Hicks, Harmon, and Ward Storytelling Tradition on Beech Mountain and in Western North Carolina

Scope: 

The Jack and Grandfather Tales were brought to the Appalachian Mountains by the Hicks and Harmon families over two hundred years ago when they emigrated from Europe. These tales and other stories have been passed down from generation to generation in and around Watauga County in Western North Carolina. The families also shared ghost stories, riddles, jokes, superstitions, and proverbs as they worked. The tales and stories were one of the few ways that families could entertain themselves, and they often combined storytelling with music making. Richard Chase collected the tales from Marshall Ward in 1935. His collection of Jack tales was published in 1943. The tradition of storytelling has continued to thrive on Beech Mountain and in surrounding areas of Western North Carolina and Southwestern Virginia. Council Harmon (1807-1896) and his son, Kell Harmon (1863-1950) shared the stories with their children. Today, Orville Hicks, a descendant of the Hicks and Harmon families continues the tradition of storytelling in Western North Carolina. He learned the tales from his mother and second cousin, Ray Hicks. Ray was the most celebrated Jack and Grandfather Tale teller. He learned from his grandfather, Ben, who was another teller from whom Chase collected the tales on Beech Mountain. Ray Hicks was internationally known and received the National Storytelling Association's first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. Ray died in 2003. His son, Ted, has recently become a tradition bearer of the Jack and Grandfather Tales on Beech Mountain.

Introductory Text: 

Carden, Kara. "Hicks, Ray (1922-2003) Storyteller." Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006. pps.1249-1250. ASU APP COLL STACKS F 106 .E53

Leonard, Robert H. "Performing Arts." Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006. pps. 1225-1228. ASU APP COLL STACKS F 106 .E53

Lightfoot, William. "Hicks-Harmon Families." Folklore: An Encyclopedia. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996. pps. 367-369. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL OVSZ GR101 .A54

----- "Ward, Marshall (1906-1981)." American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996. pps. 739-740. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL OVSZ GR101 .A54

Lindahl, Carl. "Oral Narrative." Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006. pps. 886-889. ASU APP COLL STACKS F 106 .E53

Long, Lucy. "Hicks Family." Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006. pps. 1171-1172. ASU APP COLL STACKS F 106 .E53

Oxendine, Jill. "Festivals, Humor and Storytelling." Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006. pps. 977-978. ASU APP COLL STACKS F 106 .E53

Perdue, Charles L.,Jr. "Chase, Richard (1904-1988)." American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996. pps. 135-136. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL OVSZ GR101 .A54

Ross, Charlotte. "Storytelling in the Twentieth Century, Renaissance of." Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006. pps.1268-1270. ASU APP COLL STACKS F 106 .E53

Smith, Herb E. "Noble Mountaineers." Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006. pps. 226-227. ASU APP COLL STACKS F 106 .E53

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly relevant:

  • Folklore
  • Folklore - Performance
  • Folktales
  • Jack tales
  • Oral tradition
  • Storytelling
  • Tales

Also relevant:

  • Folk literature
  • Tall tales

More General:

  • Children's Stories
  • Education
  • Oral interpretation
  • Oral interpretation of fiction
  • Oratory Raconteurs
  • Storytelling in libraries
Clipping Files Subject Headings - W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Richard Chase
  • Ray Hicks
  • Stanley Hicks
  • Storytelling
  • Hicks Family
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • F106
  • F264
  • GR50
  • GR55
  • GR105
  • GR110
  • GR72
  • GR105
  • ML3545
  • ML3551
  • PZ8
Books: 

Chase, Richard. The Jack Tales: Folk Tales From the Southern Appalachians. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1943. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS GR 110.N8. Renewed 1971. ASU RESERVE GR110.N8 C5

Isbell, Robert. The Last Chivaree: The Hicks Family of Beech Mountain. Chapel Hill & London: The University of North Carolina Press, 1996. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS F264.B38178

Lindahl, Carl, ed. Perspectives on the Jack Tales and Other North American Marchen. Special Publications of the Folklore Institute No. 6. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2001. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS GR105.37.J32 P47

McCarthy, William Bernard. Jack in Two Worlds: Contemporary North American Tales and Their Tellers. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS GR105.37.J32 J33

Perdue, Charles L. Jr. ed. Outwitting the Devil: Jack Tales From Wise County Virginia. New Mexico: Ancient City Press, 1987. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS GR110.V8 088

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Abramson, Rudy and Jean Haskell, eds Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006 ASU APP COLL F 106 .E53

Adams, David and Marion Sader. Storytelling Encyclopedia: Historical, Cultural, and Multiethnic Approaches to Oral Traditions Around the World. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1997 ASU APP COLL GR72 .S76

Brunvand, Jan Harold, ed. American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1996 ASU SPECIAL APP COLL OVSZ GR101 .A54

Miller, Corki and Mary Eleen Snodgrass. Storytellers: A Biographical Directory of 120 English-Speaking Performers Worldwide. Jefferson, NC: McFarland &Company, Inc., Publishers, 1998. ASU APP COLL STACKS GR50. M54

Bibliographies: 

Greene, Ellin. Storytelling: A Selected Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, 1986. ASU IMC REFERENCE 016.0276251 G799st

Hanlin, Tina L. North Carolina Folklore Journal. 49.2 (Fall/Winter 2002): 69-115. Online: http://www.ferrum.edu/applit/bibs/hicks.htm

McCarthy, William Bernard. Jack in Two Worlds: Contemporary North American Tales and Their Tellers. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994. pps. 273-280. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS GR105.37.J32 J33

Pavesic, Christine, PhD. Ray Hicks and the Jack Tales: A Study of Appalachian History, Culture, and Philosophy. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2005. pps. 83-87. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS GR105.37.J32 P38

Lindahl, Carl, ed. American Folktales: From the Collections of the Library of Congress. Armonk, NY: London, England M.E. Sharpe in association with the Library of Congress, Washington, DC 2004. pps. 687-700. ASU MAIN STACKS GR105.5 A44

Sawin, Patricia. Listening For a life: A Dialogic Ethnography of Bessie Eldreth Through Her Songs and Stories. Utah State University Press, 2004. pps. 229-240. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS GR55.E53 S397

Smith, Betty N. A Singer Among Singer: Jane Hicks Gentry. The University Press of Kentucky, 1998. pps. 211-213. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS ML420.G34S65

Abstracts and Indices: 

JSTOR

MLA

WorldCat

Project Muse

Journals: 

McDermitt, Barbara Rice Damron. Comparison of a Scottish and American Storyteller and Their Marchen Repertoires. Ph.D. Dissertation. School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh 1986. 523 pp. 15 plates. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL OVSZ GR550 .M3

Pavesic, Christine L. Pavesic. Ray Hicks and the Jack Tales of Appalachian: Their Origins and Significance. Ph.D. Thesis. Northern Illinois University, 2002. 167 leaves. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS GR105.37 . J32P38.

Appalachian Journal. Boone, NC: Appalachian State University. Semiannual, Autumn1972-Spring 1974; Quarterly Autumn 1974-. ASU APP COLL STACKS F216.2 A66.

Children's Literature Association Quarterly. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press,1976-. Quarterly Spring 1976-present, electronic access

Journal of Folklore Research. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press (formerly Journal of Folklore Institute 1964-1983) Semiannual 1983-. ASU PERIODICALS

North Carolina Folklore Journal. Durham, NC: North Carolina Folklore Society, Semiannual (formerly North Carolina Folklore-1948, 1954-1973) ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS GR110.N8 N6

Southern Folklore. (formerly Southern Folklore Quarterly. V. 1-45, 1937-1979). ASU APP COLL GR1.S65

Foxfire Magazine. Tiger: Foxfire Fund, Inc., 1992-. ASU APP COLL GR1.F59.

Storytelling Magazine. Jonesborough: National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling, 1989-. ASU APP COLL LB1042.N377.

Audio and Video Sources: 

A Film about Ray Hicks: Beech Mountain, North Carolina. Johnson City, TN: East Tennessee State University, 2005. Produced by Dr. Thomas G. Burton. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS. VC 485

Fixin' To Tell About Jack. Whitesburg, KY: Appalshop, 1974. Produced by Elizabeth Barrett. ASU SPECIAL APP COLL STACKS. VC 31

Ray and Rosa Hicks: The Last of the Old-Time Storytellers. Charlotte, NC: Queens College, 2000. Produced by Charles and Jane Hadley. ASU RESERVE. VC 362

Ray Hicks: Jack Alive. APP COLL TAPE #554

Orville Hicks: Mule Egg Seller and Appalachian Storyteller: ASU SPEC APP COLL CD #180

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Lisa Baldwin, 3 November 2009