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Old 08-20-2018, 08:05 PM
12,006 posts, read 11,078,105 times
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"Hillbilly Elegy" is flawed. It is probably accurate for Vance's own personal experience and that of his family, but those who would extrapolate it to apply to all others of similar background and experience are making a huge mistake. Vance is a compelling speaker with legitimate concerns, but again, his premise and conclusions are incorrect, or at least partially inaccurate. Not everyone who moved to Ohio or Michigan from eastern Kentucky because of economic reasons shares his family's characteristics or views of life.

I doubt if that one documentary you saw perhaps twenty years ago would still apply to what you're likely to encounter during your very brief excursion through Eastern Kentucky. It sounds extraordinary for twenty years ago - 1998?? Like Vance's book, it may be accurate for that particular situation and those particular people - but don't use it to extrapolate.

And please! Why are you so determined to "see something peculiar like that in person"?? This is just as stereotyped as those ugly words you attribute to your judgmental acquaintances back home. Wanting to visit Eastern Kentucky so you can "see something peculiar" is highly offensive. Good grief.

Your previous post certainly seemed to imply that you thought this part of the world was part of the Confederacy, or had Confederate sympathies. Of course some residents had that loyalty, but the Confederate flags you may see flying in WVA or Eastern KY today are very likely to have little to do with the actual Confederacy, and much to do with current political/racial views. Actual Civil War scholars do not fly that flag and have a much broader understanding of the issues of that time. They do not try to claim the Southern views and practices of the ante-bellum and Civil War eras for today.

If you're interested in Civil War history and related sites in Kentucky, come back to Kentucky and spend more time. Visit the Hunt-Morgan House and the Mary Todd Lincoln Girlhood Home in Lexington, along with Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate (yes, of course Clay preceded the Civil War, but his influence was huge in preventing the war for many years and he was Lincoln's "beau ideal of a statesman"). Waveland, a state park museum home on the edge of Lexington, presents a good view of upper south plantation ante-bellum life.

Ashland, the Hunt-Morgan House, the Mary Todd Lincoln House, and Waveland can all be visited in one day - be sure to tell the guides you are doing this so they won't extend your tour too long.

Check out Whitehall, the home of Cassius Marcellus Clay, Berea College (and town) and the nearby Battle of Richmond Battlefield, as previously suggested - again, this can be done in one day as all are located in Madison County.

Spend a third day and along with the Perryville Battlefield near Danville (Perryville was the largest battle fought in Kentucky), visit Camp Nelson near Nicholasville, and read about the little-known tragedy which took place there one icy winter.

None of these are near to where you plan to go this time, so perhaps another trip might be a good idea - that way, you're have time to read up on what you're going to see.

The Civil War was a contributing factor to the Hatfield-McCoy feud, but was not the whole cause - romance gone wrong and a stolen pig played their parts as well. No doubt you'll be learning more about this, since you're planning to visit the museum.

Since you're spending most of your time in WVA, visit Lewisburg and follow the Civil War (walking/driving) trail there. It's very close to the VA border and is a very historic and lovely town with a rich Civil War heritage.

Not sure if your cousin realizes that mountaintop removal coal mining is far more of a threat to WVA and Eastern KY than is fracking at present...you do have to get off the Interstates and turnpikes to see it, though, unless you give Google Earth a shot - it really reveals the extent of the destruction.

Last edited by CraigCreek; 08-20-2018 at 08:23 PM..
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Old 08-20-2018, 08:13 PM
12,006 posts, read 11,078,105 times
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Originally Posted by Nicole111 View Post
Yes, the reason the social climate in America is so "toxic" these days is because...I want to visit Kentucky with my husband to learn the culture? That's logical.

And I'm the "toxic" one for hoping one byproduct of that visit is to be able to shut down ignorant and offensive speech with intelligent speech, as opposed to the unwashed social justice warriors who wish to end speech with which they disagree with force...?

I actually don't find the social climate in this country to be "toxic" at all. I have perfectly pleasant conversations about economics and politics with people every day. It's only when a leftist inserts themselves that things become unpleasant. What I have been finding in the past year and a half, is a glasnost, if you will, or a Prague Soring of sorts, where people feel free to express their ideas without being labeled "racist, suffering from "toxic masculinity," or "white privilege."
This is rather hilarious, given the historic propensity of people you'd very likely term "social justice warriors" to inject themselves into the mountains of WVA and Eastern KY: all those settlement schools I wrote about previously were founded by "do-gooders", as was Berea College - and 100 years or so later, the Appalachian Volunteers were cut out of exactly the same cloth.

They were well-washed, though. At least the Reverend John Fee and the settlement school ladies were...

Nicole, you've just written in your post addressed to me that you would only be in Eastern Kentucky for a few hours. How can you expect to "learn the culture" of any place, much less someplace you've never been before, in so short a time? While hoping to see "something peculiar", to boot? All so you can go back home and shut down someone you find ignorant?

Don't you get even a glimpse of the irony?

You are most welcome to visit Kentucky, all parts of it. Just leave your preconceived notions at home. Your interests can come along and you can pursue them (other than your dream of seeing something peculiar). But bring an open mind as well, and realize there is no way you can "learn the culture" in so brief a visit.

Last edited by Oldhag1; 08-25-2018 at 08:37 AM.. Reason: Edited quote
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Old 08-21-2018, 09:52 AM
Location: The Bluegrass State
391 posts, read 799,669 times
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Looking for Civil War sites in Eastern Kentucky. Not as much there as would will get in Central or Western Kentucky. There are some however

The Battle of MiddleCreek comes to mind first. The Union Forces were commanded by James Garfield, the future President.
Middle Creek National Battlefield
I've never been there myself, so I don't know how much they've done to preserve the battlefield, if anything, so I don't know if it's worth the trip.

You also might try Camp Wildcat, site of a small skirmish. I've been there and it is close by. The site of the battle is remarkable well preserved due to the fact it was very out of the way (On top of a hill in the middle of a forest- no where near land that anyone wanted to develop) You can still see the rifle pits in some places. It is out of the way and a detour to get there.
Camp Wildcat Preservation Foundation

Mills Spring is another site. It was the first Union Victory in the western theater. There is a national cemetery located there (One of the first). Be advised some of the battlefield is on private property, which can be jarring. Last time I was there, a mobile home was on the sight of the fiercest fighting.
Mill Springs Battlefield


As for sites with Confederate history, you're not going to find that many in the Appalachia/Eastern Kentucky region. The region was staunchly Unionist during the war. The Confederate officers who campaigned through the region complained about the attitudes of the inhabitants.

For non civil War sites, you might try Hindman/Knott County where Alice Lloyd college is. Also Berea where Berea College is.

Last edited by xxmagex; 08-21-2018 at 10:15 AM..
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
Instead of toxic, let's go with unexpectedly and overly defensive.

And why would I grieve about Obama being gone for good? Assume much?
Not sure what Obama - or Hillary, or Trump - has to do with the Civil War history of Eastern Kentucky anyway. Or how he relates to the OP's wish to "see something peculiar" during her upcoming few hours spent passing through Kentucky en route to WVA.

But I did get a clue when she wrote about her viewing the present time as comparable to the Prague Spring...that people feel more free to express their views not of communism vs democracy, as was true during that long-ago spring before Russia quenched it, but of racial matters, "white pride", and other far-right concepts and constructs.

That sounds to me as if she wants to twist whatever she (very briefly) encounters here to fit her own agenda and preconceived prejudices and persuasions. Her rejection of more knowledgeable Kentuckians' (of varying political stripes, you and I do not entirely agree about current politics though we're on the same page with this issue) suggestions and corrections of her mistaken and distorted ideas about Eastern Kentucky and its history and people is telling.

That's not "learning the culture".

It appears that with little prior knowledge of Eastern Kentucky and its people, either past or present, the OP hopes to find "something peculiar" here to bolster her own mistaken and stereotyped notions about not just Kentucky - but about race, politics, "leftists", "social justice warriors", Obama, those who disagree with her politically - and much more.

Yet she admits to knowing little about contemporary Kentucky politics but claims to know much more about the national scene.

Wonder what she knows about Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, who are certainly part of both, and increasingly noticeable, significant - and controversial - on the national scene?
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:13 PM
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I hadn't heard of Hillbilly Elegy til this thread. I'll probably read it in future and perhaps comment on it then.

As it happens I knew and visited a guy from Middleton too (coincidentally another minister's kid).

A town can have many parts and stories. The minister kid I knew from there wasn't wealthy but his environment seemed pretty normal / similar to mine, at a time when Mr. Vance was just being born. Curious to read how rough he had it.

Sidenotes: McConnell is from Alabama and moved to Louisville as a teen. What he knows of eastern Kentucky is as a visitor. Paul was born in Pittsburgh and got to western KY city life at age 30 via Texas and NC. Another visitor.

I heard Rand Paul's wife was from a politically connected western KY family. It happens that her family name (Ashby) is the same as a famous, VA plantation born, Confederate officer. Any connection? I dunno. Might be. She is from a "military family".

Last edited by NW Crow; 08-21-2018 at 04:12 PM..
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Old 08-21-2018, 04:08 PM
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Appears to be some family connection between famous Confederate officer from Virginia Ashby and Bowling Green Ashbys. https://books.google.com/books?id=JX...n%20ky&f=false

Other Bowling Green confederate Ashbys mentioned in the local war history.

The past is not so distant.
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Old 08-21-2018, 05:51 PM
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Has McConnell ever been asked or answered as to whether he had ancestors who fought for Confederates or Union? I haven't found anything of that yet. Did find a reference to a McConnell Plantation less than 100 miles from where he was born and raised.

I also see McConnell slave owners in KY, Charleston and a very big one (one the biggest ever) in the Caribbean sugar-slave plantation scene but it is a pretty common name and nothing can be said without further information.

Last edited by NW Crow; 08-21-2018 at 06:37 PM..
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Old 08-21-2018, 08:31 PM
123 posts, read 267,278 times
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Moderator cut: inflammatory

I don't know why it bothers you that I want to see something that is peculiar to me. If someone had seen Moonlight and posted that they were intrigued by that part of Miami, and wanted to see something like that in person, I would tell them to get off at Exit 6 on I-95 and head east. What I would not do is endeavor to lecture them (over and over and over) that Miami is a diverse city, and there is much wealth and history, and try to redirect them toward a middle class black neighborhood instead, if they "really" want to learn about black culture in Miami. It's their choice what they want to see. Who cares?

Similarly, if someone posted that they wanted to come to New York City to see a fistfight, I would chuckle a little and tell them that might be tough, but I would probably name few rough neighborhoods and tell them to find a dive bar at 4 am. Again, I wouldn't delve into the meaning behind the meaning of why, exactly, they want to see a NY fight. Life is way too short to get offended by that jazz.

By going on and on, you're giving off a methinks the lady doth protest too much vibe. I think there is more than a little shame in your game.

Maybe you should educate yourself and read a book by the economist Walter Williams, and read what he has to say about freedom and free markets and how they go hand-in-hand with personal preferences and tastes. If I have a preference to see something peculiar in Eastern Kentucky (or China, or Bulgaria), I'm not sure why it offends you so much. It's like you're trying to control me by telling me what is permissible and what is not prermissible for me to want. It sounds like a personal problem.

Oh, and by the way, Walter Williams is black, and he and I have a personal enough relationship that he sent me a birthday present. So you can quit the veiled insinuations that I'm racist. If you think I'm a racist by the way, rather than alluding to vague "constructs," come out and call me a racist and give your evidence of same. It is so lame by trying to ally with another poster by implying that my appreciation of the fall of Communism in the twentieth century is some kind of dog whistle to racists and white supremacists that you should be ashamed of yourself. You couldn't come up with anything intellectually honest, so you used some millennial jargon that meant nothing, except that you have antipathy toward free speech, which is missing the point of America, (which is where Kentucky is located).

Not everything is about you; I'm really sorry. For instance, JD Vance--and I've said I don't like him either--but I don't begrudge him his story. You seem to take it as a personal affront that his story doesn't comport with your narrative about Eastern Kentucky. Who cares? He's not hurting people by telling the truth the way some of the moronic people I've met do hurt the region by perpetuating stereotypes about which they know nothing.

And, just to be clear, I am put off to disgusted by "social justice warriors," regardless of the place they lived, or their place in time. Again, if you want to educate yourself, read The Quest For Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell, a libertarian-conservative--and black--economist, who argues, persuasively, that there is no such thing as "social justice," and it is a perversion of the word "justice." So no, I am not interested in "social justice" and I think anyone who would go to war for it is very stupid.

Yes, I am going to Kentucky for a few hours, I'm going to learn the culture (with some of y'all's helpful assistance), and I couldn't be more excited. I don't know why you inferred that "learn the culture" meant "I am going to learn every last fact about the history, politics, preferences, practices, educational background, dances, name of every dog, cat and mouse, and have enough information to publish a series of scholarly articles about the place." I am so sorry that I used New York patois when I said "learn the culture," instead of "learn about the culture." Thanks to you, I have learned that not everyone in Kentucky is unpretentious. See the irony???

So far JD Vance and I both offended your sensibilities by not speaking of Kentucky culture in the way you prefer. I really hope this doesn't fracture your world, but I feel it is incumbent upon me to inform you that there is a popularly known song out there, whose lyrics read, in part, "we're going to Kentucky/we're going to the fair/to see the senorita with the/ flowers in her hair." Ugh! Who wrote this song? Did they do the proper research into the Kentucky fair about which they speak? Do they know the history of the fair? Have they even spoken to people who've been to that fair?!? And what is this "senorita" stuff? How dare they assume that Kentucky is so homogenous and white that we will know about "the" senorita, as if there's only one. It's gross. It's a perversion of the culture. I'm as offended as you, Craig, and I think this smug folk singer needs you to lecture them ASAP.

Actually, I know exactly who Rand Paul is. He's a doctor from Texas who was in Congress. And Mitch McConnell is The Speaker of the House, and he hails from Wisconsin. (Oh, I forgot that Craig needs everyone around him to be 100% serious at all times, so he's not gonna get my joke, and just write about my ignorance of politics, while I write about his ignorance of humor).

Dude, I don't even know what else to say. There is just so much ignorance, smugness, topped off with regional superiority that I can't even waste more of my time right now. I've got a trip to West Virginia to pack for, and I need to re-think whether to pack my white robe (or at least that is how it's going in Craig's mind).

Thank you, by the way, for giving me (conditional) permission to enter the state. I might remind you, however, that the Articles of Confederation were repealed in 1789, so I'll go wherever I want.

For those of you who offered legitimate, earnest assistance, I thank you warmly.

My (Internet) name is Nicole111, I am traveling to Kentucky for a miniscule period of time in an attempt to learn the culture and see something peculiar, and I am proud of it.

Last edited by Oldhag1; 08-25-2018 at 08:41 AM..
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Old 08-21-2018, 09:58 PM
643 posts, read 286,242 times
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Eastern Kentucky...........to the OP, be careful you don't end up doing what Diane Sawyer did.

Stir up a hornets' nest !
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Old 08-21-2018, 11:39 PM
Location: Philadelphia
1,343 posts, read 3,105,952 times
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The border region between Kentucky and West Virginia during the Civil War was generally split between Confederate West Virginia and Unionist Kentucky. Those counties in West Virginia at the border actually voted for the Confederacy in 1861. This is why the Union Gov. in Wheeling asked Lincoln to create a Dept. of the Big Sandy to deal with the fighting between KY and WV, but Lincoln didn't do it.
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