Folk Songs from the Southern Highlands - online songbook

Southern Appalachians songs with lyrics, commentary & some sheet music.

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Great Smoky and the Southern Unakas, the order being from north to south as named. The Cumberlands of Tennessee are not attached either to this range or to the Blue Ridge but are a continuation of the low mountains of Kentucky. Until recently little was known of these high mountains of the South. Horace Kephart, the author of Our Southern Highlanders and prob­ably the best informed man of the southern mountains, tells us that when he first went to the Great Smokies he could not find so much as a magazine article that had been written about them. Kephart published his book in 1913. Four years later I made my first visit to these highlands.
A more intimate picture of life in this interesting region can best be given by drawing from personal narratives of experiences as written down at the time. The following is a detailed account of a day's wanderings down the Broad River in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the summer of 1922. Farther on its way the stream is known as the Rocky Broad. It should be distinguished from the French Broad.
There is almost invariably a foot-log at each crossing, though you have to search to find it. The trick is to follow the obscure path beginning at the point where the road crosses the stream and continue along the river till you find the log. Twice 1 found it had been washed away, and I had to take off my shoes and wade the stream.
This section is inhabited by people who are not very well to do. The houses, if they may be called such, are of the simplest structure, being usually built of logs, and containing often only a kitchen and a sleeping room. At a place where I stopped for a drink of water there were two im­maculately clean double beds in the kitchen whose bare oak floor showed no speck of dust. These people may be poor, but they are not slovenly or careless in their homes. Nor are they lacking in politeness or hospitality. At this particular place I was entertained with the sprightliest of conversation by the woman of the house and two young ladies dressed in their Sunday best. Some miles farther on the way I called for lunch. Such as they had was supplied — salt pork, hard and unpalatable cornbread, a glass of milk, and (after some search in the hen-coop) an egg, which I regarded as ample lunch, indeed.
It would be misleading to describe the land about these houses as farms. They are often mere patches of steep mountain slopes. How they can be worked at all is a wonder. A still greater wonder is how a living can be eked out. There are growing usually a little corn and a few potatoes, but not

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III