Virgil Lee Couch---Mr. Civil Defense
Compiled by Helen Allen McKeown
Born in Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky, November 12, 1907; died August 17, 1990; buried Columbia Gardens Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia. Married December 24, 1931 Martha Pence Duncan; married August 29, 1952 Violet Mae Showers, U.S. Government Official; University of Kentucky, B.S. in Commerce, 1930. He is son of John Couch and Malta Ann Duke.
His sister, Lucille Elizabeth Couch, born August 26, 1909 in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died September 27, 1988; buried Sunnyside Cemetery, Ohio County, Kentucky. By October 1909 the family bought a farm and returned to Ohio County, having moved to Caldwell County in 1907. Lucille was remembered as a music teacher at Centertown School, Ohio County. ‘As a youngster he won prizes for his wheat crops by carefully sifting the kernels through a fine sieve, so that only the plumpest grains remained.’ Virgil first traveled to UK in 1924-1925 as a member of the championship debating team at Beaver Dam High School, where he graduated with Class of 1926. He enrolled in UK in fall of 1926, rooming with Tennyson Payton, Beaver Dam class of 1925. Virgil’s classmates at Beaver Dam were his sister, Lucille Couch, Lucille Baker, Malcolm Lynn Barnes, Karl Brown, Hubert Greer, Mildred Greer, Estill Hazelrigg, Beulah Kane, Helen (Knight) Barnard, Sterling Maddox, Audra (Martin) Sprigg, William Raley, Rhea Render, Ben Rummage, and Hayward Stevens. March 10, 2014, I visited Audra Martin, age 107, who remembers both Virgil and Lucille Couch. Western Kentucky Seminary name changed to Beaver Dam High School in 1920, that building enlarged in 1928.
Following graduation from the University in 1930, he served three careers, all involving new things in new ways with great speed and unusual economic conditions and international unrest. His meticulous efforts reflect his guide, “You’ve got to arrive at solutions in advance-----like Noah did.”
He was in business, 1930-35, as an executive in the petroleum industry where he was recognized for sales development in which he gained national recognition for scientific selection, placement and training of sales representatives. He started his second career in 1935, when he took leave from industry temporarily to join the federal government as a consultant and advisor on personnel management and labor relations, a profession that was just beginning.
He was National Director of Personnel and Labor Relations for the Farm Security Administration, Farmers Home Administration, and other groups in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He has held some of the biggest jobs in personnel management in the world, including the first Director of Personnel for the Economic Cooperation Administration (Marshall Plan) named for United States Secretary of State George Marshall, where he served as adviser to other federal agencies, state and local governments and 16 foreign countries in establishing personnel management systems. He was charter member and International President of the Society for the Advancement of Management; Chairman of numerous committees of the National Personnel Council and Presidential committees concerned with federal management practices.
He organized the American Society of Training Directors, Federal Training Council, Federal Safety Council, and the Society for Public Administration. He was the first Chairman of the newly established Arlington County, Virginia, Civil Service Commission, and adviser to several governors and mayors on the establishment of merit systems and employment services.
He was Head (Dean) of the Department of Public Administration and professor of public administration at the USDA Graduate School, and authored numerous articles and pamphlets on personnel management. He was recognized as the "father" of personnel management and labor relations in the federal government. In 1951, he began his third career as assistant administrator for Civil Defense and Emergency Preparedness and was recognized as the nation's top adviser on methods of preparing for survival of nuclear attack and natural disasters. He was Director of field exercises for Atomic Test Operations. He established and directed the National Civil Defense Staff College and Training Center. In 1953, on leave, he served as consultant to the Venezuelan government on problems of public administration and reorganization. October 20, 1961, because of his worldwide identification with the civil defense effort, he was featured on the cover of "Time" magazine, the first career federal employee to achieve that recognition.
His honors and awards include the National Institute of Disaster Mobilization Award for "the greatest contribution to national defense and disaster preparedness;" the U.S. Civil Defense Council Citation for "outstanding assistance to local governments," and the American Society for Industrial Security Distinguished Service Award for "outstanding contributions in establishing the security profession." He also wrote numerous articles on aspects of emergency preparedness. He was the U.S. Representative to NATO and was chosen to draft programs to encourage and guide industries in preparing to survive major emergencies. His many assignments in civil defense earned him the title, "Mr. Civil Defense." He became a 32nd degree Mason and was a Shriner. While at UK, he was editor of the "Kentuckian," college yearbook; President of the YMCA, UK Radio Station's first announcer, and President of Alpha Tau Omega. He was a member of Delta Sigma Phi, and winner of the Alpha Delta Sigma "best in the world award" in advertising. He was assistant advertising manager of "The Kentucky Kernel," and editor of the "Freshman College Handbook."
Virgil L. Couch was named to the UK Hall of Distinguished Alumni on November 6, 1970. In August of 1991, his widow donated his papers to Dwight D Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas. The collection comprised of approximately 30,400 pages deals primarily with 1951-1972. Papers reflect that by retirement he had earned title of ‘Mr. Civil Defense’ or ‘Mr. Industry Defense.’ His philosophy, “It is better for industry to be paternalistic than for the Government to be.”
His influence was felt in Kentucky, as well as the rest of the country, during the Cold War time of 1950’s and 1960’s as homeowners often consulted fallout shelter plans. Citizens were well informed as to possibility of nuclear attack and preparedness for that event. The work of the country included plans for radiologic recovery of fixed military installations, banking preparedness, armored car specifications, prison policies, food industry and metropolitan vulnerability, underground industrial plants, mental health implications, etc. Civil Defense was an everyday expression and every business and government division had a civil defense emergency plan in place. Civil Defense and other agencies were brought together in today’s FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
John Couch born December 17, 1883; died January 7, 1964; married February 2, 1907 in Ohio County to Malta Ann Duke, born November 21, 1887, Ohio County, died January 17, 1975; they are buried Sunnyside Cemetery. John Couch worked for Illinois Central Rail Road, he was night man in 1907 Ohio County when he was transferred to Princeton.
John Couch is son of Leander Jackson Couch, MD, born December 22, 1847 in Webster County, Kentucky, near Slaughtersville; died June 12, 1889; buried Slaughters Cemetery, Webster County, Kentucky; married December 29, 1881 in Webster County to Sallie Elizabeth Chandler, born September 9, 1859, died May 12, 1930, buried Sunnyside Cemetery. After death of Leander Couch, his widow married October 4, 1891 to his brother Warren Lafayette Couch, born January 26, 1844, died March 24, 1910, buried Slaughters Cemetery.
Leander Couch is youngest son of large family, who in 1870, began study of medicine in the office of Dr. Jenkins, of Hopkins County, Kentucky, and afterward attended lectures at the Louisville Medical College, Jefferson County, Kentucky. In 1874 he entered the Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1875. He commenced the practice of his profession in Webster County and in 1876 came to Sebree, Kentucky. He is a Mason and a Democrat.
Leander Couch is son of first cousins James Daniel Couch, born February 16, 1803 in Virginia, died April 11, 1866, buried Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hopkins County, Kentucky and Mary Ann Couch, born March 15, 1814, died May 30, 1904, buried Slaughters Cemetery, Webster County. James Couch is son of Daniel Couch. 1860 census reflects the local teacher M. A. Pratt living in the home.
Mary Couch is daughter of John Couch, born July 8, 1773, Buckingham County, Virginia, died March 13, 1840, buried Couch Family Graveyard on the original plantation; married 1796 in Virginia to Mary Anderson who died between 1840-1850. Based on census review, they migrated to Kentucky in 1833 and homesteaded 1,000 acres between Mt. Pleasant community and Slaughters, then part of Hopkins County, now Webster County. They were parents of fourteen children. The Couch family were likely slaveholders as William Couch, a colored man, was only barber in Slaughters in 1895.
John and Daniel Couch were sons of James Couch born 1750 in England died 1820. James Couch served in Revolution, DAR record A026422 documents provision of beef and 65 days of service as canoe man.
Sallie Elizabeth Chandler is daughter of William McVey Chandler and Eliza Jane Parker. William Chandler family from Person County, North Carolina, born January 16, 1829, died January 16, 1887, buried McClendon Chandler Cemetery, Webster County, Kentucky; married in 1849 to Eliza Jane Parker who died 1867. The Chandler family landed in Hopkins County, Kentucky, January 25, 1829, coming from North Carolina. In 1850 he moved to Henderson County which area is now Webster County. William Chandler farmed until 1882 then purchased the Singer Mill in Sebree, which has a capacity of twenty barrels of flour and will grind 150 bushels of corn per day, was a Democrat and long time member of the Regular Baptist Church. William Chandler is son of Washington Chandler, married January 7, 1825 in Person County to Letha Morrow. Washington Chandler is son of John Chandler, married November 22, 1800 in Person County to Rebecca McVey, born 1783 South Carolina, died 1868, buried McClendon Chandler Cemetery.
Rebecca McVey is daughter of presumed Revolutionary War soldier, John McVey and Mary ‘Molly’ Bumpass. John McVey is son of Hugh McVey and Ruth Manning. Mary Bumpass is daughter of presumed Revolutionary War soldier John Bumpass. Prior to the Revolution John Bumpass organized a company of which he was Captain and was active as a Regulator, having the nickname “The Fighting Captain”. He received a land grant from Lord Granville on March 10, 1761 in Person County. His father, Robert Bumpass received similar land grant in 1752 era for 640 acres. According to one tradition the Bumpass family can be traced back to Southern France. In 1752, during the wars of the Count of Toulouse a youth was given a very important assignment of carrying a message through enemy lines to another commander. The job required such great courage and tact that when he completed his mission, the general jumped up and shouted "Bon Pas" (Well done! in French) so from then on he was given the new name, Bumpass.
Eliza Parker, daughter of Jonas Parker, married February 8, 1816, Person County, to Ruth Tapp; they came to Kentucky in 1837. Ruth Tapp, daughter of Revolutionary War soldier, William Tapp, married July 19, 1796 Person County to Rebecca Fowler, DAR record A112786.
Malta Duke, daughter of William Virgil Duke, born September 17, 1853, died April 6, 1916; married May 21, 1884, Ohio County, Ida Elizabeth Acton, born December 7, 1866, died August 16, 1942; they are buried Rosehill Elmwood Cemetery, Daviess County, Kentucky.
William Duke is son of Thomas Duke, born March 17, 1807, died March 2, 1888, married March 28, 1837, Dorcas Ann Tanquary Addington, born January 22, 1820, died June 21, 1884; they are buried Old Bethel Methodist Church Cemetery, Ohio County, Kentucky, described as Horton or Hells Neck area. Thomas described in his obituary as a good citizen and true Christian. Dorcas (Darcus) is daughter of William ‘Henry’ Addington, born March 6, 1774, Maryland; died November 10, 1850, and second wife, Polly Davis, born January 15, 1796, died 1834, they married March 2, 1815. William Virgil would have been named for Dorcas father, William Henry Addington, and younger brother, Virgil Porter Addington . Henry gave land for Equality Church/Cemetery so likely they are buried in old part of cemetery next to Equality Methodist Church ruins. Polly is daughter of Lodowick Davis, Methodist minister, whose name is found on several Ohio County marriage records. The Addington and Davis families were early settlers, part of Rev. Ignatius Pigman’s Maryland Methodist migration, they would have been affiliated with Goshen Methodist Church, Ohio County, Kentucky prior to organization of Equality Methodist Church.
Thomas Duke is son of John Duke, born March 26, 1773, died April 7, 1844; married December 25, 1794 to Elizabeth Ann Stevens, born August 18, 1775, died January 24, 1856, who came to Ohio County from Maryland, buried Old Bethel Cemetery. Elizabeth Stevens is daughter of Richard Stevens, born October 8, 1734, died June 14, 1798 in Montgomery County, Maryland; married March 11, 1766 to Lydia Garner, born March 17, 1740, died June 7, 1829; she is buried Carson Cemetery, Ohio County. Carson is located near No Creek Methodist Church where family members still worship. In fall of 1800 a group including John and Elizabeth Duke and her mother left Maryland to arrive in Ohio County in 1801, traveling in wagons drawn by teams. They crossed the Alleghany Mountains to Wheeling on Ohio River where they built a boat, loaded it with wagons and people to continue by river to Cloverport, Hancock County, Kentucky, arriving in January, 1801. Two of the group brought their horses overland. The horses then pulled the wagons on to Ohio County. This was unsettled area and one family story relates story of shooting a panther measuring six feet from nose to tail. Other wild animals included bear, wolves, wildcats and wild hogs. Travel was required to Saline salt works to secure salt. John Duke was one of five trustees of Bethel Meeting House organized on April 30, 1814. Annual camp meetings were held at both Bethel and No Creek churches.
Ida Acton is daughter of Fielder Weemes Acton, born March 24, 1837, died March 14, 1912; married January 27, 1858, Ohio County, to Elizabeth Wade Hines, born February 29, 1840, died June 13, 1921; they are buried Mount Vernon Cemetery, Ohio County. Fielder is son of Bartemus Acton, born April 25, 1799, died March 31, 1868, married June 27, 1825 to Sallie Anne Roby, born June 6, 1809, died June 19, 1849; they are buried Bean Cemetery, Ohio County. They were born and married in Charles County, Maryland. Bartimus is son of Osborn and Elizabeth Acton.
Elizabeth Hines is daughter of Simeon Walton Hines, born February 20, 1802, Charlotte County, Virginia, died February 26, 1872, buried Hudall aka Swain Cemetery, at Hudnal’s Landing on Green River, Little Bend Road aka Highway 269, Ohio County, Kentucky; married September 15, 1823, Lincoln County, Kentucky, to Mary Elizabeth Wade, born 1805, Boyle County, Kentucky, died February 29, 1840, at birth of Elizabeth. Mary Elizabeth Wade, daughter of William Wade, born July 9, 1780, died 1840, buried Jim Wade Cemetery, Butler County, married Mary Collicott, born April 26, 1781, died February 12, 1865, buried Aunt Jane Tichenor Cemetery, Ohio County. William Wade the son of Andrew Wade and Sarah Petty.
Simeon Hines moved to Boyle County in 1816, and on to Butler County in 1826; he was a Methodist. He is son of Elizabeth Jane Harvey and Henry Hines, born December 18, 1732, died November 5, 1810, Charlotte County. Henry Hines (Hinds) was a Virginia planter and owned 105 slaves, having served in Revolution with Captain Tarlton Payne’s Company and Colonel Richard Parker’s 1st Virginia Regiment as a private, being called ‘Fighting Henry’. DAR record A055195 documents his furnishing of supplies. All his children had a good English education. Below is transcription of a letter from Henry to his son.
Charlotte, Virginia 20th June 1810
It is not without some degree of emotion, that I once more find myself spared, to inform you that I am yet in being prompt with a flattering hope of recovery. I have suffered much with both pain and confinement for these four or five months past, but thank God, am now in some measure relieved. Professing a fond hope that yourself and the other members of my children and family are enjoying health and happiness. I wish you to inform me of the standing of my affairs under your direction, and if you have any money—to contrive so that I get it. As I feel an intention to see Kentucky, next fall; if life and strength permit, when; if I like shall endeavor to get the balance of my family there also. The illfate to which I have undergone recently, (in lawsuite) has reduced me to a straight for money, and hope you will use your best endeavor to accumulate to me what may be due.
I have nothing interesting or uncommon to detail, only we have a gloomy prospect for a crop and are extremely dry. But few people have pitched their crops of tobacco as yet---
There is a great stir among the people of this time for to make out the answer the bonds suspending executions---The produce is at a very good price, say corn $5-tobacco $7-Flour $7-and so on in proportion.
To hear from you all would add to the relief of your afflicted father.
Henry Hines, Sen.
Henry is son of Thomas Hines and Elizabeth Jones.
After death of Henry Hines, Elizabeth Harvey, born October 3, 1781, died January 18, 1823, remarried May 14, 1811 to Lewis Jackson and moved to Boyle County. Simeon Hines sold the ‘Dower Negroes’ assigned to her from Henry Hines estate to his brother, John Hines of Warren County, Kentucky. Elizabeth Harvey is daughter of Thomas Henry Harvey, born February 26, 1760, died September 19, 1844, married April 22, 1779, Amelia County, Virginia to Barbara Walton, born December 20, 1763, died October, 1792. Thomas Henry Harvey’s home was named Butterwood, he used that as part of his name, he and his dad served in Revolution; Thomas Henry Harvey DAR record A052204 is son of Virginia soldier DAR record A052110 Captain John Harvey and Ann Richardson, buried Harvey Family Cemetery, Charlotte County, Virginia. Thomas Henry Harvey was a private serving under Captain Bedford, Lieutenant Joseph Fuqua, also wagon master for General Gates. He drew a pension but his widow rejected for lack of proof of marriage to his second wife.
History of the families: Rowe, Snell, Casebier, Hines, Bozeman, Rone, Greer and France, Patricia Brooks, 1984
The Story of Slaughtersville, Louise P Fleming, 1988.
Hartford Herald, March 7, 1888, July 5, 1899, October 20, 1909
Hartford Republican, June 7, 1907
Ohio County Times, January 23, 1975
Kentucky Ancestors, Volume 46, Number 4, Spring 2011, pages 201-206, Jerry Long
Kentucky: A History of the State, Battle-Perrin-Kniffen, Webster County, 1885
University of Kentucky, Hall of Distinguished Alumni
Dwight D Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas
Descendants of Henry Hines, John P Morton & Company, 1925
Time magazine, October 20, 1961, pp 21-26
Ohio County Library genealogy annex
Kentucky Death Certificates
Lynn Miller, researcher.
Claude Taylor, Beaver Dam alumni information
Johnnie Brown, Chandler information