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Terra Incognita: An Annotated Bibliography of the Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smokies literature unfolds in guideby Rob Neufeld             Immersing yourself in the deep recesses of our region’s literature has just become easier.            The University of Tennessee Press has engaged experts to scour archives for publications about the Great Smoky Mountains, 1544 to 1934; and they’ve…See More
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Bobby Norfolk starts storytelling, June 28

Bobby Norfolk Throws First Pitch for Kaleidoscope: Celebrating Diversityat Stories on Asheville’s Front Porch 2014from press release June 28 eventBobby Norfolk, three-time Emmy Award-winner is the lead storyteller for the fifth season of Stories on Asheville’s Front Porch--Kaleidoscope: Celebrating Diversity, June 28 in the Rhino Courtyard of Pack Place.  The stories begin at 10:30 a.m., rain or shine, and are free to the public.  Entrances to the Rhino Courtyard are from Biltmore Avenue under…See More
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Evelyn Asher posted photos
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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Inez and Annie Daugherty and African American history

The Daughertys of Black Mountain spanned racial historyby Rob Neufeld             “The children in Cragmont (an African American neighborhood in Black Mountain) and High Top Colony, where my family lived, walked to school in groups,” Daugherty recalled about her 1920s childhood in a talk she had with me in 2005.            “White children rode the bus,” she revealed.  “They sometimes threw things at us and called us ugly names, but my mother told me, ‘You know who you are.  Those names do not…See More
Tuesday
Sue Diehl posted an event

MONTREAT COLLEGE FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY LUNCHEON at Montreat College, Gaither Fellowship Hall, Montreat, NC

June 21, 2014 from 12pm to 2:30pm
Pamela Duncan, author of Moon Women, Plant Life, and The Big Beautiful, will be the speaker at the Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon on Saturday, June 21, 2014, in the Gaither Fellowship Hall.See More
Monday
Rose Senehi posted events
Apr 11
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It ain’t for wimps: readings on aging at Monte Vista Hotel

April 17, 2014 from 6pm to 7pm
Increased life expectancy brings with it increased opportunities, problems, and responsibilities. Both the aged and the pre-aged will find much to ponder at the Black Mountain Authors Guild’s reading at the Monte Vista this Thursday at 6 pm. Four local writers will share their thinking on the subject: Danielle Laverty will read her essay on aging that won the Black Mt. Public Library contest, Nancy Werking Poling will read from her current and published fiction, and James and Cannan Hyde will…See More
Apr 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Asheville Wordfest May 2-4, 2014

Asheville Wordfest 2014(Photo top right, Laurey Masterton from Asheville Chamber of Commerce; 2nd photo, Laura Hope-Gill from www.thehealingseed.com) A webpage in progress!Asheville Wordfest, an annual…See More
Apr 8
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Fiddler of the Mountains by Eva Nell Mull Wike

Fiddler and His FamilyFiddler of the Mountains: Attuned to the Life and Times of Johnny Mull by Eva Nell Mull Wike (Donning Company hardcover, Nov. 2013, 96 pages, $25)See other new WNC books Wike, author of the…See More
Apr 7
William Roy Pipes posted a blog post

Four Novels Are Now Available

I now have four Novels in print. A fifth Novel, True Love, is finished, but to date not yet published. The four available on-line are: Darby, my bestselling Appalachian novel; Hanging Dog, An Appalachian Community, is a sequel to Darby, Doodlebug, Doodlebug, Your House is on Fire, an Appalachian novel beginning in 1940; and a novelette, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, a murder mystery full of intrigue, danger, and espionage. All four novels are available on Amazon.com and wherever books are…See More
Apr 7
Bill Ramsey posted a blog post

Brain Injury Recovery

Brain injury recovery is difficult and anything but certain. When I met Angela Leigh Tucker in late 2008, she was only four months into her battle. A sudden truck-on-car crash had killed her young husband and left her hanging on to life by a thread.For the next three years I researched the topic of traumatic brain injury or TBI. Angela and I travelled together to meeting of brain injury survivors and conferences on the subject. I interviewed countless doctors, therapists, co-workers, family…See More
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Asheville Wordfest May 2, 3, 4: Fiction, Poetry, Storytelling, more! at Asheville Lenoir-Rhyne University

May 2, 2014 at 5pm to May 4, 2014 at 5pm
Asheville Wordfest reaches its seventh year (lucky lucky!) with an expansion to include fiction, poetry, storytelling, songwriting, community conversation, poetry animation, and creative nonfiction. Coming of age with the help of North Carolina Arts Council, Katuah Market, Fine Arts Theater, Malaprops Bookstore/Cafe, and more than thirty writers, poets, musicians, and songwriters, Wordfest continues its commitment the Asheville and WNC communities, representing as many of our communities as the…See More
Apr 3

Harmons and Hickses brought stories and songs to Hot Springs

 by Rob Neufeld

 

            Beautiful coves are available in Watauga County! 

            This is what Cutliff Harmon, son of a German immigrant from the Danube River valley, might have heard when he’d gotten a job transporting goods into these mountains in 1790.      

            Except, he would have heard, “Wilkes County,” because the area around Boone did not get set aside as part of Watauga County until 1849.

            Cutliff’s employer, family history relates, had been Daniel Boone, who had established a store in western Virginia and a trading post in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina.

            Cutliff and his young wife, Susan Fouts, whose family had moved with his from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, had set out on their own after the Revolutionary War to settle in Randolph (now Rowan) County.

             They had seven children with them when they’d made the trek up the Watauga River to Cove Creek, along the way to what had been, up until 1789, the independent State of Franklin in east Tennessee.

            While building his first home there, Cutliff and his family “took shelter beneath a huge rock at the mouth of Phillips Branch known as ‘Shupe's Rockhouse,’” family historian Terry L. Harmon has noted.

            “The rockhouse was a beautiful and lovely chamber midway in the face of a cliff 100 feet high,” he reports.  “The shelter was entered by a descending stairway of three natural stone steps, and Cove Creek ran west almost to the base of the cliff and then turned directly south.”

            The baby of the family at the time of the trip, Andrew Harmon, grew up and married Sabra Hicks, daughter of the Harmons’ neighbor, Samuel Hicks.

            When Andy died at age 25—a snagged shoelace had prevented him from getting out of the way of a tree he was felling—Sabra left her two oldest children, Council and Goulder with her in-laws, Susan Harmon and John Mast.  Council got to know his grandpa, “Big Sammy,” original transmitter of the Jack Tales in this region.

            “One time there was a fine wealthy man lived way out in the forest,” one tale began.  “He went out and put him up an ad-ver-tise-ment” for someone to clear his land, though he was really after a giant-killer; and Jack responded.

            “Jack says, ‘Give me a tomihawk,” and he went out, climbed up a tree, and waited until a two-headed giant came by. 

            “What are you doin’ up there?” the giant asked.

            “I’m a clearin’ timber,” Jack says. 

            That began a series of encounters in which Jack squeezed milk out of a rock; pretended to cut open and sew up his belly when he was really cutting a pouch; and threw rocks at two giants who were carrying a log in which he was hiding—all to get the giants to destroy each other so that Jack could bring their severed heads back to his employer.

            Big Sammy was also the thrice-great-grandfather of the late, great storyteller Ray Hicks of Beech Mountain, famed for adopting the identity of Jack in his tales.

            When Council Harmon’s daughter, Emily, moved with her second husband, Ransom Hicks, to the Warm Springs (now, Hot Springs) area of Madison County (her first husband had died in the Civil War), Council, age 70, went along, entertaining kids and campers with Jack Tales, fiddle-playing, and songs.

            “After the war,” Emily testified about the reasons for leaving, “people just got so mean, stealing and everything, we just decided to leave.”

            Mars Hill, through which the Harmons and Hickses passed, had a college.  Warm Springs had a fancy resort.

            One of the children on that long trip was 12-year-old Jane Hicks (late, Gentry), famed source of traditional ballads for the collector, Cecil Sharp, and others.  Her former home and boarding house still stands in the center of town.

 

CAPTION

Detail of the cover of “The Jack Tales: Stories by Ray Hicks,” as told to Lynn Salsi, illus. by Owen Smith (Callaway, 2000).

 

SOURCES:

An Appalachian Medley: Hot Springs and the Gentry Family by Jacqueline Burgin Painter (Biltmore Pr., 1994).

Jane Hicks Gentry: A Singer among Singers by Betty N. Smith (U. of Ky. Pr., 1998).

The Harmon family, 1670-1984:

The Genealogy of Cutliff Harmon and His Descendants by Terry L. Harmon (Minor’s Pub. Co., 1984).

“Mountain White Folk-Lore: Tales from the Southern Blue Ridge,” told by Jane Hicks Gentry to Isabel Gordon Carter, and published in “Journal of American Folklore,” XXXVIII, 1925.

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