Outlaw heroes in the tradition of Robin Hood have been an expression of Appalachian folklore since the pioneer period. Illegal actions to avenge a wrong or defend the honor of family or community have long been celebrated in songs and stories. Moonshiners are perhaps the original mountain outlaw heroes, resisting oppressive government in defense of the right to make a living in hard times. From the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion to racecar driver Junior Johnson developing his driving skills hauling illegal corn whiskey. It’s a rich tradition represented by larger-than-life figures like Frankie Silver, of Frankie and Johnny fame, and western North Carolina’s Lewis Redman, the Prince of Dark Corners. The tradition continues in the region’s readiness to embrace those who resist the powerful in defense of personal honor or community values.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
- Moonshine Immigrants from Scotland and Ireland brought with them their preference and talent for making whiskey. Indian corn proved an acceptable grain substitute for Old World barley, and carrying […]
- Frankie Silver 18-year-old Frankie Silver was hanged in Morganton, North Carolina in 1833, convicted of killing then dismembering her 19-year-old husband in a fit of jealous rage. Her mother and brother […]
- Cecil Sharp In 1915 Cecil Sharp, an important collector of traditional English ballads, was informed that many Appalachian singers were singing old English songs ...
- Brown Mountain Lights
Since the early 1700s, travelers have reported seeing the mysterious Brown Mountain Lights on clear, moonless nights. According to local folklore, the lights are actually the […]
- Juan Pardo
Between 1566 and 1567, Juan Pardo, a Spanish explorer and conquistador, following the earlier example of Hernando DeSoto, led two expeditions into the Carolina and Tennessee mountains. […]