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WNCHA History Hour – West End Women: Liquor, Labor, and Love in New Deal Urban Appalachia

03/24/2022 @ 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Join the Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) Thursday, March 24 at 6PM. This program airs live via Zoom

The area of Asheville known today as the River Arts District has not always been such a pleasant neighborhood. For most of the 20th century the community was home to various manufacturing operations and the workers who labored inside their walls. Plumes of smog and smoke filled the air, and the rhythmic sounds of coal-powered locomotives and industrial machinery provided a steady soundtrack to the rise of  New South Capitalism in the neighborhood then known as the West End or Factory Hill.

The West End-Factory Hill neighborhood was characterized by poor white families who worked as industrial laborers along the French Broad River. In an effort to make ends meet, some women turned to extra-legal activities to provide extra support for their families, in other cases they stood steadfast at the front of picket lines demanding better wages. To supplement their income, some women became larcenists, others turned to sex work, still others began to manufacture and sell illegal alcohol, better known as moonshine. In many cases these women found multiple pathways to increase their financial security, holding both “legitimate” and “illegitimate” employment.

Inspired by the surprising discovery of one such bootlegging woman in her family tree, Katherine Cutshall continued to search for stories of other women living in the West End-Factory Hill neighborhood in the early-mid twentieth century. In this talk, pulling from sources like federal court records, family anecdotes, newspaper reports, and interviews conducted by the Federal Writer’s Project, Cutshall will explore the how liquor, labor, and love shaped the lives of poor white women in New Deal-era urban Appalachia.

About the Speaker:

Katherine Calhoun Cutshall is an historian and archivist born and raised in Buncombe County. She holds degrees in History and Liberal Arts from the University of North Carolina Asheville, and her research interests lie at the intersection of tourism and the practice of chattel slavery in pre-Civil War Western North Carolina.

Katherine has worked in museums and historic sites across the region since 2014, including the Gov. Zebulon B. Vance State Historic Site, Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center, and the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center. Today Cutshall is Collections Manager at Buncombe County Special Collections and is a member of the North Carolina State Historic Records Advisory Board. In 2020, the Buncombe County Commission appointed her to the Vance Monument task force.


Tickets: $5 for WNCHA members/ $10 for General Admission. We also have no-cost, community-funded tickets available. We want our events to be accessible to as many people as possible. If you are able please consider making a donation along with your ticket purchase. These donations are placed in our Community Fund, which allows us to offer tickets at no cost to those who would not be able to attend otherwise.

Viewing: Registrants will receive a Zoom link with which to view the program. It will also be recorded and later available on our website.



Western North Carolina Historical Association received an American Rescue Plan Humanities Grant from North Carolina Humanities, www.nchumanities.org. Funding for this grant was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act economic stabilization plan. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of North Carolina Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA)