Our Southern Highlanders
108 Pages

Our Southern Highlanders


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Published 01 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Our Southern Highlanders, by Horace Kephart This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Our Southern Highlanders Author: Horace Kephart Release Date: March 20, 2010 [EBook #31709] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK OUR SOUTHERN HIGHLANDERS *** Produced by David Garcia, Stephanie Eason, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net. (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Kentuckiana Digital Library.) OUR SOUTHERN HIGHLANDERS Photo by U. S. Forest Service Big Tom Wilson, the bear hunter, who discovered the body of Prof. Elisha Mitchell where he perished near the summit of the Peak that afterward was named in his honor OUR SOUTHERN HIGHLANDERS BY HORACE KEPHART AUTHOR OF “THE BOOK OF CAMPING AND WOODCRAFT,” “CAMP COOKERY,” “SPORTING FIREARMS,” ETC. Illustrated NEW YORK OUTING PUBLISHING COMPANY MCMXVI COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY OUTING PUBLISHING COMPANY All rights reserved First Printing, November 1913 Second Printing, December 1913 Third Printing, January 1914 Fourth Printing, April 1914 CONTENTS CHAPTER I. “SOMETHING HIDDEN; GO AND FIND IT” II. “THE BACK OF BEYOND” III. THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS IV. A BEAR HUNT IN THE SMOKIES P AGE 11 28 50 75 V. MOONSHINE LAND VI. WAYS THAT ARE DARK VII. A LEAF FROM THE PAST VIII. “BLOCKADERS” AND “THE REVENUE” IX. THE OUTLANDER AND THE NATIVE X. THE PEOPLE OF THE HILLS XI. THE LAND OF DO WITHOUT XII. HOME FOLKS AND NEIGHBOR PEOPLE XIII. THE MOUNTAIN DIALECT XIV. THE LAW OF THE WILDERNESS XV. THE BLOOD-FEUD XVI. WHO ARE THE MOUNTAINEERS? XVII. “WHEN THE SLEEPER WAKES” 110 126 145 167 191 212 234 256 276 305 327 354 378 ILLUSTRATIONS Big Tom Wilson, the bear hunter Map of Appalachia A family of pioneers in the twentieth century “The very cliffs are sheathed with trees and shrubs” At the Post-Office The author in camp in the Big Smokies “Bob” “There are few jutting crags” The bears’ home—laurel and rhododendron The old copper mine “What soldiers these fellows would make under leadership of some backwoods Napoleon” “By and by up they came, carrying the bear on the trimmed sapling” Skinning a frozen bear “... Powerful steep and laurely....” Mountain still-house hidden in the laurel Moonshine still, side view Moonshine still in full operation Corn mill and blacksmith forge A tub-mill Cabin on the Little Fork of Sugar Fork of Hazel Creek in which the author lived alone for three years A mountain home Many of the homes have but one window The schoolhouse “At thirty a mountain woman is apt to have a worn and faded look” The misty veil of falling water An average mountain cabin A bee-gum Let the women do the work “Till the sky-line blends with the sky itself” Whitewater Falls The road follows the creek—there may be a dozen fords in a mile “Dense forest and luxuriant undergrowth” Frontispiece FACING P AGE 8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80 88 96 104 112 120 128 136 152 160 176 192 208 216 232 240 248 264 288 312 320 336 APPALACHIA The wavy black line shows the outer boundaries of Southern Appalachian Region. The shaded portion shows the chief areas covered by high mountains, 3,000 to 6,700 feet above sea-level. OUR SOUTHERN HIGHLANDERS OUR SOUTHERN HIGHLANDERS CHAPTER I “SOMETHING HIDDEN; GO AND FIND IT” [Pg 11] I N one of Poe’s minor tales, written in 1845, there is a vague allusion to wild mountains in western Virginia “tenanted by fierce and uncouth races of men.” This, so far as I know, was the first reference in literature to our Southern mountaineers, and it stood as their only characterization until Miss Murfree (“Charles Egbert Craddock”) began her stories of the Cumberland hills. Time and retouching have done little to soften our Highlander’s portrait. Among reading people generally, South as well as North, to name him is to conjure up a tall, slouching figure in homespun, who carries a rifle as habitually as he does his hat, and who may tilt its muzzle toward a stranger before addressing him, the form of salutation being: “Stop thar! Whut’s you-unses name? Whar’s you-uns a-goin’ ter?” Let us admit that there is just enough truth in this caricature to give it a point that will stick. Our typical mountaineer is lank, he is always unkempt, he is fond of toting a gun on his shoulder, and his curiosity about a stranger’s name and business is promptly, though politely, outspoken. For the rest, he is a man [Pg 12] of mystery. The great world outside his mountains knows almost as little about him as he does of it; and that is little indeed. News in order to reach him must be of such widespread interest as fairly to fall from heaven; correspondingly, scarce any incidents of mountain life will leak out unless they be of sensational nature, such as the shooting of a revenue officer in Carolina, the massacre of a Virginia court, or the outbreak of another feud in “bloody Breathitt.” And so, from the grim sameness of such reports, the world infers that battle, murder, and sudden death are commonplaces in Appalachia. To be sure, in Miss Murfree’s novels, as in those of John Fox, Jr., and of Alice MacGowan, we do meet characters more genial than feudists and illicit distillers; none the less, when we have closed the book, who is it that stands out clearest as type and pattern of the mountaineer? Is it not he of the long rifle and peremptory challenge? And whether this be because he gets most of the limelight, or because we have a furtive liking for that sort of thing (on paper), or whether the armed outlaw be indeed a genuine protagonist—in any case, the Appalachian people remain in public estimation to-day, as Poe judged them, an uncouth and fierce race of men, inhabiting a wild mountain region little known. The Southern highlands themselves are a mysterious realm. When I prepared, eight years ago, for my first sojourn in the Great Smoky Mountains, which form the master chain of the Appalachian system, I could find in no library a guide to that region. The most diligent research failed to discover so much as a magazine article, written within this generation, that described the land and its people. Nay, there was not even a novel or a story that showed intimate local knowledge. Had I been going to Teneriffe or Timbuctu, the libraries would have furnished information a-plenty; but about this housetop of eastern America they were strangely