As a researcher, I study the rhetorics of place, region, and public memory. Scholars of public memory note that commemoration in sites is less about commemorating the past, but more about showing how the present interrogates or interprets the past in our present world. I utilize a case study of the 1912 Hillsville, VA Courthouse shootout to analyze past rhetorical representations of Appalachia and how these representations still circulate today. The shootout involved the prominent Allen family and the local government in Hillsville leaving 5 in the courtroom dead and Floyd and Claude Allen to  be put to death by electrocution by the state of Virginia.  The media covered the shootout extensively; The New York Times ran the story on the front page almost every day until the Titanic sank.  These portrayals were some of the first to start the hillbilly stereotype. Through analyzing the media portrayals and various other artifacts, I show how these stereotypes are debunked by the actual historical evidence of the shootout and also through realistic portrayals that the town creates through plays and through sites of public memory.