Jack Tales and Mountain Yarns: As Told By Orville Hicks
Department of Literature and Modern Languages
Journal of Folklore Research
Jack Tales and Mountain Yarns includes more than twenty tales collected from Beech Mountain, North Carolina, storyteller Orville Hicks, transcribed by Julia Ebel, and charmingly illustrated by Sherry Jensen. As Ebel points out in her introduction, Hicks learned many of these tales, as well as songs and riddles, from his mother, Sarah Harmon Hicks, often while collecting galax and other plants in the mountains. Sarah herself was the granddaughter of nineteenth-century master yarnspinner and Beech Mountain patriarch, Council (Counce) Harmon (1807–96), and both she and her father, McKeller (Kell) Harmon, were among the storytellers from whom Richard Chase collected in the 1930s and 1940s, which helped launch the tremendous interest in Jack tales. Numerous volumes of Jack tales, Grandfather tales, and other mountain yarns stem from Harmon’s progeny, including Jane Hicks Gentry, Maud Long, R. M. and Marshall Ward, Hattie Presnell, Frank Proffitt, Jr., and probably most famously, Leonard “Ray” Hicks (1922–2003), who was actually Orville’s second cousin. Orville learned many of his tales at Ray’s homestead on Beech Mountain, and he considers himself to be carrying on the tradition Ray did much to promote.
Doan, J. E. (2009). Jack Tales and Mountain Yarns: As Told By Orville Hicks. Journal of Folklore Research, 46 (3) Retrieved from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/shss_facarticles/192