Saturday, December 18, 2010

Family Research Fellowship Finale

We returned to Frankfort last week for our last two days of research at the Kentucky Historical Society to complete our full week of the Family Research Fellowship on Frances and John's family and musical legacy.  We actually spent the night on Friday this time, which made the second day far less stressful.

Timi continued genealogical research in Harlan Mountain Roots as well as other publications like Kentucky Kinfolk, a publication of the Knox County Genealogical Society, and Gateway: The Journal of the Bell County Historical Society.  She found references to her mamaw's grandparents who she grew up with and several of her uncles.  Ultimately, Timi would like to return to the KHS with her uncle Tim when the library reopens in the spring because he has additional genealogical knowledge that would be beneficial while researching.

I continued my scan through the Harlan Daily Enterprise in the microfilm room.  There was another set of ads in 1942 for the New Harlan Theatre that Frances mentioned in her oral history interview.  One is advertising the amateur auditions and one is for the actual amateur show.

Harlan Daily Enterprise, Sunday, January 11, 1942 (KHS Microfilm Box 98-0106)
Harlan Daily Enterprise, Sunday, January 11, 1942 (KHS Microfilm Box 98-0106)
Harlan Daily Enterprise, Sun. Jan. 2, 1945 (KHS Microfilm Box 98-0107)
I found several more contextual pieces of Harlan history.  For example, there was a regular  schedule of WHLN news and a weekly Fuller's ad now focusing on its musical offerings.  

Harlan Daily Enterprise, Thursday, January 1, 1948 (KHS Microfilm Box 98-0107)
I finally found some direct mentions of John Reedy and the Stone Mountain Hillbillies in 1945.  One is the new radio schedule when WHLN joined Mutual Broadcasting's Good Coal Network, which includes a daily show by the Stone Mountain Hillbillies at 3:30 p.m.

Harlan Daily Enterprise, Sunday, March 18, 1945 (KHS Microfilm Box 98-107)
The other find is an announcement about an upcoming show featuring John Reedy and the Stone Mountain Hillbillies at the Bardo Theatre.
Harlan Daily Enterprise, Wednesday, August 22, 1945 (KHS Microfilm Box 98-108)
There was a period in March--April 1945 that all mentions of WHLN were primarily dry rally notices and countless preachers and citizen speakers urging the community to "vote yes" to vote Harlan County dry.  I didn't see a direct report of the vote's outcome, but later there was a notice in April announcing that alcohol-selling establishments had agreed to stop sales on Sunday.

The Reedys started appearing again on WHLN radio schedules with weekly shows in 1948.  They were first listed as "John Reedy" on Saturdays at 12:30 p.m.  Then they took off for several weeks in August, September, and October and came back on October 22 as the "Stone Mt. Hillwilliams" at 11:30 a.m.  Finally, they wrap up the year in December as the "Stone Mt. Hillbillys" at 9:45 a.m.  (This version of the ad below was printed on December 31, 1948, which was Frances' 26th birthday.)
Fri. Dec. 31, 1948 (Box 98-110)

Fri. Feb. 20, 1948 (Box 98-109)

Fri. Oct. 22, 1948 (Box 98-110)
In Frances' oral history, she talks about playing with various well-known musicians in Harlan and elsewhere.  for example, she specifically mentions Bill Monroe and Earnest Tubb playing in Harlan.  Having found the concert ads for both in the newspaper, we've likely pinpointed the dates of the events she referenced.

Harlan Daily Enterprise, Sunday, June 10, 1945 (KHS Microfilm Box 98-107)
Harlan Daily Enterprise, Monday, February 2, 1948 (KHS Microfilm Box 98-109)

I began my newspaper review in 1936 and ended it in 1948.  There were a couple of significant gaps in years in which there would likely have been some reference to the Reedys' radio or live shows: all of 1941, July 1942 through the and of 1944, and all of 1946 and 1947.  So at least we know to search for these missing issues of the newspaper at UK or in Harlan.  We've already made preliminary contact with some archivists in Harlan, so that's an interesting lead for follow-up!

We're also excited about returning to the Berea College Special Collections and Archives to follow some additional new leads as well as wrap up a couple of unfinished collections there.  So we'll spend some time there this winter while the KHS library is closed.  We're already thinking ahead to March when we can return for more research!  I know Timi wants to bring her uncle to look at the genealogical publications again.  And I would like to return to the microfilm newspapers, but I'd also like to resume browsing the oral history collections we began.

We are very grateful for the kindness and assistance of Kentucky Historical Society library staff throughout our multiple research visits.  We are especially thankful for the careful time and attention given by Jim Kastner, Library Services Administrator, and Sarah Milligan, Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC) Program Administrator, and of course, for the Family Research Fellowship funding that made our visits to Frankfort possible.  Happy Holidays to all KHS staff and to all regular readers and supporters of our project!

1 comment:

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