Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 1) >> A New Simms Mountain Yarn >> Page 27

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Page 27

Secondary Scholarship | 1993
Transcription A NEW SIMMS MOUNTAIN YARN

Fred W. Greer

In 1847 Simms made a hunting trip to the mountains of the
Carolinas, recording the experience in a notebook now known as The
1847 Notebook. The events of the 1847 outing are clearly reflected in his
last short stories, "How Sharp Snaffles Got His Capital and Wife" and
"Bald-Head Bill Bauldy." An unrecorded 1859 sketch by Simms,
however, exhibits the early crystallization of his hunting experiences int
fiction.
Correspondence written prior to the hunting excursion shows
Simms' intention to gather background material for later compositions. In
a 10 March 1847 letter to Benjamin F. Perry, Simms plans the autumn's
mountain travel:

I am anxious to find some healthy summering spot in your
mountain country to which I can take my family during the
months of August, September and a portion of October....It
would be my object to look about me while in your country,
picking up traditions and taking notes for future printings
(Letters, II, 281).

And later, in a 15 July letter to Perry,

You could greatly assist me with your knowledge of the
country, the people & their traditions....I contemplate
coining a volume of my wanderings (Letters, II, 333).

Indeed, Simms made "the two month ramble among...[the]
mountains [and was] for some weeks the occupant of a camp among the
hunters" (Letters, II, 351). Among other things, the trip may have
suggested the vignette's setting: the Nequassee valley. Once the capital
of the Middle Cherokee nation, Nequassee (sometimes "Nikwasi") was
located near present-day Franklin (Macon County) North Carolina, near
the route of Simms' 1847 excursion.
The sketch which evolved out of the hunting camp experience
appeared in the Charleston Mercury on 1 October 1859 as part of Simms'
column series, "Our Literary Docket."' Although brief, the effort
establishes components that are retained in "Sharp Snaffles" and "Bald-
Head Bill Bauldy." As in both short stories, the vignette finds Simms in
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