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Foxfire 12by Inc. Foxfire Fund
Synopses & Reviews
THE LEGEND OF THE GOAT MAN
The goats have taught me a lot in the past thirty years. They don't, for example, care how I smell or how I look. They trust me and have faith in me, and this is more than I can say for a lot of people. -Qtd. in Patton 7
I am not originally from Rabun County. Because I am from the Lone Star State-Texas-I had never heard of the Goat Man. Although I now know that he has been in forty-nine of the fifty states of America (all except Hawaii), he is not as well known in Texas as he is in Georgia. I've lived here in Northeast Georgia for three years, and his name has been mentioned off and on in conversations with home folks. As everybody does, when, as an outsider, you're unfamiliar with a subject, you often tend to pay it no attention because the name means nothing to you. My lack of knowledge on the subject of America's Goat Man was about to change.
After I was chosen to work at Foxfire during the summer program and had completed some unfinished articles, someone mentioned the Goat Man. I was intrigued. This man, for many decades, up to 1987, with and without goats (mostly with), traveled all over the continental United States. At the time, most did not know his real name or where he was from.
I learned that the Goat Man always appeared, along with about twelve to thirty goats-which he proudly called his maternity ward (Patton 3) or his babies (Patton 19)-and wagons full of junk, around the time of Clayton, Georgia's Mountaineer Festival, a celebration that used to be an annual event. There are various accounts of Charlie, Chester, better known as Chess or Ches McCartney, aka the Goat Man, that tell of sightings of his strange caravan over the span of thirty-eight to fifty-five years. (For the record, I have found various names and many different spellings of Mr. McCartney's name, but in an effort to remain as historically accurate as possible, the spelling of Ches McCartney's name is the same as his signature.) The sightings became rarer until finally there were none at all. Georgia newspapers began reporting that the Goat Man had retired from the road, and folks began telling tales of his demise. I wanted to meet this national legend, so in trying to find out anything I could, I called local libraries and newspapers. My search ended successfully: Mr. McCartney was in a nursing home in Macon, Georgia. Having fractured his hip, he, at a self-professed one hundred and five years of age (he was probably several years younger), was in a wheelchair. His white hair peeked out from underneath his blue cap, and his blue eyes, set in his weathered face, sparkled and danced as he recounted the tales of the roads he has traveled.
This article represents research from various sources: personal interviews with some eyewitnesses from Rabun County, Georgia, and others who have vivid memories of the Goat Man, and my own interview with Mr. McCartney, as well as quotes from the pamphlets he sold during his traveling years. Darryl Patton's book America's Goat Man (Mr. Ches McCartney), used with permission, was an invaluable resource.
Some who met Ches McCartney thought he was a friendly genius; others thought him filthy and crazed. All, however, remember the Goat Man as a mysterious, eccentric, legendary character, a gypsy mountain man, a fol
Presents the art of the simple life with a collection of stories and essays on Appalachia, covering such topics as square dancing, making rose beads, Cherokee traditions, and lessons on finding turtles in the local pond.
The Foxfire Center brings together students and teachers to preserve the folk wisdom and values of simple living that reach back across centuries of life in the Appalachian Mountains of Northeast Georgia. The students and teachers publish a quarterly magazine and have written eleven books over the years.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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