author event

Elizabeth Giddens to Present: Oconaluftee: The History of a Smoky Mountain Valley

Kennesaw State professor Elizabeth Giddens will visit City Lights Bookstore on Saturday, April 8th at 3 p.m. She will present her new book, Oconaluftee: The History of a Smoky Mountain Valley

The Oconaluftee Valley, located on the North Carolina side of the Smokies, is home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). This seemingly isolated valley has an epic tale to tell. Always a desirable place to settle, hunt, gather, farm, and live, the valley and its people have played an integral role in some of the greatest dramas of the colonial era, the Trail of Tears, and the Civil War era. The experiences of turn-of-the-twentieth-century industrial logging alongside the national park movement show how land-use trends changed communities and families. Though the valley saw its share of conflict, its residents often lived like neighbors, sharing resources and acting cooperatively for mutual benefit and survival. They demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of threats to their existence.


Elizabeth Giddens offers a deeply researched and elegantly written account of Oconaluftee and its people, from Indigenous settlements to the establishment of the national park by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1940. She builds the tale from archives, census records, property records, personal memoirs, and more, showing how national events affected all Oconaluftee's people--Indigenous, Black, and white.

Oconaluftee: The History of a Smoky Mountain Valley By Elizabeth Giddens Cover Image
ISBN: 9781469673417
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of North Carolina Press - April 4th, 2023

Kami Ahrens to Present The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Women

 Kami Ahrens will visit City Lights Bookstore on Saturday, April 15th, at 3 p.m. She will present her new book, The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Women. This new volume in the Foxfire series is the first focused specifically on the lives of Appalachian women.

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, the author of Even As We Breathe, said of the book, “These authentic, unaffected firsthand accounts show that we have much to learn from these women--their compelling knowledge has enlivened these communities and is critical to a broader understanding of place."

Kami Ahrens is curator and director of education at the Foxfire Museum. To reserve copies of The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Women, please call City Lights Bookstore at 828-586-9499 or click the link below. Following the presentation at City Lights, there will be a reception with Blue Ridge Public Radio at Innovation Brewing, also in downtown Sylva.

The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Women: Stories of Landscape and Community in the Mountain South By Kami Ahrens (Editor) Cover Image
By Kami Ahrens (Editor)
ISBN: 9781469670034
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of North Carolina Press - March 7th, 2023

Book Launch: Hillsville Remembered by Travis A. Rountree

City Lights Bookstore and the Jackson County Public Library will celebrate the book launch of Hillsville Remembered by Travis A. Rountree on Friday, April 21st, at 6 p.m. The event will take place in the Jackson County Public Library Community Room.

On March 14, 1912, in Hillsville, Virginia, native Floyd Allen (1856-1913) was convicted of three criminal charges: assault, maiming, and the rescue of prisoners in custody. What had begun as a scuffle between Allen's nephews over a young woman ended with him being charged as the guilty party after he allegedly hit a deputy in the head with a pistol. When the jury returned with the verdict, Allen stood up and announced, 'Gentleman, I ain't a-goin.' A gunfight ensued in the crowded courtroom, which claimed the lives of the judge, prosecuting attorney, sheriff, a juror, and a witness, and wounded seven other people. The men of the Allen family fled the scene, but detectives from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency apprehended the men two months later. The state of Virginia put Floyd and Claude Allen to death by electrocution the following spring. Within days of the shoot-out, local and national media sensationalized the event, maligning the Allen men as rough, uncouth residents of impoverished Appalachia. More than a century later, the 'Hillsville Massacre' - as it was dubbed - continues to impact the citizens and communities of the area as local newspapers recirculate the sordid story and give credence to annual public reenactments that continue to negatively impact the national perception of the region. 

In this first book-length scholarly review of the Hillsville shoot-out, author Travis A. Rountree examines various media written about and inspired by the event and explains how the incident reinforced the nation’s conception of Appalachia through depictions of this sensational moment in history. Overall, this book provides an extensive analysis of this historic conflict and reveals a new understanding of the shaping of memories and stories from the event. 

Travis A. Rountree is an assistant professor of English at Western Carolina University. His writings have appeared in the North Carolina Folklore Journal, Appalachian Journal, Journal of Southern History, and Storytelling in QueerAppalachia: Imagining and Writing the Unspeakable Other.

Hillsville Remembered: Public Memory, Historical Silence, and Appalachia's Most Notorious Shoot-Out By Travis A. Rountree Cover Image
ISBN: 9780813197227
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University Press of Kentucky - April 11th, 2023

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