‘American Pickers’ Star Mike Wolfe Once Found Boots Belonging to a Bluegrass Legend

by John Jamison
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Mike Wolfe sure knows how to pick’em. While making his through the Appalachian Mountains of Southwestern Virginia, the “American Pickers” star came upon a major find. It didn’t look like much at first, but Mike and Frank quickly discovered that Hyder’s Hideaway was essentially a makeshift museum for bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley.

Hyder Kiser was an older gentleman who crossed paths with Mike and Frank during a 2018 episode of “American Pickers.” The pick started as it often does. Mike walked through a cluttered garage, keeping his eye out for the good stuff. It didn’t take long for him to notice a beautifully hand-painted vintage sign reading “Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys.”

Now, Mike Wolfe is a man of culture. He knows that the late, great Ralph Stanley comes from a proud musical tradition on the frontier of early bluegrass music. The Virginia native gained international fame for his unique banjo playing and singing style in the late 1940s. He gained solo recognition but played with the Clinch Mountain Boys, a band he started with his brother.

A Dream Come True for the ‘American Pickers’ Star

Long story short, Mike found a very cool sign. But that was just the beginning. As it happens, Hyder knew Ralph Stanley. Not only that, the two were neighbors. The way Hyder tells it, Stanley used to bring truckloads of stuff that fans had sent him over to Hyder’s place for storage. He had the good sense to hold on to most things with a personal connection to Ralph.

As fate would have it, the “American Pickers” star has an antique shop in Nashville. It would be an ideal landing spot for some of the Ralph Stanley memorabilia. And not for the sake of turning a profit. Mike Wolfe promised Hyder that the sign he bought for $400 would be going up on the wall.

The good stuff kept on coming. Not long after the sign, Mike discovered a dog collar belonging to Ralph Stanley and a pair of the bluegrass legend’s boots. A realization began to dawn on Mike and Hyder alike—this was the perfect scenario.

Hyder voiced his desire to get the Ralph Stanley stuff in the hands of someone who’d share it with the world. Mike Wolfe is the right guy for the job. He’s more passionate about the background of antiques than he is about the money itself.

By the time Mike and Frank were ready to leave, they’d discovered an entire box of original Ralph Stanley photos and documents. In a moment that’ll dang near bring you to tears, Mike purchases the box of history from the Virginia mountain man for $500 with a promise to donate to the Ralph Stanley Museum under Hyder’s name.

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