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Smokestacks in the HillsRural-Industrial Workers in West Virginia$
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Lou Martin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039454

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039454.001.0001

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A Rural Place and a Rural People

A Rural Place and a Rural People

(p.13) Chapter 1 A Rural Place and a Rural People
Smokestacks in the Hills

Lou Martin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the culture of the farmers of Hancock County, which was shaped in several ways by their rural lifestyles. First, work assignments were divided among family members by gender, with women performing the bulk of household production and raising small livestock while men tilled fields, hunted for local game, herded sheep, and harvested apples. To fit into the factory systems, these rural people would have to adapt to a new set of gender roles of the rising industries of the early twentieth century. Second, successful farming required a wide spectrum of skills that enabled farmers to coax a living out of their fields and forests. These skills would prove useful in making ends meet even after they started to draw paychecks from local factories. Finally, the farmers exhibited a preference for local autonomy, self-government, and independence from distant powers. Their ideals of self-reliance and independence in turn shaped their politics.

Keywords:   Hancock County, rural lifestyles, work assignments, gender roles, farming, local autonomy, self-government, independence

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