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View Full Version : 'New' book by Horace Kephart of GSMNP


Ghost
09-23-2009, 10:04 PM
I agonized over where to post this?! It DOES have the most to do with the park, and the park [GSMA] seems to have even gotten it published for the anniversary. Everyone who appreciates the Smokies oughta read Kephart's books. [Though not sure how 'relevant' this novel may be.]
It's a novel set in the Smokies in Kephart's time called: 'Smoky Mountain Magic'. Probably has some fishing in it along with local color -and characters.
Supposedly has existed since years before his death and has been 'close-held' by his family all these years.
My son sent me the notice since we'd just visited Kephart's grave a couple weeks ago in Bryson City-and I'd given him Kephart's books when he was young.
More info. at the link [IF I can get it to work]. On sale at visitor centers. Ghost

http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200990923084

Jim Casada
09-24-2009, 07:55 AM
Ghost--A lot of the hype and hoopla connected with this book (Smoky Mountain Magic) is questionable. First of all, Kephart scholars (and I consider myself one, since I own an extensive collection of papers relating to him, have written a number of articles on him, did the Introduction to the reprint of Camping and Woodcraft, and edited a book which brings together his writings on gun-related matters) have known about this work for decades. The recent it has never been published, at least in my opinion, is that fiction wasn't Kep's genre. That's precisely why publishers rejected it in the late 1920s (I have some of the rejection letters). It also has some of the same faults which absolutely frost my grits when it comes to Our Southern Highlanders. Namely, misplaced and misrepresentational stereotypes of local fokways, sensationalizing of an inaccurate kind, etc. The novel is set in a fictional town (almost certainly Bryson City, my home) and is nowhere near Kep's standard when he was dealing with non-fiction.
It will sell well, because his name and fame will "carry" it, but I continue to be vexed by the way his family misrepresents some aspects of the man which those of us who are faithful to history and our mountain roots can't forget or forgive. After all, here was a man who abandoned (for good) a wife and six children, a man who struggled with chronic alcohol problems all his life (and was finally killed because of his drinking (he died drunk in a wreck where the taxi driver was also drunk, thanks to Kep sharing the illicit liquor with him), and a man who lived as long as he did SOLELY because staunch mountain folk (Granville Calhoun and his wife, on Hazel Creek) nursed him back to health from the brink of death. Yet the hype for this book suggested Kephart "befriended" the Hazel Creek folks and implies he did them a favor. Just the opposite of what happened. Likewise, Kephart's depiction of mountain folkways in Our Southern Highlanders is absolutely unpardonable.

Obviously this post, or more accuratelyk the subject of the post, touched a raw nerve. I admire a great deal about Kephart. He was the consummate woodsman and camper, Camping and Woodcraft is one of the ten best=selling outdoor books of all time, and he deserves a great deal of credit for creation of the Park. I was the one who nomiinated him for the American Camping Hall of Fame. But I also recognized, all too clearly, just how significant his faults were. Today's world and especially his descendants, along with some writers, seem all too willing to forget the facts.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Grannyknot
09-24-2009, 08:59 AM
Jim, do you know if this will be another University of Tennessee Press job?

Ghost
09-24-2009, 10:39 AM
Jim, I agree that Kephart has his 'warts'-but we all do. Historically Kephart rates pretty far down the 'hate' scale compared to guys like Andy Jackson who stabbed the Cherokees in the back [relating to this area and people] . Mooney is the other extreme, an informative academic but 'vanilla'. For good or ill Kephart put 'appalachia' on the map-with generally positive results. Course that's arguable too re: the old GSM area residents who got pushed out.
And, yes, as my boy said about the 'new novel' " ...probably not a literary classic". But whatever it's provenance, I'd consider it a necessary read simply for opinions sake:-).

Personally I like both Kepharts and Nesmuks old campcraft books over the sociological ones -and some of the Adirondack folks didn't like everything Sears wrote about them either.
Regardless, thanks for the info. about the 'new novels' provenance, I'd never heard anything about it. Guess the GSMA saw it as a 'money maker' for the cause.
It'll be interesting what the 'forward' or publisher's notes say in the 'novel' itself. Ghost

Rebelsoul
09-24-2009, 11:38 AM
Okay,I've been reading Our Southern Highlanders for the first time and taking Jim's viewpoint in mind,and what Kephart says himself,it seems to me so far that the guy just freeloaded off the mountain folks alot.Maybe he earned a living,I haven't seen that yet,so I maybe wrong on the freeloader part.
In turn he played boths sides towards the middle for his own advantage,and was not an unbiased onlooker.
He drank the "blockade" whiskey,then went on a "manhunt" with a revenuer,whom he befriended because he looked on him as an intellectual mysterious,counterpart,and looked on the mountainfolk as a backwards people while befriending them.
I think it's a wonder he wasn't "kilt"....maybe he wasn't a serious enough threat because he knew what the outcome would be if he informed.The trait of a wishy washy person to me,one who knows how to keep his hide off the barndoor...just my 2 cents.
It's an entertaining book and insightful in some ways...he was an educated outdoorsman,I'll give him that much.

Jim Casada
09-24-2009, 12:18 PM
Jim, do you know if this will be another University of Tennessee Press job?
Grannyknot--Nope. This is published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association. I haven't actually seen the published book (although I read the manuscript of the book decades ago). Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada
09-24-2009, 12:23 PM
Jim, I agree that Kephart has his 'warts'-but we all do. Historically Kephart rates pretty far down the 'hate' scale compared to guys like Andy Jackson who stabbed the Cherokees in the back [relating to this area and people] . Mooney is the other extreme, an informative academic but 'vanilla'. For good or ill Kephart put 'appalachia' on the map-with generally positive results. Course that's arguable too re: the old GSM area residents who got pushed out.
And, yes, as my boy said about the 'new novel' " ...probably not a literary classic". But whatever it's provenance, I'd consider it a necessary read simply for opinions sake:-).

Personally I like both Kepharts and Nesmuks old campcraft books over the sociological ones -and some of the Adirondack folks didn't like everything Sears wrote about them either.
Regardless, thanks for the info. about the 'new novels' provenance, I'd never heard anything about it. Guess the GSMA saw it as a 'money maker' for the cause.
It'll be interesting what the 'forward' or publisher's notes say in the 'novel' itself. Ghost
Ghost--We'll have to agree to disagree on the manner in which Kepahrt put Appalachia on the map. In that regard, I'll quote two authorities: (1) Try to get access to a copy of Judge Felix Alley's book, Ramdom Thoughts and Musings of a Mountaineer and see what he has to say about Kephart (and Margaret Morley, another author who looked down on mountain folks). Alley was a well-educated, highly accomplished son of the mountains, and his commentary is telling indeed. (2) My other authority is my 100-year-old father, who knew Kephart personally. He sums up the situation pretty simply: "I didn't like that man. He was always sullen and didn't do the mountain folks any favors."

I will agree on the woodsmanship aspects of his career. He was a master. Also commonly overlooked is his extraordinary knowledge of guns, ballistics, marksmanship, and related subjects.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada
09-24-2009, 12:39 PM
Rebelsoul--You pretty much have the picture as I see it. Kephart was a miserable money manager and he did indeed freeload on the mountain folks--in various ways. They saved him when he first showed up in 1904, nurtured him all through the ensuing 27 years, provided the cemetery plot where he is buried, settled his estate and his bills (he died owing money), bought him a suit of clothes when he was to speak to an august group on behalf of establishing the Park, and much more. Laura (his abandoned wife) was constantly importuning him for money, and according to no less than four different people I interviewed who knew him reasonably to very well, every time he got a letter form her he went on a week-long drunk. Amazingly, today's descendants maintain she was a great inspiration to his literary endeavors.

In the revised edition of Our Southern Highlanders, a full 40 percent of which is devoted to moonshine in one way or another, it is obvious (and extant directions from his NY publisher bear this out) that he turned to sensationalism to sell books.

He did have a knack for making close friends, although a lot of local folks turned against him once the revised edition of his book appeared. Jack Coburn, probably the area's wealthiest man at the time, was quite close to him, as was the Japanese-born photographer George Masa, local druggist Kelly Bennett, I. K Stearns (who handled his estate after Coburn was killed in a car wreck) and a few others. The common folks though, people like my father, had little use for him.

One thing I've always found strange is that while Kephart wrote a great deal about hunting and guns, if he had much of anything to say about mountain fishing I've never come across it. Yet he spent time with folks like Granville Calhoun, Mark Cathey, and Sam Hunnicutt, anglers (and hunters) all. It's surprisign, given his love of living in the backcountry, his considerable knowledge of camp cookery (he wrote a book in the subject), and his interest in living off the land.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Grannyknot
09-25-2009, 08:51 AM
Jim, I am currently reading Michael Frome's "Strangers in High Places". After yesterday's discussion, I skipped directly to the chapter about Kephart, based on Frome's interview with Granville Calhoun.

He seems to avoid glorifying his "coming" to these mountains. I would be interested to get your take on the stories and details provided by Frome if you have, or will read the book.

GrouseMan77
09-25-2009, 09:22 AM
I may need to reread Our Southern Highlanders.

I was somewhat excited about the book through the first few chapters but the feeling started to wane. It seemed that the moon shining was a little over played. Seems that a book that is supposed to be a regional study turned into a book about moonshine that had a few hunts for man and bear thrown in.

I was a little disappointed.

Jim Casada
09-25-2009, 09:37 AM
Grannyknot--I know Mike Frome personally and in fact have tapes of some of his interviews connected with the chapter on Kephart in his book. I think he gave a solid, balanced account. Obviously he did not go into great detail--the nature of the book mitigated against that--but Frome is a fine writer and researcher.

I knew Granville Calhoun when I was a boy and young man and will always regret I didn't avail myself of his tremendous storehouse of lore. He was quite a fellow, living to the age of 103 and being sharp as a tack almost to the end. I did interview a number of other people (some of whom Frome interviewed as well) who knew Kep. Among them were Clarence "Petey" Angel and his sister, Helen(family owned the boarding house where Kephart lived for many years), S. W. Black (a local banker who held Kep's decidedly minimal account and who was our family's next door neighbor), Buddy Abbott, and others.
One thing everyone of them said was that whenever Kep got a letter from his estranged wife he invariably went on a week long "toot."
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Grannyknot
09-25-2009, 10:02 AM
Jim, this is off topic & probably better handled through email, but you seem to be well read in the history of these mountains.....I am looking for a book on cades cove that covers the history of the area & people around the time of the civil war...specifically the days and events surrounding the death of Russell Gregory.

I have found a book by Durwood Dunn entitled Cades Cove, but I really can't afford the prices charged by the UT press. Even used book stores give little discount for second hand books on history.

Any help as to specific titles?

silvercreek
09-25-2009, 10:49 AM
Kephart's book got a plug on Channel 5 out of Nashville last night. They stated the book was being released in connection with the anniversary of the park.

Jim Casada
09-25-2009, 10:56 AM
Jim, this is off topic & probably better handled through email, but you seem to be well read in the history of these mountains.....I am looking for a book on cades cove that covers the history of the area & people around the time of the civil war...specifically the days and events surrounding the death of Russell Gregory.

I have found a book by Durwood Dunn entitled Cades Cove, but I really can't afford the prices charged by the UT press. Even used book stores give little discount for second hand books on history.

Any help as to specific titles?
Grannyknot--Yep, I guess I'm pretty well immersed in the mountain past (I have a Ph. d. in history from Vanderbilt and I'm a "recovering" university professor, although my field wasn't U. S. history). Dunn's book is probably the best treatment of Cades Cove, although there's lots on the area in Margaret Brown's The Wild East: a Biography of the GSMNP. Randolph Shields wrote two books on Cades Cove, The Cades Cove Story and The Families of Cades Cove. A study on Civil War Tennessee is Stanley F. Horn (ed), Tennessee's War, 1861-1869. If you live in east Tennessee your local library should have most of these books. Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Ghost
09-25-2009, 11:33 AM
Grannyknot, Amazon has used books as well. Got a 'like new' one of Dunn's for $9 IIRC. Dunn's book seemed excellent to me-lotta detail on family specific geneology moreso than the 'area' per se.
As Jim said, local libraries are the cheapest bet. IF they don't have it at that branch [your most convenient] they can get it thru the state association as a 'loaner' so you can read it. Even the more 'exotic' stuff thru interlibrary loans is less than $2 postage.
[May I say that the library system -as I've experienced it in the SE-is one of the FEW govt. run bureaucracies that works!
AND is usually staffed by 'customer oriented' good folks].
My library is even catalogued on-line. I usually check books for availability there before buying them-UNLESS I know I want to own them. You'll have to see how yours is set-up. There are hundreds of worthwhile books on Appalachia/GSM and flyfishing!
Speaking of which, I need to get on the road for the Nantahala:-)! Ghost

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=durwood+dunn

sammcdonald
09-25-2009, 09:17 PM
cades cove:as it was....great book, shows all the old homes, lotsa manways, and is out of print

Grannyknot
03-05-2010, 09:43 AM
I finally picked up a copy of Smoky Mountain Magic a week or so ago. Finished it last night. It was a good story although his fiction writing style seemed to be a bit strange. The climax came about half way into the book and was quickly crushed, which seemed to make the events in the last third of the book somewhat irrelevant to the main story.

One thing I found very interesting was the introduction written by Kephart's Granddaughter. She defended Kephart's choice to come to these mountains and stay here, inferring that it was his wife's decision to leave him, taking the kids to the northeast and away from Horace. Her description of his introduction to this area was different than anything I have read in Jim Casada's introduction in Camping and Woodcraft or Michael Frome's book Strangers in High Places. Nowhere does she mention Granville Calhoun when telling of the people who helped him most in his early years on Hazel Creek.

Overall, its a good book with some entertaining Cherokee lore and description of the mountains pre-logging industry.

Carlito
03-05-2010, 11:04 AM
Hey Codman, let me know if you want me to get Mom to track down any of those books for you. That's her specialty, and she's got some pull down at the Norris Public Library ;-)

AKSkim
03-05-2010, 12:09 PM
Jim one thing that I have noticed about you when it comes to someone else's book your comment is generally negative.

To be totally honest I too have purchased your book and can also say, "A lot of the hype and hoopla connected with this book is questionable."

When I first received your book I thumbed through it I thought it would be very informative (even posted so) especially when I saw one of the graphs in the back.

Then I sat down and read it.

My honest opinion is far as the fishing part of your book goes all that info I could have googled it, and the remaining part is what I consider "Hokey - Folksy."

I truly was disappointed in what you had in your book.

I know my comments on your book will offend you and otherís on here, but it is an honest evaluation of that book.

Jim Casada
03-05-2010, 04:37 PM
AKSkim--I'm don't think offended would be the proper word, but hurt would. I put my heart and soul into the book and for the great majority of folks who have read it have had very favorable things to say and have been particularly pleased with the history and folklore you seem not to like.
As for the fishing information, about all I can say is that I put a great deal of research, including personal experience, into it.
I believe if you will look back on this thread along you will find that I'm not necessarily critical of books in general. I have very positive things to say about Mike Frome's Strangers in High Places as well asabout two or three books on Cades Cove or the Park in general. Taking matters one step further, if you will check the bibliography in my book you don't like, you will find I say quite positive things about dozens of books.
Sorry the book disappointed you, but such is the life of the writer. Somes you please; sometimes you don't.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Crockett
03-05-2010, 05:28 PM
I appreciate AKSkim's honesty with his thoughts but I for one appreciated the from the heart folksey style and as you can tell from this forum most of us did love it Jim. Some might think it is an act or something but I think it's just who you are and you can't change that. It's good to have diversity as some others might call it. I say keep up the good work and thank you. Thats the fun part about life in that you can't please everyone but you can always keep trying.

Jim Casada
03-05-2010, 05:36 PM
Crockett--Thank you, and I hope to meet you (and AKSkim, along with many others) at Troutfest. I think you will find that I am just a simple son of the Smokies with a deep and abiding love for the region, its people, and its history.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Crockett
03-05-2010, 05:39 PM
I will be there! I will bring my "well worn" copy of your book and hopefully get you to sign it.

stevee71
03-05-2010, 09:10 PM
Hey Jim
I for one am looking forward to troutfest to get my copy of your book. I would also like to thank you for your unbiased opion and for all the help you are to beginners like myself.
Steve

Speck Lover
03-05-2010, 09:39 PM
Crockett--Thank you, and I hope to meet you (and AKSkim, along with many others) at Troutfest.


Jim,

I am really hoping that I can make it to Troutfest to talk with you once again. While I'm certain that you don't remember me, I met you a few years back at the Charlotte Fly Fishing Show and bought a book from you at your booth. I found you to be a very interesting and informative man, and a great person to talk to. If my memory serves me correctly, your booth at the Charlotte Fly Fishing Show was one of the busiest booth's that year, which I believe was 2005.

Jim Casada
03-06-2010, 09:44 AM
Steve--Glad I can be of help occasionally and I'll see you in Townsend come May.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada
03-06-2010, 09:50 AM
Jim,

I am really hoping that I can make it to Troutfest to talk with you once again. While I'm certain that you don't remember me, I met you a few years back at the Charlotte Fly Fishing Show and bought a book from you at your booth. I found you to be a very interesting and informative man, and a great person to talk to. If my memory serves me correctly, your booth at the Charlotte Fly Fishing Show was one of the busiest booth's that year, which I believe was 2005.
Speck Lover--I certainly hope you can make it. I haven't been before although several people have told me it's an exciting time and I'm certainly excited about being involved this year.
As for meeting you in Charlotte, I must confess I don't remember, but then my memory isn't one which would have ever been conducive to a career in politics. I shake and howdy with lots of people at shows and talks, and about the best I can do is try to be unfailingly polite, share whatever knowledge or information I can, and enjoy such events (which I do).
It sounds like this year's Troutfest will be a dandy.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Owl
03-08-2010, 04:52 AM
I've read Highlanders and put it right up there with some of the best of the five or six books I've read. ;)

Seriously though, is there somewhere that a person might find a list of things that Kephart stretched or distorted? Now, I'm curious as to just which parts of the book are reality and which are ....what? Fabrications? Exaggerations? Outright lies?

Also, there was a book I read( one of the six, mind you.) that was about a fellow contracting some sort of food poisioning from some potato salad and getting sick on the way to Cherokee. Anyone know the name of that book? Seems to me it was fairly comical all the way through.


I also enjoyed the AT story " A Walk in the Woods." Hopefully, it wasn't full of truth-stretching as well. If it was, don't tell me. I can only take one revelation at a time here, people.


Thanks,
owl


PS - They aren't about the Smokies, but if you enjoy comical or semi-comical fishing books, pick up almost anything by Nick Lyons. I have laughed so hard that I've cried reading about his misadventures in life and fishing.

tennswede
03-08-2010, 08:52 AM
Owl,

"On the Spine of Time by Harry Middleton.

Jim Casada
03-08-2010, 11:15 AM
Owl--As someone who has spent his life reading and ruminating on the literature of the Smokies, I'll offer several comments.
(1) Kephart's book does not in many sense accurately depict the mountain folk of the time his was writing. If you want to see the other side of the picture, and a telling critique of Our Southern Highlanders, read a copy of Judge Felix Alley's book, Random Thoughts and Musings of a Mountaineer. He offers a scathing critique of both Kephart and Margaret Morley. Michael Frome, in Strangers in High Places,has a good chapter on Kephart which is quite nicely balanced. Incidentally, if you haven't read From, you owe yourself that treat.
I see that Tenn Swede has already identified Harry Middleton's On the Spine of Time. I knew Harry quite well and he was a dear friend. I don't think there's any truth to the characters he depicts, and being from the area he is writing about I should know. Perhaps mroe to the point, my 100-year-old father, who has lived in Bryson City all but the first five years of his life, assures me none of Middleton's characters are real people. Still, it is a wonderfully written, totally charming book.
I wholeheartedly agree with you on Nick Lyons. He too is a good friend and did me the great honor of writing a Foreword to my book on fly fishing in the Park. He's a rare talent and for all his self-deprecation, he's a much better fisherman than he would lead readers to belive.
I'll mention one other book which I think truly first-rate, although it is out of print and devilishly difficult to find. This is Ken Wise's Hiking Trails of the Smokies. It is more, much more, than just another trail guidebook. Filled with history and charming notes on places in the Park, it is wonderfully well researched. He is working on a completely update version.
Hope this helps a bit.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Owl
03-08-2010, 11:23 AM
Thank you Jim and Swede! Very interesting.....

but I have to say that I have met folks that are way whackier and far more strange in my lifetime living in Georgia. I can't really fathom that somewhere in the southern Blue Ridge there couldn't be people like those described in those books. I mean, it does seem possible seeing as how even my next door neighbors to this very day are much further out there than anyone I've read about in Kephart or Middleton's books.

Or, maybe I'm wrong. It's not like I grew up there( although I often wish I had, and back 50 years ago at that!)


thanks again for all the great info!