Joseph starts tonight’s episode by introducing today’s topic, the legacy of Horace Kephart. Joseph shares some exciting news, the park is working to reopen much of its operations in the near future. He introduces today’s guest, Libby Kephart Hargrave, great-granddaughter of Horace Kephart. Libby talks about her experience in music and theater. She sings a song she wrote about Horace for a documentary she did. Horace worked tirelessly to keep a library in shape while also maintaining his family life. Libby shares an anecdote about an experience Horace had in a cyclone. This led him to write a suicide note, but he was saved by a policeman. This led to him going to the Smokies to heal. He separated from his wife, but never legally divorced. Libby talks about the importance Horace has to her. Joseph and Libby move on to discussing the freshness they feel in the mountains.
Coming back from the break, Joseph asks Libby to talk about an unlikely friendship Horace had. Libby talks about the lasting impact his writing has had and the lessons she has taken from him. These lessons are international, with much of her website’s audience coming from Japan. His influence in helping to create the national park lies mainly in his passion, his desire to save the land came through in his writing and he visited Washington to advocate for it. Libby made a book from manuscripts passed down in the family and published it with the Great Smoky Mountains Association. To celebrate her great-grandfather, Libby started Horace Kephart Day which is an annual event she holds. She discusses speakers she has had come to the event throughout the year. Moving on she talks about experiences hiking and camping with her family in sites with Kephart history. She talks about the healing powers of the mountains and the idea that the element that heals can be different for everyone. Joseph recounts an experience where he felt healed and happy because of the mountains.
Joseph talks about the donations the Kephart family has made. Libby discusses letters Horace wrote that are displayed at Western Carolina University. On top of letters, things such as Horace’s wife’s wedding ensemble were donated. Libby talks about a knife she received as a gift. She discusses the documentary she made with Ken Burns about Horace’s life and story. Celebrating his 150th birthday Libby made a play about Horace’s story and got in touch with Ken to help with that before reaching out to get him involved in the documentary. The documentary discusses him from both a family and a historic point of view. The two discuss more the reasons why his writing is still prevalent today. A lot of this is due to his humor he incorporated. Libby talks about other books written by and about Horace.
Horace wasn’t the only explorer in the family though. Libby’s uncle Leonard was also a great explorer, he was in fact the first American to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. Libby talks about the people she surrounds herself with in preserving her family’s legacy. Looking through Leonard’s stuff that her aunt gave her, Libby found some journals of his. She talks about going through these journals in order to help with an upcoming documentary about Leonard. She moves on to share resources where the audience can reach her as well as upcoming projects she has, such as her return to singing.