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horseapples

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Reply with quote  #1 
I am reading a book first published in 1907 from the memoirs or a clergyman's son who travelled in the U.S.A. between 1852 and 1868. He mentions that in the Virginia countryside, particularly so in West Virginia homespun material was common to all regardless of wealth or position and that shop bought clothing was virtually unknown during his time there between 1852 and 1854.

He also mentions "though Reuben and his youngsters were as tough and active as indians, whom in their buckskin hunting shirts and mocassins they much resembled".

I had not previously expected homespun material and home made clothing to be so common as to be worn by the wealthy and well to do at this time period and was even more surprised to learn of the use of buckskin shirts and mocassins so thought that I wouls share the information. At this time though Virginia was still wild and heavily wooded with farms cut into clearings and plentiful Bear, Deer etc to be hunted.
DixiePiobaire

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Reply with quote  #2 
A point well raised HA. I think we may get a little seduced by the images from the Cities of the Antebellum South (Charleston, Atlanta, Richmond etc) .. and in particular, the world of the large Plantations. The west parts of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia were in many ways very different from their eastern parts .. and particularly so in the case of Virginia .. where a large number of its people came not from the coastal side, but from Pennsylvania and the north (not least the staunchly non-conformist Scots - Irish). Certainly the various friends with whom I stayed in West Virginia had far more family links with Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky than they did with Virginia its self. I believe the area had tried earlier than 1863 (when it became a State) to be separated from Virginia, but was thwarted by the Virginia Legislature. In that country, slave manned Plantations were not an option or profitable (other than, maybe, in the Shenandoah) .. so there's a greater characterisation to the 'Yeoman Farmer' than the Tobacco or Cotton Plantation. It was also, in the 1850's, still more of a frontier life there .. so buckskins and a pack of Bluetick Coonhounds were more likely than fancy suits and silk dresses.

DP       

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UncleStinky

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Reply with quote  #3 
Now DP I believe a stately gent in his fancy duds might have treed a coon just as quickly as a coon hound. Even quicker if he was in a silk dress!
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DixiePiobaire

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Reply with quote  #4 
Now that's an image I'm not sure I want to struggle with this early in the day US [smile] .. it could seriously discombobulate my system!

DP

PS If anyone wants to hear a non-silk-clad version of a Bluetick Hound, listen to The Dillards version of 'Old Blue' from the 'Live - Almost' album .. with Mitch Jayne's hilarious introduction.




The freedom to watch via our forum has been disabled, but click on the 'Watch On YouTube and you'll get it.

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Reply with quote  #5 
Haha., brilliant! Thanks DP, hadn't heard that one before, it made my day! [thumb]
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DixiePiobaire

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Reply with quote  #6 
Glad you liked it Link .. The Dillards have been my favourite Bluegrass Band for thirty years and more .. sadly we lost Mitch Jayne back in 2010 .. teacher, folklorist and historian, musician, broadcaster, and author .. and in the view of many folk, the real 'voice of The Ozarks' .. if not of America in general. I had the sheer joy of meeting him on a number of occasions, and believe me, he was just as funny .. and observatory of real people and real life .. as he was on record. Whenever I run up against people who say they don't like Americans I just steer them toward the writings and recordings of Mitch Jayne .. never fails!

DP 

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horseapples

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Excellent Dixie.
DulcimerPlayer

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My favorite read for information on mid 1800's in the south is The Cotton Kingdom by Frederick Olmstead.  It is always a good read and if you want a good feel for life at that time you cannot find a better source.  He was a excellent observer of the "little things" that made life so hard at the time.  You never think about how many times coaches and public transport would overturn on a muddy or ill maintained road sending everyone inside sprawling and tumbling.  Afterwards you had to tend to injured, right the coach, get the horses back if they were not injured or killed and go on your way.  Most plantations were small in population and extremely isolated, many had no access to a church, school, or store.  The one thing that strikes me over and over again are his accounts of how much the southern planters had to buy from the north because they dedicated all their resources in growing cotton or tobacco.  Instead of growing their own hay for livestock they bought it from the north with money made from planting.  This was true of most of their goods.  He also noted the real lack of "things" you would associate with people of money such as books, art, fine dishes and like.  Most all of their capitol was put back into buying land and slaves.  Many times he notes that in a northern farm of equal size you would find news papers, books, and such but in the southern homes there would rarely be anything.  Another observations that always makes me smile:  remember all the old movies of the houses lit up by numerous candles?  In his travels he often dealt with a home owner or hostel worker that would escort him to a room by the light of a single candle, the porter/owner would then wait as he undressed for bed and then would leave, taking the candle with them! 
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