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Henry Wharton Shoemaker: Scoundrel of the Susquehanna


Author and historian Guy Graybill presents the mind-boggling analysis of the various falsehoods of folklorist, naturalist, and collector, Henry Wharton Shoemaker.

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Henry Wharton Shoemaker was born into a wealthy Manhattan family in 1880, at the peak of the Gilded Era. As a young man, he attended Columbia College and then dabbled in investing with his brother. But, his true love was the hills, forests, and rivers of north-central Pennsylvania. Shoemaker's grandparents were Quiggles who owned thousands of acres of woodlands and a rustic house at McElhattan he dubbed Restless Oaks after expanding it. Shoemaker spent many months and years there, claiming he traveled among the hills and valleys collecting folk tales from the locals. As Guy Graybill demonstrates, it is more likely Shoemaker spent most of his time with pen and pad inventing short stories set in the region. Guy also uncovers details of Shoemaker's love life, including a lengthy period of marital infidelity. Ultimately, Graybill questions many of the historic sites and markers created or placed by Shoemaker in his role in state government. Included in this volume is a never-before-published short story "October Love on the Indian Paths" taken from the original notepaper on which it was penned, likely in the 1950s.

Henry Wharton Shoemaker was a larger-than-life figure who sought to promote Pennsylvania, but did so by inventing a history of the inland forests that were mostly figments of his imagination.