Buford Mabry Photos | Digital Traditions

Born and raised on a farm in the Stateburg area of Sumter County, Buford Mabry always told people there were two circumstances that mainly helped him become the storyteller he was. First was having a younger brother who, due to a physical disability, was unable to go hunting and fishing with the other boys in the community.

Coming home from a day of outdoor sporting, Mabry found himself sitting down with his brother to review the day’s adventures and mishaps. In this way, he got a lot of practice telling stories. The second situation in which he found himself called upon as a storyteller was when serving in the Navy in World War II. When morale was low, his commander asked him to tell stories to provide his shipmates with some entertainment that would cheer their spirits. After being wounded in action, he returned to Sumter County, where he was elected to the office of County Superintendent of Education, a position he held for 32 years.

The author of two books of stories, Mabry was often called upon to regale his family and neighbors with tall tales of hunting and fishing. And like an old hunting dog, he always delivered. His repertoire consisted of tall tales and countless personal experience narratives and anecdotes. Mabry passed away in September of 2011 at the age of ninety six. He received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 1998.