Beech Bottom, NC

About the Site

The community of Beech Bottom is located in the northwest corner of North Carolina in Avery County, about 35 miles southwest of Boone along the Tennessee border. Beech Bottom is an independent community with several larger townships nearby, such as Newland, the county seat. Beech Bottom was settled in the 1870s by a man named Hampton Jackson, who raised two adopted sons, one of Native American and Polish descent and the other Native American and German. From 1900 to 1940, the community's population ranged from 80 to 110 people and included African American, Anglo American, and Native American residents. In the early 1940s, however, due to the closing of feldspar mines and the mobilizing effects of World War II, the community's population began to shrink. Currently, about ten residents remain.

Given its unique sociohistoric background, this mountain community defies a widely accepted stereotype of a homogeneous Appalachian region; accordingly, it is a prime area for a case study on diversity in Appalachian culture. Linguistically, data suggest that Beech Bottom residents have accommodated their speech to localized Appalachian English dialect norms, as evidenced in the similarity of their speech to that of their cohorts from neighboring communities. Additionally, these residents have maintained little to no selective African American ethnolinguistic features, unlike patterns found in the speech of residents of similar communities such as Hyde County.

From December 2000 to July 2001, members of the NCLLP recorded about fifteen interviews with residents of Beech Bottom and its neighboring community of Roaring Creek. These interviews have provided unique data to inform our hypotheses about the nature of the speech in these communities and Appalachian speech in general.


Mallinson, Christine, and Walt Wolfram. 2003. Dialect Accommodation in a Bi-Ethnic Mountain Enclave Community: More Evidence on the Earlier Development of African American English. Language in Society.

Mallinson, Christine. 2002. The Regional Accommodation of African American English: Evidence from a Bi-Ethnic Mountain Enclave Community. Master's Thesis. Raleigh: North Carolina State University.