Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Railroad History

            Kentucky railroads date back to 1830.  Just three years after our nation's first common-carrier, the Baltimore & Ohio was chartered, when the Lexington & Ohio Railroad was chartered to connect Frankfort with Lexington, a distance of about 31 miles. The railroad was able to complete the line by 1834 and by 1851 had connected to Louisville along the banks of the Ohio River. The company would eventually become part of the Louisville & Nashville system and today, its original line is still operating by RJ Corman, a diversified railroad business which owns several shortlines in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and other southern states.

            Following the completion of the L&O, Kentucky would boast several classic eastern and southern carriers, most of which gained entry or built into the state to tap its rich coal reserves. Even some Midwestern systems reached the state given that the western region of Kentucky was geographically in both the Midwest and South.

            In SW Kentucky, and particularly in Ohio County, the main railroad companies were the IC and the L&N.  There were others, and names changed throughout the years due to mergers, etc., and I think there were some “shortlines” and small companies, but the IC and the L&N were the major railroad companies. The following are short histories of these two companies.

The Illinois Central Railroad, Main Line of Mid-America

         The Illinois Central's slogan described the railroad quite well, The Main Line of Mid-America. It was one of only a very few railroads to serve markets with north-south running main lines and not the traditional east-west movements. What made its routing even more odd was that it served Midwestern markets that likewise traditionally moved goods east and west, such as Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans. Regardless of this the IC carved out a living hauling goods from Chicago to New Orleans and while today the Canadian National owns the railroad, its name continues to survive after over 150 years of existence.

            While the beginnings of the IC date to before 1840 it has its beginnings in 1851 when it was originally chartered to build a line connecting Cairo, Illinois with Galena. Like many now-classic railroads the IC's growth and expansion was a combination of new construction and takeover of smaller railroads. After its chartering in 1851 and completion of its original main line, the Illinois Central expanded to Chicago via a branch from Centralia, Illinois.

            The opening of this line gave Chicago its first transportation connection to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. However, it was not the result of a through route by the IC or railroad at all but a connection from Cairo, Illinois to a steamboat line that used the Mississippi River to complete the journey south. This changed in 1872 when traffic agreements with the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern and Mississippi Central Railway earned the IC a through connection to the Gulf Coast (and in 1877 the IC reorganized these railroads into the Chicago, St. Louis & New Orleans Railroad).

            Expansion for the railroad continued through the 1880s and early 20th century. Under the direction of E.H. Harriman the railroad expanded west and north reaching (via branch lines) Madison and Dodgeville, Wisconsin along with Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Later it reached cities like Indianapolis, Birmingham and Fulton, Kentucky.  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Illinois Central was its electrification project around Chicago (perhaps the largest Midwestern Class I to ever electrify any of its lines), connecting the city's suburbs with its urban centers.

            However, what the Illinois Central is best remembered for is a simple locomotive engineer who gave his life trying to avoid a train collision, John Luther “Casey” Jones. The wreck itself occurred on April 30, 1900 when a freight and passenger train (the New Orleans Special) collided at Vaughan, Mississippi. In his efforts to avoid the collision Jones saved everyone’s lives except his own. Today, of course, there is now the legendary folk song, “Casey Jones,” which was actually inspired by a worker of the IC who also knew Jones, Wallace Saunders. Another notable person associated with the railroad was Abraham Lincoln, who worked for the company from 1853 to 1860 just prior to the Civil War as the IC's corporate lawyer.

            As for the IC itself, the railroad throughout much of the early part of the 20th century was quite conservative, partly due to the fact that it had a rough time surviving the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was not as quick to dieselize as most other carriers and did not completely do so until 1960 (part of this reason was due to the railroad serving a number of mines along the eastern part of its system and had a cheap source of fuel for its locomotives). Even after the railroad began purchasing main line diesels it chose to paint them in a drab all-black livery with white trim.

            This conservative nature, however, changed in the mid-1960s when new management updated the railroad’s image with a split-rail logo with orange and white livery. Along with the new look the railroad also began aggressively purchasing new locomotives and equipment. By the 1970s merger was in the air and in 1972 the IC merged with Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, a rival railroad with much duplicate trackage, forming the Illinois Central Gulf.  The successes of the ICG have often been questioned and by the 1980s the railroad was showing the result of a marriage that probably should never have happened. The parent company of the railroad, IC Industries, began looking for interested buyers during this time and while no interest was shown in the railroad, the ICG's management knew something had to be done to turn the railroad’s fortunes around.

            In an effort to stabilize the ICG management sold or abandoned large sections of the railroad to shrink down it to a much smaller system of around 2,800 miles.   The effort worked and the railroad once again enjoyed profitability and growth. Also of interest is that during this time the railroad decided to return its name to simply the Illinois Central and drop the “Gulf.” Throughout the 1990s the railroad remained strong and profitable and not surprisingly because of its new success, other larger railroads became interested in it. This railroad was the Canadian National Railway and after negotiations were completed the CN took control of the IC in 1998.

            The Illinois Central gave CN a direct southern route through the Midwest and connected it with the Gulf Coast at New Orleans. While the IC name continues to remain on paper the railroad itself and its identity have mostly disappeared into CN as the Canadian road has integrated much of the IC into its system. While no longer an independent company the IC's main lines continue to serve as an integral part of the Canadian National. Along with this the IC is still alive and well under Metra which took over its commuter operations in the Chicago area and Amtrak has resumed the IC's City of New Orleans passenger train between Chicago and New Orleans.

A Brief History of The Louisville & Nashville Railroad
by Charles B. Castner

            The Louisville & Nashville Railroad was born March 5, 1850, when it was granted a charter by the Commonwealth of Kentucky “ build a railroad between Louisville, Kentucky, and the Tennessee state line in the direction of Nashville." On December 4, 1851, an act of the Tennessee General Assembly authorized the company to extend its road from the Tennessee state line to Nashville. Laying of track began at Ninth Street and Broadway in Louisville in May of 1853. By 1855, the founding fathers of the L&N, most of them Louisville citizens, had raised nearly $3 million to finance the construction. The first train to operate over the railroad ran on August 25, 1855, when some 300 people traveled eight miles from Louisville at a speed of 15 mph!
            A little more than four years later, on October 27, 1859, the first train operated all the way from Louisville to Nashville, joining the two namesake cities. For all practical purposes, the 187-mile railroad was complete. Scheduled trains began running a few days later, and with the exception of war, fire and several floods, they have been running ever since. The total cost of this original construction was $7,221,204.91.

            By the time the Civil War began in 1861, the L&N had 269 miles of track. Located almost in the middle of the opposing armies, the L&N at various times served both the Union and the Confederacy as the tides of war changed. Although the railroad suffered considerable damage during the war years, it emerged in surprisingly good financial condition. It was so well off, in fact, that at the close of the war the L&N began expanding. Within a period of 30 years, through construction and acquisition of existing short railroads, the L&N extended its tracks to St. Louis in Missouri, Cincinnati in Ohio, Birmingham and Mobile in Alabama, Pensacola in Florida, and New Orleans in Louisiana.

            Memphis, Tennessee was reached shortly after the close of the Civil War, and by 1872, the L&N had obtained sufficient track in Tennessee and Alabama to begin running trains between Louisville and Montgomery, Alabama. The acquisition of two smaller railroads, which made the route possible, also helped to create Birmingham. The vast deposits of iron and coal in the vicinity played important roles in the city's formation, and the first commercial steel produced there was financed in part by the L&N.

            It is appropriate here to mention L&N President Milton H. Smith, who served in that capacity for nearly 40 years, longer than any other chief executive. Smith went to work for the railroad as a local freight agent in Louisville, just after the Civil War. Within three years, he had advanced to general freight agent, eventually becoming vice president and traffic manager, and finally president in the 1880s. Under Smith, the L&N grew from a small local carrier into one of America's major railroad systems.

            The railroad's entrance into the Gulf of Mexico ports came in 1881. A 140-mile rail line, including roughly nine miles of trestles and bridges, linked Mobile with New Orleans, but there was little contact with the outside world until the L&N extended its tracks to Mobile and then acquired the line on into New Orleans. This acquisition enabled the railroad to extend its sphere of influence to international markets for agricultural products and goods manufactured in major cities along the L&N.

            Also in 1881, the L&N began extending its Lebanon Branch (in Kentucky) across the Tennessee state line to Jellico. In 1891, a line was extended to Norton, Virginia, and another to Atlanta, Georgia. Between 1879 and 1881, through the purchase of track in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois, the L&N gained access to the coal fields of western Kentucky. In 1883, the L&N completed a 170-mile rail link from Pensacola to Chattahoochee, Florida. In all, 56 railroads were acquired, leased, or constructed during the 1880s and 1890s, as the L&N system began to take its final form.

            One of the L&N's most important expansions came early in the 1900s, when the railroad pushed its tracks deep into the coal fields surrounding Hazard and Harlan in eastern Kentucky. Acquisition in 1909 of two smaller lines and construction in 1911 and 1912 of more than 150 miles of track along the Cumberland River and the North Fork of the Kentucky River gave the L&N access to the landlocked bituminous coal riches of eastern Kentucky. In the preceding decades, the L&N built additional rail lines, not only in eastern Kentucky, but in western Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, to help develop new coal production points.

            The L&N and other railroads were called on to move unprecedented numbers of passengers and amounts of freight during World War II. More than 90 percent of the nation's military equipment and supplies and 97 percent of all its troops rolled by rail to military bases and ports of embarkation. With dozens of on-line training camps and defense plants, L&N traffic soared, with increases of 80 percent in freight traffic and more than 300 percent in passenger traffic. And yet, its successful handling of those increases was performed with comparatively little addition to power, rolling stock or personnel. During World War II, some 6,900 L&N employees were furloughed to the armed forces.

            The postwar years brought swift, striking changes to railroading, as the L&N, which purchased its first diesel in 1939, retired its last steam locomotive in 1957. The L&N introduced streamlined passenger service with the advent of The Humming Bird and The. Georgian, and gradually updated the equipment on such passenger trains as The Pan- American, The Piedmont Limited, The Crescent, The Azalean, The Dixie Flyer, The Flamingo and The Southland. Other innovations included pushbutton electronic classification freight yards at major cities, computers, telecommunications and microwave transmission, hundreds of miles of continuously-welded rail, new signaling and centralized traffic dispatching systems and thousands of special-purpose freight cars.

            The first major expansion following World War II occurred in 1957 when the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, a subsidiary, was merged into the company. The NC&StL, some 1,200 miles long, connected Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Atlanta.

            In 1969, the L&N acquired a portion of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad between Evansville, Indiana, and Chicago, permitting it to enter that important midwestern railcenter. That same year, a 131-mile segment of the Tennessee Central Railroad between Nashville and Crossville, Tennessee was purchased. In 1971, the 573-mile Monon Railroad was merged into the L&N system. It connected Louisville with Chicago and provided a valuable second entry into the Great Lakes area. By the end of 1971, the L&N operated more than 6,574 miles of track in 13 states.

            During that year, however, the Seaboard Coastline Railroad, which had owned 35 percent of the L&N's stock for many years, bought the remainder of the outstanding shares, and the L&N became the wholly-owned subsidiary of Seaboard Coast Line Industries. On December 31, 1982, the corporate entity known as the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company was officially merged into the Seaboard System Railroad, ending the L&N's 132-year existence under a single name. The Seaboard System quickly lost its own corporate identity as it and the Chessie System became CSX Transportation in 1986.

            The name may now be gone, but thousands of miles of trackage still exist today, serving America's transportation needs under a different banner. They remain as a tribute to one of the nation's premiere railroads, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company.

All content and images belong to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Historical Society. All rights reserved.

     The following two maps were cut from larger maps and enlarged to try to show rail lines in and around Ohio County.

Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis RR System 1900

The full map above can be seen at the following link:  

Louisville & Nashville RR System 1970

The full map above can be seen at the following link:

Saturday, April 25, 2015


ASBERRY ANDERSON BRYANT, Ohio County, was born April 25, 1833, in Warren County, Ky., where he grew to manhood, and in 1858, located in Ohio County, where he has since resided. He was married December 13, 1860, to Nancy, daughter of Austin and Elizabeth (Carson) Harris, of Ohio County, born November 23, 1836, and to them have been born John M., Joyce E. (Acton), Cicero A., Mary L. (Miller), Alonzo C., Sylvester, Sarah S. (deceased), Edmouia (deceased), and Nancy A. (deceased). In early manhood Mr. Bryant engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes, which he followed until married, when he commenced farming, his present calling, now owning 300 acres of fair land in good condition, well improved, and in a high state of cultivation. Mr. Bryant is a worthy example of what may be accomplished by industry, perseverance and economy. He is an active Methodist, and is identified with the Democratic party.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


JAMES B. BROWN was born in Ohio County, September 8, 1838, and is a son of Joshua and Elmira (Humphrey) Brown, both of whom were natives of Ohio County, and of English descent. Joshua Brown was married in his native county. After attaining his majority he bought a small farm near Hogg's Falls upon which he resided until his death, which occurred in June, 1839. In early life he learned the cabinet-maker's trade and followed the same in connection with farming all his life. He and wife were, from early life, zealous and devoted members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he officiated as class leader for many years. He was also a great lover of music, and in early life taught singing school for some years. James B. Brown received such an education as the schools of Kentucky afforded in his youth. His father died when he was only nine months old, and at the age of nine years his mother died, after which he made his home with his grandfather and stepfather until he was twenty years old. He then farmed his grandfather's place, and sixty acres left him by his father, for one year, after which he bought a partially improved farm near Point Pleasant, remaining for four years, when he sold out and bought 100 acres of unimproved land adjoining, where he commenced to improve the farm, now known as the "Cave Spring Farm," so called from the fact of its having a cave in which a large spring is situated. After three years he sold the place and bought another in the Equality neighbor-hood, remaining on it some five or six years. In 1871 he again sold out and bought the farm of 200 acres, which is now well improved, near Point Pleasant, upon which he now resides, and where he is extensively and successfully engaged in agricultural pursuits, making the culture of tobacco and grass specialties. He has held the offices of school trustee, and also of bridge and road commissioner for Ohio County. He was married in November, 1860, to Altha C. Addington, also a native o£ Ohio County. Three sons and three daughters have been left to them. Mr. Brown and wife are, and have been since their childhood days, members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, in which he has held various official positions. He is also a member of the Masonic fraternity, having held the office of J. W. in that order. In politics he is identified with the national Greenback party.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Died 27 April 1908. Buried in the Equality Cemetery, Ohio County.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Anna Lucille (Leach) Brown

Anna Lucille (Leach) Brown

      Anna went by her middle name, Lucille. She was the fourth child born to Denham Cook Leach and wife, Addie E. Hayworth.  Lucille was born 11 August 1908 in Ohio County. Her siblings were: Raymond Earl Leach; Lena Leach; Walter Denham Leach; Oswald Hayworth Leach; and Virginia Adeline Leach (all born 1903 – 1914).  The family farm, where they were all born, was in the area of Sanderfur’s Crossing.

      Lucille attended Western Kentucky University, graduating in 1939, and became a school teacher, first in Ohio County and later in Daviess County. She taught school for over 35 years. The photo below shows Lucille with her students at the Brown School, near Equality, Ohio County. I estimate that this photo was taken about 1940 – 41.  The second photo was found in the same album and it was probably taken at about the same time.

      Lucille married Clarence Othmer Brown.  Clarence died in 1992 and Lucille died in 1996. They are both buried in Sunnyside Cemetery, Beaver Dam.

Obituary:  Date: October 10, 1996 Publication: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer (KY) 
Lucille Leach Brown, 88, formerly of Owensboro, died Tuesday, Oct. 8, 1996, at Christian Health Care in Bowling Green. She was born in Beaver Dam and was a school teacher for 35 1/2 years in Ohio and Daviess counties. She was a 1939 graduate of Western Kentucky University and was a member of the American Association of University Women and the Daviess County Retired Teachers Association. She was a member of Settle Memorial United Methodist Church and Owensboro Woman's Club.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Auction

The Auction

~An Oral History Story~  

My grandfather, Jasper Newton Cox, worked at McHenry mines for nearly three years from about 1912 to about 1915.  When the coal miners went on strike, he was out of a job.

Both my grandparents told me a little bit about their decision to leave Kentucky.  As a young man, Granddaddy had tried farming and there was no money in it.  Farmers were at the complete mercy of the weather and perhaps the seasons had not been kind to farmers in the area.  Ultimately, the miner’s strike prompted their move.  To get ready, they held an auction.

During different interviews with my grandparents, I asked each one about how they happened to move to Louisiana.  In a 1969 interview, my grandfather summed it up this way:

Granddaddy (Jasper Newton Cox - 1884-1974):  “One time when Lizzie and Everett came back home for a visit, we all got to talking and I decided to move my family up there and go to work in the oil fields.  I worked on a drilling rig, 12 hours a day for $3.00 a day.  Steak was 35 cents a pound. 

“We went by train from Kentucky to Louisiana.  It was a long trip for the children.  Gilbert had his sixth birthday in Edgerly, which was about 17 miles from Lake Charles.  He went to school at West Lake, Louisiana in Calcasieu Parish.”

In a 1976 interview for my grandmother’s memories about their move and the auction they held, she gave the following account:

Grandmother (Eva Caroline (Smith) Cox - 1889-1988):  “Well, you know, Auntie and Uncle lived at Edgerly, Louisiana. They were married in 1905 and went to Texas on their honeymoon, so they had been married about ten years when they came home for a visit.  She talked me into going back with her.” 

(“Auntie” and “Uncle” were my grandmother’s sister, Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” and her husband, Everett Sandefur.  “Auntie” was four years older than my grandmother.  They married at Rob Roy not far from Select, Ohio County, on January 11, 1905, and went to Beaumont, Texas on their honeymoon.  Their daughter, Joye, gave me a picture of them, sitting in a fine looking buggy in Beaumont.  They were a handsome young couple. Later, they moved to Edgerly, Louisiana, where Uncle worked in a grocery store.)
Introduction about the Auction

Auctions are one of the oldest forms of selling property, and date so far back in history -- spanning centuries -- that no one really knows for sure how they started or who started them.

In times gone by, in rural areas, one of the most common reasons for an auction was because the family planned to move to another town, county or state. When they decided to move, my grandparents began thinking of holding an auction, and my grandfather made a contract with a local auctioneer. My grandmother couldn’t remember his name, but she said Granddaddy hired a local auctioneer with a good reputation, known for paying close attention to the bidders.  In other words, one who did more than just fast-talking and slamming the gavel down to announce the winning bid.

The auctioneer may have been one who had experience holding cattle auctions, or possibly a man who also auctioned off tobacco at county tobacco warehouses at Hartford and Fordsville.

The event took some planning and Grandmother had “hand bills” printed, announcing the auction with time, place, and directions.  Grandmother said it read, “Rain or shine. Don’t forget the day. Tell all your friends and come see for yourself.”

I wish I had asked my grandmother exactly where their house was located.  I’m not sure whether it was at or near McHenry mines or maybe they had moved somewhere near Select or Rosine after the miners went out on strike. Grandmother probably had the help of her mother and sisters to get ready for the sale. 

On auction day, the auctioneer got there early to survey the variety of everything for sale and familiarize himself so he could help my grandparents get the most value from the sale.  He may also have talked with potential bidders about some of the items to be sold for cash.  Then he opened the bidding. 

Some auction goers came early - with money in their pockets – and a few brought measuring tapes.  Grandmother said whole families came - men, women and children -  in wagons, buggies and by horseback.  The weather was ideal and the attendance surpassed their expectations.

Right off,  the auctioneer  gave a sample of his chant and made the crowd feel like spending.  As he auctioned off the items, his lively and rhythmic bid-calling made for some great entertainment.  He was humorous and good at sprinkling in a few jokes and stories, and kept folks interested.  Thus, my grandmother said, the auction became fun and entertaining.

Oral History Interviews about the Auction

November 11, 1976

Jerri (my nickname):  “Grandmother, I wanted to ask you about when you auctioned off all your things to go to Louisiana.  Do you remember if it was spring, summer, or fall?”

Grandmother:  “It was in the fall.  And Gilbert was six years old, I believe.  He had his birthday in Edgerly. I know he celebrated his tenth birthday in Kentucky, because we were back there on a visit.”

Darrell (my aunt):  “Mama, tell us some more.  You and Auntie came to Texas?”

Frankie (my mother):  “You came to Louisiana first, didn’t you?”

Jerri:  “You all came together?  I thought Auntie said she came on her honeymoon?” 

Grandmother:  “Yes, she did.  But she came back home later on a visit and talked me into going back with her.”

Jerri:  “And so where did you come back to?  And how?   On the train?”

Grandmother:  “Mmm-hmm.”    

Jerri:  “What town was that?”

Grandmother:  “Edgerly.  Daddy went to work in the oil fields for Gulf Oil Company.”

Jerri:  “And uncle already had a job in Edgerly and they had been living in Louisiana several years when they made the visit back to Kentucky?”

Grandmother:  “Well, I can’t remember that, Jerri, exactly.  I don’t know what kind of job he had at the time.  But we went down there to live.  And I sold everything I had in the house.”

Jerri:  “You sold everything you had in the house?”   

Grandmother:  “Yes.  Everything!”    

Jerri:  ““Is that right?” What did you do?  Just have a big yard sale?”

Grandmother:  “No, everything was in the house except what was outside, too.”

Jerri:  “Did they auction it off?”

Grandmother:  “Yes, we went to Hartford and had bills – you know, hand bills printed.”

Jerri:  “How exciting!  Darrell, you are missing this.  She is telling about the sale and her auction!  They had handbills (posters) made and they tacked them up on the trees.” 

Grandmother:  (Laughing).  “And we went along – all the way from Hartford to McHenry mines - and put these bills (posters) up about the sale – and everybody came.  And we just had the best time.  And we had an auctioneer come.  He was real good.”

 Jerri: “Did you ride a horse to take them?”   

Grandmother:  “Went in a buggy.”

Jerri:  “Who drove the buggy?”

Grandmother: “Oh, we had a buggy and a horse. We could go anywhere we wanted to.”

Jerri:  “Do you mean the girls took the buggy out?”

Grandmother:  “We drove the buggy, honey; Ella drove.  It was her horse and buggy.  But that’s where we went, and had the bills struck…printed.  Hartford.  And we drove along and tacked the handbills upon the trees.  All the way to McHenry.”  (Laughing)

Jerri:  “How exciting!  And it didn’t bother you to sell your things?”

Grandmother:  “And then we had that man – I forget what his name was – to auction everything off.  And one would bid on it, and the other one would bid against them.  And I just got twice as much money out of my things!  And that’s the truth!  I just had a wonderful sale!  And my fruit jars brought more!  People would just bid against each other.  (Laughing)  I had that – and I just had a wonderful sale.” 

“But I don’t know what – Daddy was out of work and I was just…and that’s how come us to leave.  All the family didn’t want us to go.”

Jerri:  “So how long did all of you live in Edgerly, Louisiana?”

Grandmother:  “I just don’t remember now.  Not too sure.  But really and truly, I hated to leave Ma.  Of course I did.  And they sure did hate it.  But we were tired of struggling from one job to another.”

Darrell:  “And you and Daddy and Auntie all lived close and worked together for how many years?”

Grandmother:  “Oh, for a long, long time.  Clear down here (meaning Texas) to Excellent.  We always lived close together.  Excellent, in Coryell County...where Retha was born.”

Darrell:  “And they always helped each other.  Auntie and Mother had each other, and if one was sick, the other one helped the other one.”

Grandmother:  “Yes, we were always close.  We never were separated.”

Darrell:  “And Eula Mae and Gilbert and Joye always had their childhood together.  They were just like sisters and brother.”  (Joye was Lizzie and Everett’s daughter, born  1912 at Orange, Orange County, Texas – not far from Beaumont.)

Grandmother:  “And when I had typhoid fever.  I’ll always have to give credit to her.  (Auntie).  I don’t think I would have ever been living if it wasn’t for her.  She would make that beef tea and bring it up to the hospital every day.  And she taken care of Gilbert and Eula Mae and did the washing.  Bathed me.  Dressed me.  She was an angel.  Done the cooking and the washing and ironing.  Not only for her family, but for mine.” 

Darrell:  “Well, you were lucky to have each other.”

Grandmother:  “Oh, yes.  We always stuck together.”


Granddaddy also told this story:  “While we lived in Edgerly, it was the time of the great flu epidemic – 1917-1918 - and all of us had it except Eula Mae.  We were very sick.  Lots of people died, including the mother of Gilbert’s playmates next door.  Gilbert had a relapse with the flu and almost died…and he thought he was going to die.  The doctor was called, and he came and convinced Gilbert that he wasn’t going to die like he thought he was.  We called Dr. Brooks, who was a good doctor, and he told Gilbert that he couldn’t die, even if he wanted to.”


When the flu epidemic took place, grandmother, granddaddy and my daddy had the flu while they were living in Edgerly.  Their little daughter, Eula Mae, escaped it, however, and she saved the day.  At five or six years old, she was able to take instructions from her mother and cooked rice for the sick folks.  That’s all they wanted to eat.  I wish I had asked Eula Mae (my aunt) if she remembered cooking for her family members.  I do recall grandmother and Eula Mae saying that she was a chubby little girl at that time, and
when people asked her why she didn’t catch it,  Eula Mae declared, “Sat solks don’t get sick.”  Meaning “fat folks don’t get sick.”  (And that’s why she missed the flu). 


The Hartford Republican newspaper, issue of January 18, 1905, in Ohio County mentioned this bit of news:  “Grant Young and wife, who have been the guests of Mr. James Smith, Select, returned to their Texas home on Monday.  They were accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Everett Sandefur, who will make Texas their home in the future.” 

Ulysses Grant Young was married to Sarah Catherine “Sallie” Smith, the daughter of Thomas and Kitty Ann (Jenkins) Smith.  She was the sister of James Thomas Smith, and therefore, Sallie was the aunt of my grandmother and her sisters, Ella and Lizzie.  So, the Youngs left Kentucky at some point in time to seek work also.  Most likely, many Ohio County folks moved westward during mining strikes and a downturn in the farming economy.

Submitted by Janice Cox Brown

(Excerpts from more than one tape recording)

Saturday, April 11, 2015


JOHN SEP. BROWN was born in Ohio County, October 29, 1837. His father, Samuel Brown, was a native of Virginia, born in 1804, and came to Kentucky, when a boy, with his father, and in 1832, married Jane Taylor, of Ohio County; she died May 3, 1863. John G. Brown, the grandfather of our subject, was a Virginian; immigrated to Kentucky in 1810. He died in Ohio County in 1842. His wife, Elizabeth (Lewis) Brown, died in 1855. She was the mother of a family of four sons and three daughters, four of whom are now living: William L., John S., Washington T., and Eliza Jane (wife of John W. Moore). John Sep. Brown remained on the farm where he was born until 1873, superintending the farm after the death of his father, November 3, 1864. On the 28th of March, 1871, he was united in marriage with Miss Margaret, daughter of William D. Coleman, of Ohio County, Ky.; their union is blessed with three children: Thomas H., Samuel, and Nellie May. In 1864 he bought 165 acres of land in Ohio County, since which time he has made various changes through the purchase and sale of lands; now owns about 450 acres, well improved with fences, dwelling, barns and orchard, and carries an average of $1,000 in stock. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Mr. Brown is a Democrat.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Note:  Died 2 April 1899. Place of burial unknown.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


GEORGE A. BROWN was born August 15, 1819, in Nelson County, Ky., and is one of eleven children born to George and Barbara (Shales) Brown. The father was from Allegheny County, Penn., and farmed in Nelson County, Ky., until the death of his wife, in 1832, when his family was scattered, and he went back to Pennsylvania, returning to Nelson County a short time before his death, in 1838. George A., after the death of his mother, lived with his brother until sixteen years old, when he began farming on shares in the summer, and in the winter seasons flat-boating, making eight trips, and after seven years leased a farm for four years. He then rented land until 1847, when he came to Ohio County, and bought 280 acres for $200 cash. He has since lived in this county, and owned and improved numerous farms, now owning 400 acres, upon which he resides. Mr. Brown started in life with just 50 cents, and, unaided, has attained to a position among the leading farmers of the county. He was married December 25, 1842, to Julia A. Metcalf, who died August 16, 1867, leaving eight children: Melvina (wife of W. W. Hines), William, John P., Mary B. (wife of C. W. Stevens), Charles L., George B., Nettie, and Julia; all but two are married, and all living in the immediate neighborhood.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

George A. Brown

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring Cleaning in the 1890’s

Spring Cleaning in the 1890’s

~An Oral History Story~

One fall afternoon in 1976 when we were all sitting around my grandmother’s dining room table, we asked her to tell us more about the time when she was growing up in Ohio County.  She was born in March 1889, and grew up in her parent’s two-story weather-boarded log home, with four sisters and four brothers. My grandmother’s job at home every day was to look after and take care of her little brother, Ollie Perry, born February 6, 1894, who died suddenly when he was four in August 1898, from spinal meningitis.  He was sick with a high fever for only two or three days. When he died, her mother, Sarah (Sanders) Smith, was in a coma from typhoid fever. A sad story.

 After Ollie’s funeral, while her mother was still sick and recovering, it became my grandmother’s next job at home to take care of the baby, Harb, born December 19, 1897, who was not quite one.  Grandmother was nearly nine years old.  It took several months, but her mother finally regained her health and for a long time afterwards, in the evenings, she would go to the back door and gaze out, thinking about Ollie Perry and, for an instant, wondered why he didn’t come indoors with the other children before dark. 

Grandmother also told about the spring cleaning ritual each year at their home, which involved everyone in the family.


Retha:  (my aunt).  “And mama, you were telling us this morning about cleaning the house, and how you used the white sand to clean the floors.

Grandmother:  “Spring cleaning happened at our house every year when I was growing up.  Everybody - all of us kids had a hand in spring cleaning.  We all knew how to work!

“Well, all the furniture was moved out of the room, and we would get white sand and scrub the floors with it.  Used home-made lye soap and hot water.   And they was scrubbed pretty and
white when we got through with them. Spotless!  Walls and woodwork were washed down, too.  Everything had to be clean.  Everything!  Spic and span. 
“And the curtains had to be washed by hand, starched, stretched on stretchers, and ironed…with a flat iron, heated on top of our wood-burning stove.  And the windows washed with water and vinegar, inside and outside, and dried with old newspapers until they nearly sparkled.  Polished and oiled the furniture.  Walls and ceilings were dusted.  We used an old broom tied over with an old dampened pillow case.  The painting had to go on.

“We beat the rugs.  The carpet in the parlor was rolled up and put out on the clothes line and beaten by the boys with brooms to get the dust out.  I can remember them having that carpet and it went from wall to wall and they tacked that.  But they put down straw and leveled it under this blanket and then stomped and packed it down for a pad.  And tacked it.  I can remember them doing it, maybe one time.  Doors and windows were opened wide to let in the fresh air.

“One of the boys cleaned out the fireplace and all the ashes taken out and spread in the garden spot.  For fertilizer.

“The kitchen stove was cleaned and polished.  And mother always got a new oil cloth for the kitchen table.  In the fall time, the old one was unrolled and used to lay out on the porch roof to spread out layers of cut-up fruit – peaches, cherries, apples - to dry and put up for winter.”

Jerri: “Oh, and Retha, you should have heard her tell about the mattresses.”

Grandmother:   “Yes, that’s when they threshed the wheat and had new straw put in the mattresses.  And we wasn’t the only ones that had it.  Everybody did.  Because it was cooler than feather beds.  Straw ticks.  And they didn’t have zippers to zip everything up.  Mother left this place in the center of the ticking and put button holes and buttons close together to button with, and we had to take the old straw out.  And put in new.  It was cooler and always smelled so good. 

“In the winter, we used feather bed mattresses.  Everybody had them.  But straw ticks in the summer time.  Until later on, and then I don’t know what they got.  I remember that.  We used to air the feather mattresses out.  Took them outside and beat them with a broom to smooth them.

“Mother always had a few ducks and geese to supply the family with feathers. She would set a few duck eggs under an old setting hen. And they picked feathers off of the geese and ducks. When they were still alive.  Just the down and small feathers were what they picked…they could be picked when they were about two or three months old.  After that, they could be picked every six weeks until cold weather set in. Feather mattresses were good and warm in the winter.”

Jerri:  “And your mother made her own quilts, Grandmother? “

Grandmother:   “Some, she never did quilt much.  We always got blankets and comforts.  And when we went to Beaver Dam, and it was cold, and we could get in the buggy, we would get…Mother had a big old sand rock and she would put it in the fireplace and get it hot and she had an old quilt that she would wrap around that rock and sprinkle a little water on it and steamed it, and that old rock would stay warm in the buggy floor and keep our feet warm.” 

Jerri:  “You all had a buggy with two seats, grandmother?”

Grandmother:  “No, we just had a buggy with one.  And there would usually be two or three of us go together to town…to Beaver Dam…about seven or eight miles.” 


On this same tape, my grandmother also told us a little story about working in the garden:
Retha:  “And Mama, when you misbehaved, didn’t you have to go to the garden and work and pick?”

Grandmother:  “Why yes.  We all worked.  I can remember them sending me to the garden to pick beans.  I don’t know…I wasn’t any larger than her (nodding to Amy, my little daughter, who was about six or seven.)   And I would cry.  I would pretend I was crying.  Trying to get their sympathy.  And they could hear me.  And then I would look up to see if anybody was coming.  And they hid.  Auntie did.   And she said, “Young lady, you aren’t crying.  You are just playing like it.”  But I always had to pick that bucket full of beans, before they would let me come in.  That bucket would be full! 

My grandmother, Eva Caroline Cox, 1889-1988, also told about her mother, Sarah (Sanders) Smith, 1861-1931, taking the hairpins out of her hair, so her hairpins wouldn’t drop out and get lost, when they were coming home from church in the wagon, jostling over the bumps and ruts in the dirt road.  Because hairpins were at a premium and she didn’t have enough hairpins, and didn’t want to lose them.  (The James Thomas Smith farm was about two miles from Select.)

Submitted by Janice Cox Brown

Taped interview made on November 7, 1976

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


ISAAC SYLVESTER BROWN, Ohio County, was born March 7, 1847, on the place where he now resides, in Ohio County, Ky. His father, Isaac Brown, was born in 1807, on this place; was constable many years, and is still living. He was the son of Samuel Brown, of Virginia, a soldier of the Revolution. Isaac married Sally, daughter of Jared Tichenor, of Ohio County; she was born December 22, 1815, and died August 26, 1859, and to their union were born Jared, James M., Samuel T., Isaac S., Luther, Alonzo A., Fannie A. (Bennett), and Josephine (Austin). February 13, 1873, Isaac S. married Mary P., daughter of Joseph C. and Jane (Brown) Turns, of Ohio County; she was born in 1853, and died September 2, 1881, and to them were born Leslie B., Leo C. and Wesley F.  He was next married June 21, 1883, to Mary E., daughter of Tolbert and Mary (Worden) Robertson, of Ohio County; she was born May 21, 1853, and their union has been blessed by the birth of one son, unnamed. Mr. Brown is a tanner, owning property in Rockport, and also 100 acres of good land. He is a member of the Baptist Church, and in politics a Democrat.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895