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Native American Tales from Appalachia

Tina L. Hanlon

Legend of the Fairy Crosses or Fairy Stones


Fairy Stone Stories

Background Photographs

"Edna Chekelelee." In Duncan, Barbara R., ed. Living Stories of the Cherokee. University of NC Press, 1998. Chekelelee (1930-95), from the Snowbird community in Graham County, NC, was a devoted Christian of the Wolf Clan who spent her life teaching and storytelling about about all aspects of traditional Cherokee culture. On pp. 126-27, Duncan explains that Chekelelee and others would tell about Cherokee people knowing Jesus before Columbus came to America. ("Jesus Before Columbus Time" is a transcription of Chekelelee's telling on pp. 130-31). Some say the Little People told the Cherokee about the life and death of Jesus. When they heard about the crucifixion, the Little People shed tears that turned into fairy stones. The stories are transcribed in this book in a free verse form that represents the storytellers' "rhythmic style," using the "oral poetics" method developed in the 1970s. Foreword by Joyce Conseen Dugan, Principal Chief, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

"The Legend of the Fairy Crosses." In Chiltoskey, Mary Ulmer. Aunt Mary, Tell Me A Story: A Collection of Cherokee Legends and Tales. Ed. Mary Regina Ulmer Galloway. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Communications, 1990, pp.11-12. "The Little People who wear white" would travel to far parts of the world and bring back news. This time it was sad news but the people wanted to hear it. They had heard thirty years earlier of the baby who grew up to be a carpenter and teach peace to his people, but he was brutally killed in front of his family and friends. The people wept extensively at this news, until they had to go back to their work and daily lives. They noticed that their tears had turned into "little crosses, like fairy crosses. The people thought their sorrow was respected by the Great One because they cared about his son who lived half a world away, and the people loved the little crosses" (p. 11). When tourists came after a big war, they were careless with the stone crosses and the Great One wondered what to do. Now this area is under water, "flooded by Fontana Dam" (p. 12).

Legend of the Fairy Stone coverWhite, Kelly Anne. The Legend of the Fairy Stones. Morgan James Kids, 2019. This is a "faith-based" picture book with rhyming text, decorated with public domain art and photographs, with attributions in the back. "This unique stand-alone picture book shares the fictional legend of how real-life fairy stones were formed. Woodland lore has it that the cross-shaped stones came from the solidified tears of forest fairies the day they heard that Jesus died. The Legend of the Fairy Stones takes readers on an upbeat journey through a land filled with joyful fairies of all varieties before twisting and turning into a world of evils and ill wills combated by a sense of fearlessness found in the spirit of the fairy stones. It’s been deemed that fairy stones repel witches, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and all other types of ghastly fools. With its rhythmic text and classic fairy-tale style, The Legend of the Fairy Stones cleverly integrates fantastical folklore in a collage-style montage of amazing artwork from the public domain. These very real stone crosses, officially called Staurolite, form naturally through a geothermal process known as 'cruciform penetration twinning.' Alongside its elements of fantasy and whimsy, The Legend of the Fairy Stones remains grounded in educational content with back matter that focuses sharply on STEAM and Common Core Standards" (publisher information).

Rose, Judy. When the Fairies Cried. Illus. Fiona Aquilo. Faredale Enterprises, 2018. 36 pp. The author and illustrator (Rose's teenage cousin) grew up near Fairy Stone Park in Virginia. "Come and join this magical band of 'royal' fairies in this special story of love for Jesus Christ. This love is manifested by the fairy stones which were created by the 'royal' fairies' tears and preserved in the ground. For ages, these beautiful fairy stones have been treasured as keepsakes, to be discovered by you and me, to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Experience the meaning of the fairy stones together in this timeless story of discovery, simplicity, and love" (book cover). In the verse narrative, the fairies live in an Eastern land where they see King Solomon and hear prophecies of Jesus. A drought causes them to ask a big bird to take them across the sea. They live an idyllic life in a "plentiful land" until the bird brings them news of the teachings of Jesus and asks them to pray for his safety. During three days of darkness, they know Jesus has died and they weep, creating stone crosses under the earth in the Blue Ridge. After the bird brings them news of salvation, they live happily, while fairy stones bring people luck and happiness. The book includes a Foreword about spirituality by Pastor Clyde E. Hylton, the author's notes, and background on the fairy stones.

Smibert, Angie. Lingering Echoes. Boyds Mill Press, 2019. Book 2 in the Ghosts of Ordinary Objects trilogy, set in the coal camp of McCoy, Virginia, renamed Big Vein. In chapter 6, the main character, a preteen called Bone, is at the cemetery with Uncle Ash when he puts a fairy stone on the grave of his brother-in-law who died early in World War II, at the end of the first book. "The thing was a small reddish-brown cross-shaped rock. A fairy stone. Bone had heard about these but never seen one. They were supposed to ward off evil" (p. 64 of Ebook). Uncle Ash tells about how they had taken Henry to Fairy Stone Park for a stag party before he married Bone's Aunt Mattie.

Hanson, Bonnie C. Holly Jean and the Secret of Razorback Ridge. Anderson, IN: Warner Press, 2011. 156 pp. Cataloged as Christian fiction and mystery fiction for elementary and junior high school. "After Holly Jean moves to Kentucky to live with her grandmother and great aunt, she discovers mysterious happenings on Razorback Ridge." One chapter is called "Fishing and Fairy Stones."

See also:

Other pourquoi tales about origins of animals, natural phenomena, and human inventions are listed in the Native American section of this index, the animal tale index, and AppLit's picture book bibliography. Pourquoi elements are also found in tall tales such as Tony Beaver, Isaacs and Zelinsky's Swamp Angel, and Steven Kellogg's Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett. See study guide on Tall Tales and Jack Tales.

Background on Fairy Stones and Fairy Stone State Park in Virginia

Anne, Shellie. "Legend of the Fairy Stone." I Love Virginia State Parks, 11 April, 2016. Blog post with photos of fairy stones and people hunting them in Fairy Stone State Park.

Bouldin, Powhatan. "Patrick County, Va., and Its Curious Fairy Stones." Scientific American, vol. 79.25 (1898), pp. 394-95.

"Fairy Crosses." In Weird Virginia: Your Travel Guide to Virginia's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets, by Jeff Bahr, Troy Taylor, and Loren Coleman. Sterling Publishing, 2007, pp. 30-31. Includes two photos of fairy stones, background on the stones and Virginia locations, and the legend copied from Fairy Stone State Park's web site.

"Fairy Stones Are the Stuff of Legends, and Free for Picking." The Virginian-Pilot [Norfolk, VA] 5 Sept. 2000. Printed online in Daily Press. The article explains that "Virginia is one of five locations where fairy stones are found. Patrick County has one of the highest concentrations in the world. Travel to Georgia, New Mexico, Brazil or Switzerland, and you might find some.... Some treasure the stones for their religious symbolism. The superstitious believe that fairy stones protect against witchcraft, sickness, accidents and disaster."

Ferguson, Mark Lynn. "Legend of the Fairy Stone." The Revivalist: Word from the Appalachian South, 28 May 2012. Blog post that includes childhood reminiscences by the author and readers.

Heltman, Nancy. "Lucky Fairy Stone Finds." I Love Virginia State Parks, 30 Dec. 2017. Blog post with photos of fairy stones, drawings of different types of crosses, and information about the legend and hunting for stones at Fairy Stone State Park.

Norman, Ceri. Faerie Stones: An Exploration of the Folklore and Fairies Associated with Stones and Crystals Winchester, UK: Moon Books, 2018. This book deals with the psychic as well as the geologic aspects of precious stones.

Spencer, Edgar W., and Shawn Spencer. Guide to the Geology & Natural History of the Blue Ridge Mountains. University of Virginia Press, 2017 Includes a section on Philpott Reservoir and Fairy Stone State Park.

Tennis, Joe. Along Virginia's Route 58: True Tales from Beach to Bluegrass. The History Press, 2015. Section 32 is "Cross Rocks: Fairy Stone State Park."


fairy stones fairy stones

Photographs from Virginia State Parks staff (Creative Commons License for Fairy Stones and Fairy Stone Ground)


Hanlon class at Fairy Stone Park 2015

Tina Hanlon's Folktales and Literature classes at Fairy Stone State Park, Stuart, Virginia: class photo at entrance to fairy stone area in May 2015 with park ranger Maggie Blankenship and (below right) hunting for fairy stones with Maggie's help. Below left: lecture on shapes of fairy stone crosses by park ranger for May 2013 class (Ferrum College photos).

Park ranger lecture on fairy stones
Ferrum College Class Hunting Fairy Stones

This page created 6/19/20  |   Top of Page   |   Last update: 8/11/20


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