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cooper/woodworker, Sneedville
National Heritage Fellowship (1983)

Alex Stewart (1891- 1985) lived in the remote Panther Creek community of Hancock County, and it was not until late in his life that he became known as “America’s last living cooper” for making staved cedar buckets, churns, and tubs. The craft was only one of many folk skills and bodies of knowledge that he had mastered. Also a chairmaker and woodcarver, Stewart exemplified the resourceful self-sufficiency of traditional Appalachian farm life.

National Heritage Fellowship profile

More Information

  • Alex Stewart: Mountain Man (exhibit catalog) (Oak Ridge, TN: Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, 1980).
  • Brunson, Laurie, “Butter Churns,” in Eliot Wigginton, ed., Foxfire 3 (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1975), pp. 269-97.
  • Cogswell, Robert, Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies (Nashville: Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 138-43.
  • Elick, Catherine, “Artisan and Apprentice: A Master Cooper Conserves his Craft,” Tennessee Conservationist 50, #6 (Nov/Dec 1984): 8-12.
  • Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 598-600, 736.
  • Greear, Veronica, “The Legacy of the Last Traditional Cooper,” Tennessee Conservationist 71, #6 (Nov/Dec 2005): 30-33.
  • Henry, Bill, “Alex Stewart: A Personal Reminiscence,” Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin 67, #2 (June 1981): 48-66.
  • Irwin, John Rice, Alex Stewart: Portrait of a Pioneer (West Chester, PA: Schiffer Publishing Co., 1985).
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