In the 1880’s two young men from the Kentucky Bluegrass traveled to the Appalachian mountains seeking financial opportunity. They both eventually found success, although perhaps not in the way they had intended. John Fox, Jr. became one of the first American bestselling authors, while Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston grew a successful land and mineral rights investment company. The meeting of Fox and Thruston in Appalachia demonstrates the allure the mountains had in American society in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Fox and Thruston’s different experience of success in Appalachia is reflective of the outside world’s perception and exploitation of the region and its people.
Laura Kerr Wiley is Director of Development and Membership at The Filson Historical Society. She has a B.A. in history from Bluefield College and a M.A. in Early American and U.S. History from The College of William and Mary. Her research interests include Appalachian societal and racial history, the role of historical memory, and perfecting cups of tea.