By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
We watched the excellent documentary “Hillbilly” the other night. The brainchild of Kentucky born filmmaker Ashley York, it’s one of the few films to address Appalachia from the point-of-view of someone born and raised here.
Throughout the film York addresses the stereotypes used to represent our region and our people. She explores how these stereotypes benefit the people and business interests who are eager to exploit Appalachia’s people and resources, but don’t want to worry about the economic or environmental messes they leave behind.
One of the things we talked about after finishing the film was the role strong Appalachian women have played in organizing, coordinating, and representing our little corner of the world. In many ways, we decided, Appalachia is a strongly matriarchal culture within the larger patriarchal world.
Our women have not only served as the glue for keeping families together, they have motivated and supported their communities with an unapologetic ferocity, one that was often uncharacteristic in an era when women were expected to be more demure.
From the labor movement to the hearth, Appalachia’s women have always been right in the thick of things.
Miss Minnie Burchett, from nearby Sandy Hook, was one such woman we’ve wanted to showcase since reading her story in Uncle Jack’s scrapbook. We hope you get a kick out of her story. She was surely one of the best of us.
Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of articles drawn from the historical newspaper clippings in the scrapbooks of Jack Fultz. We thank Sally James of Sally’s Flowers in Olive Hill for sharing her uncle’s collected clippings with us and the community. – Jeremy D. Wells, editor, Carter County Times