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Fire in the Hills

Fire in the Hills,
The Story of Parson Frakes and the Henderson Settlement

By Lee Fisher
Introduction by Billy Graham

Nestled in the picturesque Laurel Fork section of Bell Country, Kentucky, is a quiet, peaceful mountain community called Frakes.

It was not always called Frakes, and it was not always peaceful. And Hiram Frakes was not always the man God intended him to be. But this is his story – the story of a minister who sought to do God’s will and who founded a community.

When Hiram Frakes arrived in the hill country known by outsiders as “South America,” the two main occupations were moonshining and feuding. There was no road, no law, no school – only poverty, ignorance, suspicion, and people who needed help.

For the next 41 years, Hiram Frakes, the people he served and the Lord worked miracles. The first miracle was the Parson’s gaining the confidence of the mountain people. He sold his dream to several leaders and persuaded them to donate land and labor for a one-room school building. This was the beginning of Henderson Settlement.

The story of this settlement is best told through some of the lives that were changed: Bill Henderson, king of the moonshiners, who gave up his “trade” and donated much of the land for the settlement; Wilma and Gladys, two tobacco-chewing little girls, who found an education and a new life; Dovey Rogers, who walked nine miles across rugged mountains to find the school she longed to attend.

Today, Henderson Settlement consists of 22 buildings and 750 acres of land, and, although Hiram Frakes is retired, his work continues – the miracle of Laurel Fork.

Our price: $14.95
Hardcover: 158 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (1971), ISBN 0-687-13080-8,





About “Fire in the Hills”

In studying the lives of great Christians, one cannot overlook the fact that God seems more interested in men who would become tools in his hands than in men who would use him as a tool…. Perhaps the Lord’s strategy in using the ordinary to do the extraordinary is that he wants the world to know that it is “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.”

The wind swept softly through the maple trees in the churchyard as the Parson paused and scanned his audience. Then he continued, “What is true courage? Is it to follow the line of least resistance; to give vent to our hatred and anger? Or is it true courage to dare to follow the One who died upon the cross for our sins that we might learn to conquer hate through love? I have had to wrestle with hate in my own life, but I’m telling you, I have found that through the grace of God, we can conquer our anger and hatred.”

The sobbing so common at a mountain funeral ceased. Under the stately, swaying hemlocks, God’s message was going home, healing, strengthening, curing the hatreds of the hills.


Introduction by Billy Graham

Here is a story of real life on a missionary frontier, as exciting and stimulating as any that could come from the pen of a Hollywood fiction writer. It is additional proof that “truth is stranger than fiction.” The mountain people of Appalachia are more than a legend – they are a chunk of real Americans – and the Frakes story shows what they can be when given a chance. Frakes gave them that chance. “Called” from the comforts and plaudits of a town parson to the rigors of transforming a bloody valley in the Cumberland Mountains, he never once complained of his lot. He gave, he sacrificed, and he triumphed. And he did it, not single-handedly, but by the “sword of the Spirit.” But his was not a nebulous, unrealistic ministry. He firmly believed that to save men’s souls was not the sum total of a parson. His “cup-of-cold-water” doctrine found expression in better housing, better education, better food, better roads, and better law enforcement. Surprisingly, to some, the transformation of Laurel Fork demonstrated that exponents of the “old-time religion” possess a social conscience. He weathered the many storms of that tumultuous area because those people knew he loved them. Today, in his eighties, he is active and articulate – an effective oracle of God. Just as adverse living conditions didn’t deter him then, age is no handicap now. This story is a sound argument that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not irrelevant. It never is when it is given a chance. Frakes dared to expose a needy people to its power – and it worked. It always does.

By Billy Graham


About the Author

At one time Lee Fisher served as a pastor, coach, and medical officer at Henderson Settlement, and he has remained in touch with Hiram Frakes and the settlement throughout the years.

For twenty years he has served as a member of the Billy Graham team and is now personal assistant to Dr. Graham.

He is active in Teen Crusade, has traveled extensively, and sometimes conducts tours to Israel for the Billy Graham Association.

Mr. Fisher is the author of several books and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles. He has written two hundred songs, including the well-known “Christ of Every Crisis.”


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