(transcribed from tape)
left to right, Merriel Powell, Clyde Mullins, Burgess Sloan on
Bowen's Rock, 1923
(transcribed from tape)
You may wonder why I am putting what I am about to on tape. The reason is simple. In the past few years many people have asked me to put down my knowledge, memories , hearsay, and things that have happened in Elkhorn City during my lifetime.
Some of the things I am going to relate I witnessed in person; others I was told by people and some is here say and can not be verified; while others are facts that I have learned during the practice of law for the past 30 years.
The things I am going to talk about will not be in the order in which they occurred or sequential, in that one thing followed another and will be in many different forms and subject matter. Some historical, some strictly local and some of the language may be a little earthy and the names called or said some of their descendants are living today or may be some of the people who participated in the affairs that occurred or matters that came up will be stated, but to cause embarrassment to anyone and if I do offend anyone I now offer my sincere apologies. Inadvertently, I may call names, but I said., it is not my intention to do so with any malice or ill will.
I undertake this because I have lived from the horse and buggy days here in Elkhorn City, Pike County, Kentucky to past the times when the United States has put a man on the moon. I have lived through World War I, served in World War II in the Army Air Force, having duty in the Pacific Theater with the 509th Composite Group (The First Atomic Bombardment Group) that dropped the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I lived through the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War, through the turbulent 60's, through the civil rights era and a lot of things that the generations that have grown up since my days of growing up know so very little about this community. I hope by making this verbal account a means of how it was to live through that time when the world changed more than all the history of all the years that went before.
A little background material may serve to authenticate or give authoriy to what I am about to relate. I have lived in Elkhorn City my seventy-five years except 37 months spend in the United States Army Air Force in World War II and the three years I spend away from home at Lexington, Kentucky while attending the University of Kentucky Law School and I returned to Pikeville to practice.
I was born on Elkhorn Street in a big two story white house. The construction of which was started by my mother around 1909. I am the son of Paris and Lou Emma Mullins and was born May 10, l914 in the big house that I referred to.
My father, Paris Mullins, was born and reared on the Mullins Ridge in Dickenson County, Virginia, the a joining county to Pike County and Clintwood was the county seat. He was a surveyor with the Railroad Engineers being rodman, when the railroad was build he became a clerk in the freight department in the depot and worked there a few years until the Brotherhood of Clerks came out on a strike in either 1922 or 1932. And while he was on strike he was hired as a bookkeeper for the Federal Mining Company which operated a coal mine over near the end of the railroad trestle and the mine was opened in world war I by Frank Scott and a gentleman by the name of Warmick. My father continued to work for the mine up until his death in November 1935 when he died at the age of 53, very suddenly.
My mother was born on Grassy on land where the Willowbrook Country Club is now situated. Her first marriage was to a man by the name Alexander Looney from off the Cow Fork of Grassy. A young man that, at one time worked for the Yellow Poplar Company and he was stricken with tuberculosis and my mother moved to Elkhorn City, where she nursed and tended him until he died at the age of 22. He was taken back to the Cow Fork of Grassy to be buried there. Two children were born to their marriage, Gaynell Looney who now lives in Spartanburg, South Carlina and is 82 years of age and Roy Looney who resides in Elkhorn City and is near 80 years of age. To my father and mother four children were born. I was the oldest. I have a younger brother born 20 months after me, Claude Mullins, who now resides in Ashland, Kentucky. I have a sister, Maine Mullins, who lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She is I believe 70 years of age. The baby in my family was Paris commonly called Patsy or Pat Mullins who resides in Roanoke, Alabama. So that made six Children in my family. We lived together as one family even though we were of the half blood in certain instances. My father made no distinction between his own children and my older brother and sister.
My mother bought a lot on Elkhorn Street after her husband. Alex Looney died and started construction on a house. She ordered lumber which was hauled in by the railroad. I do not know where she bought it from. When the house was far enough under construction she kept boarders and roomers. In fact, the house was built for that purpose. On the adjoining lot, she and my grandfather, George Washington Mullins, whose home was where the White Star restaurant now stands, operated a livery stable. My grandfather took care of the livery stable and was a horse and cattle trader. When he was home he took care of the livery stable and rented out the horses to the people who wanted to rent horses. There was one buggy which I remember; a beautiful buggy with big springs on it. When you sat down in it the springs would bounce up and down and would give a little boy a nice ride. My grandfather would catch me in the buggy riding up and down and would put me out of it on short order.
The rooms upstairs in our home contained three bedrooms used in the house. The largest room contained four beds. The other two bedrooms being in the front of the house contained 2 beds each for sleeping purposes.
The people that stayed with my mother and boarded and roomed with her were primarily drummers and people who worked for the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company and other lumber companies and people who were traveling through on the trains and perhaps had to lay over here overnight. In addition to my mother keeping roomers, she also boarded people in a large dining room which has since been shortened and remodeled in which there was a long table with chairs which would seat perhaps 8, 10, or 12 people. The way the house was built so you could enter in during the winter time you could enter the house in a hallway go through the hallway and through the door and out on the back porch and then enter a side door in to the dining room. There were very few restaurants and places to eat in Elkhorn City at that time, The only one I can recall is Bill and Joe"s restaurant on the ground floor of the old café building just across the depot and later on Cataldo Marinaro's, a man of Italian decent, put in a restaurant in a red tin colored building right there where the block building which he put to replace the one that was burned down. The people around this community could not call or pronouce his name of Cataldo Marinaro and called him Kelly Marino. Which was not his name but a corruption of his name. But nevertheless, there was single men that worked at the depot that roomed elsewhere but came down to my mothers to take dinner there. There was a dinner hour and the big table was set with food and I knew she served meals for either 225 or 50 cents, I'm not positive. A full meal of all the common food that was served in this country at that day and time. The roomers would take breakfast and dinner with her, also.
The drummers would rent horses from her and grandfather and ride out in the countryside to visit the rural stores who sold goods. I believe there's a new sign over there out in the yard calling it the Drummer House. Also in addition to the other persons I have named that roomed and stayed there overnight were the teamsters who would come through here. Some of them lived here and would go to their own homes to eat dinner if their homes were close by. O f course, we had the people out on the creeks or hollows, particularly Beaver Creek would bring in crossties and unload them out on the tie yard there in the wide place that is presently there but is cleaned off now and stacks of crossties to be used by the railroad were purchased from these people. Some of them were sawed crossties and some were hewed and sometimes they would stack them so air could circulate between them and the stacks themselves to dry out the crossties and you could always find people sitting around on those crossties discussing matters and watching the trains come in and go out and the people on the platform.
Oftentimes those people who hauled crossties and staves there was a number of wagons that hauled staves and they had a long bed and a high rail to hold staves make out of white oaks and put them in ricks and placed in the bed of the stage wagon and were hauled in and shipped to Louisville where they were steamed, curved and bent in which whiskey was stored. They made barrels for the storage of whiskey.
The teamsters frequented my mothers rooming house which continued up until motor vehicles, particularly small trucks, became available. Even though it was still unpaved roads full of chuck holes and mud holes, but nevertheless, the people that earned a living, hauling merchandise and products from the depot which were ordered by train and hauled out to the various locations around Elkhorn City to the people that ordered that particular bill of goods were out of a job.
The railroad was built in here by C. C. & O, that is the Clinchfield, Carolina & Ohio and here was the northern terminal. I guess it would be more northern terminal and the starting point was Spartanburg, South Carolina and ended here. The original plans of the railroad was to build until they reached Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a race up Big Sandy Valley by the C & O to keep the C.C. & O. from going any further. Two bridges were built, one in the middle part of the town and one on the eastern part of the town.
The Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River head - watered in Dickenson County, Virginia where the Breaks does extend down into what is now the corporate limits of Elkhorn City. The Russell Fork continued down the middle of the community divided into two distinct sections.. Then, it curved around the base of the western slope of the mountain and lowed in a northwestern direction toward the Ohio River. Twelve miles west of Elkhorn City, the Russell Fork off the Big Sandy River meets the Levisa Fork, the correct name is the Louisa Fork of the Big Sandy River. Levisa came about because V's in the archaic english at that time, the writing, in the place of a "u" it looked like a "v". There was a corruption of Louisa. It's named after the Duke of Cumberland's wife Louisa. They merged there to form what is called the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River (Louisa Fork of the Big Sandy River) and the Levisa Fork flowed in a northwestern direction toward the Ohio and that down in Lawrence County in the town of Louisa, it ;met there or merged with the Tug River which is now the present boundary between Pike County and Mingo County, West Virginia, and there it formed the Big Sandy River and from Louisa to the Ohio River to which it empties is the Big Sandy River.
There are interesting stories found in the history books on how the boundary lines were placed on the Tug but I won't relate them here. The fact that Virginia and Kentucky's forming a state was that the boundary line would follow the longest and largest fork of the Big Sandy. However, when the commissioners met the Tug fork came out first and was much larger and the Virginia Commissioners concluded, of course, they had some help from some Kentucky Bourbon which perhaps influenced them a lot, they close the Tug Fork as the boundary line between then Virginia and what is today West Virginia.. Otherwise, if the commissioners would have waited a day or two later when the main and largest and longest fork came out the Levisa Fork came out they would have seen that it was the largest; it's the slowest coming out, they would have seen that it was the longest fork and the boundary line between Kentucky and West Virginia would be the Levisa Fork and Pike County would not be as large as it is at the present time but that can be found out from the reading of historical manuscript in Louisa there from the historical writings.
Now we have the Russell Fork which divides Elkhorn City into two main sections. The wester side of Elkhorn City was claimed by the land company which later acquired most of the land around here back in the 1890's. But when I was a small boy there were several log cabins, I won't say several but three or four still being lived in. There was a big one where the Main Place is now and back there where the new Pauley Addition is being built now in south Elkhorn. I can remember those two distinctly. My father bought a place at the mouth of Beaver from Ray Venters in 1920. I think it was a three room cabin. It was big to me at that time. It was occupied by an elderly widow woman. My father tore the old log cabin down to have gardening room to raise a garden. But, I will get into that later.
Now at Pound Gap where it originates is the head of Elkhorn Creek. Elkhorn Creek flows down parallel with the Pine Mountain Range in which the boundary line between Kentucky and Virginia is situated 16 miles from Elkhorn City up Elkhorn Creek to the Gap and then five miles on into Jenkins. Elkhorn Creek waters were dammed up in the reservoir from which they received water power to Consolidation Coal Company to operate an electrical generating facility there. Now, that came down and entered at the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy out at the school house and flowed into the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River to a bend in the river which we called the Island at that time. I remember as a boy the main thread of the stream was opposite to where most of the water goes through now. The fact of the matter is that it was parallel with the old county road until the steam turned off and made the curve around the island. The island is still there today and when the river gets up the water flows down the old main channel but siltation and growth has about obstructed the passage of water from the ordinary flow of the river.
That is substantially the recital of my background. I have recited it for the reader or listener to show them the authority (obtained by living here all my life) to recite some of the things I expect to recite as time goes on. I don't expect to tell everything in just one setting. But, I can only recite things that I can remember or that comes to my mind in an orderly manner.
In the latter 20's or maybe the early 30's and old Indian spent 3 weeks here. He was of the Shawnee tribe out of Ohio. He searched around here, making numerous journeys walking up Elkhorn Creek and around the river over near the mouth of Elkhorn Creek where it emptied into the Russell Fork. But, he never did tell anyone what he was hunting for. However I talked with Lawrence Stiltner one time before Lawrence died and Lawrence told me he had a long conversation with the Indian. It is a historical fact that the Shawnee came out of Ohio sometimes up the Tug and sometimes up the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River and even going through the Breaks. Their favorite route though was to go up Elkhorn Creek to Pound Gap and there when they crossed the Gap they got over in the Cherokee territory. The Cherokees main reservation though were northeastern Tennessee and down around Catlinburg. So this was a country primarily where they came to hunt bear. There were many bear in this area and deer and buffalo. They came to get the buffalo for the robes, and the bear for the bear skins and the winter's meat and the dear for its meat of course. The deer did not like the mountain country but, there were several deer around here.
When I was a young boy, there was still a lot of trees here in the bowl, you might say. There were numerous little streams or branches flowing out of the mountain on the south Elkhorn side. This old Indian told Lawrence that the Shawnee would come in their canoes up the Big Sandy River and then up the Russell Fork and they could paddle their canoes without and shoals being present as far as Millard which was where the Levisa and Russell Fork joined but up the Russell Fork there were several Shoals that they would have to carry their canoes, then there was long holes of water where they could paddle their canoes to the next shoals. Now, he also said they brought their wives and some of them even brought their children. Their favorite camping ground was out on the school campus. There was abundant water and fish out there out of the creek and river. Elkhorn Creek was a big creek almost a river when I was a boy. They would leave their wives and children at the camp and they would go up Elkhorn Creek on foot through Pound Gap and go over into Virginia and there they would hunt and if there was any Cherokee about, they would sometimes have war between the hunting parties and sometimes, I imagine they did it just for the purpose of making war with the Cherokee. He never did tell what he was looking for. I think that his story is substantiated that their camping ground was on the school campus because when the new school house, what we called the new school house. The big brick one in the middle that is abandoned now, was being built, the basement was excavated by men who used pick and shovel. They would dig it up and they had horses and mules that pulled hand held scoops. Like wheelbarrows without wheels and they had handles on them. They would put them into the dirt and the mule or horse that was hitched to the scoop would pull it along and gather up dirt and pull it to a designated area where they wanted that particular dirt stored. We would stay around as small boys and watch them do this. When they would dig the dirt we would find arrowheads, axes and other Indian artifacts.
In the 1920's tennis became popular among our younger set of people. It seems like where the Western Auto is right beside the Post Office, some of the younger people went together and leveled off a tennis court and put two strands of chicken wire, one on top of the other, all around it to contain the tennis balls when they played tennis there. Now when they were making the tennis court, we also found Indian arrows, axe heads and other artifacts. That seemed to be another favorite camping place for Indians because there was a branch which came down there, then across the road , but there was fresh water there because two branches of small streams of water. One which originated out of the swamp out behind the ball park which is the present day Looney Addition and the other up on the mountain from South Elkhorn and joined right here in front of Carmel Wallace's house as you go out to the ball park. So there was fresh water. The river was just over the bank there. The river was just steeming with fish even when I was a boy, many kinds that are now extinct in this area. That was apparently a favorite camping ground as I said before, because we found those Indian artifacts. Some kept them and most of us traded them off for different things. Most of the boys carried an old Russell Barlow pocket knife. You could get a one blade at a store for fifteen cents and a two-blade, that is a long blade and a short blade for a quarter. So every boy around practically carried a Barlow. Not the brand of Barlows that you see for sale in stores, because the manufacturers of the old Barlow discontinued that line many years ago because they could not maintain the quality and still sell them at the cheap price that they were selling them at. I guess it had been going on for hundreds of years, Indians coming up in here and crossing over into Pound Gap and the Breaks and so on warring with the Cherokee. It is just a matter of historic interest, I guess. The Shawnee never did tell what he was hunting for. I saw him around town many times while he was here those three weeks, people never did to my knowledge, learn what he was hunting for.
In a matter of historical perspective, I believe it was Jack Tackett, James Virgil Powell and Cline Jackson, Cline was my first cousin. We were inseparable all in high school, we were all in the same grade and we graduated together. We played set back which was a favorite card game for our people. One day it started raining and we were over by that hole of water called Stillworm. It was over behind Landon Elswick home over there that hole of water and that was the lower end of it. There was a leaning rock which was a shelter. We got under there to avoid the rain and to continue our set back game. I don't know which one of us looked up and it was a slanting rock that hung over our head. Somebody noticed some big numerals there. They were covered with lichings and moss growing on the rock and it almost had this date obscured. So one of us scarped it off, there wasn't a lot of room under there to move around, and the date was 1873 there was probably a lot of people around here. So I imagine if that rock hasn't been destroyed or moved by floods or bulldozer, that it is still here, I don't know. I haven't been there in many years due to my disability. Now, the above brings me to another point. It was in the 30's when we had the great drought. This was when Oklahoma and the Midwest was devastated by the great drought here the sky was gray from the dust from the plains of Oklahoma. Colorado, and Kansas.. The clothes women would hang out on the line and if it didn't rain the dust would get on the clothes and leave the clothes in a tattle tell gray condition. But, anyway, that is the lowest that I have seen the river up to that time. In recent years the river has filled up the big deep holes that use to be here. They have been filled up with siltation, surface mining and erosion. But Jack Tackett and I were down there behind what was Roland Elswick's home place at the time. It was right down behind what is the present Bailey Funeral Home, right on the edge of the water. Jack and I, as boys, hung around the river and fished a whole lot, as well as all the other boys around here, and swam. The river was clean. I don't know which one of us noticed it first. But, there was a big slanting rock there, a big sandstone rock, and there was a profile. We cleaned the sand away from it and the more we cleaned the more interested we became. Because it showed a profile, the whole head of George Washington in profile. It was so plain that you could not mistake the picture of Washington in of one the famous paintings. I don't remember who painted it. But it was one of the great paintings that we are so familiar with. We could tell because it was so well done that it was George Washington's picture. It had apparently been carved in there so long that the jagged edges of the rock had been worn smooth. So, the first thing we did. I believe Jack went up to his house . He lived up above there on Elkhorn Street opposite Elswick's store, presently Breaks auto Parts and got a sledge hammer. Well, in 1930 we were about 15 or 16 years of age and we tried to break that out of there, but all we could do was chip it a little bit on the top. And we shook and quivered from the vibrations of it and we say that we were not going to do anything to it. So we covered it with a flat rock and tried to mark it in our minds where it would be. We took this sight on the back of Roland Elswick's barn so that we could locate the approximate distance of where it was located there. I don't think we did anything more about it until after the flood of 1937. The great flood which almost washed Louisville and many more communities along the Big Sandy and Ohio off. We went back there after that flood and tried to find it and took a sighting on Roland Elswick's barn like we did before, but the 37 flood had got up and reached the rock wall or maybe even the barn of Roland Elswick and it had shifted somewhat due to the high water and we were never able to find that rock again don't know if anyone else ever found it or not. Jack Tackett is living to this day and can verify what I am telling you. I can't remember anyone else ever mentioning seeing it. I think the only reason we saw it was that the river was down low due to the drought in the early 30's and the edge of the water had become exposed and we just happened to be sitting down there on the rock bar and one of the other of us just happened to spy that little curve in the top of George Washington's head in profile and we cleaned the sand and stuff away from it and there it was down to his neck carved in that hard sandstone rock. It was smooth and plain that no one could mistake it for Washington. So we had a wonderful time, Jack and I, did. We never did tell anyone for many years thereafter. I guess Jack's told other people, I know I have about it. I guess it's gone now. Not gone, necessarily, but bulldozers have been in there and there has been so much high water and we were never able to locate it again
That brings me to another interesting fact. The old state road up Elkhorn Creek was not built until 1936. There was a big beech tree situated on top of a little hill that you had to go up going out to the school house. The tree was in the bend of the road, not too far below where that old house was recently torn down over from the graveyard there on the old county road. On that big beech tree, I know the first time I saw it, it looked a little weathered then, someone had carved a magnificent picture. It was a large cowboy, from the waist up. He had a strong profile, he wore a sombrero he wore a kerchief around his neck held by a ring in the kerchief, he wore a leather shirt with fringes hanging down from the sleeves, he had on cuffs. The cuffs he wore were up above the wrist, maybe six inches long made out of leather. It showed those so plainly. He also had some gloves which had fringes hanging down. He was delicately carved in a realistic manner. If I remember right he had on cross gun belts with a pistol in each holster. It didn't show all of it. The artist didn't go that far. He was in a natural position. It was a magnificent carving on that big beech tree. Thousands of people over the years saw the carving. I was never able to find out who carved it, but no one seems to know. But, it must have taken a great deal of time. I remember it was there for at least twenty years, maybe not hardly twenty years, but nobody tried to carve anything else on it or spoil it. Probably if it were today and when someone had carved it, it would have been vandalized that night or the day after. This is just a comment on our society the way it is this day and time and how it was at that time. I passed it many times going to and from school. When the road was built out there in middle 30's the beech had already begun to die and the bark was shredding up and breaking and the cowboy's torso and all of the magnificent details were drying out and obliterated. I think the state people , the state contractor had to cut down the beech in building the road. I have regretted so many times, that I did not go out and take that bark off that tree when they getting ready to destroy the tree. I don't think any objections would have been made because the tree was going to be destroyed anyway. But, I have never been able to find out who carved that picture of that cowboy. Apparently, it was someone from out west and a person of great artistic talent, because it was in such intricate detail. In fact, just about every time I went by there as a boy, I had an urge to go west and to become a cowboy and dress like that. You know how boys are.
Those are things that I remember that stand out in my mind that happened back in those early days.
If my memory serves me correctly, the last running logs from the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company from Splash Dam, Virginia occurred in 1917 or 18 when they loosed the logs that were laying behind that dam over there and they were all branded with the triangle which was the famous brand or insignia of the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company and they only took yellow poplar. Now there is very little yellow poplar left in this country. But it grew in virgin soil and was specie than the white poplar that we have growing now on our mountain sides. It could have been in 1919 or 1918. I never learned directly when the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company turned the last logs loose from the Splash Dam when they shot the trigger log and all those logs came roaring though the breaks changing ends and so on as they did in those days with the logs piled up for miles up on the Russell Fork and almost up to the McClure Fork. They were up the mouth of Pound. I do distinctly remember, that my father put me on his back. The river was down lower than the old home place, we were standing on the top of the bank and there was a gently sloping, sandy bank down to the rock bar. He put me up on his shoulders and I was about 3 or 4 years of age and I could see these great logs, some of them 40, 50 or 60 feet long. They covered the river from bank to bank and the water would get right up to the base of the rock wall that the people had built to set their barns on and would act as a substantial foundation for them to keep them from washing away. And I distinctly remember his words. He said. "Son, take a good look because this is the last time you will see this happen. So it must have been the last logs splashed out of Splash Dam and I distinctly remember it to this day. I can see those great logs leaping and tumbling and changing ends.
Conrad Jones lives up on Elkhorn Creek and worked in Martin County for several years for some coal mine. He gave me an article, which was a second installment on the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company. An article written in the Martin County Times, I believe it was, and detailing the background of the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company. How Splash Dam operated and how the great logs coming out of there would change ends and just jump up in the air or fly up in the air and I distinctly remember sitting on my father's shoulders with my legs around his neck and him showing me the logs and the river. Of course, I did not understand the significance at my tender years of what was taking place. Most of the Yellow Poplar originated in Dickenson County, Virginia which had tremendous boundaries of Yellow Poplar. People would cut them. Of course, Yellow Poplar operated their own dam and they cut most of their logs and trimmed them up and put them in the waters backed up by Splash Dam. Each one of them bore the brand which had to be registered. It was a triangle. It had to be put on each log with a branding hammer 2 or 3 times on each end. Then they were cut and put in the water that was backed up by the Splash Dam. Now, also people would cut poplar logs burther down the river and as the great swirling water and logs came through the Breads it would also wash away these logs in the great splashes that occurred. In fact, I've heard my mother say that when she was a girl, she and her older brother Jim hauled poplar logs from her father's farm, where the Willow Brook Country Club is today, and they used oxen to haul them up Grassy Mountain to where the entrance to the Park is now. There they would unload them into a steep gut hollow. I believe it was about1800 feet to the river. These logs were skidded and rolled down to the edge of the river and would be washed away in the spring ffeshets. But under contract my grandfather and his father, John Mullins, would cut the logs during the wintertime and Mom and her older brother, Jim, would haul them out there with ox yokes. She said sometimes it would take 3 yokes of cattle which would be 6 oxen. Of course, you had a long coupling pole to the wagon which you could extend back maybe 40 or 50 feet to accommodate these large logs. I've often wondered what would happen if some stuck up somewhere down in that hollow. I imagine someone would have to go down and loosen it someway with cant hooks and pike poles but I never though to ask her about it when she was telling me about it. It was just past the entrance to the Park. Of course, they already been bought by the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company and paid for in advance and stamped with the brand of the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company - the famous triangle that was well- know there. It was understood that some of the logs probably would be lost in transit. But the people seemed to be trustworthy in honoring their contracts. I'm sure that the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company's timber buyers would scale the timber and estimate how many board feet that they would buy or to be cut and skidded down that steep gut hollow to the Russell Fork, right there about the middle of the Breaks. But, this article recited that there was a boom made of poplar logs held together by chain dogs that were spiked on each end of a short chain, most of them the size of a trace chain. Maybe the chains would be about 12 inches long between the chain dogs and they would dive these chain dogs into each end of these great logs and put them end to end and make log booms to catch the logs. My understanding from this article was that there was a log boon in Bowens Hole, which caught the logs so they could be rafted and later on, men would ride those logs all the way to Cattletsburg, where they were gathered in by a large boom across the mouth of the Big Sandy River. The only thing that makes this creditable to be, because I never heard anybody- the older people even, a lot of older people who lived through this and worked for Yellow Poplar ever mention any log boom in Bowens Hole. However, you can go today and look in that cliff above the railroad bridge on the opposite side of the river where we are. There are two big bolts. They must be an inch and a half or two inches through. I would say that they are close to 2 inches through. One of them is sticking up and the other is bent like lines of some kind had been attached to them. They were apparently place in the rock by blowing out holes there and after the water ran through the shoales and the logs could be gathered down there below the present railroad bridge. Perhaps this log boom reached down in there. But, if you want to go today and look at that cliff you can see those two big bolts. I imagine that they are still there. I haven't been over there in many years. But I used to fish a lot off of that ledge there . That is the only substantiation. I didn't know that until I read the article in the paper. There is nobody here that I was able to find out from whether or not there was a log boom in Bowens Hole. But this paper said there was. It said, they had a log boom to catch these logs in Elkhorn City or just below Elkhorn City. That's the only place I see that would be feasible to have put a boom and those great bolts in that cliff are still there today. I imagine they would have been put there for the purpose of tying one end of the boom to the bolts and the other end could have been on down the river and curved around or attached to something anchored on to something on this side of the river. But that 's all I've been able to find out about that. All of the old-timers that would remember it are perhaps dead and gone or can't remember back that far. The article first recited that the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company was formed in 1843 in Scotland by a bunch of Scotch businessmen to get this yellow poplar. I always though it was formed in 1890's by a group of businessmen out of Huntington, West Virginia and Ohio. But this article recited Scotland. Apparently, there was a lot of research done on it. It was formed in 1843 by a bunch of Scotch businessmen.
Today, we have what is the CSX Railway which was originally the Cheasapeake and Ohio Railway headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. They build up the Big Sandy River and laid the first rail lines in a south easterly direction which was the headwaters of the Big sandy. Now, it is my further understanding that the little pieces of road built along by independent contractors and the C & O up the Big Sandy begin to acquire these little short lines sometimes built to get to these mining properties and so on. When the early people would ride their rafts and the rafts of the Yellow Poplar Lumber Company and rafts of other lumber companies out to Cattletsburg. Some lived as far away as Grundy. Virginia and then on back to Dickenson County. Then they had little houses along the way, private people did, where they could stay overnight on their walks home. It was on one street in Cattletsburg, Front Street, I believe they said it was called. There were 42 saloons and some brothels there. Some of the men were paid off after they rode the rafts down there for their labors for riding the rafts down to Cattletsburg. These rafts were so large that they built little shelters on the rafts and cooked there. But they tried to find quiet places every night to tie up each night because they didn't run the rafts at night. During the day they probably had rock laid where they built fires and cooked on the raft and some of them had great sweeps built on the back and front of the rafts so they could guide it. After they left Millard there were no shoals or anything so it was almost a straight shoot to Cattletsburg. But getting down to Millard you had a great bit of difficulty. You could only do it during high water and people always said when I was a boy you had to wait until the Spring freshet, until the river raises and the spring rain so you could go through the shoals. But nevertheless, talking about the railroad, the C & O began to construct the railroad on its own and as it built up the Big Sandy Valley and bought out these little independent stretches of road. I heard these old timers say and there's a few left in this country that can remember riding a raft that you could ride the train up to White House, that's a place at the end of the rail at that time when they had to walk the rest of the way to wherever they lived. Of course, you couldn't take your nag, horse or mule to ride, since they rode the rafts down and they had to walk most of the way. The railroad persevered and eventually the rails reached on the opposite side of the river to the present railroad trestle. It ended there and they had a little turntable. Of course, the engines and passenger cars were small. They would turn the engines on the little turntable, then hook on the end of the train and go on back down the river. Mart Ratliff, who lived where Jim Anderson's hardware is today had a home there. He operated a ferry right below the railroad trestle where he hauled people back and forth. You could come up that far on the railroad but to get across the river to and from Elkhorn City you had to take Mart's Ratliff's ferry. But, eventually they got the railroad construction about 1910 or 1911, which is marked as such now, and people then walked the Railroad bridge and the little turntable was moved to this side to the main part of Elkhorn from across the river there. They could turn the engines on that turntable and it was located where the present day underpass is. That is, where the railroad bridge crosses over the highway where the Trail's End Restaurant was as you went up in that direction. The C & O built a large depot. It had 2 big waiting rooms and big style seats fastened to the floor. They had a colored waiting room and a white waiting room. They sold tickets there for transportation on the railroad. But in the meantime, the Clinchfield, Carolina and Ohio ( C.C. & O) had built into Elkhorn City and later established a "Y" in the east Elkhorn yard where trains could back in and turn up there where the Lower Branch is. They built the railroad there like a "Y" with two sides so trains could back up in lower branch and switched over to the other side and they could reverse their directions. We are talking about rather small engines, not the capacity that they called steam engines. Then later on we began getting the great steamers. Clinchfield built the "Y" and then C & O worked out a deal with Clinchfield where C & O could use the "Y" to turn their trains, I will get in to the situation later on in the recital.
I would play on that turntable when I was a little boy. You could only move it a couple of inches because it had a lock on it. But us boys would play out there on it. Across from the turntable was a peculiar little situation. There were two little barn like small structures, with a short rail line maybe the length of a rail, maybe not that much to these two little structures, actually they were one structure and they forked and had a little switch there. Inside those 2 little structures there was a from of a tricycle. Each tricycle was operated by two little pedals and a sprocket chain. They had four legs and on each leg was a wheel with flanges on it like a railroad car. Dr. Deskins and Dr. Pinson were two local doctors here at this time and if they got call down at Draffin or Dunleary or up to the Potter Flats, they used these two machines. They could take their two machines out of the little building where they were stored and when they were notified that people needed their services like those places I named, they would take their machines out. They could be operated by hand and pushed them ut on the main rails, but before that they would check with the station agent to see if any trains were coming and then they would push them out on the main track and wither go up the railroad or down the railroad depending on the devices. They were used by the doctors and were quicker than riding horseback back and forth to these places and getting saddle sores, I guess. I saw them riding them. The fact of the matter is that some of us boys use to crawl under there and sit on the saddle, like seats on a bicycle. They kept the wheels locked with a chain and lock. We could move it about 3 or 4 inches and get in there and paddle back and forth. For that day and time it was rather an ingenious device. I really and truly do not remember how long they used them because the best I remember they were there one day and suddenly they were there no more. I don't remember when they stopped using them, but probably when motor vehicles came in to use. We had no roads really except old country roads. Horses and mules were fast disappearing because they were no longer needed for transportation, since motor vehicles were coming in to this part of the country.
And while I's on the subject of motor vehicles, I can remember two garages in town here in the 20's. There was one down at the end of the old bridge. I believe it was run by a fellow by the name of Orville Coleman. It seemed like he sold Nash's which were good cars. Then out behind Elswick's store there was an old feed room I don't know if it was Landon or Roland Elswick or someone else who had a garage out there who sold Overlands, Dorts and Dodge Brothers. Of course, he had the Model T Fords. The Overlands and Dorts are not manufactured anymore. But the cars most favored around here and the outstanding car was the Ford because it had the ability to go where some of the other cars could not because it had larger wheels and could go over the poor roads we had. The Nash's and Buicks were what they called the touring cars during that day. They had canvas cobers to put over the windows when we had inclement weather or it rained. Of course, there was no such thing as antifreeze during those days and you had to crank them. It was not uncommon in those days to see a man's arm in a swing. You could ask him what happened and he would say he was cranking his car or someone else's car and the crank kicked back and broke my arm. That was fairly common around here. Some of the cars had the tool box on the running board. All the cars had running boards. Some, I believe it was the Essex., that had a tool box in the back or trunk. Everybody carried a patching and a pump that you operated by hand to pump the tires up. The windshield wipers operated by hand. They had a little crank on them; you had to operate it by hand to move the windshield wiper back and forth to clean your windshield. There was no such thing as heaters, radio or tape players. They all had stick shifts. They were very primitive models to the present day cars. People did use them in the winter time with no antifreeze. You generally had to drain your motor block or you would have a frozen motor block the next morning. Actually there was a taxi service run from the depot to haul people out on some of these creeks and hollows where the cars were able to go. You, of course, was charged a fee and they had taxi, marked on the sides of them. I remember someone had a taxi using a Buick automobile touring car with two seats with taxi on it. They met the trains and people would take the taxi if they were going outside of town or up to one of the motels.
I'm going into detail on a lot of these matters because some of the younger generation would have no idea of what it was like in those days when cars were first coming in and around Elkhorn City and this was in the early 20's and thereafter. There was no service stations or gasoline stations as such back then. Gasoline was shipped in here in big sixty gallon steel drums. People who did run a little service station or a little place to repair cars would buy these drums of gasoline and empty them into tanks. You had a hand operated pump where you pump gas up into a glass tank at the top. It held five gallons of gasoline and it was marked off in gallons. Then the gravity flow, when you opened the hose and put the nozzle in the cars gas tank, the gravity flow would force the gasoline down into the car. Later there was the development of the automatic pump which we have today. But getting gasoline was a big problem. If a person had a car he would generally carry a full set of tools in his tool box, expecially cold patches to patch the tire. You didn't go too far around here without having a flat. He generally carried a spare can of gasoline. It was very difficult to find a place where you could obtain gasoline. These barrels of gasoline and kerosene which people used to light their homes with and oil lamps were carried by a lot of merchandising stores especially away from town here. If you were going outside of town you had to make sure that you had a spare can of gasoline.
It was said one time that Bill Jackson and a bunch were up on Grassy. They were coming back this way and at the high marrows they ran out of gasoline, but they had about a gallon of moonshine whiskey and it is said, I don't know how reliable it is, that they poured part of that gallon of whiskey into the tank of that old Ford and it operated the car until they got to Elkhorn. Now how true is I don't know. That's just a tale that I heard. That's the only two places I remember that had a sales place for automobiles. They were shipped in here on flat cars and were unloaded on the house track that went down to the old Elkhorn City Wholesale Company. The Elkhorn City Wholesale Company kept these sixty gallon barrels on the back porch there. That old building burned. But there was an old house track build down to the railroad from the Elkhorn City Wholesale Company which was then built where Johnson's Hardware is now. But that's burned down twice. But I ' ll get to the fires later on in this recital.
If this seems disconnected it may be because I can't think of everything in sequence or dates so I have to give approximations or my best judgement. In those days I was a young boy. But as my daddy always said, I was the son of a wild jack ass because it was hard to keep me at home and work. My brothers were pretty hard on me sometimes, accusing me of slipping off and not doing my share of the work.. This was true in a lot of instances.
In the 20's we had quite a few carnivals and circuses to come to our community. Some of the circuses were rather large for that day and time. They would have a whole freight train. They usually would place the cars on that old house track over at the Elkhorn City Wholesale Company and on the outside of the box cars and cattle cars there were great signs printed, showing the bearded lady, the rubber man, the sword swallower and the fire eater, the vicious lion and the elephant. There was also camels, horses, ponies and of course the wild beast -lions, tigers and other caged animals. They were hauled over to the circus grounds and in this particular instance the circus grounds were up here at the present Baptist pastors home. The circus was set up there in a big tent. But the reason I'm relating this is one time, shortly after they unloaded the animals off the train, they were taken down to the river there above the present old middle bridge which now stands and allowed them to drink and play in the water. The elephants in particular seem to enjoy the clear clean water. The river was clear. The elephants would play and spray themselves and each other. The camels and horses would drink. They did not bring the wild animals down to the river of course. They more or less kept the elephants above the bridge because the water was shallow there and down below the bridge there was some deep places and it was also the community's swimming place down below the bridge. People lined the bridge on one side watching the animals and people were also lined all up and down the railroad siding watching the animals. It was always said that when the camels went to drink you could actually see the river go down. Well, that may have been so. The water was not too deep, not too deep. In that particular place in the river in the spring, the suckers and redhorse use to come there and spawn in the clear water and you could see them on the bottom. The bottom of the river was more or less covered with fish. People liked to watch the fish. Then that night of course the circus the would put on a performance which was more or less an exhibition of the animals in the cages. The elephants would put on a show. The camels were paraded around and the horses and ponies were taught to do certain tricks. Then they had cowboys and girls doing rope tricks and so on. It was rather a very entertaining evening to be spent at the circus. They also had hot dog and hamburger stands and pink lemonade. That aroma of frying hot dogs and hamburgers filled the air. Also, ladies would put on dances in skimpy costumes and it as comical in a way to see men slipping around and going to the "hoochie coochie, show as they always called it. But we would have two or three carnivals a year and they stayed six or seven days and people would come from all of the outlying areas and sometimes the big circus tent would be filled with people. This continued on during the 20's and I don't remember too many circuses, if any that came in the 30's because the coal slump had hit this section. You had black Monday on October 29, 1929 when the bottom fell out of the stock market and millionaires were jumping out of skyscrapers because they had lost their fortunes. But there were a few carnivals around here. And old geography book of mine listed the 1930 census in Elkhorn city as 300 people at that time. The ordinary house rented for about $5.00 and the house where Hank Salyers lives now was called the old Scott House or Mansion built back there about 1919 or 1920 was really a beautiful place and still is on an excellent location and times were very very hard because we were getting into the depression. Actually some of the empty houses around here were used as cattle stalls. Talking about the carnivals, Vicars Slone told me one time and I have this straight from Vicars, he is dead now. He and Howard Slone, a relative or cousin of his were out here at a carnival at the old ball park.. They had a baboon in a cage and as Vicars and Howard walked by the old baboon's cage he did something that aroused the baboons So Vicars told me that he and Howard went over to the drug store and got a bottle of turpentine and a quill, of course he meant a straw. They went back to the carnival. The old baboon was till n his cage there and he waited until he got his back side or those large red places right under the baboon's tail just the right position and Vicars said " I drew me a quill full of turpentine and I gave a big swoosh to the quill and that turpentine flew all over the baboon and that baboon let out a squall and jumped so high that he hit the top of the cage. Well, one of the carnivals roustabouts hollowered to the top of his voice, 'Hey Rube" which was the old carnival cry for help. Vicars and Howard said they ran through the swamp and went into the PaPaw patch out where the Looney Addition is now. They could hear those carnival people stomping around hunting for them. They could still hear that old baboon squalling around and the carnival people didn't know what had happened to the baboon. Vicars said after a while they had all gone back down to the carnival and he and Howard got out of their place of concealment and went back to the carnival. I imagined that old baboon felt like a dog that had been roughed up in turpentine. But when Vicars told me that I could visualize that old baboon jumping up to the top of the cage and hollering to the top of his voice, and I still laugh after all these years thinking about it.
The carnivals ceased in the 30's except little shoddy carnivals that set up for a nigh or so. Most of their games were gambling games and most of the people did not get their money's worth. You rally in a way got your money's worth when you could see the animals and performers perform especially the cowboys and cowgirls twirling the ropes and horses jumping through the ropes. It was really an entertaining sight. I though I'd just throw that in to show that we were not without entertainment here.
Getting back to the history of Elkhorn City, it is said that the first permanent settler in this area was William Ramey. He came out of East Virginia and he brought his wife here and settled. I was under the impression from something that G . Tom Hawkins told me about a year before he died that a sister of President Madison was buried out on the cemetery here. I was never able to verify that. Tom told me he could take me right to her grave but over the period of the next few months prior to Tom's death I would see him in town when he would come off Goose Hollow in John Moore's Branch and ask him to take me out there and show me where that grave is. So I felt or had a far fetched theory that perhaps William Ramey had married a sister to the Reverend James Madison who is a first cousin of the President James Madison and who was one of the first persons to petition large areas of land in this area with Bowens Rock being one of the central locations where he started most of his surveys. I know now that it is not so. Marie Slone up on Beaver Creek made available to me a genealogy of the family of William Ramey. In that genealogy was also a copy of the will executed by William Ramey and it was probated in 1865 alone about the date after his death and in the preface to the genealogy it was said that William Ramey and his wife Anna Scandlin built the first home between Elkhorn City and the schoolhouse.
Now growing up as a boy there was a big log house situated where the Main Place is right now. The last person I remember living in that big log house, it stayed empty a lot was Noah Reynolds. I 'm not sure whether the house was torn down or whether it burned. Dick Ratliff later bought the property and built a home there. His heirs then sold itto Eulan Wright who built the Main Place at the base of the cemetery. I have heard almost all my life that William Ramey made a written dedication of the cemetery. He owned many thousands of acres of land here and around Elkhorn City. He and his wife, I believe are buried out there on the cemetery according to the genealogy but I have searched through the years and have gone back through the deeds at the Pike County Court Clerks Office looking for a deed of dedication for that cemetery or a writing to show that he dedicated that cemetery to public use. I could not find anything. Also, I checked a lot deeds or lot surveyances that William Ramey made and I found no exclusion of the cemetery on any of the deeds. Now it could be down there and I missed it in the clerk's office. Now Pike County was formed in 1820 and if you need to find out something before 1820 you must go to Floyd County to Prestonsburg because there is where the records are prior to the time as Pike County was carved out of Floyd County. I've been through the deed index and indicies in Floyd looking for William Ramey deeds particularly pertaining to the cemetery. I was unable to find anything which stated that William Ramey ever made a dedication of that cemetery. It could well have been that a writing was prepared but failed to be recorded in the County Court Clerks of Pikeville or if he made it when he first came here, which is highly unlikely, there is nothing in the Floyd County indicies to indicate that he had anything filed down there. So actually there was no title to the cemetery except William Ramey. Of course , down through the years that was passed through different hands and in the mid 1930' Alexander Looney bought the ballpark and the southwestern end of the cemetery from about the middle back to the school house from Consolidated Coal Company in a big land transaction and a law suit between Consolidated Coal Company and the Elkhorn City Land and Improvement Company.. At that time they agreed on a line settlement which runs up through Polley Street there across the mountain and onto Pond Branch. The city bought the ballpark and cemetery from Mr. Looney in the mid 30's and executed this note payable, I believe a $l,000.00a year with three, four or even maybe five percent interest. The city, I believe, eventually paid that off within five years and in the meantime, the city obtained a P.W.. Grant (The Progress Works Administration) and also where men were hired by the federal government to work during the depression and they completely revamped the entire area out in there with mules, hand scoops and pick and shovel. They moved 27,000 cubic yards of dirt and took off part of the slope that extended down to the ball park from the cemetery. Now the batters box is now on the opposite end of where it use to be when I was a boy. Now you bat in a different direction. They leveled it all up and the rock were hauled up from the river bank and Frank Fore I believe was in charge of the rock work out there. The round rocks and the concrete seats were placed there. Also over in what we called the thickets where big pines, tulip trees and beeches grew, there was a big branch that ran out of there that comes out now and joins another branch now in front of Carmel Wallace's place. They built a shelter house with two rooms on each end that was for the ball players to change clothes if necessary. The scouts met there for several years. In addition, they built the barbecue pits and recreation places out there. For some reason, the citizens of this community did not take too much advantage of it. Eventually it was torn down. But the ball park is still used for school purposes. The city built the swimming pool and walking track and so on but the football field is used by the school during football season. In the spring, it is used by the high school/baseball team. It's been a great asset to Elkhorn City having that piece of property available in that large an area to be used for different purposes. Dr. G. W. Newsome was Mayor at that time. He was the author or planner for most all that took place. He obtained the government grants and had a city council that was cooperative and the work was accomplished. Also during that time there was a magistrates court house started and built up about two layers of rock from a stone querry up on Beaver hauled out here. It was situated where the Senior Citizens Center is now. Part of it was torn out and utilized when they built the Senior Citizens Center. That pretty well describes about the cemetery and it is almost completely filled up now with corpses and they are probably some historic personages out there but we have no knowledge of them. The first tombstones were just pew stones or maybe just dates scratched on them and later years here the fences that fence up large plots of the cemetery that reserved it for families some would be even 25x50x50 squared when there was only a few in the family that would ever use it. Back in the 30' when the city acquired title to the cemetery they tore out those fences and tore out the old fence that the surrounded the cemetery.. Off to the side where the private grave lots are now next to Hatcher Street don't know how many colored people are buried there most of them came in here working for the Clinchfield Railway.. They worked in the mines here after the Railway was built and there were several around here when I was a boy in the 20's. They had that little cemetery. The blacks were not allowed to bury on the main cemetery even though there would have been plenty of room. Things were so different regarding blacks at that day and time then they are now. There was no such things as Civil Rights that we have on the books today.
I know I wondered the field in this recitation and got misled about what I was going to say in talking about William Ramey. In reading his will, I have only been able to really locate the first bequest was to Mary Potter, his eldest daughter and he gave all of his children only a life estate in his will with the remainder to their descendants. There would have to be according to the first group of descendants because the property had to vest under the law of purpeturity said a life of being as twenty-one years. So this boundary began at the white oak about the old middle bridge there in the middle of town and probably on the main Elkhorn Side of the river, then the line ran down the river to twin sycamores. Now those twin sycamores I can remember. They stood right behind where Ernest Mulling lives now, out there near Landon Elswick. They would have been right above the old forge since we got the bridge in 1912. Then from the twin sycamores, the line went straight across the river into a point or ridge coming down the main ridge going up Elkhorn. Then up that ridge to up and across John Moore's branch. Then down John Moore's Branch to the river thence up the river to a point above Bantling Rock which is Bowens Rock. today. This description called for this across the river to a spruce fir and black gum standing on bank of the river. Now Mark Ratliff had a ferry there while he was building the railroad bridge. People could ride the train up to the end of the railroad bridge and they had a little turntable where the engine would turn and then go back down the river.
It is know that Daniel Boone made one trip through here; but it was so rough and when he couldn't see the Bluegrass from this area, he never came through here again. We know that Thomas Walker came through Pound Gap, but I think he went in another direction. He went down the Kentucky River and explored down through that area. He also came through Cumberland Gap. Other people came through Cumberland Gap. Reverend James Madison sent many surveying crews in here to survey out boundaries which he pattoned. However, he pattoned mostly near the river bottoms and the steams and a little bit upon the mountains and he missed the most valuable part of this country which was the coal deposits. For some reason or other, I don't think he was in this country himself. His pattons reached sometimes right below where the coal deposits were. Other people came in later on and found that the land was not pattoned and they pattoned it themselves through the state or our county government. There was a good bit of trading of land and buying and selling. I've heard it said and this was no longer than yesterday that Elkhorn bottom here at one time sold for an old mussle loading riffle, some possum tracks and a bee course. A bee course would have been where there was a bee tree and bees come out to water and you could line the bees at the bee tree and follow that line until you got to the bee tree. Once at the tree, you could cut it down and find honey. The possum tracks, with all the possums that are in this country, I couldn't imagine possum tracks. It must have been something else.
Now getting back to the railroad, they first started building up Big Sandy Valley our of the mouth of the Big Sandy River. Some of the miles of tracks were built by independent contractors who would build a section of railroad and then would tie in to the one lower down. Eventually C & O came in and bought up these small lines until they had acquired all these railways. I guess if you looked at the map of Pike County, this would be in the south westerly direction.
Elkhorn City was not without its tragedies. In the 1020's it was fires. Buildings were very poorly constructed. They were heated by coal stoves and grates. The first big fire that I remember was in Front Street. Now that is known as Pine Avenue. Since it passed the depot, sometimes whole platform would be filled with people there. They called it Front Street. The main building on the corner was what they called the Old Café. It consisted of two and a half stories. The bottom story was a basement and housed Billy Jo Powell's restaurant. He served hamburgers, hot dogs and things of that kind. He did a rather thriving business. On the second floor contained the Post Office on the right as you went through the door and on the other side was a drug store. The Post Office at that time was Praise, Kentucky. It wasn't changed until Carl D. Perkins got Congressman in this district and he got it changed for us back in 1948 or 49. In the drug store, there was round tables (drug store tables) more or less marble tops and wire back chairs which seemed to be standard tables for the drug store at that day and time. They also had a fountain. In the back of the drug store was a stairwell which led up to the third floor. The third floor contained rooms which people would rent and stay over night. I believe next door to the Old Café was a barber shop which was operated by Harolyn Cook. Bob Crabtree operated a little store where you could buy knick knacks. I remember buying a sling shot there one time.. When it burned, they built the house that Edgar Elswick lives in now there at the end of the old bridge and store building and put in a store over there. The next building, I can't recall exactly what it was; but I believe it was Caldo Marinaro's restaurant which was a red tin colored building with rooms upstairs and downstairs. So that was what was called Front Street.
One night the town was aroused by a call of fire. We had no fire department so we had to make a bucket brigade since the nearest water was often the river. I believe there was a town pump right in front of where the library is now. Dr. Deskins and Dr. Pinson had their offices there. The night it caught fire, I had two friends to be burned up there. Eervin Rowe operated the drug store and rented rooms there. He had two sons mp;#150; Olgie and Woodrow. I believe Olgie was the eldest but I'm not positive. They were sleeping in the back room up on the top floor opposite from where B. J.'s florist currently is now. My grandfather live over there where the Old White Star Restaurant use to be. It didn't take my grandfather but a short time to get down to the back of that building. He said he could see Olgie & Woodrow running around in the smoke trying to find a way out. There was a window and I guess the height to the window was about 15 to 20 feet. I heard my grandfather say that he searched all around for a board. There was no ladder or anything available. He couldn't find a board to put up there and he couldn't make the boys hear him to break out that window and let him catch them. The flames were roaring and it was an old wooden building. So they burned up. They were found when it cooled down hanging on the iron bedstead there in that back room. Then in another room Bob Tarpat Ratliff was staying there that night. He was also burned up there that night. There was various theories of why that building burned but it probably burned from natural causes. Olgie and Woodrow were about my age. I played with them all the time. I saw them the next morning. They were laid out on a white cloth on the street across from Front Street. You couldn't even recognize what they where. They were black and so on. Frank Lore was a caskets maker here. He was making some little caskets for them. Nevertheless, that was the first big I remember.
There was some other things that happened too. Prior to this. It was back in the 20's that a young lady got off the Clinchfield Railway. They had a passenger train which ran in here about 9:00 at night She came in on that train and took a room over at the Old Café. Of course, all business stayed open until the last train came in which was about 11:00. Well, this young lady took a room there. Nobody knew who she was or where she was from or anything of that sort. But, they did see her got off the train and get a room at the Old Café. Sometime during the night and I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the next morning there was signs of a struggle was in one of the rooms. There was a man of foreign decent staying there that night and I'm not sure if it was in her room or his room but there was blood all over the room and the walls. There was also bloody hand prints all over the wall. The girl was nowhere to be found and she was never seen again. Some people thought she may have been thrown in the river. Actually, people search all the way down to Cattletsburg along the river thinking that her body may show up. Another peculiar thing was that a railroad station down in Cincinnati was a big trunk. On one had ever called for it. It was there maybe a week or a month. One of the persons that worked at the depot noticed a peculiar odor from it. It was opened under the supervision of the police and they found the body of a young woman in that truck. Now nobody could remember a trunk being shipped out of Elkhorn City. There was never any proof to prove that this was the young woman that had registered that night at the Old Café. That was one of the unsolved mysteries of life and probably we will never know the answer. To my knowledge it was never learned who she was. So many people traveled through this community. At one time there was 7 or 8 trains coming in and going out. Some of the passenger trains would come in at night and lay over and go out the next morning. Then you had trains that came in from Pikeville and go back to Pikeville.
Most of the community's life evolved around the depot, the river, the school and outings gathering nuts and berries in season. The younger people, in particular, the courting couples or dating couples would get together in groups and ride the morning train up to the State Line Tunnel and hike back to Chimney Rock and climb up to the rock. There they would picnic and spend most of the day. Oftentimes, they would walk out and catch the night train or the train that came through later in the afternoon. They would walk sometimes through the tunnel and back to Elkhorn City. So recreation was such was not too great. There was celebration of all the big holidays.
I said in my last statement that after fifty or sixty years your memory becomes somewhat hazy and you do not remember as well as you formally did. Often times there were no written record of the things that transpired and as a result, I must rely upon my memory alone. And as I said before in this tape, it is to the best of my ability to relate what I remember and I know that its probably filled with errors and statements that can be disputed and known differently by different people some of which who are living today but to the present this is how I remember it.
As I look back over my boyhood memories and experiences I would not neglect the mentioning of this store- which I believe is called R. T. Elswick and Company. This store was situated at the corner of Center Street which is now Patti loveless Boulevard and Elkhorn Street which extends all the way up through the street to a dead end up through where the river comes around below the mouth of the creek there. When I was a boy, Elswick's Store was a fascinating place for me to go to and that is where my parents did most of their trading and they carried pratically everything that was needed in everyday housekeeping and the building was large. It was a big building inside the store. It had a balcony around the midway up the side of the building with stairs with stairs at each end of the balcony to ascend and it opened when the center space was opened and on the walls there was hooks or nails or some kind of a contrivance to hold merchandise. Merchandise was generally hung up there. There were bridles, saddles, and other equipment for the use of people who used horses, mules or animals in this section for their every day affairs. In fact, the wall around the balcony was the items of merchandise and they also carried horse shoes and ox shoes. Ox shoes were made into sections because an ox's foot is split like a cow's foot. Normally, a steer or bull that has been castrated and maybe a beast of burden, the yolk was made of hickory with a strong top piece which curved down underneath for it to go over the ox's head. The heavy yolk rested on it's shoulders and that served the same purpose as a horse's collar. With a horse pulling, the weight will be put on the collar to anchor the front of the trace chains. Well, the ox choke was similar to that. The oxen were generally manipulators driven by the use of what you call a gold which was a stick which the oxen was punched along because they had a slow walk. They really pulled more than mules or horses.. I am not confident to speak as to the strength of the beast of burden. I have read one yolk of oxen could not hold the load and you had to hitch another yolk in sometimes. In hauling things out in the rough roads you might have as many as 6 to 8 yolk of oxen pulling the heavy load. Horses were a little more proned to move faster. These animals were valuable property and the means by which they earned their living. They also used them in their everyday affairs and used them around their homes, in their gardens and such. Mules were normally used to haul sleds especially at corn harvest time when sleds were used to go to the bottom of hillside farms where they had rather steep hills. A sled was made out of tool runners with sides on it. Some were small and some were rather large. It was built according to the purpose for which they were going to be used. Now, if the hillside was unusually steep, the driver of the sled would put what is called a roughlock on the runners of the sled that was trace chains which wrapped around the sled runners and served more or less as a brake coming down these steep hillsides where they had made a crop of corn. Perhaps, they were bringing something out of the fields like a load of apples from the orchard. These trace chains served as a brake. You did not have a brake on a sled like you would have on the wagons. Of course, wagons could not go back in these steep mountains and haul out the produce which had been produced. They would haul out ears of corn and later on they would bring the fotter, and sometimes cut the whole stalk and bring them out for stock feed in the winter time. At other times they were the leaves stripped from the corn and bailed in bundles and this fotter was placed in the sled and hauled out. People in this country lived on subsistence farming before the mining business came in and the use of sled and wagons continued on for several years after other means of labor became available like timbering and mining.
Up until the middle 20's, until trucks came in here particularly Ford trucks ( some of them had solid rubber tires on them) came in but could not navigate these rough pot hole roads or country roads we had. There was a number of men around Elkhorn City who maintained teams of horses and wagons and did what they call delivery here in the local community. They would also haul merchandise from the depot that came in on trains out to Mouthcard, perhaps Grassy or up Elkhorn Creek to the local merchandise stores in those areas. Also, if someone had a special order or something, they would be hired to haul that merchandise up to the owner's home. However, after the trucks came in and more and more substance found to be more efficient and to make faster journeys and they did not require the feeding and housing of the horses, mules and oxen demanded.
I left the main subject of what I was intending to say and that was about Elswick's store. It was a big store building inside with a lot of merchandise. In the back, you had to lift up a gate to go behind the counter, there was a hand dug well. On a hot summer's day us boys and girls who played outside perhaps become thirsty, we would go inside the store and the rack the well. Generally a bucket was kept there with a dipper to get a drink of water. And, I must say a word about the goodness of Rollin T. Elswick and Landon Elswick and Sam Flannery, who were clerks there to most of that period of time. Landon and Rollin owned the store but they were always very patient and very gentle with us children. If we had a nickel or penny, we would linger over the round counter top glasses where the candy was kept. As children, we couldn't make up our mind what candy to buy. They would wait patiently till we made up our mind what we wanted and they were so good to us. In the winter time they had a big stove in the center of the building and they would let us children come in and warm around the stove. We felt perfectly at home with the gentleness and the consideration that these three men in particular showed to us children. Of course, it's true our parents were customers of the store but that wasn't all of it. I know that we were a worry and a bother to the men who waited behind the counter. They kept the ladies apparel upon the balcony. They had divided riding shirts and they had side saddles for the ladies, but they were hanging around the balcony on view for everyone to see. Also up there was regular dresses and high topped buttoned shoes and also a pictures, hats with flowers on them and I would not neglect to say corsetts. The early corsetts as I remember would reach from under a woman's breast down to her hips. Women wore long skirts and some wore high buttoned shoes. Id do not see how they could be anything but uncomfortable geared up in the way they were. But you never heard anyone of them complain about their corsett being to tight even though that would not have been good manners to complain that your corsett was to tight. I would think after eating meals they were very uncomfortable. However, that was the way of life in those days. It was hard. And as I said, they wore long skirts and when they walked sometimes skirts dragged in the mud and they wore high topped buttoned shoes. You had to have a shoe buttoner to button the shoes. But, later on all of that changed and fashions changed. Women wore more suitable garments. Most of the ladies wore their hair long and done up with a bun at the back of their head. If they didn't have too much hair they would have false hair which they would use to make a bun at the back of the neck. They were very plain. Very little make-up was used and the predominate religion in this country was Old Regular Baptist Religion. They were very strict on using powder paint as they said. The believed in long hair and they didn't want ladies coming to church, they said, that painted up like hussies. So sometimes the Old Regular Baptist set the tone of how people dress and manners that was used. Later on other denominations come to town. Today, we have a Southern Baptist Church, a Methodist Church, a Church of Christ, a Freewill Baptist Church and a Church of God besides and Old Regular Baptist within the confins of the corpal limits of Elkhorn City.
I do not mean to demean Old Regular Baptist. Our branch of Baptist and Southern Baptist came out of the Old Regular Baptist. It was more or less a strict religion. They did not believe in divorce and it was not uncommon for them to excommunicate members or as they said church'em because of some misdemeanor. Generally, they went and saw the person first and tried to get that person to mend their ways and then if they didn't they were brought up in church. A hearing was held and they were expelled, some rightly and some wrongly. Today, the ladies in the Old Regular Baptist wear short hair and they use powder paint and go to the beauty parlor and get their hair fixed. But in the earlier days, it was a very strict discipline.
In this community the area churches in the community have always operated in a harmony. Today, we have what we call union services on Easter all the churches in the community except the Old Regular Baptist get together and have an Easter Service. While I m on the subject of churches. I have been asked several times why the Methodist Church is locate where it is out on the Main Street. I may have told about this somewhere in this discourse, but if not, I'll repeat it again and to brief history as well as I know it. A lady came in by the name of Mrs. Bridges. This was prior to the railroad bridge in Elkhorn City and prior to two bridges built from East Elkhorn and here in the middle of town. All the traffic back and forth across from one side of the river was by the way of a pond down at the front of the Pikeville National Bank. You went across the head of the island and into that little stream of water. It was a very small stream at that time and then you came up on old kinely road which was out at that time and then it angled off onced it reached up to the top of the bank there. It angled off and went down through to what is the intersection of what is Center Street now known as Patty Loveless Boulevard and Elkhorn Street then down Elkhorn Street to the underpass which was later built there for wagons to get under. It was a passage way under the railroad. A new underpass is there now much larger, much better with drainage. The church was built there by Mrs. Bridges and the community, I heard my father say, that he contributed money to the building of the Church and other people around here contributed money and it is said that Proctor and Gamble the great soap company in Cincinnati contributed $1,000.00 to start this church. It was built in 1908 and it was called Methodist Discipline Church South. You'll find that on the corner stone there. It belonged to the Southern Branch of Methodism which divided during the Civil War as did Southern Baptist and Northern Baptist which is today called American Baptist. But that is why most those buildings built out in there were to take advantage of people crossing the pond. Mrs. Bridges founded the church and pastored. The people who attended the church, I know I started Sunday school there when I was a small child, and Mrs. Bridges was a wonderful woman. She was so good to us children and she had a brother in California and he would send boxes of raisins here. Dried raisins or loose raisins. She would share her raisins with us mountain children. Of course, raisins were something we were not accustomed to. Her living quarters were behind the church. I believe that they were two rooms and a kitchen in the back. Now it is my further understanding and I do not know how true it is, but I heard it said that she also wanted to build an orphanage for mountain children. There were so many diseases in this country and children would loose their parents and no where to go. No relatives to take them in. She wanted to build and orphanage out there where the present Ball Park is. She tried to get that property from the owners. I guess that was Consolidated Coal Company at that time. Some way or another she could never get the money, however, they built a beautiful Baptist Church over where it is presently located and it was the center of community life. Before we got any buildings that was general public assembly and we held our graduations there. I was graduated from High School Commencement Exercises held at the Methodist Church as well as all before me. The Church was the center of most everything. I was married in that church in 1948 to my wife Madge. There's been a soft spot in my heart for the Methodist Church all of my life because so many of the main happenings of my life took place in the Methodist Church.
Subsequently, Mrs. Meade, the wife of Doctor Meade, a local doctor of Southern Baptist wrote ten letters to ten person over the state of Southern Baptist Personages begging for help in establishing the Baptist Church here. Now, I believe the first Baptist Church services were held perhaps in the old theater building which was another center of community life. We had a few Southern Baptist people here in this community who had no church of their own denomination. In response to these letters, Mrs. Meade, who taught school at the mouth of Beaver, walked down to mouth of Beaver to teach school in the wintertime for many years. There was a great response from these people. She had written letters to asking for help establishing a Baptist Church in Elkhorn City. While these people made a response and representatives of the Southern Baptist denomination came here and looked over the sight, one of them said when the snow went off of the south slope of this mountain above the depot and he saw how life was lived here how rough and ready it was. He said that Elkhorn City was so close to hell that snow wouldn't lay on the ground. He said this because the snow melted so fast. I don't know how true that is. But, I don't think he would have said that. In response to the efforts and the help of the Kentucky Baptist Convention there was a church a lot purchased on Russell Street where the old church building is. I believe this is where the church was established and a very small membership. It gradually grew until back in the fifties it was to small to accommodate the congregation of the Southern Baptist Church. The larger church was ten built where the present one is. This was built in 1955 and with was well equipped in all respects. The lord has blessed the churchand its ability to grow and to maintain Christ's witness in this community.
Now the next church I remember being established is the Church of Christ. If my memory is correct, the Church of Christ services in the little building where I previously went to school up here. It's on fifth street across from the Baptist Classatorium where their pastor lives. It was farther back there. It was built back where the old foundation was dug out for the Independent School. If my memory serves me correctly the building was eventually moved down to where the present Church of Christ is. It has a magnificent building. The church is very active and has had several pastors through the years just as the southern Baptist and the Methodist.
The next church I recall was the Church of God which is diagonally across the Street from the intersection and across from the Southern Baptist Church. There was a gentleman by the name of Whitaker, I believe it was Therman Whitaker. He came here and was instrumental in starting that church. First, they dug the basement he worked like a trogan. Pastor Whitaker did work like a trogan. They dug a basement, but they ran out of money. Eventually, they had to cover over the basement that they had dug after they had already poured the concete. The roof was very low. I believe you had to go down stairs to get into the church well. They used that church there for a while and gradually their membership increased. They were able to build a present nice church which they have there to this day.
The next church I remember being formed was the Sulfur Springs Old Regular Baptist Church which sets up here on Elkhorn Creek just in the corporal limits. B.W. Newsome was instrumental in establishing that church and along with many others, A. Potter particularly. They have a real nice church up here and of course, I do not know that other services, if any that they hold during the week. I know the normal custom of Old Regular Baptist is to have services in these little churches out in the area once a month. That is, one month they have it in one church and one month they have it in another. But, the home church hold it identity. The come back to the home church for the granting of letters and business activity. Every year they have a tremendous association made for very interesting reading and the Old Regular Baptist Church has served a very useful purpose in this community. I imagine, if you ask the people which denomination that they prefer most would say Old Regular Baptist. I don't know this for certain. There has never been a census taken on that particular question.
Now a few years ago, there was a Freewill Baptist Church constructed in East Elkhorn. East Elkhorn was more or less cut off to the rest of the community since you had to cross a bridge and go up and across the railroad tracks. They established their own church up in East Elkhorn. A nice little Church. I do not know exactly how successful it is. But, I have been to services up there and they have a well appointed little church.
Now we have a church going in below the mouth of Beaver down here on part of Old John Elswick's property it is the Catholic Church. They came in here and established a clothing center over here what was once a restaurant and beer joint. Once or twice a week they give out clothing for needy people. They also constructed a nice little brick church on property they bough including two residence houses that they bought down there. It would not surprise me if not in the distant future that they establish a school and start teaching youngsters in the Catholic School. I understand that is their normal procedure. They don't have a great number of Catholics around here. But, I am sure once they get the church going that they will be people who will join the Catholic Church who are not united with any other church.
So that pretty well takes card of the religion. Most of the religion came as Calvinistic. Now people believe in Calvinism but they don't go as far as predestination. Many years ago the Old Regular Baptist split into what we call the hard shells and the soft shells. They split over the Doctrine of Election. The Old Regular Baptist or the hard shells were the Primitive Baptist. They hold that a person is elected before he is born as to whether or not he is going to heaven or hell. It's a rather harsh doctrine. There are not too many hard shells or Primitive Baptist in this area. The Old Regular Baptist soft shells have a softer doctrine. They do not hold that rigid predestination of Calvinism. The Old Regular Baptist Church seems to hold its membership fairly well. But, the hard shells carried within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. In ne sense the Doctrine of Election is so rigid and very few people subscribed to it. In addition there are not too many churches. They do no witnessing. They carry on Sunday School. The don't teach the Bible. I mean no condemnation of the hard shells or Primitive Baptist, but it seems too harsh a doctrine for the people of this day and time. Of course, we all know that main line churches have become more liberal in interpreting the Bible and engaged in more social work. We have a Presbyterian Church here. Even though the Presbyterians came into Easter Kentucky building schools and primarily educating the people. Some of their schools are in existence today. The type of preaching and more educated preaching did not fit the peoples ideals of preaching. It is said, one man, when he was asked about his religious affiliation, said when I want help getting clothes or food or something I'll go to the Presbyterian Church; but, it I want to hear preaching I'll go to the Baptist. That is substantially the history of churches in Elkhorn City. It has always been a well established church community since the Baptist Church was established in 1920.
I said very little about the advent of coal mining in or around this community which has been the income through the years. The railroad played a good part furnishing jobs to several men many years ago, but the coal mines has been a main stay supplier here in Elkhorn City and all other places. It was necessary that the first mines was built beside the railroad track so that the coal could be loaded directly into the coal cars. There was a limitation on the seams of coal that could be mined. In those days, there was no mining back in edges of hollows or places incessible to rail or cable cars to transport the coal. There were several mines started back in the teens and during World War 1. We had one called Federal Mine established by Frank Scott. It operated for several years under his financial diverses. The mines changed. Barrowman operated the mines up to East Elkhorn on the mountain of the county road. It had little cars which operated on little railroad tracks down the mountain and they crossed over the county road and dumped into a tipple there. At the tipple, coal could be processed and put into the railroad cars. Now, when I say processed, each tipple of any size had what they call shaker tables depending what size of lump of coal that you was running that you could put plates with different holes over the place where they were held and the coal passes over the shakers which had a vibration. Some of them did shake back and forth. The size lumps would pass through those holes and would be loaded into the railroad cars. The larger lumps would be loaded into another railroad car. All underground mining, such things as stripping and auguring was not heard of or even dreamed of in those days.
There was another mine above where Johnny Moore's Motel and Restaurant is today. I believe it was operated by the Bentley's. At the mouth of lower branch you had what was called the Brook's Mine. After they made the "Y" they ran a track up there to service the Brook's mine. Then the largest mines in East Elkhorn was Carson's Mine. I understand that it was called that. The owner was a collar company out of Charleston, West Virginia. There coal was obtained out of a big seam of coal high upon the mountain just on the side that we call Upper Branch which is the corporal limits here on that side. It goes all the way to pool point tunnel on the other side. Coal from that mine was lowered down to a big tipple by cable cars on big cables. The cables were about two inches through and made out of woven wires. The coal is dumped into the tipple and there it was processed according to size. Now that mine operated until 1928 when it shut down. There must have been a fault in the seam of coal because in places, I have been told by men who worked there, it was 40 feet thick and instead of the seam of coal laying flat running around to the hill side, this coal was in breaks. This mine put out a good amount of coal for several years and come into a big round rock. It was tremendous rock and I was informed by Verlon Ramey who worked there that they tried to go around it under it and over the top of it but could not get around it. Thus, the mine stopped.
Each mine— Barrowman's, Federal and Carson's mine all operated what is called camp houses. Carson's camp houses were in what we call the island today. However, there is nothing on it at this time. But here were 25 houses and a comensary over there. I might have said this in other portions of what I am dictating, there was a swinging bridge across from East Elkhorn side of the Island. There was also a swinging bridge over at the hillside where the miner could cross over and climb the hill to go up to the main opening of the mines. Federal Coal Company built several mining camp houses over on what is called today Federal Hill. Now we have a big loading facility over there and all the old houses are gone now. There were two main camps, mining camps, that had independent merchandise. People who lived here, who made their living in mining sold goods to the miners. They had jobs on the railroads hauling coal. There were camp houses, a few scattered around over the community, all of these were cheaply built houses heated with coal grates. A kitchen with a flue where a coal stove could be used. Everyone used coal here for heating. Those old houses are pretty well gone now. Well actually, Federal had 8 houses over there above Elswick's store which passed into the hands of the Elswicks. Then down the river about a mile or maybe a mile and a half we had a mine called Dunleary. It had a comensary and a post office. The coal was brought down from a way upon the mountain by a little cable car that run on the ground. I imagine they were on rails on the ground and it was operated by gravity to pull cars. The rail mines put out most of the coal and was in great demand through World War 1. Business around here was good from the mining business.
My grandfather operated a wagon mines down here right above Bowen's Rock. They drilled in the coal seam, shot it with dynamite or black powder, loaded the coal into the cars and then pushed outside to a little tipple dumped and slid down a chute into wagons. Those wagons would haul it up here now this was back in World War 1 days. Coal cars were located on the house track over at the depot and run down to the wholesale there. Of course, it took many loads of coal to fill one of the coal cars, since the wagons would hold a half a ton at the most. Eventually, my grandfather got a little Ford pick -up truck. Well, it is what we call a pick-up today. But it was a regular size truck and truck the coal up there. Then out from where the Looney Addition is there was a series of wagon mines out there. They would load wagons with coal, haul it and dump it and dump it and shovel it into the coal cars. All this had to be done by hand and shovel. All of this mining ceased after Black Monday - October 29, 1909.
As I heard said, operating on Big Sandy Valley, the little Federal Mine over here which had a contract with ACL Coal to fill that order by working just two or three days a week. The miners were paid sixteen cents to mine the coal. The coal was low. It was not very high. It was around 38 inches. A man had to more or less work on his stomach and knees to load the coal.
The Russell Fork begins up on Big A Mountain and continues to the mouth of the Big Sandy where the Big Sandy meets the Ohio River. In telling about the work related in this area. I need to tell about two other denomination. I do not know how they became called or dignified the name denomination. But once a year or maybe twice the holy rollers (the name they are called) came down to town and they had guitars and perhaps a banjo and tambourines. They made what often was thought of as very good music. It was lively and tangy. The other denomination was No Hellers. My father always made it a practice to go to the No Hellers meeting which generally lasted one night. They believed there was no hell and that er had our hell on Earth. I remember one night going with my father to the No Heller Meeting and the preacher was at the door saying good bye to the people who had been in there listening. When we went out the door the preacher shook hands with my father. My father told him, "Preacher the doctrine is sound. I am a sitting jake." I really never did know what the correct name of the No Hellers was or what denomination if any they were. But as far as I know we have none of those people in this country today.
Pike County was named after Captain Zebulon Pike who discovered Pike's Peak out in Colorado. Since I'm on the subject of names, I'll tell you the ledgend of Bowen's Rock. A long hunter by the name of Bowens was in this country bear hunting. Bear skins were in great demand by Neapoleon's army to make the garments for his solidiers. Bear hunters also wore bear skins and Bowen wore a bear skin. He was pursued by Indians and it is my understanding that this man Bowens ran out on Bowens Rock which is a rock located right at the edge of town with the Indians so close behind him. He dived off the rock and so did several other hunters. There was an air hole up under the rock that they used, presumable, to hide from the Indians. There was enough air to sustain you there for several minutes. The reason I know about this is because a boy name Lonzo Wright, Kenis Wright's boy, who dived down for several minutes and we thought he drowned. Us smaller boys were worried to death that he was drowned but a Hackney boy dived down and found him at the air hole. But I would not risk it now due to the fact the flooding and debris in this river. It would be difficult to get under there.
Most of the things I related can be verified from history books and books written by local authors. By local I mean authors of the Big Sandy Valley like Scalf down here in Floyd County in his excellent book "Kentucky's last Frontier" which is the Big Sandy Valley. It gives a touching description of what really went on in this country. Also in 1880 there was a great revival heard out here on what is the Grade School Grounds and there was a Presbyterian teacher who had been preaching in the mountains for many years. He claimed he had baptized as many as 30,000 people in the mountains and held this great revival. It was August. It rained almost all the time and many people got sick and some even died. Buck Scalf records it in his book that Red Fox, they called him, his real name was Doc Taylor had taken a fantasy to this preacher and followed him every where he went. He listened to his sermons and he was converted and baptized out there in Elkhorn Creek in now what we call the swimming hole. I don't know if they still go swimming out there or not due to the pollution of the water. It must have not taken ( the baptism os Doc Taylor) because many years later Fed Fox and a gang included Tall Hall ambushed a wagon which carried an old man who was moving to Kentucky with his family on the Virginia side of Pound Mountain and killed them all. I understood that the old man sold his farm over in Virginia and had the money hid under the wagon boards of the wagon. Nevertheless, Red Fox and the gang finally got caught and were tried over here at Wise, Virginia. Fox and Hall were hung. I imagine the others were hung because justice was pretty swift in those days.
In those days there were no appeals. If the death sentence was passed, the offender didn't last long and they hung them high at the Court House door. The death sentence was given to Red Fox but before the rope was put around his neck he managed to get out of jail and escaped. The jail at that time was an old wooden building with iron bars. Fox managed to escape with some help in coffin. They put him in this coffin and they shipped his to Bluefield, West Virginia. Of course, they had an air hole in there for him to get air. Anyway, I don't know how the authorities found out about it, but they had the casked unloaded at Bluefield and there laid Red Fox alive as he could be. They brought him back and hung him anyway. They give him a fair trial and hung him over at the Court House at Wise.
I was in the service in October 1942. Things were pretty much as they always have been around here. The river was running and clear. There was fish in the river and black top roads had been built in Elkhorn City and up Elkhorn Creek. However, portions of Elkhorn Creek was not finished until much later. When I returned 37 months later I found an entirely different community. The River was running black at Beaver Creek, Ferrells Creek and Road Creek. Elkhorn Creek was polluted and running black and there was a big mine on the head of Beaver. It was the Russell Fork Coal Company. Republic Steel was in the head of Road Creek and they dumped all of their coal and debris into the creek, sometimes the river would clear up over the weekend but Monday morning when they started back to work it became black again. Then it wasn't long before the bull dozers came into this country and stripped away the coal as a cork screw would work out pieces of cork when you scooted cork screw into a cork. That is the was the mountains were scared with slashes and it had been bulldozed sometimes for miles. Being one of the main sources of coal here in Pike County we were more brunt of the mining lot of the mining injustices. Consequently, you can see some of the scars and revelents today. If you walk the mountains you can see the high walls. Some are 40 or 50 feet high. You are endanger of falling over. Water from the high the high wall would run down in the high wall then pour out and go down truck roads. This made pathways for the water. The river would get muddy quicker and the river was covered with many feet of old black sludge. After many days of heavy rainfall the river would run what they called a raft tied. That is it had no room to expand along the banks. Now they had been filled in. People lives on that land. About ever ten years or less we have a flood and the people will go to the federal government which declares a disaster area. He will send some loans and grants and the Red Cross comes in to help people.
It is my prediction that one of these days, this country will be a desert. Not a desert in the sense of the Sahara Desert but a desert of the sense that nothing will be produced here of any value. Once the coal is gone and the best coal is already obtained, this area will have nothing. They talk about Pike County having so many billion tons of coal while most of that coal is inaccessible and not subject to mining. Now under the stripping they take off mountain tops and made it into a place where nothing would grow. And it is a tradegy because the people got away from their little subsistence farming and when the mining industry goes down our population here in Pike County drops drastically. A steady stream of people will leave. I believe Dwight Yokem has a song about reading writing and Route 23. Dwight was raised down here at Prestonsburg at what is called Betsy Layne and it is said that Route 23 takes you to Detroit, Michigan and runs from Detroit to Florida. So our people take Route 23 to Michigan to search for jobs. I don't know where they will go to. Some of them are going south to look for a new industry as the automobile industry is in such dire strait, not hiring many men in or around Michigan. In fact the car manufacturers are now producing Japanese vehicles. We have one here in Kentucky, one in Tennessee and one or two in California. People are talking as if it has no relation to our people. In the 50's we lost around 15,000 or 20,000 people. We dropped from a population in Pike County of 75,000 down to 55,000 just in a few days because people could no longer live in this country with out the coal mining. There is no other industry. So I don't know what is going to happen when the last lump of coal is mined in this country and it is left desolate. I guess people will have to leave or become a permanent burden upon the Federal Government and the State Government to maintain. Our state does not devote any time to or money to build up this country to try to get our people to find alternate means of income. Everything seems like has been given to the central part and western part of Kentucky. These mountains have been neglected. We do not have enough people to entitle us to enough votes in the legislature that we really need. Some of our mountain legislators are easily influenced against their won people and vote for things down there that are detrimental to this area.
I have tried to cover ever facet of life in this country and how it was in the early days of my life and how the country is today. I hope, of this discourse, you will understand that it is not intended to be factual or accurate but just as I remember things. There are some things I am sure that I have missed that should be in here and some things that I included that should have been omitted. But, nevertheless, as I repeatedly said through this statement, that is how I remember it and the effect it had upon me. I hope the reader will understand exactly what this is all about and is not to be taken as fact. I did not research the article or anything I have said, I dictated this fully without notes or knowing what I had to say really. I dictated the material as it came to mind. Some things are more important to me than others. I probably place more interest on those than anything else. I am deeply indebted to all those people that I have talked with thorough the years, as I was growing up, that endured my questions and taking the time to talk with me.
People here were pretty close to the Civil War. There may have been some Civil War Survivors when I was a child, but I can't recall any at the present time. I am sure some of their children are still here. Men and women from this area have told me some of the things that I have related.
In World War 1, I had three uncles that served. Two of my fathers brothers and one of my mothers brothers served in Europe. I have not talked to any of them about their army service and it's to late now because they have been dead for many years. In fact, I have no living uncles or aunts or no source of information except what I can dig out of old books, articles and such and to them I am greatly indebted.
Also I would like to say that this could not have been accomplished without the help of Mrs. Doris Cantrell Taylor who is typing this from the tapes that I am pledging on and eventually be able to complete. She is undertaking the making of a little booklet not for general distribution but just a few copies of this for a select few and a copy for the library. Her help has been invaluable. I would like to express my appreciation to Denver Bailey and his wife Bonnie for permitting Doris to work on this in her office as she is an employee of the Bailey Funeral Home.
I have enjoyed doing this project and the most difficult time was putting it on tape because no I have reached a point in my life where I can no longer write. Things are not in sequence as they would have been if I could have written it out in long hand. But just the same, this discourse cover from 1914 (my birth) to the present time of October 1989.
I have reviewed the preceding narrative and I find that some happenings are not too clear, there is overlapping of the accounts, omissions of certain things, poor paragraphing and misspelled words. This is not the fault of the typist but due to placing the material on tapes which were not too clear or understandable and hence could not be too well understood. For instance the description of the Ford and the road leading in front of the Methodist Church and not the Baptist Church. Also the description of the log houses at the mouth of Little Beaver Creek. When we moved to Beaver Creek in 1922 there was a log house at the edge of the orchard but there was also a nice six room house on the property. In addition, across the river, at the mouth of John Moore's Branch, there was a large log house that was called the Logan Salyers house. There was also an apple orchard and a big spring at the base of the railroad fill where drinking water was obtained. I carried water from this spring when Federal mine was putting in a extra side track. I was just a small boy and by the time I got back to the men, half of the water would be spilled out and I would trudge back down the hot ties to get more at the spring. I would be barefooted and the tar and cresote on the ties would blister my bare feet.
I neglected to recount my memories of the Old Wilder's Mill, which was situated at what is now the end of Elkhorn Street about where Hubert and Leah Dane Spradlin now live. In 1881, General John Thomas Wilder, hearing about the virgin timber in and around Elkhorn City, came here and bought many acres of land. He was a general in the Civil War and whether he came through here during that time, I do not know. Nevertheless, when he came here in 1881, he put in a big water mill for the purpose of sawing lumber by water power and the mill also contained huge stones for the purpose of grinding grain. To get the water, he had a great ditch dug from what is now called Bridge Hole to the mill. This ditch was hand dug through big round river boulders and must have been a quarter of mile long. It's depth was, I judge some twenty or twenty five feet deep. I have played in this ditch when I was a boy and it seemed a wondious place to me. I do not know whether the mill operated any or not but I understand that shortly after it was built, the river flooded and destroyed the mill. Two of the great grinding stones were laying down in the rock bar as late a some time in the thirties. Gen. Wilder left here shortly after the flood as he was too discoraged to try to rebuild. He became one of the prime movers in building the C. C. & O. Railway from Spartanburg, South Carlina into Elkhorn City, which reached here about 1920. After that, he went to Chattanooga, Tenn. As postmaster and was instrumental in establishing the University of Chattnooga. He is buried in Chattanooga.
Gen. Wilder sold all of his land when he left here and I believe the sale was made to Orville Cure, a master carpenter he brought here to build the big mill house. Orville worked in heavy timber and it was said that he could saw a heavy timber on the ground from simple measurements and when it was hoisted in place, it fit perfectly. Orville stayed here & raised a big family although he was orignally from Syracuse, New York. I do not know when the old mill was torn down but it had to be in the late teens or early twenties as I remember playing in it as a small boy. No trace of the old mill remains now and the millrace is filled up with homes built on it.
Several years ago there was a big ditch at the upper end of the school grounds and I often wondered what purpose it served as it was obviously man-made, and extended from the hole of water under the big cliff at Elkhorn Creek and across the school ground. The last time I looked at it , it was almosed filled up. In talking with Jack Tackett one day, he volunteered the information that the ditch had been a millrace for Smith Ramey's Carding Mill. I assumed that the mill was used to card wool but no trace of it remains. I also do not know when and for how long the mill was there.
We have never had very many blacks in this area except when the Clinchfield Railway was being built. It was my understanding that Blacks were brought in from the south in box cars to help build the railway, especially to work in the numerous tunnels where several were killed and injured. I have been told that when one or more blacks were killed, they were buried beside the railway and covered over with the rock and dirt from the tunnels. I do not know whether or not this was true, I know I did not hear my father ever speak of it as he was a surveyor on the railway. After the railway was finished, several blacks stayed around here to work in the mines that had begun to open. I do remember a small cemetery fenced off from the white cemetery where several blacks were buried. No trace of that burial ground remains today.
Prior to the coming of the railroads, the County road from East Elkhorn down was where the present rail tine is today. This was just prior to 1920, and the railroads needed the land where the Old County Road was situated. I have been told by old people that the railway companies bought the two metal bridges, that still stand, and Pike County paid for having them erected in exchange for the County abandoning the old County Road. There are still signs of the old Count road such as level places and some rock walls where the road ran to this day. This was a good deal for Elkhorn City as it gave access to the other side of the river without having to cross the Ford.
The Elkhorn City Land and Improvement Co., had acquired title to most of what is now Elkhorn City proper about 1890, or there abouts. Prior to the coming of the railroads, the Land Company subdivided what is now called main Elkhorn into lots and sold them through the years. Once the bridges were in place, the Land Co., subdivided what is now south Elkhorn into lots or at least a part of it, and have added subdivisions as needed.
George Owen Barnes, The Mountain Evangelist, began his ministry in Eastern Kentucky, November 12, 1879. He held meetings all over Eastern Kentucky, and claimed he had converted over thirty thousand people. Barnes realized how many people in the mountains had no opportunity to hear the Gospel and he wanted to reach these people. He wanted to reach these people and decided that a good place to hold a Camp Meeting was at the mouth of Elkhorn Creek, in Pike County. John Dils, the old Union veteran and a party were already there when he arrived. It was August 4, 1881.
He named the site Camp Praise the Lord, held meetings in bad weather and with insufficient supplies and many people got sick. Delegations came from towns as far away as Richmond. Here was an almost illiterate people who had never heard a minister; here were educated persons from Virginia and East Kentucky who had followed him into the wilderness and camped to hear him preach. Hawkers of patent medicine set up outside stands and cried their wares. Inside the great tent, procured for Barnes by Gov. James B. McCreary, rugged men of the Cumberlands confessed the Lord. One was Dr. M.B. Taylor, immortalized in fiction as Red Fox by John Fox Jr., in the Trail of the Lonesome Pine. He had fallen under conviction at Whitesburg and followed the evangelist here. Ten years later he backslid fearfully, committing the infamous massacre of the Mullins family in Pound Gap. Dr. Taylor was later hung for this crime in front of the Courthouse in Wise County, Virginia.
By this time in his career Barnes was annointing and healing. The final day at Camp Raise the Lord several stood up to attest their cures. He closed the services on Sunday, August 21,1881. In later years when a postoffice was established at the mouth of Elkhorn it was named Praise, after what was perhaps the greatest of all outdoor services in the southern reaches of the Big Sandy Valley.
In 1912, when the town was incorporated under the name of Elkhorn City, the railroads adopted that name as the shipping point. When a high school was established in the early twenties, the name of Cumberland High School was adopted. Prior to that time the basketball team was called the Elkhorn City Elks. As can well be seen, this profusion of names caused a lot of confusion. After much effort over the years to get the postoffice changed to Elkhorn City, Carl Perkins, in his first term in 1949, persuaded the postoffice department to permit the change, i remember well the embarassment I sometimes suffered while I was in service . When asked where I was from. I naturally answered Elkhorn City, Kentucky. But the postoffice was Praise. One old boy on one of the bases always got a kick out of saying, "Praise, Kentucky" and I would reply, "I sure will praise Kentucky.".
In 1924, Professor W.B. Ward, became principal of our high school and grade school. I believe he came to us from Martin County. He was here seven years, leaving us to become principal of Silver Grove High School in northern Kentucky. He quickly became a leader in the Community and left a mark on all who went to school under him and on the community. When he came we had only two years of high school and our school was an old wooden building situated about where the present grade school building is on this end of the school campus.
Prof. Ward was a heavy-set man, of medium height, with a swarthy complexion. At sometime in his life he had lost a leg and wore an artificial leg and carried cane which made it difficult for him to get around. We lived at the mouth of Beaver Creek when he first came in 1924, however, we returned to the old home place in 1925, and I entered school that fall under him in the old wooden building. Two rooms had been built across the back of the building where the high school students went. Olive Ward, Prof. Wards', daughter taught the fourth grade I believe when I entered school at Elkhorn and every day that year she read a passage from a book she had entitled "Old Fort Blocker," and how we looked forward to that reading. The next year, we moved next door to another room which contained seats made from yellow poplar and they were long enough for three students to sit on with desks with corresponding length. There was a long receptacle built just like a regular where you could keep your books and lunch. These desks were home made and easy to carve with your barlow knife. Lucille Fightmaster was the teacher in that room.
I really do not know the date on which construction of the new school building began but it was a wondrous thing for us students to have fine brick building to go to school in but I believe it was completed in 1926. Pof. Ward instituted what he called Community meetings every Friday night when school was in session. It was during these meetings that he was able to rally the community behind him. The meetings were held in the old theater building and the teachers would prpare the sudents in different grades to give skits, songs, plays, recitations and various performances during the meeting and the building would be full of people and some standing outside who could not get in. The parents of the children perform and would not have missed a meeting as this was something new to our community. I do not recall how many orations, as they were called, I gave on the lives of great men in our history. We had an old set of the World Book encyclopedia in the library and I would get my material from that source and copy it out in longhand. After school was out that day, I would go down to the river away from everyone, place a silica pebble in my mouth and proceed to deliver my oration to the rocks around me. I place a pebble in my mouth because I had read that one of the great Greek orators, who had a slight speech impediment would go to the ocean and place a pebble in his mouth so he could talk plainer. I did not have a speech impediment but talking around that pebble would make me speak more distinctly. Most of my orations were given when I was in the 8<sup>th</sup> and 9<sup>th</sup> grades and it never occurred to any of us to refuse.
The old county that led to the school was a mud-hole in wet weather and during the winter time and it was every difficult to walk to school as no one had cars to drive. It was decided that a walkway should be built to the school so that the children would not have to walk in the mud. The whole community pitched in and on fair days the high school students were let out of school to haul and carry rocks to make a wall. Men in the community gave of their time to help, some even came with their wagons & teams. The boys boated many boat loads of rock from the island across the river to go in the foundation wall.
Once the wall was built, it extended from about the upper end of what is now the Main Place to the school. The next sep was to build a frame of boards about three feet wide to place the cinders in. The cinders were obtained from what was called Spark Track, where the steam engines emptied their ashes just below East Elkhorn on the opposite side of the river. The cinders had to be boated across the river and loaded in wagons to be hauled to the walkway. Once the walkway was filled with cinders, wove fence wire was placed on the river side of the walk to keep children from falling over the bank. Needless to say, once the walkway was built we had a good safe way to walk to school. I am proud to say that I spend several days working on the walk. The ladies of the community did their part too, for during pretty days, they would fix bountiful meals and bring to the workers.
With the community solidly behind him, Prof. Ward, talked the County Board of Education into furnishing lumber and other materials with which to build a Gymnasium. This Gym was build on the cliff where the new grade school building is now situated. The whole community pitched in and built the Gym just like they did the walkway. The ladies pitched in and did their part and soon we had the best Gym in the County.
Prof. Ward left here in 1931, and went to northern Kentucky, and when he retired, he returned to Martin County, and lived at Inez, when he died. It is my understanding, that prior to his death he recorded his funeral sermon on tape which was played at his funeral. Several years ago, I was advised by letter that his grave was not being kept up and needed a suitable monument and I sent a donation to help defray the expenses of placing a suitable monument and to keeping his grave up.
The earliest doctors I remember are, Drs. Perry Sanders, Casebolt. Preston, Ladurn, Pinson and Deskins. Pinson and Deskins were the only two I can remember going to and Dr. Deskins practiced until his death back in the sixties as I don't remember the date. These were all good practioners for their day and time but medicine was very crude in this country. Antibotics were not known and people died of causes that today are easily cured. The big killers of both children and adults, were typhoid fever, pneumonia, tuberculosis, infections, whooping cough, diphtheria, polio, measles and other I will not mention. In this day and time, one rarley hears of worms but when I was a boy it seemed like every boy and girl had to be wormed. I can well recall in the spring, Dr. Pinson or Dr. Deskins coming to our house, and after Mon had withheld food from Claude and me, he would take out his vermifuge bottle and placing some on his knife blade would put it in our mouthes and washed down with a cup of water. Sometimes we would be given a dose of calomel, and as Dr. Deskins used to say, "sweep out those bowels". To tell the truth it brought out the winter's accumulation, mostly old tires, boots and shoes and various and sundry other things. But the truth of the matter we felt better after the medicine had done its work. Generally though it was castor oil or black draught that was used as a purgative. Head lice was also a great bother.
By the time the Depression set in in 1930, all the doctors had left here except Dr. Deskins but our population had dropped drastically. I believe the 1930 population census listed us with a population of only three hundred people. Cows were stalling in houses that would now sell for forty thousand dollars or more. It was during this low period that Dr. Goebel W. Newsom, elected to settle among us. Dr. Newsom was a man of great vision and considerable clout and he was able to accomplish so many things. Our City Goverment was in such poor condition that nothing was being done. After Dr. Newsom had established a part of his practice, he was elected Mayor along with a group of prominent business men as City Council. The first major thing they did was buy the present City Park property and cemetery. This was the days of the W.P.A. and P.W.A. They were able to get grant and with the help of W.P.A. workers twenty seven thousand cubic yards of dirt with scoops and man power, placed the rock wall and seats at one end ot the park. A rock shelter house and cook out places were built to make a small park. Seven rearing ponds for small bass was built by the state where the fish ponds are now although the ponds are no longer there. The Fish ponds were visited by many people to look at to fish, picnic and sight see. Dr. Newsom was very instrumental with the help of Gov. Earl Clements in securing a road to the Breaks. There are many other things I could recount where Dr. Newsom furnished leadership but most everyone knows about those. This community suffered a great loss when Dr. Newsom suffered a massive heart attack about 1950, and thereafter gave up his practice and retired to Florida where he died in 1953.
Elkhorn City had telephone service before it had electrical service. During the teens and early twenties, there was limited telephone service with the old wall phones and people called each other by rings, for instance, two shorts and a long would be a persons number and everybody that had a telephone had a different ring. We had one of these phones on the wall at home but the only tine I remember ran up the road to the Cow Fork of Grassy and then crossed the Gap at the head of the Cow Fork and down into Conway, Virginia. The line was constantly breaking down from limbs falling on it and from the wind blowing it down. I do not know whether or not anyone owned this line or not but volunteers generally would find the trouble and fix it.
During the thirties we had only three telephones in Elkhorn City. One was at the railroad depot, another was in the Haysi Supply Co. Wholesale and one was in Dr. Newsom's office. It was necessary to call the exchange in Pikeville to make a connection. There were a great many times when access to a phone was needed these businesses were closed. I distinctly remember during World War II, how difficult it was to call home. Southern Bell Telephone had the franchise for Pike County and beginning in the early thirties, there came a great demand for telephone service. The phone company would advise the people to get a petition with say 350 subscribers names on it and they would give us service. The community always over subscribed the names but still no service. I do not know how many petitions were filed with the phone company.
In 1947, we had a very active Lions Club here and it began working on getting a phone system by gathering information, making contacts, and getting petitions. In 1947 or 48, I do not remember the exact year, Dr. Newsom, Mayor, Curtis Caudill, City councilman, Kenneth Howe, City Attorney, Dr. W. D. Sanders, a local dentis I, Police Judge, went to Frankfort to meet with representatives of the telephone company. This meeting had been set up by the Mayor and a representative from the Public Service Commission and a member of the Attorney-General's staff were present. We wrangled around for some two hours but were getting nowhere with the phone company's people. They just sat in their seats, with smug smiles on their faces and turned down every suggestion made. Dr. Newsom was the spokesman for our delegation and when it was evident that we were not going to get any satisfaction from the phone group, Dr. Newsom fired the last arrow in our quiver. He stated, "Since you say you cannot give us phone service, will you surrender that part of your franchise in Pike County, from the mouth of Marrowbone to the State line and up Marrowbone Creek to Hellier?". consternation hit the phone group, especially when the representative from the Publice Service Commission said, " since you say you cannot give these people service, and they have demonstrated a need for it, why cannot you do this and let them put in their own phone system?". within an hour we walked out of the meeting room with a firm committment to begin work within a few weeks on a system. The phone co. kept it's word and soon we had an effecient phone system which has now been enlarged greatly with all of the latest services. That, dear reader, is how we got our telephone system. It was just another example of what can be done when we work together with vision and foresight.
The first home lights I remember, is kerosene lamps in each room. I remember seeing my mother going through the house carrying a lighted lamp checking things before bedtime. The first electric lights I remember, power was obtained from powerhouses in East Elkhorn where electricty was manufactured to operate the coal mines. This power was irregular and ineffecient and the houses were wired with two strands of wire attached to the ceilng on insulators. My first impression of the Kentucky, West Virginia Power Co. Bringing electricty into this community was when we lived at the mouth of Beaver Creek. We moved there in 1922, and the Power Co. was setting poles on the mountain. The poles were shipped into Elkhorn by rail and then hauled to where they were to be placed by wagons with long coupling poles. The only wagoner I can remember is Walter "Yarn Gallus," France. Walter lived on Big Branch of Elkhorn Creek, just a short distance abo Elkhorn. He had a real good peach orchard and raised big round, plump elberta peaches. In season he would bring baskets of peaches and sell them to travelers at the depot. Walter was pretty smart and one day when his peaches were not selling too well at a nickel a piece, he began to call out "Peaches, Peaches, two for fifteen cents and I will give you one." In short order, Walter had sold all of his peaches to the same people who had refused to buy them at a nickel a piece. The Company that supplies our electricty now is the Kentucky Power Co., a part of larger network of electricty suppliers in several States.
The first dentist I ever knew in Elkhorn City, was Dr. J. D. Meade but I never knew his services. He had a rather large family and lived in what is now the Methodist Pastorium. His wife taught school at the mouth of Beaver school for several terms but I did not attend school there while she was teaching but she was a wonderful Christian lady. Dr. Meade wrote several poems while he lived here, in fact he published a book of poems, the best known and most poplar was entitled, Where the Elkhorn Meets Big Sandy," Dr. Meads left here in a few years and went back to Martin County, where he was from. His family remained here and all took an active part in community affairs.
Dr. Yamson ( I am not sure how to spell his name), was the next Dentist I remember. He spend two or three days a week here and the rest of the time in Haysi. He had his office up over the present bank building and he drilled out your teeth with a foot drill. I ought to know as he filled a tooth for me when I was fourteen years of age and it was not a pleasant experience. That filling gave me good service until I entered the Air Force where it was drilled out and replaced by what was called an air force filling. Dr. Yamson and my father were good friends and sometimes when he was here on a Sunday, Dad would invite him to our home at Beaver. He dearly loved fish and corn bread and since Claude and I generally had a string of various kinds of fish at the river, Mom would select the kind she wanted and we would clean them and Mom would fry the fish & bake corn bread. Dad usually had a bottle of moonshine when Dr. Yamson would come down and when Dad poured some in a glass for him, he would not drink it but would stick his finger in the whiskey and suck it off his finger.
I believe Dr. Kelly came to us in the thirties and set up practice in the old Dr. Pinson office next to Dr. Deskins office. Dr. Kelley was not only a good dentist but also a good baseball pitcher and often times pitched for our local team. I believe he left here after a few years and went to Martin, in Floyd County. Dr. W. D. Sanders came to us from over at Hellier and took care of our teeth for several years until he got too old and joined his son Blake, who was dentist at Jenkins.
In reviewing what I have previously written, I find that I have neglected to mention the hotels and boarding houses located here in Elkhorn City. Probably the oldest hotel here was the one known as the Elswick Hotel. I believe that it was built by a man by the name of Ben Runyon sometime in the late teens and was located between the Old Bank building and what is today's Jonny's Barber shop. It burned not too many years ago. During it's existence, it was operated by several different people at different times. Back in the early tweenties, it was operated for a year or so by a man named Carter. It was primarily a brothel and girls would come in on the week-ends about sundown, three or four of them would parade around the block exhibiting their wares. This were the days when girls were called "Flappers" and called the boys "Sheiks", as Rudolph Valentio was the leading Movie Actor of that time and set the pattern. Clara Bow, was the leading movie actress, and girls were called, "Vamps". So these ladies of the evening dressed like Clara Bow, with their hair bobbed and hung straight down on each side of their face. In addition, they wore very short dresses, their hose was rolled down below their knees, and sometimes their knees were rouged. They also wore long strings of wooden beads which they twirled as they walked along on their way back to the Hotel. Carter also had two race horses which he kept in our barn and every day the negro porter would come down and water and feed them and some times ride them out for exercise. I believe the Ku Klux Klan had a great deal to do with getting rid of Mr. Carter and the last I saw of him, was when he and his negro rode under the railroad underpass, leaving town. I do not know where he was from or where he went. I always thought it stange, that when the girls were on parade and went in front of our house, my mother and any other ladies were sitting on the front porch, they would get up and go in the house.
The best hotel was the Cumberland hotel, that was built by Johnny Wallace and was located on top of the hill in the exact spot where Allen Puckett's second hand furniture store is now located, in fact, the store is built on the old foundation where the hotel stood. There was a big cemtnt room in the bottom where the kitchen was located. There was some boarding house in East Elkhorn and the upstairs of Ewalds store where mostly railroad men roomed as they did not serve meals there. The hotels had negro porters who met the trains and called the names of their employers places of business. They had push carts in which to haul their luggage.
Dear Reader, as I bring this narrative to a close, I know that in the days to come, I will think of many more things I should have written about but at this time I have about exhausted my memories. I want to again apologize for and discrepances, misspelled words inconsistences and lack of coherence in some the passages. I take all the blame because the forepart was dictated on tape and some of the words were perhaps garbled in transmission. The typist has done an excellent job in deciphering my words from the things we had to work with.
<font size=2 face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">I am indebted to all those who went before me and told me some of the things I have related and this small community has truly been blessed by having leaders of vision and energy to lead the community. My generation will soon fade into eternity and we are gone, there will be on one left who can truly relate to how it was to grow up during the years my life has covered. There are still several persons left of my age or older who could recount this chronicle better than me but have not elected to do so. Again I would like to repeat that what has been recounted has been what I have observed, heard, experienced and seen and others may have seen and experience things much differently. I sometimes sit on my front porch about lamp-lighting time and try to pick out land-marks where once bustling businesses once stood. Some of the old broken windows peer out as if from empty eye sockets. The men who operated those businesses have been under the sod and grass growing on their graves for lo, these many years, forty; fifty, es even sixty years, We too, like them will soon pass and be forgotten but maybe our works will live on as do theirs.