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Transcript of interview with Ronald Eller, June 18, 1992, for the film "West Virginia"

Source: WV History Film Project


Q: Ron, ...


Q: Ron, I want to set up things prior to the change of industrialization. Tell me what West Virginia was like in the first half of the 19th century? What was it like socially, economically? Describe that for me.
JJDG 0062
RE: West Virginia was a land primarily of small farmers, small family farmers who operated anywhere from a 100 to 300 acres of land, generally running cattle, sheep and hogs in the forests eating off the mast, growing very small quantities of row crops that were consumed primarily by the family on the farm or sold in the local community to neighbors and kin. It was a very self sufficient kind of environment. There were things that were traded on the open market, but the primary role of the farm was for the survival of the family, the family unit. The woodlands covered most to the geography, the terrain. Most of the farms were in the larger valleys, spread in an open country fashion where settlements were sparsely populated, one from another.

Q: What was the role of family in that kind of world?
JJDG 0161
RE: Central to the pre-industrial environment in the mountains was the family. Family was as important as the land, where one made one's living off of the land, that living was made possible by the labor of the family. Families were generally large. One's loyalty was to the family unit, to the survival of that family unit, rather than to one's own individual success. Family came to shape religion. It came to shape politics. It came to shape social attitudes and how people related to each other. It was a very person environment where people related to each other less according to one's wealth and education and more according to one's personal characteristics.

Q: One of the things you think about when you think about how West Virginia's been shaped is you think that these communities that established themselves in the coves and hollers of West Virginia were isolated from everyone else by transportation, communication, is that right? Tell me about that?
JJDG 0259
RE: Isolation is a relative term. Most American open country communities of the 19th century were isolated in one fashion or another. Mountain communities were really not unlike many other rural open country American communities; however, people did communicate with each other. They did travel. There were trails and roads and streams that people used to communicate back and forth and exchange goods and services. I think that the image that we have of pre-industrial Appalachia as an isolated, remote area is probably a misleading image, based upon 20th century attitudes about distance and communication. I don't think that the mountains were that different from many other areas of the country at the time. Travel was difficult everywhere.
JJDG 0331
It depended upon how much it rained and how far one could travel in a day. It was very typical for Americans who constituted the majority of Americans, rural America was the majority of Americans in the 19th century, and conditions in the mountains were not atypical of what one might find in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska or even Mississippi and Louisiana.

Q: Were the people different though, the people who came and settled there?
JJDG 0376
RE: The people who settled the mountains were pretty much the same type of people who settled the American frontier and the years immediately following the American Revolution. They were predominantly Scotch-Irish and English in origin, but they also included large numbers of Germans and French Huguenots and others from northern Europe. There were African-Americans who came both as freeman and as slaves into the mountains at the time, and a large number of Native Americans who survived the removal of Native Americans to the West. It was a mixed population, heavily influenced by northern European and British culture, of course; but it was a population that brought together the cultural attitudes and values of rural people in Europe and Ireland and Scotland and in Germany. It is my belief that most of the people who settled West Virginia and other areas of the mountains came out of choice, not out of chance.
JJDG 0474
They were looking for a terrain that was similar to the areas that they had known in the old country, to an environment that was similar, to land that was rich and valleys that were rich, and a certain level of independence from an urban environment could be created. Independence was critically important to the pre-industrial community in the mountains. One's ability to survive with the assistance with one's neighbors was something that was very valued, and something that characterized much of the frontier.


Q: Let me ask you an unfair question: What's important to know about who settled West Virginia, to understand?
JJDG 0562
RE: I think the importance isn't so much what ethnic groups settled West Virginia, but the fact that it was a group of people who came to this particular part of the country seeking independence, seeking a lifestyle that could sustain family values and a certain relationship to the land. It was seeking a way of life, I think. More than those that may have settled on the far western frontier or in the New England cities, one came out of choice to West Virginia and found in that choice things that supported family and religion and a sense of community and a lifestyle and a way of looking at life that really set them apart I think from what one might have found in the New England colonies or in the deep south or on the far western frontier.

Q: If the rural communities were not? that much different from the mid west, the people were not that much different than the people in Pennsylvania, why is it we all sense that West Virginians are different?
RE: I think it's that ...


Q: Ron, if the communities themselves were not that different from the mid-west and the land wasn't that big of a factor, and the people were the same as elsewhere in the eastern United States, why is it that 150 years people have felt and said that West Virginia is different?
JJDG 0714
RE: I think it's due to again this outlook on life that people who came to West Virginia brought with them. If anybody in early America reflected the Republican values of the early colonies and the early national period in American history, it was the people who came and settled in the mountains in West Virginia and east Kentucky and east Tennessee. These people brought with them a certain way of looking at relationships to each other, a certain value of democratic traditions, a certain importance in the family and the survival of the family, and above all those things were certainly as important to them as seeking a profit on the land, as producing a crop -- tobacco or cotton or engaging in some kind of merchant trade as New Englanders did.
JJDG 0797
So, probably more than many other Americans, West Virginians came to establish a way of life, I think, that really upheld the values of community and the values of personalism, and the values of relationship to the land, and survival of the people. And in many ways that has shaped that, continued to shape the quality of what it means to be a West Virginian down over time. Despite the fact that the politics and the economic systems have changed rather dramatically from that early period of time, those values of relating to people and personalist, and the land have persisted; and to a great degree continue to set West Virginians apart.

Q: Prior to the Civil War, did West Virginia work for these people? Did they find ? ?
JJDG 0869
RE: Yes, I think they did. I think they found a community that was certainly a egalitarian community, despite the presence of slavery and class distinctions. There was a strong sense that in the mountains everyone was as good as the next person, and one ought not to get above one's raising. And that the important thing was the survival of the family and the community. The land was rich; the forest was rich. There was lots of game to be taken. The soil in the valleys was fertile, and when one wasn't looking to making a big profit off of the land or to getting rich and moving ahead, if one was looking to sustain the family, West Virginia worked very well for these people. And a strong, vibrant -- today what we would call a traditional culture -- emerged during that period as a result of that.

JJDG 0962

Q: Ron, describe for me what a typical mountain farm in West Virginia was like?
JJDG 1022
RE: A typical mountain farm probably had 150 to 200 acres of land, all but 20 ... The typical mountain farm had probably 150 to 200 acres of land. All but 20 acres of that land would have been in timber. The family garden comprised most of the flat land, and would have been fenced in. Most of the family vegetables would have been raised in the family garden. Milk cow, honey bees, sometimes sheep and goats, would have grazed on the rest of the land that would have been set aside for pasture. Almost everything that the family needed to survive could have been either produced on the farm or bartered or traded with local farmers or in the local village, and family patterns of work, the men doing much of the heavy labor in the woods and in construction and traditional patterns of women's work primarily responsible for the home and the production of food and the cooking of food and the production of clothes and those types of things.
JJDG 1145
One of the interesting things about the early farm was that all of the family members tended to work within that farm setting and that environment. There was very little separation between men and women together in that environment. Men occasionally would have gone off to work in timbering operations or gone off to trade goods and services, but men were very much at home and part of that environment and part of that community. There wasn't the kind of differentiation between men going off to work for wages as would be the case later on. Children were very important to the labor of the farm; children worked alongside parents in the woods and in the garden and the fruit trees and constructing houses and buildings, taking care of younger children. It was very much a family operation.

Q: What about women?
JJDG 1234
RE: Women's life was difficult. Not unrewarding, I think in certain respects, but very difficult. Limited primarily to the farm and to the family setting. Women did not play a major role in the larger public life and politics and external community activities. However, women created strong support networks among themselves.
JJDG 1271
Sisters and aunts and cousins and neighbors would frequently engage in cooperative work in order to get women's work done. Mountain women frequently bore children every year, and it was not unusual for mountain families to have any where from nine to eighteen children. Second marriages were not atypical for mountain men in the 19th century because the mortality rate for women in childbirth was very, very high. Those women who survived childbirth and the very rigorous, hard work years of raising a family, however, often lived to be quite old. And the number of mountain matriarchs who were in their eighties and nineties is surprisingly high in the 19th century.

Q: It sounds like a very isolated world. It just ends sort of at your property line. Where does community figure into it?
JJDG 1356
RE: Community involved the church and one's neighbors who was may be a mile or two or three miles away, but walking a mile or two to three miles in the 19th century was like walking around the block to us in the 20th century. Distance is different; distances were not as great to people at that time. People got together on Sundays for church; they got together for family reunions; they got together for funerals, for court days, for election days. There was a strong sense of community. For example, one of the strong aspects of community that we know happened was in the maintenance of the local roads.
JJDG 1424
Every adult male over the age of 18 was required to put in anywhere from seven to twenty-one days of labor maintaining the country roads. And so everyone in the community would turn out to work on maintaining and keeping the roads up. So there was a strong sense of community there. Each family would have an identify unto itself and live on a homestead, a farm stead.


Q: Ron, elsewhere in the U.S. in the 19th century, community was formed in large part around religion. Is that the same for the West Virginian?
JJDG 1487
RE: Not so much. Each community tended to have its own particular religion. That's one of the reasons why we probably have more Baptist denominations in West Virginia than are spread anywhere else in the country. Each community tended to associate itself together with families, and each family then frequently tended to develop its own church affiliation. People didn't come to the mountains frequently simply for religious reasons. There were usually other reasons.
JJDG 1534
Religious freedom was always important to people in the mountains. Mountain people frequently did not belong to mainline denominations, even in the early years. Being on the frontier, being out removed from the cities and the coastal communities, they tended to develop their own religions; and therefore we tended not to have very well educated clergy. Our clergy tended to come from within the community, and so our churches really tended to reflect the communities themselves and still continue to today. Each family would build their own church frequently, and frequently that church would then become a school and the center of the community and community gatherings. But religion didn't play as dominant a role in the lives of West Virginians, say as it did in the Puritan communities of New England.
JJDG 1623
Again, it was a reflection of family and a reflection of the values that people brought with them. I think mountain people were very spiritual people and had a strong sense of religion that may not have transferred into strong denominational affiliations on a national level.

Q: One of the most prominent circuit riders, Francis Asbury, while acknowledging large turnouts of mountain people to hear his sermon, often described the fighting against this almost overwhelming tide of licentiousness and drunkenness and behavior that was not conducive to a good Methodist upbringing?
JJDG 1689
RE: There was clearly a different environment on the frontier than there was the established communities back to the east. Frequently aspects of frontier life involved drinking and being involved in activities that would be deemed to be unacceptable back east. That doesn't mean that mountain people were not necessarily religious; in fact, within their own way it was a different kind of religion for them. But it was very characteristic of what one would find on the frontier just about any where. That sense of distinction between a personal religion, which is the kind of religion I think that one finds in the mountains, and abiding by the tenants and rules of some larger national denomination or larger national expectations, has been one of those things that has set the mountains off from other areas of the country. And I think is directly associated with the strong sense of independence that one finds in the region.

Q: One of the things that when people start to come to the mountains they report back in their writings and in their account are that mountain people are suspicious of outsiders. Is that a true ...
JJDG 1812
RE: The suspiciousness of outsiders is a phenomena that actually began to occur in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's not something that one finds in the early 19th century. The earliest settlers frequently welcomed strangers into their communities and into their homes. A writer traveling through the mountains could stay almost anywhere and be welcomed into a cabin and be offered the best bed and the best meal and the best discussion and music in the evenings. It was only after the mineral men and land buyers began to come across the mountains and to stop into the cabins and to purchase land at little or no benefit to the local people, to take advantage of people, that you began to have those accounts of the suspicious outsiders began to appear.
JJDG 1891
It's really rather remarkable and in the local color stories of the 1870's and 80's, the common theme in all those stories is how warm and welcoming the mountain people are. But if you take the same stories by 1900 to 1910, then you begin to find the stories of the suspiciousness and the fear of outsiders because mountain people have come to see outsiders at that point as someone who has come to take advantage of you and not always to be neighborly toward you.

Q: Civil War comes along and this world that's evolved over a hundred-odd years, roughly, beings to change. Tell me, describe for me the earliest beginnings of that change.
JJDG 1962
RE: The Civil War was one of the most divisive and disruptive aspects of the history of West Virginia that one can possible imagine. A true Civil War occurred in the mountains, where one had families and communities divided against each other. The literal aspects of the war itself created economic hardship in the region. After the war communities sought to recover, to rebuild the communities that they had established before the war. Immediately in the years after the war ...


Q: Ron, tell me about really once the war ended, once the Civil War ended in West Virginia, it was sort of a reassessment of things.
JJEA 0054
RE: Two things happened in the years after the Civil War. One was that the attitudes of many of the community leaders in West Virginia began to change after war, began to look more favorably toward economic development, manufacturing, various forms of industrial development than had been the case before the war. The second important thing was that the Industrial Revolution began to occur in the rest of America, and as other parts of America began to look to building steel mills and manufacturing plants and expanding their urban centers, they created a tremendous need for natural resources.
JJEA 0114
Those natural resources, of course, were present throughout the Appalachian region and throughout the state of West Virginia. So those two forces began to come together. One, a group of state of leaders and even local leaders who saw opportunities for growth and expansion in industrial development. Sometimes we call these people the 'new south entrepreneurs' and the industrial development of the rest of the country came together and began to look at the resources that had been discovered in the mountains. ...


Q: Tell me about what role Joseph Diss Debar had?
JJEA 0183
RE: Diss Debar was an early entrepreneur of sorts for the state of West Virginia who began to recognize the potential of the resources of the state and began or at least attempted to document those resources in several pamphlets and to attract both capital and immigration into West Virginia. Diss Debar the potential that he felt the state had for manufacturing development, as opposed to agricultural enterprises and sought to encourage that development long before subsequent leaders would begin to take the foundations laid by Diss Debar and begin to build on those foundations and attracting outside capital especially to the region.

Q: Were his efforts at the time understood and appreciated?
JJEA 0264
RE: Unfortunately at the time I think Diss Debar's efforts were not understood by the leadership in the state. There was still a strong tendency towards agriculture and perceiving the future of the state within an agricultural environment, and many of Diss Debar's efforts were futile during his own lifetime.

Q: Tell me a little bit about Hotchkiss and Welch coming in and . . .
JJEA 0305
RE: Jedidiah Hotchkiss and many others like him represent a whole generation of Civil War leaders who after the war came back to the mountains in which they had fought and traveled during the war and began to use their knowledge of mountain landscape and mountain terrain, their knowledge of mapping that had been gained in some cases by serving on topography units during the war, wherein they had recognized the large timber reserves and especially the coal reserves in the region. They began to try and put together tracts of those reserves and to attract outside capitalists from Philadelphia, Boston and New York and elsewhere in the north to come and acquire those resources. In many cases these entrepreneurs are acquired a percentage of the new land companies that were formed themselves, and they became the leading promoters of industrial development in the mountains.

Q: When Hotchkiss first came out, it was pretty much an uncharted territory when he started selling the idea?
JJEA 0415
RE: Hotchkiss was one of the first of the individuals to begin to promote in the northeast the idea that coal reserves were thick, readily available and of high quality in the Appalachian region, especially in southern West Virginia. He was also one of the first to begin to put together charts and maps of where these coal reserves lay and in areas that had previously been little traveled by many people. And it was his ability as a topographer and his ability to bring those things together that first caught the interests of bankers and railroad barons and other capitalists of the northeast who had the resources with which to tap those resources.


Q: Ron, I'm struck by the irony of Imboden who leads a raid in the 1863 into West Virginia and causes a lot of turmoil in southern West Virginia. Five years, eight years later, he's coming back in, buying up land, becoming a developer. Did Imboden represent a new embracing of this land in a different way that he found it in the war?
JJEA 0548
RE: Imboden represented a whole generation of the sons and daughters of the southern plantation gentry in many ways that were looking for new arenas after the war. Their wealth could not be maintained in slaves and expansion of the plantation economy. In many cases individuals like Imboden were the second and third sons of wealthier individuals who had to make it on their own. West Virginia was the new frontier after the war. It was the new frontier for industrialization, for the resources that would build industrial America, and so it's not surprising that they would come back after the war to the land in which they had engaged in combat and struggle. Come back after the war and try to make their fortunes through the purchase of land, using their resources to purchase tracts of land and then to develop that land. It happened again and again and again throughout the mountains, throughout southern West Virginia especially.

Q: After these lone speculators came, some years later the place was just swarming with land speculators, how did that come to be?
JJEA 0667
RE: Word began to get out through national publications, such as the Manufacturer's Record, which was the Wall Street Journal of its day that opportunities were to be had in the Appalachian south, that resources were there, and that a small quantity of money could be very quickly turned into a large fortune. And so, thousands of individuals began to come into the region to seek their fortune -- some individuals with military background, many with engineering background who knew how to access, identify resources and then extract those resources. So you begin to have the development of a large population of late 19th century entrepreneurs, in many ways similar to the entrepreneurs that built many of America's great cities. At the same time their equals were coming into the mountains doing much of the same kind of thing.

Q: What about the land agents, the more -- were they from West Virginia?
JJEA 0768
RE: There were several kinds of land agents. Some of these entrepreneurs themselves became land agents and came into the region, would ride through communities acquiring land themselves with the idea of selling it then to outside capitalist investors. There were other land agents who were from the communities themselves, primarily members of the mountain middle class, the county seat communities, the sons and daughters of lawyers and local merchants who themselves began to acquire tracts of land, in some cases, just mineral rights, but tracts of lands from their neighbors and in turn then selling those, serving as the agent for an outside corporation or essentially a land company in their own right. So as middle men in the process, they themselves acquired significant resources.

Q: Was it easy to buy land from these settlers who had invested so much in their farm?
JJEA 0855
RE: An important thing to keep in mind about the issue of the land is that the early settlers in the mountains didn't see land as commodity; they saw land as place, and that's a critically important thing to keep in mind. Land was the place were family worked, where one was buried. It was the accumulation of generations of experiences. Land wasn't so much something that one bought and sold and moved on, as it would later become. And so when the first mineral men came through the region, local farmers saw this as an opportunity to acquire cash to pay taxes or cash to send a son or daughter to one of the mission schools to get an education or cash to acquire some of the new goods that were being produced by industrializing America. Land was always there; the woodlands had always been used as the commons, the common ground.
JJEA 0944
Anyone could run their cattle or hogs in the woods; didn't matter who owned it. And so, selling one's land to an outside company was a different kind of thing for people at that time. It was difficult for them to envision a time when they would be moved from the land, when they would not have access or control to those woodlands. It was difficult for them to envision a time when a company would come in and remove the surface of the land in order to get at the minerals below during the 1950's and 60's when strip mining was introduced in the region.
JJEA 0998
So, the traditional mountain community saw the land in very different kinds of ways than the external community of industrializing America would come to see the land. Industrializing America would see the land as something to be bought and sold and resources to be extracted. The traditional community saw the land as something that was always going to be there, something that really reflected family and community and tradition, and it didn't really matter who owned it.


Q: Tell me if they couldn't buy the land outright, what else did these speculators have?
JJEA 1061
RE: If the mineral agents couldn't buy the land outright, there were a number of other options that they could use to acquire the land or the minerals. Land titles were notoriously bad in the mountains in West Virginia. Many of the earliest families had come in and either squatted on the land with hopes of acquiring a title to the land later or there were conflicting titles. And frequently the land companies had access to lawyers and resources in urban areas that local people didn't and were able to trace back earlier deeds and other kinds of legal aspects to acquire the land.
JJEA 1119
In many cases that had been divided up among many brothers and sisters could have been taken to court when one of the sisters or brothers would have agreed to sell, but the others refused to sell the family homestead. The company could take the action to court and sue on the grounds that the land could not be equitably divided and therefore the court would have to settle the issue. Invariably the courts settled on the side of the coal companies, and many families did lose their land due to many of these legal manipulations.

Q: Is part of that attributable to Judge Jackson who was so kind of land owners?
JJEA 1180
RE: One has to recognize that the relationships between the legal system and the coal community in West Virginia by the late 19th century and early 20th century was almost one and the same. There were many coal operators who essentially bought and sold the legal system in their areas, and in very few cases did judges favor the traditional families that had lived on the land for generation after generation. There were, by the way, a number of instances where legislators attempted to revise the books in West Virginia and to make such tactics illegal, but in the early years at least these met with consistent defeat.

Q: 1869, Collis Huntington steps off a train in White Sulphur Springs and Robert E. Lee is on the porch just his last year of life, this old south is passing and Collis sort of represents a whole new beginning. Tell me about Collis Huntington and the C & O.
JJEA 1285
RE: Collis Huntington had a dream to build a transcontinental railroad. His dream was consistent with where the new nation was going with industrialization, with the creation of a national market, and the only thing that stood in the way of building this transcontinental railroad was the heart of the Appalachian Mountain chains through West Virginia, and so Huntington began to envision the creation of a transcontinental railroad that would link the east to west by building across southern West Virginia. ... Huntington had this vision of building a transcontinental railroad that would link east to the west across the mountains in southern West Virginia.
JJEA 1354
In many ways the construction of the, what would become the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad was an extension of a pre-Civil War dream of building a canal to link the Ohio river with the east coast. That canal was never completed, but after the war the ability through the introduction of the steam drill and other new technologies allowed us to blast through the mountains for the first time and then what was a surprisingly short period of time of three years between 1870 and 1873, the Chesapeake and Ohio was built down the Greenbrier river and across and down the New river and eventually on to what would become Huntington.

Q: Didn't he start the pattern of not only building a railroad but acquiring all the land along it ? ? ...

TAKE 11,

Q: Ron, tell me about what Collis Huntington didn't foresee?
JJEA 1451
RE: One of the things Collis Huntington missed however was the opportunity internally was to develop the resources along the track. Huntington's primary interest in building the C & O was to build a transcontinental railroad. It was only after the lines were constructed down the New River Gorge and across the southern part of the state that the access to coal reserves began to be recognized as a potential resource for the company itself. By that time, Huntington had left the scene and it would be later leaders of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad who would then go in and begin to develop the surrounding lands that many of which Collis Huntington had himself had participated in acquiring and leasing those lands for coal production. It was only subsequent to that that the Chesapeake and Ohio then became a major player in the development of southern West Virginia's coal reserves.

Q: Tell me about the creation of a place like Huntington. What must that have been like?
JJEA 1546
RE: It was a creation of a whole new town and it was in many ways the predecessor to thousands of new towns that would be created all over West Virginia during the industrial period. On what had once had been only a small village community surrounded by large farm lands suddenly overnight became a bustling industrial community with workers and laborers shipped in from all over the country and turned into a major community almost over night.

Q: Let's talk a little bit before the C & O about the building of the railroad. It wasn't built so much by local labor, and it wasn't built ... and it wasn't built under ideal circumstances.
JJEA 1615
RE: Construction of the C & O was accomplished primarily by the use of African-American laborers who came ... Construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad was accomplished primarily through the labor of African-American workers who came to work for the C & O primarily from Virginia and worked in large work crews, much as they had on plantations in Virginia working along a very difficult conditions, especially down through the New River Gorge, having to cut essentially what would be a bridle path along the cliffs overlooking the river. Conditions for these workers were among the worst of working conditions anywhere in American industry at the time.
JJEA 1691
Literally hundreds of individuals would die each month along the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio. The most famous incident of course was the story surrounding the creation of the "Ballad of John Henry." When the Chesapeake and Ohio began to cut through a tunnel along the Greenbrier river in Summers County around a section of the river called the Big Bend, and in the construction of the Big Bend tunnel, the company brought in a newly-created steam drill which was floated down the Greenbrier river to the small community of Talcott at the mouth of the tunnel. And a race did take place between one of the steel drivers, a man by the name of John Henry, against the steam drill, and John Henry's descendants still live in the community of Talcott.

Q: Tell me a little bit more about the treatment of these workers? What was the view?
JJEA 1780
RE: The typical view was that a greater concern was given to the mules who worked in creating the tunnel and later the mules in the mines, than to the laborer. A laborer was easy to replace; a mule was hard to find. Frequently, in the evenings when ... Conditions in the working of the tunnels were frequently very, very difficult. The companies placed greater value oftentimes on the mules than on the workers themselves. It was said that a mule was hard to find; a man could be hired off the street, and so value on human life and human labor was often very low on these construction crews.
JJEA 1861
Disasters occurred almost nightly in many of the tunnels along the lines of the Chesapeake and Ohio. And in some cases the bodies were literally dumped over the hillside and covered over with rubble along the tracks. And we'll never know how many workers were killed in the construction of that line. ...

Q: Collis Huntington's own nephew died, drowned in the New River. The New River Gorge must have represented a phenomenal challenge?
JJEA 1924
RE: The New River Gorge was one of the great challenges of American railroading at the time; the construction down along the gorge with its sheer cliffs required immense capacity to dynamite and to move rock in large numbers. Again, because we have no records, we don't know how many individuals lost their lives in the construction of the line along the New River Gorge itself, but when it was completed it was a phenomenon in American railroading.

Q: You've written that bodies were discovered, African American laborers bodies were discovered periodically along the line under the rubble, yet no charges or investigations or whatever occurred?
JJEA 1992
RE: No, in many cases we have few records of who the men were who worked along the lines, of who the families were and many of these were single individuals who had come to work for cash, who died along the tracks and were simply covered over and buried. And the record we'll never know how many of these individuals were actually killed.

Q: Now those who stayed, some I presume returned to Virginia and North Carolina.
RE: Some did. Many of the black workers who came to construct the railroads. ...


Q: Want to tell me how the logging industry comes of this development?
JJEB 0017
RE: Probably the earliest of the large industrial developments that followed on the heels of the railroads was the timber industry. The timber industry in the north and Minnesota and Michigan had been cut over by the late nineteenth century and were looking for the hardwoods of the Appalachian south to replace those that were needed in an industrializing and urbanizing society, so many of the earliest land purchasers were primarily interested in timber, rather than necessarily in coal which sometimes came a little later. Large timber companies primarily from the north, in some cases multi state companies and corporations like the Ritter Lumber Company and others, began to come into West Virginia and set up large logging operations.
JJEB 0092
Communities such as Richwood burgeoned overnight and became logging centers, the Cherry River Lumber Company constructed the Cherry River Railroad, and thousands of people came from surrounding counties into that community to work in the fields cutting the trees and to work on the trains hauling the logs from the forests to the factories and to working in the small factories such as the broom factory and others that were set up in communities such as Richwood.
JJEB 0135
My family members moved up from Union County in southern West Virginia to Richwood and worked for them on the Cherry River Lumber Company and in the box factory and the broom factory there at Richwood. It became for many people the bridge between the farm and the mine in many respects. Many people left the farm, were attracted to seasonal work in the timber industry cutting the trees and then when the trees were cut, moved on to a company town to work in the coal mines. And it served as an interesting kind of bridge. Logging had always been part of the environment in West Virginia throughout much of the 19th century.
JJEB 0199
In earlier years farmers would cut logs for their own use and for local use; in the 1880's and into the 1890's, local entrepreneurs began to cut logs along the banks of the rivers and pull them together into large rafts and in the spring of the year then float those rafts down the rivers to the larger markets in the flat lands, and it became an important supplemental source of income for many farmers. That, however, was small scale logging compared to the highly technical logging operations that the large northern timber companies would bring to the region.

Q: What impact did logging have on West Virginia, that type of logging, that massive clear cutting?
JJEB 0276
RE: It's hard for us to understand the impact of the logging industry at the turn of the century on the mountains. Large areas of land were devastated. Piles of cut over limbs and bark were left to rot or to catch fire as a result of a lightning strike. We began to have large forest fires attack the mountains beginning at the turn of the century and almost increasing through the teens and early twenties at the height of the timber industries. Massive unconcerned cutting of timber created erosion problems and erosion and filtering up of the streams. Many of our streams were much more navigable prior to the massive clear cutting and cutting operations of the timber industry in the late 19th century.
JJEB 0352
So the impact on the physical terrain was massive. The impact on the human population was to increasingly bring people from the farm into what mountain people would call 'public work'. Work for a wage income, work for someone else other than one's self, and that meant increasing a shift from being relatively independent and dependent only upon one's own resources to being dependent upon some external large corporation for one's survival. So the logging companies were the first wave of what would subsequently become several waves ... The logging companies were really the first wave of what subsequently would become several waves of dependency that would come to the mountains.

Q: Of course it reaches its extreme with the ascendancy of coal. Tell me about the story of coal ascending in the late 19th and early 20th century? ...
JJEB 0449
RE: The coming of the coal camps to the mountains revolutionized Appalachian communities. Coal camps were closely knit, tightly controlled artificial communities that were created in an area where urban areas and urban communities simply didn't exist. Eighty percent of the coal miners in southern West Virginia lived in company-owned communities. Whereas many other Americans moved from the farm to the factory through a democratic community in which they had some vote, some participation, in which individual entrepreneurship could thrive, many people in southern West Virginia and throughout much of Appalachia moved from the farm into the modern organized community through the vehicle of the coal camp,
JJEB 0526
a camp where the company controlled one's housing, controlled access to health, controlled access to education, where one did not participate in a political system to fairly and equitably determine local officials and whether or not resources would be spent for the public good. So the impact of the coal camp and coal communities I think was major on the political attitudes that would emerge for a whole generation of people in the mountains as they began to move into the modern era.

Q: Who were these men, these coal operators, where did they come up, how did they --
JJEB 0590
RE: The majority of coal operators came from outside of the mountains. Most of them were young individuals, well educated, frequently with engineering, or in some cases legal backgrounds who saw the mountains as their chance to make their fortune. They came to the mountains with one thing in mind and that was to make a fortune, to get rich, and then to leave. It did not require a large capital input to start a coal mine, and so many of them came with $20,000 or $30,000 in which they would turn into millions. Many of these individuals came out of a generation which believe that those with wealth and those with resources had the natural ability to determine the fate of others, and certainly did not operate their communities with any tendency toward democratic participation. And the bottom line was always the profitability of the company, and everything was frequently gauged to that measure.

Q: Tell me about one in particular who you met in person, Tams? Tell me about his talent and about his systems of policemen?
JJEB 0706
RE: Tams was in many ways a unique individual amongst southern West Virginia coal operators. Tams had the reputation of being one of the most benevolent and concerned of the coal operators, certainly one of the most paternalistic of the coal operators in southern West Virginia; but it is ironic that many of the people who lived in Tams' communities while being very pleased with the quality of the housing and the access to services that they acquired, also resented very strongly the tight hand, the closed fist that Tams held over the community.
JJEB 0760
He mentioned to me in one interview that I had with him before he died that he hired a local policeman to walk up and down the streets of Tams, his community, in the evenings to assure that everything was quiet and peaceful and that if a husband and wife would be arguing and yelling at each other that the constable would bring the couple to Tams and he would settle the dispute. That kind of paternalism to its extreme characterized his control over his community, and for Tams control over the community was a way of life for him.
JJEB 0825
He was not interested in acquiring wealth and then leaving; he was interested in maintaining and controlling a community and an environment. While Tams was a place where everyone wanted to live, the housing was good, the health care was good, there was a movie theater, and there was a shower where other communities didn't have those facilities, very few appreciated that the Major had over the community itself.

Q: Who were the miners who came to these camps?
JJEB 0881
RE: The miners who came to the coal camps came from literally all over the world. The whole population of southern West Virginia was transformed at this period primarily from three groups of people -- one were native Appalachians, both African-Americans and white Americans from the farm within the mountains themselves who were enticed and drawn off the land to work for cash incomes in the company towns. My family came from western North Carolina to work in the coal camps after my grandfather and his five brothers had loss working in the logging industries in western North Carolina. He would meet his wife who would come from southwest Virginia
JJEB 0948
with her parents to settle in the same coal camp. The second group of people who came into these communities were African-Americans, folk from Alabama and South Carolina and Georgia who were recruited by labor recruiters to come in these communities, who frequently were put on railroad cars and literally shipped in box cars up into coal communities to become a very critical and important part of the makeup of the coal population. There are some instances where there's considerable evidence that many of these men came against their will ...


Q: Ron, tell me why African Americans in Alabama would want to come to West Virginia to work in the mines?
JJEB 1024
RE: West Virginia offered real opportunities for many African Americans in the south in the late 19th century. The 1890's and the turn of the 20th century were the height of racism in the south, the height of Jim Crow. There were very few opportunities for individuals to have free access to employment in any kind of significant way in the south, and one could be easily imprisoned for any slight violation of the local social standards. So West Virginia offered real opportunities to improve one's life -- not only to get access to cash, but to provide a home and a foundation for the future. So many African-American men were enticed to come by the labor recruiters to work in the southern West Virginia mines even though they'd had little experience in mining before.
JJEB 1105
Unfortunately, there were some cases where some individuals were forcefully brought into the region. In many southern communities, African American men could be imprisoned and put on a local chain gang for some slight infraction and the local sheriff then could hire out these individuals for labor return. In some cases labor recruiters would go in to some communities and literally purchase these individuals and their labor contracts from the sheriff, load them on a railroad car, lock the door, place a guard inside with a gun and head on to West Virginia. There's one documented incident where one of these individuals protested after they passed the county line and the guard turned and shot him to death, leaving his body as an example to the others until they arrived at the coal camp.

Q: The third group who came to work in the mines were the immigrants?
JJEB 1209
RE: The third group who came to work in the mines were the immigrants, many of southern and eastern Europe who had arrived at Ellis Island without jobs and without employment. Recruiters heavily sought individuals from northern Italy, individuals from Poland and other areas where they might have had some experience in coal mining. But that was usually a rare incidence. Large numbers of immigrant laborers were brought on transportation as the phrase went into the coal fields to become coal miners. When they arrived in the coal camps of course the cost of their transportation had to be deducted from their first few months' wages and so many individuals started out their work in America owing money to the company store in a very significant kind of way.
JJEB 1286
But one of the key things about immigrant communities is that they were able in many ways to create their own community and coal operators intentionally divided off their company towns into an immigrant community, a native white community, and an African-American community, in many cases to support the desires of the men and women themselves, but also to prevent the workers from organizing themselves into unions and to more effectively manage and control that work environment. So many southern West Virginia communities today even continue to have strong Italian identities and Polish identities. The Catholic church became an important and significant church southern West Virginia as a result of the arrival of those immigrant miners.

Q: In many ways the African Americans and immigrants who came in were second settlement of West Virginia? Did they find what they were looking for?
JJEB 1376
RE: That's interesting. It's hard to say. When the hard times came in the coal industry beginning in the mid-20's and into the 30's and the 40's, the first to leave the region frequently were the African Americans and the immigrants. And for many African Americans working in southern West Virginia was sort of a stepping stone from the deep south on farther north into the north. However, many chose to stay and became part of the surrounding population itself and acquired a distinct character and a distinct value system that was very similar that had there as part of the traditional white population as well. Whether or not they found what they were looking for is hard to determine.
JJEB 1448
They brought their families; they raised children, and made a significant life for themselves within those circumstances. It's important to point out that in some southern West Virginia counties eventually the African American community acquired considerable political clout, largely because of its numbers and created entire communities where it maintained control over the lives of the communities in ways which was simply impossible to achieve in the deep south.

Q: Looking at coal now in general, what is important to understand the way about the way coal developed in West Virginia to help shed some light on West Virginia's history?
JJEB 1513
RE: I think the key is -- There are two factors that are the key to understanding the history of coal from my perspective. One is that so much of the capital for the development of the coal industry came from entities outside of the region, with little or no return for the benefit of the people who were engaged in the process of mining. Because of absentee ownership of the state's resources, the dollars that could have built better schools and better roads and better health services in the early part of the century flowed out of the region and we got what we call 'growth without development'. We got a short period of immense growth and expansion and boom period and jobs, but we didn't get the development of those aspects that will sustain a community over time and provide a quality of life.
JJEB 1596
The second thing about the coal industry and its history in the region I think is the rapidity of which the development of that industry took place. The coal industry developed in such a rapid period time with such intensity that it very quickly over expanded and over developed and not only due to the fact that the resources were extracted very quickly, rather than over a period of time in a controlled fashion, but that people were brought into the region, jobs were created with little concern as to how those jobs and how those people would be sustained down the road. There were few controls in the early years over the coal industry, over health conditions and safety conditions in the mines and life in the company towns. So the legacy of the boom period has been deeply felt by subsequent generations of West Virginians.

Q: Sum up this whole industrial period for me in terms of a shift between an independence to a dependence?
JJEB 1702
RE: What happened in the mountains as a result of industrialization is that mountain people very quickly within two generations moved from becoming a relatively independent people, who had a large amount of control over their own destiny and lives, to a people who were increasingly were dependent, and whose lives were shaped by external markets and external owners and the extraction of a single industry, single mineral, from the land itself. Appalachia essentially became a dependent society, dependent upon public work and cash income, dependent upon a world market direction, dependent upon absentee owners of the land itself. And we've been paying for that dependence ever since.

Q: Coal has had an up and down roller coaster ride and probably it had its last view of the top in the 1950's. Tell me about that?
JJEB 1797
RE: The coal industry ... The coal industry, along with logging and textiles and agriculture and railroads, all really collapsed in the mid-1920's. After World War II, as European markets began to increasingly close due to American suppliers, the coal industry went into deep recession. Thousands of miners were laid off and never to return to work in an over-expanded industry to begin with.
JJEB 1845
Those industries that survived increasingly mechanized and replaced hand loading with joy loaders and automatic conveyor belts and mechanized the mines to such a point that when World War II came along and demand for production increased, you got a slight increase in the number of miners working in those communities, but over the long term, we saw a gradual decline, a permanent decline of the number of miners. The late 1940's and the 1950's were a period of severe depression in the Appalachian region, primarily due to the mechanization of the coal mines. Literally hundreds of thousands of families were displaced by the mechanization of the mines and were forced to leave the region.
JJEB 1916
My father and my mother came back after World War II to live in Beckley. My father was a barber and trying to make a living in southern West Virginia at a time where there were large numbers of people laid off and my uncles and cousins were laid off from the mines, and in the early fifties my mother had an uncle who had moved to Ohio. And this uncle finally said to my father, "Why don't you all come on up and join us and we'll help you get started." So I remember the day when we packed up the family car and put all of the kids on the car and the furniture on top of the car and joined the trek of others along Route 21, heading toward the Promised Land in Ohio because there were no jobs to be had at home.
JJEB 2000
It was a very difficult decision for young men and women of that generation to make, to have to leave home and leave their family and leave the land that had become part of them, to go to a strange place to make a living.


Q: Ron, tell me about the impact of the coal collapse of the 50's, and this massive out migration?
JJEC 0025
RE: The out migration of people in the fifties essentially drained a whole generation of people from West Virginia, who became the labor base for the building of much of consumer society of America in the fifties and the sixties. It was workers from West Virginia who built the automobiles and the refrigerators and the television sets that were constructed in the cities of the mid-west, that became part of American in the fifties and the sixties. Later, many of these workers would seek to return home in the 1970's and 80's during their retirement years, but it symbolized in many ways a whole generation of people who no longer saw hope and opportunity at home and were forced out of the state in order to make a living.

Q: It's such an ironic picture because when I think of the 50's I think of the peak of American power and vibrancy and --
JJEC 0112
RE: Conditions in the mountains in the 50's were little improved over conditions in the 30's. Massive unemployment, at least one third a half of the population living below the national poverty level, sixty to seventy percent of housing units lacking indoor plumbing. Many of the old coal camps had been abandoned and were rotting. Some of the houses had been sold to miners' families themselves, relieving the company of having to maintain those facilities. With very few taxes from the resources that had been drawn out of the region, schools were poor; roads were not very well maintained, and health care was appalling. You had many, too many people for the amount of jobs that were available and able to sustain those individuals in the fifties.
JJEC 0197
Many of the community leaders themselves recognized the problems and in fact we know today that the roots of the war on poverty were to be found locally among political leaders in West Virginia and east Kentucky and Tennessee, not on a national level and had begun to organize themselves in the 1950's to try and improve economic conditions, to diversify the economy and to improve social services.


Q: Tell me about the impact of John Kennedy coming to West Virginia in the 1960 primary?
JJEC 0260
RE: The 1960 primary was clearly one of the most important political events of the 20th century, in that it helped springboard the first Catholic president in America's history to his election. More importantly than that, it helped to bring to the forefront the fact that all parts of America had participated in the affluent society of the 1950's. When John Kennedy came to campaign in West Virginia, he was taken into communities and older coal camps and rural areas and saw conditions that clearly shocked him, that made it difficult for him to believe that these conditions survived in mid-century America and, in fact, promised the people of West Virginia that if he was elected that he would do something to relieve some of the underdevelopment and the conditions that he found in the mountains in his campaign.
JJEC 0353
Of course, he won the primary in 1960, and winning the West Virginia primary spring boarded him to the presidency. It also springboarded West Virginia to the forefront as a symbol of the 'other America' and following on the heels of John Kennedy came a whole series of outside journalists and national media representatives who poured into the Mountain State and into communities to document the conditions that many people were forced to live in in that period.

Q: Was that beginning of the sort of national image of Appalachia?
JJEC 0412
RE: In many ways it was the beginnings of the rediscovery of Appalachia as a strange land and a peculiar people, that part of America that had some how been left behind in the national progress towards modernity. The 1960 election and the subsequent media documentaries that were done on West Virginia and other Appalachia communities helped to instill in everybody's mind an idea that West Virginia was the land of yesterday's people. And many of the stereotypes and images that we still struggle with of the region, a region of poverty and laziness, backwardness, are part of that imagery that was created in that second re-discovery.
JJEC 0486
The rediscovery therefore had both a positive and a negative consequence. It helped to bring conditions that had not been addressed to the national forefront and placed on the national agenda. But then it also helped to re-instill certain images and stereotypes that folk from the mountains had struggled against and fought against for generations.

Q: Was the image of the barefoot, illiterate hillbilly an inaccurate one?
RE: Inaccurate only in the sense that ...

Q: Tell me the image of the hillbilly?
JJEC 0542
RE: The popular image of the hillbilly, of course, is the person whose family owns a log cabin and the family sits on the front porch, barefoot, drinking moonshine, playing the banjo and shooting everybody who wanders by. The image of the hillbilly is the person who lacks culture; it's the person who has not found progress when the rest of the nation has become cultured and progressive. It tends to be a very easy and quick explanation for poverty. It's a version of blaming the victim when one has few opportunities for education, few opportunities for adequate health care, and few opportunities for employment. Then it's easy to create an image of that person as a some kind of a cultural degenerate, and frequently the hillbilly image does do that and is used by others to explain a way, what is actually a very complicated series of situations.

Q: Kennedy fulfilled his obligation or his promise and set up a massive war on poverty?
JJEC 0652
RE: In the early 1960's, West Virginia became in many ways a central component of the nation's war on poverty, especially during the Johnson Administration following Kennedy's assassination, many of the early war on poverty programs were either launched in West Virginia or West Virginia provided the model for many of those programs, especially in rural areas of America. Two programs were more important than perhaps others in the war on poverty and trying to alleviate the problems of Appalachia. One was the OEO, Office Economic Opportunity, which created programs such as Head Start and the Job Corps; and probably most importantly, established community action programs or CAP agencies in local communities under the idea that the poor were to organize themselves and to design programs to lift themselves out of poverty.
JJEC 0736
Where the OEO programs were primarily human programs aimed at improving the human capital of the region and the quality of the life of individuals and education and health care, the Appalachian Regional Commission was established primarily to improve the physical infrastructure for economic development in the mountains. And West Virginia benefitted tremendously from highway construction and funds from the federal government that were placed into sewer construction, water quality construction, centralized schools, and health facilities from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
JJEC 0799
The legacy of the war on poverty, however, is a rather mixed legacy. While it did do a rather remarkable job I think in beginning to address some of the conditions which were most depression in the region in a relatively short period of time, the war on poverty itself lasted only from 1965 until 1970. On the larger scale, it also did a great deal to actually improve the quality of the middle class in the mountains. Many of the federal programs that were launched under the war on poverty actually improved the quality of life in mountain county seat towns and urban areas where public resources were utilized to construct public buildings and improve sewer systems, to consolidate schools in those urban areas to help bring the consumer society to the mountains, which began to appear in the late 60's and into the 70's when urban areas in West Virginia began to have food chains, such as Wal-Mart, and fast food restaurants, such as McDonald's, and began to look very much like any other urban area of the nation.
JJEC 0908
There was little change, however, in the lives of the folk who lived up the hollows and out in the older abandoned coal communities; and to that extent the war on poverty really did fail to change the conditions of that part of the mountain population. It failed to address the structural problems that had created economic exploitation and underdevelopment in the region. It really failed to address the problems of single industry development, failed to address the problems of the political ties at the local and state level between that single industry and those who controlled the jobs, also controlled the political system. It did very little to address the issues of absentee land ownership that limited the economic alternatives that are available to communities. And it ultimately did very little to support and encourage secondary development and diversification of the economy. So, many of the problems that we faced in the 1960's, we continue to face today in the mountains, continue to struggle with.


Q: Ron, tell me about how through this war on poverty government perpetuated the dependence of West Virginians on outsiders?
JJEC 1033
RE: The War on Poverty Programs really represented the emergence of the welfare state in American society. And for people in the mountains and for people especially in West Virginia, it really represented a shift from the dependency that had been acquired on the coal companies and the other forms of private industry that no longer could sustain the community, could provide the jobs and schooling and education and health services. That dependency then shifted to the federal government and beginning in the 1930's actually with the New Deal Programs, but expanding in the 1960's, we saw the federal government stepping in to provide a safety net so that the distance between the owners of the resources and the workers did not continue to grow.
JJEC 1107
That safety net was essentially a net that supported the dependence that had acquire there. And for thousands of mountain people that meant that the independence that their parents had acquired, that had had in the pre-industrial period, had now become a dependence, dependence on a cash income and dependence upon the federal government to support that cash income. For thousands of mountain communities, it meant dependence upon federal sources of tax money to support education, to support highway construction, to support health care services, because the local tax base and the local economy could no longer support those services themselves. So the war on poverty while bringing relief to many individuals also meant the growth of the welfare state and a shift in the dependence that had been routed in the industrial revolution in the mountains.

Q: Sum up that again at the end.
JJEC 1206
RE: The war on poverty really represented a shift from the independence to dependence that had accompanied the industrial revolution in the mountains.

Q: ... there appears to be a 30 year cycle, 1920, 1950, 1980. Everything collapses again in the '80s. Tell me about that.
JJEC 1239
RE: In the 1980's, we saw with a cutback in federal programs, the Reagan Administration came to office highly critical of the social programs of the 1960s. And as a result, many of the federal programs such as Head Start and other programs were dramatically reduced during the decade of the 1980's. As a result, we saw unemployment rates increase dramatically, the quality of health care decline for many rural communities in the region, and generally social services decline throughout the mountains. We slipped back from the ground that was gained in the 1970's and at least statistically to many of the kinds of standards in terms of per capita income and housing standards and those that we had known in the 1960's.

Q: And out migration once again --
JJEC 1325
RE: Once again in 1980's ... Once again in the 1980's as a result of the declining conditions in the mountains, out migration continued to characterize the population. The population in West Virginia increased in the 1970's with the influx of federal funds and federal dollars for social programs. That was reversed in the 1980's as jobs began to decline, as the coal industry went through another cycle of mechanization with the introduction of long-wall mining techniques and other high technical techniques which employed fewer individuals, meant that there were fewer mine jobs. And with fewer jobs in that single industry, we see many of our young people out migrating again.

Q: What impact do you think this latest out migration is going to have on West Virginia, southern West Virginia in particular?
JJEC 1398
RE: In many respects I think we see the final stages of the death of many communities in southern West Virginia. The final struggles to deal with the decline of industrialization and the final stage when many of these folk won't be back because this is what economists call 'structural unemployment'. It's the kind of unemployment that is leaving on a permanent, permanent basis.
JJEC 1433
On the other hand, we also see the decline of the economy and the lack of a likelihood that we're going to have any federal programs that are going to come to our relief and a lack of a likelihood that the private sector, through large corporations, are going to once again come to the relief of our conditions in the mountains. We probably are going to see the recovery of community in some areas where people are being increasingly beginning to recognize that the future of the mountains is in our own hands and we have to regain that sense of independence, that sense of control over our own destiny that our grandparents and great grandparents had to live within a modern era,
JJEC 1501
but to find ways to diversify our economy and to tax the resources that we have and to utilize those resources so that our communities can survive. And that's the key I think for the future -- is whether we continue to exist in the declining industrial economy that shaped our early history in the 20th century or whether we can regain a sense of independence and self determination that had characterized much of our earlier history.

Q: You said in the foreword to your book that you set out to find out who your people were and their distinctiveness. What did you find?
JJEC 1558
RE: I found that my people were a people who were survivors, who knew how to come in to a wilderness, to make a life for themselves, to make a good life for themselves, a meaningful life for themselves, a people who like many other Americans had experienced the process of industrialization and modernization. They weren't a strange and different people. They left the farm to go to work in the mines and the factories, and as part of that had survived and had struggled against odds that were determined by forces beyond their control. And through all of that I see a tremendous strength in the mountains and in mountain people, a determination to go on, a determination to survive as a people, as a family. I'm very proud of that struggle.
JJEC 1642
The history of West Virginia is not always a pleasant history in that it is a history of exploitation, a history of conflict, a history of struggle; but it's also a history of people hanging together, of people struggling, of people surviving, of people knowing who they are, and of people learning how to come together to increasingly address their problems. And that's where I see the hope of the future, is in that human spirit that continues to survive.

Q: Do you understand after this professional time at looking at West Virginia, your personal time looking at your family, do you understand why people don't want to leave West Virginia?
JJEC 1707
RE: Yes, it's -- and again it goes back to ... People don't want to leave West Virginia because we're drawn to the mountains; we're drawn to the mountains and to our families; we're drawn to a way of life. We're drawn to a philosophy of life that is very different from what one would find in New York or Los Angeles or other parts of modern America. It's a philosophy of life that values family, has a relationship to the land, that values continuity, values tradition. It's a sense of community that we still have parts of, to a great degree because we've had to struggle to maintain that, and we have a sense of community in West Virginia that many other parts of the country wish they had.