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.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Mose Hurt Littrell

The Kentucky Highway Patrol, the predecessor of the Kentucky State Police, was founded in 1936 as a part of the Kentucky State Highway Department. Six of the officers died in the line of duty before the agency became known as state police. The fourth victim was Patrolman Mose Hurt Littrell on March 14., 1938.

Littrell had obtained a three-day leave of absence from Harlan and was on his way home. Seven miles east of London, he picked up B . P. Snavely and Ed Kirby of Pineville, two hitchhikers who were trying to get to Somerset.

On East Highway 80, near Sandy Gap, Littrell saw three men standing in the road by a park­ed car; Leslie Farmer, 48, a former teacher in Pulaski County, Oliver Gosser, 42, of Pulaski County and Hollis Owens, 38, of Russell County. One of them was drinking from a bottle.

Littrell stopped 15 yards away, identified himself as a police officer, and told the men they would have to move the car off the highway and stop drinking. Seeing that one of them had a gun, he went back to his car and put his pistol in his pocket. He told the two hitchhikers, "Boys, the old man back there has been drinking and has a gun. Looks like we might have some, trouble. You all come along with me.’’

As they approached the three men, Farmer, who was standing a feet away with his arms behind him, brought his gun around and started firing without saying a word. The first shot struck Littrell in his chest and he wheeled partially around. A second shot struck him in the hip. Littrell drew his .38 Smith and Wesson Special and fired six shots, emptying his gun, and striking Farmer in the chest. Farmer's last two shots struck Littrell in the right leg and he fell to his knees in the road. Farmer fell face forward in the road, clutching his .380 automa­tic pistol in his right hand as he died. He had been shot three times in the chest and once in the right side under the arm. Four loaded shells were found in the clip of Farmer’s pistol. Five empty shells from the gun were found in the road.

Littrell called out the hitchhikers, "Boys come help me. I’m pretty badly shot.” They were crouched down beside the parked car when the shooting was going on. They and Gosser helped carry Littrell to his car. Kirby drove it to the Somerset hospital and then accompanied Littrell as he was transported by ambulance to a hospital in Lexington. He died the next morning.

A stray bullet had struck Gosser in his right leg. It's not clear how he got to the hospital, but while he was having his wound treated at the Somerset Hospital, he was placed under arrest and subsequently placed in jail for drunkenness. Gosser told a Somerset newspaper reporter while at the jail that Llttrell had drawn his gun first and started firing, saying that Farmer had jumped out of the way of the first shot and the bullet struck him.

When other officers arrived at the scene, Owens was not there. After searching the area, he was found asleep In the woods a half-mile from where the shooting had taken place. He was also arrested and jailed for drunkenness. Neither Gosser nor Owens were armed, and ac­cording to Littrell’s companions took no part in the affair. While the men were firing at one another, Gosser was standing back against the front of the Farmer car and Owens was leaning against the front fender. They had come to Somerset by bus the previous day and were going to a sawmill owned by Owens’ fath­er, where he was going to repair some machinery. They met Farmer at Dykes restau­rant and he agreed to take them to the mill in his car if they would furnish the gasoline.

Leslie Farmer began teaching school in Pulaski County in 1910. During WWI, he served with the U.S Medical Corps then went back to teaching. Mose Hurt Littrell was also a WWI veteran and past Commander of the Albany Dis­abled American Veterans Chapter. He had been recognized as a champion pistol shot of the state highway patrol.

Born on Nov. 24, 1892 to Thomas Mack and Nannie Bell Hurt Littrell, Mose was married to Mary McMillan and they had one daughter, Mary, wife of Gayron Cross, who died in 2006 in Ohio.

Llttrell became the storm center of a political dispute when he interrupted a speech being made by Circuit Judge King Swope of Lexington, a Republican who was running for Governor Republican candidate, during Clinton County's Centennial celebration, an event being put on by Littrell's DAV group. Littrell claimed that Swope went against an agreement he made that politics was not to be mentioned during his speech. Littrell stepped onto the platform and removed the microphone Swope was using. Clinton Circuit Court fined him $300. The Court of Appeals granted Littrell a second trial, but it was never held. He was granted a full pardon in 1937.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

No Depression (in Heaven)

The photo you see, entitled "And Now Where," by American artist Rockwell Kent, is of a print that features a man and woman atop a mountain looking dejectedly into the distance alongside their knapsacks, and was published in 1936 during America’s Great Depression. It is the property of the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture in Knoxville, Tennessee.

1936 was also the same year the Carter Family recorded their hit song “No Depression (In Heaven).” Although A. P. Carter has frequently been credited as the author of the song, there is evidence it was written in 1932 by James David Vaughan of Pulaski, Tennessee, one of the founders of the genre we know as "Southern gospel" music. He started the James D. Vaughan Music Publishing Company in 1900 and was the first to establish a professional quartet and put them on the road for the purpose of selling his songbooks. "No Depression (in Heaven)" is in his circa 1932 songbook, "Sweet Heaven." While A.P. Carter registered it as his own work (which he did for every recording they made), the family's version is almost a straight copy of Vaughan's original song.

Alvin Pleasant Carter of Maces Springs, Virginia took up playing the violin at an early age. suffered from a physical tremor, as well as a constitutional restlessness, which his mother ascribed to a near miss by a bolt of lightning while she was pregnant. His job traveling around the Clinch Mountain area selling trees and shrubs for a nursery helped him deal with the restlessness. One day he came upon a house where he heard a beautiful alto voice, which belonged to 16-year-old Sara Dougherty. Like A.P., Sara was a musician at heart. The same could be said for Sara's cousin, Maybelle, who was learning to play the guitar, which was just becoming popular.

The rest is history. A 2005 PBS documentary credited the Carter Family's music for lifting the nation's spirits during the darkest days of the Depression. It said their lyrics captured the joys and tragedies of everyday life: loves won and lost, dreams attained and shattered, separations and reunions. The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, which led to half the country’s banks failing and 15 million unemployed Americans. The writer of "No Depression (in Heaven)" obviously saw it as evidence that the end was near. In his 2019 book, The Emotional Life of the Great Depression, author John Marsh said the Depression meant hunger and death. But for the Carter Family, and many of their listeners, the Great Depression also promised salvation.

For fear the hearts of men are failing
For these are the latter days we know
The Great Depression now is spreading
God's word declared it would be so

I'm going where there's no depression
To the lovely land that's free from care
I'll leave this world of toil and trouble
My home's in Heaven, I'm going there

In that bright land, there'll be no hunger
No orphan children cryin' for bread
No weeping widows, toil or struggle
No shrouds, no coffins, and no death

This dark hour of midnight nearing
And tribulation time will come
The storms will hurl in midnight fear
And sweep lost millions to their doom

The Carter Family

Monday, March 6, 2023

Sherman York had the Courage of a Bulldog

By all accounts, Sherman York was a great basketball player, a point guard known for his consistent play, both in high school and college. He was a three year starter for the Bulldogs and at Campbellsville College was the unanimous choice for the outstanding basketball player award. He was inducted into the Clinton County Wall of Fame in 2002, along with his brother-in-law, and former teammate, Jackie Sewell.

Coach Lindle Castle once said the years 1959 to 1965 were the 'golden years of basketball at Clinton County High School. He based it on the fact that his players had grown up at one room schools. Aside from book learning, whenever there wasn't much else to do, they learned the game from teachers, and then wore out the goals practicing and playing hour after hour year around. "Then they started closing the one room schools for better education and the kids came into grade school centers. When they graduated, the golden years were over," he said.

An example of how bright the golden years of CCHS basketball was during that era is a team that rose to the occasion two seasons after the 1959-60 team was crowned champions of the 5th region. It has been said many times over the years that the 1961-62 team is the best team ever at CCHS.

The late L.H. 'Prof' Robinson, who was superintendent, principal and coach at Albany, loved Sherman York's consistency as a player and referred to him as a 'Bulldog,' which is what he was, both literally and figuratively. You will read Robinson's quotes throughout this story.

Sherman York, a junior, was the starting point guard on that team, averaging 9.4 points per game. Others were Sewell, Kenneth Conner, David McFarland, Tom Neathery, Paul Denney, Darrell Weaver, U.S. Reneau, W.L. Sawyers, Wells Latham, Wayne Cook, Don McWhorter, Kay Flowers, A.V. Conner, Jim Thrasher, Gayle Stearns, John Hay and Bill McDonald.

"Sherman has the speed of a fright­ened ghost. His nerves are made of the finest, purest steel. Under pressure, he is calm, undisturbed, capable and dependable. This boy has a potential that has not been fully explored." L.H. 'Prof' Robinson, 11/30/61

In the 20th district tournament championship game, the Bulldogs, rated 9th in the state, went up against Metcalfe County. Our hopes of advancing to the regional as district champs were dashed as the Hornets stung the Bulldogs by a single point, 59-58.

The 5th region tournament opened with a rematch between the Bulldogs and the Hornets, but this time the game had a much different ending. We won by 30. Up next was the semi-finals and a meeting with the only unbeaten team in Kentucky, Allen County, at 28-0. The Bulldogs led 13-12 after the first period, 29-26 at halftime, and 43-36 heading into the final frame. With 6:20 left to play and Clinton County leading by eight, the Patriots' Wayne Hanes fouled out, causing the cheering section to become as quiet as a graveyard, but with 2:14 left to play something unwanted happened....Kenneth Conner fouled out. What followed was a rally for the ages, as Allen County sparked big, scoring the games final eleven points to win 58-47. The Patriots' rock solid defense had held the Bulldogs to only four points in the last quarter.

"Even though the Bulldogs lost the game, there is not a thing to be ashamed of," wrote Jimmy Huccaby in the Clinton County News, "because this has been one of the best seasons ever witnessed by a Clinton County team and fans," he added. Our season was over, but for Coach Castle it would be the best won-loss record of his career, 30 wins and 4 losses.

There were a lot of great players on that Bulldogs team. Coach Castle claimed Sherman York was one of the best defensive guards the district had ever produced.....racking up many steals and turning them into fast break baskets. The coach would have known that first hand. As a freshman at the University of Kentucky, he was a shining star, a starter on the 1949-50 Kittens team that won 15 games and lost just once. "Castle is a ball-hawking specialist that set up the Cat's fast break offense," wrote Bob Gorham in the Kentucky Kernel.

"Sherman has the courage of a Bulldog. His floor play was a comfort to his doting coach." L.H. 'Prof' Robinson, 12/21/61

If you've heard stories about how great of a player Sherman was in high school, he was even better at Campbellsville University, where he played two seasons with another Clinton County High School player, 6'6" Bobby Reneau. Sherman lettered in three sports: basketball, track and baseball. In basketball, he was the captain of the Tigers and was a great asset as both a leader and playmaker. During his senior year in 1967 he was named Outstanding Athlete of the Year. Earlier that same year, he had been selected outstanding basketball player. He had also been named to the All K.I.A.C. Team in that sport. He was a valuable member of the track team at Campbellsville, where he captured first place several times in the 100 and 220 yard dashes.

As coach of the Wayne County Cardinals for four years, 1967 to 1971, Sherman did real well, guiding the Cardinals to an overall record of 56 wins and 37 losses. He posted a won-loss record of 6-14 his first season, 16-9 his second season, 15-7 his third season and 19-7 his final season. While at Wayne County, he also served as cross-country coach for three years and baseball and golf coach for two years. He also served as assistant football coach for one season. Sherman was inducted into the Cardinal Club's hall of fame in 1995 and the Wayne County High School Hall of Fame in 2007.

In November of 1981, H & W Sport Shop opened up in the Town, and Country Plaza in Monticello as the first store in Monticello to be devoted strictly to sports men and women. It was third in a chain of H & W Sport Shop's owned by Ronnie Hord and Ron Wilson of Campbellsville. Sherman managed the Monticello store and was also co-owner.

"We can always use a boy like Sherman York. His kind gladden the hearts of parents, coach, student body and faculty members. His kind will make a contribution to his generation." L.H. 'Prof' Robinson, 11/30/61

1961-62 SEASON
Nov. 3, Shopville 90 - 29 W
Nov. 7, at McCreary County 86 - 53 W
Nov. 10, at Ferguson 68 - 46 W
Nov. 17, South Hopkins 82 - 49 W
Nov. 24, at Ralph Bunche 62 - 61 W
Nov. 28, Pickett County 92 - 44 W
Dec. 1, Tompkinsville 73 - 40 W
Dec. 4, at Cumberland County 64 - 44 W
Dec. 5, at Gamaliel 77 - 57 W
Dec. 8, Metcalfe County 81 - 47 W
Dec. 12, at Greensburg 77 - 65 W
Dec. 15, Celina 68 - 35 W
Dec. 19, at Pickett County 74 - 25 E
Dec. 28, at Russell County/Adair County 43 48 L
Dec. 29, at Russell County/Monticello 82 - 44 W
Jan. 5, at Tompkinsville 91 - 61 W
Jan. 9 Shelby County CANCELLED
Jan. 12, McCreary County 73 - 52 W
Jan. 13, at Campbellsville Durham 42 - 46 L
Jan. 16 at Metcalfe County 57 - 54 W
Jan. 19, Gamaliel 79 - 43 W
Jan. 23, at Bowling Green 77 - 47 W
Jan. 30, Russell County 73 - 53 W
Feb. 1, Cumberland County 65 - 53 W
Feb. 6, at Liberty 99 - 67 W
Feb 9, Christian County 72 - 63 W
Feb. 13, Ferguson 104 - 48 W
Feb. 16, Campbellsville Durham 87 - 65 W
Feb. 20, Ralph Bunche 49 - 34 W
Feb. 23, at Celina 90 - 60 W
20th District Tournament at Edmonton
Feb. 28 Cumberland County 58 - 31 W
Mar. 2 Gamaliel 69 - 35 W
Mar. 3 Metcalfe County 58 - 59 L
5th Region Tournament at Bowling Green High
Mar. 7 Metcalfe County 83 - 53 W
Mar. 8 Allen County 47 - 53 L
Record: 30-4 (Coach Castle's best record) 104 points vs Ferguson/Feb. 13, 1962 set a record.

Kenneth Conner's personal scoring record was made and broken during this season. He beat his previous record of 32 points against McCreary County during the 1960-61 season by scoring 41 points on Dec. 29, this season, against Monticello. And then on Feb. 6th, this season, he broke that record when he scored 42 points in the game against Liberty.

Friday, March 3, 2023

One Hand on the Plow, the Other on the Fiddle and Guitar

Check out this circa 1905 photo of a group of Fentress County, Tennessee musicians. My fourth cousin, Gilbert Boles, is sitting to the left of the man holding onto the plow. His brother, Herbert, is to the right of the man. Gilbert was a school teacher. In the postcard dated March 17, 1910, he tells Herbert that he needs someone to meet him at the river after the school at Jamestown, Tennessee ends.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Inspiring Others in the Face of Hard Times

Why doesn’t God heal everyone? Why not me? Have you ever thought that? Well, there is a scene in Season 3, Episode 2 of the Angel Studios series that is also partially on Netflix entitled The Chosen, that resonates with me in a big way, and I find myself going back to it over and over again.

Jesus directs his disciples to go out in pairs into the villages of Galilee and gives them power and authority to drive out demons and cure diseases, to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. In the scene I am talking about, one of the disciples, James, son of Alpheus, also called Little James, has a form of paralysis and walks with a limp. After witnessing Jesus performing many miracles of healing, he wants to discuss his own disability with Him...

"You’re sending us out with the ability to heal the sick and lame…so You’re telling me that I have the ability to heal? I just find that difficult to imagine, with my condition, which You haven’t healed.”

Jesus tells him that he was chosen, in part, because of his disability, that he will have a unique story when he learns to praise God in spite of his disability, and focus on things that matter more than the body.

“You are going to do more for me than most people ever dreamed. When you find true strength because of your weakness, and when you do great things in spite of this, the impact will last for generations."

Earthly life can involve hardships, even for those who are faithful. Jesus taught that Christians should expect hardships, a warning He gave specifically to prevent discouragement in the face of hard times. (

We all have something that we wish we could change about ourselves. Actor Jordan Walker Ross, who portrays Little James in The Chosen, was born early with many health problems, including Scoliosis. He said doing the scene in Season 3, Episode 2 was therapeutic for him. “I was able to release a lot of these frustrations I’ve had in my own life,” he said. “After doing that, I felt so much better.” He said "just because you're different, doesn't mean you're broken. You are just as worthy of love and just as capable of giving love and using your circumstances to do good in the world and to help others and uplift and inspire others."

I like the title I gave this piece: "Inspiring Others in the Face of Hard Times." Like Mr. Ross said, try to set a course to do good in the world and become a positive influence to those around you, no matter your circumstance.

Monday, February 20, 2023

A Bill Creating Clinton County, Kentucky was Signed into Law on this Day in 1836

Clinton County, Kentucky was formed from parts of Cumberland and Wayne counties in a bill co-sponsored by Senator's Ambrose Bramlette of Clinton County, who was serving his first term, and Frank Winfrey of Columbia. The General Assembly passed the bill in 1835, and it was signed into law by Gov. James Morehead on February 20, 1836.

The first government was organized on April 1, 1836 at the home of Pleasant Williams, later the home of the Alford Frank Burchett, on Kentucky Highway 639 at Wago, where I grew up, and you know the rest of the story about how the first county seat was established at Peolia, then later moved to the present site originally known as Benny Dowell’s Place.


" wit beginning at the state line due North from the mouth of Wolf River, and thence a straight line to the plantation of Alexander Smith, including it, thence a straight line to the mouth of Tear Coat Creek on Cumberland River, thence up said river to the Russell County line, thence with said line to within a half mile of Beaver Creek, up Beaver Creek to the mouth of Otter Creek, thence up Otter Creek so as not to run nearer than within one half mile of said creek to Jacob Citt’s, leaving him in Wayne County, thence to the twelve mile post on the road that leads from Monticello to Stockton Valley: thence to the Poplar Mountain at Peter Stockton’s, leaving him in the new county, thence up said mountain to the top; thence with the top of said mountain to the state line; thence with the same at the beginning, shall be erected into one separate county known as the County of Clinton."

Nearly all histories written about us say the county was named after Dewitt Clinton, the distinguished governor of New York who died in 1928. A second story tells us that Frank Winfrey had a son named Clinton. He was born the year Dewitt Clinton died. Perhaps the two namesakes combined made for a stronger reason to name it Clinton County and we should leave it at that. Clinton Winfrey was the owner of Winfrey Hotel in Columbia, the site of a cholera epidemic in 1873 that resulted in the deaths of 42 people, including Clinton and two of his children.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Adolph Rupp's Dilemma About Brad Lair's Bed

Brad Lair played basketball for the Monticello, Kentucky Mountaineers from 1928 through 1930. At 6'10 1/2, he was the tallest high school player in the state of Kentucky at that time. He towered over his opponents and newspaper reports noted his basketball skills regularly, but one teammate, Bill Wray, would later say the Lair's greatest asset was not his heighth, but his agility. During his junior year, he scored 50 points in a game against Whitley City on January 10, 1930. He scored 33 points in the first half alone. Also on that team other than Lair and Wray was Frank Hedrick, Jack Phillips, Red Wilson, Roy Barrier, Sidney Back and William Gottshall. The coach was George Taylor.

Prior to the 1930-1931 season, Lair left Monti­cello to play his senior year at Jeffersonville, Indiana. The Red Devils won fifteen straight games without a loss because of him, but prior to the end of the season tournament, the school at New Albany filed a protest that 'unique influence' had been used to bring Lair to Jeffersonville. The Indiana High School Athletic Association agreed and suspended all athletics at Jeffersonville until the first day of June 1931.

Even though he had only played a total of just barely three years of high school ball, the media exposure he received at Jeffersonville attracted the attention of the new basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, Adolph Rupp.

Coach Rupp thought Lair had the greatest potential of any player he had seen up to that point, so he offered him a full scholarship and rolled out the red carpet for him, but there was a issue - finding a bed long enough to keep Lair from having to sleep 'catter-cornered' in a bed at UK. He thought about sending for Lair's bed back at home. "He lives in Monticello and has a bed there that fits him," the coach decided. "I'll bring it up here on a truck and then I'll have a hold on him."

He said he would have a 'hold on him' because he had discovered that a 'neighboring university' was trying to talk Lair out of attending UK, even though he was already enrolled there. According to a story in the Wayne County Outlook on September 29, 1932, Coach Rupp cut in on a telephone conversation between Lair and a representative from that 'northern school' and what he told that man was a masterpiece in public speaking. "If there is an extra charge for profanity over the telephone, I'd hate to see your bill this month," Rupp told UK athletics director Stanley "Daddy" Boles after slamming the phone receiver down.

By Thanksgiving, Coach Rupp was confronted with another issue: What to do about Lair's bed since the Wayne County giant had become homesick and departed Lexington for his home in Monticello. Instead of bringing Lair's bed from his home, Rupp had a nine-foot bed built for him. "But with Lair gone," wrote the Lexington Herald Leader, "Coach Rupp wants to either sell the bed or find a basketball player that will fit it. He prefers the latter."

His stint at UK wasn't the last of Brad Lair's basketball playing days. In 1934, he played for the House of David, a barnstorming comedic professional team out of Indiana whose players were famously known to wear long beards. The team lost just one game during Lair's only season with them. It was a two point loss to the Harlem Globetrotters. Like the Globetrotters, the House of David stretched and sometimes outright corrupted the rules of basketball, using their exhibition games as comedy routines – although unlike the Globetrotters, the House of David played against legitimate local teams instead of supplying their own submissive opposition.

Bradford Lair died on July 17, 1974 at the age of 61. He was inducted into the Monticello High School's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. Mr. Lair and his wife, Louisa Conley Lair, are buried at Elk Spring Cemetery in Monticello, with two of their five children. Most people in Clinton County, Ky remember their daughter, Betty, who was the wife of Eugene Groce.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Burt Bacharach Wrote Uplifting Lyrics

"What the world needs now is love sweet love
No not just for some but for everyone"

Uplifting lyrics.

Remember that song? Burt Bacharach composed the music for it and Jackie DeShannon was the first to record and release it (April 15, 1965) after Dionne Warwick turned it down saying she felt it was "too country" for her tastes and too "preachy," though she did record it later.

An instrumental version of the song was featured regularly on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon for many years, most frequently heard when pledge amounts were announced on the broadcast.

He also co-wrote "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," another set of uplifting lyrics which describes a person who overcomes his or her troubles and worries by realizing that "it won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me." B. J. Thomas took it to #1 in January of 1970.

Bacharach died Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. He was 94.

Bible Mission School and Orphanage

In a Kentucky Historical Society article for Explore KY History, author Tim Talbott, my cousin, wrote that Wayne County native John Samson Keen received the call to preach while a young man and by age twenty was riding a large circuit in southcentral Kentucky. A few years later he received the call to start a school and the place was in the Highway community of Clinton County.

John and Hannah Keen's school grew so much that in 1890, they saw the need for a better building and room for more students. Money was raised from all over the country and in 1894 there was a new and better building. From that point on, Bible Mission School grew at an even more rapid pace. Students were coming in from all over the United States. By comparison, according to Kentucky Public Documents, Vol. 4 of the Kentucky General Assembly, during the 1896-97 school year, Albany High School, now in its tenth year, had 154 students and three teachers, while Bible Mission School, in its third year in the new building, had 187 students and nine teachers.

Around 1900, John S. Keen turned the school over to W. H. Evans and became a minister in Texas. By 1904, Evans had also left for Texas after enrollment at Bible Mission School had started to decline, probably for two main reasons: a health epidemic and a new school that had opened in Columbia,

Bible Mission School closed in 1905, but it would later be celebrated because of a few things, including Dr. Alexander B. Mackey, president of Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, and Rev. Robert Johnson, whose son, Keen was Kentucky's forty-fifth governor, were students there.

In 1954, Eula Gamblin Mackey, whose husband, William Hunt Mackey, was a relative of Dr. Mackey, wrote in The New Era newspaper that when the U.S. had 45 states and five territories, each state and territory was represented at the school at Highway.

She also wrote that camp meetings were held each spring and fall in two tabernacles that were located on the grounds and that four or five thousand people attended with singing, praying and shouting taking place all over the school grounds. "People prayed through and were sanctified. Highway [community] was a holy place," she said.

Get this...when the Board of Regents met to decide the location for Lindsey Wilson Junior College, Highway lacked one vote getting it. One vote. "At the time," Mackey wrote, "Highway already had the buildings and Columbia had to build them." Go figure.

A marker erected at Highway Cemetery, submitted by John and Mareeda Gibson in 2006, signifies that location as the burial ground of 25 to 30 orphans who died during an epidemic [probably typhoid fever and/or Tuberculosis] at the orphanage at Highway in the late 1890's. It states that eight of the orphans died in one week and that no names have been found.

It is known that Mahala Reed Keenan, a revivalist minister who rode a white donkey side saddle through the hills of Kentucky, singing and preaching as she traveled, moved to Highway in 1896, wanting her sons to be educated there. But, she soon became sick with tuberculosis and needed a healthier place to live and breathe. In 1899, she and her son, Elva, who had the same illness, undertook a wagon journey to Floresville, Texas, but Mahala died shortly after her arrival there. Elva died four months later.

Historical Marker #1927 in the yard at Highway Church of the Nazarene tells about Bible Mission School and Orphanage that operated from 1891 to 1905 just past the church on Groce Gibson Road.

Tim Talbott's article

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Whack, the Barber

My great, great-grandfather, John Alex Craig, born in Albany, Kentucky in 1853, was one of the town's barbers. Appropriately, he was given the nickname, "Whack." If I had been the one to give him that nickname I would have included an exclamation point at the end of it...WHACK! to give it more character, not that he needed it probably.

The barbershop Whack operated from was located inside or near Huff Hotel, which was where Campbell New Funeral Home is today. One of his best customers who came in every day for a shave was a man they called Uncle Jim Vincent, and since he was such a good customer, Whack only charged him 5¢. That went on for years until one day, instead of a nickel, Whack kept a dime out of the coin Uncle Jim had handed him.

"Say," said Uncle Jim, "I thought you agreed to only charge me a nickel for a shave!"

"I did," replied Whack, "but when I told you that I didn't expect you to live forever!"

John Alex Craig died in 1927 and is buried at Peolia Cemetery alongside his wife, Analize Leslie Craig, who was the daughter of Ellison Leslie, a carpenter who put the roof on the new Clinton County Courthouse when it was rebuilt after the original one was burned during the civil war. He was also the brother of Kentucky Governor Preston H. Leslie. John Alex and Analyze had four daughters: Nora Talbott, Lela Smith, Della Means and Jennie Davidson.

In the photo made at Clear Fork Baptist Church, John Alex "Whack" Craig is on the far left. Beside him is Jim Pitman, Mariam Owens, Emmy Looper, Tressa Pitman, Jack Looper and Brooks Ferguson. Behind them is Robert Wood, Grant Dowell and Joe Denton. (A Lighthouse in the Wilderness, Morris Gaskins, 1971)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Monticello & Burnside Stagecoach

When the stagecoach era in Kentucky came to an end in 1915, the last route to be in op­eration was the Monticello to Burnside route. Since Wayne County did not have direct access to a railroad, it greatly helped them reach the one at Burnside.

The cost to ride Charles H. Burton's stagecoach was $1.50. There was room for nine passengers inside and approximately five on top, plus the driver. Baggage was carried on the rear of the coach. Coming from the Burnside Depot back to Monticello, four horses would pull the stagecoach to the Cumberland River and onto a ferry, which carried them across it to a rest stop near Frazier, where the horses or mules were switched for a fresh team. From there, it was on to Monticello. The whole trip took four to six hours. It is said that during one hard winter the river froze solid immobiliz­ing the ferry boat, but knowing the mail-must go through, the driver daringly drove across the ice and on to Monti­cello.

Charles Burton's stagecoach was built in 1895 by the Abbott and Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire. He bought it for $1,000 in 1901 from J.B. "Buck" Barbee who operated a stagecoach line from Campbellsville to Columbia. Decades late it was sold at auction for almost $39,000 to Kenneth Ballou of Burkesville, who sold it to Wells Fargo Bank in California for $85,000.

Artist Fred Thrasher painted a fine likeness of the Burton stagecoach as it ferried the Cumberland River in a popular print he titled 'Crossing the Cumberland.'

For the record, the Burton Stagecoach was not the only stagecoach to operate in our area. James Tuggle and his son, Jeremiah, also ran a successful stagecoach service from Monticello to Burnside.

* Some info taken from a 1969 article written by John Hockersmith in the Happy Hunting Ground magazine.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Dick Burnett, the Blind Minstrel of Monticello

"The Farewell Song" was first printed in the songbook, "Songs Sung by R. D. Burnett," a blind man from Monticello, Kentucky, in 1913. You might know the song as "Man of Constant Sorrow," from the 2000 movie, "O Brother Where Art Thou." The film's soundtrack was more successful than the film. "Man of Constant Sorrow," sung in the movie by Dan Tyminski of Alison Krauss and Union Station, won the 2001 CMA award for best single as well as a Grammy Award for best Country Collaboration with Vocals. It was also named Song of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2001.

Dick Burnett is generally considered the author of the song, although he himself wasn't so sure about it. In a 1973 interview, he said, "I think I got it from somebody...I dunno, it may be my song." The composition year is most likely the same as the songbooks' publication year, 1913, judging from the line: "Oh, six long years I've been blind, friends." You see, Burnett was left blind from a gunshot wound in 1907. He was walking home from his job at a barbershop at Stearns one evening, when he was robbed at gunpoint. Rather than lose his money, he rushed the robber and was struck in the face by a shotgun blast.

Burnett, who was born at Elk Springs Valley in 1883, had learned how to play several stringed instruments at an early age; dulcimer, fiddle, banjo, guitar, etc. Unable to work anymore, he decided to become a musician to earn money for his wife and small child. He began traveling from town to town, playing on the street for nickels and dimes with a tin cup tied to his leg (see photo). Usually, he was accompanied by his musical sidekick Leonard Rutherford, who came to live with the Burnett family when only a small boy.

Burnett was willing to teach Rutherford how to play the fiddle if he would help him get around. As Rutherford improved, it became profitable for the two men to branch out, traveling first by horse, bus and railroad. Eventually, Burnett bought a car and Rutherford learned to drive it. In Burnett's words, they travelled "from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, playing every town this side of Nashville."

But, life was hard for them. For that reason, in 1929, Burnett's wife, Georgia, ran for jailer of Wayne County. "I wish to announce myself as a candidate for jailor," she wrote in the Wayne County Outlook. "My husband is a blind man and his only way of supporting his family is by playing music, in which he has found it very difficult to do. For this cause, I am asking the support of all the voters of Wayne County." She did not win.

Burnett and Rutherford recorded several songs for Columbia Records between 1926 and 1928. They recorded "The Farewell Song" in 1927, but the recording was not released and for some reason the master recording was destroyed. Although the song is in his 1913 catalog, it's too bad, he didn't copyright it as his. Imagine how much money could have been earned in his name.

In 2003, “Man of Constant Sorrow” was voted the 20th greatest song of all time in CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music.

"I am a man of constant sorrow
I've seen trouble all of my days
I'll bid farewell to old Kentucky
The place where I was born and raised"

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

To Everything there is a Season

I was thinking about this photo that appeared in my Facebook history this morning. The year was 2011. It was Halloween. Jerry Perdue and I were at Stony Point's fall festival, and there they were, Ralph Clark and Buddy Bell, two legends on stage with Cartwright Express. We couldn't wait to ask for a photograph. The plan was for us to take each others' photo, only after I took this photo I got distracted somehow and missed my opportunity to have my photo taken with them.

For a long time, I was a little bit jealous that Jerry had gotten his photo made with these icons and not I, because we never had another opportunity to be together, the three of us, as Buddy died on Jan. 17, 2012 and Ralph died on Aug. 30, 2014, and then Jerry died on Thanksgiving Day in 2017.

Time and tide wait for no man. As I get older I realize more and more that some things are just inevitable - birth, death, the sun rising in the morning, and the passage of time. There is no way to control those things.

The bible says 'to everything there is a season, a time to be born, a time to die; a time to build up, a time to weep, a time to laugh and a time to mourn.' (Ecclesiaste 3)

I miss those guys. Funny how this photo, the one I was once jealous of, now means the world to me. 💕


On April 16, 1953 the New Era reported that 29 men had gone to Louisville for Armed Forces physical examinations. Among them was Robinson Elvin Angel. He was one month shy of celebrating his 20th birthday when Uncle Sam called. He and seven others left for Louisville and induction into the U.S. Army on July 7th. The others were James Cook, Haden Dicken, Arthur Stockton, Freddie Boils, Buford Bowlin, John Nuszbaum and Lowell Davis. It was during the Korean War and Elvin was in the army for two years. For 18 months he was stationed in Alaska.

Hershell Key tells a story about Elvin's sergeant ordering him to clean a rifle. It wasn't his rifle, so Ervin said no. The sergeant repeated his command, "I said to clean that rifle!" Elvin replied, "I ain't gonna do it!" So, Hershell said, Elvin was sent to Alaska.That may or not be the exact reason, but it's funny to hear Hershell tell it that way.

When he returned home, Elvin joined the class of 1957 during their sophomore year. In the local newspaper column, Senior Class News, someone wrote "Elvin has been an asset to the class and we are proud to have this veteran among the members of our class." Elvin was 24 years old when he graduated from CCHS.

Elvin's nickname was Bookout. A couple of his friends I spoke with did not know how he got that name. One of his close friends, Harvey Aaron, said he once asked Elvin how he got it, but he couldn't remember.

By all accounts, Bookout was a great baseball and softball player. I read where, in 1957, he was a member of a softball team sponsored by Conner Motel, along with the likes of John B. Smith, Page Cook and James Brown. Another teammate and classmate, Gene Latham, said Bookout was a great pitcher. He played softball for several years.

Gene tells this story: "Bookout stood 5 feet and 5 inches tall and for the U.S. Army, the minimum weight requirement for his heighth was 116 pounds. Bookout weighed 117 pounds when he went for his physical examination. He said if he had known the minimum weight requirement was 116 pounds, he would have weighed 116 pounds!"

Robinson Elvin Angel was born on May 28, 1933, the son of the William Albert & Lula Mae Daniels Angel. His wife, Brenda Gibbons Angel, preceded him in death. Bookout was known by many. We will miss seeing him walking around town. He always walked.

Thanks to Harvey Aaron for the photo.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

John Fogerty is Finally Reunited with his Songs After 50 Years

It's official, according to Billboard Magazine, John Fogerty has gained worldwide control of his Creedence Clearwater Revival publishing rights after a half-century struggle. He just posted the following on his Facebook page. "As of this January, I own my own songs again. This is something I thought would never be a possibility. After 50 years, I am finally reunited with my songs."

To think about the CCR catalogue is to relive my pre-teen years. The band's most prolific and successful period began in 1969 when I was about to turn 10. For two years, CCR had a dozen consecutive top 10 singles and five consecutive top 10 albums. The band broke up in 1972, but by then we already had all of those great songs: "Bad Moon Rising," "Lodi," "Proud Mary," "Green River," "Down on the Corner," "Have You Ever Seen The Rain," "Heard it Through the Grapevine," "Run Through the Jungle," "Up Around the Bend," "Travelin' Man," "Long as I Can See the Light" and "Lookin' Out My Back Door." "Suzie Q" had already been a bit in 1968.

My favorite CCR songs were "Bad Moon Rising," "Lodi" and "Proud Mary." I have a recording of my brother, Ronnie, age eight, and myself, age eleven, jamming to "Proud Mary." He is singing and playing drums and I am playing piano and singing the repeat line on the word, "Rollin'."

Fogerty had relinquished his artist royalties to Saul Zaentz at Fantasy Records in 1980 to get out of his Fantasy deal. “I tried really hard,” he says to get them back in the decades since he signed his label and publishing deal in 1968 with Fantasy but suffered setback after setback at the hands of Zaentz, who died in 2014.

For years, Fogerty refused to play CCR songs live, unable to stomach Zaentz making money off his performances, but he softened his stance in 1987 with a little prodding from Bob Dylan during a concert in Hollywood that included Dylan, Fogerty and George Harrison. “The crowd started asking for ‘Proud Mary. Bob said, ‘John, if you don’t do ‘Proud Mary,’ everybody’s gonna think it’s a Tina Turner song,’” referencing Ike & Tina Turner’s 1971 cover. Fogerty sang the song and later that year, began incorporating CCR songs back into his set list.

When Concord bought Fantasy Records in 2004, one of the first moves the company made was to reinstate and increase Fogerty’s artist royalties, which he hadn't received in 25 years. Under the new agreement, Concord retains the CCR master recordings already in its catalog and will continue to administer Fogerty’s share of the publishing catalog for an unspecified limited time.

Fact #1: CCR’s Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits, released in 1976, has spent 622 non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200, the fifth highest of any album on the chart.

Fact #2: The music of Creedence Clearwater Revival has never left radio.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Mike Rogers and an Ungrateful Duck

My friend, Mike Rogers, told me a very story about his attempt to rescue a duck that was being chased by a dog.

"Rosie and I were on our way to church yesterday when a little black duck ran out in front of us with a large German shepherd chasing it. I swerved off the road and gave chase as the duck, the shepherd and I ran over the hill behind Slick Lowhorn's building on the Tennessee Road.

The duck went under some tree roots and before the dog could get him I caught up and slapped the canine on his rear end, Startled the dog ran off and the duck started climbing back up the steep hill when I caught up to him and snatched him to safety. Holding "Daffy" to my chest I looked down at him and said, "I guess I saved your life." Immediately, he reached up and bit me on my lip!! (very ungrateful}

I took him back to the car and handed him to Rosie and she held him untill we arrived at church. He was quiet calm now until I reached down to take him from Rosie and he bit me again. As I carried him down to the creek the ungrateful bird turned his head towards me but I made sure to keep my distance. When I sat him down on the ground next to the creek he turned towards me again, then looked at the water, wagged his tail and jumped in swimming off to another day.

All is well that ends well!"

The Town Fire of 1926

On March 20, 1926, a fire started in the Gainesboro Telephone office on the Southside of the Albany square and destroyed the entire block, including the G.A. Guinn residence, N.L. Morgan residence, Wes Lee and Claude Brent residences, First Christian Church, Dr. William L. Story's drug store, Dr. John Sloan's office and garage, W.L. Perkins' garage and Smith & Stailey Drug Store. The New Era reported the loss was about $60,000 with only about $700 insurance. They were all frame buildings. The fire at the church destroyed the original building. The church was started in 1834. After the fire, the congregation made their own bricks and moved into the new building, the one in use today, on November 6, 1927

Living Past the Century Mark

Elizabeth Booher Parrigin, who lived in Clinton County, was born on Jan. 11, 1797. She lived to be 105 years of age was the oldest living person in Kentucky when she died.

Elizabeth was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee and moved to Clinton County in the fall of 1858. At the time of her death she was living with her great- grandson, Clinton County Judge C.B. Parrigin two miles north of Albany.

The unique thing about Elizabeth is that she lived in three different centuries and up to her death, under every president of the United States.

On Nov. 15, 1901, when she was 104 years and ten months old, the Green County Record reported that she could still recite many incidents from her childhood and was in fair health.

Elizabeth died on April 13, 1902. She and her husband, Henry, are buried at Albany Cemetery. He died in 1892, at the age of 93.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

The Big Five Were Small in Stature, Big of Heart

The date was Nov. 17, 1942. It was the middle of WWII. The basketball team at Albany High School had won four games and lost three and with only a handful of games left to play before district tournament first year head coach Raymond Reneau left the team, and Albany, for the U.S. Army and the war in Europe. Principal L.H. Robinson would have to coach the team the rest of the way.

Prof was no stranger to this challenge. While principal of Ewing High School in Fleming County, before coming here, he had also coached basketball. In fact, he coached the first team from Ewing to ever win a regional basketball tournament. So he took control of the Bulldogs team. They won the last three regular season games on the schedule and in the 38th district tournament, the Bulldogs swept past their two opponents, Marrowbone and Burkesville, and for the first time in the history of the school, a basketball had won the district tournament.

Marrowbone had a very strong team but they just couldn't do anything with the Bulldogs. The game started off with every spectator on his feet. Both teams played evenly in the first quarter, but it didn't take long for the Bulldogs to realize what the game meant to them. From then on, Marrowbone could only watch as the Albany boys went to town. The score was never again close. It was 9-to-6 at the end of the first quarter, 19 to 8 at halftime, 32 to 12 at the end of the third quarter and the final score was 41-to-21.

The Albany boys were a little tired at the start of the game against Burkesville, but they wound up playing very good ball, winning the game 49-to-23. Two players, Randolph Smith and Russell Long, were named to the all-tournament team and each received a gold basketball. The captain of the Bulldogs, Robert Chilton, received a very beautiful trophy on behalf of the team. Albany should feel proud that they have such a splendid basketball team.

The New Era newspaper wrote, "The team played exceptionally good ball, but they couldn't have played so good if it hadn't been for their very good coach, L.H. Robinson. Due respect should be paid Coach Robinson for his marvelous work with the boys." Coach Robinson referred to his team as 'the big five.' "They were small in stature, but big of heart and had the will to win," he said. The five starters were Smith at center, Gordon Armstrong and Paul Jones were the forwards and Chilton and Long were the guards. "Those boys ran set plays to perfection and their defense simply smothered the opposition," Coach Robinson said."

Albany lost to Tompkinsville by one point in the 5th region tournament at Glasgow. The following year, 1944, the Bulldogs repeated as champions of the 38th District, again under the leadership of L.H. Robinson. In his three seasons as head coach, Robinson's teams won 24 games and lost 13, two back to back district tournament championships and a district runner-up trophy in the third year.

Coach Reneau returned to the sidelines for the 1945-46 season, guiding his team to a runner-up title in the newly aligned 20th district. He would be head coach for the remainder of the 1940's, winning 82 games and losing 43. His 1948-49 team was the school's first ever team to win twenty games (20-5).

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 Edis...