City Lights Bookstore and the Jackson County Public Library will celebrate the book launch of Hillsville Remembered by Travis A. Rountree on Friday, April 21st, at 6 p.m. The event will take place in the Jackson County Public Library Community Room.
On March 14, 1912, in Hillsville, Virginia, native Floyd Allen (1856-1913) was convicted of three criminal charges: assault, maiming, and the rescue of prisoners in custody. What had begun as a scuffle between Allen's nephews over a young woman ended with him being charged as the guilty party after he allegedly hit a deputy in the head with a pistol. When the jury returned with the verdict, Allen stood up and announced, 'Gentleman, I ain't a-goin.' A gunfight ensued in the crowded courtroom, which claimed the lives of the judge, prosecuting attorney, sheriff, a juror, and a witness, and wounded seven other people. The men of the Allen family fled the scene, but detectives from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency apprehended the men two months later. The state of Virginia put Floyd and Claude Allen to death by electrocution the following spring. Within days of the shoot-out, local and national media sensationalized the event, maligning the Allen men as rough, uncouth residents of impoverished Appalachia. More than a century later, the 'Hillsville Massacre' - as it was dubbed - continues to impact the citizens and communities of the area as local newspapers recirculate the sordid story and give credence to annual public reenactments that continue to negatively impact the national perception of the region.
In this first book-length scholarly review of the Hillsville shoot-out, author Travis A. Rountree examines various media written about and inspired by the event and explains how the incident reinforced the nation’s conception of Appalachia through depictions of this sensational moment in history. Overall, this book provides an extensive analysis of this historic conflict and reveals a new understanding of the shaping of memories and stories from the event.
Travis A. Rountree is an assistant professor of English at Western Carolina University. His writings have appeared in the North Carolina Folklore Journal, Appalachian Journal, Journal of Southern History, and Storytelling in QueerAppalachia: Imagining and Writing the Unspeakable Other.