Born in NYC, Henry Wharton Shoemaker led a long, energetic, and colorful life. He was an ambassador, an author who produced more than 200 books and pamphlets, a banker, a conservationist, a colonel in army intelligence, a folklorist, a lecturer, a mountain climber, a museum director, a newspaper publisher, and a general outdoorsman.
As an adult, he returned to Pennsylvania, a state he had grown to love while summering there as a youth. There, over the years, he became known for purchasing and publishing a number of PA newspapers including the Tribune in Altoona; The Herald in Jersey Shore; the Times, The Journal, and The Eagle in Reading; and The Express in Lock Haven.
But his real passion was folktales. Much of his life was spent crawling through rural Pennsylvania to chase them down and write them up. In the 21 years, between 1903 and 1924, for example, he produced more than 275 different examples of them in 12 different volumes.
Eventually, this led to his being appointed the PA state archivist from 1937 to 1948; director of the PA State Museum at Harrisburg from 1939 to 1940, and PA’s first director of the Division of Folk History within the PA Historical and Museum Commission from 1948 to 1956.
Though critics argue, and Shoemaker freely admits, he just didn’t collect and record folktales but frequently synthesized and altered them for dramatic purposes, to produce a richer result, and sometimes to protect the anonymity of his sources, but mostly that of those he wrote about. Over 200 of them are supernatural (including things such as fairies, ghosts, Native American legends, omens, possession, prophetic dreams, werewolves, witches, and telekinesis). And from them we have cherry-picked 25 of the best. Hopefully, you’ll think so too.
ISBN: 9781943022098, 209 pages.