Some authors and critics sniff at best-sellers. I suppose the idea is that a novel appealing to so many thousands may contain vivid action or fascinating characters, but somehow fall below what critics may regard as the “standards of literature.” In the last hundred years in particular, we have seen a shift in favor of the new and revolutionary in literature over more traditional forms of storytelling. Most critics, for example, would regard Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury as literarily superior to best-selling Erich Marie Remarque’s All Quiet On The Western Front, both of which appeared in 1929.
Just after the secular American Revolution, many Americans also experienced a theological revolution; from the 1790s through the 1830s, a religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening saw Protestant denominations — especially Baptists and Methodists — rise to new levels of popularity.
Nearly 20 years ago, while browsing the shelves of the Haywood Country Public Library, I came across a collection of videos about Richard Sharpe, a British soldier fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. My sons and I were already fans of Sean Bean, who plays the lead in this remarkable BBC television series of 16 films, each of them 100 minutes long. I knew the films were based on the novels by Bernard Cornwell, and occasionally glanced at one of the books but never read Cornwell.
Before the settlement named Charleston became the village named Bryson City in 1889, it was a tract of land known as Big Bear’s Reserve, which was itself located in the same general area as a Cherokee village that had been ravaged in 1761 by a British expeditionary force under the command of Col. James Grant.
Two well known sites in Swain County were named for Col. Thaddeus Dillard Bryson, a significant figure in Western North Carolina during the second half of the nineteenth century.
One is, of course, Bryson City. And the other is the Bryson Place, now Backcountry Campsite (No. 57) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park situated six miles north of the gated trailhead in the Deep Creek Campground. Here then are some notes regarding Col. Bryson as well as his namesakes.
The year was 1966; “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” was on the big screen, “Bonanza” was on the small screen, and an Irish guy from Philly had just arrived in Maggie Valley to open Joey’s Pancake House.
SEE ALSO: The Book of Joe
America’s fascination with cowboy culture had not only elevated the Lorne Greene television show and the Clint Eastwood movie to the top of their respective charts that year, but had also elevated a western-themed amusement park called Ghost Town in the Sky more than 4,600 feet up to the top of nearby Buck Mountain three years prior.
Following the Little Tennessee River miles away from modern civilization in Franklin — past the pavement and subdivisions and through the grassy pastures that line the Cowee Valley — a large piece of Cherokee history remains.
While most people come to Macon County in the summer for a relaxing mountain vacation, Kathryn Sampeck makes the trip down south with a more important mission in mind.
With a wide-rimmed straw hat to shield her face from the beaming sun and a pair of worn-in brown leather boots she’s owned for at least 20 years, Sampeck returned again this summer to walk among sacred Cherokee land along the Little Tennessee River banks.
The pungent aroma of morning dew was still in the air and Kelly Sutton had just opened the Big Creek Country Store for the day when the cowbell mounted on the outside of the screen door issued an assertive and punctual clank.
“What really shaped me was doing all of those community programs and talks, where you could really make a connection with the people around you. It was about getting to interact with people and having them share their memories with you.”
— George Frizzell, retiring special collections librarian, Western Carolina University
Sounds so simple. George Frizzell likes to get out in Jackson County and talk to people, interact with them. That’s undoubtedly why some of the most famous writers of this region, people who celebrate Appalachian culture like Ron Rash and Charles Frazier, were eager to talk to our reporter about George when we did an article on him for last week’s paper (www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/17833).