The Jack Tales, North Carolina Heritage Tales (North Carolina Storytelling Traditions)

Jack is the oldest American legendary hero. Stories about Jack arrived in America in the minds of the first settlers. Although stories were told about Jack throughout the Southern Appalachians, one family group has received recognition by the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress as having told the tales in an unbroken line of descendants since 1775. The Hicks, Harmons, and Wards, the first families to settle on the Watauga River, passed the tales down for two hundred years before they were written for everyone to enjoy. The story about the real Jack and how various family members lived within the stories are as interesting as the tales.

This presentation traces plot origins to various European countries and relates how modern-day Jack tales came to be is part of the process of telling stories forward.  

Ms. Salsi is a recognized Jack Tales scholar. She has written three books on the tales and a biography about Ray Hicks, the last living traditional Jack Tale teller in North America (The Life and Times of Ray Hicks, Keeper of the Jack Tales). Ms. Salsi works as a story chronicler and is completing a scholarly edition of the stories and the people who told them in the History of Appalachian Storytelling.