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  • Nancy Hart: Rebel Heroine

    This reenactment of Nancy Hart's well-known encounter with Tories and their fate shows how legends grow and change over time. Reenactor Sue Cone disputes some of the “facts” about Nancy Hart when questioned about her looks and actions. Cone acknowledges that the story more than likely has been embellished but is based in fact.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. In a complex world where "truth" and "facts" are increasingly vital, what is the importance of folklore and legend in society? Support your answer.

    2. Explain the reasons why the story/legend of Nancy Hart has been treated with skepticism. Think of other legends you know about and explain how they came to be legends – not necessarily true.

    3. Compare this story of Nancy Hart with other seminal events embellished from the revolution, such Paul Revere's ride, the Boston Massacre, and Washington's Crossing of the Delaware River. What benefit comes from the stretching of these events into legends?

    Expansion

    1. Class Discussion: On the basis of what you have read using primary documents and seen in the video, do you believe that Nancy Hart was a real person and did the things that are claimed? Students must give compelling evidence why their answer is true. At the end of the discussion, discuss and draw what Nancy Hart must have really looked like (since cameras did not exist at the time and that picture could not have been of the real Nancy Hart).

    Vocabulary

    antecedents: events that took place before a particular moment in time, particularly those from a person's early life
    epicure: one who specializes in the enjoyment of food and drink
    extant: existing as in ("oldest extant biography"); usually implies the possible loss of other, earlier versions
    invective: the offering of abuse, ridicule, or threats
    Tory: term used primarily before and during the American Revolution to describe an American who was loyal to the British crown
    venison: game meat—usually deer
    Whig: term used primarily before and during the American Revolution to describe an American who desired independence from Britain

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. In a complex world where "truth" and "facts" are increasingly vital, what is the importance of folklore and legend in society? Support your answer. Answers will vary.
    Facts, on the surface, are the most useful commodities we have in order to make educated guesses and sound decisions about direction in life. However, facts by their very nature can only explain particular aspects of the known world. Although there is no evidence for the exploits of Nancy Hart, that doesn't mean they didn't happen. Folklore allows us to fill in the blanks with a sort of "placeholder" until more verifiable evidence comes along. In this way, folklore serves an important function even to people obsessed with facts. Folklore is also a record of the prevailing culture of the times, and says much about the people who pass down traditions from one generation to the next. What is an indisputable fact is the hold that the legend had, and continues to have, on the people of Hart County. It has been a source of controversy and wonder for nearly 200 years. Even if evidence never comes along to confirm the legend of Nancy Hart, we can always sit back and enjoy the mystery. Mysteries compel us to keep exploring our world, and they keep the past very much alive.

    2. Explain the reasons why the story/legend of Nancy Hart has been treated with skepticism. Think of other legends you know about and explain how they came to be legends – not necessarily true.
    Even though pioneer women such as Nancy Hart were hardy, knew how to shoot, clean and cook rabbits, possums, and deer, chew and spit tobacco, holler, sew, build a fire, etc., they were not always known for killing six men. They might have made her mad, but for her to be able to hold at least four of them at bay until her husband and son could help her hang them is somewhat far-fetched, but not totally unbelievable. It might seem to be a stretch by our standards, but not in those days of backwoods Georgians, having to live off the land and not being near their neighbors. Students might have legends they would like to talk about – not necessarily Georgia legends.

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