xt73j9605z3t https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt73j9605z3t/data/mets.xml Semple, Ellen Churchill, 1863-1932. 1910  books b92-265-31852250 English : [New York, Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Mountain whites (Southern States) Human geography Kentucky. Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky mountains  : a study in anthropogeography / by Ellen Churchill Semple. text Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky mountains  : a study in anthropogeography / by Ellen Churchill Semple. 1910 2002 true xt73j9605z3t section xt73j9605z3t 





          ..P--NTE FROM T..
         VOL. XLII., AUGUST. 191-


                      MOUNTAINS :



                  ELLEN CHURCHILL SEMPLE

  In one of the most progressive and productive countries of the
world, and in that section of the country which has had its civilization
and its wealth longest, we find a large area where the people are still
living the frontier life of the backwoods, where the civilization is that
of the eighteenth century, where the people speak the English of
Shakespeare's time, where the large majority of the inhabitants have
never seen a steamboat or a railroad, where money is as scarce as in
colonial days, and all trade is barter. It is the great upheaved mass
of the Southern Appalachians which, with the conserving power of
the mountains, has caused these conditions to survive, carrying a bit
of the eighteenth century intact over into this strongly contrasted
twentieth century, and presenting an anachronism all the more
marked because found in the heart of the bustling, money-making,
novelty-loving United States. These conditions are to be found
throughout the broad belt of the Southern Appalachians, but nowhere
in such purity or covering so large an area as in the mountain region
of Kentucky.
  A mountain system is usually marked by a central crest, but the

  e The above article appeared in The Georah/aicalJoernal for June, 190o. and now is repub-
lished in America, by the kind permission of the Royal Geographical Society, in response to a repeated
demand from students of geography and sociology for copies which could no longer be furnished.-
E. C. S.


The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains

Appalachians are distinguished by a central zone of depression,
flanked on the east by the Appalachian Mountains proper, and on the
west by the Allegheny and the Cumberland Plateaus. This central
trough is generally designated as the Great Appalachian Valley. It
is depressed several hundred feet below the highlands on either side,
but its surface is relieved by intermittent series of even-crested ridges
which rise iooo feet or more above the general level, running parallel
to each other, and conforming at the same time to the structural axis
of the whole system. The valleys between them owe neither wvidth
nor form to the streams which drain them. The Cumberland Plateau
forms the western highland of the Great Valley in Eastern Kent ucky,
Tennessee, and Northern Alabama. This plateau belt reaches its
greatest height in Kentucky, and slopes gradually from this section
to the south and west. Its eastern escarpment rises abruptly 800 to
i500 feet from the Great Valley, and shows everywhere an almost
perfectly straight skyline. The western escarpment is very irregular,
for the streams, flowing westward from the plateau, have carved
out their valleys far back into the elevated district, leaving narrow
spurs running out into the low plains beyond. The surface is highly
dissected, presenting a maze of gorge-like valleys separating the
steep, regular slopes of the sharp or rounded hills. The level of the
originally upheaved mass of the plateau is now represented by the
altitude of the existing summits, which show a remarkable unifonnity
in the northeast-southwest line, and a slight rise in elevation from
the western margin towards the interior.
  About io,ooo square -miles of the Cumberland Plateau fall within
the confines of the State of Kentucky, and form the eastern section of
the State. A glance at the topographical map of the region shows the
country to be devoted by nature to isolation and poverty. The east-
ern rim of the plateau is formed by Pine Mountain, which raises its
solid wall with level top in silhouette against the sky, and shows only
one water-gap in a distance of 150 miles. And just beyond is the
twin range of the Cumberland. Hence no railroads have attempted
to cross this double border-barrier, except at the northeast and
southeast corners of the State, where the Big Sandy and Cumber-
land Rivers have carved their way through mountains to the west.
Railroads, therefore, skirt this upland region, but nowhere penetrate
it. The whole area is a coalfield, the mineral being chiefly bitumin-
ous, with several thousand square miles of superior cannel coal. The
obstructions growing out of the topography of the country, and the
cheap river transportations afforded by the Ohio for the Kanawha



Th7e Anglo-axons of the Kentucky Mountains


Note the very small development of railroads.

and Monongahela River coal have tended to retard the construction
of railroads within the mountains, and even those on the margin of
this upland region have been built since i88o.
  Man has done so little to render this district accessible because
nature has done so little., There are here no large streams penetrat-
ing the heart of the mountains, as in Tennessee, where the Tennessee
River, drawing its tributaries from the easternmost ranges of the



The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains

Appalachians, cuts westward by flaring water-gaps through chain
after chain and opens a highway from the interior of the system to
the plains of the Mississippi. The Kentucky streams are navigable
only to the margin of the plateau, and therefore leave this great area
without natural means of communication with the outside world to
the west, while to the east the mountain wall has acted as an effective
barrier to communication with the Atlantic seaboard. Consequently,
all commerce has been kept at arms' length, and the lack of a market
has occasioned the poverty of the people,')which, in turn, has pro-
hibited the construction of highroads over the mountains of the
Cumberland Plateau.
  It is what the mountaineers themselves call a. rough country. The
steep hills rise from 700 to 1200 feet above their valleys. The valleys
are nothing more than gorges. Level land there is none, and roads
there are almost none. Valley and road and mountain stream coin-
cide. In the summer the dry or half-dry beds of the streams serve
as highways; and in the winter, when the torrents are pouring a full
tide down the hollows, foot trails cut through the dense forest that
mantles the slopes are the only means of communication. Then inter-
course is practically cut off. Even in the best season transportation
is in the main limited to what a horse can carry on its back beside its
rider. In a trip of 350 miles through the mountains, we met only
one wheel vehicle and a few trucks for hauling railroad ties, which
m ere being gotten out of the forests. Our own camp waggons,
though carrying only light loads, had to double their teams in climb-
ing the ridges. All that had been done in most cases to make a road
over a mountain was to clear an avenue through the dense growth of
timber, so that it proved, as a rule, to be j ust short of impassable.
For this reason the public of the mountains prefer to keep to the
valleys with their streams, to which they have given many expressive
and picturesque names, while the knobs and mountains are rarely
honored with a name. We have Cutshin Creek, Hell-fer-Sartain,
Bullskin Creek, Poor Fork, Stinking, Greasy, and Quicksand Creek.
One trail leads from the waters of Kingdom-Come down Lost Creek
and Troublesome, across the Upper Devil and Lower Devil to Hell
Creek. Facilis descensus Averno, only no progress is easy in these
mountains. The creek, therefore, points the highway, and is used
to designate geographical locations. When we would inquire our
way to a certain point, the answer was, "Go ahead to the fork of the
creek, and turn up the left branch," not the fork of the road and the
path to the left. A woman at whose cabin we lunched one day said,



Thile .4Anglo-Saxronis of thle Kenttucky A!omitatlins  

"My man and me has been living here on Quicksand only ten years.
I was born tup on Troublesome."
  All passenger travel is on horseback. The important part which
the horse plays, therefore, in the economy of the mountain family re-
calls pioneer days. Almost every cabin has its blacksmith's forge
under an open shed or in a low outhouse. The country stores at the
forks or fords of the creek keep bellows in stock. Every mountaineer
is his own blacksmith, and though he works with very simple imple-
ments, he knows a few fundamental principles of the art, and does
the work well. Men and women are quite at home in the saddle.
The men are superb horsemen, sit their animals firm and erect, even
when mounted on top of the meal-bag, which is the regular accom-
paniment of the horseman. We saw one day a family on their way
to the country store to exchange their produce. The father, a girl,
and a large bag of Indian corn were mounted on one mule, and the
mother, a younger girl, and a black lamb suspended in a sack from
the saddle-bow on the other. It is no unusual thing to see a woman
on horseback, with a child behind her and a baby in her arms, while
she holds an umbrella above them.
  But such travel is not easy, and hence we find that these Kentucky
mountaineers are not only cut off from the outside world. but they
are separated from each other. Each is confined to his own locality.
and finds his little world within a radius of a few miles from his
cabin. There are many men in these mountains who have never seen
a town, or even the poor village that constitutes their county-seat.
Those who have obtained a glimpse of civilization have gone down
the head-waters of the streams on lumber rafts, or have been sent to
the State penitentiary at Frankfort for illicit distilling or feud
murder. The women, however, cannot enjoy either of these privi-
leges; they are almost as rooted as the trees. We met one woman
who, during the twelve years of her married life, had lived only IO
miles across the mountain from her old home, but had never in this
time been back home to visit her mother and father. Another back
in Perry county told us she had never been farther from home than
Hazard, the county-seat, which was only 6 miles distant. Another
had never been to the post-office, 4 miles away; and another had
never seen the ford of the Rockcastle River, only 2 miles from her
home, and marked, moreover, by the country store of the district.
   A result of this confinement to one locality is the absence of any-
thing like social life, and the close intermarriage of families inhabit-
ing one district. These two phenomena appear side by side here as



The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains

in the upland valleys of Switzerland and other mountain countries
w-here communication is difficult. One can travel for 40 miles along
one of the head streams of the Kentucky River and find the same
names recurring in all the cabins along both its shores. One woman
in Perry County told us she was related to everybody up and dowvn
the North Fork of the Kentucky and along its tributary creeks. In
Breathitt County, an old judge, whose family had been among the
early settlers on Troublesome, stated that in the district school near
by there were ninety-six children, of whom all but five were related
to himself or his wife. This extensive intermarriage stimulates the
clan instinct and contributes to the strength of the feuds which rage
here from time to time.
  It is a law of biology that an isolating environment operates for
the preservation of a type by excluding all intermixture which would
obliterate distinguishing characteristics. In these isolated communi-
ties, therefore, we find the purest Anglo-Saxon stock in all the United
States. They are the direct descendants of the early Virginia and
North Carolina immigrants, and bear about them in their speech and
ideas the marks of their ancestry as plainly as if they had disem-
barked from their eighteenth-century vessel but yesterday.  The
stock is chiefly English and Scotch-Irish, which is largely Teutonic
in origin.  There is scarcely a trace of foreign admixture.  Occa-
sionally one comes across a French name, which points to a strain
of Huguenot blood from over the mountains in North Carolina: or
names of the Germans who came down the pioneer thoroughfare of
the Great Appalachian Valley from the Pennsylvania Dutch settle-
inents generations ago. But the stock has been kept free from the
tide of foreign immigrants which has been pouring in recent years
into the States.  In the border counties of the district where the
railroads run, and where English capital has bought up the mines
in the vicinity, the last census shows a few foreign-born, but these
are chiefly Italian laborers working on the road-bed, or British
capitalists and employees. Four of the interior counties have not a
single foreign-born, and eight others have only two or three.
   Though these mountain people are the exponents of a retarded
civilization, and show the degenerate symptoms of an arrested de-
velopment, their stock is as good as any in the country. They formed
a part of the same tide of pioneers which crossed the mountains to
people the young States to the southwest, but they chanced to turn
aside from the main stream, and ever since have stagnated in these
mountain hollows. For example, over a hundred years ago eleven



Thlc Atiglo-Sa.rons of the Ken tick AMo untain s

Combs brothers, related to General Combs of the Revolutionary
army, came over the mountains from North Carolina. Nine of them
settled along the North Fork of the Kentucky River in the mountains
of Perry County, one went further down the stream into the rough
hill country of Breathitt County, and the eleventh continued on his
way till he came into the smiling regions of the Bluegrass, and there
became the'progenitor of a family which represents the blue blood of
tCie state, with all the aristocratic instincts of the old South; while
their cousins in the mountain go barefoot, herd in one-room cabins,
and are ignorant of many of the fundamental decencies of life.
  If the mountains have kept out foreign elements, still more effec-
tually have they excluded the negroes. This region is as free from
them as northern Vermont. There is no place for the negro in the
mountain economy, and never has been. In the days of slavery this
fact had momentous results. The mountains did not offer conditions
for plantation cultivation, the only system of agriculture in which
slaves could be profitably employed. The absence of these condi-
tions and of the capital wherewith to purchase negroes made the
Whole Appalachian region a non-slave-holding section.  Hence,
when the rupture came between the North and South, this mountain
region declared for the Union, and thus raised a barrier of dis-
affection through the center of the Southern States. It had no
sy npathy with the industrial system of the South; it shared the
democratic spirit characteristic of all mountain people, and likewise
their conservatism, which holds to the established order. Having,
therefore, no intimate knowledge of the negro, our Kentucky
mountaineers do not show the deep-seated prejudice to the social
equality of blacks and whites which characterizes all other Ken-
tuckians. Till abolished by law four years ago, there existed on the
western margin of the Cumberland Plateau, a flourishing college for
the co-education of the Bluegrass blacks and mountain whites; and
this is probably the only geographical location south of the Mason
and Dixon line where such an institution could exist.
  Though the mountaineer comes of such vigorous stock as the
Anglo-Saxons, he has retained little of the ruddy, vigorous appear-
ance of his forebears. The men are tall and lank, though sinewy,
waith thin bony faces, sallow skins, and dull hair. They hold themi-
selves in a loose-jointed way; their shoulders droop in walking and
sitting. Their faces are immobile, often inscrutable, but never
stupid; for one is sure that under this calm exterior the mountaineer
is doing a deal of thinking, which he does not see fit to share with



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



The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mouitains

did, with, "the men folks they mostly sets on a fence and chaw
tobacco and talk politics."
  The mountain woman, therefore, at twenty-five looks forty, and
at forty looks twenty years older than her husband. But none of
the race are stalwart and healthy. The lack of vigour in the men
is due chiefly to the inordinate use of moonshine whiskey, which
contains 20 per cent. more alcohol than the standard liquor. They
begin drinking as mere boys. We saw several youths of seventeen
intoxicated, and some women told us boys of fourteen or fifteen
drank. Men, women, and children looked underfed, ill nourished.
This is due in part to their scanty, unvaried diet, but more perhaps
to the vile cooking. The bread is either half-baked soda biscuits
eaten hot, or corn-pone with lumps of saleratus through it. The
meat is always swimming in grease, and the eggs are always fried.
The effect of this shows, in the adults, in their sallow complexions
and spare forms; in the children, in pimples, boils, and sores on their
hands and faces. This western side of the mountains, moreover,
has not an abundant water-supply, the horizontal strata of the rocks
reducing the number of springs. Hence all the mountain region of
Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee shows a high percentage
of diarrhceal diseases, typhoid, and malarial fever.
  The home of the mountaineer is primitive in the extreme, a
survival of pioneer architecture, and the only type distinctly Ameri-
can. It is the blind or windowless one-room log cabin, with the
rough stone chimney on the outside. The logs are sometimes
squared with the hatchet, sometimes left in their original form with
the bark on; the interstices are chinked in with clay. The roofs
are covered with boards nearly an inch thick and 3 feet long, split
from the wood by a wedge, and laid on, one lapping over the other
like shingles. The chimneys, which are built on the outside of the
houses, and project a few feet above the roof, lend a picturesque
effect to the whole. They are made of native rock, roughly hewn
and cemented with clay.; but the very poorest cabins have the low
"stick chimney," made of laths daubed with clay. In the broader
valleys, where the conditions of life are somewhat better, the double
cabin prevails-two cabins side by side, with a roofed space be-
tween, which serves as a dining-room during the warmer months of
the year. Sometimes, though rarely, there is a porch in front,
covered by an extension of the sloping roof.  In some of the
marginal counties -of the mountain region and in the sawmill dis-
tricts, one sees a few two-story frame dwellings. These are deco-



10       The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mouintains

rated with ornamental trimming of scroll-saw work in wood,
oftentimes colored a light blue, along the edges of the gables, and
defining the line between the two stories. The regulation balcony
over the front door and extending to the roof has a balustrade of
the same woodwork in excellent, chaste design, sometimes painted
and sometimes in the natural color. These houses, both in their
architecture and style of ornamentation, recall the village dwellings
in Norway, though not so beautiful or so richly decorated. But
the usual home of the mountaineer is the one-room cabin. Near by
is the barn, a small square log structure, with the roof projecting
from 8 to Io feet, to afford shelter for the young cattle or serve as
a milking-shed. These vividly recall the mountain architecture of
some of the Alpine dwellings of Switzerland and Bavaria, especially
when, as in a few instances, the roofs are held down by weight-
rocks to economize hardware or protect them against the high winds.
Very few of them have hay-lofts above, for the reason that only a
few favored districts in these mountains produce hay.
  The furnishings of the cabins are reduced to the merest neces-
saries of life, though in the vicinity of the railroads or along the
main streams where the valley roads make transportation a simpler
problem, a few luxuries like an occasional piece of shop-made fur-
riiture and lamp-chimneys have crept in. One cabin which we
visited near the foot of Pine Mountain, though of the better sort,
mlay be taken as typical. Almost everything it contained was home-
made, and only one iron-bound bucket showed the use of hardware.
Roth rooms contained two double beds. These were made of plain
white wood, and were roped across from side through auger-holes
to support the mattresses. The lower one of these was stuffed
with corn-shucks, the upper one with feathers from the geese raised
by the housewife. The sheets, blankets, and counterpanes had all
been woven by her, as also the linsey-woolsey from which her own
and her children's clothes were made. Gourds, hung on the walls,
served as receptacles for salt, soda and other kitchen supplies. The
mcal-barrel was a section of log, hollowed out with great nicety till
the wood was not more than an inch thick. The flour-barrel was a
large firkin, the parts held in place by hoops, fastened by an arrow-
head at one end of the withe slipped into a slit in the other; the
churn was made in the same way, and in neither was there nail or
screw. The washtub was a trough hollowed out of a log. A large
basket was woven of hickory slips by the mountaineer himself, and
two smaller ones made of the cane of the broom corn and bound at


The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains      11

the edges with coloured calico, were the handiwork of his wife.
Only the iron stove with its few utensils, and some table knives,
testified to any connection with the outside world. The old flint-
lock gun and powder-horn hanging from a rafter gave the finishing
touch of local colour to this typical pioneer home. Daniel Boone's
first cabin in the Kentucky wilderness could not have been more
  Some or most of these features can be found in all mountain
homes. Some cabins are still provided with hand-mills for grinding
their corn when the water-mills cease to run in a dry summer. Clay
lamps of classic design, in which grease is burned with a floating
wick, are still to be met with; and the manufactured product from
the country store is guiltless of chimney. Every cabin has its spin-
ning-wheel, and the end of the "shed-room" is usually occupied by
a hand-loom. ,Only in rare cases is there any effort to beautify these
mountain homes., Paper flowers, made from old newspaper, a wood-
cut from some periodical, and a gaudy advertisement distributed by
an itinerant vendor of patent medicines, make up the interior deco-
ration of a cabin. Sometimes the walls are entirely papered with
newspapers, which are more eagerly sought for this purpose than
for their literary contents. Material for exterior decoration is more
accessible to the mountain housewife, and hence we find, where her
work-burdened life will permit, that she has done all she can for her
front yard. Poppies, phlox, hollyhock, altheas, and dahlias lift their
iany-coloured blooms above the rail fence. Over the porch, where
there is one, climb morning-glory, sweet potato vines, and wild
mountain ivy; and from the edge of the roof are suspended home-
made hanging baskets, contrived from old tin cans, buckets, or any-
th1ing that will hold soil, and filled with the various ferns and creepers
which the forests furnish in great beauty and abundance.
  A vegetable garden is always to be found at the side or rear of the
cabin. This is never large, even for a big family. It is ploughed in
the spring by the man of the household, and enriched by manure
fronm the barn, being the only part of the whole farm to receive any
fertilizer. Any subsequent ploughing and all weeding and cultiva-
tion of the vegetables is done by the women. The average mountain
garden will yield potatoes, beets, cabbages, onions, pumpkins, and
tomatoes of dwarf size. Beans are raised in considerable quantities
and dried for winter use. The provisions for the luxuries of life
are few. Adjoining. every garden is a small patch of tobacco, which
is raised only for home consumption. It is consumed, moreover, by



12       The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentlucky Mountains

both sexes, old and young, and particularly by the woman, who both
smoke and "dip" snuff, making the brush for the dipping from the
twig of the althea. In a large gathering like a funeral, one can often
see girls from twelve to fourteen years old smoking their clay or
corn-cob pipes. A young woman who went through the mountains
last summer to study the conditions for a social settlement there,
found the children at a district school amusing themselves by trying
to see who could spit tobacco-juice nearest a certain mark on the
school-house wall, the teacher standing by and watching the pro-
ceeding with interest.
   Sugar is never seen in this district, but backwoods substitutes for
it abound. Almost every cabin has its beehives, and anywhere from
ten to twenty. The hives are made from hollowed-out sections of
the bee-gum tree, covered with a square board, which is kept in
place by a large stone. The bees feed in the early spring on the
blossoms of the yellow poplar, but in the western counties, where
this tree is rapidly being cut out of the forest for lumber, honey is
no longer so abundant. But the mountain region, as a whole
produces large amounts of honey and wax. Pike County, on the
Virginia border, produced over 6o,ooo lbs. of honey in i890. Maple
sugar is gotten in considerable quantities from the sugar maple,
which abounds. As one rides through the forests, he sees here and
there the rough little log troughs at the base of these trees, the bit
of cane run into the hole bored through the bark for the sap, and at
long intervals a log sugar-house with its huge cauldron for reducing
the syrup. Maple sugar is used only as a sweetmeat. The moun-
taineer put his main reliance for sweetening on sorghum molasses,
which he makes from the sorghum cane. Two acres of this will
provide an average mountain household with sorghum molasses, or
"long sweetening," for a year. They eat it with their "pone" bread
and beans; coffee thus sweetened they drink with relish, though to
the palate of the uninitiated it is a dose. Sugar, or"short sweeten-
ing," is a rarity.
   Conditions point to agriculture as the only means for the Kentucky
mountaineer to gain a livelihood. Mineral wealth exists in abund-
ance in this section, but the lack of transportation facilities prevents
its exploitation; so the rough hillsides must be converted into field
and pasture. The mountaineer holds his land in fee simple, or by
squatter claim. This is based, not upon title, but merely on the right
of possession, which is regarded, moreover, as a thoroughly valid
tenure in a country which still preserves its frontier character. Large


The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains

tracts of Kentucky mountain lands are owned by persons outside the
state, by purchase or inheritance of original pioneer patents, and these
are waiting for the railroads to come into the country, when they
hope to realize on the timber and mines. In the mean time the moun-
taineers have been squatting on the territory for years, clearing the
forests, selling the timber, and this with conscious impunity, for
interference with them is dangerous in the extreme. Every lawyer
from the outside world who comes up here to a county courthouse
to examine titles to the land about, keeps his mission as secret as
possible, and having accomplished it, leaves the town immediately.
If further investigation is necessary, he does not find it safe to return
himself, but sends a substitute who will not be recognized.
(The pioneer character of the region is still evident in the size of
the land-holdings. In the most mountainous parts near the eastern
border-line the farms average from I60 to 320 acres; in the western
part of the plateau, from ioo to i6o acres. Of the whole state, the
mountain counties show by far the largest proportion of farms of
Iooo acres and over. Pike County has sixty-six such. Moun-
taineers in two different sections told us that the land on the small
side creeks was better, and there farms averaged about 200 acres;
but that on main streams, like the North Fork of the Kentucky River
and Poor Fork of the Cumberland, the farms were usually 6oo
acres, because the soil was poorer. The cause for this was not
apparent, unless it was due to exhaustion of soil from long tilling,
as the valleys of the main streams, being more accessible, were prob-
ably the earliest settled.
  Only from thirteen to thirty per cent. of the acreage of the farms
is improved; the rest is in forest or pasture. Land is cleared for
cultivation in the old Indian method by "girdling" or "deadening"
the trees, and the first crop is planted amidst the still standing skele-
tons of ancient giants of the forests. Indian corn is the chief crop
raised, and furnished the main food-supply for man and beast.
Great fields of it cover the steep mountain sides to the very top,
except where a farmer, less energetic or more intelligent than his
fellows, has left a c