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Appalachia: Dispelling the myth


"...So many lies have been written about us, the mountain people, that folks from other states have formed an image of a gun-totin', tabaccer -spittin , whiskey drinkin', barefooted, foolish hillbilly who never existed except in the minds of people who have written such things as The Beverly Hillbillies...No matter what we do, we can't make folks believe we are any different...we have been disgraced in the e yes of the outside world." , from What My Heart Wants To Tell by Verna Mae Slone, Lexington, Kentucky 1978.

Early Appalachia

The Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Canada to Cheaha Mountain in the U.S. state of Alabama. The cultural region of Appalachia typically refers only to the central and southern portions of the range. As of 2005, the region was home to approximately 23 million people. Along with Scotch-Irish immigrants, early European populations of Germans and English settlers trickled into Western Pennsylvania, Northwestern Virginia, and Western Maryland.

With the discovery of the Cumberland Gap in 1750 and the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, settlers moved deeper into the mountains of upper Eastern Tennessee, Northwestern North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, and Central Kentucky. Between 1790 and 1840, a series of treaties with the Cherokee and other Native American tribes opened up lands in North Georgia, Northeast Alabama, the Tennessee Valley, the Cumberland Plateau regions, and the highlands along what is now the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

A typical depiction of an Appalachian pioneer involves a hunter wearing a coonskin cap and buckskin clothing, and sporting a long rifle and shoulder-strapped powder horn. Perhaps no single figure symbolizes the Appalachian pioneer more than Daniel Boone (1734-1820). Like Boone, Appalachian pioneers moved into areas largely separated from "civilization" by high mountain ridges, and had to fend for themselves against the elements. As many of these early settlers were living illegally on Native American lands, attacks from Native American tribes were a continuous threat until the 1800s.

As early as the 18th century, Appalachia, then known as the "back country", began to distinguish itself from its wealthier lowland and coastal neighbors to the east. Frontiersmen often bickered with lowland and tidewater "elites" over taxes, sometimes to the point of armed revolts. Taxation was a threat to the abundant Moon shining that went on in the area. Small-scale whiskey production was part of the Appalachian culture and predates the federal taxation of alcoholic beverages. For farmers in remote parts of the country, it was a way to turn their corn into cash when grain prices were down. The imposition of a tax on whiskey was considered an unwanted federal intervention and Appalachian farmers ignored the tax and finally refused to pay it, leading to what became known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The Department of the Treasury sent special agents, referred to as "revenuers" up into the mountains to prosecute unlawful distilling.


life in the holler


Mountain People

The Appalachian people have always been a rugged, hard-working and self-sufficient people able to adjust to the unforgiving life in the mountains. They have managed to build an abundant farming community, utilizing local plants and herbs to create unique and delicious dishes and folk medicines. Early Appalachian farmers grew both crops introduced from their native Europe, such as sweet potatoes, as well as crops native to North America such as corn and squash.

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Tobacco was long an important cash crop in Southern Appalachia, especially since the land is ill-suited for cash crops such as cotton. Apples have been grown in the region since the late 18th-century, their cultivation being aided by the presence of thermal belts in the region's mountain valleys. Hogs, which could free range in the region's abundant forests, were the most popular livestock among early Appalachian farmers.

The early settlers brought cattle and sheep to the region, which would typically graze in highland meadows known as balds during the growing season when bottom lands were needed for crops. Cattle, mainly the Hereford, Angus, and Charolais breeds, are now the region's chief livestock. They have taken advantage of the abundant anthracite and timber in the area by becoming skilled coal miners and lumberers. And they have engaged in a variety of successful manufacturing and tourism enterprises. This is a group of intelligent, creative and resourceful people who, despite their obvious abilities have not been able to keep up with the rest of the nation, and have been plagued with unfair criticism and ridicule.


Simply put, "moonshine" is untaxed liquor. Americans have always had an infatuation with this untaxed backwoods brewed corn concoction.

After fighting a war to free themselves from British oppressive taxes, Americans weren't pleased when they were told they would have to pay an excise tax on whiskey and spirits. Scots-Irish immigrants, armed with the knowledge of making whiskey, were among the first to move into the remote areas of the East Tennessee mountains to produce their product by the light of the moon.

At that time, the people living in the Appalachian mountain territory of East Tennessee, as well as Southern Kentucky and Western North Carolina, had acquired something of a national reputation for persistently defying internal revenue laws. When prohibition was instated in 1920, it was the best thing to happen to moonshiners. Suddenly, "legal alcohol" was not to be found. The demand for moonshine rose so fast that producers began making it from sugar, as well as other cheap ingredients to increase their production and profit. During prohibition, blockade runners became legendary by outrunning lawmen with faster, more modern automobiles.

This ultimately led to the southern creation of stock car racing, which eventually would spawn the internationally watched NASCAR Racing. Robert Mitchum and others help secure the legend of “running” moonshine in the 1958 movie Thunder Road. A young Jeff Bridges tore up the stock car circuit as The Last American Hero in 1973. Bridges’ character, an impressive/aggressive race car driver “learned about cars running whiskey in the Carolina hills.”

The adrenaline of transporting mass amounts of illegal alcohol was later captured in Smokey and the Bandit and the list continues. And more recently in the movie Life, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence portray two New York City men caught up in a brutal murder while picking up a truckload of moonshine in Mississippi.


Lumbering, Coal mining, and Education

In the late 19th century, the post-Civil War Industrial Revolution and the expansion of the nation's railroads brought a soaring demand for coal, and mining operations expanded rapidly across Appalachia. Hundreds of thousands of workers poured into the region from across the United States and from overseas, essentially overhauling the cultural makeup of Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania.

Both lumbering and coal mining industries flourished during this time, bringing with them jobs, decent wages, and amenities, which lured Appalachian workers. But, by the 1960s, it was evident that they had not taken advantage of the long term benefits that both industries brought.


Despite abundant natural resources and an inexhaustible supply of timber and anthracite, the area continued to lag behind the rest of the country in terms of prosperity. Poor roads, lack of railroads, and inaccessibility prevented large scale logging. Eventually logging companies were forced to move elsewhere.

Coal mining

Coal mining afforded a good living for most of the residents; although the industry can be blamed for the many injuries, deaths, and health problems of the workers. After World War II, innovation in mechanization and competition for oil and natural gas led to a decline in mining operations. Coal mining continues to be important in some regions of the mountains. Mining corporations gained considerable influence in state and municipal governments, especially as they often owned the entire towns in which the miners lived.


Education, in Appalachia, has also lagged behind the rest of the country, mostly due to funding problems. But, traditionally, most residents have engaged in farming and have not seen the necessity for formal education. In fact, when families were planting or harvesting, children, who did go to school, were kept home to help with the farm work. However; after mandatory education laws went into effect, more school were established and more children attended them.


The making of a myth
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 focused on sensationalistic aspects of the region's culture, such as moon shining and clan feuding, and often portrayed the region's inhabitants as uneducated and prone to impulsive acts of violence. Sociological studies in the 1960s and 1970s helped to deconstruct these stereotypes, although popular media continued to perpetuate the image of Appalachia as a culturally backward region into the 21st century.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries also saw the development of various regional stereotypes. Attempts by President Rutherford B. Hayes to enforce the whiskey tax in the late 1870s led to an explosion in violence between Appalachian "moonshiners" and federal "revenuers" that lasted through the Prohibition period in the 1920s. The breakdown of authority and law enforcement during the Civil War may have contributed to an increase in clan feuding, which by the 1880s was reported to be a problem across most of Kentucky's Cumberland region as well as Carter County in Tennessee, Carroll County in Virginia, and Mingo and Logan counties in West Virginia.

Regional writers from this period such as Mary Noailles Murfree and Horace Kephart liked to focus on such sensational aspects of mountain culture, leading readers outside the region to believe they were more widespread than in reality. In an 1899 article in Atlantic , Berea president William G. Frost attempted to redefine the inhabitants of Appalachia as "noble mountaineers"— relics of the nation's pioneer period whose isolation had left them unaffected by modern times.

The 1990s saw the continued stereotyping Appalachia and its people. Declining living standards, and global economic restructuring produced anxiety, insecurity and anger resulting in the projection of these emotions on to innocent people. Mountain people seem to have become acceptable targets for hostility, projection, disparagement, scape-goating, and contempt. "These mountain people are different", says the mayor of North Carolina, "You get up there in those find people who don't believe in law and get up there and cause trouble and they'll kill you. They're just a different grade of people"

Stereotyping continued
Unfortunately, they could not seem to escape these stereotypes. A Rock and Ice writer recently related his rock climbing experiences up in the mountains. "We drove by clumps of locals who eyed us with smoldering hostility." Referring to them as "the cast of Deliverance" and "...the sorriest looking dudes I've ever seen...", he expressed fear over not being able to see his buddy's truck in the rear view mirror.

The New York Times magazine published an article recently that stated that red neck jokes, that target racist and bad reactionaries, have become very popular on chat rooms and on line forums. In addition an icon of an outhouse was published in a software program as representing the state of West Virginia. These people have no way of fighting back, as most of them don't have computers.

Performances continue to be held as part of summer festivals re-enacting the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, and many Ma and Pa restaurants, motels and businesses display hillbilly and redneck signs and icons to attract attention. Hillbilly Days, a 3-day yearly event, brings more than 100,000 visitors to a small Appalachian town where they dress up and act like comic book characters of mountaineers. Mass media is any better when it comes to reinforcing the stereotype. TV is still repeating the Beverly Hillbillies and the Dukes of Hazzard. All of this, of course, is to make money. But there is definitely a target audience that gets a kick out of attending these events and watching these programs on a regular basis. Hollywood is equally guilty by producing a bevy of such films, 400 silent movies, exploiting Appalachian feuds and Moonshine making.

Academia has portrayed the stereotype in every way possible. David Hacket Fischer focused on one particular group, from Northern Britain universalizing their characteristics unfairly. There been a one-sided look at this population by many scholars, which is generally degrading

Even in the Art world we can see examples of degrading images portrayed as typical of the population in Appalachia. Shelby Lee Adams has published portraits of a retired coal miner missing an eye, an adult midget wearing diapers, a hog killing, a shirtless man with several gunshot wounds.

Urban Appalachians are people from Appalachia who are living in metropolitan areas outside the Appalachian region. Mechanization of coal mining during the 1950s and 1960s was the major source of unemployment in central Appalachia. Many migration streams covered relatively short distances, with West Virginians moving to Cleveland and other cities in eastern and central Ohio, and eastern Kentuckians moving to Cincinnati and southwest Ohio in search of jobs. More distant cities like Detroit and Chicago attracted migrants from many states. Enclaves of Appalachian culture can still be found in some of these communities.

Time for a change

Finally, after years of negative critiques and depictions, many writers and others have ceased their incessant targeting of this interesting, but maligned population. Roger Cunningham, in his attempt to dispel this notion of "hillybillyism"offered the explanation that scholars have merely been busy deconstructing the Appalachian myth by taking an incisive look at part of the American culture.

Today, there have been many improvement in the region and many of the areas are flourishing. Highways now link the mountain towns to the rest of the country and have reduced day long trips to a matter of hours. One room schoolhouses have been replaced by modern buildings with modern equipment, helping to bring national achievement rankings. The myth has not been completely dispelled, but the disparaging depictions and references have subsided. However, roughly 40% of the population in the hills and hollows is still stuck in poverty.

However, much of the criticism, misunderstanding, and maligning still exists. Even modern day media persons like Bill O Reilly can be heard on TV supporting the old myths about this courageous and hard working population. His recent contemptible rant against Appalachian Americans is only the latest example of the widespread and multigenerational problem of Appalachian hillbilly stereotypes. Quite simply, O’Reilly reminded the world once again that people of the Appalachian Mountains are still the only cultural group in America that many people have the audacity to ridicule publicly as being of low intelligence, and worse. 

Can you imagine what would happen if O'Reilly had made the same despicable statements about other "different" groups of Americans? How can we as a people ever overcome this pervasive hillbilly stereotype? "Why do we continue to pull in our heads like turtles and pretend we don't care and that we will survive regardless of the outside world? Well, I do care—for myself, my family and friends, and my culture—and I don't believe that we are surviving very well or will survive in the future as a culture with a shred of honor and dignity if we do not rise up, en masse, and protest at every opportunity this kind of insensitive abuse".

"We continue to loll about in our insular Snuffy Smith, Lil Abner, Mammy Yokum, Jed Clampett, grits-and-possum stereotype as if the opinion of the rest of the world does not matter, even while we are being brutalized every time someone laughs at our dialect or accent, or asks WHERE are you from, or rejects us for a job, or does not publish our writing because how could an ignorant hillbilly possibly have something to say". (Betty Cloer Wallace)


Teresa Bryan Peneguy on August 01, 2020:

I'm glad I happened across this well-done piece. I'm from Milwaukee, but my family originates from a holler in Eastern Kentucky. Today, there's medical professionals, engineers and educators among us.

About the O'Reilly interview (in which I was reminded what an @sshole he is):

He declares that if HE'D been born in Appalachia, HE'D have moved to Miami — "because THAT'S where the jobs are!!"

I'd like to point out to Mr O'Reilly that Miami-Dade has the 2nd worst economic inequality rate of American metro areas, with 14% of Miami residents living in the same conditions as citizens of Panama and Colombia.

Perhaps if Mr O'Reilly had been born in Miami, HE'D have moved to New York — because THAT'S where the jobs are!! (New York, by the way, has the 1st worst worst economic inequality rate in America.)

Anyway, I love how Ms Sawyer isn't having any of it.

Sandy Dixon on December 26, 2018:

I grew up in Eastern Kentucky, graduated from Cumberland High School in 1973, attended the Community College for two years, transferred to a University where I got two Bachelor of Science degrees and none of these institutions were in a one room school. I had very dedicated teachers who cared and actually taught what you needed and made sure you were equipped to go on to higher learning. I don't live there now but go back every time I get a chance, and would move back tomorrow if my older children would go with me. I have lived in 7 different states and the people in none of them come close to being as friendly or hard working as those in Kentucky. If those who like to make fun and stereotype would go visit this beautiful place they would probably not want to leave it.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on September 23, 2018:

Thanks so much for your comment. I am now researching other American groups in North Carolina and hope to include a lot of what I find in my new book: Roxie and Alfred: A Story of Courage, Resilience, and Survival.

RTalloni on September 23, 2018:

Having visited relatives in the deep mountains of WV as a child I appreciate what you offer in this article. I never lived there but knowing that part of my roots are in an incredibly beautiful place with amazingly talented, resourceful, and kind people has always made me proud. I never could make the connection to the irrational images of them from media. They are as widely varied in personality, perspectives, and productive participation in life as any other regional group. What a beautiful thing it would be if we would stop stereotyping all people. Thank you. I hope to finish reading the comments another day.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on May 16, 2018:

Roxanne, Thanks so much for the comment. I am so glad you have found happiness living in the mountains.

Roxanne on May 16, 2018:

Thank you for the article. I am an African American, woman that moved to the mountains of WV in the middle of the woods ten years ago. My family and friends believed what they had heard about all the "hill people" and just new I would be killed and buried within my first week. Especially with the movie "Wrong Turn" making the rounds. I have never met nicer people. I love my mountain folk.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on October 28, 2016:

Thanks, Dolores, for your insightful feelings exactly.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on October 28, 2016:

It's very hard for some people to understand how difficult it can be to rise out of poverty. Go to school! Move away! Most of the suggestions involve spending money that, if you are poor, you don't have. I think we've come into a terrible time here in American when it's normal to despise the poor, to feel that people who have troubles deserve it and to feel that those who live well, have money, and are healthy somehow deserve that.

Nancy Hinchliff on October 03, 2016:

Wow what a nice comment...

Thanks. I just may try to do that

T. Shelton on October 02, 2016:

Excellent article! Needs to be published in every major city in the US! Thank you!

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on January 11, 2015:

J.T. Thanks so much for commenting. We have so many wonderful groups and cultures in this country. They should all be recognized for what and who they are. Glad you liked the article.

J. T. 1962 on February 26, 2014:

I have spent my life in the foothills of these glorious Appalachian Mountains and am extremely proud of the people who live here.We have a culture rivaled by no other. I laud your efforts in getting the truth out.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on November 01, 2013:

Paul, Thank you for the wonderful comment. I assure you I will never underestimate you or yours........Nancy

Paul Swann80 from Fairfield, Ohio on October 31, 2013:

As a person born in Huntington West "By God" Virginia, who was raised on a chicken farm in southern most Ohio, I wear my accent and the "hillbilly" tag with pride. We may not be the most educated or financially blessed of people, but we work hard and love hard and survive no matter the circumstances. Some say we are backward and unintelligent, I say we know what's important and there's noone better at MacGyvering something so that it works.

I revel in the assumption that I, as a hillbilly, am beneath anyone. Underestimate me, or mine and we will show you exactly why we have survived the mountain for generations.

Thank you for your article. Loved it.

alekhouse on October 31, 2013:

I'm on both.

Leigh Loreson on October 31, 2013:

Are you on Facebook? or Pinterest?

Greg on June 07, 2013:

I grew up in swva the economic situation there will not change anytime soon whereas the labor pool is in place the infra structure is not there are no means of exporting a product made by the hard working people of Dickenson County, Virginia. I joined the military in the early 8o's at htat time there were no traffic lights in the county, as of now there are no highways with 4 lanes. Until there is a way to ship a product out there will be no business in the area

Stacie on May 28, 2012:

Thanks for the article. I was born and raised in Eastern Kentucky. Yes, there is a lot of poverty here but isn't there poverty all over the United States right now? "Hillbillies" "rednecks" whatever you want to call us aren't as stupid as people think we are. When it comes right down to it we will be the ones to survive in the end times because we know how to live off of the land. We have commodities like everyone else but we hold tight to our values and culture. We are very smart also. I graduated high school in 2002. Out of some of my classmates 12 of them just graduated from medical school along with a few physcial therapists, pharmacists and one is actually a rocket scientist working with NASA! For myself I am pursuing a doctorate's in Psychology. PhD. :) How's that for your stupid hillbillies!

Anne on March 30, 2012:

O'Reilly is an awful, awful man.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on March 26, 2012:

Thanks, Ron, for the nice comment. Very much appreciated

Ron on March 26, 2012:

I truly appreciate this awesome hub.Thanks.

Ron from

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on January 21, 2011:

Thanks for the nice comment, Ashlie, very much appreciated

AskAshlie3433 from WEST VIRGINIA on January 21, 2011:

Thanks you so much for this hub. In West Virginia, we have the same thing. When I moved to Arizona, the first week, I went shopping at a mall. I saw a shirt and it had a WV state sign, the outline of the state. As I went closer, it read, "West virginia, where we are all family, REALLY". I must admit I had a laugh but it shows how we all are looked at. Theres a lot of great people in these mountains, most that are well respected. Thanks though for this wonderful hub.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on December 15, 2010:

Thanks, Hbn, glad you ejoyed the hub. Yes, there's a lot to learn about's a whole other world. I want to do more's facinating.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on December 14, 2010:

Wow, what an informative and entertaining hub. I learned so much I didn't know and am eager to learn more by watching "A Hidden America."

Am looking forward to reading more of your hubs.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on October 29, 2010:

Yeah, It's really an interesting area. I've learned a lot about it since I moved to Kentucky. I remember that Joan Baez song...used to sing it, in fact...and, of course I love Appalachian Spring. My daughter was a ballet dancer and used to dance to it.

Tony McGregor from South Africa on October 29, 2010:

I really enjoyed this bit of history about an area and a culture that have long fascinated me. I first started to become aware of the culture when I listened to Joan Baez singing "Get you a copper kettle...!" Read up about Appalchia. Got to love Copeland's Appalchian Spring. Then the Meyer - Yo Yo Ma album Appalachian Journey really turned me on! Obviously a rich heritage in those mountains!

Thanks for sharing

Love and peace


Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on October 29, 2010:

Freta, so glad you enjoyed my little slice of life...Thanks for commenting.

Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on October 28, 2010:

Alekhouse, I really love this taste of American history. I did not know that running moonshine was the beginning of stock car racing. See you can learn something everyday, especially if you read your fellow hubbers hubs. Thanks again alekhouse, that was great.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on October 28, 2010:

You are very welcome...glad you enjoyed it.

Kim Harris on October 27, 2010:

What an awesome hub, alekhouse! I didn't realize the Appalachian Mtns were as far north as Canada. I loved the videos. I saw Diane Sawyer's special when it aired. Thanks for a pleasurable and educational read!

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on October 12, 2010:

Dear Cynthia, what a truly nice comment...very much appreciated and so glad you enjoyed it

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 12, 2010:

Hi Alekhouse, I loved your hub, an ace piece of writing: well organized with colourful historical facts and emotional pull. I sort of stood back and "listened to myself" read it-- must be my own Irish-Scots roots that responded to it, and having come up from rural stock in what was a "have-not" province in Canada, with all the stereotypes and ridiculing labels attributed to its people (i.e, stubble-jumpers, etc). I truly appreciate how comprehensive this hub was, and easy to read... I'm a new hubber and feel a little cowed about all the skill that you have portrayed... you've really raised the bar, particularly from some of the earlier hubs I read.

Our son lived in Quebec for a couple of years and I was amazed to find that the Appalachians were part of his backyard view. There is so much to learn in this continent (let alone the world)that it is pretty exciting for us "life-long-learner" types. Thank you for your fascinating article and the complementary videos you built in! ~Cynthia

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on September 16, 2010:

Thanks, Lisa....appreciate the comments.

Lisa HW from Massachusetts on September 15, 2010:

Sally's Trove (above) mentioned "rich article", and her words are words I'd like to echo.

Shane Belceto from WA USA on September 15, 2010:

My pleasure ... look forward to more terrific HUBs from YOU smiles.

~Expect Miracles

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on September 15, 2010:

@Shane Thanks for the nice comments. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

Shane Belceto from WA USA on September 15, 2010:

I enjoyed this a lot Thank YOU for so much information ... I spent a week in the hills with a group of teens last summer on a mission trip with ASP just out side of Hazard KY. The people were absalutley amazing and treated all of us like family right away .. this HUB brought back some terrific memories of that trip ... Thank YOU

I trust more read this and understand more ... like said by others people are people everwhere and we all have our issures ... smiles.

~Expect Miracles

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on September 14, 2010:

Sligobay, Thanks so much for the information...really appreciate it...very helpful.

sligobay from east of the equator on September 14, 2010:

Alek- You have dispelled the myth for me. The angle of your new article should be the formation of the AADL, the Appalachian Anti-Defamation League. Other people have organized to pressure the media and industry to remove writings and images which stereotype groups of people. Though from the Smokies, Dolly Parton would be a celebrity who could be a spokesperson to launch the group. Blue grass is deeply rooted in the Appalachian culture and could be another good angle for an article. Great Hub, thanks. Cheers.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on September 10, 2010:

Hey SP, Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I find that time, when Daniel Boone was alive pretty interesting too. Glad I didn't live during that time either.

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on September 09, 2010:

Interesting hub Alekhouse. Daniel Boone was one of my ancestors actually, and it was interesting doing research about how he and his family trekked out to Missouri. I would not have wanted to live during that time, but it is interesting to think about.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on August 20, 2010:

Thanks for the nice comment. So glad you enjoyed the article....I'm still doing research to write another article for a KY print magazine. Looking for a good angle.

ahorseback on August 20, 2010:

This is an incredible piece of writing, You mention and I second the fact that so much of the American cultural comes from Appalachia , music , work ethics , family values , where does it end. I have often though of this very subject and you put words to them. We , in the outer limits of New England, also have this stigma in smaller ways , Vermonts Scotch Irish population is smaller and yet still faces some of this reputation . I am proud of my roots , those very similar to appalachia.Excellent hub!

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on August 19, 2010:

Thanks, Charlie, for your comment. You're right about things never changing, but at least some attitudes might.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on August 19, 2010:

VioletSun, Thanks for the interesting comment. I'm glad you found something new here to ponder.

ralwus on August 19, 2010:

My mom hated the Beverly Hillbillies. She was born in Louisa, KY. I doubt that things will ever change. Great hub .

Micky Dee on August 19, 2010:

No one in the hills owns a still. But all know a "cousin" or a cousin who knows someone who does. Moon Shining, if done correctly, is a wonderful way to escape the burdens of our oppressive government owned by "business". Our "mafia" businesses, not speaking of Italian at all, are so in disfavor with "not getting their cut". Thank you Ma'am.

VioletSun from Oregon/ Name: Marie on August 18, 2010:

Nancy; This was an entertaining and informative article. There is always something for me to learn, and I didn't know too much about Appachalchian residents; its culture and challenges. I find it fascinating how in a country as proggesive as the USA, we find that if we cross a State we will find extreme poverty or different values and culture. It's very interesting! I would expect this radical difference to take place if I traveled from one country to another overseas.

Rated up!

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on August 18, 2010:

Yeah, about the Beverly Hillbillies. But I don't think the show was too much appreciated by Appalachian residents...cause that was part of the mythical stereotype

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on August 18, 2010:

I've so always wanted to visit and form my own opinions - imagine that! I agree with Micky - you can find awful people anywhere you look it seems.

All that aside, wonderful pictures and superbly done....I love the pic of the Beverly Hillbillies!

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on August 18, 2010:

Thank, Victoria

Victoria West from Toronto on August 18, 2010:

Great hub!

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on August 18, 2010:

Thanks, ST, I am so glad you could relate. Although I was not born here, I've been living in Kentucky for 16 years now. I became interested in Appalachia after visiting Berea and talking to professors (who were guests at my B&B) about the problems inherent in that area. I'm working on an article now to submit to a local print magazine. The research I'm doing has been so enlightening.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 18, 2010:

Since reading your Hub early this morning, I watched "A Hidden America" all the way through. I hadn't seen it when it aired. Your words and the documentary's are nothing short of deeply moving.

From one with Appalachia in my blood and heart, I thank you for publishing this rich article.

Nancy Hinchliff (author) from Essex Junction, Vermont on August 18, 2010:

Wow! Thanks, Micky Dee, for the great comment and all the information. You're so right about the fact that there are offensive people all over and just because some of them are in Appalachia, doesn't mean the whole place should be stereotyped.

Mountain people do tend to be clannish, but that also exists in other parts of the country. People who have similar experiences and have to face the same problems tend to stick together.

I think that the rationale behind the Moon Shining activities is somewhat similar to that behind drug making and selling; in that when people are desperate for money, they'll do almost anything. Once it starts, it becomes a way of life and is passed down though families (not necessarily blood families).

Micky Dee on August 18, 2010:

Hey there Alekhouse! I was married to a North Carolina woman. Pretty intelligent. School teacher. Against all the stereotypes. Our daughter is incredibly smart. The mountain people are self-sufficient. They are incredibly smart. Many of them are also "gun-totin', tabaccer-spittin, whiskey drinkin'". I won't say foolish because they are incredibly smart. They are clannish in NC. I will never live in the mountains again. My wife's brother had a friend who would destroy our property. He had a bad drinking problem. Never would the brother take up our cross. I can write a book. I have written a hub about one bully who was like all bullies, pretend. I opened a place called the Bicycle Inn. The folks at the gas station called us the bi-sexual inn. Many of them cling together right and too much when they're wrong. They hate the term "buffer". This refers to anybody telling them what to do with their land. "Buffers" are strips of land that the EPA deems would be hazardous to the folks downstream. They will fight about this more than terrorists. Been there. Heard it. Saw it. But there are pockets of insanity like this in the mountains. Some still have their toilets running into the creek. I will take you to them any time you want.

But these insanities aren't limited to mountain folk and should not be stereotyped. Corporations poop in out streams in gigantic proportions.

Many mountain people are hard working, clean, honest, and religious which doesn't hold a lot of water for me. The real religion is to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". This is THE law of God over all others. But- I'll not go back to Mitchell County, NC. But I don't care to go back to a lot of small communities I've been through. There is corruption in our world from the local through world politics. You've created a great hub here. God bless you.

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