The Shelton Laurel Massacre, Part Two: Could History Repeat Itself?


In the conclusion of this two podcast series, you get to hear some surprising facts about the Shelton Laurel Massacre and related events, which by themselves are still surprising to many people just considering the events of those tragedies. Even once you get past the shocking nature of the executions, there are lots of ironies and unexpected twists to the story. The whole region was a hotbed of conflict that at least on paper did not seem to make sense. Perhaps these pieces can only fit together once you begin by acknowledging that wars never make much sense, especially to the people fighting them. Maybe the only logical answer to the insanity that was the Civil War in Southern Appalachia was to go off the rails county by county, mountain valley by mountain top, town by countryside and kinfolk by kinfolk. The events in Shelton Laurel in 1863 were the Civil War in microcosm, with the two sides not hundreds or thousands of miles away in distance, experience and world view, but with those fighting each other living in the same place, with the same bloodlines, the same heritage.

Cover art to the historical novel And the Crows Took Their Eyes by Vicki Lane

Cover art to the historical novel And the Crows Took Their Eyes by Vicki Lane

Asheville Citizen-Times article on the Shelton Laurel Massacre from 1981

Asheville Citizen-Times article on the Shelton Laurel Massacre from 1981

This episode features details on the Massacre itself as well as another big surprise that Vicki Lane, Sheila Kay Adams and Taylor Barnhill revealed in their interview, plus a theory on how the seeds of this terrible event were sown. Also featured is music about the Civil War and songs that were widely popular in that era.

Songs heard in this episode:

“Republican Spirit/Mississippi Sawyer” played by Jim Taylor, from The Civil War Collection (excerpt)

“The Secesh (Shiloh)” by John Hartford, from the compilation Songs of the Civil War (excerpt)

“Shy Ann” by Byard Ray from A Twentieth Century Bard (excerpt)

“Battle Cry Of Freedom” by Bryan Sutton from Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War

Thanks for visiting! You can follow the series on podcast platforms everywhere. After that, it helps greatly when you give it a good rating and a review. Spreading awareness by giving this series a top rating, and even more so with a review, will make all of the topics and artists covered on this series more likely to be found by more people just like you. Southern Songs and Stories is a part of the podcast lineup of both public radio WNCW and Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes of this podcast on Bluegrass Planet Radio here. Thanks to Carol Rifkin for pointing me to much of the music here, to Sean Rubin for converting tapes of the show Over Home to digital format, and to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on public radio WNCW, where we worked with Joshua Meng, who wrote and performed our theme songs. – Joe Kendrick