Living In Appalachia Doesn’t = Ignorance

Katie in her shop

“Just because I am an Appalachian person, we did grow up in a more rural isolated community, but that doesn’t equal ignorance, doesn’t equal isolation from the rest of the world. It means you can still do the same things everybody else does you might just go about it differently. And the perk is you get to live where its quiet and peaceful and there’s no city bustle, which that’s not bad, but I don’t want to live there so I like the kind of happy medium I’ve struck here. It’s good.”

—Katie Pressley 2022

Last night’s video: Helping Corie Plan Her First Garden & Sorting Seeds.


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  • Reply
    February 5, 2022 at 10:12 am

    No it sure doesn’t. I think it makes you stronger. . I wouldn’t live in the city if they gave it to me. I’ve lived in the mountains, country and that’s where I’ll always be.

  • Reply
    J. Hutchinson
    February 1, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    Yes, Katie! I thought the same thing. I was an only child and never planned to live anywhere but near my parents! I got my degree and a job right in in our home county, which was large, yet our population was small. I was married and at the end of our first year my husband went north for a job interview. He was hired on the spot! It was my first time to ever think of leaving home, going out of Appalachia, but it happened. It has worked fine, although we often had thoughts of home and went back for visits.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2022 at 8:48 pm

    Lovely piece, Katie. There are plenty of ignorant people in the suburbs, too.

  • Reply
    John J Misiag
    January 27, 2022 at 6:41 pm

    I have a relative from way back when in Marion Virginia who wrote the first arithmetic book. My grandparents never had a telephone or electricity but managed to survive by growing their food, hunting and cooking on a wood-burning stove. Tell me if you know anyone living in the city who have enough smarts to do that?

  • Reply
    Gloria Hayes
    January 27, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    I grew up out of town in the county and was a farmer’s daughter. My husband grew up in town and when we married 45 years ago, we lived in the country. We ended up moving to town, but boy do I miss the country! The smell of the soil when a farmer is turning the ground for the new crops I will never forget. Now, there is so much new construction out where fields use to be it doesn’t look the same but one day, we hope to find our little spot of heaven and live a simpler life. Katie, you and your family are so blessed to be in such a beautiful, peaceful place.

  • Reply
    Mary Clutts
    January 27, 2022 at 2:37 pm

    Beautifully said. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Catherine Spence
    January 27, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    My brother and I were born in Falls Church, VA, a suburb of DC. My parents had met and married there; Mom was a nurse and Dad was a police officer and then a US Marshal. But early on, they realized they didn’t want to raise us in that setting. We moved first to a small town in Pennsylvania, and then a year later to rural south-central Virginia where we have lived for 50 years. We are over 30 minutes from any kind of large town, and I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2022 at 1:15 pm

    Well said, Katie and I totally agree!

  • Reply
    Sandra Myers
    January 27, 2022 at 12:58 pm

    I happen to agree with you. I like the quiet life much more. I was raised on a farm all my young life and worked on others during my adult life. Now, I just need one of my own…Lol!

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    January 27, 2022 at 10:51 am

    Yes, ma’am, Katie. You got that right! I’m always surprised that for so many people our region is equated with ignorance. Most of the best read folks I know were the ones who worked in the factories where I spent my youth before graduate school. And then there were those wise people who new about the land and were the keepers of the wisdom that Tipper does such a wonderful job preserving. But, what a talented and wonderful bunch we are: music, art, food…we are gifted in all of it.

    I started an Appalachian literature and culture course at my university. When it was announced at the faculty meeting, a colleague looked at me in disbelief and said “Oh, I used to teach high school in West Virginia. I have stories I can tell you.” I politely headed her off and said “Thank you but I’m from Appalachia Ohio and I’ve got stories of my own.” She looked at me, clutching her pearls if she had any, and said “You can’t be from Appalachia. You’re educated.”

    Tipper and her family and, really, all of you, have my deepest respect for pushing back against this idea that we are all ignorant or backward. I have a bumper sticker on my Jeep that says “defend Appalachia.” I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with y’all in doing just that.

    • Reply
      January 27, 2022 at 3:51 pm

      Ed, my paternal grandmother was born in Swain County, NC, in 1861, just a few days before the US Civil War started. She attended college in Maryville, TN, in a time when women didn’t much go to college. Mars Hill College (now University) was founded in 1859, 163 years ago. Mountain folks have never been any more ignorant than folks in cities and towns.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 27, 2022 at 10:26 am

    One of my favorite sayings is, A person who is ignorant and knows he is ignorant is the best person you will ever meet. A person who is ignorant and thinks he is smart is a danger to himself and everyone around him!
    Another favorite is, The most intelligent person in the room is the one who says nothing!

    I consider myself ignorant. Whether my ignorance is by choice or is a gift from God, I’ll take it!

  • Reply
    Ray C. Presley
    January 27, 2022 at 9:28 am

    Amen to that, Katie. Too many folks like to sneer at what they don’t understand and fully appreciate. Having been born in a tiny coal mining town in East Tennessee/Kentucky, I’m also very proud of my country roots. City folk may have “street smarts,” and many can be good friends. But I’ll choose the mountains and country ways any day. Where else can you hear “Haint” stories, see a garden grow on a plot you’ve carved out of the side of a ridge. bathe in genuine southern hospitality and chomp down on the best food anywhere.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2022 at 9:26 am

    I was born and educated in the NC and KY mountains. I served in cities large and small for about 50 years and was still intelligent enough to move back to the NC mountains when I retired. Maybe you won’t ever have to leave and experience the crowded cities.

  • Reply
    Brad Byers
    January 27, 2022 at 9:16 am

    Miss Katie speaks the truth. When the pandemic first hit and people were afraid to leave their houses in some places, my family rely SO blessed to live here in good old Parke County, Indiana. We were unable to imagine how hard it would be to live on the tenth floor of an apartment building in a large city. God bless us, everyone.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2022 at 9:07 am

    Katie, no matter where you live in this country, you will still be an Appalachian gal. Living in the city means you might not have outdoor space to raise a garden or chickens, but you will still talk the same and enjoy eating the same food regardless of where you live. You would miss your woodstove, front porch, and clothesline as you count the days until you can move back home. They can’t take the Appalachian out of the girl!

    • Reply
      Barbara Parker
      January 27, 2022 at 4:25 pm

      Hey, that’s right! I agree 100%. I’m Appalachian and glad of it!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Jane ODell
    January 27, 2022 at 8:12 am

    So true, Katie! We say we live a a “geographic oddity” thirty minutes to towns in three different directions. Unfortunately due to large growth in one area, looks like within the next 10-20 years, we may be closer to the edge of a larger area. It is a blessing to live in the country and would be an even bigger blessing to live in the mountains again. God is so good and for right now we’re where we’re supposed to be. So grateful to have found y’all and still have a connection to our mountains.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2022 at 8:12 am

    Katie is wise beyond her years and so is Corie. I would say that is a result of where you live, the great upbringing you’ve had and the most important thing – your faith. We prefer the quiet and peacefulness of being further away from the city too.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 27, 2022 at 8:09 am

    I really like that picture of you, Miss Katie. It goes so well with your quote. I love people pictures that are more than just form and face but are a glimpse of their nature. And somehow the setting, the colors and the light just harmonize in a way that is not just pleasing but tell a story as well. ‘Here is a young woman who likes rocks. She is ready to do something with that rock in her hand, to create something. But she is thinking, ‘ What is in this rock that I can bring out? How can I do it best? I want to let the world go by while I make something beautiful and lasting.’

    I have only ever taken one candid picture like that, of my nephew. I used a telephoto lens and captured him from across the room with a tender-eyed expression and soft smile. I sent it to his wife and she used it as her screen saver. About two years later I asked her, “Do you know what he was smiling at?” She surprised me, saying, “No.” So I told her, “He was smiling at you.” Down in the corner is her out-of-focus shoulder. Once you know that, you know that his eyes and smile are saying, “I love you.”

    As to Appalachia as a place to live and her people as the ones to live beside, well – it doesn’t get any better. I’m so very glad for each and every young person who doesn’t have to move away to make a living. And I am confident that if there were to ever be a “Who’s Who” of just notable achievers Appalachian born and raised the numbers, adjusted for population, would be at least comparable to any other area of like size in the country. And I’m pretty sure they would cover the full range of human endeavor, from craftsmen and women to statesmen and women up to and including rocket scientists and astronauts. I am thinking of specific names known to me, not just naming it to claim it.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    January 27, 2022 at 7:46 am

    I’ve been around the country and world just a little bit and the FINEST people that there are happen to be hillbillies. The big cities have very little to offer one besides a retail experience and a variety of food fare. Now if that doesnt get your blood pumped up perhaps being involved in a violent crime can occur to you. If that’s a good time, color me gone!!!! I like my simple life here and won’t apologize for living my best life now right in these hills! Oh yeah, I’m proud of my heritage too!!! Big city slickers need not attempt to impress with their inflated puffed fluff. Just last night I watched some video of Murray’s kin getting married and a fancy video of the wedding which left me unimpressed and I thought it was ridiculous for an average couple. Some parents have more money than sense… lol

  • Reply
    Denise R
    January 27, 2022 at 7:43 am

    Totally agree with Katie’s statement. Just because you grow up in the mountains, or in our situation, in the country, doesn’t mean you’re uneducated, ignorant, and any other negative terms that can be associated with it. We do have different values, based on my own personal observation when I had to work in Indianapolis. I’ll take country living without the hustle and bustle and the crime that goes with it along with and being with my type of people who share the same values.

  • Reply
    Patty Hansen
    January 27, 2022 at 7:39 am

    Don’t think that its just living in Appalachia that gives people the right to treat you like you are ignorant. I live in rural Central New York and even the people that live just in a village, a town (that literally has nothing to offer: ie- full of closed store fronts on a rinky-dinky main street) treat us folks in the country like we are fools. I live in the house I grew up in and that my great-great grandparents owned when they first came from Ireland in 1850-ish. I like where I live for the peace & quiet and the heritage of my ancestors struggling to OWN their own land. I went away to college right outside of nyc for BA in teaching American Literature. I am no dummy, but oftentimes when people in town talk to us out here they forget that some of us choose to live rurally because we are smart. We like the independence and the camaraderie of our neighbors, that also have lived here for generations. I’ve lived the city life and the suburban life before settling back on the homestead & I never would have been able to use my “smarts” like I do now! Raising hogs, chickens, turkeys, huge garden, canning, spinning wool, knitting crocheting, sewing/quilting, soap making, cider making, homeschooling 2 high schoolers …so lets see that adds up to “animal husbandry”, chemistry, home economics, traditional crafts, and every subject that my two daughters learn. Think I might have it all covered livin’ “in the isolated, ol’ country”. (Read a book a long time ago about where the “happiest people on earth” live. Guess what? It was in the remotest part of Alaska and a man stayed with them and surveyed/watched/studied them. Their community spirit was very strong and loving. As a byword, they were also the best read people with many books in their personal collections and also one of the largest communal collections of records-classical, opera, etc…) I often feel when I read your posts that we are not living a heckuva lot different than your family. Wish I could write something like this for my region, but we have all but lost most of our heritage and live in a dead zone.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2022 at 7:35 am

    Katie, I am full in full agreement with you. I along with 4 generations of my family have lived all of our lives in one of the most rural areas of Greenville County, SC. The small town of my post office address is 15 miles away. There are some inconveniences such as the distance to work, restaurants, emergency medical care and other things, but there are also many blessings such as traffic and knowing your neighbors for many miles around you. I can not image living in a city or small town with only a yard big enough to park my car. I would soon go crazy.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2022 at 7:29 am

    You are so right, Katie! I wish I was back in the country and not living so close to town! I remember listening to a visiting minister, who was from another country. He said, “I know that I sound like I have an accent but, so do you”. No matter where or how we live, how we look, or how we talk, it will be different than someone somewhere. What is right for me, may not be right for the next person. What matters is that we are happy with who and where we are in life.

  • Reply
    donna sue
    January 27, 2022 at 7:28 am

    I should have proofread what I wrote before posting. I meant “I have spent the majority of my life in a large city”, and there were a few other mistakes in this comment. It shows it never pays to be in a hurry! Gotta get out that front door now!! Have a full list of to-dos to get done.

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    donna sue
    January 27, 2022 at 7:23 am

    Ignorance, according to the dictionary, means lack of knowledge or information. So to be fair, all of us our ignorant to some degree, because, speaking for myself – I definitely don’t know everything. And I have lived the majority of my in a city with more than one million people in it. So, using just me as an example, that kind of debunks the myth that people in cities are somehow less ignorant than people in rural areas. I think people who show lack of common sense are more of a marker of not being the brightest bulb in the box, than those lacking knowledge or information. And, let me tell you from experience, there are plenty of people in big cities who have not one iota of common sense. Or I should say, who do not use the common sense they were born with, even if that was the tiniest amount. Scary thing is – so many people whose brain has cobwebs where there should be common sense grey matter – are in leadership positions of the highest level in not just our country, but around the world. That is terrifying. Enough said.

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    Patricia Price
    January 27, 2022 at 7:20 am

    Years ago, a supervisor here in northeast OH asked me why I considered myself Southern Appalachian. After all, I was 4 years old when my folks moved from southeast TN to northeast OH. I asked her why she considered herself Sicilian and Hungarian when she wasn’t born in Sicily or Hungary or even raised in either.

    A friend up North asked me once what my ethnicity is. I said Southern Appalachian. She said, No, I mean your ethnic heritage…where your people came from. And I said, I know what you mean, and I answered you: Southern Appalachian! We have been there so long, that IS my ethnicity.

    Yes, my people came from the UK and Ireland originally. But I identify as Southern Appalachian, even though, after all the years of living up North, Yankee is what comes out of my mouth. When we moved up North, we were immigrants, speaking a different dialect, eating different food, worshipping a different way from most. My mother found us a church where people were mostly from TN, VA, WV, KY, and GA so we could feel at home.

    When I read THE DOLLMAKER, I cried. That is our story.

    So, Katie, you stand right up there and be proud. Appalachia is your identity, and you claim it. And when you do, remember there is an old Appalachian immigrant lady up North who is doing the same.

  • Reply
    Tom Gulledge
    January 27, 2022 at 7:05 am

    Thank you for this article. Your lifestyle is my dream.

  • Reply
    Dr. J. David Chrisman
    January 27, 2022 at 6:57 am


  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    January 27, 2022 at 6:50 am

    Seed catalogs were my Daddy’s favorite reading material , I miss him so much especially during planting season. Enjoy the time yallspend together sorting seeds ❤

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 27, 2022 at 6:32 am

    Yes, indeed, life is good here in the mountains! It’s peaceful and beautiful with lots of blue sky and open space!
    Ignorance, I don’t think so, peaceful is the smart way to live!

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    January 27, 2022 at 6:15 am

    I agree with Katie.

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