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Southern Songs and Stories The Shelton Laurel Massacre, Part One:The Past That Would Not Die

Shelton+Laurel+marker.jpeg
Historical marker in Madison County, NC

There are stories where the characters and events are so extraordinary and gripping that one can miss their overall meaning. It can be easy to take stories like the one you are about to hear at face value, and leave their larger context unrealized. What caused neighbors and kinfolk to terrorize and murder one another in the Appalachian mountains during the Civil War, what larger forces that worked to bring out the cruelty and violence this chapter of history reveals, and what hatred and divisions that earned the place the moniker “Bloody Madison” are not only in history books; they are with us today.

This is the first of two episodes on the Shelton Laurel Massacre, which explores the origins and meanings of the tragic event as well as history related to it from the region. You will hear interviews with Taylor Barnhill, Sheila Kay Adams and Vicki Lane, as well as Peggy Dotterer, Bobby McMillan and Bill Morris, whose voices were captured more than thirty years ago on the live radio show Over Home, a series that was broadcast on WNCW in its early years. Plus we excerpt a number of songs popular in the Civil War era. There are many surprises and ironies to uncover along the way.

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Joe Kendrick grew up far off in the woods at in rural Stanfield, NC, where he acquired his first Sony Walkman, listened to both AM and FM radio from Charlotte, went to Nascar races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, attended a small Baptist church, read Rolling Stone, subscribed to cassette clubs, and played one very forgettable season of high school football. From there, Joe studied Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was able to fulfill his dream of being a disc jockey at WXYC. He volunteered at WNCW soon after graduation.