Jesse Stuart (1906-1984) was a poet and novelist who wrote about the people and land of the hills and valleys of his native Kentucky. Although Stuart became well-known as a writer, his primary job was teaching and being a school administrator in the mountains of Kentucky.
His Classic Book
Stuart’s book about his experiences as an educator, The Thread That Runs So True, became a classic in its field, and has stayed in print for more than 50 years since it was first published in 1949. People who have read the book often credit it with inspiring them to become excellent teachers.
He once wrote: “I am firm in my belief that a teacher lives on and on through his students. Good teaching is forever and the teacher is immortal. I take with me Kentucky, embedded in my brain and heart, in my flesh and bone and blood. Since I am Kentucky, and Kentucky is part of me.”
The Jesse Stuart State Nature Preserve
The Jesse Stuart State Nature Preserve in Greenup, Kentucky, is a 714-acre plot of land at W. Hollow Road, which the author donated to the state of Kentucky to become a public park. It remains largely undeveloped. Its few miles of trails and hollows contain many places mentioned in Stuart’s books. It is also one of more than 50 nature preserves in Kentucky.
Greenup is located near the south bank of the Ohio River and has a very small population. Once the home to 135 owners of approximately 600 enslaved people (according to Notable Kentucky African Americans Database), Greenup has worked to become known now for its landscape and other tranquil qualities instead of being haunted by its past. In addition to being recognized as Stuart’s hometown, it is now visited for fishing, golf, and photography of scenic covered bridges.
This is the first stop on our Kentucky Author Adventures Trail.
Rebecca Blake Beech and Patricia Smart