The Story: Latter 20th Century

These people had essentially seen frontier mountain-living in reality and had essentially grown out of that. So they knew. They still cooked on wood stoves. They still milked cows. They still did the things that essentially the pioneering folks of this county had done for centuries. Now, they were one step above it, maybe a half a step above it, but they infected us with that pioneer feeling. The old back to the earth feeling.

Sam Parker

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Madison County's population continued to drop. It fell below where it had been as early as 1890, numbering 14,938 by 1970. The number of farms was also decreasing as more and more people took jobs in offices, stores, and industrial plants in towns within driving distance from their homes in the mountains. While the total numbers of farms and residents were dropping, a new group of people was moving to the country.

"Pioneer" - Sam Parker

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Large portions of society were expressing dissatisfaction with aspects of modern life throughout the 1960s and 1970s. People were concerned about the war in Vietnam, government failings, pollution, and rampant consumerism. Segments of the dissatisfied citizenry chose to step back from modernization and return to a simpler, more self-sufficient lifestyle. They left the cities and suburbs for the country, some of them landing in Madison County. New to farming and mountain living, they learned from their neighbors, the families who had lived in the region for generations.

"Trading back" - Sam Parker

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Ironically, the people involved in the back-to-the-land movement and their local neighbors often had opposing views of what living the good life entailed. The newcomers were voluntarily giving up comforts many of the locals had never had the luxury of experiencing.