Tales from Sacred Wind

Coming of Age in Appalachia. The Cratis Williams Chronicles.


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About the Book

Prior to his death in 1985, Cratis Williams was a leading scholar of and spokesperson for Appalachian life and literature and a pioneer of the Appalachian studies movement. Williams was born in a log cabin on Caines Creek, Lawrence County, Kentucky, in 1911. To use his own terms, he was “a complete mountaineer.” This book is an edited compilation of Williams’ memoirs of his childhood. These autobiographical reminiscences often take the form of a folktale, with individual titles such as “Preacher Lang Gets Drunk” and “The Double Murder at Sledges.” Schooled initially in traditional stories and ballads, he learned to read by the light of his grandfather’s whiskey still and excelled at the local one-room school. After becoming the first person from Caines Creek to attend and graduate from the county high school in Louisa, he taught in one-room schools while pursuing his own education. He earned both a BA and MA from the University of Kentucky before moving to Appalachian State Teacher’s College in 1942; later he earned a Ph.D. from New York University and then returned to Appalachian State.

About the Author(s)

David Cratis Williams, son of Cratis, is an associate professor of communication at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Patricia D. Beaver is director of the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Cratis D. Williams

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 456
Bibliographic Info: 76 photos, appendices, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1490-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1614-8
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     v
Introduction     1

1 In the Beginning     29
2 Growing up in Sacred Wind     84
3 Beyond the Big Sandy…and Home Again     126
4 In the Family Spirit(s)     190
5 A Day’s Ride by Mule to High School     239
6 Moving on to College and the “Big World”…and Beginning to Look Back    342

Appendices     411
Index   431

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “detailed…entertaining…stories retold in carefully reconstructed dialect vividly resurrect a lost society…marvelous…recommended. All levels”—Choice
  • “this book provides an insightful look into the unique life of this influential scholar and is essential for all Appalachian studies collections”—Library Journal
  • “remarkable”—Journal of Appalachian Studies
  • “as compelling and evocative a depiction of life in the rural South as any that has yet been published…historically intriguing narrative…the beauty of the world and culture Williams describes lingers with the reader long after the book is finished”—The Journal of Southern History
  • “a classic…one of the most complete and pure passages from a rural Appalachian upbringing to the heights of academia ever achieved”—Asheville Citizen-Times
  • “wonderful”—Reference & Research Book News
  • “brings the voice of the master storyteller right into our ears…the reader of his memoir will quickly be drawn in by the warmth of his narrative, the conversational tone, and the rich layers of detail that permeate the book…Cratis’s tales provide great entertainment, but they also offer excellent exempla for the study of folklore…brings a literary treat to the general reader, the historian, the educator, the storyteller, the student of folklore, and no doubt others with specialty interests. The book is laden with riches that will continue to surface even after repeated readings”—Appalachian Heritage