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Blood in the Hills

A History of Violence in Appalachia

edited by Bruce E. Stewart

Publication Year: 2012

To many antebellum Americans, Appalachia was a frightening wilderness of lawlessness, peril, robbers, and hidden dangers. The extensive media coverage of horse stealing and scalping raids profiled the region’s residents as intrinsically violent. After the Civil War, this characterization continued to permeate perceptions of the area and news of the conflict between the Hatfields and the McCoys, as well as the bloodshed associated with the coal labor strikes, cemented Appalachia’s violent reputation. Blood in the Hills: A History of Violence in Appalachia provides an in-depth historical analysis of hostility in the region from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Editor Bruce E. Stewart discusses aspects of the Appalachian violence culture, examining skirmishes with the native population, conflicts resulting from the region’s rapid modernization, and violence as a function of social control. The contributors also address geographical isolation and ethnicity, kinship, gender, class, and race with the purpose of shedding light on an often-stereotyped regional past. Blood in the Hills does not attempt to apologize for the region but uses detailed research and analysis to explain it, delving into the social and political factors that have defined Appalachia throughout its violent history.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: New Directions in Southern History

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Series Page

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p. ii-ii

Bluecoats and Tar Heels: Soldiers and Civilians in Reconstruction North Carolina Raising Racists: The Socialization of White Children in the Jim Crow South The New Southern University: Academic Freedom and Liberalism at UNC Entangled by White Supremacy: Reform in World War I–era South Carolina Cultivating Race: The Expansion of Slavery in Georgia, 1750–1860...

Title Page

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p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Perhaps no other region in the United States has been subject to as much misconception and stereotyping as has Appalachia. For many Americans, Appalachia was—and still is—a land of backwardness, poverty, hopelessness, and violence. It is—to use the words of journalist Dan Rather—“a place that seems like something out of another country.”1 Appalachia often ...

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pp. 1-24

On the afternoon of September 20, 1967, Canadian Hugh O’Connor and four other television journalists arrived at the hamlet of Jeremiah in Letcher County, Kentucky, to film a documentary on poverty in Appalachia. As they began to interview coal miners living on the property of Hobart Ison, an eccentric sixty-seven-year-old man whose family had migrated to the ...

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Chapter 1: Violence, Statecraft, and Statehood in the Early Republic

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pp. 25-52

In December 1784, a small contingent of upper Tennessee Valley political leaders met in Washington County, North Carolina’s, rustic courthouse to discuss the uncertain post revolutionary political climate that they believed threatened their regional political hegemony, prosperity, and families. The Jonesboro delegates fatefully decided that their back country communities ...

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Chapter 2: "Devoted to Hardships, Danger, and Devastation"

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pp. 53-79

In 1787, politician Timothy Pickering described the Pennsylvanian frontier’s Wyoming Valley as home to a wild and brutish people: “The natural instability of . . . that settlement, where during so many years they have lived in anarchy—where they have been taught to abhor the government of Pennsylvania . . . warrants the suspicion that a large number of [settlers] ...

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Chapter 3: "Our Mad Young Men"

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pp. 80-98

Attakullakulla was one of the most influential Cherokee headmen in 1761. Customarily referred to as Little Carpenter by the English, Attakullakulla had long been a proponent of the Anglo-Cherokee alliance. His diplomatic and trading connections to Charleston and Williamsburg usually served him and his people well, but March 1761 was an especially tense period for ...

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Chapter 4: The "Ferocious Character" of Antebellum Georgia's Gold Country

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pp. 99-124

In 1833, a miner in Auraria, in the heart of Appalachian Georgia’s recently developed gold mining region, exclaimed in a letter home: “I have never before been amongst such a complete set of lawless beings.” At the same time and place, an exasperated judge described his fellow residents as “thieves, gamblers, and murderers—quarrelsome, drunk, and malicious—...

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Chapter 5: "A Possession, or an Absence of Ears"

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pp. 125-144

Henry Tudor, an English lawyer traveling through the Appalachian Moun-tains of eastern Kentucky in the early 1830s, found just what he was look-ing for. As he begins his two-and-a-half-day coach trip from the mountains westward to the Ohio River, he shares with the readers of his travel narra-tive the tenor of what he expects to find among his fellow travelers—namely, ...

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Chapter 6: Violence against Slaves as a Catalyst in Changing Attitudes toward Slavery

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pp. 145-179

In the three decades before the Civil War, escalating tensions over the issue of slavery between North and South led to the development of differing images of each section in the popular perceptions of the American people. Southerners increasingly saw their northern counterparts as rabid abolition-ists, determined to destroy the peculiar institution immediately and with ...

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Chapter 7: "These Big-Boned, Semi-Barbarian People"

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pp. 180-206

...“It is a good deal the fashion to ascribe to this transmontane country an un-due share of that moral and intellectual darkness . . . characteristic of the back woods settlement.” So wrote an anonymous mountain resident to the Ashe-ville Citizen in 1883, angry over the media’s portrayal of western North Caro-lina as a violent and uneducated region. “The error begins with ignorance of ...

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Chapter 8: "Deep in the Shades of Ill-Starred Georgia's Wood"

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pp. 207-236

In the fall of 1876, Mormon missionary John Hamilton Morgan answered a call from church president Brigham Young. He was to go to the South, to join other elders there in a new effort to win converts for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Morgan quickly determined that he would make the counties of northwest Georgia his mission field, and ...

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Chapter 9: Race and Violence in Urbanizing Appalachia

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pp. 237-271

By 1893, the barely ten-year-old city of Roanoke had become the economic engine of Southwest Virginia. A booming railroad hub with bustling ma-chine shops and iron mills, the “Magic City” was on the brink of becoming one of the New South’s shining examples of post–Civil War industrial triumph. That narrative, however, suffered a catastrophic blow in late ...

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Chapter 10: Assassins and Feudists

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pp. 272-313

In February 1900, William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal printed a poem written by Ambrose Bierce, alluding to the recent shooting death of Kentucky’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate William Goebel. It also proved alarmingly prophetic for another office-holder of the day. When self-styled anarchist Leon Czolgosz killed President William McKin-...

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Chapter 11: "A Hard-Bitten Lot"

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pp. 314-339

A typical Saturday-night payday crowd had gathered in James Collins’s saloon. Yet, as too often occurred, arguments erupted, tempers flared, and Collins soon found himself in a fistfight with patron Clarence Staten. Although victorious in the contest, Collins grew apprehensive and concerned when Staten publicly declared that he intended to kill the proprietor before ...

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Chapter 12: "The Largest Manhunt in Western North Carolina's History"

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pp. 340-379

...“In the heart of an uncharted range of mountains with a crippled blood-hound following the scent with gasping choking sobs, the Negro, sought unrelentingly for five days, tonight was believed near exhaustion.” Thus, in the summer of 1927, a correspondent for the Raleigh News and Observer reported the latest news from a manhunt in western North Carolina, where ...

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Chapter 13: The Murder of Thomas Price

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pp. 380-396

Thomas Price loved horses. In fact, he loved animals of all kinds. He also loved the southern mountains. He discovered Haywood County, North Carolina, during a vacation just before World War I and, like many, grew to love the region’s natural landscape and mild climate. He also developed a love and admiration for the people of western North Carolina that, while ...


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pp. 397-401


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pp. 401-412

E-ISBN-13: 9780813134314
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813134277

Page Count: 448
Illustrations: 35 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: New Directions in Southern History