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Stories: A History of Appalachia

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A look at the history of Appalachia, one story at a time.

A look at the history of Appalachia, one story at a time.
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A look at the history of Appalachia, one story at a time.






The Last Civil War Veteran In Scott County

Today Rod and Steve tell the story of John Salling of Scott County, Virginia. Mr. Salling was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living Confederate veteran, until records appeared to challenge that claim. You can subscribe to the podcast at TuneIn, Google Play, Apple Podcasts or on your own […]

Duration: 00:10:37

Clifton Branham

At the turn of the twentieth century the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia were like the Old West, filled with outlaws. Among these was Clifton Branham, who lost his life at the end of a rope for murdering his wife, becoming the last man hanged in Wise County, Virginia. Today, […]

Duration: 00:15:47

Boston Corbett

Photo by Mathew Brady, Library of Congress. A special episode of Stories for you today! As we’ve mentioned, we have a new podcast in which Steve Gilly and Gena Gilly tell stories of the history of not just Appalachia, but all of America, and beyond. I wanted to give those of you who subscribe to […]

Duration: 00:18:15

The Esau System

THIS EPISODE IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK OR FOR SMALL CHILDREN. Whipple Company Store-West Virginia Historical Photographs Collection. We’ve all heard about the hardships miners and their families went through before the UMWA organized the mines. But there were some places in West Virginia where families suffered unspeakably when a miner became disabled. That’s when […]

Duration: 00:11:55

Jack Daniel

On today’s episode, Steve and Rod tell the story of the founder of Tennessee’s preeminent whiskey maker: Jack Daniel’s Whiskey in Lynchburg. You can subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts or on your favorite podcast app. We’re on Twitter @storyappalachia and on Facebook @storiesofappalachia. Here’s a tip of the glass to you…thanks for […]

Duration: 00:10:26


Today we tell the story of the worst mining disaster to occur in the United States, the explosion at the no. 6 and no. 8 mines of the Fairmont Coal Company in Monongah, West Virginia. You can subscribe to the podcast at Apple Podcasts or on your favorite podcast app. Thanks for listening. (Picture by […]

Duration: 00:09:34

Lynchings in Appalachia

On today’s episode, we look at a dark part of Appalachia’s history as we share three stories of racist mob violence and lynching in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina that occurred early in the 20th century. You can subscribe to the podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play or on your favorite podcast app. We’re […]

Duration: 00:17:40

The Case Of The Missing Appalachian Drug Smuggler

Just before Halloween, 1984, a small plane slammed into the side of Fancy Gap Mountain in Carroll County, Virginia, scattering a half-ton of pot across the mountainside. The discovery of the plane triggered an international manhunt for the Southwest Virginia owner of the plane that didn’t end until 2015 when the U.S. Attorney’s Office finally […]

Duration: 00:11:06

The Flatwoods Monster

Did some Braxton County, West Virginia, kids see a UFO back in 1952? Some folks thought so, especially after locals began exhibiting strange symptoms. Today Steve and Rod tell the tale of the Flatwoods Monster, or the Phantom of Flatwoods, as it was also called. It’s another story that makes up the history of this […]

Duration: 00:10:41

The Sodder Children

Early on Christmas Day, 1945, a fire broke out at the home of George and Jennie Sodder near Fayetteville, West Virginia, apparently taking the lives of their five younger children. I say apparently, because no remains were ever found. Not only that, the mysterious circumstances that led up to the fire, as well as a […]

Duration: 00:14:39

Governor William Goebel of Kentucky

The 1899 election for Kentucky governor was probably the most partisan election in Appalachian history, with vote-stealing and accusations of voter fraud. The General Assembly itself even divided, the Republicans meeting in one city and the Democrats in another. What set this election apart, though, was how the governor came to be sworn in and […]

Duration: 00:10:12

George L. Carter

This week we continue our look at the men who built their Appalachian empires with the story of George L. Carter. Carter not only developed coal and iron mines in Southwest Virginia, he also founded Kingsport, Tennessee, and Coalwood, West Virginia, and built his own railroad, the Clinchfield Railroad, which spanned from Kentucky to South […]

Duration: 00:21:32

The Scottish Empire Builder

Alexander Arthur was born in Scotland and settled in America, where he saw the potential of timber, iron ore, and coal, all in abundant supply in Appalachia. And he was determined to build his empire in these mountains with the founding of Middlesboro, Kentucky, and Harrogate, Tennessee, to house those who ran his iron ore […]

Duration: 00:12:08

Colonel John Dils, Jr.

Colonel John Dils, Jr., was a Pike County, Kentucky, businessman, Union soldier during the Civil War, abolitionist, and the founder of a family cemetery in Pikeville that’s now on the National Register of Historic Places. Today Steve and Rod tell his story. You can subscribe to the podcast if you’re so inclined at Apple Podcasts, […]

Duration: 00:12:53

The Black Widow

It’s time for a crime story, and we have a doozy for you! Today, Steve and Rod tell the story of a woman who had the habit of finding men who, oddly enough, ended up dead. It’s the story of Alabaman Nanny Doss, on this episode of the podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast […]

Duration: 00:13:50

The Black Hand

During the first boom in the Appalachian coalfields, there was such a labor shortage that the mine owners recruited workers from the millions of immigrants who were coming to America from Europe. And along with these immigrants came secret societies that were involved in kidnappings, extortion and murder. Today we tell the story of the […]

Duration: 00:11:30

July 4, 1900

Nowadays, celebrating the Fourth of July usually means having a cookout then loading the family into the car or van and going to watch the fireworks. But in turn of the 20th century Appalachia, it meant a whole lot more. Today, its the story of how the Fourth used to be in Appalachia, through one […]

Duration: 00:08:35

Encore: Tarzan of Appalachia

Today we tell the story of a man who lived his life to the fullest…in a loincloth out in the middle of the woods, communing with nature. It’s the story of Appalachia’s very own “Tarzan.” You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play or on your very own podcast app. We’re […]

Duration: 00:08:18

All Hail The Cheese!

The first Appalachian president, Andrew Jackson, was the recipient of a rather, shall we say, noticeable gift. In fact, this gift was quite easily found by those around the White House simply by taking in a deep breath. Today we tell the story of Andrew Jackson’s giant cheese! We’re on Facebook @storiesofappalachia and on Twitter […]

Duration: 00:08:43

Interview With Francis Gary Powers, Jr.

A few weeks ago, Rod caught up with the son of Pound, Virginia, native and U2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers, who has a new book out about his father. Todays podcast contains Rod’s interview with Francis Gary Powers, Jr. Enjoy! You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or on […]

Duration: 00:24:07

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