Featured Women

Appalachian Women You May Have Never Heard Of…



Maggie Axe Wachacha

In 1986, Wachacha was named one of 100 American Heroes by Newsweek and received Distinguished Women of North Carolina Award. She was given the revered Cherokee title of Beloved Woman in 1978.
Throughout her life, Wachacha was an indefatigable teacher and promoter of the Cherokee culture, and she still known for her efforts to preserve and teach the Cherokee language and for her extensive knowledge of traditional foods and plants.

First woman to appear on the Grand Olde Opry

Aunt Samantha Bumgarner

‘Aunt’ Samantha Bumgarner was an acclaimed early country and folk music performer from Dillsboro, North Carolina. She won much praise for her work with the fiddle and banjo. In 1924, accompanied by guitarist Eva Davis, she traveled to New York City and recorded about a dozen songs for Columbia Records.The recordings are also notable for being the first use of a 5-string banjo on a recording. She was a yearly staple at Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s Mountain Dance and Folk Festival from 1928 until shortly before her death.

Folksinger Pete Seeger has credited Bumgarner as his inspiration for wanting to learn the five-string banjo. “He learned (he says) to play the banjo after first hearing one played by a mountain girl named Samantha Bumgarten [sic]—came from the Great Smokies”.

Bumgarner was also among the artists to play before George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England in June 1939 at the invitation of President and Mrs. Roosevelt at a White House concert of American music.