Category: Cultural History

Folklife: The Forgotten Custom of Women Proposing to Men During Leap Year

The custom of women proposing to men during Leap Year is traced back to a legend of St. Patrick. So girls get out your scarlet flannel petticoats and make a date with your local justice of the peace!  No worries fellas! You can blame the Scots for declaring it open season on bachelors.

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Appalachian Legend: The Wild West Stagecoach Bandit Who Couldn't Ride a Horse

An Appalachian legend in his own right and Kentucky native George Brittain Lyttle aka Dick Fellows aka Richard Perkins, turned out to be the most famous stagecoach bandit of the wild west that couldn’t ride a horse!   

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Vintage Christmas: Remembering the Sears Christmas Wish Book

The arrival of the Sears Christmas Wish Book began the start of the holiday season in our household.  As a child, I remember spending hours looking through the pages of the catalog plotting my Christmas wish list.  Having to share it with my four other siblings was another story. 

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“Chief Buffalo Child” Long Lance: Tragedy of a Native American Hollywood Legend

“Chief Buffalo Child” Long Lance had a life that some people dream of having. He was a graduate of Carlisle Indian School and West Point Academy, best selling author, Hollywood actor, and life long friend of Jim Thorpe. But his past eventually caught up with him and he became a legend among one of the greatest imposters.

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People of the Dark Water: The Lumbee Controversy for Sovereignty

“They say we’re not real Indians!” For over 100 years, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina has been fighting for federal recognition amidst the controversy surrounding their heritage.

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Civil Rights in Carolina: A Native American’s Story

When one thinks of the Civil Rights era, it’s usually a black and white issue. North Carolina, however, was one of the few states labeled tri-racial. There were three school systems, three seating areas, and three water fountains. Descended from the Tuscarora tribe and member of the North Carolina Coharie Tribe, Hughie Maynor’s family and ancestorial roots historically date back to before 1712. But during the years leading up to the Civil Rights Movement, he faced hardship and adversity, from extreme poverty to tri-segregated schools. When he was 13 years old, he helped organize and participate in North Carolina’s first Native American Sit-In protest in 1960 that took his fight all the way to the federal courts.

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Folklife: The Ghostly Legend of Wicked John and the Devil

Storytelling has been a long-standing deep-rooted tradition with Appalachian families.  The pioneers of Appalachia developed an elaborate structure of folklore combined with various tales that were passed on orally from one generation to the next.  These oral histories were told to ensure the preservation of their community.

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Folklife: Creasy Greens and Leather Britches

The time-honored saying of “Kissing don’t last, cookery do!” seems to characterize our memories of the old ways of cooking in the South and Appalachia. 

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Appalachian Folk Magic: The Witch Bottle

There is an old Irish tale passed down through the generations about a clairvoyant and healer who carried a magic bottle.  Biddy Early (Bridget Ellen “Biddy” Early, 1798-1872) became known as a witch when she foretold the murder of a Limerick landlord she was employed by as a servant.  When her premonition proved true, she gained a reputation as a witch. 

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Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson: The Last Medicine Show

Medicine shows served as rural entertainment before the days of radio and television. The traveling shows provided an outlet for unknown independent musicians, comedians and dancers to promote their songs and talent.

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