by M Hufford · Cited by 3 — Sacagawea, Big Muskie. Devotees of draglines, in fact, refer to them fondly as “giants.” This machinery makes it possible to extract multiple seams of coal
35 pages

128 KB – 35 Pages

PAGE – 1 ============
Landscape and History at the Headwaters of the Big Coal River Valley An Overview By Mary Hufford Reading the Landscape: An Introduction fiThis whole valley™s full of history.fl — Elsie Rich, Jarrold™s Valley From the air today, as one flies westward across West Virginia, the mountains appear to crest in long, undulating waves, giving way beyond the Allegheny Front to the deeply crenulated mass of the coal-bearing Allegheny plateaus. The sandstone ridges of Cherry Pond, Kayford, Guyandotte, and Coal River mountains where the headwaters of southern West Virginia™s Big Coal River rise are the spectacular effect of millions of years of erosion. Here, water cutting a downward path through shale etched thousands of winding hollows and deep valleys into the unglaciated tablelands of the plateaus. Archeologists have recovered evidence of human activity in the mountains only from the past 12,000 years, a tiny period in the region™s ecological development. Over the eons it took to transform an ancient tableland into today™s mountains and valleys, a highly differentiated forest evolved. Known among ecologists as the mixed mesophytic forest, it is the biologically richest temperate-zone hardwood system in the world. And running in ribbons beneath the fertile humus that anchors the mixed mesophytic are seams of coal, the fossilized legacy of an ancient tropical forest, submerged and compressed during the Paleozoic era beneath an inland sea.1 Many of the world™s mythologies explain landforms as the legacies of struggles among giants, time out of mind. Legend accounts for the Giant™s Causeway, a geological formation off the coast of Northern Ireland, as the remains of an ancient bridge that giants made between Ireland and Scotland. In Native American mythologies, landforms of the American West cohere as the body parts of vast divinities, whose death precedes the emergence and growth of peoples and cultures. Contemporary Americans of many backgrounds, too, use names for body parts to label geographic forms, naming heads of hollows, gorges of rivers, or mouths of mines. Unwittingly, then, our words suggest that we likewise inhabit landscapes formed from the sundered bodies of giants. In the Appalachian plateaus, however, the works of a contemporary generation of giants are real. Flying over the plateaus, one sees the emergent formations wrought by the entities often called ficorporate giants,fl gathered up and embodied in West Virginia as fiKing Coal.fl The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

PAGE – 2 ============
2 Over the past century, the technology for wresting coal from its subterranean beds has dramatically reshaped the land. The tools have evolved into draglines (excavating machines) the size of 20-storey buildings, many of them bearing names: Big John, Sacagawea, Big Muskie. Devotees of draglines, in fact, refer to them fondly as figiants.fl This machinery makes it possible to extract multiple seams of coal once they have been exposed by blasting the mountains apart. In the wake of this process, the giants leave what are known as filandform complexesfl; rounded-off mountains, inset with wetlands drainage systems and coal-waste impoundments. Proponents of the transformed landscape argue that it creates the level land that West Virginia needs for future economic development. The emerging landform complexes appear in this perspective as artifacts of a view of history in which industry and technology lead the way along the path of progress. The landform complexes eradicate most signs of the times they displace. But around their edges, signs of other times and other experiences of the land proliferate, evidence of a history continuing to unfold. And that history is defined, in the insight of West Virginia historian John Williams, by a series of struggles. From the mid-18th through the late 19th century, there was a struggle over land, first between pioneers and Native Americans, then between speculators and pioneer settlers, and then between captains of industry and the pioneers™ descendants, many of whom entered the newly formed rural-industrial workforce. As the 20th century approached, then, the struggle over land shifted to a struggle over human resources, specifically labor. And from the mid-1950s into the present, alongside the continuing struggle of labor to maintain its ground, a struggle has intensified over environmental resources–including air, water, the biodiversity of the mountain forests, and other resources that communities need to sustain themselves physically and culturally. This history of struggle is vividly registered in the landscapes surrounding the headwaters of the Big Coal River Valley, the research area for the Coal River Folklife Project. On the palimpsest of the coalfields, each phase has been overwritten with the thresholds and touchstones of the histories people read in the land and its elements: the rocks, forest species, newgrounds, orchards, gaps, knobs, coves, swags, creeks, branches, rusting tipples, abandoned highwalls, augur holes, log cabins, trailers, company towns, and the emerging landform complexes wrought by mammoth mining machinery. Each stage of the struggle is also inscribed in the terrains of state and federal legislation, in legal landmarks designed to temper the impacts of development on quality of life and the public good in the variety of Coal River™s community spaces. Many of the photographs and sound recordings presented in this online collection are the result of a collaborative effort to make sense of the landscapes taking shape on Coal River. Reading the landscape for signs of the timesŠsigns of what has happened, what it means now, and what may yet be in store–is a vigorous cultural practice on Coal River, a way of understanding how things are faring in the continuing historical project of making Coal River home. The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

PAGE – 3 ============
3 This historical outline is intended to contextualize the photographs and recordings in this online presentation. Readers wishing to explore the collection further may do so by keyword searches on many of the names of people, places, species, practices, and historical events mentioned in the outline. Reading the landscape over the shoulders of its makers and interpreters may yield a better understanding of how things are faring with the national project of nurturing a democratic polity through cultural policy, as well. CONTENTS: A Native American Commons Early European Exploration, Settlement, and Speculation A Pre-industrial Frontier Civil War and Early Industrialization Rapid Industrialization and Colonization Great Depression, New Deal, and World War II Strip Mining, Mechanization, Outmigration, and Return Economic Restructuring and Environmental Battles The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

PAGE – 4 ============
410,000 B.C. – 1700 A.D.: A Native American Commons Voices in Place fiMy grandmother and all her brothers, they lived in Indian Creek. . . . She™d take me up in those mountains and brush the leaves off the cliffs and show me where they made their bread Œ this hole would be this big, and come down like this [indicates a conical shape]. They™d put their corn in there and take a hickory maul and pound it up to make corn bread. . . . Then they™d build a fire on these big flat rocks till they got real hot and then they™d brush it off and pour their stuff on there and bake it. . . . Then she™d show me trees where they™d hang their beef up to dry. They had grown up into trees, but she said when they used them they were just young branches, had limbs out where they could hang them in the crook and smoke them.fl — Mae Bongalis, Naoma, December 15, 1994 fiWe had a place we used to call Range Mountain, that was around about a ten- or fifteen-mile hike. Way back up there in the woods. And the old folks™ tale handed down was that the Indians, they had that place and they planted all the fruit trees–you had all kinds, pears, apples, even orange trees and grapes. Anything you want you could find up there And we used to get a bunch of us guys, ten or fifteen of us, and hike on up to Range Mountain. . . . There was a lot of fruit up there. You could get just about anything you wanted. They had hickory nuts and walnuts, big walnut trees was up there, paw-paw trees, and all that stuff. We™d bring them down and shell them and lay them out in the sun so they could dry out. We™d save them for holidays, around Christmas you™d crack them and use the walnuts for the holidays. Dried green walnuts.fl — Felix Mollett, Canton, Ohio, formerly of Edwight, May 27, 1996 fiThe first white man that ever come in on this creek, he found a peach tree growing down the creek about a mile below here, and he called it Peach Tree Creek.fl — Dennis Dickens, Peach Tree Creek, December 13, 1994 The landscapes on Coal River are haunted with a Native American presence that forms a historic and mythological backdrop in historical accounts of life in the region. Just how recent, or even continuing, might that presence be? The answers are varying and ambiguous. Some hold that Indians had left the area by the time pioneers began settling there in the 19th century. Others claim Indian ancestry, specifically Cherokee, and attribute continuing agricultural and gathering practices to Cherokee ways. Steps in History For nearly 12,000 years the uplands served as a seasonal hunting and gathering ground for Native American groups, including, most recently, the Shawnee and the Cherokee. Archeologists divide this time span into five periods: 9,500 – 7,000 B.C. Œ Paleo-Indian period. The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

PAGE – 5 ============
5 7,000 – 1,000 B.C. Œ Archaic period. 1,000 B.C. – 1,000 A.D. Œ Woodland period. 1,000 A.D. – 1700 A.D. Œ Late Prehistoric period. 1700 – 1800 A.D. Œ Historic contact. Patterns on the Land For at least some time before European contact, traditional hostilities were set aside among the tribes who relied on the rich biological diversity of the mountains for survival and regarded the mountains as a sacred place.2 And while some argue that Indians and whites never co-existed in the Coal River region, claims to Indian ancestry are common in the area. (In the census for 1880 no one claimed such ancestry, but to do so outright at that time would have jeopardized one™s property and right to vote.) Signs of Indian presence in the time of European settlement lurk in names for such features as Indian Gap and Indian Creek, Indian Mounds, Indian Trails, and camp rocks strewn with archeological evidence of Indian encampments. Various plant species and landscape elements continue to evoke accounts of an Indian presence: fiShawnee lettuce,fl gathered in spring; the fired mushroomsfl that Mary Allen said the Indians liked to gather; the charred rocks that Mae Bongalis™s grandmother identified as surfaces for cooking Cherokee cornbread. fiIndian Creek was full of Indians,fl said Mae Bongalis, who was born on Indian Creek, near Racine. Paint Creek is said to have been named for the fipainted treesfl that marked an Indian trail.3 One Indian trail proceeded along Marsh Fork from Jarrold™s Valley and up Drew™s Creek, crossing Cherry Pond Mountain through the Indian Gap.4 Artifacts and relics related to every period of Native American occupation are still found at sites scattered throughout the mountains, particularly along Indian trails and around the bedrock overhangs known locally as rock shelters or camp rocks. Newgrounds prompt accounts of Indian practices cultivating beans, corn, and squash and shaping the forest structure through fruit- and nut-tree cultivation.5 And according to Dennis Dickens, Peach Tree Creek was named by the first white settlers because they encountered peach trees planted near the mouth of the hollow. The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

PAGE – 6 ============
61700 – 1800: Early European Exploration, Settlement, and Speculation6 Voices in Place fiOver at Bowmans, there™s an old piece of the old road on the river, that you can see the old wagon marks in the rocks where the horses pulled the wagons over the rocks and when the wagons went down, they™d hold the brake and let it slide there to keep from running over the horses–old wagon cuts in the soft sand rock.fl — Rocky Turner, Naoma, April 13, 1996 Steps in History 1742 Œ Traveling in boats made of buffalo hides, John Peter Salley heads an expedition down the New and Kanawha rivers. It comes to a river meandering through mountains where, he writes, fiWe found plenty of coal, for which we named it Coal River.fl7 1760 Œ Thomas Farley, an ancestor of the Farleys on Rock Creek, settles at Farley™s Fort in Pipestem. Thomas and his son fight in the battle of Point Pleasant in 1770. 1774 Œ Governor Dunmore of Virginia grants 800 acres to Mitchell Clay Sr.8 After 1783 Œ Virginia™s governors continue to issue land grants, some as rewards for Revolutionary War service. 1792 Œ Virginia permits anyone to acquire fiwaste and unappropriated land at $2 for one hundred acres.fl A burst of land speculation follows. Patterns on the Land During the 18th and early 19th centuries Daniel Boone, for whom Boone County is named, traded in ginseng and furs–and in warfare against the Indians. The skirmishes between early settlers and Native Americans included one in which the daughter of Mitchell Clay (an ancestor of many in the region) was abducted through Indian Gap on a trail that crosses Cherry Pond Mountain to Pond Fork.9 Following the Revolutionary War, the governor of Virginia continued issuing land grants, some to soldiers in compensation for Revolutionary War service. In 1792 the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill allowing anyone to acquire fiwaste and unappropriated land at $2 for one hundred acres.fl One of the original land grants went to Thomas Dickens, an ancestor of Dennis Dickens. A frenzy of surveying and speculation in the region ensued often involving men of wealth and power who otherwise had little personal connection to the land. One of the The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

PAGE – 8 ============
81800 – 1860: A Pre-industrial, Pre-capitalist Frontier of Homesteading, Tenancy, and Forest Farming11 Voices in Place fiWhen I was young, I think everybody turned their stock outside. That really is what started the Appalachians. People could come in here with cattle, hogs, chickens, turkeys, whatever, turn them loose anywhere. They would eat chestnuts and things of that sort would last them through the winter. You™d turn the hogs out, you wouldn™t have to feed them. That™s what started this. They could dig seng, get a little money. Sell a hog, get a little money. Things was cheap. Nobody had any money. But then you couldn™t sell your corn, so they started making whiskey and they could sell the whiskey. I guess over half the people made whiskey because that was about the only way they could make a go of it. But they™d turn their stock outside. We would drive the cattle across the mountains here in March or April, and go back and get them in October. That™s all we done with them, just take them over there and leave them.fl — Howard Miller, Drew™s Creek, May 26, 1996 Steps in History 1804 Œ A salt furnace is established at the mouth of Lens Creek. 1810s Œ Drewry Farley settles on Drew™s Creek, which is named for him. (He then moves to Kanawha County.) John W. Scarbrough settles on Toney™s Fork. 1810 Œ Daniel Shumate settles at the mouth of Shumate™s Branch, a hollow named for him. He moves to the Marshes one year later.12 1812 Œ James Ellison settles at the mouth of Hazy Creek.13 1819 Œ Jacob Stover settles on Clear Fork. 1820s Œ Methodism begins to take hold in the region. 1820 Œ Jacob Pettry is raising nine girls and four boys and large crops of wheat, corn, oats, peaches and apple orchards at the mouth of Hazy. He also operates a mill and carding machine. His son Martin will settle at Marfork. 1826 Œ Thomas Dickens settles in the mouth of Dry Creek. 1828 Œ Wilson Abbott settles on Dry Creek. 1830s Œ Alexander Cantley settles on Rock Creek.14 The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

PAGE – 9 ============
9 1834 Œ The Virginia legislature declares Big Coal River navigable from St. Alban™s to Marsh Fork and appropriates money to construct locks and dams to Peytona. 1836 Œ Coal Marsh Baptist Church is founded. 1838 Œ The year is inscribed on one of the original walls of a log cabin on Rock Creek, next to the initials fiJ. C.fl 1841 Œ Alfred Beckley, John Beckley™s son and the commissioner of delinquent lands for what was then Fayette County, auctions off the Rutter and Etting land grant for tax delinquency. Francis Granger, son of Gideon Granger and himself a U.S. Congressman, buys a 47,596-acre parcel and retains Beckley as his agent to collect rents and negotiate the surveys and sales of parcels of his property. Photographs of pages from Alfred Beckley™s notebooks now in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress record his transactions with the tenants and purchasers of Granger lands in fithe Marshes,fl as the area was then known. 1847-84 Œ Described by the historian William Bone as fia period in which farms were being fully established, a new county government was growing, the wilderness was still very pervasive with giant trees and woodsfuls of predators and bears. Mills and schools were established and in the midst of this came the Great Civil War.fl In 1848, cannel coal companies mine thousands of acres on Drawdy Creek around Peytona.15 1850s Œ Although coal has been mined commercially in connection with the salt industry and shipped to outside markets on the Kanawha and Coal rivers, large-scale development of the region™s coalfield commences at this time with the discovery of cannel coal reserves. In the same decade Raleigh County undertakes a program of building, improving, and maintaining roads throughout the county. On Coal River and Cherry Pond mountains, a well-worn system of mountain crossings, footpaths, and public roads connecting neighbors and relatives living in hollows on opposite sides of the ridges is improved. Reflecting such initiatives, in 1854 William K. Abbott is appointed surveyor of fithe public road leading from the top of Horse Creek to a blazed white oak one mile above the mouth of Rock Creek.fl16 1850 Œ Raleigh County is formed from Fayette County, incorporating the Marshes. Wilson Abbott, of Dry Creek, becomes the first county assessor and records the landholders in the county™s first land book. Landholders owning more than 1,000 acres include Alfred Beckley (35,646), Edward Dillon of Richmond (50,000), Francis Granger of New York (178,846), and Pyrrhus McGinnis (11,628). Jacob Pettry, local patriarch and mill operator, owns 7,118 acres on Hazy Creek, Drew™s Creek, and Marsh Fork. Other patriarchs listed include James Jarrell, with 1,070 acres on Horse Creek, and John W. Scarbrough, with 2,100 acres on Tony™s Fork. 1851 Œ A flood destroys the system of locks and dams on Coal River. The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

PAGE – 10 ============
10Patterns on the Land In the Coal River region between 1800 and the Civil War, an expanding population of settlers engaged in a corn-woodland-pastureland system of husbandry, also known as forest farming, that integrated an open forest into a largely non-monetized, trade-and-barter economy.17 Teeming with American chestnut and other forest fodder species such as oak, hickory, hazelnuts, chinquapins, white and black walnuts, paw-paws, persimmons, and black and red mulberry, the forests provided an ideal pastureland for hogs and cattle and readily functioned as an open range for surrounding farms. The forest also provided the materials for houses, outbuildings, fences, and many farm implements. To this day, knowledge persists about the species best suited for various objects: chestnut for fence rails, yellow locust for posts, hickory for axe and broom handles, basswood for heating molasses and for bee gums. Kitchen gardens around the homes augmented the staples of corn and beans that were grown on fertile fibenchesfl in the mountains called finewground.fl fiEvery time you seen a little smoke coming out of a hollow, that was somebody clearing them up a newground,fl said Joe Jarrell, of Horse Creek. After a number of years the newground was filet go,fl for a period of forest fallowing. Pursuing a seasonal round in a biologically diverse forest system, settlers gathered a wide variety of roots, greens, herbs, and animal pelts for food, medicine, and cash (ginseng, especially, for the latter). Other activities made equally abundant use of environmental resources. Near Hazy Gap is a depression in the land known as the fiTanning Trough,fl where people tanned their animal hides. Coal was also extracted from neighborhood coal banks. Other sources of cash included butter, eggs, and moonshine, a time-honored means of using surplus corn in a way that could easily be transported to market. The success of the associated patriarchal social system hinged on large families in which even young children shared the burden of making the land productive. Some families owned the land they farmed, while others who were not initially owners were eventually able to purchase it. But for many, ownership of the large tracts of land used for hunting, gathering, and grazing remained out of reach. Indeed, to an extent, it was thought unnecessary to take out a claim on land occupied by the family for generations through what was legally recognized as fiopen and notorious possession.fl Present-day names for some of the hollows are a legacy of this forest-farming economy: Sugar Camp, Sow™s Hollow, Poplar Flats, Coal Bank Hollow. A number of project participants emphasized the value the community continues to place on fodder trees. In fact, the complex of farming and husbandry persisted into the 1950s, forming a hedge against starvation and the hard times that came with dependence on the monoeconomy of coal. The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

PAGE – 11 ============
111860 – 1880: Civil War, Early Industrialization, and the Growth of Corporations18 Voices in Place fiRight up that holler over there, I showed you where my great-grandma lived. Back during the war between the North and the South, one of the Northerns hit her across the wrist with a pistol and broke her arm. She was trying to hide her coffee. See, they™d come and take what food you had in your house, and she tied her coffee up in a little bandanna, trying to hide it, and he hit her across the wrist and broke her arm. . . . The old timers knowed then about how to put splints and things on, you know. But her arm had a knot on it, and she would show that to us.fl — Kenny Pettry, Sundial, June 28, 1995 Steps in History 1861-65 Œ The Civil War. 1863 Œ West Virginia, comprising the western counties of Virginia that opposed secession from the Union, is formed from Virginia. 1870s Œ Popular writers describe Appalachia to the rest of the nation as a colorful place inhabited by peculiar people. In the same decade, the nation™s increasingly powerful temperance advocates succeed in launching a crackdown on the production of moonshine whiskey. 1870 Œ The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad hires a man from Germany to conduct a study of West Virginia, a first step towards regional penetration by railroads and major industrialization. Published in German, the study is eventually deposited in the West Virginia State Archives.19 1873 Œ The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad completes its rail line through the New River Gorge, where coal barons including Josepher Beury, David Ansted, and John Nuttall begin developing mines. In the same year, Robert Angus Smith, a British chemist, discovers a link between the black smoke from coal-fired industrial plants and the acid rain falling on the city of Manchester.20 Patterns on the Land The Civil War left its traces on the landscapes surrounding the Coal River™s headwaters. Raleigh County, where brothers sometimes fought against brothers in the war, was invaded by both Union and Confederate troops with a reputation for helping themselves to whatever they could find. According to the historian William Bone, a Home Guard was organized under the command of William Turner. James Wood records an account of how Confederate soldiers arrested Charles Clay (Mitchell Clay™s son) with his sons, including Green Clay of Shumate™s Branch. On being questioned The Library of Congress | American Memory Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

128 KB – 35 Pages