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A Wayfaring Sin-Eater and Other Tales of Appalachia by James Gay Jones

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A wayfarer is just an old-fashioned term for a traveler. A sin-eater is one who eats a ritual meal to take on the sins of a person who has just died, thus absolving the dead from their sins while carrying them on. Both terms and concepts originated in England and came to America, specifically to the Southern Appalachian Mountains with the people who settled in the mountains and assimilated into mainstream American culture, sometimes keeping ancestral ways from across the ocean amazingly intact. James Gay Jones (1910-2004), a West Virginia native and professor at Glenville State in West Virginia, was, along with Ruth Ann Musick who taught at Fairmont State, the state's leading 20th Century folklorist.

Parsons, West Virginia: McClain, 1983. 124 pages. Trade paperback.