05 March 2009

16. The Man Who Moved A Mountain

The Man Who Moved A Mountain by Richard C. Davids

This book is the biography of a man named Bob Childress. The time was the early to mid 1900s. Bob grew up in Appalachia,a part of western Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The people and the culture was very rough. Moonshiners were everywhere. It was a violent place where people fought and killed each other as normal day to day activities. It was much like the old west I guess. Lawless in a way.

Bob Childress was raised in this culture. He was a drinker and a fighter. He was a man that many feared in the Blue Ridge area due to his physical prowess.

Bob grew to realize that the way the people were living was self-destructive. He understood why it was the way it was, but he also wanted to change it. he wanted to bring the people out of poverty and give them self-respect. He wanted them to be educated and god-fearing.

He moved away and became a Presbyterian preacher. He then returned to the Blue Ridge area and settled on Buffalo Mountain. He spent the rest of his life caring for the people there. Setting an example for them. Fighting for them. Fighting against them. Doing it in the mountain man way. He spoke out against many things that were ingrained in their culture. Drinking being a big one, and a dangerous one to take on, because moonshine was a highly profitable business. One thing that is for sure is that Bob Childress was a very bold and gutsy guy who cared very much for other people.

The book is not the best written thing I have ever read. It is just a biography. It is story after story of the things Bob Childress did. Much of it is from recollections of friends and family. Some of it is quite hard to believe, but may be true in some exaggerated sense.

Even if the stories are exaggerated, Bob Childress did a lot of good work in them thar hills. He helped the people there and the entire region changed. Good for him.

A pleasant read with some insight into an area that is steeped in tradition and superstition. It was fun to read about an area that I consider one of the most beautiful places in our country I have ever seen.

One thing I found especially interesting was the Primitive Baptist Church in this area. This church thought the preachers should be ignorant and uneducated. The stupider they were the better. These people couldn't even read the Bible that they were preaching about. Why? The people believed that if someone was that ignorant then whatever they said MUST have come from God. They were too ignorant to learn it and too stupid to make it up. Ugh. Needless to say, the stuff they preached was far from biblical at all.

This is a decent book if you run out of things that you really want to read. I enjoyed it, but I can't say I would put it at the top of any lists.

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