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Clay County (KY)Garrards
Posted by: Clara Keyes Date: April 17, 2001 at 07:10:06
  of 587

There is a new book out which features the Clay County Garrards and other prominent families. As you may be aware, Clay County is in the very heart of Appalachian Kentucky. It is one of the consistently poorest counties in the country. When I was a child, much of the early work in poverty studies was done in Clay County, SO it was with some reservations I approached this new book, _The Road to Poverty: the Making of Wealth and Hardship in Appalachia_. The authors are Dwight Billings, a sociology professor at UK, and Kathleen Blee, formerly of UK now at Pittsburgh.

Much mythology and fantasy has surrounded who settled the Appalachians, and frequently feature taciturn highlanders who liked and wanted the isolation and independence. Well, that's fine, but Billings and Blee, using the salt industry and the Garrards and Whites who were its principle operators, to show that the Appalachian areas were just as likely to be settled by gentlemen with roots in the bluegrass and Virginia, as by red-shanked Scotsmen fleeing the crown.

The book does contrast the early industrialists with the "subsistence" farming settlers. They also spelled Toulmin wrong, and described Harry Toulman (sic) as a Frenchman who came to America by way of England. His only mention in the book was as the father of Lucinda, wife of Daniel Garrard. A little genealogical chart in the back of the book, which is very, very sketchy and not remotely complete does at least show some of Daniel and Lucinda's descendents. The text talks at some length about the Garrards' business practices, position in the community, records of public office, the infamous feud, a very famous murder, and their positions on slavery.

In addition, if you are related to the Potters, there is a great deal of information about Barton Potter and his children. This includes business practices (BP was a merchant), business reversals (RG Potter) and an amazing woman (NC "Kate" Potter) who bought the property her husband was forced to sell at the courthouse steps to pay his debts.

The book recently won the Weatherford Award for best Appalachian book, and has the Appalachian Studies community abuzz with the prospect of revising previously-held views of economic and historical development in the mountains. It is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.

Your cousin,
Clara (Barton Potter) Keyes


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