Life in the 18th Century Mountains

Settlers along and beyond the Blue Ridge Barrier were isolated from the trade routes and information flow north and east of them. Their news arrived months or years after the fact by way of frontiersmen, missionaries and drifters. They developed their own communities with ways of adapting to the sometimes harsh conditions that outsiders viewed as “harsh” or “backwards”. Such was their life in the 18th century.

Speech patterns were rooted in Olde English, with a mixture of Scots, Irish, and German thrown in for good measure. Ray Hicks, who was born and lived his entire life above Valle Crucis outside of Boone, was said to exemplify the truest version of this speech pattern. Scholars who studied his speech noted that he retained the cadence and pronunciation associated with the early Colonies, and even before that. Raised in a home with four generations under the same roof, Ray, born in 1922, was mostly raised and taught to talk by his great-grandmother while his parents and grandparents worked the fields for a hardscrabble existence. Ray went on to become a world-renowned storyteller of “Jack Tales”.

Of course, no mention of life in the mountains during that time would be complete without delving into the history of the Cherokee people. Please also see:

Additional readings about the hardy souls who settled this area can be found here: