History

A man on the train tracks. Near the scene of the miners' protest in Harlan Co., KY.
CURREN SHELDON

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll look at how our history is intertwined with our future. We’ll hear from coal miners and children about how they are reshaping Appalachia, while remembering the past. Also in this episode, we’ll hear from a woman who found recovery, and a job, after struggling with drug addiction for more than two decades.

And we’ll hear from some of the miners in Harlan County, Kentucky who are protesting their employer, coal operator Blackjewel LLC. We’ll talk about what the protest says about the state of organized labor in the mines.

Emily Allen / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


It's been nearly a century since thousands of pro-union miners marched into Logan County, West Virginia, to protest abuses by coal operators in what used to be largely anti-union territory.

DAN SCHULTZ/ TRAVELING 219

The Tygart Valley Homestead Association in Randolph County is celebrating the opening of a new community center inside their historic school building that first opened in 1939. The school was originally part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Homestead projects.


Trish Hatfield with her husband Jim and their son Ben. Trish’s question “Where does the phrase, ‘West by God Virginia’ come from?” won our latest Wild, Wondering West Virginia poll.
Courtesy of Trish Hatfield

Here at West Virginia Public Broadcasting we’ve been asking listeners what they wonder most about West Virginia.

The latest question that won out in an online poll came to us from St. Albans resident Trish Hatfield. She asked “Where does the phrase ‘West by God Virginia’ come from?” WVPB reached out to experts across the state and discovered one of the first times the phrase was found in a publication — and we have a good idea why it has stuck around.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore the history of a certain, very well-known phrase throughout the Mountain State – “West by God Virginia.” And we look at the latest news headlines.

The train bridge across the New River as seen from Hawk's Nest in Fayette County, W.Va.
Eric Douglas / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Our next Wild, Wondering West Virginia question comes to us from Trish Hatfield of St. Albans, West Virginia. Her question won the latest voting round of popular questions.

Trish asks, “Where does the phrase, ‘West By God Virginia’ come from?” West Virginia Public Broadcasting got in touch with her to learn more about her curiosity. 

Dolly Sods, spruce trees, landscape of valley below
Chad Matlick / WVPB

Our most recent Wild Wondering West Virginia question came from Wheeling resident Brian Joseph. He wanted to know about the Appalachian Mountains and their sister mountains, and how they shape who we are.

“Sometimes we forget. We think we are who we are, but remember even our state motto: Montani Semper Liberi - which is, mountaineers will always be free.”

With SB 451 – comprehensive education reform – effectively dead, attention now turns to another bill that’s stirring up controversy at the statehouse and around West Virginia. HB 2519 – the Campus Self Defense Act – is on the fast track. The bill would allow people with concealed carry licenses to carry their  guns on college campuses.

Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, W.Va. played a pivitol role during the American Civil War.
Mark Frickett / Wikimedia Commons

Undergraduate students from any college or university in the United States can spend a semester immersing themselves in the study of the American Civil War here in West Virginia beginning next year.

Daniel Walker/ WVPB

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re going on a road trip to meet people who are working in Appalachia to preserve American culture and traditions.

Clio App Maps History in West Virginia, U.S.

Jul 20, 2018
WVPB

You know those historic metal plaques that sit along West Virginia roadways and describe historic events or the stories behind small towns? Imagine the same idea -- but in a digital version.

Five years ago, David Trowbridge, a history professor at Marshall University, created Clio, a digital history guide with more than 30,000 original entries from sites across the country. The app and website were recently honored by the National Humanities Alliance in Washington D.C.

Luke Mitchem

Ten folklore students from George Mason University in Virginia recently spent a week visiting central and southern West Virginia. They traveled to five counties to learn more about the culture, stories and history found throughout our area and how traditions have impacted the personal lives of several West Virginians. 


The Happy Retreat mansion in Charles Town, W.Va. Formerly the home of Charles Washington, founder of Charles Town and brother to President George Washington.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Happy Retreat is a historic mansion in Charles Town that was once the home of Charles Washington – founder of Charles Town and brother to the nation’s first president. Today, the house is becoming a hub for public events, community outreach, history and tourism.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, we visit communities impacted by creation of flood-control lakes. In one, the Village of Lilly, about 40 families were pushed off their land along the Bluestone River in Summers County, W.Va., in the 1940s. Many of these families had lived there for more than 200 years. 


Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Now that thousands of striking teachers across West Virginia have returned to work with a pay raise and a promise to fix their health care plan, how might their actions inspire others? It’s one of the questions we’ll explore on this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia.


Acts of violence and protests resisting racial integration were features in many American communities in the 1950s and 60s. A tiny town in the coalfields of South Central West Virginia appears to have been a notable exception.

Benny Becker/ WMMT

Too many times, when stories of Appalachia are in the national spotlight, we hear shallow, shocking and grim stories. But they miss some of the most inspiring aspects to our realities: the struggle, the perseverance and the resilience.  On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia we’ll meet storytellers who work to help Appalachians tell their own stories, and capture the true Appalachian spirit behind the statistics.

John Brown
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

As some communities consider removing Confederate monuments, the state of Vermont is formally honoring West Virginia abolitionist John Brown. 

John Brown’s 1859 raid was an important step in the events that led to the Civil War, and to the creation of West Virginia. 


October 16, 1942: Devastating Flood Strikes Harpers Ferry

Oct 16, 2017
Harpers Ferry nestles between two rivers
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Roger Spencer

A devastating flood struck Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1942. Ironically, it occurred on the 83rd anniversary of John Brown’s raid—the event that forever put Harpers Ferry in the history books.

The town’s early history was tied to water. In the 1740s, settler Robert Harper established a ferry there, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, giving the town its name. Then, based on a recommendation from George Washington, one of the nation’s two government armories and arsenals was built at Harpers Ferry.

USDA/ Daniel Boone National Forest

In this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, we visit communities impacted by creation of flood-control lakes. Like the Village of Lilly, where back in the 1940s, about 40 families were pushed off their land along the Bluestone River in Summers County, West Virginia. Many of these families had lived there for more than 200 years. 

Inside Appalachia Host Jessica Lilly has deep roots to this community, as we hear in this episode. 

courtesy Emily Hilliard

Here in Appalachia, it’s apple season. And that means apple growers are sending this year’s crop to farmers markets and grocery stores. But the majority of the apples grown here get sent to manufacturers to be used in apple sauce and apple juice. By the way, did you know that Golden Delicious Apples originated right here in West Virginia?  In fact, apples are our state fruit. 

Mark Regan Photography

Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. After decades of widely publicized campaigns with names like “the War on Poverty”, living on low income often comes an extreme sense of shame and self-doubt. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear different ways of reporting on financial security, or lack thereof. From a coal miner who lost his job, to a long-time welfare director, how do we talk about folks who are good at making do with what they have? How do we react when we hear these stories? 


Medals, Medallions, Harpers Ferry
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

There’s a group based in Jefferson County, West Virginia focused not only on improving health and wellness but also on incorporating the local community and history into that health experience.

Emily Hilliard/ WV Folklife Program

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we take a road trip to explore stories of people who are reviving Appalachian traditions, like baking salt rising bread or making sorghum sweeteners.

Some folklorists, artists and educators are wondering what the future of traditional arts in the country will look like. On Friday, the West Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill that would eliminate the state's Secretary of Education and the Arts and reorganize several of the departments the position oversees. Most of those departments oversee cultural and arts programs like the state archives, the state museum, the annual Vandalia music gathering and West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The bill still needs to be approved by the state Senate to take effect.

Roger May

This week on Inside Appalachia, we travel to Cedar Grove, West Virginia, home of renowned novelist Mary Lee Settle. On this episode, we explore surprising, hidden histories through the work of Settle and the voices of women from Cedar Grove.

Zoe van Buren

Old time musician Jim Costa gave a performance at the West Virginia Humanities Council Wednesday night. It was part of the West Virginia Folklife Program.


Paw Paw
Joey Aloi

Those who’ve eaten a pawpaw before often say that the creamy, tropical fruit resembles a mix of a mango and a banana, or a mango and an avocado. They often can’t believe that the fruit is native to Appalachia.

On this week's episode, we’ll hear from a midwife who started delivering babies in the early 1970's. We find out what it’s like to deliver a baby at home. And we speak with one doctor about why she opposes home birth. We also visit a famous hippie commune in Appalachia that's said to be the birthplace of modern midwifery.


Roger May

  This year marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of a series of novels called The Beulah Quintet.  The novels are by the late Mary Lee Settle, a writer who set out to capture moments in West Virginia history when a revolutionary change was at stake. Today's economic uncertainty here in Appalachia has many people wondering whether we are also living in the midst of a transition.

Harpers Ferry, Harpers Ferry Fire, Fire
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Harpers Ferry is moving right-along in its rebuilding process since a fire devastated four historic buildings last July.

We last heard on the status of the Harpers Ferry rebuilding process back in December. Now, as we begin approaching summer and the one year mark since the fire, the town is getting closer and closer to being restored.

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