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

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...