most all of their lives. They deal with economic depression, mine and war deaths, the arrogance of community leaders, and what might have been, but was not, a stultifying environment. Their tools are astonishing resourcefulness, steadfast friendship, and always humor.
Lenore McComas Coberly has woven together a bittersweet community of strong Appalachian women and men in this remarkable collection. Moving and joyful, these stories are made from the stuff of life.
Helvetia: A Swiss Village in the Hills of West Virginia explores the unique founding and development of a community nestled within the wilderness of Appalachia. Established in 1869, this tiny Swiss settlement embodies the American immigrant experience, reflecting the steadfast desire of settlers to preserve cultural traditions and values while adapting to new and extraordinary surroundings. From ramp suppers to carnivals, traditional architecture, folk music, and cheese making, this book documents a living community by exploring the ethnic customs, farming practices, community organization, and language maintenance of Helvetia residents. Drawing upon a diverse body of resources such as Swiss and American archival documents and local oral accounts, this chronicledepicts the everyday social and economic life of this village during the past two centuries. Helvetia celebrates a small community where residents and visitors alike continue to practice a Swiss American culture that binds an international history to a local heritage.
Long out of print, this reissued edition of the history of Helvetia contains a new introduction, a concise index, a bibliography, an appendix of foreign-born immigrants, and an exquisite photographic essay featuring archival images of a Swiss village still thriving within the isolated backcountry of central West Virginia.
Musically complex and intellectually sophisticated, Louise McNeill’s imagery and rhythms have their deepest sources in the West Virginia mountains where she was born in 1911 on a farm that has been in her family for nine generations. These are rooted poems, passionately concerned with stewardship of the land and with the various destructions of land and people that often come masked as “progress.”
In colloquial, rural, and sometimes macabre imagery, Louise McNeill documents the effects of the change from a farm to an industrial economy on the West Virginia mountain people. She writes of the earliest white settlements on the western side of the Alleghenies and of the people who remained there through the coming of the roads, the timber and coal industries, and the several wars of this century.
The reappearance of Louise McNeill’s long out-of-print poems will be cause for celebration for readers familiar with her work. Those reading it for the first time will discover musical, serious, idiosyncratic, and startling poems that define the Appalachian experience.
West Virginia’s championship teams at WVU and Marshall and athletic superstars like Jerry West and Mary Lou Retton are familiar to all, but few know the untold story of sports in the Mountain State. Hillside Fields: A History of Sports in West Virginia chronicles the famous athletic triumphs and heart-breaking losses of local heroes and legendary teams, recording the titanic struggles of a small state competing alongside larger rivals.
Hillside Fields provides a broad view of the development of sports in West Virginia, from one of the first golf clubs in America at Oakhurst Links to the Greenbrier Classic; from the first girls basketball championship in 1919 to post Title IX; from racially segregated sports to integrated teams; and from the days when West Virginia Wesleyan and Davis & Elkins beat the big boys in football to the championship teams at WVU, Marshall, West Virginia State and West Liberty.
Hillside Fields explains how major national trends and events, as well as West Virginia’s economic, political, and demographic conditions, influenced the development of sports in the state. The story of the growth of sports in West Virginia is also a story of the tribulations, hopes, values and triumphs of a proud people.
It’s the 1960s. The Vietnam War is raging and protests are erupting across the United States. In many quarters, young people are dropping out of society, leaving their urban homes behind in an attempt to find a safe place to live on their own terms, to grow their own food, and to avoid a war they passionately decry. During this time, West Virginia becomes a haven for thousands of these homesteaders—or back-to-the-landers, as they are termed by some. Others call them hippies.
When the going got rough, many left. But a significant number remain to this day. Some were artisans when they arrived, while others adopted a craft that provided them with the cash necessary to survive. Hippie Homesteaders tells the story of this movement from the viewpoint of forty artisans and musicians who came to the state, lived on the land, and created successful careers with their craft. There’s the couple that made baskets coveted by the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery. There’s the draft-dodger that fled to Canada and then became a premier furniture maker. There’s the Boston-born VISTA worker who started a quilting cooperative. And, there’s the immigrant Chinese potter who lived on a commune.
Along with these stories, Hippie Homesteaders examines the serendipitous timing of this influx and the community and economic support these crafters received from residents and state agencies in West Virginia. Without these young transplants, it’s possible there would be no Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia, the first statewide collection of fine arts and handcrafts in the nation, and no Mountain Stage, the weekly live musical program broadcast worldwide on National Public Radio since 1983. Forget what you know about West Virginia.
Hippie Homesteaders isn’t about coal or hillbillies or moonshine or poverty. It is the story of why West Virginia was—and still is—a kind of heaven to so many.
Few reference works are as valuable to both scholars and non-scholars as a historical atlas. Therefore, The Historical Atlas of West Virginia will be an important title for libraries, schools, and every West Virginian who wants to understand how historical forces are mapped onto the state’s terrain. This atlas also shows how the distribution of natural resources intersects with various means of distribution. Frank Riddel’s The Historical Atlas of West Virginia is copiously illustrated with maps, tables, and charts depicting everything from geological deposits and strata that have fed the state’s industries to the settlement patterns of the immigrants who settled in West Virginia. Using federal and state statistics, it also includes revelations from the national census figures since 1790.
History of the American Negro: West Virginia Edition is a collection of biographies of African American men and women at the beginning of the twentieth century. Edited and published by A. B. Caldwell, the History of the American Negro collection includes seven volumes that richly describe the lives of citizens in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, DC, and West Virginia. In a statement printed in the first volume of this series, Caldwell wrote that his intent in publishing this collection was neither “comprehensive nor exhaustive,” yet he was determined to shed light on the “successful element unrecorded” of black Americans in the United States. As the 7th volume in Caldwell’s collection, History of the American Negro: West Virginia Edition chronicles the struggles and triumphs of everyday African Americans in West Virginia during the post−World War I era. A resource for genealogists, historians, and citizens alike, this history provides a detailed account of the often overlooked lives of ordinary men and women.
In A House Divided, Richard Orr Curry investigates the political realities that led to the breakup of the Old Dominion and the emergence of a new state during the Civil War. Orr's analysis of the intra-state conflicts over political, economic, and social issues, party factions of Unionism and Secessionism and multiple layers of division within those factions, offer fascinating and original insights into the long debate that would lead to the ratification of the West Virginia state constitution in 1863.
On January 9, 2014, residents across Charleston, West Virginia, awoke to an unusual licorice smell in the air and a similar taste in the public drinking water. That evening residents were informed the tap water in tens of thousands of homes, hundreds of businesses, and dozens of schools and hospitals—the water made available to as many as 300,000 citizens in a nine-county region—had been contaminated with a chemical used for cleaning crushed coal.
This book tells a particular set of stories about that chemical spill and its aftermath, an unfolding water crisis that would lead to months, even years, of fear and distrust. It is both oral history and collaborative ethnography, jointly conceptualized, researched, and written by people—more than fifty in all—across various positions in academia and local communities. I’m Afraid of That Water foregrounds the ongoing concerns of West Virginians (and people in comparable situations in places like Flint, Michigan) confronted by the problem of contamination, where thresholds for official safety may be crossed, but a genuine return to normality is elusive.
In 1897 a small landholder named Robert Eastham shot and killed timber magnate Frank Thompson in Tucker County, West Virginia, leading to a sensational trial that highlighted a clash between local traditions and modernizing forces. Ronald L. Lewis’s book uses this largely forgotten episode as a window into contests over political, environmental, and legal change in turn-of-the-century Appalachia.
The Eastham-Thompson feud pitted a former Confederate against a member of the new business elite who was, as a northern Republican, his cultural and political opposite. For Lewis, their clash was one flashpoint in a larger phenomenon central to US history in the second half of the nineteenth century: the often violent imposition of new commercial and legal regimes over holdout areas stretching from Appalachia to the trans-Missouri West. Taking a ground-level view of these so-called “wars of incorporation,” Lewis’s powerful microhistory shows just how strongly local communities guarded traditional relationships to natural resources. Modernizers sought to convict Eastham of murder, but juries drawn from the traditionalist population refused to comply. Although the resisters won the courtroom battle, the modernizers eventually won the war for control of the state’s timber frontier.
“After saying our good-byes to friends and neighbors, we all got in the cars and headed up the hill and down the road toward a future in Ohio that we hoped would be brighter,” Otis Trotter writes in his affecting memoir, Keeping Heart: A Memoir of Family Struggle, Race, and Medicine.
Organized around the life histories, medical struggles, and recollections of Trotter and his thirteen siblings, the story begins in 1914 with his parents, Joe William Trotter Sr. and Thelma Odell Foster Trotter, in rural Alabama. By telling his story alongside the experiences of his parents as well as his siblings, Otis reveals cohesion and tensions in twentieth-century African American family and community life in Alabama, West Virginia, and Ohio.
This engaging chronicle illuminates the journeys not only of a black man born with heart disease in the southern Appalachian coalfields, but of his family and community. It fills an important gap in the literature on an underexamined aspect of American experience: the lives of blacks in rural Appalachia and in the nonurban endpoints of the Great Migration. Its emotional power is a testament to the importance of ordinary lives.
The Land of the Dead Is Open for Business is an extended elegy for Jacob Strautmann’s home state of West Virginia and its generations of inhabitants sold out by the false promise of the American Dream. Throughout the book, voices rise up from the page to describe a landscape eroded and plundered by runaway capitalism—its mountain tops leveled by the extractive industries, its waters polluted by runoff from mines—and the fallout from that waste. Those who remain are consigned to life in a ravaged land denuded of nature where birds die and “Sheep / birth limp two-headed things and some / that speak like men if they speak at all.”
No person involved in so much history received so little attention as the late Robert C. Byrd, the longest-serving U.S. senator. In The Last Great Senator, David A. Corbin examines Byrd’s complex and fascinating relationships with eleven presidents of the United States, from Eisenhower to Obama. Furthermore, Byrd had an impact on nearly every significant event of the last half century, including the Cold War, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, Kennedy’s New Frontier, the Watergate scandal, the Reagan Revolution, the impeachment of President Clinton, and the Iraq War. Holding several Senate records, Byrd also cast more votes than any other U.S. senator.
In his sweeping portrait of this eloquent and persuasive man’s epic life and career, Corbin describes Senator Byrd’s humble background in the coalfields of southern West Virginia (including his brief membership in the Ku Klux Klan). He covers Byrd’s encounters and personal relationship with each president and his effect on events during their administrations. Additionally, the book discusses Byrd’s interactions with other notable senators, including Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Russell, Mike Mansfield, and especially Robert and Edward Kennedy. Going beyond the boundaries of West Virginia and Capitol Hill, The Last Great Senator presents Byrd in a larger historical context, where he rose to the height of power in America.
This gonzo-style metamemoir follows Chuck Kinder on a wild tour of the back roads of his home state of West Virginia, where he encounters Mountain State legends like Sid Hatfield, Dagmar, Robert C. Byrd, the Mothman, Chuck Yeager, Soupy Sales, Don Knotts, and Jesco White, the “Dancing Outlaw.”
This first biography of Selina Campbell opens a window onto the experience of women in one of the most dynamic religious groups of 19th-century America
Loretta M. Long examines the life and influence of Selina Campbell, one of the most visible women in the 19th-century Disciples of Christ movement. Best known as the wife of Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples, Selina Campbell both shaped and exemplified the role of women in this dynamic religious group (also known as the Stone-Campbell movement). Her story demonstrates the importance of faith in the lives of many women during this era and adds a new dimension to the concept of the “separate spheres” of men and women, which women like Campbell interpreted in the context of their religious beliefs.
A household manager, mother, writer, and friend, Campbell held sway primarily in the domestic sphere, but she was not held captive by it. Her relationship with her husband was founded on a deep sense of partnership conditioned by their strong faith in an all-powerful God. Each of them took on complementary roles according to the perceived natural abilities of their genders: Alexander depended on Selina to manage his property and raise the children while he traveled the country preaching. Campbell outlived her husband by 30 years, and during that time published several newspaper articles and supported new causes, such as women in missions.
In the end, as Long amply demonstrates, Selina Campbell was neither her husband’s shadow nor solely a domestic worker. She was, in her husband’s eyes, a full partner and a “fellow soldier” in the cause of Restoration.
Between 1880 and 1922, the coal fields of southern West Virginia witnessed two bloody and protracted strikes, the formation of two competing unions, and the largest armed conflict in American labor history—a week-long battle between 20,000 coal miners and 5,000 state police, deputy sheriffs, and mine guards. These events resulted in an untold number of deaths, indictments of over 550 coal miners for insurrection and treason, and four declarations of martial law. Corbin argues that these violent events were collective and militant acts of aggression interconnected and conditioned by decades of oppression. His study goes a long way toward breaking down the old stereotypes of Appalachian and coal mining culture. This second edition contains a new preface and afterword by author David A. Corbin.
The Cacapon and Lost Rivers are located in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia’s eastern panhandle. Well loved by paddlers and anglers, these American Heritage Rivers are surrounded by a lush valley of wildlife and flora that is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Although still rural and mostly forested, development and land fragmentation in the Cacapon and Lost River Valley have increased over the last decades. Listening to the Land: Stories from the Cacapon and Lost River Valley is a conversation between the people of this Valley and their land, chronicling this community’s dedication to preserving its farms, forests, and rural heritage.
United around a shared passion for stewardship, the Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust and local landowners have permanently protected over 11,000 acres by incorporating local values into permanent conservation action. Despite the economic pressures that have devastated nearby valleys over the past twenty years, natives and newcomers alike have worked to protect this valley by sustaining family homesteads and buying surrounding parcels.This partnership between the Land Trust and the people of this Valley, unprecedented in West Virginia and nationally recognized for its success, greatly enriches historic preservation and conservation movements, bringing to light the need to investigate, pursue, and listen to the enduring connection between people and place.
RICHARD CURRY West Virginia University Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS3553.U6665L67 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Richard Currey's Lost Highway has attracted a legion of admirers since its initial publication in 1997. The book depicts the epic struggle of an ordinary person living his dreams and following his passion. Lost Highway is the story of Sapper Reeves, a gifted country musician from the small town of Maxwell, West Virginia. Sapper’s story covers the events of more than half a century, from his birth in a poor coal mining town through his travels on the back roads of Appalachia in search of recognition and respect. Along the way, Sapper’s embattled love for his wife and struggle to come to terms with his combat-wounded son form the basis of his artistic and personal redemption.
Loving Mountains, Loving Men is the first book-length treatment of a topic rarely discussed or examined: gay life in Appalachia. Appalachians are known for their love of place, yet many gays and lesbians from the mountains flee to urban areas. Jeff Mann tells the story of one who left and then returned, who insists on claiming and celebrating both regional and erotic identities.
In memoir and poetry, Mann describes his life as an openly gay man who has remained true to his mountain roots. Mann recounts his upbringing in Hinton, a small town in southern West Virginia, as well as his realization of his homosexuality, his early encounters with homophobia, his coterie of supportive lesbian friends, and his initial attempts to escape his native region in hopes of finding a freer life in urban gay communities. Mann depicts his difficult search for a romantic relationship, the family members who have given him the strength to defy convention, his anger against religious intolerance and the violence of homophobia, and his love for the rich folk culture of the Highland South.
His character and values shaped by the mountains, Mann has reconciled his homosexuality with both traditional definitions of Appalachian manhood and his own attachment to home and kin. Loving Mountains, Loving Men is a compelling, universal story of making peace with oneself and the wider world.
On May 19, 1920, gunshots rang through the streets of Matewan, West Virginia, in an event soon known as the “Matewan Massacre.” Most historians of West Virginia and Appalachia see this event as the beginning of a long series of tribulations known as the second Mine Wars. But was it instead the culmination of an even longer series of proceedings that unfolded in Mingo County, dating back at least to the Civil War? Matewan Before the Massacre provides the first comprehensive history of the area, beginning in the late eighteenth century continuing up to the Massacre. It covers the relevant economic history, including the development of the coal mine industry and the struggles over land ownership; labor history, including early efforts of unionization; transportation history, including the role of the N&W Railroad; political history, including the role of political factions in the county’s two major communities—Matewan and Williamson; and the impact of the state’s governors and legislatures on Mingo County.
As a black Appalachian woman, Memphis Tennessee Garrison belonged to a demographic category triply ignored by historians.
The daughter of former slaves, she moved to McDowell County, West Virginia, at an early age and died at ninety-eight in Huntington. The coalfields of McDowell County were among the richest seams in the nation. As Garrison makes clear, the backbone of the early mining work force—those who laid the railroad tracks, manned the coke ovens, and dug the coal—were black miners. These miners and their families created communities that became the centers of the struggle for unions, better education, and expanded civil rights. Memphis Tennessee Garrison, an innovative teacher, administrative worker at U.S. Steel, and vice president of the National Board of the NAACP at the height of the civil rights struggle (1963-66), was involved with all of these struggles.
In many ways, this oral history, based on interview transcripts, is the untold and multidimensional story of African American life in West Virginia, as seen through the eyes of a remarkable woman. She portrays a courageous people who organize to improve their working conditions, send their children to school and then to college, own land, and support a wide range of cultural and political activities.
The Milkweed Ladies
LOUISE MCNEILL University of Pittsburgh Press, 1988 Library of Congress PS3525.A283Z467 1988 | Dewey Decimal 811.52
The Milkweed Ladies is written out of deep affection for and intimate knowledge of the lives of rural people and the rhythms of the natural world. It is a personal account of the farm in southern West Virginia where poet Louise McNeill’s family has lived for nine generations.
The Milkweed Ladies is filled with memorable characters—an herb-gathering granny, McNeill’s sailor father, her patient, flower-loving mother, and Aunt Malindy in her “black sateen dress” who “never did a lick of work.” McNeill writes movingly of the harsh routines of the lives of her family, from spring plowing to winter sugaring, and of the hold the farm itself has on them and the earth itself on all of us. McNeill juxtaposes the life of the farm with the larger world events that impinge on it, such as the destruction from lumber companies in the 1930s and World War II in the ’40s.
With her poet’s gift for detail and language, McNeill creates a particular world forgotten by many of us, and to some of us, never known.
New paperback edition with an introduction by Robert B. Reich
Monongah: The Tragic Story of the 1907 Monongah Mine Disaster documents the events and conditions that led to the worst industrial accident in the history of the United States. This mining accident claimed hundreds of lives on the morning of December 6, 1907 and McAteer, an expert on mine and workplace health and safety, delves deeply into the economic forces and social-political landscape of the mining communities of north central West Virginia to expose the truth behind this tragedy. After nearly thirty years of exhaustive research, McAteer determines that close to 500 men and boys—many of them immigrants—lost their lives that day, leaving hundreds of women widowed and more than one thousand children orphaned.
The tragedy at Monongah led to a greater awareness of industrial working conditions, and ultimately to the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, which McAteer helped to enact. This new paperback edition includes an introduction by Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration.
The West Virginia University Mountaineer is not just a mascot: it is a symbol of West Virginia history and identity embraced throughout the state. In this deeply informed but accessible study, folklorist Rosemary Hathaway explores the figure’s early history as a backwoods trickster, its deployment in emerging mass media, and finally its long and sometimes conflicted career—beginning officially in 1937—as the symbol of West Virginia University.
Alternately a rabble-rouser and a romantic embodiment of the state’s history, the Mountaineer has been subject to ongoing reinterpretation while consistently conveying the value of independence. Hathaway’s account draws on multiple sources, including archival research, personal history, and interviews with former students who have portrayed the mascot, to explore the complex forces and tensions animating the Mountaineer figure. Often serving as a focus for white, masculinist, and Appalachian identities in particular, the Mountaineer that emerges from this study is something distinct from the hillbilly. Frontiersman and rebel both, the Mountaineer figure traditionally and energetically resists attempts (even those by the university) to tame or contain it.
From fiddle tunes to folk ballads, from banjos to blues, traditional music thrives in the remote mountains and hollers of West Virginia. For a quarter century, Goldenseal magazine has given its readers intimate access to the lives and music of folk artists from across this pivotal state. Now the best of Goldenseal is gathered for the first time in this richly illustrated volume. Some of the country's finest folklorists take us through the backwoods and into the homes of such artists as fiddlers Clark Kessinger and U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, recording stars Lynn Davis and Molly O'Day, dulcimer master Russell Fluharty, National Heritage Fellowship recipient Melvin Wine, bluesman Nat Reese, and banjoist Sylvia O'Brien.
The most complete survey to date of the vibrant strands of this music and its colorful practitioners, Mountains of Music delineates a unique culture where music and music making are part of an ancient and treasured heritage. The sly humor, strong faith, clear regional identity, and musical convictions of these performers draw the reader into families and communities bound by music from one generation to another. For devotees as well as newcomers to this infectiously joyous and heartfelt music, Mountains of Music captures the strength of tradition and the spontaneous power of living artistry.
In 1986 Lon Savage published Thunder in the Mountains: The West Virginia Mine War, 1920–21, a popular history now considered a classic. Among those the book influenced are Denise Giardina, author of Storming Heaven, and John Sayles, writer and director of Matewan. When Savage passed away, he left behind an incomplete book manuscript about a lesser-known Mother Jones crusade in Kanawha County, West Virginia. His daughter Ginny Savage Ayers drew on his notes and files, as well as her own original research, to complete Never Justice, Never Peace—the first book-length account of the Paint Creek–Cabin Creek Strike of 1912–13.
Savage and Ayers offer a narrative history of the strike that weaves together threads about organizer Mother Jones, the United Mine Workers union, politicians, coal companies, and Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency guards with the experiences of everyday men and women. The result is a compelling and in-depth treatment that brings to light an unjustly neglected—and notably violent—chapter of labor history. Introduced by historian Lou Martin, Never Justice, Never Peace provides an accessible glimpse into the lives and personalities of many participants in this critical struggle.
Upon entering the White House in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt faced an ailing economy in the throes of the Great Depression and rushed to transform the country through recovery programs and legislative reform. By 1934, he began to send professional photographers to the state of West Virginia to document living conditions and the effects of his New Deal programs. The photographs from the Farm Security Administration Project not only introduced “America to Americans,” exposing a continued need for government intervention, but also captured powerful images of life in rural and small town America.
New Deal Photographs of West Virginia, 1934-1943 presents images of the state’s northern and southern coalfields, the subsistence homestead projects of Arthurdale, Eleanor, and Tygart Valley, and various communities from Charleston to Clarksburg and Parkersburg to Elkins. With over one hundred and fifty images by ten FSA photographers, including Walker Evans, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, and Ben Shahn, this collection is a remarkable proclamation of hardship, hope, endurance, and, above all, community. These photographs provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of West Virginians during the Great Depression and beyond.
Ninety-nine men entered the cold, dark tunnels of the Consolidation Coal Company’s No.9 Mine in Farmington, West Virginia, on November 20, 1968. Some were worried about the condition of the mine. It had too much coal dust, too much methane gas. They knew that either one could cause an explosion. What they did not know was that someone had intentionally disabled a safety alarm on one of the mine’s ventilation fans. That was a death sentence for most of the crew. The fan failed that morning, but the alarm did not sound. The lack of fresh air allowed methane gas to build up in the tunnels. A few moments before 5:30 a.m., the No.9 blew up. Some men died where they stood. Others lived but suffocated in the toxic fumes that filled the mine. Only 21 men escaped from the mountain.
No.9: The 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster explains how such a thing could happen—how the coal company and federal and state officials failed to protect the 78 men who died in the mountain. Based on public records and interviews with those who worked in the mine, No.9 describes the conditions underground before and after the disaster and the legal struggles of the miners’ widows to gain justice and transform coal mine safety legislation.
An oral history of the West Virginia Mine Wars published to coincide with the centennial of the Battle of Blair Mountain.
In 1972 Anne Lawrence came to West Virginia at the invitation of the Miners for Democracy movement to conduct interviews with participants in, and observers of, the Battle of Blair Mountain and other Appalachian mine wars of the 1920s and ’30s. The set of oral histories she collected—the only document of its kind—circulated for many years as an informal typescript volume, acquiring an almost legendary status among those intrigued by the subject. Key selections from it appear here for the first time as a published book, supplemented with introductory material, maps, and photographs. The volume’s vivid, conversational mode invites readers into miners’ lived experiences and helps us understand why they took up arms to fight anti-union forces in some of the nation’s largest labor uprisings.
Published to coincide with the celebration of the Blair Mountain centennial in 2021, On Dark and Bloody Ground includes a preface by public historian Catherine Venable Moore and an afterword by Cecil E. Roberts of the United Mine Workers of America.
Real people don’t run away from. . .But real people can run away to. . .
In 1936, a child is born in the mountains of West Virginia. In 2005, he scatters his past into a deep canyon of rock. The Pale Light of Sunset: Scattershots and Hallucinations in an Imagined Life illuminates the journey of this boy, a constant tourist and visitor, who travels everywhere, yet belongs nowhere. Through tales of swarming hornets and swinging bullies, love affairs with the land and its people, and near death by frostbite and heat stroke, the absurd hilarity and clear, tender voice found within this story navigates a surreal road paved by the experiences of one man.
Author of nationally acclaimed and locally banned novels Crum and Screaming with the Cannibals, Lee Maynard details an imaginative account of his journey through seventy years of hard living—from West Virginia, to Mexico, the Arctic Circle, and beyond. Scattered and hallucinated, The Pale Light of Sunset grants a long-awaited glimpse into the bent condition of the Maynard brain.
PINNICK KINNICK HILL: AN AMERICAN STORY
By G. W. González, Edited by Mark Brazaitis, with a Preface by Suronda González, with a Spanish translation Las colinas sueñan en español by Daniel Ferreras West Virginia University Press, 2006 Library of Congress F249.A56G66 2003
Nearly a century ago, hundreds of families journeyed from Spain to the United States, to search for a better life in the growing zinc-industry towns of Harrison County, West Virginia. As they created a new culture and a new home in this strange land, they added another thread to the rich fabric of our nation. Writing from his perspective as a first-generation son of this immigrant community, González recounts his childhood memories of his neighborhood, where these immigrants raised their families, worked in the often insufferable conditions of the zinc factories, and celebrated "romerias" and feast days with their neighbors.
In this beautifully written meditation on identity and place, Talmage A. Stanley tells the story of his grandparents' middle-class aspirations from the 1920s to the 1940s in the once-booming Pocahontas coalfields of southern West Virginia. Part lyrical family memoir and part social study, The Poco Field: An American Story of Place addresses a long-standing gap in Appalachian and American studies, illustrating the lives and choices of the middle class in the mid-twentieth century and delving into questions of place-based identity.
Exploring the natural and built environments of the towns of Keystone, West Virginia and Newbern, Virginia, Stanley delineates the history of conflict and control of local industry and development. Through his grandparents' struggle for upward mobility into the middle class, Stanley narrates a history that counters ideas of Appalachia as an exception to American culture and history, presenting instead an image of the region as an emblem of America at large. Stanley builds out from family and local history to examine broad structures of values and practices as they reflect and relate to place, showing how events such as the development of extensive mineworks, the ghettoization of the area's black residents, the catastrophic flooding of the Elkhorn Creek, and the fraud-induced failure of Keystone National Bank signal values that erode a place both literally and figuratively. Giving voice to activists now working to break down boundaries and assumptions that long have defined and restricted the middle class in the global economy, The Poco Field also champions the creative potential of place for reinvigorating democratic society for the twenty-first century.
The Rebel in the Red Jeep follows the personal and professional experiences of Ken Hechler, the oldest living person to have served in the US Congress, from his childhood until his marriage at 98 years of age.
This biography recounts a century of accomplishments, from Hechler’s introduction of innovative teaching methods at major universities, to his work as a speechwriter and researcher for President Harry Truman, and finally to his time representing West Virginia in the US House of Representatives and as the secretary of state.
In West Virginia, where he resisted mainstream political ideology, Hechler was the principal architect behind the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 and constantly battled big coal, strip-mining, and fellow politicians alike. He and his signature red jeep remain a fixture in West Virginia. Since 2004, Hechler has campaigned against mountaintop removal mining. He was arrested for trespassing during a protest in 2009 at the age of 94.
Red, White, Black, and Blue began as a collaborative memoir by William M. “Bill” Drennen, a European American, and Kojo (William T.) Jones, an African American. These Appalachian men grew up in the South Hills section of Charleston, West Virginia. As boys they played on the same Little League baseball team and experienced just one year together as schoolmates after the all-white Thomas Jefferson Junior High School was desegregated in 1955. After that, class, race, and choice separated their life experiences for forty-five years.
In 1992 both had returned to Charleston from lives mostly lived elsewhere. They decided to work together on a memoir of growing up through the trauma of desegregation. Their aim was to foster understanding between their distinct cultures for themselves and for their own and future generations. Dolores Johnson, in editing the two texts, observed two very different modes of expression: Bill Drennen's narrative is threaded with references that connote wealth, status, and personal privilege; Kojo Jones's memoir is interwoven with African American signification, protest, and moral outrage.
The stories of their Appalachian upbringing in homes less than a mile apart are anecdotal in nature, but their diverse uses of the English language as they endeavor to communicate shared memories and common meanings reveal significant cultural connotations that transform standard American English into two different languages, rendering interracial communication problematic. Dr. Johnson's analysis is to the point.
Red, White, Black, and Blue is a groundbreaking approach to studying not only cultural linguistics but also the cultural heritage of a historic time and place in America. It gives witness to the issues of race and class inherent in the way we write, speak, and think.
Riding on Comets: A Memoir
Cat Pleska West Virginia University Press, 2015 Library of Congress F245.42.P55A3 2015 | Dewey Decimal 975.4043
Riding on Comets is the true story of an only child growing up in a working-class family during the 1950s and ‘60s.
As the family storyteller, Cat Pleska whispers and shouts about her life growing up around savvy, strong women and hard-working, hard-drinking men. Unlike many family stories set within Appalachia, this story provides an uncommon glimpse into this region: not coal, but an aluminum plant; not hollers, but small-town America; not hillbillies, but a hard-working family with traditional values.
From the dinner table, to the back porch, to the sprawling countryside, Cat Pleska reveals the sometimes tender, sometimes frightening education of a child who listens at the knees of these giants. She mimics and learns every nuance, every rhythm—how they laugh, smoke, cuss, fight, love, and tell stories—as she unwittingly prepares to carry their tales forward, their words and actions forever etched in her mind. And finally, she discovers a life story of her own.
“Keeney delivers a riveting and propulsive story about a nine-year battle to save sacred ground that was the site of the largest labor uprising in American history. . . . He unveils a powerful playbook on successful activism that will inspire countless others for generations to come.” —Eric Eyre, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic
In 1921 Blair Mountain in southern West Virginia was the site of the country’s bloodiest armed insurrection since the Civil War, a battle pitting miners led by Frank Keeney against agents of the coal barons intent on quashing organized labor. It was the largest labor uprising in US history. Ninety years later, the site became embroiled in a second struggle, as activists came together to fight the coal industry, state government, and the military- industrial complex in a successful effort to save the battlefield—sometimes dubbed “labor’s Gettysburg”—from destruction by mountaintop removal mining.
The Road to Blair Mountain is the moving and sometimes harrowing story of Charles Keeney’s fight to save this irreplaceable landscape. Beginning in 2011, Keeney—a historian and great-grandson of Frank Keeney—led a nine-year legal battle to secure the site’s placement on the National Register of Historic Places. His book tells a David-and-Goliath tale worthy of its own place in West Virginia history. A success story for historic preservation and environmentalism, it serves as an example of how rural, grassroots organizations can defeat the fossil fuel industry.
This autobiography follows West Virginia senator Robert C. Byrd’s experiences from his boyhood in the early 1920s to his election in 2000, which won him an unprecedented eighth term in the Senate. Within these pages, Senator Byrd offers commentary on national and international events that occurred throughout his long life in public service.
His journey from the hardscrabble coalfields to the marbled halls of Congress has inspired generations of people in West Virginia and throughout the nation. From reading the stories of the Founding Fathers as a young boy by the light of a kerosene lamp to the swearing of an oath for more than a half-century to guard the US Constitution, Senator Byrd’s life is legendary.
Until his death on June 28, 2010, Byrd stood by his principles, earning the affection of the people of his home state and the respect of Americans from all walks of life. With his beloved Erma ever by his side, Robert C. Byrd never forgot his roots, harkening back to those early lessons that he learned as a child of the Appalachian coalfields.
This new paperback edition includes a foreword by Gaston Caperton, governor of West Virginia from 1989–1997.
This autobiography follows United States Senator Robert C. Byrd’s experiences from his boyhood in the early 1920s to his election in 2000, which won him an unprecedented eighth term in the Senate. Along the way, Senator Byrd offers commentary on national and international events that occurred throughout his long life in public service. Senator Byrd’s journey from the hardscrabble coalfields to the marbled halls of Congress has inspired generations of people in West Virginia and throughout the nation. From reading the stories of the Founding Fathers as a young boy by the light of a kerosene lamp to the swearing of an oath for more than a half-century to guard the United States Constitution, Senator Byrd’s life is legendary. Byrd always stands by his principles, earning the affection of the people of his home state and the respect of Americans from all walks of life. With his beloved Erma ever by his side, Robert C. Byrd has never forgotten his roots, harkening back to those early lessons that he learned as a child of the Appalachian coalfields.
Situated in a remote outpost in West Virginia at the turn of the last century, the story that Lenore McComas Coberly tells in Sarah’s Girls is one of place, people, and unquenchable spirit. In this fictionalized account of her recent ancestors, Coberly masterfully traces the journeys of their lives, their dreams, and their hardships over the course of the twentieth century.At its center is the story of Lena, who returns to care for her dead sister’s daughters, giving up the promise of a life that can spare her the adversityrural living guarantees. The author goes back to Big Ugly Creek, the place where her grandparents met—and the place whose memory she cannot leave.Using the stories she was told in her childhood as a bridge to the past, Coberly uncovers facts about her family history from documents that have made their way from one generation to another and the truth from the inherent understanding she has of these people who are so close to her.But Sarah’s Girls is not about the author; it is about the people and a place she loves. It is fiction written to tell the deeper truth about the hold West Virginia—its mountains and its valleys—has on its people.
SCREAMING WITH THE CANNIBALS
LEE MAYNARD West Virginia University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3563.A96384S34 2003 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In this sequel to Crum, Jesse Stone is still on the move. He finds himself in a holy-roller church in Kentucky, on the other side of the Tug River from his native West Virginia, "screaming with the cannibals." From Kentucky he heads to Myrtle Beach, where he gets hired as a lifeguard, although he can’t even swim. Of course, trouble follows Jesse Stone. And so he is always in a hurry to leave—and he doesn’t much care where he is going. Throughout this tale, Jesse anxiously continues his search for a freedom and a future that he knows exists outside of his familiar world.
LEE MAYNARD West Virginia University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3563.A96384S37 2012 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In the third and final part of the Crum Trilogy, Jesse Stone once again embarks upon his constant search for a place in the world. At the start of The Scummers, Jesse hits the road and heads West, looking to experience something - anything - that will fulfill his intrinsic desires to escape, and to belong. He ends up in California, where he fools around, mischievously fighting and drinking, yet always narrowly escaping punishment. Soon enough, Jesse runs out of luck. He finds himself arrested and is condemned to serve out his sentence under the supervision of the United States Army. Suddenly Jesse Stone can no longer run. Suddenly Jesse Stone is a solider. Full of intense violence and cutting humor, this tale is the culminating confession of a young man who has wandered from a small town in West Virginia and back again in the hopes of finding his home.
The Smokeless Coal Fields of West Virginia: A Brief History first appeared in 1963, a little book by a man with no training as either a writer or a historian. Since then, this volume has become an essential sourcebook, consulted and quoted in nearly every study of coal field history. The surprising impact and durability of the book are due to both the information in it and the personality behind it. Through the first half of the twentieth century, William Purviance Tams lived coal. Rising from a young coal engineer to a senior coal baron, Tams stood at the center of Southern West Virginia industrialization. When he sold his company in 1955, Tams was the last of the old owner-operators, men with no personal or financial interest outside of coal. Tams wrote a book which could only have come from an ultimate insider. The everyday work of mining coal is here-laying track, blasting and loading the coal. So is the everyday business of coal, from sinking shafts and ventilating the work area, to administering a town and keeping the workers happy.
Tams gives the financial details of the volatile business, and offers capsule biographies of the other major developers of the Southern West Virginia coal fields. It was a passion for Tams. He never married, and tended his business and his town with paternal care. After retirement, this industrial baron spent his final decades in a modest bungalow in his little coal-camp community, watching the town he had built fade back into the mountains. It is W. P. Tams's passion and attitude, as much as his place at the center of history, which make The Smokeless Coal Fields of West Virginia worth reading nearly 40 years after its first publication. Tams's 1963 account of his career, The Smokeless Coal Fields of West Virginia, offers a unique perspective on the business and the life of coal mining. The book is especially valuable for its account of the daily life and work of the miners, engineers, and families in the mines and in the mining towns. Our reprint of this fascinating and important book combines Tams's original work with a new introduction by Ronald D. Eller, author of Miners, Millhands, & Mountaineers.
Long considered an urban phenomenon, industrialization also transformed the American countryside. Lou Martin weaves the narrative of how the relocation of steel and pottery factories to Hancock County, West Virginia, created a rural and small-town working class--and what that meant for communities and for labor.
As Martin shows, access to land in and around steel and pottery towns allowed residents to preserve rural habits and culture. Workers in these places valued place and local community. Because of their belief in localism, an individualistic ethic of "making do," and company loyalty, they often worked to place limits on union influence. At the same time, this localism allowed workers to adapt to the dictates of industrial capitalism and a continually changing world on their own terms--and retain rural ways to a degree unknown among their urbanized peers. Throughout, Martin ties these themes to illuminating discussions of capital mobility, the ways in which changing work experiences defined gender roles, and the persistent myth that modernizing forces bulldozed docile local cultures.
Revealing and incisive, Smokestacks in the Hills reappraises an overlooked stratum of American labor history and contributes to the ongoing dialogue on shifts in national politics in the postwar era.
Chuck Kinder West Virginia University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3561.I426S64 2018 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
First published in 1973, this debut novel is the deeply moving coming-of-age story of Speer Whitfield, whose recollection of his upbringing and his large, remarkable, and often peculiar family evokes the forces that set the path for a boy’s growth into manhood in 1940s Appalachia.
A richly produced, craft- and activist-centered celebration of radical DIY publishing, for readers ofAppalachian Reckoning.
In a remarkable act of recovery, So Much to Be Angry About conjures an influential but largely obscured strand in the nation’s radical tradition—the “movement” printing presses and publishers of the late 1960s and 1970s, and specifically Appalachian Movement Press in Huntington, West Virginia, the only movement press in Appalachia. More than a history, this craft- and activist-centered book positions the frontline politics of the Appalachian Left within larger movements in the 1970s. As Appalachian Movement Press founder Tom Woodruff wrote: “Appalachians weren’t sitting in the back row during this struggle, they were driving the bus.”
Emerging from the Students for a Democratic Society chapter at Marshall University, and working closely with organizer and poet Don West, Appalachian Movement Press made available an eclectic range of printed material, from books and pamphlets to children’s literature and calendars. Many of its publications promoted the Appalachian identity movement and “internal colony” theory, both of which were cornerstones of the nascent discipline of Appalachian studies. One of its many influential publications was MAW, the first feminist magazine written by and for Appalachian women.
So Much to Be Angry About combines complete reproductions of five of Appalachian Movement Press’s most engaging publications, an essay by Shaun Slifer about his detective work resurrecting the press’s history, and a contextual introduction to New Left movement publishing by Josh MacPhee. Amply illustrated in a richly produced package, the volume pays homage to the graphic sensibility of the region’s 1970s social movements, while also celebrating the current renaissance of Appalachia’s DIY culture—in many respects a legacy, Slifer suggests, of the movement publishing documented in his book.
Songwriting in Contemporary West Virginia: Profiles and Reflections is the first book dedicated to telling the stories of West Virginia’s extensive community of songwriters. Based on oral histories conducted by Stimeling and told largely in the songwriters’ own words, these profiles offer a lively overview of the personalities, venues, and networks that nurture and sustain popular music in West Virginia.
Stimeling is attentive to breadth and diversity, presenting sketches of established personalities like Larry Groce, who oversees Mountain Stage, and emerging musicians like Maria Allison, who dreams of one day performing there. Each profile includes a brief selected discography to guide readers to recordings of these musicians’ work.
Back in print just in time for spring! Originally published in 1948, this is the germinal text on nearly 250 species of spring wildflowers found in West Virginia. Common or English names and scientific or Latin names are given for each species. The descriptions are in two sections: The first description includes the meaning of the name of the flower, uses, habitats, and ranges in West Virginia. Secondly, the plant itself is described in deep detail to help in identification. Each description is accompanied by a facing page detailed line drawing. This book is a must have for those interested in the beauty and science of West Virginia's spring flora. The author, Earl L. Core, also co-wrote the four-volume Flora of West Virginia. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from West Virginia University and his doctorate from Columbia. He was a biology professor at WVU where the 75-acre arboretum managed by the university bears his name. The illustrator, William A. Lunk, received his doctorate at the University of Michigan and went on to become curator of their University Museums.
For nearly seventy years, John J. Young Jr. photographed railroads. With unparalleled scope and span, he documented the impact and beauty of railways in American life from 1936 to 2004.
As a child during the Great Depression, J. J. Young Jr. began to photograph railroads in Wheeling, West Virginia. This book collects over one hundred fifty of those images—some unpublished until now—documenting the railroads of Wheeling and the surrounding area from the 1930s until the 1960s.
The photographs within this book highlight the major railroads of Wheeling: the Baltimore & Ohio, the Pennsylvania, the Wheeling & Lake Erie, the Pittsburgh & West Virginia, the New York Central, and the industrial and interurban rail lines that crisscrossed the region. These images capture the routine activities of trains that carried passengers and freight to and from the city and its industries, as well as more unusual traffic, such as a circus-advertising car, the General Motors Train of Tomorrow, and the 1947 American Freedom Train.
In old England, if a king didn’t like you, he would cut off your head. Now, if they don’t like you, they’ll cut off your project!
As the Johnson Administration initiated its war on poverty in the 1960s, the Mingo County Economic Opportunity Commission project was established in southern West Virginia. Huey Perry, a young, local history teacher was named the director of this program and soon he began to promote self-sufficiency among low-income and vulnerable populations. As the poor of Mingo County worked together to improve conditions, the local political infrastructure felt threatened by a shift in power. Bloody Mingo County, known for its violent labor movements, corrupt government, and the infamous Hatfield-McCoy rivalry, met Perry’s revolution with opposition and resistance.
In They’ll Cut Off Your Project, Huey Perry reveals his efforts to help the poor of an Appalachian community challenge a local regime. He describes this community’s attempts to improve school programs and conditions, establish cooperative grocery stores to bypass inflated prices, and expose electoral fraud. Along the way, Perry unfolds the local authority’s hostile backlash to such change and the extreme measures that led to an eventual investigation by the FBI. They’ll Cut Off Your Project chronicles the triumphs and failures of the war on poverty, illustrating why and how a local government that purports to work for the public’s welfare cuts off a project for social reform.
To the Bones
VALERIE NIEMAN West Virginia University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3564.I355T68 2019 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
2020 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award finalist
Darrick MacBrehon, a government auditor, wakes among the dead. Bloodied and disoriented from a gaping head wound, the man who staggers out of the mine crack in Redbird, West Virginia, is much more powerful—and dangerous—than the one thrown in. An orphan with an unknown past, he must now figure out how to have a future.
Hard-as-nails Lourana Taylor works as a sweepstakes operator and spends her time searching for any clues that might lead to Dreama, her missing daughter. Could this stranger’s tale of a pit of bones be connected? With help from disgraced deputy Marco DeLucca and Zadie Person, a local journalist investigating an acid mine spill, Darrick and Lourana push against everyone who tries to block the truth. Along the way, the bonds of love and friendship are tested, and bodies pile up on both sides.
In a town where the river flows orange and the founding—and controlling—family is rumored to “strip a man to the bones,” the conspiracy that bleeds Redbird runs as deep as the coal veins that feed it.
West Virginia is one of the most homogeneous states in the nation, with among the lowest ratios of foreign-born and minority populations among the states. But as this collection of historical studies demonstrates, this state was built by successive waves of immigrant labors, from the antebellum railroad builders to the twentieth-century coal miners. Transnational West Virginia offers a new understanding of how laborers and their communities shape a region's history. Transnational West Virginia includes essays and studies on immigrant networks, such as Irish workers along the B&O Railroad, Wheeling Germans in the Civil War era, Swiss immigration to West Virginia, and European Jews in Southern West Virginia. This work also covers Belgian glassworkers in West Virginia, black migration to Southern West Virginia, Italians in the Upper Kanawha Valley, Italian immigration to Marion County, Wheeling Iron and the Welsh, West Virginia and immigrant labor to 1920, Monongalia miners between the World Wars, and West Virginia rubber workers in Akron. Transnational West Virginia is the first volume in the West Virginia and Appalachia series, which is under the general editorship of West Virginia University Stuart and Joyce Robbins Chair of History Ronald L. Lewis. Kenneth Fones-Wolf, Associate Professor of History at WVU, also helped edit this collection of essays by ten distinguished scholars.
Ugly to Start With
John Michael Cummings West Virginia University Press, 2011 Library of Congress PZ7.C912Ugl 2011
Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away.
Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.
Ugly to Start With punctuates the exuberant highs, bewildering midpoints, and painful lows of growing up, and affirms that adolescent dreams and desires are often fulfilled in surprising ways.
First published in 1918, Uncle Abner: Master of Mysteries is an anthology of detective stories written by Melville Davisson Post. The popular stories within this collection were serialized in national magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post in the early 20th century.
Uncle Abner is an amateur detective in present-day Harrison County, West Virginia. Throughout his journeys around this antebellum wilderness, long before the nation had a proper police system, the honest Uncle Abner is confronted by murders and mysteries that cannot be ignored. With uncanny intuition, impressive logic, and keen observation of human actions, Uncle Abner is Melville Davisson Post’s most celebrated literary creation and is considered to be one of the most important texts in American detective and crime fiction.
This new edition contains an introduction by Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire novels.
Within the picturesque borders of Jefferson County, West Virginia remain the vestiges of a history filled with Civil War battles and political rebellion. Yet also woven into the historical landscapeof this small county nestled within the Shenandoah Valley is an unusual collection of historic homes.
In this fascinating architectural exploration, John C. Allen, Jr. details his expansive seven-year survey of Jefferson County’s historic residences. By focusing on dwellings built from the mid-eighteenth century to the arrival of the railroad and canal in 1835, Allen unfolds the unique story of this area’s early building traditions and architectural innovations. The 250 buildings included in this work—from the plantation homes of the Washington family to the log houses of yeomen farmers—reveal the unique development of this region, as Allen categorizes structures and establishes patterns of construction, plan, and style.
Allen’s refreshing perspective illuminates the vibrant vernacular architecture of Jefferson County, connecting the housing of this area to the rich history of the Shenandoah Valley. Varying features of house siting, plan types, construction techniques, building materials, outbuildings, and exterior and interior detailing illustrate the blending of German, Scots-Irish, English, and African cultures into a distinct, regional style.
Adorned with over seven hundred stylish photographs by Walter Smalling and elegant drawings, floor plans, and maps by Andrew Lewis, Uncommon Vernacular explores and preserves this historic area’s rich architectural heritage.
The company owned the houses. It owned the stores. It provided medical and governmental services. It provided practically all the jobs. Gary, West Virginia, a coal mining town in the southern part of the state, was a creation of U.S. Steel. And while the workers were not formally bound to the company, their fortunes—like that of their community—were inextricably tied to the success of U.S. Steel.
Gary developed in the early twentieth century as U.S. Steel sought a new supply of raw material for its industrial operations. The rich Pocahontas coal field in remote southern West Virginia provided the carbon-rich, low-sulfur coal the company required. To house the thousands of workers it would import to mine that coal bed, U.S. Steel carved a town out of the mountain wilderness. The company was the sole reason for its existence.
In this fascinating book, Ronald Garay tells the story of how industry-altering decisions made by U.S. Steel executives reverberated in the hollows of Appalachia. From the area’s industrial revolution in the early twentieth century to the peak of steel-making activity in the 1940s to the industry’s decline in the 1970s, U.S. Steel and Gary, West Virginia offers an illuminating example of how coal and steel paternalism shaped the eastern mountain region and the limited ways communities and their economies evolve. In telling the story of Gary, this volume freshly illuminates the stories of other mining towns throughout Appalachia.
At once a work of passionate journalism and a cogent analysis of economic development in Appalachia, this work is a significant contribution to the scholarship on U.S. business history, labor history, and Appalachian studies.
WEST VIRGINIA: A HISTORY
John A. Williams West Virginia University Press, 2003 Library of Congress F241.W722 2001 | Dewey Decimal 975.4
John Alexander Williams's West Virginia: A History is widely considered one of the finest books ever written about our state. In his clear, eminently readable style, Williams organizes the tangled strands of West Virginia's past around a few dramatic events-the battle of Point Pleasant, John Brown's insurrection in Harper's Ferry, the Paint Creek labor movement, the Hawk's Nest and Buffalo Creek disasters, and more. Williams uses these pivotal events as introductions to the larger issues of statehood, Civil War, unionism, and industrialization. Along the way, Williams conveys a true feel for the lives of common West Virginians, the personalities of the state's memorable characters, and the powerful influence of the land itself on its own history.
West Virginia: Its Farms and Forests, Mines and Oil-Wells celebrates the state of West Virginia. Originally published in 1865 as a series of studies on mineral resources, observations on agriculture, and interviews with businessmen, West Virginia details the industrial statistics, terrain, and population of a state during its infancy. With no record of natural wealth or reported transactions of agriculture or geography prior to this overview, West Virginia sparked the curiosity of non-residents, enticing investment and settlement through descriptions of abundant natural resources and an agreeable industrial condition. With an introduction by Kenneth R. Bailey, this new edition reminds us of the state’s alluring beginning and rich, yet often exploited development.
The pepperoni roll, a soft bread roll with pepperoni baked in the middle, originated in the coal mining areas of north central West Virginia when Italian immigrants invented a food that could be eaten easily underground.
This spicy snack soon found its way out of the mines and into bakeries, bread companies, restaurants, and event venues around the state, often with additional ingredients like cheese, red sauce, or peppers.
As the pepperoni roll’s reputation moves beyond the borders of West Virginia, this food continues to embody the culinary culture of its home state. It is now found at the center of bake-offs, eating contests, festivals, as a gourmet item on local menus, and even on a bill in the state’s legislature.
The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll is a comprehensive history of the unofficial state food of West Virginia. With over 100 photographs and countless recipes and recollections, it tells the story of the immigrants, business owners, laborers, and citizens who have developed and devoured this simple yet practical food since its invention.
William Hal Gorby’s study of Wheeling’s Polish community weaves together stories of immigrating, working, and creating a distinctly Polish American community, or Polonia, in the heart of the upper Ohio Valley steel industry. It addresses major topics in the history of the United States in the first half of the twentieth century, while shifting from urban historians’ traditional focus on large cities to a case study in a smaller Appalachian setting.
Wheeling was a center of West Virginia’s labor movement, and Polish immigrants became a crucial element within the city’s active working-class culture. Arriving at what was also the center of the state’s Roman Catholic Diocese, Poles built religious and fraternal institutions to support new arrivals and to seek solace in times of economic strain and family hardship. The city’s history of crime and organized vice also affected new immigrants, who often lived in neighborhoods targeted for selective enforcement of Prohibition.
At once a deeply textured evocation of the city’s ethnic institutions and an engagement with larger questions about belonging, change, and justice, Wheeling’s Polonia is an inspiring account of a diverse working-class culture and the immigrants who built it.
Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians by the renowned West Virginia folklorist and former West Virginia University English professor Patrick W. Gainer not only highlights stories that both amuse and raise goosebumps, but also begins with a description of the people and culture of the state. Based on material Gainer collected from over fifty years of field research in West Virginia and the region, Witches, Ghosts, and Signs presents the rich heritage of the southern Appalachians in a way that has never been equaled. Strange and supernatural tales of ghosts, witches, hauntings, disappearances, and unexplained murders that have been passed down from generation to generation from as far back as the earliest settlers in the region are included in this collection that will send chills down the spine.
Working Class Radicals: The Socialist Party in West Virginia, 1898-1920 examines the rise and fall of organized socialism in West Virginia through an exploration of the demographics of membership, oral interview material gathered in the 1960s from party members, and the collapse of the party in the wake of the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek coal-mining strike of 1912. The first local branch of the West Virginia Socialist Party was established in Wheeling in 1901 and by 1914 several thousand West Virginians were dues-paying members of local branches. By 1910 local Socialists began to elect candidates to office and in 1912 more than 15,000 West Virginian voters cast their ballots for Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs. The progress that West Virginia socialists achieved on the electoral front was a reflection of the party’s strategy of increasing class-consciousness by working with existing unions to build the power of the labor movement. The party appealed to a fairly broad cross section of wage earners and its steady growth also owed much to the fact that many members of the middle class were attracted to the cause. Several factors combined to send the party into rapid decline, most importantly deep fissures between class and craft factions of the party and 1915 legislation making third party political participation difficult. Working Class Radicals offers insight into the various internal and external forces that doomed the party and serves as a cautionary tale to contemporary political leaders and organizers.