Author: Aaron Davis

the executive director/curator of the Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center in Clintwood, Virginia. A native of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, Davis holds a master of arts in Appalachian studies from Appalachian State University

John Jr. Fox (1862–1919)

John Fox Jr. was one of Virginia’s best-selling writers in the first decade of the twentieth century. He chronicled in popular fiction the customs and characters of southern Appalachia and produced two of the first million-selling novels in the United States. Though he enjoyed enormous commercial success, especially with The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1903) and The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1908), today Fox is regarded as a fairly sentimental practitioner of the local-color genre, a style of writing that foregrounds place and regionalism. Still, he is fondly celebrated by the southwestern Virginia town Big Stone Gap, where he resided much of his life. The Kentucky-born, Harvard-educated Fox embodied a contrast that he often explored in his novels: the insular culture of Appalachia set against a more sophisticated outside world.


Charlotte Resolves (February 4, 1833)

In what came to be known as the Charlotte Resolves, delivered to and approved by a gathering of men at Charlotte Court House on February 4, 1833, these eleven resolves assert Virginia’s sovereignty and the corruption of President Andrew Jackson’s administration. Presented by John Randolph of Roanoke, they were written by Randolph’s half-brother, Beverley Tucker.


Williams, Narrative of Isaac (1856)

Isaac Williams, a formerly enslaved man, tells the story of his life in slavery in Virginia, his many attempts to escape, and his eventual journey to freedom in Canada, where his story was recorded in The Refugee, or, The narratives of fugitive slaves in Canada.


Johnston, Memoranda of Conversations with General Robert E. Lee by William Preston (1868, 1870)

In these memoranda, dated in 1868 and 1870, William Preston Johnston recalls two conversations with Robert E. Lee, then president of Washington College, in Lexington. Johnston, the son of the Confederate general Albert Sydney Johnston, was a Confederate veteran and a member of the faculty. Johnston went on to serve as president of Louisiana State University and was the first president of Tulane University.