Hoyt is a second-generation woodcarver. He is the son of the late Hope and Glenn Brown, two of the celebrated “Brasstown Carvers.” The Brown family settled in the Murphy, NC, area in the early 1800s. In 1929, The Brasstown Carvers was established as a carving cooperative that sold the work of local woodcarvers to provide a much-needed source of income to rural families. The Brasstown Carvers was one of several cooperatives that formed in partnership with the John C. Campbell Folk School.
Glenn, Hoyt’s dad, began carving full-time in 1939, and Hoyt’s mother, Hope, followed shortly thereafter in 1940. Hoyt, born in 1948, grew up seeing his parents carve all day long and learned carving techniques and tips at his mother’s knee. Hoyt and his seven siblings were deeply grateful for the income that his parent’s carvings provided the family.
Called to be a minister when he was only 18, Hoyt has dedicated his life to pastoring an “old style Baptist Church” in the remote Martins Creek Community in the Murphy, NC area. Hoyt’s calling to lead a small congregation keeps him resolved to stay close to his roots and to keep his life easy and simple–no computer, no tv–with only the telephone and the radio.
When asked about his legacy of woodcarving, Hoyt fondly says, “My mom and dad raised us eight kids with just two pen knives.” Meaning that Hope and Glenn’s small knives crafted the one-of-a-kind carvings that were sold to the Folk School to pay for the family’s livelihood.
Throughout Hoyt’s youth, they used an outhouse, and there wasn’t running water or a proper bathroom until 1960. Almost all their food and meat were grown on their few acres of land. They raised chickens, pigs, and geese. They had two milking cows and an old hound dog named “Joe” that treed squirrels and helped to bring home wild turkeys, rabbits, and the occasional opossum.
Hoyt’s beautiful, one-of-a-kind wooden sculptures are hand carved primarily from local woods: butternut (also known as white walnut), cherry, walnut, and buckeye. Hoyt says that his ideas for new carvings often come from his dreams. Many of the patterns that he still uses were his mom and dad’s.