1 September 2010

Horace Kephart and Bryson City, North Carolina: Southern Literary Tour, Part Two: #5

Horace Kephart (1862–1931) had spent 13 years as a librarian in St Louis, Missouri, when, in 1904, he separated from his wife and six children. He left the clamor of the World's Fair in favor of a more peaceful life in the mountains and woods of Dillsboro, North Carolina.

Kephart became an authority on the region's cultural and natural history, and wrote many articles on outdoor life. He was a great campaigner for a Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and his book Our Southern Highlanders (1913) is a classic work of Appalachian literature: autobiographical, anthropological, and historical. Mount Kephart is named after him, as mentioned in the image below.

Kephart moved to Bryson City, and was killed – along with the writer Fiswoode Tarleton (1890–1931) – in a taxi in 1931 when they were on their way back from buying moonshine.

This historical marker is on Slope Street, Bryson City, just a few yards from School Drive, which leads to Hillside Drive, leading to Bryson City Cemetery, which climbs a hill with the Smoky Mountains as a backdrop.

Kephart's grave consists of an uncut block of stone with a metal plaque inlaid:
'Scholar, author, outdoorsman. He loved his neighbors and pictured them in "Our Southern Highlanders". His vision helped to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park'.

After Kephart's death, his short history The Cherokees of the Smoky Mountains: A Little Band that Has Stood against the White Tide for Three Hundred Years was published, and 2009 saw the publication of his novel, Smoky Mountain Magic.

Kephart's friend Fiswoode Tarleton was buried at the side of him.


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