Skip to main content

Hunter Library Digital Collections


About this collection

Stories of Mountain Folk interviewers left to right: Amy Ammons Garza, Doreyl Ammons Cain, Neal Hearn, Judy Rhodes, Joe Rhinehart, Shawn Crowe, Mary Sue Casey  


Featured in “Our State Magazine,” February, 2013

Received the 2013 Mountain Heritage Award from Western Carolina University

Spotlighted on WNC’s WLOS Television, November 5 & 9, 2014 


In 2008, Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (CSA), a western North Carolina not-for-profit 501c3 organization, began recording "Stories of Mountain Folk," a radio program that aired weekly on local radio station WRGC. When WRGC closed in September, 2011, the organization teamed up with Hunter Library to preserve the recorded material. The "Stories of Mountain Folk" collection was Hunter Library's first all-sound oral history collection.


WRGC Radio came back on the air in April, 2012, and once again, CSA’s program became a feature on the radio. At the end of 2015, within the 378 programs produced were 1156 interviews, plus 276 storytelling segments—all which capture "local memory" detailing traditions, events, and the life stories of mountain people. A wide range of interviewees include down-home gardeners, herbalists, and farmers, as well as musicians, artists, local writers, and more.


“Each program stands alone, each story is unique, for everyone is creative and worthy,” says Amy Ammons Garza, cofounder of CSA. “Each of us is the product of our heritage. It is through realizing the value of who came before that we realize the true importance of who we are today—for we are the individuals who link, bridge and fulfill destiny of all the ages. We make the future.  What we do now to encourage, to inspire, to trust, to assist will provide the road the community must travel in future history.  


“In one of our interviews, in the voice of 88 year-old Annie Lee Bryson from Cane Creek, we heard the wisdom of the ages when she told how she learned as a teenager in the ‘40’s to make corn shuck dolls to assist in the upkeep of her family, and continued sharing the essence of that art form, teaching, and preserving our unique culture—until she passed away in 2010. “In another interview, Commadore Casada from Bryson City talked about when he (as a child) and his family were traveling to Swain County over 100 years ago, the ice on the trail through the woods was deep and wide, seemingly impassible. His father chipped a rut through the ice, gave the reigns of the oxen to his wife, and guided the covered wagon over the ice with only one wheel deep in the rut. What a testimony to courage and ingenuity! Casada passed away in 2011.


“At another time, 100-year old Jane Nancy Chastine from Tuckasegee (gone since 2013) told how she sold all her “’fryers,” butter, milk, fresh vegetables and the abundant fruit from her orchards to the Blackwood Lumber Company back in the ‘30’s, and kept the money in her stocking. With it she was able to buy over a hundred acres of land—land which many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live on today. Another wondrous story which brings admiration of the steadfastness of our mountain folk.”      


As of January 2016, although no longer heard on WRGC radio, CSA will continue Stories of Mountain Folk as an online podcast with a new format, highlighting one interview per release, with one interviewer and a longer version per interview (30 minutes—1 hour).  


Stories of Mountain Folk programs could not have been possible without the hard work of a team of dedicated professionals,  and volunteers. Producer/editor Neal Hearn, a professional radio personality, worked with CSA’s cofounders,  Amy Ammons Garza and Doreyl Ammons Cain, to produce each program, keeping to the time restraints of a radio program format. Along with the core team, the project benefited from the volunteer efforts of all interviewers, including the Ammons sisters, Judy Rhodes, Joe Rhinehart, Robert Jumper, Shawn Crowe, Victoria A. Casey McDonald (deceased) and Mary Sue Casey—all native to WNC. 



104-year-old Jean Christy from Andrews, NC, being interviewed by Amy Ammons Garza, May 2009

104-year-old Jean Christy from Andrews, NC, being interviewed by Amy Ammons Garza, May 2009


You can view the entire collection or use the tools below to browse by topic, location, or interviewee, or browse by suggested topics. 



Select the collections to add or remove from your search