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The Wild Man of Chilhowee

The following story is an excerpt from Hairy Men in Caves: True Stories of America's Most Colorful Hermits, by Marlin Bressi. Reprinted with author's permission.


The Great Smoky Mountains have been the home of many a hermit in Tennessee, but few of these wild men have attained the level of notoriety as Mason Evans, known throughout the Volunteer State as the "Wild Man of Chilhowee". When he died in the spring of 1892, word of his demise was printed in hundreds of newspapers across the nation. He is the rarest type of hermit; one whose name continues to live on, long after his body and bones have turned to dust.

The colorful life of Mason Kershaw Evans began in 1824 in Monroe County, on the land which the Cherokees had signed away to the United States government just a few years earlier. Though he was born into a modest Quaker family, Mason attained a fair amount of success in early life, first as a captain of the state militia and then as a brilliant school teacher. …

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