Of the few fiction authors Starr invited to campus, was a young Kentuckian by the name of Jesse Stuart. Known to many as the sonneteer ofMan with a Bull-Tongue Plow, in 1949 he was best known to Starr for his autobiographical sketches in the Headof W-Hollow and later for the Thread That Runs so True. Starr sensed a person who shared his ownconvictions about the ultimate worthiness of man and his infinite potential. In addition, he found much of himself in Stuart’sdepiction of what critic William Rose Benet called “fresh and vital American materials” and his fictionalization of the moral values he most respected. Like Starr, Stuart’s parents “came from a hardy race of people” with a strong Scotch strain onhis father’s side. Starr may even have acknowledged their common roots in the soil; as the farmer/writer once remarked, “some of my best thought come to me while plowing.”
Jesse Stuart seemed to feel quite at home as he chatted with the boys and wandered about the campus during his two-day visit. His underlying theme was “Count your blessings.” Here at the Commonwealth he reminded the boys, “you live in fine surroundings in the midst of opportunities.” In addition, the rural setting brought back Stuart’s past in vivid detail, for he referred often to his precarious youth from childhood through college. Uncle Floyd could not have made use of his own past to better effect.
Source: Keith Fennimore. Faith Made Visible: The History of Floyd Starr and His School. Albion, Michigan: Starr Commonwealth. 1988.