Affiliated Networks



Latest Activity

Rob Neufeld posted discussions
11 hours ago
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean--Appalachian Outsiders tell all

Southern Appalachian outsiders tell allby Rob Neufeld             “Who was that woman...on the trail, the rain-matted one, the one covered in mud?”            A woman who was following her wants to know.  She’s out there in the rain, too, headed toward a cave where women were known to disappear forever,…See More
City Lights Bookstore posted an event

Carolina Writers at Home: Kathryn Byer & Thomas Rain Crowe at City Lights Bookstore

November 6, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8pm
Kathryn Byer and Thomas Rain Crowe have been included in a collection of true stories showcasing the houses where some of the most notable Southern authors have forged their writing lives. They both will be at City Lights Bookstore on Friday, November 6th at 6:30 p.m. to sign copies ofCarolina Writers at Home.  The homes in these twenty-five essays range from the classic bungalow and mid-century modern ranch house to wilder locales: a church, a trailer, and a sparsely-inhabited barrier island.…See More
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

The Land Still Speaks film and Culture Vulture fest, Oct 30

Culture festival features film about mountain eldertsfrom press releaseThe Center for Cultural Preservation presents a film festival that highlights mountain heritage, Jewish heritage and African-American heritage on October 30th at the Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College.   The festival will feature three films, including the world premiere of a new film, The Land Still Speaks to Us which includes the voices of mountain elders throughout WNC.  There will also be music by local…See More
Mark de Castrique posted an event

Malaprop's Bookstore at Malaprop's

November 9, 2015 from 7pm to 8pm
Presenting new Sam Blackman mystery A SPECTER OF JUSTICESee More
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

A Chronology of Asheville and WNC Events in History

                                   IMPORTANT DATES IN ASHEVILLE HISTORY                                                                 by Rob Neufeld 1000: The Cherokee, who’d introduced maize agriculture to the region, began cultivating beans. 1540: Hernando De Soto led troops to East Tennessee through either the Hickory Nut or Swannanoa Gap, finding gold and copper and inspiring a succession of Spanish miners. 1663: Charles II bestows territory between the 31st and 36th parallels in America…See More
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Root-diggers of Appalachia

People in the Lost Provinces were herb-gatherersby Rob NeufeldPHOTO CAPTION: Three herbal products offered by S.B. Penick’s, once the world’s largest herb distributor, its largest warehouse located in Asheville.             “Last week, during a research trip to the ‘Lost Provinces,’” Luke Manget said about the landscape…See More
Oct 3
Mark de Castrique posted a video

A Specter of Justice Preview

A Preview of the new Sam Blackman mystery to be released November 3, 2015
Oct 1
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

"Us versus Them" does not help fight against racism; worsens sectionalism

“Us versus them” is not good historyby Rob Neufeld             Writing about history and the complex lives that play out within it does not sell as well as team spirit, especially in this age of clicks and likes.            I recently confronted this truth when I wrote my article last week about the minds of our leaders in 1851. The word “slavery” was added to the headline to alert people to its relevance.  Seeing that term connected people to a cause they felt strongly about, particularly in…See More
Sep 27
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Player of Games and the Millennial Mind

Player of Games reveals today’s game-changing mentalityby Rob Neufeld             There is something big happening in Millennial Generation literature, and I thought I’d try to get a handle on it.            To give an idea of one aspect of current thinking: I was at a gathering recently, plenty of youngsters, and I…See More
Sep 27
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan Book Signing at MACA Building

October 10, 2015 from 9am to 1pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will sign her books at the McDowell Arts Council Association (MACA) Booth at the annual Mountain Glory Festival on Saturday, October 10 from 9-1.See More
Sep 22
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Sep 22
Ann Miller Woodford shared their photo on Facebook
Sep 21
Ann Miller Woodford posted a photo

Deacon Chrisenberry -Berry- Howell (1855-1938) on horseback. From the collection of Purel Miller (2)

My maternal great grandfather, Chrisenberry Howell, who was called "Berry" Howell in Swain County. From the Purel Miller collection. Submitted by Ann Miller Woodford
Sep 21
James D. Loy posted a blog post

The skull merchant, the dead ape, and the narcoleptic mortician

Hello "The Read on WNC" readers:     I'm posting this note to announce the publication of vol. 3 in my "Loy's Loonies" series.  This one is called The Mortician's Road Trip and it's a bit more of a mystery than my earlier books. Here's a teaser for the story.     Upstate New Yorker Baz Rathbone makes ends meet by selling human skulls. By contract, he should cremate them, but he doesn’t. His little business comes to the attention of the FBI when a woman spots her late husband’s skull being used…See More
Sep 20
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Sep 19

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.



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



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.

Views: 263

Reply to This

© 2015   Created by Rob Neufeld.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service