I read a little history for Pre modern Appalachia and learned that from 1770 to 1820 pre modern Appalachian Mountains was settled primarily by people with Scottish roots. They were mostly from Scotland and Northern Ireland. They engaged in a “kitchen garden” economy (Gary Farley). This basically just means they made the land their own and lived strictly off of the land. People during this time were more interested in living day to day and didn’t worry about becoming anything more than they were at the time. Pre modern Appalachian people had a lot of traditional values that are still alive and well today.
Some of them include personal relationships and trust, family and community over self; family works together; task –oriented work, no boss; home-centered rituals of life; local-centered life, importance of place; and rural life (Glenna Graves). These things and many more were important to the Appalachian people. Religion at this time or among these people was not a common thing. These people practiced and lived a Celtic culture. They were not use to churches or religions like the ones practiced in this region. The Celtic culture believed in ghost, witches, and warlocks.
They also believed that they could be controlled by magic and that they could cast spells. The few people that lived in these regions prior to the Scottish-Irish settlers were religious people and were mainly Baptist and Methodist. The task of these religious people was to lead the Celtic’s to accepting God as their savior. Since these people had no prior religious experience they were easy targets for the Baptist preachers. They were easy to convert to the Baptist faith which in turn led to the Baptist movement; however the Celtics people stuck to their Celtic beliefs and culture.
From 1880-1920 The main religion in Appalachian areas were Baptist and Methodist and still remain that way today. Transportation in pre modern Appalachia was land based. They continued to use wagons, and horses. Then half way through the 19th century, steamboats and railroads were built which improved transportation and offered a new world view to Appalachian residents. People were able to travel further and more people were able to access Appalachian towns. This allowed small towns to start forming. However the Appalachian people did not really care for the change in general.
They were happy and content with the way life was without all the technology coming. Most of them did not see industrialization as a good thing. Appalachian women were responsible for the household duties. They did the cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children but they also took care of the farm animals and helped their husbands take care of the land as well as farming beside them. By the 1900s, only men could work in the coal mines (http://appvoices. org/2011/02/04/intro/). Women were also known for keeping violence down.
Even though they really didn’t have a voice among the men they were able to calm down a heated argument. Women were not very outspoken in early Appalachian history. They did not have as many rights as men. They were not normally educated. Later in the 1900’s more women left rural Appalachia to become educated. A lot of them became nurses and teachers. I spoke to Mr. Kenneth Patterson about his life as a child in Appalachia Kentucky. He lived in Harlan County Kentucky. He was 6 years old in 1920. He could not remember a lot of specific things like how much money people made, but he did say that families were very poor.
His father worked strictly on the land and his mother worked from home and sometimes helped his father in the gardens. His brothers and sisters did not go to school but stayed and helped farm the land. He did not start attending school until he was a teenager and then he only went part time. Mr. Patterson’s 2 uncles worked in the coal mine and would only come home 1 day a week to have their clothes cleaned and food packed for the following week. They camped closer to the mines since it was too far and they did not have transportation or the time to go back and forth every day.
According to Mr. Patterson, work was the driving force to everything as far back as he could remember. He doesn’t remember a lot of recreation time, other than fishing with his brothers and father on rare occasions. There wasn’t much time for playing, there was always work to be done. He told me some stories about the house they lived in. It was a 4 room house which, he said was a good size home back then. He and his brothers and sisters shared a room, his parents had a room and they had a kitchen and a room they used for a sitting room.
They had 2 fireplaces, one they used for cooking in the kitchen and the one in the sitting room was used to warm the house on cold nights. The house was made of wood and you could see through the cracks from room to room. They house was always cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Their mother made all their clothes and they wore them all week. Laundry was done at the creek and only one time a week which was usually on Sunday when his uncles came home. They lived mostly on potatoes. He still says he won’t eat potatoes today because of that. Mr.
Patterson said that his family did not really associate with other families much. They had a few friends from nearby farms but mostly everything they did was with the immediate family so, their social life and sense of community was not existent back then. They did not attend church; however his mother read to them from a bible every day, mostly before they went to bed. I found his stories very interesting. Throughout most of the period of 1880-1920 most people’s social status was limited to what he did on his farm or how much his land was worth.
During this time almost all of Appalachia was poor so there was not a lot of comparison between the people. This was just the beginning of the railroads and coal mines, and there was no real money to be made in the coal mines unless you owned the mine. Few families sold some of their land and started little stores but most of these people came from other places. Appalachia was a place with little change going on for a long period of time. It was stuck in time and even in some places today it seems stuck in time.