Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Who Were Champ Ferguson's Victims?

Following the Civil War, a military commission met in Nashville on July 11, 1865 for the trial of Champ Ferguson, the most notorious of the many guerilla fighters who fought to control the Upper Cumberland Plateau region during the war.

Two charges were placed against him. The first charge was being a guerilla and organizing and associating with a band of lawless men, and being their leader, without any lawful authority or commission from any military power, and that he continuously carried on a predatory and barbarous guerilla warfare, committing many acts of cruelty and inhumanity, becoming a notorious murderer, robber and freebooter in Clinton County, Kentucky and Fentress County, Tennessee, and in the neighboring counties of these states from the year 1861 to May of 1865.

The second charge was murder. Fifty-three murdered victims were named in the indictment. Who were they and what were the dates and occasions surrounding their murders?

1. Nov. 1, 1861 - William Frogg, age 22, Clinton County, 12th Kentucky Regiment, Co. D (my third great uncle). He was home sick in bed with the measles when Ferguson confronted him about being at the Union Army's training camp, Camp Dick Robinson, near Standford. In Champ's world, many of his once long time friends and neighbors had become his enemies. He despised what the training camp stood for. Regardless of who or what they were, he was compelled to target and eliminate those who had been there. ‘I reckon you caught the measles at Camp Dick Robinson,’ Ferguson said just before he shot him dead. Findagrave 217632875

2. Dec. 4, 1861 - Reuben Wood, age 56, Clinton County. Ferguson shot him twice at his home near Albany on Dec. 1st. He died three days later. Findagrave 69578994

3-5. April 1862 - Joseph Stover, William Johnson and Lewis Pierce, near Henry Johnson's house on Wolf River in Clinton County. Ferguson shot and stabbed Pvt. Stover of 1st Ky Cavalry. He chased Johnson and shot at him, causing him to fall over a steep cliff resulting in his death. He shot Pierce.

6. April 1, 1862 - Fount Zachary, age 18, Fentress County. Fount surrendered the shotgun he was carrying, but Ferguson shot him anyway. Almost as soon as he hit the ground, Ferguson was on him with his Bowie knife, and Fount became the first of four Zachary males to fall to Ferguson. Findagrave 149433579

7. May 2, 1862 - Alexander Huff, Sr., age 51, at Pall Mall. He shot him in the head at the old Conrad Pile home. Findagrave 30015273

8. June 1, 1862 - Elisha Koger, age 32, at Oak Grove (my 3rd great-grandfather). He was shot over 30 times outside his home, not far from the Oak Grove Church Cemetery. Findagrave 59105584

9. June 1, 1862 - James Zachary, age 48, Fentress County. Fount Zachary's uncle. He was a magistrate. Findagrave 110262343

10. Aug. 27, 1862 - Joseph Beck, age 45, Poplar Mountain at Duvall Valley Findagrave 31965322

11-14. Oct. 5, 1862 - John Williams, William David Delk, John Crabtree, unknown African-American girl, near the home of Mrs Piles in Fentress County. They were taken from John Huff's mother's home in Fentress County, tied up, removed about a hundred yards away and found dead in a horse lot at Mrs. Piles' home. Williams was shot in the head. Delk was shot once through his chest, and a bayonet ran through it. Crabtree was cut up all over. The unknown negro girl was cut up into pieces in a barbarous manner.

15. Oct. 28, 1862 - Washington Tabor, age 55, Clinton County. He was taken outside his home near Snow and shot. Findagrave 43940663

16. Nov. 1862 - Dr. William McGlasson, Cumberland Co. He was told to run or be killed. He did but was killed anyway, plus robbed and stripped of his clothes. Ferguson denied this.

17-19. Jan. 1, 1863 - Peter and Allan Zachary of Pickett County and Pvt. Elam Huddleston. It happened at the home of Capt. Rufus Dowdy in Russell County. The home was under construction. The upstairs had but a few planks on the joists. Huddleston was shot from an upstairs window and was believed to be dead when he fell to the ground floor. Ferguson killed Peter Zachary and Allan Zachary was killed by the others under Ferguson's command. Elam Huddleston Findagrave 810673. Huddleston was at the Battle of Mill Springs and is buried at the national cemetery. The Zachary's were from Pickett County.

20-39. Feb. 22 1864 - Nineteen unknown soldiers, TN 5th Cavalry. Operations against guerrillas at Johnson’s Mills and Calfkiller River in White County, TN. During this time frame, Ferguson was accused of murdering (unknown) 19 men of the U.S. 5th TN Cavaly.

40-52. Oct. 4, 1864 - Twelve Federal Army soldiers, plus two colored soldiers, all unknown. The First Battle of Saltville (October 2, 1864) was fought over an important saltworks near that town in Virginia. The participants included one of the few black cavalry units. The murder of captured and wounded black soldiers after the battle has been called the Saltville Massacre.” Champ Ferguson fought in this battle. Two of the charges accused him of murdering surrendered United States Colored Troops after the battle had ended. Thomas Mays’ 1995 book, "The Saltville Massacre," recalls the testimony of Pvt. Harry Shocker, a wounded prisoner who watched Ferguson calmly walk about the battlefield killing both white and black prisoners. Champ denied killing any black troops at Saltville.

53. Oct. 7th, 1864 - Lt. Eliza Smith, a Clinton County resident, lay wounded at Emory and Henry College Hospital at Emory, Virginia, when Ferguson burst into the room, approached his bed and placed his gun a foot from the helpless Smith’s forehead. After three misfires, the gun discharged and Smith lay dead with a bullet through his head. Lt. Smith is buried at Knoxville National Cemetery. His wife, Lucy Staton Smith, is buried at Dr. Smith Cemetery in Clinton County. Findagrave 2972

Even though he was charged with killing fifty-three people, Ferguson boasted of killing over a hundred. He said those he had killed were seeking his life and that he was justified by killing in self defense.

He said, "I am yet and will die a Rebel … I killed a good many men, of course, but I never killed a man who I did not know was seeking my life. … I had always heard that the Federals would not take me prisoner, but would shoot me down wherever they found me. That is what made me kill more than I otherwise would have done. I repeat that I die a Rebel out and out, and my last request is that my body be removed to White County, Tennessee, and be buried in good Rebel soil."

The trial ended with Ferguson's conviction on Sept. 26, 1865. He was hanged on Oct. 20, 1865. Per his request, he was buried at France Cemetery, north of Sparta, TN, off Highway 84.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Odd goings on at Lake Cumberland

Did the odd goings on at Lake Cumberland on Good Friday, March 27, 1964 have a connection to an earthquake that had occurred three minutes earier at Anchorage Alaska 3,000 milesl away?

While University of Kentucky scientists said there was little possibility of a connection, the superintendent of Lake Cumberland State Park confirmed reports by fishermen of a series of mysterious waves that swept across the lake at about the time as the earthquake.

John Flanagan said the waves were a foot to 18 inches high, and snapped two cables on the Jamestown Boat Dock. Other reports told of the lake falling and rising from three to four feet several times. The boat dock operator said the lake was acting funny - calm in the middle but whirling in circles near the shore.

Ten to twelve people who were at the boat dock witnessed the phenomenon. Two fishermen, William Kaiser, Jr., and James Young, both of Fern Creek, said they saw a weird shift in the waters of the lake eight or nine times, with the water several times dipping as much as four feet.

There were no reports of earth tremors or other natural phenomena in the area. Flanagan said it was like a big boat going by and throwing its wake at the shore, except none of the small power craft boats that were on the lake at the time were large enough to create waves of the size indicated.

Lake Cumberland wasn't the place reporting strange occurrences. A U. S. Army engineer at Wolf Creek Dam reported that someone called up from the park and asked what they were doing with the water at the dam. The engineer said he knew of nothing that would cause such an occurrence.

Lake Cumberland and Wolf Creek Dam weren't the only places to report strange activity that night. Witnesses said the water near Dix Dam at Lake Herrington, some 50 miles north­east of Lake Cumberland between Mercer and Garrard Counties, slopped around like it does in a dishpan. One man said pieces of a dock, each weigh­ing several tons, were tossed against each other like matchboxes. Another person said waves reached five to six feet.

The Great Alaskan earthquake occurred at 9:36 p.m. Albany time, triggering massive landslides near downtown Anchorage and several residential areas, damaging or destroying thirty blocks of dwellings, commercial buildings, water mains and gas, sewer, telephone and electrical systems.

Ground fissures, collapsing structures and tsunamis resulting from the earthquake caused 131 deaths. Lasting four minutes and thirty-eight seconds, the magnitude 9.2 earthquake remains the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America, and the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the world since modern seismography began in 1900.

A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 300 miles from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage out to 25 miles. In the early afternoon of August 23, 2011, millions of people throughout the eastern U.S. felt shaking from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia. Although not the strongest earthquake to have occurred in the eastern U.S., let alone the western U.S., the Virginia earthquake was likely felt by more people than any earthquake in North America’s history. This is due to the large distances at which people felt ground shaking and because of the density of the population in the eastern U.S.

The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth's crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each other. No fault long enough to generate a magnitude 10 earthquake is known to exist, and if it did, it would extend around most of the planet.

The largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 on May 22, 1960 in Chile on a fault that is almost 1,000 miles long…a “megaquake” in its own right.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Kenny Bilbrey and The Monkees

Everyone knows how much Kenny Bilbrey loved The Monkees (as does his brother). Kenny had told me recently that "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was his favorite Monkees song. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was recorded on June 10, 1967, with Michael Nesmith on electric guitar, Peter Tork on piano, Micky Dolenz sang the lead part and played acoustic guitar, and Nesmith and Kenny's most favorite Monkee, Davy Jones, sang the harmony parts. The song, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, is about dissatisfaction with living in the suburbs.

"Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burnin' everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care"

Davy Jones, they say, was a very warm and caring person, just like his character on the show. Kenny and Kelly met him after a show in Indiana. Standing at the edge of the stage, the brothers yelled out "I love you!" and Davy replied that he loved them. It was a great moment in their lives. I know, because when they returned home, one of their first stops was at the radio station. Both of them had tears in their eyes as they described what they had experienced at the front of the stage. I interviewed them on the air and they kept the recording of it in Kelly's vehicle. More than once I could hear it blasting from the car if they saw me pass by or pull in to a restaurant or gas station where they were. Surely, their passion for The Monkees was unequaled.

Twenty-five years after the TV series finished its first run, Davy Jones recorded “Free (The Greatest Story Ever Told).” Kelly called me this morning (Thursday) and said this was Kenny's favorite Davy Jones song as a solo artist.

"All my life is just a stage i’m going through
The director has written lines for me and you
And we must act accordingly
All I know is this is the greatest story ever told
And we’ll never grow old
We just pan away, fade to light"

Kelly said Kenny would always say when he had seen or spoken to Randy "Specktacular," with strong emphasis on that last part. When I was running for city council, I gave him a campaign card. I reckon, from all accounts, he showed it all over town. It was one of the favorite things I did as a candidate.

Kenny left out Wednesday aboard that last train to Clarksville. Until we see you again, we will always remember you, singing...
"Hey, hey, we're The Monkees!" 💕

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

"Samuel Fulton Stephenson"

"Dr. Samuel Fulton Stephenson is one of Clinton County's most dependable and well loved physicians and one of our most loyal and respected members of the medical profession," wrote the New Era in 1950. He was born in Clinton County on March 16, 1876. During his early childhood, the family moved into town, where Samuel acquired his early education before attending the Kentucky School of Medicine, now a part of the University of Louisville, from which he graduated in 1898 at the age of 22. He took a post graduate course in ophthalmology and while he enjoyed a large general practice through his professional career. At the same time, he devoted special attention to testing eyes and fitting glasses.

At the time of his death, Dr. Stephenson was Clinton County's oldest practicing physician. He started out practicing at Byrdstown and Albany his first five years. In 1903, he moved his office and residence to Albany. During the first 15 years he did most of his traveling by horseback. By 1914 he had become one of the few people in Clinton County to own an automobile. Very few people in Clinton County owned an automobile until the late 1920's.

Dr. Stephenson practiced medicine for 52 years. He was known by every­one throughout Clinton County and was well known in adjoining counties. In 1948, the university he had attended presented him with the Golden Anniversary Certificate, issued-to graduates who have practiced their profession for 50 years. It was written that he was a 'clean christian doctor' devoted to his profession and to the people whom he served. In addition, he was always interested in the welfare of his people, his town and always took an active part in Church work.

Samuel Stephenson was 74 when he died of a heart attack at his home just south of the square on Nov. 22, 1950. His funeral service was held three days later before a large and sorrowing congregation at Albany First Baptist Church, where he had been a devoted member most of his life. Burial was at Albany Cemetery under the direction of Sewell Funeral Home. Albany's four remaining physicians: Drs. Samuel Bristow, Ernest Barnes, Floyd Hay and Raymond Faulkner, along with Byrdstown physician Malcolm Clark, were honorary pallbearers.

Dr. Stephenson was a member of the large Stephenson family of Russell, Clinton and Cumberland Counties, which consisted of such notables as Dr. Tom Stephenson, who was a prominent dentist in Columbia, and Dr. J. M. Stephenson, the well-known dentist in Burkesville. He was the 10th of thirteen children of Thomas Stephenson, the once prominent Albany merchant, and Esther Dalton Stephenson. His wife was Burcie Mulllinix Stephenson. While they didn't have any children there were 24 nephews and nieces and numerous descendants.

Clinton County took pride in our Dr. Stephenson, not only as a successful professional man, but also as one of her finest and most useful public-spirited citizens.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

CCHS Football, the Early Years

Superintendent Robert Polston announced in September of 1971 that work was officially underway on a football field at the new Clinton County High School in Albany, Kentucky and that a football coach would be employed in the near future. Although all the nearby counties, except for Adair County, had been playing football for some­ time, CCHS had never had a football program. Developing a football team from scratch would be a slow process and it would take some­ time before the school would be able to play a regular schedule.

Behind the idea of having a football program at Clinton County High School was math and economics teacher Jim Dick, a CCHS alumni. He took the initiative to make it all happen and was the person most responsible for rallying player prospects. Before the announcement was made that a football field was under construction, he had already begun talking about and teachings the rules and basic fundamentals of football to those prospects who were interested. By May of 1972, forty prospects, now known as players, were being taught football by Coach Dick. A large number of those players were eighth and ninth graders. The headline in the Clinton County News said "CCHS Football Team Looks Promising."

I consider Jim Dick to be the father of football at Clinton County and much gratitude and respect is due him for his efforts in getting the program underway. The 1964 CCHS graduate worked the players into shape during the spring of 1972 and by fall scrimmage games and a junior varsity schedule was organized. A new football field was being readied for what was to come. By August, the field was nearing completition. Bleachers and lights were forthcoming.

Most of the equipment Coach Dick used was practice equipment. On March 16, 1972, the board of education began accepting sealed bids for football equipment; fifty helmets with face guards, fifty shoulder pads in different sizes, hip pads, thigh pads and knee pads, fifty practice jerseys and practice pants, shoes, mouth pieces, elbow pads, six footballs, blocking and push-back dummies, goal line flags, a lineman chain, field and yard line markers and accessories, and two blocking sleds.

By late summer, Custer, South Dakota native Tom Gaebler, the first of­ficial head football coach who had been All-State at Bourbon County and All-Conference at Eastern Kentucky University, and Coach Dick began working with the football prospects as the 1972-73 school year was just getting underway. CCHS football's first head coach said his first concern with this team was to get the players in shape before attempting any real practice. Plays and 'run throughs' would come later, he said, after he felt the boys could take it.

1972 was a season of five scrimmage games only, for learning the rules and fundamentals of the game (a junior varsity team also played a few games). We lost the first two scrimmage games, at Metcalfe and Russell counties. The first official home football game played in Albany was on Oct. 17, 1972 against the Adair County Indians. We lost 28-to-24, after having just defeated the Indians 14-to-8 two weeks earlier on Oct. 5th at Columbia in the third scrimmage game of the season. In that game, Adair County scored on their second possession. Just before the first half ended, Clinton County's Kenny Sells' back to back touchdowns and Junior Conner's successful extra points gave the Bulldogs a 14-to-8 lead. Neither team scored after that, although the Bulldogs came close several times. We won the final scrimmage game 14-to-0 at home game against Wayne County on Oct. 25th. It was two touchdowns by Kenny Sells and a very good defense that gave the Bulldogs a rare win over the Cardinals, but a great one for our young program. So, we won two games and lost three that first year of football at CCHS.

Official varsity competition would begin in 1973 and what happened in 1972 was a promising beginning. Here is that team's roster according to the Clinton County News.

Teddy Aaron, Linebacker
Willie Arms, Linebacker
Dale Cole, Running Back
Junior Conner, Running Back
Gary Elmore, Tight End
Kevin Lowborn, Tackle
Mike Massengale, Quarterback
Garland McWhorter, Guard
Junior Melton, Wide Receiver
Bobby Reneau, Tight End
Kenny Sells, Running Back
Earl Stearns, Tight End
Ned Sloan, Tackle

Barry Barnette, Tackle
Ricky Burchett, Guard
Larry Claborn, Tackle
David Cross, Tackle
Leon McClard, Tackle
Lonnie Perdue, Wide Receiver
Rickie Wallace, Tight End
Anthony Wilson, Tackle

Johnny DeRossett, Quarterback
Jeff Fryman, Defensive Back
Larry Perdue, Running Back
Mike Staton, Linebacker
Tom Thrasher, Quarterback
Leon Wilson, Tackle

Junior Couch, Danny McFall

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

From Dixie to Yankee Doodle to Home Sweet Home; Patriotic Songs that Stirred Hearts

It is said that during the Civil War, two large armies were on opposite banks of a river in Virginia. Late one afternoon, just before sunset, the Confederate band played' "Dixie," that favorite song so dear to every Southern heart. At the close loud shouts of exultation went up from thousands of gallant Confederate soldiers. Immediately, the band of the Union Army played "Yankee Doodle," equally a favorite song of the federal soldiers. When it ended, the voice of thousands brave Union soldiers burst forth in applause. In a few moments both bands, simultaneously, struck up "Home, Sweet Home," and when the last sweet strains of music died away, tears were flowing freely from the eyes of thousands of war-worn and battle-scarred veterans of both armies. It appealed to the voice of conscience, and brought to them the remembrance of other and better days.

The song, "Dixie," aka "I Wish I Was in Dixie," was written in 1859. It cemented the word "Dixie" in the American vocabulary as a nickname for the Southern United States. During the Civil War, it was a rallying song of the Confederacy, a national anthem. Abraham Lincoln loved it. It was played at the announcement of General Robert E. Lee's surrender.

In 1906 in Wayne County, Kentucky, a crowd of around 2,500 people were assembled at the fairgrounds to attend the 4th of July Celebration, which was given by the Wayne County Fair Association. Interesting and patriotic orations were delivered in the forenoon by Judge John P. Hobson, a member of the Court of Appeals, and Wayne County Judge Joseph Bertram. The Outlook reported that the music for the occasion was furnished by the Monticello Brass Band. "To say that they did well would be putting it lightly, considering the time that they have practiced, they did ex­ceptionally well. The only fault we find with them is that they don't play "Dixie" enough. They should play it every other time, at least. It was the only tune that received an applause. It stirs the southerners heart as nothing else can."

"I wish I was in Dixie
Hooray, Hooray!
In Dixie land, I'll take my stand
To live and die in Dixie!
Away, away, away down South in Dixie!
Away, away, away down South in Dixie!"

"Yankee Doodle" predates the American Revolution, originally sung by British soldiers to mock the disheveled, disorganized colonial Yankee who, they said, thought that he was stylish if he simply stuck a feather in his cap. It became popular among the Americans as a song of defiance. Verses were added that hailed George Washington as the Commander of the Continental army. By 1781, "Yankee Doodle" turned from being an insult to being a song of national pride. It was played at the British surrender at Saratoga in 1777.

"Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni,
Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy."

"Home Sweet Home" was written in 1823. It was a favorite of both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. That night in Virginia, in the words of Frank Mixson, a private in the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, "Everyone went crazy during the playing (and singing) of "Home Sweet Home."Both sides began cheering, jumping up and down and throwing their hats into the air. Had there not been a river between them, he said, the two armies would have met face to face, shaken hands, and ended the war on the spot.

"Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though I may roam,
Be it ever so humble,
There's no place like home.
Home! Home!
Sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home!
There's no place like home!"

In his 1905 essay entitled, "Fourth of July, The Birthday of the United States of America," school teacher Samuel L. Coffey wrote in the Adair County, Kentucky newspaper, "The American flag is the emblem of national unity and strength, a nation whose strength lays in the conscience of its people and whose perpetuity depends on the virtue, the intelligence, and patriotism of its people. Thomas Jefferson said "Where liberty dwells, there is my country." Every true American citizen should be able to say, "Where our flag flies there is my country. It represents every great achievement that has been accomplished in our country's history in an intellectual, moral or material way, from its beginning to the present time. It insures protection abroad and security at home. The citizen seeing it waving over his home feels safe indeed. It makes no difference whether the band plays "Dixie" or "Yankee Doodle." Seeing the emblem of power and free­dom waving in the breeze, one feels at rest and can sing with pride and pleasure, "Home, Sweet Home," whether he or she lives in the North, South, East or West."

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Ben Dyer and the Zip Code

It was sixty years ago this year, in 1963, that the post office began using zip codes. Albany postmaster Ben Dyer announced in June of that year that a new system of improving mail dispatch and delivery would begin on July 1st. The zip code, five digit numerals to be placed on all correspondence, will cut up to 24 hours between the time of the deposits and delivery of mail, he said.

Local post offices that were assigned numbers were Aaron 42601, Albany 42602, Alpha 42603, Highway 42623, Huntersville 42627, Seminary 42644 and Static 38586. Everyone in these communities were asked to use the numbers on all correspondence to not only speed deliveries but to reduce the chance of missent mail.

Dyer also instructed residents on how to include the zip code with the address. "This prefix is to be used on all mailers, whether they are post boxholders, have home boxes or get their mail by general delivery."

For the first time ever, the new zip code plan would permit post office employees to decrease repeat readings of addresses. Previously, the address on mail often had to be read eight or ten times in order to get it to the proper destination. Each handling slowed the process of mail dispatch and added to the opportunity for human error.

The zip code allowed the United States to have 'the most modern system of mail distribution in existence,' Dyer said, and he encouraged everyone to learn their zip codes and use them on return addresses on all correspondence and that in answering mail the zip code taken from incoming mail should be used.

Ben Dyer was appointed postmaster in November of 1959, replacing Odell Cummings, who had been acting postmaster for one year following the retirement of W.H. "Bill" Vitatoe. Ben served as postmaster for 22 years, longer than anyone else who served before him. He retired in January of 1981.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Ella Nunn was the First Lady

Ella Andrew Nunn of Albany, Kentucky authored two books at the age of 91. “Pioneer Days in the Foothills of the Cumberland" was written for her children. It covered what she remembered of olden times, and what her mother and father had handed down. It dealt with the events of the entire area. “Things I Remember About Clinton County," her most sought-after book, was about people and events in Clinton County and Mrs. Nunn's memories of her life here. Written in 1982, it was an excellent history of the county, from the 1880s through the early 1900's, and contained many rare and early photographs depicting various historical figures, buildings and happenings from that era. It was her legacy, other than her family. The books have been out of print and unavailable for a while now, but so cherished that it isn't often you see one for sale, a wonderful testament to not only a great writer, but a great local historian.

In 1981, Byron Crawford, columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, wrote that Ella Nunn, who was born on Oct. 28, 1889 at Seventy Six, was an authority on firsts in Clinton County. He called her the "First Lady." If you wanted to know who had the first washing machine in Clinton County, ask Ella Nunn, he said, and if you wanted to know who owned the first automobile in the county, Mrs. Nunn could tell you that, too. It was such factual trivia like that brings history to life, he had said. "Yet, much of it is forever lost, simply because no one thought it worth remembering." Crawford said Mrs. Nunn might never have preserved her recollections of the past had her son, Bill, not pushed her into it. After she died in 1984, Bill donated his mother’s books to the public library.

In 1934, Ella Nunn became the first woman to be elected to the Clinton County Board of Education and for a while after her second husband, W.H. Nunn, passed away in 1942, she was the publisher and editor of two newspapers, The New Era in Albany and the Pickett County Gazette in Byrdstown. Along with being the mother of seven children, she did other things too, like president of the American Legion Auxiliary, first Worthy Matron of Albany Eastern Star #429, president of the Homemakers Club, a school teacher and she taught Sunday School.

She would later write, "all of this is material and doesn't amount to much. What counts is having a mother who took us to church when we were young. She always had our clothes starched and ironed for Sunday school and church. I began to teach a Sunday school class in my early teens (14). One night during a revival, something came over me. I saw some of my friends giving themselves to the Lord; Mary Guthrie, Dorothy Thomas and others. It was then that I knew that I needed God. When I went home, I couldn't sleep. The next day, after dinner, I went out into a field under an old chestnut tree. It was January and very cold, and there I gave my heart to God. I remember I was crying and praying. All at once I looked up, and there, alone with God, I said, "Dear Lord, I give myself away. It's all that I can do." I was so happy. Now I know that He was waiting for me to surrender my whole life to Him. That was the happiest day of my life. I joined the church that night and was baptized the next day in a creek that had ice flakes in the water and snow was falling. I owe much to Him and my parents and friends that I love."

Byron Crawford was right. Nancy Lou Ellen "Ella" Andrew Nunn really was the First Lady. Next January will be 40 years since she passed away at the age of 94. True to what her obituary said, she is today remembered for her rich store of memories about Clinton County, her contributions to home, church and community and, most of all, her love of Clinton County and its people. In a letter she wrote on May 13, 1909, seven months before her first marriage to Blaine Campbell, she wrote "I do feel proud of my friends. I feel like I have a host of them. If I have an enemy in the whole wide world I do not know it. I would be really sorry if I knew I had some. I am not as pure and good as I ought to be but I try to be kind to all. For what pleasure would life be without friends and someone to love? It would not be worth living."

Mrs. Nunn's granddaughter, Nancy Speck, said, "I never knew anyone who did not love her and to this day when I see elderly people in my home town they always say "You're Mrs. Ella's granddaughter?" I am always proud to say, Yes I am!"

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Some Hopkins Family History

Jimmy Boles, the great grandson of Cyrus Booher Parrigin, and my second cousin once removed, who was born in New Castle, Indiana but raised in Clinton County, Kentucky, once wrote that his great aunt, Elizabeth Jane Mackey Hopkins, was a woman of great fortitude and courage, undaunted when faced with superior forces. During the Civil War, with her husband, George Wash­ington Hopkins away from home serving with the home guard, Champ Fer­guson and his men rode up to the Hopkins homestead, which was located near Mountain View Park. Already known for robbing and looting at will, Champ was in the process of stealing a horse and was unhitching it from a plow when Elizabeth, came out of the house with a gun and fired one shot, which hit the beam of the plow. She then ordered Champ Ferguson and his men to leave the property. Overwhel­med by a brave and determined woman, Champ retreated as ordered, without the horse or any other property belonging to the Hopkins family. Washington's tombstone says he was a member of Seventy Six Church for 58 years. His grandfather, Elijah, was the first deacon there.


Speaking of property belonging to the Hopkins family, both Ella Nunn, in her book, "Things I Remember About Clinton County," and Jack Ferguson, in his book, "Early Times in Clinton County," both wrote that a Hopkins ancestor, Stephen Hopkins, was a passenger on the Mayflower when it departed for the new world in 1620. When it landed in America, Stephen carried with him an iron kettle that had been used as a churn on the voyage to America. When the Pilgrims celebrated their Thanksgiving it was used to help cook the first Thanksgiving dinner in America.

Supposedly, the kettle remained in the Hopkins family and was handed down to the oldest son from generation to generation and was eventually inherited by John R. Hopkins, who lived in Clinton County and is buried at Albany Cemetery. It is said that Scott W. Dowell, clerk at Clear Fork Baptist Church, certified on paper that he knew John R. Hopkins when he was a member of the church, and had heard him talk about the kettle. Boles wrote that when John died the kettle was passed on to a Bob Hopkins, who lived in Texas and that Ammazoo Hopkins of Midwest City, Oklahoma had relayed this story to him. Another story Boles said was that an old kettle that sat in the old Albany Bank in the 1920's was the kettle that came from the Mayflower.

The photo is only a representation of a kettle brought over on the Mayflower.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Seventy Six, Kentucky

One of the most beautiful spots in Clinton County, Kentucky is Seventy Six Falls, located six miles north of Albany on beautiful Lake Cumberland. It is not known positively who the first white man was that discovered the falls, but it may have been the first families, namely Smith, Stock­ton or Wood, who settled at Stockton Valley after 1795 that ventured as far north as the falls.

During Clinton County's sesquicentennial celebration in 1986, Jim Deforest wrote in the Mountain Echo newspaper that, contrary to popular belief, Seventy-Six Falls was never 76 feet high, and it did not get its name from its height. The falls, he said, were between 83 and 84 feet high until the formation of Lake Cumberland in 1950, which reduced it to its present height of about 44 feet.

In his book, "Early Times in Clinton County," Jack Ferguson wrote that the name was derived from the station number in the original survey, where the members of the surveying party had built a shop and lodging quarters near the top of the precipice.

The water that pours over the falls is known as Indian Creek. This spot has been the scene of recreation ever since the horse and buggy days. Back then, there was a croquet court above the falls. On Sunday afternoons youth from all over the county gathered there to play croquet or sit around and watch others play.

As early as 1806, John Semple originally purchased the land near the falls and laid it off into 116 city lots, hoping to start the town, but his dream didn't come true for himself, as he died in 1824. While a town never materialized, there was a village. According to Ella Nunn, who was born at Seventy Six, in 1864, John C. Andrews, Frethias Andrews and Cyrus Wells would later buy the land around the falls, enlarge a gristmill that was already there and add a sawmill, a blacksmith shop and other improvements. Dr. Add Aaron operated a general store a little farther up the creek. The village flourished very well for over half a century as people came from all around to have their lumber sawed and wheat and corn ground, as there was no other gristmill around closer than Albany. Eventually, though, the village faded away.

The most notable person from Seventy Six was Edgar Paul Warinner, who served in the Kentucky state senate from 1951 to 1959. "Ed P" was born at Seventy Six on Aug. 18, 1909. Among his titles was farmer, railroad clerk and owner of a motel, service station, boat dock and grocery. He was born at Seventy-Six on August 18, 1909 and died on June 20, 1959. He is buried at Albany Cemetery.

Lake Cumberland was originally impounded from the Cumberland River in 1952 with the building of Wolf Creek Dam. A year later, James H. McKinley wrote, "when I was a teenager and used to climb the steep grade from the foot of the Seventy-Six Falls, I didn't know that some day I'd go to the top of these falls in a boat. When I used to swim in the seven-foot swimming hole on Ind­ian Creek I didn't know that some day it would be a 77-foot swimming hole. No one could have ever made me believe that some day I would catch a fish 100 feet above aunt Ann Ellen Grider's chimney.

The village, mill and all of the buildings are long gone, but the beauty of Seventy Six Falls still remains.

Monday, July 3, 2023

America (My Country Tis of Thee)

In 1984, years before he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, 1st Lt Garlin Murl Conner of Albany, Kentucky was honored at a July 4th commemoration at Camargo Church of God in Mount Sterling for being one of the highest decorated military veterans in Kentucky. The war hero spoke to a crowd of about 365 people. There was a flag ceremony, the presentation of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance and the congregation sang "The Star Spangled Banner," “America, the Beautiful” and “America (My Country Tis of Thee)."

Did you know that ''The Star Spangled Banner'' wasn't adopted as the official national anthem of the United States until 1931? Before that, the nation had a few de facto national anthems, and ''The Star Spangled Banner'' wasn't even the most popular. That honor goes to ''America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)." For a century, this was the most beloved 'unofficial' anthem of the nation.

The hymn was written In 1831 by Samuel Francis Smith, a student at the Andover, Massachusetts Theological Seminary, who had been asked to translate the lyrics in some German school songbooks into English. The "God Save the Queen" melody caught his attention, but rather than translate those lyrics, he was moved deeply by the desire to create a national hymn that would allow the American people to offer praise to God for our wonderful land. And so, in just thirty minutes, "America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)" was born. The song was first performed on July 4, 1831, by a children’s choir in Boston.

All four stanzas of "America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)," glorify freedom and liberty. God is the author of liberty. The hymn acknowledges no limits on freedom. The first three verses encourage and invoke national pride, while the last verse is a petition to God for His continued favor and protection of the United States of America. "Long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light," 2 Corinthians 3:17 says “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (aka freedom)," which is to say Christ is where true freedom is found. It is a freedom that lasts for an eternity, not anything temporary. The kind of freedom we will never have to worry about being stolen or taken away. All four stanzas glorify freedom and liberty. God is “author of liberty” and unlike “America” the poem acknowledges no limits on freedom.

My country, 'tis of thee
sweet land of liberty
of thee I sing
land where my fathers died
land of the pilgrims' pride
from every mountainside
let freedom ring!

Click here to read more about 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Unifying America on Independence Day

On the 4th day of July 1861, nearly a thousand men, women and children met at Dr. Johnathan Hale’s mill, just south of the Kentucky-Tenneessee state line, and celebrated the day as had been the custom in former years. They raised a hickory pole, on which was hoisted the old flag. Dr. Hale’s daughters sang the “Star Spangles Banner.” Mrs. Hale read the Declaration of Independence, and the whole concourse of people partook of a bountiful repast prepared by the women, every one of whom opposed revolution in every shape.

The Civil War had begun twenty-two days earlier. Our ancestors had thought this area was too remote to be included in any war, but it came nearly three months later, on Sept. 29, 1861 in the Affair at Travisville in nearby Pickett County, and then almost four months later at the Battle of Mill Springs on Jan. 19, 1862. The war coming here was inevitable. By its end, over 10,000 battles, engagements and other military actions had occurred in 23 different states, including nearly 50 major battles and about 100 others that had major significance. The remainder were skirmishes, reconnaissances, naval engagements, sieges, bombardments, etc. Over 650,000 deaths resulted. An estimated 814 casualties occurred at Logan's Crossroads, 814 on the Union side and 552 on the Confederate side, including General Felix Zollicoffer.

J.D. Hale, who had been born in Stoddard, MA in 1817, began to erect his two-story mill, store and post office in October of 1845. This 100-acre property on Wolf River was in the area where the Farmhouse Restaurant was located on Highway 111 in Pickett County. Hale served as postmaster. It was said that he also operated a manufacturing facility there, producing wagons and furniture. When the Civil War started, he and his family declared for the Union. As a matter of fact, he was among the first to denounce and expose session. The U. S. Army appointed him Captain and Chief of Scouts of the Army of the Cumberlands under General George Thomas, who had led the Union army at Mill Springs. Not only did Hale report on the activities of Confederate leaders Morgan, Forrest and Wheeler, he also recruited area men for the Union army.

The Consequence...

The massive July 4th celebration that had taken place at Hale's Mill, coupled with Hale's expressions of loyalty to the United States, infuriated Confederate sympathizers. He and his family were forced to flee to Albany for safety. Three days after the July 4th celebration, all of Hale's property was destroyed by fire. $20,000 worth of buildings and materials were burned, including his home and two other houses, a large library in Hale’s house, worker's cabins, a barn, stable, store, still house, kitchen, grist mill and saw mill, 1000 bushels of corn, planning machine, mortising machine, running lathe, circular saws, tolls, lumber, wagons, and furniture. In 1864, a military commission would award him $25,000 in an assessment levied against those accused of burning his property.

When the Civil War officially ended on May 9, 1865, the 4th of July celebrations across America were unlike any other in the nation’s history. An uneasy mix of joy, relief, resentment and unhealed wounds was reported as America sought reasons for celebration after a war that nearly tore the country apart.

Following the assassination of President Lincoln, an untested Andrew Johnson was trying to find his way forward as commander-in-chief. He looked to the 4th of July as a launching point to reunify not just the states, but also the hearts and minds of their inhabitants...

“Of all the anniversaries of the Declaration of Independence, none has been more important and significant than that upon which you assemble,” he proclaimed. “Let us trust that each recurring 4th of July shall find our nation stronger in number, stronger in wealth, stronger in the harmony of the citizens, stronger in its devotion to nationality and freedom.”

For the first time in more than four years, Independence Day 1865 had dawned without Americans on the battlefield trying to kill other Americans. Contemporary accounts and newspaper stories depicted a subdued, at times somber celebration in a country struggling to recover a sense of normalcy. In some places, the holiday was barely observed at all. But, on July 4, 1865, a group once again gathered at the Hale's Mill site to celebrate Independence Day, as well as the outcome of the war. They hoisted the 'old flag' and attendants fired a 34-gun salute. Hale’s daughters again sang the Star Spangled Banner and this time it was Hale who read the Declaration of Independence.

By 1871, the Hale family had left this area for New Hampshire. Jonathan died of old age in 1896. In 2011, Tennessee honored him by erecting a historical marker near the site of Hale's Mill. It is located just before Wolf River Bridge, where the Farmhouse Restaurant stood.

J.D. Hale, left, and Tinker Dave Beaty

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Love, Honor and Respect for our Flag

June 14th

Today is Flag Day to remember when the Continental Congress introduced our country's first flag as the official American flag on June 14, 1777. In honor of this, I present a very beautiful piece written over 50 years ago by our Louis O. Brummett of Albany, Kentucky.

"We should display our flag and fly it proud­ly," he said, "in homage to those great Americans who died that we might live and that "Govern­ment of the people, for the people and by the people, should not perish from the earth."

"God hasten the day when we will regain those attitudes of love, honor, respect and enthusiasm for our flag and country that caused our fore fathers to bow their heads in humble grati­tude to the God they loved and served and say, 'Almighty God, we thank Thee for our country and its flag; and what it stands for. As we gaze upon its radiance, may Thy holy light spread over us and bring to our hearts renewed devotion to God and country and love for our flag. Amen.'"

Mr. Brummett served as a Corporal in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was also a member of the American Legion, and it was on behalf of this group that he wrote these words on Flag Day in 1969.

I pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
And to the Republic for which it stands,
One nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all

Friday, June 9, 2023

The Monticello Doughboy's Spirit will Never Die

Nearly 500 Wayne Countians served in WWI. Almost half as many actually engaged in combat. Ten were killed in action. Thirteen died in service related events and forty-five were wounded in action. The names of those sixty-eight men are engraved on a plaque at the base of the Doughboy.

Here's the way it all started: On April 28, 1919, hundreds of people gathered at the Monticello public square for a Victory Day celebration in honor of the veterans of the great war. It was reported that the patriots of Monticello and Wayne County wanted something more, a daily reminder of the bravery of her soldiers. Three and a half years later, at the conclusion of the American Legion Armistice Day celebration cere­mony on November 16, 1922, Rose Shearer, mother of 1st Sgt Lee Shearer, the first Wayne County boy killed in action (July 19, 1918), broke ground for the new Legion Memorial Park. A month later, the Legionnaires decided to place 'The Spirit of the American Doughboy' in the new park with the pedestal bearing the names of all the men from Wayne County were killed in action, died in service or wounded in action.

At the 80th anniversary celebration of the Doughboy Memorial on April 8, 2003, Bro. Harlan Ogle said, "For 80 years the people of Monticello and Wayne County have passed this magnificent memorial. Some have passed giving no thought whatsoever to the sacrifice of the over 480 men who served their country in WWI. That is in sharp contrast to the thoughts in the hearts and minds of those who passed by it when it was first erected. Believe me when I tell you that many a mother and dad, brother and sister, and other relatives and friends have passed this memorial and shed a tear as they were reminded of the lives that were lost and the sacrifices that were made by their loved ones as they fought to preserve a free America. It is my conviction, and evidently the conviction of many of you, that the sacrifice these brave heroes made will never be forgotten."

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Doughboy Memorial being on the square in Monticello.A celebration took place on April 6th. Joyful noise was made by the Waynetonians. "Amazing speakers spoke of history and heartful memories. There was even a moment of silence followed with a 21-gun salute and Taps being played. It was a day that made folks not only proud to be a Wayne countian, but proud to be an American," according to a post on the City of Monticello Facebook page.

Now, there is talk, again, of moving the statue for improved traffic reasons, an issue that has come up numerous times over the years. No matter what happens, the 'Spirit of the American Doughboy' is still very much alive and will always be. In the words of Bro. Ogle, "that is because the Doughboy of yes­terday passed on to his descen­dents a love of country, for God and for family."

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Battle Hymn of the Republic

My 106-year-old recording of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by singer Thomas Chalmers was recorded on May 29, 1917 at Thomas Edison's recording studio in Manhattan. The recording is registered with the Library of Congress. Chalmers, who lived from 1881 to 1966, was a baritone soloist with the Boston Opera Company and the Metropolitan Opera from 1913 to 1921. He eventually became a popular stage and film actor.

"Battle Hymn of the Republic" first gained popularity around Charleston, South Carolina. It became known as "John Brown's Body," following the insurrection at Harper's Ferry, led by Abolitionist John Brown, whose actions, trial and subsequent execution made him a martyr.

"John Brown's body
lies a-mouldering in the grave
His soul is marching on"

By the time of the Civil War, the song had become a popular marching song with Union Army regiments. It was when Julia Ward Howe visited Washington, DC on November 18, 1861 that "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was first born.

Howe and her husband were active abolitionists, who had experienced first-hand a skirmish between Confederate and Union troops in nearby Virginia, and heard the troops go into battle singing "John Brown's Body." That evening in the nation's capital, Howe was inspired to write a poem that better fit the music. It began "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Here are the words to Battle Hymn of the Republic

A photo of Julia Ward Howe made in 1908

Saturday, May 6, 2023

About the Coronation Bible and Oil

As I watched the coronation of King Charles III and Camilla, the queen consort, the one thing I quickly wanted to know about was the bible used by King Charles as he recited the oath. Turns out, it was a specially commissioned King James Bible like new monarchs have been presented with since the coronation of William III and Mary II in 1689. The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the bible, made by Oxford University Press, is a reminder to the king that Scripture is at the heart of Christian life.”

I also learned that the coronation oil was created using olives that were harvested from groves at the Monastery of Mary Magdalene and the Monastery of the Ascension monasteries at the Mount of Olives, where Jesus prayed on the day before his crucifixion. The olives were pressed into oil just outside Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and the oil was declared holy in a special ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which stands on the site where Jesus was crucified.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Capt. Tuttle

In her book, "A Century of Wayne County, Kentucky, 1800-1900, copyright 1939, Augusta Phillips Johnson included extracts from the diary of attorney John William Tuttle of Mill Springs, who served as Captain of the 3rd KY Vol. Inf; Co. G during the Civil War.

Capt. Tuttle was thinking about enlisting in the civil war when he attended a rally on June 17, 1861 at Parmleysville. He said, "I could not rid myself of the idea that those whose views do not coincide with mine on the great question are either fools or traitors."

On Saturday, July 27, 1861, he wrote "We arrived at Albany about 10. The first thing we saw upon arriving at the top of the hill overlooking the town were the Stars and Stripes gaily fluttering to the breeze above the tops of the houses. Upon entering town we met a procession with thirty-four ladies in front on horseback, one of whom carried a National Banner followed by about 60 cavalry and 500 infantry. They presented quite an imposing appearance.

About two thousand people were in town. After dinner a procession was formed which marched out about a half a mile from town where they were addressed by the Hon. Thomas E. Bramlette in a speech of something more than three hours duration. He made a most thrilling appeal on behalf of the Union and called upon the loyal citizens of Clinton County to join a regiment he is raising for the purpose of aiding the Union men of East Tennessee.

About thirty men enlisted in the service under him and 87 cavalry, to compose a part of a regiment destined for the same service, now being raised by Frank Woolford of Casey County. The feeling for the Union here is very strong and the most intense enthusiasm prevails."

At its dedication on April 8, 1923, the Monticello Doughboy was unveiled by a then 86-year-old Capt. Tuttle. His diary is on file at the University of Kentucky. It spans his life before, during and after the war. He and his wife, Mollie, are buried at Elk Spring Cemetery in Monticello.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) was an American author and poet. Her best-known work was Poems of Passion (1883), and her autobiography, "The Worlds and I," which was published in 1918 shortly before her death. She started writing poetry at a very early age, and was well known as a poet in her own state of Wisconsin by the time she graduated from high school. Her works, filled with positivism, became very popular. By 1915 her booklet, "What I Know About New Thought," had a distribution of 50,000 copies.

In "The Man Worth While" she wrote:

"It is easy enough to be pleasant
When life flows by like a song
But the man worth while is one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong"

Her poem "Solitude" has her most famous line, one you are probably familiar with...

"Laugh and the world laughs with you
Weep, and you weep alone"

In "The Winds of Fate" she wrote...

"One ship drives east and another drives west
With the self-same winds that blow
'Tis the set of the sails And Not the gales
That tells us the way to go
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate
As we voyage along through life
'Tis the set of a soul That decides its goal"
And not the calm or the strife"

Her 1917 poem, "Optimism" is among my favorites:

"I'm no reformer; for I see more light
Than darkness in the world
Mine eyes are quick to catch
The first dim radiance of the dawn
And slow to note the cloud that threatens storm
The fragrance and the beauty of the rose
Delight me so; slight thought I give its thorn
And the sweet music of the lark's clear song
Stays longer with me than the night hawk's cry
And e'en in this great throe of pain called Life
I find a rapture linked with each despair
Well worth the price of Anguish
I detect more good than evil in humanity
Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes
And men grow better as the world grows old"

She once made an appearance during WWI in France, reciting her poem, "The Stevedores" ,while visiting a camp of 9,000 US Army stevedores, (men who provided movement of supplies through ports in support of the American Expeditionary Forces).

"We are the army stevedores
Lusty and virile and strong
We are given the hardest work of the war
And the hours are long
We handle the heavy boxes
And shovel the dirty coal
While soldiers and sailors work in the light
We burrow below like a mole
But somebody has to do this work
Or the soldiers could not fight
And whatever work is given a man
Is good if he does it right"

About the photo: Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem plaque near the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco Chinatown's Jack Kerouac Alley.

Ellison Leslie had the only Carpenter's Shop in Town

My 3rd great-grandfather, Ellison Leslie, died in Albany, Kentucky on this day in 1917.

Born in 1822, Ellison was a carpenter. In 1892, the Albany Banner newspaper reported that, while there were several carpenters in the county, there was but one carpenter shop in town, and it was owned by Ellison Leslie.

After the Clinton County Courthouse was burned by guerillas during the civil war, the fiscal court paid him $200 to put a roof on the new one, and for making the windows, shutters and door shutters (see artist Jack Amonett's drawing here).

Ellison and his wife, Adaline Smith Leslie, are buried at Albany Cemetery. Ellison was the brother of Kentucky Governor Preston H. Leslie. His granddaughter, Della Craig Means, was the mother of my grandmother, Dimple Speck.

lWhen he died at the age 95, "Uncle Ellison," as he was known, was celebrated as being the oldest male resident in Clinton County.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Honoring my Grandfather Today

Before WANY, Sid Scott used to do a remote broadcast from Dr. William Mann's chiropractic office in Albany for Monticello's WFLW radio station. One day, the doctor told Sid he had heard an AM frequency was available for Albany and that he was interested in applying for it. Sid had a better idea.

Being a lifelong friend to my dad, who was away in the Navy, he went to my grandfather, Cecil Speck, a local businessman who, along with Wallace Allred operated the indoor and outdoor movie theaters here, and suggested they beat Dr. Mann to the draw and apply for the license. That was the beginning of WANY.

I tell you this as my way of honoring my grandfather, who was born on this day in 1917. He has been in Heaven for 37 years now and I do miss him. He always encouraged me to stay in radio. I'm glad I listened.

I have always been proud of myself for being able to read family, friends and co-workers obituaries on the radio without my voice cracking. Today it cracked for the first time ever when I dedicated a song to him on my bluegrass gospel radio show. I guess it's because I am older and more sentimental. 💕

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Kenneth Wisdom's Teen Center Begins

Who used to hang out at Kenneth Wisdom's Teen Center, where McDonald's is now located? The Mystic Sounds played there on opening night. Formed in 1967, that group consisted of Mike Lawson on guitar, Larry Sloan on organ and guitar, Junior Byers on bass guitar and Lynn Avery on drums. I'm sure Cecil Pryor played there. My music buddies Donnie Ray Johnson and Terry Murphy also played there.

According to Judge Lawson, The Mystic Sounds wore ties, following the lead of the Beatles. They heard that Mr. Wisdom had a large room with hardwood flooring in the middle of the old Locker Plant building. They asked him about playing there. He said, "You boys help clean out the room; you can have your Saturday night dance and we will split the admission charge taken in at the door."

Judge Lawson stated, "Mrs. Wisdom took up the money at the door. I can still see her sitting in a chair right in front of the doorway. Every Saturday night we would have a short intermission, which allowed us to take in the fist fight in the parking lot that would happen at every engagement." Mind you, we were not the favorites of all the community in that many thought the dance was taboo. We just lived the music and loved playing and seeing people respond in a positive way."

"I have often thought of Mr. Wisdom thinking that much of the younger generation to provide a space for us," he said.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Wayne Ryan was an Outstanding Athlete

Clinton County Wall of Fame member Wayne Ryan excelled in sports at Albany, Kentucky during the mid to late 1960's, including helping the Bulldogs make two consecutive appearances in the regional basketball tournament in 1966 and 1967, losing to Russellville in the opening round in 1966 and to Auburn in the semi-final round in 1967. He made the all-regional tournament team both years.
(1967 Clinton Co High School District Baseball Champions. In front, Johnny Asberry. 1st row, L to R: Frankie Evans, Rodney "Buzz" Piercey, Randy Brown, Garrell Brown. 2nd row: Coach Bobby Reneau, Gary Davis, Dale Tallent, Billy Asberry, Larry Conner and assistant coach Wendell Burchett. Last row: Hank Chilton, Steve Bell, Wayne Ryan and Gary "Runt" Thomas.)

As good as Wayne was at playing basketball, he was even better at playing baseball. Rarely did someone get a hit off him when he was pitching. He played for the Braves during the 1965 Babe Ruth season in Albany. "The third straight one-hitter he pitched against the Mets marked his fourth shutout in six games (up to that point)," wrote Al Cross in the Clinton County News.
During the 1966 baseball season at CCHS, Ryan pitched back to back three hitters in June. Two games later he struck out 15 batters at Adair County. In the next game versus Russell County, he struck out 19 batters, while giving up just 2 hits. He also hit a 350-foot home run over the left field fence. Then on Aug 11th, he pitched a no-hitter against Adair County, striking out 13 batters and giving up one walk. How about those stats!!!

In college, Wayne lettered in baseball at Berea, where in 1970 he became one of only ten Mountaineers to be honored as one of the 'Outstanding College Athletes in America.

He coached girls basketball at Wayne County for sixteen years, winning eight district championships, two regional championships, seven district runners-up and three region­al runners-up. He is a member of the Wayne County Hall of Fame and the 12th Region Hall of Fame.
Wayne and Shirley Ryan

Friday, April 7, 2023

Harlan Ogle's Spirit of the American Doughboy

Some years ago Harlan Ogle wrote a book entitled "The Spirit of the American Doughboy" - A history of the "Doughboy" memorial in Monticello, Kentucky. The book contains eleven chapters and is a beautiful tribute to the service men from Wayne County, those "Doughboy Heroes," who participated in the first World War. Much of the material he used was directly from the Wayne County Outlook, while other material was provided by the Wayne County Library, Wayne County Historical Society and family members. The book was dedicated to a very special group of men and women of Wayne County "we proudly call veterans," he said. In 2010, KET aired a segment on the Monticello Doughboy and Harlan was interviewed. He talked about the sculptor and the background of the memorial, from the idea of it to its dedication.

The sculptor of this magnificent memorial in the middle of the town square that stands as a silent, but highly visible, reminder that Wayne County "boys" have died for the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans, was Ernest Moore Viquesney (1876 - 1946) of Spencer, Indiana. He was responsible for scores of statues and monuments memorializing soldiers of the Civil War, and both world wars. "Without doubt," wrote Ogle, "his most popular sculpture is "The Spirit of the American Doughboy," described as "100% perfect regarding its represen­tation of the World War."

Even before the war ended, Viquesney is said to have first conceived the idea of an inspiring monument that would honor those who were serving and dying in the war. In 1920, he copyrighted what was to become the most famous and well-known war memorial statute in U.S. history. Those early ideas and the efforts to transfer those sketches from paper to reality became one of the fasci­nating stories ever to be associated with Monticello and Wayne County.

These statues are located in at least 38 states. The one Wayne countians have been celebrating these past several days arrived in Monticello on January 19, 1923 and was dedicated April 8th that year. It was unveiled by Captain John Tuttle, a prominent Wayne County Civil War veteran, whom I have previously written about. Its acquisition was sponsored by American Legion Post No. 134. The sculpture cost $1,500, including freight. The total cost, including the marble base and monument area, required over $2,000 in cash and the donation of many hours of work on the monument by American Legion members.

The "Doughboy," in all of its 32 ounce bronze glory, is part of the rich her­itage of the people of Wayne County. According to Bro. Ogle, the original intent of it being on the public square was to serve as a constant and visual reminder of the sacrifices made by brave men from the area. It has been faithful to that cause for one hundred years, a silent reminder of the price that must be paid for Americans to enjoy "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Viquesney indicated the memorial was the image of the spirit possessed by the soldier. A spirit of love of man, God, country devotion, commitment, sacrifice, patriotism, and unquestionable courage.

"May those who are blessed to look upon the Doughboy ever be mindful that freedom is never free. There is a price to be paid for freedom and "The Spirit of the American Doughboy" standing in the middle of the town square is a silent memorial to those who paid that price." - Bro. Harlan Ogle

Monday, March 27, 2023

The Foundation of God is my Refuge

Sunday at church, we sang "How Firm a Foundation," a fitting hymn for the day, seeing how Clear Fork was organized 221 years ago this week.

"In ev’ry condition, in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land, on the sea
As thy days may demand
Shall thy strength ever be"

That is the second verse of the original lyrics to the hymn that was first published in London, England in 1787 in John Rippon's "A Selection of Hymns." It first appeared in America in Joseph Fund’s 1832 Genuine Church Music.

The hymn became much loved and adored. Just over a decade later, Andrew Jackson requested it be sung at his deathbed. It was sung at Confederate General Robert E. Lee's funeral in 1870. No doubt, though, it comforted people on both sides during the Civil War. It was sung by American troops on Christmas morning in 1898 during the Spanish-American war, and It was sung during the funerals of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt in 1919 and Woodrow Wilson in 1924.

Yet, with all of its notoriety, the author of the hymn is somewhat of a mystery. In the original publication in 1787, it was attributed simply to “K.” That "K" was most likely Robert Keene, who was the song leader in Rippon's church.

Regardless of the author, It is good to know that in today's world, no matter the circumstance, we can rely on God to provide us with a firm foundation to keep us calm and encouraged. God's love for us is rich and pure, measureless, strong and enduring. While I am blessed to be a part of one of the longest continuing church congregations in this region, I am more blessed to know that the foundation of god is my refuge.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Goat Man was Everyone's Folk Hero

My most popular story, written in 2011, was about Charles "Ches" McCartney, aka the Goat Man, who traveled the countryside with a wagon pulled by goats. Over the years, I have had countless numbers of emails, well over a hundred, from people wanting to tell me about their experience in meeting him. Every single one has mentioned how bad he smelled.

One man in South Carolina wrote, "It was around 1970 when the Goat Man passed through my community. I remember daddy taking him to McCarty's Store, with me riding in the middle of our '66 Ford pickup. My God, I still remember the stink! It was like something out of a fairytale or a movie. As a 5- or 6-year-old boy, I was amazed by his herd of goats and the shaky wagon they towed. Daddy was a good man. It took a week of keeping both windows down to air out the pickup."

Before I tell you about his background, I must first offer up a disclaimer of sorts. The story of the Goat Man's beginnings seemed to change occasionally from one telling to the next. He claimed to have left his home in Sigourney, Iowa when he was 14. He claimed his first wife, Sadie, was a knife thrower in a sideshow in upstate New York and he was the target in her act. He claimed to have experienced a religious awakening in 1935, during the Great Depression, whereby he hitched up a team of goats to a wagon and took to the open road to preach the gospel. His wife and son, Albert Gene, accompanied him, but she quickly grew tired of the road, and him, and returned to Iowa, taking their son with her. He married at least twice more. The last one ended when, according to the New York Times, he sold his goat-weary wife for $1,000 to a farmer she'd grown sweet on, he claimed.

McCartney chose to live in Jeffersonville, Georgia, eventually in an old bus. When the son got older, he reunited with his dad, and for decades they traveled the backroads of the Southeast, sometimes with as many as 30 goats. His path was easily traceable from the wooden signs he tacked on trees by the roadside, signs bearing messages like “Prepare to Meet Thy God.” "People are goats, they just don't know it," he would often say. Maybe McCartney said that because he, himself, looked like a goat. He smelled like one, too, because he never took a bath or washed his clothes. You take a fellow who looks like a goat, travels around with goats, eats with goats, lies down among goats and smells like a goat and it won't be long before people will be calling him the Goat Man, and that is exactly how he got his name.

Someone would spot McCartney and his cavalcade of goats clamoring down the highway with the old iron-wheeled wagon piled high with garbage, lanterns, bedding, clothes, an old pot belly stove, and plenty of scrap metal that he gathered and sold. Word would get around and pretty soon the curious townsfolk would come out to meet him. He would preach the Gospel to them and sell picture postcards of himself.

In 1985, during one of his final journeys away from his home, McCartney set out on foot to California, hoping to meet actress Morgan Fairchild, whom he wanted to marry. Along the way, he was mugged and hospitalized with injuries. He had been beat up before, most notably in 1968 at Signal Mountain near Chattanooga, when he was severely beaten by men who also slit the throats of some of his goats, but this time he left the road for good. His final years were spent at a nursing home in Macon, where he died on Nov. 15, 1998 at the age of ninety-seven, a decade or so younger than he had claimed to be. Five months earlier, back in Jeffersonville, Albert Gene had been found murdered behind the old bus they had called home. Both are buried at Jeffersonville Cemetery.

It has been said that Charles McCartney was the essence of freedom, wandering around the rural highways of America at a goat's pace, unfettered to schedules, clocks or calendars, and surviving by selling scrap metal he would find on the road, postcards of himself and the goats, and of course, free goat milk. He was a simple man and a folk hero.

McCartney told people he was a preacher at the Free Thinking Christian Mission he had built near the old school bus in Jeffersonville. While the New York Times wrote that he had admitted his preaching was a gimmick, he insisted it was sincere.

The Goat Man passing through Albany, Kentucky in the 1950's.

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