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South from Hell-fer-Sartin: Kentucky Mountain Folk Tales by Leonard W. Roberts

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Yes, there really is a Hell-fer-Sartin Creek - in fact, one of my daughters-in-law is descended from residents there. It flows into the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River in Leslie and Perry Counties in Eastern Kentucky. And nobody is better suited to tell the folk tales of the people of that isolated mountain community than Leonard Roberts. He grew up in a similar, very traditional, community in southern Floyd County not far away. I attended his funeral - he had pulled out in front of a coal truck on his way to the Post Office in Pikeville after the President of Pikeville College had freaked him out by firing some tenured faculty friends of his and decided that Leonard needed to move his office. Leonard's brother attended the funeral wearing his overalls - not as a sign of disrespect, that was just how traditional he was. When Leonard went on to earn a PhD in folklore at the University of Kentucky, he became the ONLY professional academic folklorist of mountain people who ever was and ever will be so immersed in mountain folklore since he was a child. And Leonard transcribes the folk tales exactly as they are told to him. He does not "clean them up." Full notes on sources, types, motifs, parallels, and possible origins of the tales make this collection especially valuable. Impressive, but no wonder it has stayed in print so long!

Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, a 1987 reprint of a 1955 release. 287 pages. Trade paperback.