Skip to content
Vol. 2, No. 3/4: 1996

“Where the Sun Set Crimson and the Moon Rose Red”: Writing Appalachia and the Kentucky Mountain Feuds

by Dwight K. Billings, Kathleen M. Blee

Convinved in advance that mountain people were benighted and degenerate, outsiders shaped the lore of feuding to suit their own purposes.

In his 1901 essay “The Kentucky Mountaineer,” novelist John Fox, Jr., inscribed the mythic image of the southern mountaineers: “proud, sensitive, kindly, obliging in an unreckoning way that is almost pathetic, honest, loyal, in spite of their common ignorance, poverty, and isolation.” But Fox also pointed out a darker side of the mountaineer that must have both fascinated and repulsed his middleclass readers. Noting the extensive violent conflicts then taking place in the mountain counties of Kentucky, he wrote, “It is only fair to add, however, that nothing that has ever been said of the mountaineer’s ignorance, shiftlessness, and awful disregard for human life, especially in the Kentucky mountains, … has not its basis, perhaps, in actual fact.”

This article appears as an abstract above, the complete article can be accessed in Project Muse
Subscribe today!

One South, a world of stories. Delivered in four print issues a year.