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Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Feeding The Chickens--West Virginia??--Subjects & Date Unknown--Circa 1945-50 (Roger D. Hicks)

As privately owned cameras became more common in Appalachia after the turn of the 20th century, families began to take photographs of family members and those daily aspects of life which were important to them.  After about 1900 to 1910, we begin to see photographs which are more mundane than the old studio photographs with their stiff, dressed up subjects standing ill at ease and often in front of some contrived background which might have been very unfamiliar in daily life.  Instead, in these family created shots, we see the people of the mountains living their daily lives, killing hogs, feeding the chickens, raising crops, riding horses, going to church, and a hundred other activities of daily life which can be educational, touching, and often heartwarming such as the photo above of a little girl and her dog sitting in the chicken lot with a cooker full of feed and the hens pecking contentedly in the background.  I would love to know who this little girl was and suspect I never will.  I found the photograph in a collection of miscellaneous materials from an estate auction. No doubt she is long dead.  But she reaches out and touches us with her childhood simplicity and happiness in her everyday world. She hangs in a place of honor in my home.


My  auction ring man, Dewey Rogers, from Tinker Fork of Mud Creek in Floyd County Kentucky is a lifelong collector of photographs and high school year books from the area.  Recently, he brought this photograph of his parents with a very large turnip to one of my auctions.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it was a natural for this post of vintage photographs.  It is the very type of shot I am looking for to depict life in Appalachia as it was 50 and 100 years ago.  It shows two ordinary, hard working Appalachian people with the product of their work, a successful venture in gardening which made the local newspaper, most likely the Floyd County Times which published many photographs like this in the days when it was owned, published, and primarily written by Norman Allen.  This photograph also lies within a general category such as the one below of the cow and calf, a photograph of simple items in life which were important to the subjects.  Hopefully, we will be able to add several more photographs from Dewey's ever expanding collection over the next few years.

Dewey Rogers brought in a couple more photographs for addition to this section.  The better of the two is of his grandfather, George Washington Rogers, who was a mail man in Floyd County many years ago.  It shows G. W. Rogers riding his horse on a snowy day and carrying a large box for delivery to someone who might well have ordered it from a Sears or Montgomery Ward Catalogue as an important addition to the home.  The other photograph is actually not a photograph but a photocopy of one which includes several members of Dewey's extended family including G. W. Rogers.  In spite of the increasingly poor quality of the reproduction from photograph to photocopy to computer, I am including it because it is typical of something that happens with important family photographs.  Often several members of an extended family may want a copy and not everyone has the capacity to have them reproduced so they simply take them to someone with a copier and have a copy made.  This is becoming much less common with the proliferation of computers and scanners into many of even the least wealthy homes.  Here are the newest Dewey Rogers photographs.

George Washington Rogers, mailman (Dewey Rogers)

George Washington Rogers & his extended family (Dewey Rogers)


I am beginning this posting with this photograph and four others which were loaned to me by Paul Jarrell of P. J.'s Pizza in Banner, KY.  My thanks go to Paul for his willingness to have his family photographs shown to the world at large.  And of course, all aspects of copyright law apply to their potential use by anyone.  I will add to this post as I locate and acquire more photos of everyday life in Appalachia of the past.  I would gladly post photographs from my readers with proper acknowledgement.  If you have photos you are willing to add to this collection, contact me by e-mail at or at and I will be glad to add and properly acknowledge yours.  I am particularly interested in photographs which show people living life on a daily basis: plowing, working, feeding livestock, planting crops, burying the dead, baptizing the living, and scratching a living from the rocky hills of home. 

WHAT A HOG!!! Jarell Family--Prater Creek, Floyd Co. KY--Circa 1950 (Paul Jarrell)

The photograph above shows the great-grandmother and great aunt of Paul Jarrell at hog killing time on Prater Creek in Floyd County Kentucky with a massive hog, the likes of which are not often killed in the mountains today.  It is a wonderful snapshot of everyday life in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. 
Hog Killing Time--Jarrell Family--Prater Creek, Floyd Co. KY (Paul Jarrell)

The photograph above shows several members of the Jarrell Family with another hog not nearly as large.  This photograph is also a great shot of family life, subsistence farming, food preservation, and life in general.  I have also included a second photograph of the same hog from a greater distance below. 

Cow And Calf--Prater Creek, Floyd Co. KY--Circa 1950 (Paul Jarrell)

The "cream of the crop", a cow and calf from the family photographs of Paul Jarrell.  This photograph with its highly personal and informative note on the back is typical of the kind of shots I discussed earlier in this posting.  It is about animals which were important to family survival.  It is about everyday life in the mountains and must have been mailed in a letter to a family member who lived too far away to come and see the family and the livestock personally.  The pride of ownership in the note is strong and clear.  These were good animals and they were important to the writer and his/her livelihood.  

Message On Reverse Of Cow/Calf Picture--Prater Creek, Floyd Co. KY--Circa 1950 (Paul Jarrell)

Below we have the second photograph of the same hog above taken from a slightly greater distance and showing only three of the family members instead of the four in the first.  The great aunt is gone from the doorway perhaps to check on the water, the knives, the salt, or the smokehouse.  Daily life is going on and this hog will become much of a winter's food for the family.  
Hog Killing Time #2--Jarrell Family--Prater Creek, KY--Circa 1950 (Paul Jarrell)

 The photograph below is of a distant cousin, Clarence Hicks, who was the son of Banner Hicks and the grandson of Hence Hicks, my maternal great-grandfather.  The photograph was sent to me by John D. Shelton, who is married to a descendent of Hence Hicks.  This is a World War II Era photograph in uniform and was most probably taken shortly after completion of basic training and advanced individual training in preparation for deployment to the combat zones of Europe.  Clarence Hicks was in Battle of the Bulge as a Tank Crew Member and wounded 2 times there and died in 1980 of an aneurysm after returning home which so many other Americans failed to do at the Battle of the Bulge which was one of the most devastating battles of the entire war.   I have written extensively about Appalachian Patriotism, one of the key Appalachian Values first documented by Loyal Jones.  That post can be found here: Patriotism, An Appalachian Value  Literally hundreds of thousands of young Appalachians like Clarence Hicks left the mountains to fight in America's wars. 
 Clarence Hicks (John D. Shelton)

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