Golden cosmos from the C.B. Caudill Store in Blackey, KY, one more bright spot in the Begleys' legacy.

You hear a lot about “grassroots activism,” “buy local,” and “community service.” Joe and Gaynell Begley of Blackey, Kentucky, didn’t need scare quotes. They were the real thing.

Natives of Eastern Kentucky, they met in a Connecticut defense factory during the war, fell in love, and then came back south, settling in Letcher County to operate Gaynell’s family’s general store in Blackey.

The C.B. Caudill Store became the locus for organizing against strip mining, for local development, and for building a bulwark of Appalachian history, entertainment and pride. Read lots more about Joe and Gaynell from the many people who loved and admired them (including Yonder publisher Dee Davis, a protégée).  

Joe and Gaynell weren’t shy about asking people to get on board with the causes they supported. And we’re getting over our shyness too. We’re asking you to help us keep publishing the Daily Yonder, keep bringing forward the news, features, editorials, and hard-core stats that tell where rural America’s headed.

Ever observant gardener Becky Bingman gathered some seed from golden cosmos plants in the Begleys’ yard and has passed them along to friends through the years. This summer’s flower crop is nearly as tall as Joe! For a $75 donation to the Yonder, we’ll send you some seeds once they ripen and dry. Grow your own Begley cosmos, a reminder of these rural heroes and a spur to get into action.

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