These people in Madison County – because it was isolated somewhat geographically and by the road situation from the rest of the world, they learned to survive.
When people first heard news of the Wall Street market crash in October 1929 it seemed too far removed from life in the mountains to cause much concern among Madison County residents. New York City and Madison County could have been on two separate planets, their differences were so great. Although many county households had automobiles by 1930, of Madison's 4,090 families only 370 had electricity and only 154 had telephones. Despite differences between rural and big city living, the effects of the Great Depression would soon reach the mountains as they would every corner of the United States.
Throughout the 1930s national crop prices decreased by 40 to 60 percent, and the demand for lumber and mined goods fell sharply. People were not building and no one seemed to be hiring. From 1930 to 1937 retail sales in Madison County fell nearly 50 percent. Many people who had left the family farm for jobs in the cities now lost their jobs. With no employment alternatives available, they found themselves returning to cultivate the land. The farming population in Madison County increased nearly 17 percent from 1930 to 1935. People grew and hunted the food they could not afford to buy, and neighbors helped one another survive the hard times.
The relative isolation of Madison County had taught its residents skills for self-sufficiency that people in other regions of the country had never needed to learn. Resourceful and resilient, county residents persevered through the Depression and continue today to impress outsiders with their hands-on abilities.