Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Department Name when Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Thomas H. Appleton

Department Affiliation


Second Advisor

Todd Hartch

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

Christiane Diehl Taylor

Department Affiliation



The research for this paper has been over forty years in the making as I first read the obituaries of deceased Kentuckians in state and local newspapers beginning in 1972. A pattern became clear that Kentuckians who had left their mountains and moved to northern industrial cities in order to find work as the coal fields played out and after the Great Depression often returned, or were returned after death, to their birthplaces for burial. Further investigation revealed that the religious beliefs that were deeply embedded in so many mountaineers' lives played a large part in their desire to have their final resting place near where they had been born and had grown to adulthood. A study of the obituaries of residents of selected counties supported the thesis that the return home at or after death was influenced in part by their religious upbringing that did not change as they moved north, even after decades of residence in northern cities. Microfilm of area newspapers offered insight into the ways that Kentuckians laid their family members to rest, and provided a way to compare death and burial in two discrete sections of the state.