Two Western Carolina University scholars and a local historian will present recent discoveries and observations relating to legendary Western North Carolina figure Horace Kephart during a program Thursday, June 13.
WCU’s Mae Claxton and George Frizzell will join George Ellison of Bryson City to present the program “Horace Kephart Revisited” at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the university’s Mountain Heritage Center.
Kephart was a 42-year-old librarian looking to make a fresh start in the mountain wilderness when he came to Western North Carolina in the summer of 1904. Over the next 27 years, the numerous articles and books he wrote, including the classic “Our Southern Highlanders,” captured a disappearing culture and provided practical advice for outdoor enthusiasts. Kephart also was a major force in the movement to establish Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He died in 1931.
Ellison, who also is a writer and naturalist, penned the biographical introductions for the University of Tennessee Press reissue of “Our Southern Highlanders” and the Great Smoky Mountains Association’s reissues of two other Kephart works, “Smoky Mountain Magic” and “Camping and Woodcraft.” Ellison co-wrote the “Camping and Woodcraft” introduction with Janet McCue, a Cornell University librarian, and the two are now working on a Kephart biography.
Claxton, an associate professor in WCU’s English department, teaches classes in Southern, Appalachian and Native American literature. She recently has expanded her research interests to include Kephart, and as WCU’s Hunter Scholar for 2012-13, she developed a number of projects involving the Kephart collection at WCU’s Hunter Library.
Head of Special Collections at Hunter Library and university archivist, Frizzell has conducted intensive investigations into the people, places and stories relating to the Kephart collection. He also co-led the development of the library’s online exhibit, “Horace Kephart: Revealing an Enigma,” which showcases Kephart’s journals and personal effects.
The panel discussion is being presented in conjunction with the Mountain Heritage Center exhibit “Horace Kephart in the Great Smoky Mountains,” which will be on display through September. Admission to the June 13 program is free.
For more information, contact the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129.