Author chronicles Shook family history

By Mary Ann Enloe | Dec 12, 2012
Wilma Hicks Simpson

Most folks around here know about the historic Shook house in Clyde, built by Jacob Shook who died in 1839.

One of the oldest houses in the county, it is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is now a museum owned by the Haywood County Historical/Genealogical Society.

What is not so well known is the Shook family's history — that is, until Jacob Shook's great-great-great granddaughter Wilma Hicks Simpson of Olympia, Washington, devoted 11 years to compiling it.

"Dr. Hammett just kept on at me to write it," said Simpson in a recent telephone interview, speaking of retired Haywood County pediatrician and historian Dr. Doris B. Hammett.  "She said there was a book in it."

This is Simpson's first book and it took her a year to put the 11 years of research together.

She begins the story in the 1700s in Johannes Schuck (Shook)'s home country of Germany, then brings the family across the Atlantic into Philadelphia and to North Carolina.

Well-known local historian Bruce Briggs suggested to her how she could do that.

"Bruce said I could write about documented historical information that anybody in the same situation and time period would have experienced, if I didn't have existing personal documents for an event," she said, adding that she read many books and Googled "a lot."

"There is a lot of information out there about the Shook family, but much of it is incorrect," she said. "I've tried to correct what I could."

The preface tells a reader to "...choose for yourself what is fact and what is yet to be proven." Simpson said the book isn't very big.

"It's not as big as I thought it would be," she said.  "But I did not fill pages with idle chatter."

Joseph S. Hall's half million dollar restoration of the historic house pleases Simpson:

"Yes, we are more than grateful to Joe Hall for rescuing our old house," she said.  Simpson will be at Blue Ridge Books on Waynesville's Main Street at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 to chat with folks and sign books.

For more information, call Blue Ridge Books at 456-6000.

A complete chronological history of the house, written in May 2012 by Mountaineer Editor Vicki Hyatt, can be viewed at http://themountaineer.villagesoup.com/p/shook-smathers-house-changes-hands/197975?cid=2561216.

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