Okefinokee album by Francis Harper and Delma E. Presley
Athens : University of Georgia Press, 1981. Hardcover. 194 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm. Lenghty inscription from Francis Harper family to an associate on the half title page. Otherwise, no other markings within this book. Binding is firm.
Dark, vast, and lush the Okefinokee Swamp is one of America's most mysterious wilderness areas. And one of the deepest mysteries of the swamp is the story of the Okefinokee folk—a handful of pioneers who claimed the swamp as their own around 1850. These independent and resourceful people built homes, raised families, and developed a distinctive way of living in one of Georgia's most isolated areas. Their children and grandchildren lived as they had lived until the mid-1930s, when public education and the declaration of the swamp as a federal wildlife preserve changed their lives and community.
Based on the photographs and notebooks of Francis Harper, a naturalist who with his family spent a great deal of time in the swamp in the early decades of this century, Okefinokee Album richly documents a vanished age and the heritage of a remarkable people.
In the pages of this album you will meet the ballad singers, the fiddlers, the hunters, and the down-home philosophers of the swamp. You'll hear the story of how the hoorah bush got its name and learn the art of forecasting not only the weather but also the outcome of a courtship. You can learn the secrets of the hunt and listen to the tales of the "conjure doctor."
Pole across Cowhouse Run with Francis Harper as he makes his first trip to Billys Island in 1912, or go on a 'gator hunt on Honey Island with Gator Joe Saunders. Listen to Hamp Mizell demonstrate his two-mile swamp holler or to Doc Dorminy fiddle at a frolic. Or spend some time with Uncle Lone Thrift, spinning yarns at Suwannee Lake, or with Aunt Rhodie Mizell, who can tell you how to make measles break out or cure the baby's "thrash. "
Okefinokee Album is an intimate view of the "land of trembling earth," focused through the eyes of the people who knew it best—the Okefinokee folk. It is a faithful recording of the most enchanting sound ever heard among the cypress bays and prairie heads—the sound of human voices at home in a dark, green wilderness.
Francis Harper first visited the swamp in 1912 as a member of a biological survey team from Cor nell University. His love of the Okefinokee grew, and over the next five decades he was to return whenever his professional commitments allowed. He served in various capacities with a number of scientific organizations and expeditions and authored a wide range of books and articles on natural history and folklore, including a naturalist's edition of The Travels of William Bartram. He died in 1972, before he had finished preparing his material on the Okefinokee folk for publication.
Delma E. Presley is a professor of English at Georgia Southern College in Statesboro. He has served as director of the Georgia Placename Survey of the American Name Society, and was the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study the life lore of river valleys in southern Georgia. He has published numerous articles and essays on southern literature and culture, and in recent years has worked closely with the Harper family toward the publication of Okefinokee Album.
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