The Cedar Choppers

Life on the Edge of Nothing

978-1-62349-820-7 Paperback
6 x 9. 276 pp. 73 b&w photos. 2 maps. 3 appendixes. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 08/20/2019
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During this pre-teen years, Ken Roberts had his first encounter with cedar choppers west of Austin, which provoked the question, “Who are these people?” The Cedar Choppers: Life on the Edge of Nothing is his entertaining, and informative answer. Based on interviews with several generations of cedar choppers and others, Roberts weaves together the lively, gritty story of these largely Scots-Irish migrants with roots in Appalachia who settled on the west side of the Balcones Fault during the mid-19th century, subsisting on hunting, trapping, moonshining, and, by the early 20th century, cutting, transporting, and selling cedar fence posts and charcoal.

“Meticulously researched and engagingly written, Ken Roberts’ The Cedar Choppers leads us on a fascinating journey to the heart of this legendary Texas subculture.”— Steven L. Davis, PEN USA–winning author and past president, Texas Institute of Letters

“Meant first for general audiences but badly needed by scholars, the work brings a neglected group into the southwestern history canon . . . a readable, conversational narrative.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“The best Texas book I’ve read of late was The Cedar Choppers: Life on the Edge of Nothing by Ken Roberts. It doubles as one of the most instructive books about Austin’s history and culture.”—Austin American Statesman

Number Twenty-four: Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University–Commerce

Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce

Published by Texas A&M University Press