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Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Stephen G Fritz

Committee Members

Anthony P. Cavender, Tommy D. Lee II, William Douglas Burgess Jr.


The subject of this thesis deals with instances where members of the community dig the grave for the grieving family. This thesis is limited to Unicoi County. Looking at past and present occurrences of this practice, this project will explain how it came to be and why it is still being exercised.

The primary sources for this project include newspaper articles from the Erwin Record, interviews with members of the community. Secondary sources were used to frame the overall context and draw comparisons with the rest of Appalachia.

The digging of the grave by the community began as a necessity in the rural areas of Unicoi County. Due to the growing economic prosperity of these areas, and the eventual easy access to roads, the tradition began to waver and was preserved and practiced only by the small, isolated community churches.

Document Type

Thesis - restricted


Copyright by the authors.