Appalachian People, Culture, and History – ROBERT SEPEHR


While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from parts of Canada to Alabama the cultural regions of Appalachia Typically refers only to the central and southern portions ranging from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia Southwesterly to the Great Smoky Mountains and is called home by approximately 25 million people Since its recognition as a distinctive region in the late 19th century Appalachia has been a source of enduring myths and distortions regarding the isolation temperament and behavior of its inhabitants early 20th century writers often engaged in yellow journalism or fake news focused on sensationalistic aspects of the region’s culture such as moonshining and clam feuding and Often portrayed the region’s inhabitants as uneducated violent and other derogatory stereotypes Well, they certainly can dance and this is called clogging by the way, but where did the Appalachian people come from And how did their culture come about? It was in the 1730’s that the ancestors of today’s Appalachian began streaming into the mountains to Escape hard times they came from Germany, England and Wales But the group that would become most prominent in the mountains Started their journey off the rugged coast of Northern, Ireland They were a grim Stern people strong and simple Swayed by gusts of stormy passion the love of freedom rooted in their hearts core They were of all men best fitted to conquer the wilderness and hold it against all comers Teddy Roosevelt a Bit of Irish history accounts for the Exodus a Hundred years earlier King James of England had grown tired of battling rebellious Scots and the lowlands the King thought he could use the Scots as a hedge against the bothersome Irish So he offered them free farmsteads in Ulster in the north of Ireland what better thing to do than To get some of the borderland Scots who were always giving you trouble to go over and whoop up on the Irish So they took advantage of it moved to Ulster got forms and he became known as Scotch Irish For 100 years the Scotch merged with the Irish they mixed their words They mixed their phrases they mixed their Horse-racing love they took in many ways the best qualities of both people After a century in Ulster the Scotch Irish were suffering religious persecution rising rents and bad harvests Tens of thousands moved on to a second migration to the new world This hybrid culture took root in the southern mountain wilderness of Appalachia The scots-irish were very quick to be among the first settlers who actually Made their permanent own In the mountains those mountains that had the funny smoky look in the morning When we were got up to the top of the mountain and set down very weary We saw very high mountains lying to the north and south as far as we could discern It was a pleasing though dreadful sight to see mountains and hills as if piled one upon the other Robert phalam 1671 Once they’d made their permanent own in the mountains They by no means were the only ones that settled in there, but they were the most colorful most influential you had the other mix of the Germans who came here and the Germans are known for their orderliness and you know their rules for everything in building really staunch barns out of material that will last The scotch-irish on the other hand tended to be more Footloose and fancy-free and the scots-irish also were more Hot-tempered than the Germans and so when the Indians attacked you wanted scotch-irish there because they were terrific Fighters, but when the Indians weren’t there the Germans were just as happy not to have the scotch-irish around It was said at the time that whereas the English when they got to America Will do a church the Germans would build a barn but the scotch-irish Would build a whiskey still whiskey making was only one of the skills that the frontier migrants brought from the old world With traditional crafts like quilting pottery and metalwork. They furnished their homes and cook their meals as they always had But the tradition closest to their hearts was music Music was especially Important it gave him comfort. It was something that they could do themselves They could see they could play their fiddles and have a dance and invite the neighbors over The most important instrument the scotch-irish brought with them was the fiddle small portable and plaintive the Old fiddle teams were greatly beloved and passed along through the generations The same rugged mountains that held in nurtured music and culture also marked the western boundary of colonial America These settlers who had come from the borderlands of England were living again on the edge of two worlds But the rich land beyond the hills was bound to call to the adventurous pioneer There was a time when going way out west been doing out to catch up the dark and bloody ground as the Indians called In 1769 a backcountry explorer forged his way across the Alleghenies After traveling dark wilderness trails for five weeks he and his men came upon a most remarkable sight. I Had gained the summit of a commanding Ridge looking round with astonishing delight beheld the ample plains the beauteous tracks below Daniel Boone Boon could see that the territory was right for farming and Six years later. He established a settlement in Kentucky He was flatly defying British orders to stay east of the Alleghenies and avoid the French who held lands to the west Throughout the 18th century English French settlers and Indians were mired in combat in Appalachia It was said a man could live from boyhood to old age and never know a time of peace The culminating battle began when the colonies declared their independence in 1776 The American Revolution was hard-fought in the mountains by all the friends and foes of the colonial cause We have to remember that the revolution was a civil war There were people on both sides By and large the people who are on the side of the crown or who were neutral are indifferent in Appalachia did not take up arms one of the assumptions of the British army that invaded the south in the 1780s was that if they reached the back country that the loyalists there would rise up and that didn’t happen Most of the Mountaineers especially the scotch-irish were fiercely committed to throwing over British rule They were among the first to sign up when George Washington sent out the call for troops The scotch-irish had declared that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent and it was from these that came that outburst of rugged and determined people that made the Declaration of 1776 possible Colonel aka McClure newspaper editor The most famous backcountry fighters were the over mountain men of Tennessee Who defeated the stalwart Colonel Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina? Ferguson had threatened to cross the Appalachians and exterminate the people if they didn’t support the king In his proclamation. He called the Mountaineers white barbarians To the colonel surprise the barbarians charged his forces Seeking cover behind rocks and chasing the soldiers up the mountain tree by tree They killed nearly two hundred British troops including Colonel Ferguson Well, they won they won because they adopted the Indian salad warfare as they had before And they won because the loyalist In the backwoods didn’t rise up in support of the British Army The surprise victory snuffed out British hopes for taking the south and was a critical turning point in making America the land of the free George Washington said if he ever had to make a last stand He would want to stand with the Overmountain boys who knew how to shoot and fight The revolution was a turning point for Appalachian the region headed into a period of significant growth and change Thousands of soldiers were rewarded with free homesteads bringing a flood of new settlers to the mountains and The proud Mountaineer would scene find himself doing battle with the very government. He had just helped bring to power The Scotsman had always known how to make liquor from barley and rye They quickly learned to use Indian crops instead wheat and corn berries and potatoes Just about anything that grew Selling whiskey was good business much more profitable than selling any of the bulky raw crops But George Washington’s government was buried in debt and one of the ways they tried to pay it off was with the tax on whiskey the settlers of the Western country were so opposed to this tax because it was very reminiscent of the taxes that were imposed on the colonists under the rule of King George England and people that were on the frontier of the rugged Individualists s– are the veterans of the American Revolution that fought to establish this country? They were very jealous of their property and their rights. They valued freedom they did not want to be told what to do by it by anyone a String of violent protests broke out from New York to Georgia It became known as the whiskey rebellion and it raged from 1791 to 1794 the New tax was not to be tolerated It was a tax that was required to be paid in cash in cash was scarce on the frontier Whiskey was a commodity that was used as money ministers were known to even accept payment for their Sunday services with whiskey it would be not uncommon when a Federal tax collector would come here that they would tar and feather one violent outbreak in the Western Carolina region they actually took the Excise tax collector and ground his nose off at a grinding wheel This was a fight. The settlers could not win Washington took 13,000 troops into western Pennsylvania under his personal command It was an army as big as the one that had fought the revolution The rebellious moonshiners were crushed Rules and regulations were bound to be imposed on these people who wanted to believe they could just be left alone The Appalachian Mountain ear could grow or make everything he needed to survive he had learned to rely on himself and Did not want Outsiders dictating how he was to think or behave in Politics or in religion for a few generations Worship was held inside the family or in the most humble Mountain Chapel The religion most had carried with them was Calvinistic tough dark and demanding the old intellectual Calvinism started giving way to this new thought that God is all loving God would like to save us all all we have to do is repent and ask for forgiveness and we can be saved That’s the doctrine of free will that we have it upon ourselves to decide whether or not to be saved Well, this is more optimistic people could get happy with religion By the 1740s this more hopeful vision was spreading like burning tinder through the mountains there began a long series of Evangelic o or Enthusiastic religious revivals known as the Great Awakenings that would last more than 80 years Ministers of every stripe swarmed into Appalachia bound to bring the unchurched into the fold Most of these people had never before seen a minister or heard the Lord’s Prayer service or sermon in their days After service, they went to revelry drinking singing Dancing and whoring and most of the company were drunk before I quitted the spot Charles would Mason Minister 1768 Presbyterians did not have enough educated ministers to reach the far-flung population The Baptists and Methodists were more successful because they commissioned farmer preachers and sent them off into the mountains They were called the circuit riders They spoke a common language with the people. They were trying to convert and inspired them to gather together for worship By 1800 the revival had found its most powerful outlet Settlers left the hills by the thousands on foot on horseback in the family wagon They traveled long days to the great camp meetings under the mountain sky My name is Robert supper today’s clog-dancing Is by Paul shel nut. Please leave a comment, please share and don’t forget to subscribe until next time




Comments
  1. This is all news to me. Thanks! One tends to think of Americans as pretty uniform in their culture. It doesn’t seem to be the case. Hail diversity. Ha ha ha.

  2. I watched this because I wanted to know the meaning of Scotch-Irish. This confirms what I had heard. Mine came from Ulster, Ireland. Named Mc clennahan and Finney. My sister lives in the Blue Mountains of Appalachia. I would love to know more about the people there.

  3. Loved it when daddy brought out the banjo and we giggled and laughed when he went to buck dancin.
    Appalachia is in your heart forever.
    Beautiful kind hardworking people I love my family. And those mountains will always be home.

  4. That was Super Cool. I'm of Mexican decent, we have soft shoe n stomping dances too lol, so human of ALL cultures to dance n stomp

  5. I love the music which grew from the culture of the people who settled this part of the U.S.A. The "history" however that is told in this documentary is a joke. King James "of England" was actually James 6th of Scotland before he became James 1st of England. The "Scotch" (that's a drink not a people – Scottish people call themselves Scottish) who went to settle in the north of Ireland were protestants. King James was a protestant and the Scots who colonised the northern part of Ireland displaced the Catholic inhabitants. They were the forebears of today's intransigent anti Catholic and anti United Ireland Ulster protestants with all that entails. There was no way on the planet that these settlers would have joined up with the mainly Catholic population of IRELAND. They hated each other. The reason that we in this country are in the mess we are in is because 10 Northern Irish Members of Parliament signed a deal with Theresa Mayin 2017 because she didn't have a majority in parliament. In return they were given £2 billion as a bribe and, of course, the government has to agree with anything those 10 people say. They are members of the D,U.P. and and they are hard line rotestants whose core support is from ordinary hard line northern Ireland protestants, including groups like the U.V.F. the U.D.A. etc. The U.V.F., if you read any real history books, included a group called the Shankhill butchers who chopped Catholics to pieces with butchers' knives just for being Catholic. I love Appalachian music, I prefer Old Timey to bluegrass, I love American music in general, I have many friends in America, most in the South – in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas but also in Chicago and Oakland CA and parts of Canada. I love your country, unlike many of my ill informed compatriots. I think the world could do without your president and our new Prime Minister but I heve never met anything but kindness and warmth from ordinary American people. It has to be said, however, that history and geography are not your strongest suits (in my case all the sciences, technology, ICT and maths). I hate the tendency to stereotype and, for me, people are people. What you do and how you act towards others is what's important whether you come from the Appalachian mountains, Texas, New Mexico or Wyoming or Alaska or Southampton (England) or Mumbai or Cairo etc etc. Best wishes to you all but send the guy who made this documentary a history book or two.

  6. I could watch the old (though probably not all that much older than me) white haired gent at the beginning all day. Does anyone know who he is? He's amazing for any age.

  7. My family is from the Appalachian mountains in Tennessee and they’ve said “the further up the mountain the thicker the accent”. Most people can understand my mom and family and sometimes I can’t either but God love em!

  8. The beautiful white haired gentleman with the grand white beard is the King of the dance. Every step, every movement is sheer perfection. Thank you for sharing this video tutorial of a great heritage WITHIN the scope of the over-all American heritage. These are a people without whom this great nation would not have become the America we know and love. It was at this time in American history when the German/Austrian side of my family joined up with the Scot/Irish side of my family, and now, many many years later, I teach my daughter of the exploits and trials of our family.

  9. Scotch and Irish, are Celtic people, that both share the Gaelic language and Druid religion, and the later Culdee Christianity. They are one.

  10. My moms side is from Eastern KY in the Appalachians. My mom was born there. I grew up in Chicago. We would go down there all the time as a kid to see family. The first time I ever breathed fresh air was in those mountains. Such a beautiful place, and the strongest people ❤️❤️

  11. I live on a small farm in Ohio's "Edge of Appalachia" region. I can see Kentucky from my back porch. The culture around here is certainly interesting. We got the river culture, the mountain culture, and hints of the midwest sprinkled throughout. Everyone's favorite meat is turtle. Greans, beans, and cornbread is a common meal, often with smoked turkey in the greens. But then we got hoecakes and jowl bacon like the midwest.

  12. I'm a mix of Scottish Irish & German. Probably more but I don't know. I love my heritage. I love my accent & how we talk – so did a lot of boys once they got to understand me, lol. We are very tough, God fearing people, for the most part.

  13. My descendants are Ulster Irish. I live in the foothills of the Appalacian Mts in western NC. I love the culture & "They ain't nary a place I'd rutha be"😁

  14. Appalachia is so distinct from the rest of the United States. Perhaps one day they will consider independence from the United States.

  15. I turn 50 this September 20th, 2019. I just built my dream retirement house, on the beach in central Oregon. I fish, crab, and search for clams every day. I have won many art awards. I have sold art all over the country and internationally. I am also a published novelist. Selling copies of my work all over the world. One of my published works is in its 5th printing and has been sold out on Amazon for the last six years.

    I was born in Wise VA and grew up in Pennington Gap, VA. After I graduated from high school, I found it impossible to get work in the mountains of my home. I left the blue ridges and struck out on my own. I quickly found, based on my THICK Lee Co. accent, I would only be chosen to shovel, lift, clean, scrub, haul, and stand in the filth no other man would tolerate. Save for immigrants from south of the border. People in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and so forth would always ask me if I was from Australia because of my accent. My accent kept me poor, tired, oppressed, and angry.

    The prejudice I experienced while living away from my beloved mountains was absolutely staggering. On more occasions than I care to count when asked where I was from–and answered, people would respond with, "…so, you're inbred?" I knew what that meant and the question was always presented to me with a smile or a giggle. No matter how hard I worked, sacrificed, slaved away… I could never get ahead. Never gain respect.

    One day I decided I had stomached enough and decided to change my dialect. I strapped on the Scottish brogue and practiced for a year before taking it public. The manner in which I was treated publically changed in such a way, I was left astonished. My wife (also born and raised in Wise Co., VA) was flabbergasted over the promotions. The higher rates of pay. The jobs with benefits I never knew existed. All of which flooded my way. For the first time in my young life, I was being treated like a human being. I purchased a house in Indiana, rehabbed it with my own two hands, and sold it for over $100k in profit after all closing costs. I decided to change my Scottish brogue to the English RP (Received Pronunciation–or Queen's English) to see what happened.

    In less than five years of working with RP English, I managed to move to the Oregon coast. I am a one minute walk from pristine white sand beaches. If I chose to leave from my back door, I am a two-minute walk from a bay where salmon, crab, and clams are in abundance. My home and land are paid off and I'm 49 years old as I type this. I have no debt. My neighbor who lives across the street from me lives in the US six months out of the year and goes back to Liverpool England for six months each year. To this day, he has no idea that I am not originally from England. None of my neighbors treat me with anything less than respect and heartfelt support when we meet. I'm living a lie… but, when I fly back home with my wife to visit my inlaws, we fly first class both ways. I have traveled all over the US and world. I am retired at 49 and have more liquid assets than I ever thought would be possible in my lifetime.

    Often I hear people here in the Pacific North West refer to people from the south as 'Southern Suckers'. I have seen and heard them mock and belittle people with a southern accent and it hurts. I have even had people mock those from the south to my face as if they expect me to empathize with this racist folly. Yellow journalism has forever shackled the wrists and ankles of the Appalachian people. Yes, we are treated as novelty humans, less than zero, like dogs to be chained to a tree out in the corner of a forgotten lot. I am proud of the lie I live. Life is easier and rewarding for me. All of my family are dead, having suffered and fallen victim to the shortened life spans of those who remain in the Appalachian mountains. I have no one left other than my inlaws who live in Coeburn, VA.

    I would have never been able to be the person I am today without having been born and raised in those smoky mountains. I love them with all my heart but have to stay away to be treated like I'm human. Prejudice in any form is disgusting and those proud souls who continue to live in the Appalachian mountains, the Appalachian way, do so honorably–with pride. I respect and salute them. I pray for them every day. And I am grateful to them for teaching me how to be tough, smart, and stubborn. Otherwise, I would have never had the life… the lie, I have chosen in life.

    Thank you for this video. I wish the rest of our country could see these people for who they really are instead of treating them like a roadside attraction.

    God bless the Appalachian mountains and all those who dwell within them.

  16. I am a mix, Scots-Irish & ancestors came in thru Mobile, Alabama while mum's family came from Germany to Canada & later to the states. Guessing this is why my clan is so screwed up. 🐽

  17. Great video! My great-grand father Jenkins skipped out on my great-grand mother (nee) Beyer. I guess a German wife couldn't civilize a Scotch-Irish husband. As an aside, some of the comments are pretty depressing, too hung up on 21st century problems.

  18. In Ireland we have Sean Nos dancing which isnt a million miles away from Clogging. Its heartening to known they are still in tune with their European heritage.

  19. I knew a young boy named Joseph Brawner. He was an absolutely captivating 'Buck dancer'. He and his sister used to be in competitions. The way those legs would fly around jointless was truly something to behold. He lived around Macon County Tennessee. I was wondering if you happen to know him? I was his teacher at Westside Elementary School at Eulia, TN, a small community by the edge Sumner County near Westmoreland,TN. Those years of teaching were eye opening to me. I just knew I had stepped back in time 85 years or so. It was wonderful. The language, the dress, the ways of those people was truly educational to me.

  20. I researched my ancestry on FamilySearch and it is free. My ancestors have lived in Piedmont North Carolina since the late 1600s. There is a lot of information on my ancestors so I love exploring the internet. I also love learning about the history.

  21. I lived in the Pennsylvania Appalachians all my life. You haven't been hiking until you climb up and down mountains in all forest. That is where I am going if society breaks down to live as a hunter gatherer, amazing place.

  22. That ‘Big Guy” may not be able to ‘clog’ real well, but I bet He makes ‘Shine’ that will kick your ass to Sunday.

  23. I wasn't aware of the negative perception that people had of the Appalachian mountain people. I also never realized the hate people had for native people, until in my 20tys, People are so particular about the way a person expresses themselves.If they don't speak like them then they must be ignorant. Thank you for the over veiw , I never new how the people came to the area , I was aware some were irish and Scotts but not how they happened in the mountains,

  24. My first cousin, Wilma Lee Cooper and her husband, StoneyCooper were playing in parks , the Grand Ole Opery. She started when she was very young, singing with her parents and siblings in churches. I loved her music. She sang a lot of gospel music but also sang love tunes. I always admired them. I always loved singing but was too shy to sing in public. We are from Valley Head, WVa. It is surrounded by mountains.

  25. I used to have a TV like that good video thank you this is my heritage and history my family were all pioneers and explores and still are today as in me. Jimvegas

  26. The music and dancing at the beginning are from the Townsend Tennessee "Old Timers" festival—there are more exceptional self-taught musicians (songs and skills handed down generation to generation) in a square mile in the Smokie mountains than any other place in this country. In this area, the Scotch-Irish, who fled the persecution by the British and settled on homesteads and land grants starting in the 1750s —-generations of families living, working the land and minding their own business. It is the annual celebration of the families of Cades Cover who whose land was stolen from them by the US government under eminent domain laws.

    In1927, once again the government, the US government this time, decided to take what the Scotch Irish settlers built, seized their land in sections of the Smoky Mountains including Cades Cove under eminent domain laws (socialistic laws that say the government at any time can take private property and use it as they see fit—it's how the federal government ends up owning most of the land in the Western US—and no one seems to question why a capitalistic democracy steal private land from its citizens).

    Once again, the Scotch-Irish who fought longer and more fiercely during the Revolutionary War were targeted by the same government they served during times of war. So every time you take a vacation into the Smokies and especially Cades Cove—just remember you are on stolen property that were the homes of Revolutionary Veteran families who built the community you are now legally trespassing on. This is but one story (and there are hundreds of stories we could tell) about corporations and governments stealing the land, resources, and lives of many of our ancestors/families after we built communities and farms.

    My family has fought for freedom on two continents since the 1500s—each generation giving lives in each US war (even those "conflicts" that were simply wars with no intention on the part of the US military to win such as Korea, Vietnam, and most recently Afganistan)—love us or hate us—-when you look for a people to serve in uniform to protect and save—-soldiers, first responders, firefighters and on and on we are always there.

    Education--many comments seem to show the prejudice and stereotypes more than the reality—we are doctors, college professors, ranchers, farmers, nurses, pipefitters, machinists, engineers, — a part of every job category…but we also know that a person's character counts first –and is reflected in the professions we choose and results we provide. In large cities, we have our own Chamber of Commerce groups ensuring the Scotch-Irish diaspora continue to serve both our people and the communities we are a part of as US citizens.

    When I read that we are not a "friendly group of people"…..it is comical. We are about family, faith in God, and preserving our culture through music/traditions. We are entrepreneurs, healers, taxpayers, and patriots. Are we friendly to strangers?? Wong question–what exactly are you bringing to our lives of value that would warrant us welcoming you into our homes or lives?? History would suggest caution is the best strategy with strangers…who historically take far more than they give.

  27. The Appalachians didn't originate from Appalachia; they brought with them to the Appalachia mountains everything they knew from Europe.

  28. Common sense is poor mans Wisdom. I’ve seen a lot of Smart people that didn’t have a lick of common sense or Wisdom. My people have been here from both sides and be they English, Scots Irish, German and a smatter that came from the Middle East into Germany. Now we are made up of all ethnic groups and it makes us more American… Great gift, thank you..🙏

  29. East Tennessee here and it was part & parcel that your little girls took a clogging class when I was growing up. It’s not as prevalent now but my daughters both attend clogging/tap lessons. I’m a sucker for tradition.

  30. What’s funny is a lot of us were so remote we didn’t even participate in the wars because we were just living in the mountains. I know that’s where my family was

  31. Come to America, land of the free. Free do do what the government tells you to do, that is. Even from the beginning with Washington crushing the poor that were just making whiskey. Nice.

  32. My parents are scottish born but from a small farming town, or it was then, outside of Glasgow. I hear bits of them in some cultures in USA. I called my parents country scottish compared to other Scots. Glasgoweans also have a wry sense of humor and they definitely took that part on . Take no guff, fight at weddings. All kinds of dancing too. My mother did what I call street ball room. Taught me to follow any guy so long as he could lead.

  33. Paul ( the dancer) did a fabulous job.. he has passion and you can tell that he has been doing it for years.. Music was really wonderful and very interesting history.
    My ex husband's family live in Southern Ohio and it wasn't unusual to have people join in with an impromptu music session on the front porch. People played with anything they could get there hands on.. Spoons were a favorite. I miss those days, but NOT my ex husband.

  34. Is worth mentioning that king James I of England was Scottish and previously titled King James VI of Scotland, until he sold out for the English crown, when Queen Elizabeth I of England died.

  35. It is pronounced AppaLATCHAN absolutely not AppaLAYSHUN!!!! And true APpalachians take great offense to the ignorant grossly misptonunciation!

  36. I'm from the Shenandoah of Virginia. My dad's family are Welch/Irish and they're generations from Culpeper, Luray. Yes, we are fiercely independent and self sufficient. We like it traditionally our way. Outsiders don't understand this about the South and mountain regions.

  37. I live in East Tennesse an their are groups that live in the mountains their whole life still. I know a guy who doesnt exist, technically. No birth certificate, no social security number. Was born and raised on his families farm.

  38. Argh! Not scotch! Scotch is whiskey. They're Scot. Not scotch. They may have made whiskey, but they weren't themselves whiskey. They were people. Scot.

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