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Jenny Bowen replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Battle of Asheville, Apr. 6, 1865
"The 4-5 prisoners taken at the tanyard were colored union soldiers under Gen. Davis Tillson.  They were drum-court-martialed for assaulting an old man and woman and raping a young white woman who was the niece of the couple down near Flat…"
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon at Montreat College Gaither Fellowship Hall

June 13, 2015 from 12pm to 2pm
"When Real People Become Real Characters" presented by Novelist Mark de Castrique at the Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon on June 13, 2015.Book signing follows the presentation.  Public is invited.  Reservations are required.See More
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2015 Author Luncheon at Mars Hill University

May 28, 2015 from 11am to 2pm
Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times best-selling author, will be the keynote speaker at the Friends of Madison County Library’s 10th Annual Author Luncheon where she will share her newest release, The Summer’s End. The luncheon will be held at Pittman Dining Hall on the campus of Mars Hill University on Thursday, May 28 beginning at 11 am. Tickets are $35 each, and proceeds will benefit programs and services for both children and adults at Madison County Public libraries. The cost of a ticket…See More
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Julia Nunnally Duncan Book Signing at The Orchard at Altapass

May 23, 2015 from 12pm to 3pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will sign her books at The Orchard at Altapass Bookstore on Saturday, May 23 from noon until 3 p.m.See More
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Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon at Montreat College Gaither Fellowship hall

June 20, 2015 from 12pm to 2pm
"When Real People Become Real Characters" presented by Novelist Mark de Castrique at the Montreat College Friends of the Library Annual Luncheon on June 13, 2015.Book signing follows the presentation.  Public is invited.  Reservations are required.See More
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BookFest in Sparta at Sparta, NC

June 27, 2015 from 11am to 2pm
Twice a year, we invite local and regional authors to downtown Sparta, NC, for our BookFest event.At BookFest, fans have an opportunity to meet the authors and authors are able to market their books, in person. Host sites benefit from the additional foot traffic the event generates. The lineup will be posted soon - if you'd like to be a part, contact us.See More
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A Book to Help All Touched by Cancer at City Lights Bookstore

May 16, 2015 from 3pm to 4:30pm
On Saturday, May 16th at 3 p.m. Diana Kenney will present her book, How Cancer Transformed Our Lives.   Founder of Good Grief Ministry, Diana runs workshops on grief work, leads support groups, teaches online classes and does pastoral counseling. She has a Doctorate of Ministry in Shamanic Psychospiritual Studies from Venus Rising University in Whittier, NC and is certified in Death and Grief Studies from The Center for Loss and Life Transition in Ft. Collins, CO. She is also certified as a…See More
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June 1926, Asheville

One week in 1926 reveals remarkable highs and lowsby Rob Neufeld             Bootleg whiskey and golf are undermining religion, B. Frank White, a traveling preacher, told a Charlotte audience on June 2, 1926.  The sermon was reported in the Asheville Citizen the next day.            “The trouble with your…See More
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Author Robert Beatty from Asheville, NC
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Apr 18

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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