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The Industrialist and the Mountaineer

The Eastham-Thompson Fued and the Struggle for West Virginia's Timber Frontier

Ronald L. Lewis (author)

ISBN: 9781943665501

Publication Date: Mar 2017

Format: Hardback

Also available as: Paperback  

In 1897 a small landholder named Robert Eastham shot and killed timber magnate Frank Thompson in Tucker County, West Virginia, leading to a sensational trial that highlighted a clash between local traditions and modernizing forces. Ronald L. Lewis's book uses this largely forgotten episode as a window into contests over political, environmental, and legal change in turn-of-the-century Appalachia.
£83.50

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In 1897 a small landholder named Robert Eastham shot and killed timber magnate Frank Thompson in Tucker County, West Virginia, leading to a sensational trial that highlighted a clash between local traditions and modernizing forces. Ronald L. Lewis's book uses this largely forgotten episode as a window into contests over political, environmental, and legal change in turn-of-the-century Appalachia.

The Eastham-Thompson feud pitted a former Confederate against a member of the new business elite who was, as a northern Republican, his cultural and political opposite. For Lewis, their clash was one flashpoint in a larger phenomenon central to US history in the second half of the nineteenth century: the often violent imposition of new commercial and legal regimes over holdout areas stretching from Appalachia to the trans-Missouri West. Taking a ground-level view of these so-called "wars of incorporation," Lewis's powerful microhistory shows just how strongly local communities guarded traditional relationships to natural resources. Modernizers sought to convict Eastham of murder, but juries drawn from the traditionalist population refused to comply. Although the resisters won the courtroom battle, the modernizers eventually won the war for control of the state's timber frontier.

Reviews

"Fascinating and informative. Lewis has crafted a thoroughly researched, well-written, and lively narrative account that uses one violent event–and all it set into motion–to show how old Civil War conflicts were rekindled, how increasingly marginalized farmer-loggers attempted to challenge corporate power, and especially how control of courts and local governance were central instruments in this epic struggle." - Dwight Billings, University of Kentucky

"A welcome addition to the study of industrial Appalachia. Through the lives of Eastham and Thompson, Ronald L. Lewis provides a strong sense of how the ‘incorporation of America' unfolded at the local level."
Bruce E. Stewart, Appalachian State University
Illustrations 25 illustrations
Pages 298
Dimensions 203 x 127
Date Published 30 Mar 2017
Publisher West Virginia University Press
Series West Virginia & Appalachia
Subject/s History of the Americas   Industrial relations   Environmental management  
Ronald L. Lewis is Stuart and Joyce Robbins Chair and Professor of History Emeritus at West Virginia University where he taught for many years.  He is the author of several books, including Aspiring to Greatness: West Virginia University since World War II (published by WVU Press) and Transforming the Appalachian Countryside: Railroads, Deforestation, and Social Change in West Virginia, 1880-1920. He lives in Morgantown, WV.

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