Swannanoa Woodcarver Wade Martin Carves One Last Piece

Wade Martin
Feature article in “The State” magazine on the Southern Highlands Handicraft Guild with woodcarver Wade Martin on the front cover, July 12, 1952.

Wade “Gob” Hampton Martin was born in 1920, the son of Marcus Lafayette and Callie Holloway Martin. He had four brothers, Edsel, Wayne, Fred and Quintin and one sister, Zenobia. All of them carved. In the early 1930s the family moved from Andrews, N.C. to Swannanoa, N.C. Wade was nine at the time and grew up in Beacon Village. After serving in W.W. II, Wade got a job at the Beacon Manufacturing Company. In 1950 he took some carvings to Margaret Roberts, the manager of Allanstand Craft Shop in Asheville. When she sold those, Wade carved more. In her article, “The Carvings of Wade Martin” in May We All Remember Well, Vol. 1,  Maggie Lauterer wrote that when Wade got laid off at Beacon he started carving full-time. He found he could make more money selling three carvings a week than working in the mill.

Wade Martin in plaid shirt standing inside the Allanstand Mountain Craft Shop at 16 College Street with shop manager Margaret Roberts far left, Gertrude Bader in black and William Bader to far right, 1952. Gertrude Bader was a salesperson at Allanstand and William Bader worked in marquetry and was also a member of the guild.

Martin, a master craftsman sold his pieces all over the country and won national acclaim. “Fiddin’ with Wood” by Carol Mallett Rifkin, Asheville Citizen-Times April 29, 2007 mentioned that Wade Martin’s “original carvings sold for $25 or less and were often given as gifts or bartered in exchange for medical or dental care. Many sell for thousands of dollars today. A set of four small musical figures recently sold at Brunk Auctions in Asheville for close to $4,000.”

On the back of this print is written, “Woman with rolling pin…Allanstand retail $35.00.” Photograph donation from Robert Brunk, via Jerry Israel, via Margaret Roberts.

Wade started carving less and less in the late 1980s and had basically stopped by 1993. And then Algene “Genie” Larae Ott asked Wade if he’d make one more carving, a carving of Smokey the Bear signing “I love you?”

And, so, he did.

MS256.002C PHOTO D
Algene “Genie” Larae Ott, owner of Smokey the Bear, October 15, 1993.


MS256.002A PHOTO A
Wade Martin holding his carving Smokey the Bear standing beside his wife Francis Stuart Martin, July 26, 1993. Wade Martin died October 26, 2005.

Swannanoa resident and photographer Bob Ruiz took the Smokey the Bear photos. Through Swannanoa Library branch manager Carla Hollar, Ruiz loaned the prints to the North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library for scanning. They are a part of the Bob Ruiz Photograph Collection MS256 which contains hundreds of photographs documenting Swannanoa, that he has so generously allowed the library to copy and add to our collection.

You might look for Smokey the Bear when you travel around Western North Carolina. He’s likely to show up in the most appropriate places.

MS256.002B PHOTO A
Smokey the Bear at Ridge Junction Overlook, Milepost 355 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
MS256.002B PHOTO B
Smokey the Bear at Mount Mitchell.
MS256.002B PHOTO C
Smokey the Bear with a smaller bear carving posing at the French Broad Ranger Station of the Pisgah National Forest.

For more information see:

May We All Remember Well, Vol. 1, 1997, “The Carvings of Wade Martin” by Maggie Lauterer.

Woodcarving Mountaineer Style with a Barlow Pocket Knife by Wade Martin, 1986. [Ref. NC  736.4 MAR]
Post by Zoe Rhine, librarian


  1. Hi, I carved with Wade prob a year before he died .I called him a time or two asking ,and he said stop by ingles and pick up a few sweet potatoes and come over.
    I was so happy to get the chance to carve with him he was so nice & would even send me a post card from time to time and even call my home incourging me to keep carving . A time went by and I found out of his passing. He showed me the book he wrote but I never was able to find it. He said it sold out and they were no more. I still carve today & still use a few tricks he showed me that very day.

    1. You can find a copy of his book here in the North Carolina Collection and in Black Mountain at the Swannanoa Valley Museum! It’s called “Woodcarving Mountaineer Style.” It’s an amazing book,. not only full of tips for woodcarvers, but full of family history. Wade was a prolific scrapbooker, and this one published work is a great example of that! — Katherine

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