Collections: 
0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Page 8 of Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky mountains : a study in anthropogeography / by Ellen Churchill Semple.

item | thumbnails | details | text | pdf
Download this image
The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains the "furriner," as he calls every one coming from the outside world. The faces of the women are always delicately moulded and refined, with an expression of dumb patience telling of the heavy burden which life has laid upon them. They are absolutely simple, natural, and their child-like unconsciousness of self points to their long residence away from the gaze of the world. Their manners are gentle, gracious, and unembarrassed, so that in talking with them one forgets their bare feet, ragged clothes, and crass ignorance, and in his heart bows anew to the inextinguishable excellence of the Anglo-Saxon race. The lot of a mountain woman is a hard one. Only the lowest peasantry of Europe can show anything to parallel it. She marries between twelve and fifteen years a husband who is between seventeen and twenty. The motive in marriage is very elemental, betrays little of the romantic spirit. Husband and wife speak of each other as "my man" and "my woman." A girl when she is twenty is put on the "cull list," that is, she is no longer marriageable. A man is included in this undesirable category at twenty-eight; after that he can get no one to take him "except some poor wider-woman," as one mountain matron expressed it, adding, "gals on the cull-list spend their time jes' bummin' around among their folks." During a ride of 350 miles, with visits at a great many cabins, we met only one old maid; her lot was a sorry one, living now with a relative, now with a friend, earning her board by helping to nurse the sick or making herself useful in what way she could. The mountain system of economy does not take into account the unmarried woman, so she plunges into matrimony with the instinct of self-preservation. Then come children; and the mountain families conform to the standard of the patriarchs. A family of from ten to fifteen off- spring is no rarity, and this characterizes not only the mountains of Kentucky, but the whole area of the Appalachian system. In addition to much child-bearing, all the work of the pioneer home, the spinning and weaving, knitting of stockings, sometimes even the making of shoes and moccasins, falls on the woman. More than this, she feeds and milks the cow, searches for it when it has wandered away "in the range" or forest, hoes weeds in the corn, helps in the ploughing, carries water from the spring, saws wood and lays "stake and ridered" fences. A mountain woman who had a husband and two sons, and who had been employed all day in making a fence, lifting the heavy rails above the height of her own head, replied in a listless way to the question as to what the men 8