The Real People of Appalachia

Culture of the Appalachian Mountains

My first impressions of Appalachia were formed as a child. I grew up in the sixties, and I remember seeing news bits and commercials about ending poverty in Appalachia. In retrospect, I assume it was part of the “war on poverty.” To me, Appalachia was some remote, isolated area of the country where all the people were starving, ignorant, and impoverished. People dressed in rags, and shoes were a rarity. The population of the Appalachians was violent and bloodthirsty, and the members were always fighting and feuding with each other. I was also sure that these folks were extremely suspicious of strangers, and they probably sat on their front porches with shotguns across their laps, just waiting for some nosy outsider to trespass on their land.

It’s easy to understand how impressionable a child’s mind can be. As I grew up and became a little more knowledgeable, it dawned on me that I had visited Appalachia many times, on vacations with my family to the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachians. Appalachia wasn’t some far-away location – it was in my own state. But try as I might, I couldn’t recall seeing any of the types of people that had been depicted on TV. As I learned later, that was because we had only visited tourist centers in the Appalachian Mountains. We hadn’t come in contact with the “real people” of Appalachia. I wouldn’t have that unique experience until I was eighteen years old.

The Appalachians are blessed with amazing beauty and natural resources.
The Appalachians are blessed with amazing beauty and natural resources.

Appalachia and the Appalachian Mountains

The region of the United States known as Appalachia basically follows the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachians run from Labrador south to Alabama, about 2,100 miles, in all. The term “Appalachia,” however, is more of a socio-economic term than it is one of geography. Geography does play an important role, though. I think it’s because of the Appalachian Mountains that their inhabitants are the way they are. Before highways were built, these people were largely cut off from the rest of the world. Out of necessity, they had to learn to be independent from outsiders. By the time good roads were built through the Appalachians, the people were already entrenched in their age-old customs, traditions, and way of life, deciding they didn’t want or need the outside world.

Many people now living in the Appalachian Mountains are descendents of Scot-Irish who immigrated to America in the 1700s. Many left Europe in order to seek a better life and to escape religious persecution. As the colonies began to get more populated, settlers began to push farther west. The Appalachians were hard to navigate, but when the Cumberland Gap was discovered, traveling in the Appalachians was a little easier. The Scot-Irish carved out small farms and homesteads in the remote hollows and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains. For the most part, they were and still are small farmers, loggers, or coal miners. And yes, some were and are moonshiners.

Many parts of the Appalachian Mountains are remote and difficult to access.
Many parts of the Appalachian Mountains are remote and difficult to access.

Where is Appalachia?

In 1965, the Appalachian Regional Commission identified 420 counties as being part of Appalachia. As I’ve already mentioned, Appalachia generally follows the Appalachian Mountains. Below is a list of states and their number of counties considered to be part of Appalachia:

Alabama – 37 counties

Georgia – 37 counties

Kentucky – 54 counties

Maryland – 3 counties

Mississippi – 24 counties

New York – 14 counties

North Carolina – 29 counties

Ohio – 32 counties

Pennsylvania – 52 counties

South Carolina – 6 counties

Tennessee – 52 counties

Virginia – 25 counties

West Virginia – entire state

NOTE: I'm not trying to say that all the people living in the Appalachian Mountains or in the counties considered as Appalachia are all the same. For example, I was shocked to see some of the Georgia counties that are on the list, some of which have a large percentage of professionals, white-collar workers, and excellent schools. This article is more about the true "diehards" of Appalachia - the ones who fit the traditional mold and who prefer to remain apart from mainstream America. These people are fascinating!

A simple life in the Appalachian Mountains:

Appalachian Mountains version of the English language:

Appalachian dialect:

The English language of Appalachia

If you’ve read many of my hubs, you know that I’m fascinated with English language and its different dialects. If you’ve ever heard authentic Appalachian speech, you know that it’s definitely different than the English language with which you’re familiar. When I was in college, one of my English language professors told me that the English spoken in the Appalachian Mountains is more similar to Middle English than modern English is. Since my college days, I’ve done some research on this, and I’ve discovered that some linguists agree with my old college professor, but some don’t. In the Appalachian dialect, “R”s are usually pronounced with more emphasis, similar to Old Scottish. Linguists do agree that of all the English language dialects spoken in the United States, the dialect spoken in southern Appalachia has the strongest Scottish influence.

Parts of Appalachia, especially in the southern section of the Appalachians, have their own unique vocabulary words and sayings. When I first met my present husband, I noticed that he spoke a little differently and used words with which I wasn’t familiar. Johnny’s from North Carolina, and while he’s not from one of the counties considered to be a part of Appalachia, his family is. Some of Appalachia rubbed off on him, I guess. Below are some of the words he uses:

“gommed up” – messed up

“poke” – sack or bag

“mar up” – to sink in soft mud

“hose pipe” – garden hose

“dibbies” – baby chickens

“cattywonkers” – sideways or askew

“tile” – towel

“tar” – tire

“shire” – shower

“war” - wire

My first experience with the real Appalachia

I got married the first time when I was eighteen. My husband at the time worked for an agricultural chemical company, and occasionally, he would have to deliver large amounts of fertilizer to other states. I’d usually accompany him on these trips. We were both young and adventurous, so the out-of-state deliveries were almost like a vacation for us. We’d eat fast food, listen to the radio, talk on the CB, and smoke cigarettes as we barreled down America’s highways. At night, we’d sleep in the big sleeper cab of the tractor-trailer.

He had to take a large load to the northwest corner of South Carolina, and when he asked me if I wanted to join him, I was ready. As it turned out, the journey was a real eye-opener for me. I got to experience the real Appalachia – firsthand.

In case you’re thinking that South Carolina isn’t part of Appalachia, it is. The part of the state we visited was mountainous, and where we went was extremely remote. A big farmer and landowner had ordered a truckfull of products, and we were to deliver them to his chief tenant farmer, a guy named Ralph. Ralph and some of the other tenants were to meet us and unload the truck. We had detailed directions, so we snaked our way through winding country roads that were steadily climbing, until we reached a point where the truck simply gave up. We had to call the farmer and explain the situation. He made arrangements for us to park the truck nearby, and he sent his hands in their pickups to receive the merchandise.

They arrived in a convoy of old banged-up vehicles, a couple of which didn’t have doors. The appearance of the men startled me, even though I was used to seeing farmer types on a daily basis. For the most part, they wore faded overalls that had patches on patches, and I’m not sure there was a full set of teeth among them. They were dirty and disheveled, but that was to be expected. These men worked the land. One of the guys had a long beard, and I was convinced that his weathered face had never met a razor. What struck me most about this group, however, was their demeanor. They were some of the friendliest people I had ever met.

Ralph invited us to his house for supper. It was late on a Friday evening, and there’s no way we wanted to navigate those roads again in the dark. We accepted Ralph’s invitation and joined him in his pickup.

I thought the roads we had already traveled were tough, but they didn’t compare to the trek we took with Ralph. We climbed even more as we crept up a mountain and maneuvered hairpin turns. Finally, we reached Ralph’s place, which sat on top of a summit in South Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The view was breathtaking. As I looked westward, I saw rows and rows of green ridges bathed in the light of the setting sun.

Ralph’s house was a simple affair, an old wooden farmhouse that had never seen a coat of paint. They had electricity and running water, but there was no modern plumbing. I was directed to the outhouse to relieve myself, and Sook, Ralph’s wife, handed me a roll of toilet paper as sort of an afterthought. Well, I thought, at least I wouldn’t have to use corncobs.

The couple’s kids were grown and out of the house, so it was just the four of us for dinner. And what an amazing meal it was! It was like sitting down to enjoy a meal like my Grandmother used to make. This was in the summer, so we all kinds of fresh vegetables that had been produced on the farm. We also had some of the best fried chicken I’d ever tasted, and when I remarked on it, I learned that Sook had raised the bird, too. We had homemade biscuits and cornbread, and for dessert, we had peach pie made from – you guessed it – Sook’s peaches.

After we waited for a respectable amount of time after eating, we announced that we needed to get back to the truck. Sook and Ralph looked at each other, both crestfallen.

“Well, we thought you folks might hang around a bit. It’s Friday night, and we always play music on Friday and Satdy nights. We got people comin’ over,” Ralph explained.

We agreed to stay awhile, and I’m glad we did. Ralph explained that everyone met at his house on the weekends because it was the nicest. The other men didn’t have electricity, nor did they have running water. As Ralph said, “Hits hard to play the banjer without no lectric lights to see by.”

Soon, some of the men we’d met earlier, along with some neighbors and Ralph’s son, began to arrive, with wives, kids, and musical instruments in tow. They had guitars, a mandolin, a bass, and two fiddles to accompany Ralph’s banjo. The gathering place was Ralph’s sprawling front porch, and the music was amazing. I’d always enjoyed Bluegrass, and all these guys were masters at plucking and fingering their instruments. I knew a few of the songs, and they encouraged me to sing along. Every so often, the “band” would stop for a break and pass around a jug of ‘shine. I didn’t partake. For the women and kids, there was cold, sweet lemonade.

Ralph and Sook convinced us to spend the whole weekend with them. Even though they offered us a bed, we chose to sleep in the truck. Ralph drove us to our sleeper that night, and the next morning, he came to pick us up for a huge farm breakfast prepared by Sook. After the meal, Ralph and my husband left to do some farm chores, and I spent the day at the house. Sook was canning vegetables for part of the time, and I tried to help, but she wouldn’t have it. I had brought my sketch pad and pastel pencils with me, so I set out to try to capture the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains that surrounded me.

Around noon, I saw the men return, so I moseyed back to the house. I was still full from breakfast, so I was glad to discover that we were having a “light” lunch of sandwiches – big slabs of cured ham stuck in biscuits. As we ate, Ralph explained that they usually “knocked off” at dinnertime (noon) on Saturdays, and they often had a barbecue with the family and neighbors. They had some pork chops from a pig Ralph had killed, but Sook decided we’d need a few chickens, too. She went out in the yard, caught two chickens, and adeptly wrung their necks. She hung them upside down on a nail to bleed, then she dipped them in hot water and plucked them.

The same crew that had joined us the night before returned to Ralph’s, along with others we hadn’t met. As the meat cooked on the huge grill made from a metal drum, everyone visited. All the women had brought side dishes to go with the barbecued chicken and chops, and I don’t think I had ever seen such an array of vittles! It was like being at a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet. There was slaw, potato salad, cornbread salad, mustard greens, macaroni and cheese, black-eyed peas, stewed squash, green beans, fresh tomatoes, fried zucchini, new potatoes, corn on the cob, fried corn, baked beans, and all kinds of desserts.

Ralph and some of the other men had built a big fire away from the house. When everyone was stuffed, the musical instruments were taken out, and we sat on bales of hay around the flames and enjoyed another Bluegrass concert. After a few hours, the party began to break up. We said our goodbyes to everyone, and Ralph took us to the tractor-trailer. We left early the next morning, without returning to Ralph’s and Sook’s.

Spending time with the real Appalachians was an unforgettable experience for me. I learned a lot about their lives, and I formed a deep appreciation for their plight. These people weren’t stupid, although they were uneducated. Few of the older ones I met had gone past the sixth or seventh grade, and few of the younger ones had completed high school. They had very little trust in “gubmint,” and relied on each other instead. They were fiercely independent, and they were almost completely self-sufficient. They grew their own food, they hunted, they fished, and they cut their own firewood. They had root cellars for storing fruits, vegetables, and potatoes. They also made their own entertainment – I don’t think any of the ones we met owned a television. They rarely saw a doctor, and they never went to a dentist. They had a deep respect and love for the land, and they depended on it for their survival.

It was hard for me to grasp that there are still people like this in modern-day America. How do they live without the things that most of us take for granted – indoor plumbing, electricity, television, computers, microwaves, shopping malls, health care professionals, and higher education? When I posed a similar question to Sook, her answer was simple: “We don’t need ‘em. We’re better off without ‘em.”

Of course, this point can be debated for years. I admit, these people seemed very happy. They didn’t seem to miss all the trappings of the modern world. They had all they needed from their strong faith in God, from the land, and from each other. They were some of the most gracious, kind, and generous people I’ve ever met. They weren’t violent or clannish, as the stereotype would imply. They love life, and they love people. They don’t care, for the most part, about having wealth, power, or position. Who am I to say that my way of life is better?

Watch this video!!

Some comic relief!

When I was researching the Appalachians, the people living in the Appalachian Mountains, and the cultural aspects of Appalachia, I ran across a funny video. I'm not making fun of hillbillies - I'm married to one! I just thought we needed some comic relief after such a serious topic.

My favorite Bluegrass song:

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Comments 109 comments

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Thanks for writing and share about Appalachian Mountains. I had never heard about this mount before. I really enjoy all information, including all pictures and the video as well. Good job, Habee. Vote up as usual.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

I appreciate that, Prasetio!

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

This is a wonderful article on the Appalachians habee. The culture, language, and first person experiences you write on are so cool. Yep, South Carolinas got a fair piece of them. Have you ever been to Whitewater Falls on the N.C., S.C. line? I've never heard some of the mountain speak you've written, like "dibbies" for chicks. The vids are super too. Enjoyed reading about your time with Ralph and Sook. Mountain folk can be some of the friendliest in the world. Thanks for a great Hub habee. Hill-Billies Rock!!!

Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia

Learn so much my dear fellow hubber, you opened the door for me to the amazing place on the side of the world....thank you:)

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This area of the country is so beautiful. Thanks for giving us some history about it!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Alastar. I've never been to those falls. Where we went in SC was near Pigback or Hogback Mountain, or at least that's what the locals called it. It was a gorgeous area of Appalachia!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Beata, Appalachia is an amazing place. Much of it seems lost in time. Visiting the remote pockets of the Appalachians is like turning back the calendar a couple of decades!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Random, have you ever visited the Appalachian Mountains? If not, you should! Good to see you here, as always!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

I have always wanted to visit the Appalachian Mountains, and now I think it's pretty gommed up that I haven't done so already! Everything I read and watch about the area is inspiring and makes me want to go there- your gorgeous Hub included! Thanks for sharing more about Appalachia with us.

Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 5 years ago from USA

My SIL's family came from the mountains of Kentucky and I recognize some of the word pronunciations. They claim to come from a Scottish/Irish background, but we checked the background of their name, it shows up as a German name.

I enjoyed the story. My grandparents didn't live a life that different only they lived in a town in the north. The life sounds good to me other than not having any teeth!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Simone, you really need to experience the Appalachians! It's like a different world there - amazing beauty, peace, tranquility, and history.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Barbara, there's a German influence in the Appalachians, too. I didn't mention it because it's not as evident as the Scot-Irish infuence. Glad you recognized the speech of Appalachia, and thanks for reading!

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Oh, Holly, what a feast you gave me there. It felt like back in my childhood at my grandparents farm. It definitely was a better life. Hard work but healthier.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

HH, sometimes I just want to sell everything and find an old cabin in the Appalachians!

thranax profile image

thranax 5 years ago from Rep Boston MA

Well...that's really hillbilly-y.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Lol, thranax!

Ghost32 5 years ago

Great Hub, Habee; happy to've happened on it.

Curious, some of what you describe as "Appalachia-speak" vs. some of what I grew up speaking on a Montana ranch (when the English teacher at school couldn't hear me).

For example, your "cattywonkers" was, for us, "cattywompus" (phonetically, anyway). Dinner time was also the noon meal--although some high-toned uppity-ups insisted that wasn't correct, we knew what we meant. Evening meal was supper; only idiots called that "dinner". Dummies.

Nor do I have any difficuly envisioning the lifestyle. I was around six before we got electricity and a grown adult living elsewhere before having an in-home TV or even telephone. We did have a radio, but much of the entertainment--though not necessarily musical--was low on technology.

Here at the Border Fort, circa 2011, we have most of the "civilized amenities": Electrical power via portable generator, DirecTv, satellite Internet, all of that. But no flush toilets or showers or bathroom sinks just yet. Been here two years, six months and counting...and no complaining.

I wouldn't be surprised if the old school folks in Appalachia outlive us all. When it comes to basic survival, they got some mad skills.

Voted Up and Across.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Ghost, great to see you! Yeah, I sort of envy that simple lifestyle. I'd def miss my air conditioning here in South Ga, though! lol

Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

What a great experience you had; to be able to be there and see how the Appalachians really live and to bring that to life for us! mouth was watering for all that great food...voted up and everything else good!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Scribe! My experience with those down-to-earth folks of the Appalachian Mountains is one I'll never forget. I've often wondered if they're still alive and still living their simple lifestyle.

tsmog profile image

tsmog 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

Almost heaven, West Virginia

Blue ridge mountains, Shen-an-doah river

Life is old there, older than the trees

Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home

To the place, I be-long

West Virginia, mountain momma

Take me home, country roads

Dag-nab-it, I'm gon'na pack up my sack, then hitch up my get-along , , , It took me years to get over 'home' now you went and brought it up - smile, thanks for bringing back long time lost memories, habee!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Interesting Hub. I have lived in Appalachia most of my life. Many families way up in the mountains still live without indoor plumbing. Since so many mines closed and men lost their jobs, many live without electricity. The majority of these people are goodhearted, church going, hardworking and have a sincere desire to improve their lot in life. However the resources available make it difficult.

I know some who have left the mountains and found work in larger areas. They still speak in mountain vernacular and lean toward their their roots. Their children and grandchildren will realize the dream.

Many of the phrases you mentioned, I am familiar with. I have never heard baby chicks called dibbies though.

Thanks for a great read and always remember, we are not hillbillies. We are Appalachian Americans!

MP50 4 years ago

What a Beautiful Place and way of life..........

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

Congrats on this being Hub of the Day! I felt right at home when I read this. The country folk I grew up with spoke very similar to the mountain folk. We said dinner at noon, too. Loved the videos, too.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida

Congratulations on hub of the day.

It is interesting that many who live right 'in Appalachia' think of it as some faraway land just as many who are in poverty think it is 'those folks over yonder.'

Some of my college years were in that part of this land.

And in truth there was easy access to moonshine..and we made batches of 'fishhouse punch' which was 90 percent mooonshine (who knew what was in water..o my can it be, it was the same 'me' who did that????!!) and 10% fruit can that be?

And there were those who lived up in the hollers and did have a difficult time surviving but that was how they lived. Many did not want 'no help from nobody.' And that says something about our grassroots spirit...sometimes we just want to be and to manage on our own...thank you for this lovely journey...with all of its twists and turns...the comedy is did help lighten it.

...o, the hillbilly brother-in-law used to make fun and say that hillbillies had one leg shorter than the other for navigating the mountains..that is what he called us even though we did not really live inside the belt of Appalachia.

yarddog2k profile image

yarddog2k 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Great article. I have lived in a small rural community in the Northeast corner of Texas all my life. So I understand about close friends and neighbors. Some of my family came from North Carolina and the hills of Tennessee, so I actually knew the meaning of many of the words used in the videos. Around here, instead of si-gogglin, we say "anti-googlin" or "anny-gogglin". The old man riding the moped reminded me of our old neighbor who rides a scooter. When we see him comin' down the road, we always say "Here comes Evel Knievel." Anyway, I really enjoyed your article and gave it a vote up. Keep up the good work. Thanks and have a great day.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I've had a long interest in folk music and that has led me to an appreciation of the music that has been preserved in places like you describe.I may never get a chance to go there but I appreciate the music that they have preserved.

DIY Backlinks profile image

DIY Backlinks 4 years ago

Really nice hub! Vote up.

kikalina profile image

kikalina 4 years ago from Europe

Extremely interesting. voted up.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

tsmog, glad the hub brought back some good memories for you!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hyphen, if the Blue Ridge Mountains were closer to the ocean, I'd move in a heartbeat!! It's an amazingly beautiful area, as you well know. Thanks for reading!

Johnathon 4 years ago

This is a very nice article. Having been someone who's lived in Appalachia all of my life, I can tell you that this is a pretty accurate analysis of the people and lifestyle that can be expected in this area of the country. I especially enjoyed reading over your phrases, as many of them are very common dialect in our area (Western Maryland, West Virginia) of the country. One thing I should note is that our dialect contains very many of these word mutilations, if you will. As much as I have tried to maintain a more proper dialect in my workplace, some words still slip through in casual conversation. Most notably, the word "warsh," and more specifically, used within the contexts of "Warshington." Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this article, and I was delighted to see that us good 'ol fellas weren't depicted as the cannibalistic demons from the film Wrong Turn. Excellent guide, ~Johnathon

Night Magic profile image

Night Magic 4 years ago from Canada

What a fascinating Hub!!! I'm definitely going to have to take a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

Congrats on the Hub of the day award!

HendrikDB profile image

HendrikDB 4 years ago

Very informative, especially when you are not from America like me!

fidencio1 profile image

fidencio1 4 years ago from Louisiana

Great hub, I really enjoyed it, especially the new language you learned from your hubby. So much of South Louisiana has rubbed off on me, most people just assume I was born and raised deep in the bayou. Voted up.

RedElf profile image

RedElf 4 years ago from Canada

Congratulations on Hub of the Day, habee - this is certainly a great example of "how-to" and well-deserving of the award.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Interesting hub of the day. Congrats! From the sound of it, these mountain people are not only self sufficient but helpful towards others. We could all learn something from them! As to their dialect being almost every part of the country people speak a bit differently. I remember when my mother and I were driving through parts of West Texas and had lunch in a local cafe, we could hardly understand the heavily accented speech in nearby booths. Amazing! Up and useful votes.

leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

Appalachia is so beautiful. I once drove through West Virginia on a trip with a friend, and I have never seen mountains that compared to the beauty of that area in the fall. Absolutely stunning! I love the origin of language, too, and the similarity of Appalachian English to Middle English is very interesting.

We're in Western New York, so I'll have to see if we actually live in Appalachia now... if not, we're close to it!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Howdy Habee, I thought of you today. Our little town had the Christmas parade and some of the guys were riding dirt bikes and a mud splattered stripped down jeep was pulling the trailer with the boy scout troop. It was beautiful and so appropriate to our simple life.

andy033 profile image

andy033 4 years ago

Your article is just wonderful. Never heard of Appalachian Mountains. Learned a lot from your article. Thank you.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Mary. I know you loved those GA hills!

Attikos profile image

Attikos 4 years ago from East Cackalacky

Having grown up in Appalachia, I feel a kinship with the folks there. Forgive me for pointing out two things in your article I feel need a bit of further consideration.

The people who settled the region did not grow independent due to their isolation, though that is indeed the official line you find in history classes. They were independent to begin with, and fed up with the abuse the establishment of their day, from Britain to the colonial governments, dished out to them. They sought out isolation and still strive to defend it.

Neither were they impoverished for all their time in them thar hills. They had a self-sufficient, comfortable social and economic climate until the first quarter of the twentieth century. They were not rich in the material sense of the lowland cities, but they had enough of what they needed. Several events, from the introduction of the chestnut blight by means of the landscaping of New York's Central Park destroying most of the forests' mast crop, to a wild spring ice storm in 1900 that killed most of the livestock, to the predations of timber barons and the government's construction of access roads into the region conspired to erode the underpinnings of that life.

The hillbillies succeeded in escaping the abuses of the establishment of the first generations' days, but not of their children's, for it followed them and again subjected them to its predations. Talking with Appalachian people, you will hear today's expressions of that theme, still spoken from the ideals that called their ancestors into the highlands. Their world view lives on even in this frenetic, highly interconnected world we have built.

By the way, do you pronounce "Appalachian" with a long A in the second syllable, or with a short one? That's a dead giveaway for how familiar one is with the region and its culture.

Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 4 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

Tremendous write. I am proud to be one who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of WNC. Great writing about a fok who have such a rich heritage.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

MP50, I couldn't agree more!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

pstraubie, re: the one shorter leg thing - we used to say that about the mountain cattle!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

yarddog - yep! Sounds like you can def relate!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

dahoglund, the blue ridge Mountains have produced some great music!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

DIY, thanks a bunch!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, kikalina!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Johnathon, it's great to have a "native" respond. I hope you consider yourself fortunate to live in such beauty!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Attikos, I use a long A, but hubby uses a short A.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Magic, the Blue Ridge Mountains are...magical! lol

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, comfort!

Hendrik, thanks to you, too!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

fidencio, the Cajuns sure have their "own language"! lol

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Redelf, many thanks!

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marymac47 4 years ago from Franklin. NC

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!! I live In Franklin,NC and the first two pictures are my back yard!! There is nothing more beautiful than these mountains!! and the people are the best!! Popcorn Sutton was a man is a million!! -- His 'own' man!! I can go away on a visit to Myrtle Beach and I love it but, coming back and seeing that 1st mountain peak --- I know I am home!! Greatr, Hub!!

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irvinetraveller 4 years ago from California

Congratulations! Could not add anything new to what everyone has said. Really a great Hub. Thanks for writing it and sharing it with us.

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angela p 4 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

This is a great hub! I think I have a touch of the Appalachia dielect (sp?) Everywhere I go people ask me where am I from! Was born and raised in South Hill VA near NC but all my family is either from Tennessee, VA, or NC. So I got it good. I laughed the entire time I listened to your video clips... sound just like my family! I know about being over yonder and gettin a poke of candy from the store. I truly enjoyed your hub.. definitely can relate. No matter how hard I try I am just a high class hill billy! LOL.

melpor profile image

melpor 4 years ago from New Jersey, USA

This was a very good hub. Everything you mentioned in this hub were almost the exact same things my maternal grandparents did on their farm in Virginia during the 1960s. I was a young boy at time and still remember all these activities. The killing of the chickens and hogs are two of the main activities I remembered them doing. They lived off the land the same way the people in the Appalachians did. Thumbs up.

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Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

This is an outstanding hub!

Love the tone and respect you gave. I only wish you'd have inserted some "mountain music," but that would be a totally different subject.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

True, Peggy. We have our own uique dialect in South GA!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Leah, I find the dialect fascinating, also!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hyphen, our small town had its Christmas parade/festival today, too!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Andy, thanks for stopping by!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Fiddleman, that's some gorgeous country!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Marymac, Franklin is a beautiful town! I've been there several times.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Irvine, I'm so glad you stopped by for a read!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Angela, nothing wrong with that!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Melpor, I think most of us are much too far removed from the land now. Glad you had that experience. I did, too!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Wesman, I'm off now in search of some Bluegrass music, just for you!

Arusho 4 years ago

Fantastic piece, I enjoyed learning about these people. I never knew the Appalachians were that isolated.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Arusho, parts of the Appalachians are very isolated. There are lots of little coves, valleys, and "hollers" that are completely surrounded by tall hills. I think this is especially true in the Blue Ridge Mountains section of the Appalachians.

htodd profile image

htodd 4 years ago from United States

Great life at Appalachia

Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

YAY FOR BLUEGRASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(It's really just Americanized Celtic music :-D)

That's a really good video! That thing has to be OLD, someone did an awesome job of adding color, and enhancing the quality of the sound!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Wesman, I was hoping you'd come back and see "your" video. lol. BTW, you inspired me to write about the history of bluegrass, which I'm working on now.

htodd, good to see you!

Rats2525 4 years ago from E TN

All I can say is "me too". Good job!!

50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 4 years ago from Arizona

Holle, is this a great topic or what! You forgot us Pennselvania Dutch that strung out ovare down to the eastern end of Tennessee fore they turned it to a outhouse fer the to do folk forcing out the folk that did it large.

Pa took out to Arizona and I founs a mountain an bought it.

My GI Bill give me a loan and an education, both paid for.

I'm gonna be ovare where you'ns live looking for some good food come fall. I'll be carryin my dogs and saddle looking for fun times. My lil brother and his snooty woman will wear me out right short in Tennessee and I'm not drivin all that road to put up only 3 or 4 days so I bring my own house and gear so if you-unt-two we get together and do some duelin with the kitchen spoons and the straps off a 600 pound Colorada elk and the sourdough bread, fried corn new taters and what ever the farmers is selling at their market put the feed bag on for a couple days. I'll be coming as the cool drops in round October into November. Pa was 1 of 12 kids by a preacher man they worked loggin and rail road cross tie sawing in "Finger" "Sweet Lips" near Gramps church in Henderson, so with all them kids he musta preached and logged in the day and laid a lot a pipe at night, he mighta named them two towns too! LOL.

I like the green back there, it is a deep green to see after lookin at the sand me n ghost live in but I'm a desert rat to the bone got sand in my veins that green can't soooth. Pa had 6 grade in school his pa could read,write and figure board feet in a tree and count money like a preacher LOL. Seriously I'm coming that way good Lord willing in the fall of 2012 and I ain't figured out if I can get Wesman to come along and sleep in the side tent on an army cot and trade off for the queen size bunk now and again for a break but the dogs sleep up their and the queen size gets small with 3 or 4 dogs not to mention the farting that flies in the tent after beans and purple hull and yellow hub peas and corn, then there will be the snoring out of me. I spose I could force the dogs down with me butt the farts rise so it may be a loose loose situation, LOL we could bring our guitars and test his flat picking skills, and Pabst Blue Ribbon suites me and I got some homemade clear shine and the XXX triple scalded and oak cask dark 100 proof coma shine that makes horse riding fun in the saw bryers.

great hub and seems like me have learned better but not forgot a lot of them old words Pa used until he went Marines in WWII,


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Rats!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Dusty, I'd love to see you next fall! I can play a little guitar, too, and I can sing a bit. Bring Wesman and come on! We'll smoke some pork butts, too!

kesinee profile image

kesinee 4 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

This is very interesting hub about something that I never ever heard about it. The most attractive is the Vivo on a "Alpalachia Simple Life" attached in this hub. In my country, there are many hill - tribes and their living life is similar as the video, lol. This is awesome and congratulation for hub of the day award. :-)

techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

thank you Habee... I enjoy the richness and detail of this hub about the fascinating topic of the Appalachian people. I love the many English dialects, their history and the way they evolve... I recall once at University a fellow gave a history of fiddling and all of its influences and mentioned Appalachia influences (and I think French-Irish origins?)-- was so very interesting, as was your article. I look forward to reading more.

PWalker281 4 years ago

Thanks for providing this eye-opening insight into the people of Appalachia. Believe it or not, I see some similarities between their speech and that of my daughter's African American grandmother, whose parents were from North Carolina, not so much in the vocabulary (although she does use the word "plumb"), but in accent. And that barbeque you described contained a lot of dishes that we would call "soul food."

The "moonshine punch" that one of your commentors describe reminds me of a party punch black college students used to make back in the late 60s made from Hawaiian Punch and grain alcohol.

I haven't visited the heart of Appalachia, but I have experienced the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive which was an annual trek our parents took us on in the fall as kids growing up in Washington DC.

Rated up and interesting!

anjali 4 years ago

The population of the Appalachians was violent and bloodthirsty, and the members were always fighting and feuding with each other. I was also sure that these folks were extremely suspicious of strangers, and they probably sat on their front porches with shotguns across their laps, just waiting for some nosy outsider to trespass on their land.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

kesinee, thanks for stopping by for a read!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

techygran, many thanks for your kind words!

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

PWalker, we white college students made that same punch! We called it "hunch punch." lol. Thanks for the vote up!

SirDent 4 years ago

As a citizen of the Appalachian people, voted up and interesting. I am a Mountaineer, not a Hillbilly!!! :P

This is a good read and very informative.

SirDent 4 years ago

You know, this hub is so long I forgot something I wanted to mention earlier. My grandmother on my mother's side was a Wiley, (Irish). There is a park in Kentucky named after Jennie Wiley, (Jennie Wiley state park). She is related to us in some way though I have never researched it.

I live in Mingo County in West Virginia. Not far from where I live, (about 20 miles away), is a community called Jennie's Creek. It was named after Jennie Wiley because it is near the place where she swam across the Tug River from Martin County Kentucky to escape from the Indians who0 captured her.

eks3 4 years ago

Great article! I am from West Virginia, and I only lived in Charleston and Morgantown, not much for experiencing the real Appalachia. I am moving back to Charlestons soon, and I am anticipating on exploring the mountains. Maybe I'll write about it soon :)

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Dent, that's fascinating! I hope you've written about that account.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

eks, that should make for a great hub!

SirDent 4 years ago

I haven't written about it at all. I need to do some research and find out everything I can first. I will say that for some reason an old John Denver song kept coming to mind over the last few days. Country Roads is the title of the song and I started thinking of writing about West Virginia in some way.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

I love that song, Dent! I include it in one of my hubs about the Appalachians.

Fahemedia profile image

Fahemedia 4 years ago from Berea, KY

Working in Appalachia, I come across people who don't try to understand the culture of the area and they think the families can and should just leave. It's not that simple and when you have a place you've grown up in and love as much as many Appalachians do, the obvious answer is to provide people access to change their environment if that's what they desire. Good and respectful article.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Fahemedia. I know if I lived in the Appalachians, I certainly wouldn't want to ever leave.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

This was very interesting. I love how you were invited to spend the weekend with Sook's family and were included in the activities of Friday night. It gave you a look at what life was really like.

I went to undergraduate school in the Pike county KY. and while the college was removed from the real people of the area we knew of families who lived in the hollers. We never went up into that area of the county but I wish we had. There were some who did and they brought back moonshine that would cause the skin to fall right off a possum...o my.

I wish I had had the opportunity to get to know the people and to learn about their way of life. ps

noturningback profile image

noturningback 3 years ago from Edgewater, MD. USA

I would love to have been there myself since I'm a fan of bluegrass. Fortunately for me, I have a parcel in West Virginia and have met a few locals, hanging out with them and even singing as they picked and plucked their guitars and banjos. I could never get enough of that!

Great hub ☺

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

What a wonderful hub and thank you for sharing.


habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

noturning, I LOVE bluegrass, too! Thanks for reading!

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Eddy, so glad you enjoyed reading about the real people of Appalachia. Nice to see you!

Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia

Very interesting and great like always:)

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Lol, Beata. Thanks a bunch!

georgialgal1984 profile image

georgialgal1984 3 years ago from Georgia

Very interesting. I remember many years ago when Feed The Children was airing a late night program, they had interviewed some people from the Appalachians, I believe. They were talking about how they hunted these big wood rats as food for their families. I know some people would look down upon that, but they were doing what they had to do for their families. Something is better than nothing to eat. I really respected that about them and how they were willing to do whatever was needed for their families to have food.

I really enjoyed the memories you shared. Those meals sound divine! I think it shows us ladies how good we have it. If I had to kill my own meat, I think I would be a vegetarian! Hope your week is lovely~

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

GG, I guess the rat hunters in Appalachia figure meat is meat. Heck I'd eat a rat if I was starving! I also respect the self-sufficiency of the people of Appalachia. I think we need more of that!

LeTotten profile image

LeTotten 3 years ago

I appreciate your hub. I love the variety of dialects in America. On Long Island, NY I learned "youse guys". In Florida I learned "y'all" and now I live in Tennessee and now I know "you ins" . What a great country.

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Oh, LeTotten, your post made me laugh! Thanks for stopping by.

Kenja profile image

Kenja 3 years ago from Long Island, NY

Great stuff. Done with respect, in-depth, with real ear for dialect and cultural nuance. Nice. Let's follow each other! best, Ken

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Kukata Kali 2 years ago

Great Info!

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