The Cashiers Historical Society will partner with Western Carolina University to present the 11th annual Jan Wyatt Symposium, with the topic “Horace Kephart: The Man Behind the Myth” on Thursday, June 9, at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.
Kephart, an Ivy League-educated librarian, came to Western North Carolina in the summer of 1904. For the next 27 years, he wrote numerous outdoors articles for national publications and authored the classics “Our Southern Highlanders” and “Camping and Woodcraft,” both remaining in print, and a posthumously published novel, “Smoky Mountain Magic.” He was a leading proponent to establish Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He died in 1931.
George Frizzell, director of WCU Special Collections at Hunter Library, will speak on “My Kephart Obsession” at 9:45 a.m., followed by George Ellison, a Bryson City writer and naturalist, presenting “The Man Behind the Myth” at 10:30 a.m. and Libby Kephart Hargrave speaking on “Family Remembrances of My Great-Grandfather” at 11:30 a.m.
The symposium is open to the public and admission is $30. The event begins at 9 a.m. with registration and a welcome from Susan Belcher, WCU host for the event. Lunch will be served at 12:15 p.m. in the Star Atrium. The event concludes with participants given a curated tour of the “Vision and Vistas: Great Smoky Mountains” exhibit of pre-park images at WCU’s Fine Art Museum.
“We are excited about this first-time symposium partnership with Western Carolina University and look forward to bringing this annual event to a broader regional audience this year,” said Ann McKee Austin, event co-chair and Cashiers Historical Society board member. “Susan Belcher, wife of Chancellor David Belcher, is working with us to offer a firsthand look at the amazing resources and scholastic talent available at WCU. Our university is without a doubt the leading institution in the country for Kephart research and archival collections, so I think we are all in for a special treat.”
WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center will open a major Kephart exhibit in the center’s Hunter Library gallery this fall.
“Whether you are a longtime Kephart enthusiast eager to hear recently uncovered information or new to Kephart’s story, this year’s symposium will give you insights into this complex man and his sometimes controversial legacy in Western North Carolina,” said Connie Haire, also a society board member and co-chair.
Corporate sponsor for the event is McKee Properties in Cashiers. For more information or to preregister, go to www.cashiershistoricalsociety.org or call 828-743-7710.
By Geoff Cantrell