Telling the story of Appalachian pioneers, roadside evangelists, and the famous Moonshiner “Popcorn” Sutton.

With Jack visiting us this past weekend we dedicated a day to exploration; the other day being reserved for him to go through the boxes in his room. His “work day” did not progress as I had hoped, for he alternated between flipping through binders of the over literally 10,000+ baseball cards in his collection and running out of his room announcing, “Look what I found!”

Tony and I had visited the museum in September for their annual antique and craft festival, but hadn’t taken the time to fully explore the historical village on that visit.

But first, peeks of peacock and peahen everywhere on the farm.

Along with this trio of pretty spotted Guinea Hens.

This is the cabin of one Tom Cassidy, a Tennessee musician who spent the last decades of his life in this practically 8 ft2 space. “I’ve got that little cot in there, a chair, a stove for heat and cooking, a frying pan, a bean pot, an old dresser, my fiddle, and my pistol. What more does a man need?” 

The boys testing out the rocking chairs.

In the display barn, axes with purposes. Does that make them, Badaxes?

Mark Twain’s parent’s cabin.

By appalachian pioneer standards, this cabin was considered a mansion. Cordelia Peters, born in 1856 lived her entire life in this cabin until her death in 1943.

An impressive dining room, I thought.

A schoolhouse, on the inside of which was a set of “Rules of Conduct” for teachers. 😬

This is H. Harrison Mayes and his wife Lillie. Mayes was America’s roadside painter for God.

A Kentucky coal-miner in Mingo Hollow (Oh, do I love these Appalachian names!) whose life had been spared in a mining accident, Mayes used his spare time to share the Good News with passing motorists.

He also owned this jacket that was reserved for special occasions.

Mayes attracted the attentions of Newsweek and Life magazines, becoming a local celebrity in his home town. Mr. Mayes passed away in 1986.

Another, more contemporary celebrity was Appalachia’s Last Moonshiner, Popcorn Sutton. “From his first arrest in 1974 to his last in 2008, Popcorn was pursued by the “Man” all over Appalachia.”

Photo courtesy of Appalachian History

Sutton’s distillery is on display at the museum.

Sutton was the subject of a book (Me and My Likker) and a couple of documentaries on the History Channel  and PBS, one of which won a regional Emmy. But rather than give up the life he knew and loved after being convicted of moonshining and illegal firearm possession, Popcorn took his own life the day before he was to report to federal prison in 2009 at the age of 62.  Following his death, a company created Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey.

There was a lot of history to absorb in our two hour visit to the museum, so naturally we had to sit for a spell over a slice of Sweet Potato Pound Cake and (Un)Sweet Tea at the museum cafe when we finished our tour.

Sorry, I just can’t do sweet tea.