Yesterday, while going through
the books on my shelf, I was leafing through Observations of
God's Timing (In the Kentucky Mountains) by Ruth Huston.
I don't know how long I have had this book; nor remember where
I got it. Before deciding which stack to put it into, I started
leafing through the book
to make sure whether I wanted to get rid of it or not. Needless
to say, after seeing a couple entries that caught my eye, I spent
the next couple hours
reading the entire book!! I wanted to share with you just a few
things from the book that might interest you. While the book
focused more on Leslie County,
there were several mentions of incidents / individuals in and
around Breathitt County.
III; page 22, a couple paragraphs read:
was no high school at that time in Hyden, she was sent to Pennsylvania
to the home of the Rev and Mrs John Buyers to attend school.
kept sheep and would card and spin the wool to send to Martha,
who dyed it and knitted her own sweaters to wear to school in
The only alternative would have been attending normal school
at Buckhorn to become a teacher, but the contact with the Christian
nurse made her want to go
into nurses training. The Buyers helped her get into nurses'
training after she graduated from high school and she completed
her course with the purpose of
doing public health work to help her own people in Kentucky.
The kindness of the missionary nurse, the fun of doing little
things around the
Trachoma Hospital to help, and the interest of Christian friends
directed the course of her life.
we visited Miss Buyers in October 1923, Martha seemed pleased
to escort us around. My first introduction to Owl's Nest Creek,
twenty years I had a Sunday School, was the trip on which we
were taken to Wooton to spend the night with Miss McCord at the
house six miles over the mountain from Hyden. The next day we
rode back another way over a very rough trail and down Owl's
Nest to the river.
All travel in those days was by foot, mule or horseback. or by
jolt wagon, a springless farm wagon drawn by mules.
paragraph mentions Miss McCord. If I am not mistaken, Miss McCord
is mentioned in some Owsley County notes as being over at
Faith Hill and the Lucky Fork area for a time.
IV; page 24, 1st and 3rd paragraph read:
I have been told of early church life in the Leslie County are
interesting. There were very few organized groups and no Sunday
People here and yonder had a love for the Lord, but met only
occasionally at "Memorial Services' or 'Graveyard Meetings.'
Preachers were not always
available when someone died; there were no undertakers and the
burial had to be within twenty-four hours. During August and
September, when the
hard work of summer was over and the weather was usually dry,
the people would come from miles around with their basket lunches
to spend the day
together, remembering their departed loved ones and visiting
with one another.
Mrs Muncy, has told me of a little meeting house at the mouth
of Bad Creek where she attended as a child. In those days the
Primitive Baptist were the important denomination. Meetings would
be held in the last few days of May or early June, at the time
the berries on the
'Service' trees became red: a sign of settled weather for two
or three days, as the meetings were often held on the river bank
or under the shade of
a big tree. We have 'little winters' or cool spells in the spring
before summer comes along. The first little winter is 'service,'
then we have 'redbud',
'dogwood' and 'blackberry.' When the blooms begin to fall off
the trees we can usually count on a cool spell. I learned from
Mrs John Lewis, how 'Service Winter' got its name. The tree is
the first to put out a white, fuzzy bloom and is called service
(often pronounced 'sarvis') because of the services held when
the red berry appears to announce the time for the protracted
People would sometimes come from sixty miles away, riding horseback
double, and there would be as many as twenty-five or thirty horses.
The visitors would be housed in neighbors' homes for there were
no hotels. Women cooked for days ahead to have enough food on
years ago, while living in Breathitt, I had asked a friend about
several of the burial traditions of the time. He had explained
the above to me.
I thought it was so interesting how this all came about.
VI; page 37, 3rd and 4th paragraph read:
the year 1912 a student at Princeton Seminary, Mr William Buyers,
was interested in going to some challenging place to serve the
The Presbyterian Academy housing church and school had burned
down, having the group of members without a pastor. One Sunday
while Mr Buyers worshipped in the Central Presbyterian Church
in New York City, there was a notice in the church bulletin telling
of the burning
of the Academy at Hyden and the need for some qualified person
to help rebuild the work. That appealed to him, so he made the
Hyden, difficult as it was, and received such a welcome from
the Eversoles and others that he felt led to accept the challenge.
On the way to
Hyden from the railroad he had stopped at Buckhorn, where Mr
Harvey Murdoch loaned him his horse for the twenty-five mile
ride. Mr Murdoch
was in charge of a splendid school and his encouragement and
backing were a help in the new venture. It is very important
to have the right
connection and the loyalty of workers who have won the respect
and confidence of the mountain people.
was one of those who had proved himself to be a lover of God
and of the people whom he was serving. Ministers, doctors,
school teachers, nurses, community workers, county officials,
home makers and other worthwhile servants of God and of the people
come from the splendid work done at Buckhorn. A former superintendent
of the Leslie County schools and his wife, Mr and Mrs John D
were students at Buckhorn. Their two sons are now successful
doctors and teachers of Sunday School classes in their communities,
one in Harlan,
Kentucky,the other in Ft Worth, Texas. Another county superintendent,
Mr Earl Keen, attended Buckhorn School. His father and uncles
successful merchants, with ambition to give their children a
Christian education. Many fo the present generation are school
teachers, some are
merchants, nurses, musicians, and are active in the churches
of their community. Given an opportunity, the good stock in these
Americans produces citizens who are worthy of their heritage.
to the request of the Wooton people for a worker, Mr Buyers contacted
Miss Mary Rose McCord, who came to live there and started
mission work with a Sunday school and a program to help the neighborhood
in many different ways. The coming of Miss McCord gave the children
a chance for an education and opportunity to have contacts to
help them to amount to something; otherwise, Mrs Farmer wondered
have happened to the children. They would probably have grown
up to waste their lives and know nothing of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Miss McCord felt it was necessary to help the people materially
as well as spiritually, so the Wooton Fireside Industry came
Baskets, brooms, woven mats, scarves and various articles were
made in homes from wood, straw, wool and linen secured locally
provided through Miss McCord. These articles could be marketed
through church connections and provided a small cash income for
made them. The furniture in my dining room and bed room was made
out of Leslie County black walnut. The logs had to be cut and
for some time before the furniture could be made with the equipment
provided through gifts to Miss McCord for use by a man at Wooton
earned a small livelihood by making this furniture. All of this
work had to be supervised by Miss McCord and her helpers. Woven
rugs were made
out of feed sacks, dyed and woven by the Wooton women on their
looms. For years I had brown, blue or rose coffee sack rugs on
my living room
floor, as they could be washed or thrown in a corner when we
had a party for the young people.
53; another paragraph reads:
story I have been told of the naming of Thousandsticks goes as
follows: two men were riding over the mountain to establish a
new post office.
As they rode down toward the creek all they could see were straight,
charred stumps of trees - the result of a forest fire. One man
said to the other.
'It looks like a thousand sticks;' the other man replied, 'That's
a good name for the post office.' The mountain, the branch, the
the school, the church and our weekly newspaper all vear that
64 / 65; several paragraphs read:
during that summer, 1928, that my house was being built and there
was so much rain in June the river stayed up, delaying the arrival
building material. Windows, doors, flooring and sheet rock had
to be brought in sixteen miles from Krypton by jolt wagon, through
and the wagons either could not get out to Krypton or return
on time with their loads.
was the summer Mrs Mary Breckinridge dedicated the hospital of
the Frontier Nursing Service at Hyden, and brought Sir Leslie
and Lady McKenzie
from Scotland for the event, as Sir Leslie was to be the main
speaker. Mr Jonah Begley drove them into Hyden, through mud and
water and over
rocky roads in a two-seated spring wagon or surrey. I remember
sitting on the front steps of the dormitory with my friends,
guests from Louisville, Lexington and other places, go by on
horses and mules, spattered with mud, and looking relieved to
find themselves at
the end of their journey for the day.
Nursing Service has done a valuable work in meeting the physical
needs of the people of this section. Many of the citizens of
Leslie County have cooperated by contributing land, gifts of
money, labor and friendship, to show their appreciation of the
ministry. In 1925,
when Mrs Breckinridge came to start the work, there were no qualified
doctors in the county and only two nurses, Miss Nola Pease
(now Mrs Samuel Vandermeer) at Wooton and Miss Leona Pace at
X, page 70 / 71 / 72
the mouth of Owl's nest was the home of Mr and Mrs Will Sandlin
where I had been entertained many times. Mr Sandlin was a Kentucky
hero from the first World War, having captured eight machine
gun nests single handed. He had won the Congressional Medal of
Our first year in Hyden one of their children had died and Leona
took us down to visit, to try to console the family. We went
day to the simple funeral service. It was the first time I had
seen anyone buried in a homemade casket. None other was available.
little box was covered with black cloth and the top was closed
by pounding the nails into the wood. There were no flowers to
nothing to soften the blow but the Lord and His Word. We climbed
a steep hillside, across the creek, to the Roberts family graveyard
bury the little girl, with a prayer and a hymn. I was so out
of breath it was hard to get through a verse of 'In the Sweet
By And By.'
From that time on the Roberts and Sandlins were our friends.
up the creek beyond the Tom Roberts live the Jesse Maggard family.
Mr Maggard's mother was a Roberts and he remembers that
his grandfather once owned the land from the top of the mountain
to the river, over five hundred acres, but sold it for fifty
cents an acre.
Across from the house now is an enormous coal tipple, through
which wealth untold has passed into other pockets than the Maggards.
Mrs Maggard is the daughter of Mr Bige Eversole, the fine Christian
man mentioned earlier. When it seemed advisable to move the
Sunday school up the creek nearer to homes where there were a
lot of smaller children, the Maggards offered their homes, which
sometimes bulged with as many as one hundred people for a Christmas
program or other special events. Up the branch from the Maggards
lived the Ashers, cousins of Mr Maggard. His Aunt Martha Roberts
had married Andy Asher and lived in a nice little cabin surrounded
flowers in spring, summer and fall. She was a good cook and loved
to cook dinner for the preacher and Sunday school teacher when
special preaching services on the creek. She loved the Lord and
His Word, becoming a Christian late in life, and was a faithful
at Sunday school, even when the weather was bad. The branch near
her home would get up from heavy rains, but that did not stop
'Aunt Marthy,' who climbed around a steep hill in order to reach
the Maggard home. She rounded up her grandchildren and did her
keep them in Sunday school.
Andy, brought a 'poke' of six apples to me for a Christmas present
one year. He had dug a hole and buried them in the ground
to keep them from rotting. His thought of wanting to give me
something touched me greatly and I felt that was my best Christmas
gift that year.
XVIIL, page 138 / 139
couple, the Rev and Mrs Raymond Haddix, were making a change
of ministry from the Hyden Presbyterian Church where he had served
for a few months, and when the need for high school visitation
was presented, they were challenged and were sure that was God's
work for them.
had been brought up in a Christian home and attended a Brethren
Church in Breathitt County. He was saved at evangelistic services
sponsored by Mr Drushel who gave fifty years of his life in preaching
and educational work here in the mountains. Then the Haddix family
moved to Perry County near Camp Nathaniel and knew of the ministry,
but had no connection with it.
the Haddix's first child came they found it too public and inconvenient
to stay at the Homestead and the question arose as to whether
they should leave the work and find something else to do. Believing
God wanted them to serve Him among their own mountain people,
thrilled when Mr Haddix, Sr, gave Raymond a building he could
remodel into a home and now they are gradually getting it in
largely by their own labor.