The Anglo-Saions of the Kentucky Mountains
the arrows hefted in the ancient manner. The men, some of them
old, were admirably skilled in their use; they assured me that, like
their fathers before them, they had ever used the bow and arrow for
small game, reserving the costly ammunition of the rifle for deer
Though these people came into the mountains with eighteenth-
century civilization, their isolation and poverty not only prevented
them from progressing, but also forced them to revert to earlier
usages which at the time of their coming were obsolescent. This
is the explanation of the feud, as has been shown above, of the use
of the hand-mill and short-bow, and especially of the old English
ballad poetry which constitutes the literature of these mountain
folk to-day. This has survived, or, more properly, flourished in its
mediaeval vigor because it has not felt the competition of books.
The scant baggage of the pioneer immigrants from colonial Virginia
and Carolina could not allow much space for books, and the few
that did make the trip across the Appalachian Mountains were used
up, from much reading and handling, by one generation. Poverty
and inaccessibility prevented an invasion of new books from without.
and from within there was no competition from newspapers. There
are to-day twenty contiguous mountain counties, covering altogether
an area of 6,ooo square miles, not one of which can boast a printing-
press. Under these circumstances, the Kentucky mountaineer re-
verted to his ancestral type of literature and revived ballad poetry.
This has now been handed down from lip to lip through generations,
the slightly variant form and phrase only testifying to its genuine-
ness. The ballad of "Barbara Allen," popular in Great Britain
three hundred years ago, and known now in America only to the
musical antiquarian, is a stand-by in several of the mountain coun-
ties. The tragic ballad of "Little Sir Hugh," or "The Jewish
Lady," as it is variously called, traces back to the Prior's Tale of
Chaucer. The lengthy ballad of "Lord Bateman," or "The Turkish
Lady," shows unmistakable identity with the poem of the same
name in Kurlock's "Ancient Scottish Ballads," though the Scotch
version is longer.
Animated by the spirit of minstrelsy, the mountaineers have com-
posed ballads on the analogy of the ancient. These are romantic or
heroic and of narrative length. We heard a woman sing a native
ballad of fifty-two stanzas, entitled "Beauregard and Zollicoffer,"
which recounted the deeds of these two generals of the Civil War.
The music for all these ballads is in a weird minor key, and is sung